We hate the Americans because of their drone attacks in the tribal area. We hate the Israelis for what they do to the Palestinians. We hate the Indians for what they do to the Kashmiris. We hate the terrorists for killing our innocent brothers and sisters. We hate the politicians for stealing from our country. We hate the military for imposing military dictatorships on us, no matter how good it may have been for the country at the time.
We hate. You can insert any phrase or words that you like after the first two and you find that we, as a nation, put much more energy into hatred without drawing any motivation or benefit from it. And this is how we got today’s Pakistan.
The length and breadth of our days are spent gossiping, spreading rumors or backbiting someone that we dislike. We have forgotten how to speak to each other without complaining about something. Yet, in all of our complaining, what have we done? Not just as a government, but as individual people. Nothing. That’s what we have done. A big fat zero. Rather than letting it drive us to do better, achieve something or make a difference in someone’s life, we let it slip through our fingers as well.
We still attempt to curry favor from Americans, whether in government, professional or personal life. We still buy their products, watch their TV shows, listen to their music and hope that we get a visa to their country. We don’t have any contact with Israel on a diplomatic level, but that doesn’t stop us from demonstrating our maturity by mass posting photographs of Nazis and concentration camps, emblazoned with the slogan, “Hitler was right!” Those days make me especially proud to be a Pakistani – those days when we sink to the lowest common denominator of society just to score a painful jab.
Don’t even ask about India! My goodness, Pakistan would cease to exist creatively if we didn’t have the honor of watching Bollywood movies that demean and mock our own culture, while we pay to be part of the mocking. Let’s forget that Pakistani dramas like Dhoop Kinaray, Ankahi, and Alpha Bravo Charlie are still favorites today, while new ones like Zindagi Gulzar and Humsafar have exploded on the scene. When our dramas went across the border to a special channel created just to view these new dramas, Indians went nuts over our actors and actresses, the depth of the storyline, the quality of the script, the acting and the directing. Yet, with all the talent we have in this country, as a people we still seem to prefer watching anything but Pakistani TV. Are we seriously that starved for good content?
Sshhh… let’s speak of the terrorists in a lower tone so they don’t hear us. When did this nation’s citizens become so afraid of their own shadows that they can’t fight the animals that are using us as target practice? But can I ask you all a question, what have we really done to stop them? Let me tell you a story…
It was a crisp September early morning when the world as we know it ceased to exist. Planes hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Flown by Saudi terrorists. Worldwide panic ensued. America stood up with Great Britain and announced the War against Terror to find and kill everyone involved in the attack on US soil. Coalitions were assembled, military campaigns started. The world stood strong with them.
Why? The media.
The media crafted a believable, emotional narrative that allowed them to put each person in the place of those who had lost someone they loved. Whether it was through news programs, talk shows, new thriller genre TV shows, they were able to connect the public with the mission. Impact through an emotional connection. They would follow the US President into the abyss. Anyone who spoke against the narrative? Conspiracy theorists, crazies, and others were titles given to those who questioned the war.
They did their job efficiently and effectively.
What happens in Pakistan? The media doesn’t put forward a credible narrative for anything. They don’t even bother to create one. So is it any wonder that we aren’t able to stand together, see eye-to-eye, move forward in the fight against terrorism and extremism? With 19 24-hour news channels filling our heads with the opinions of those who get paid to think something, do we really expect any of them to tell us the truth?
Think something. Exactly. They aren’t researching something of their own. They aren’t investigative journalists. They are academics, think tanks, planning teams, all colorful terms for paid analyst. That’s like putting on the party flag and pretending to be undecided.
Here’s where our hate gets interesting. We hate both the politicians and the military but are only willing to forgive one regularly. The military stands at the borders defending Pakistan from external, and sometimes internal ones, threats, but they are vilified for 3 military coups, land grabbing, missing persons, ad nauseum. The politicians are guilty of the same and much more. For each of those military dictators that the army is crucified, there are civilian politicians that sit in the highest offices of this government. Where is your disgust of them? Ayub, Zia and Musharraf are names you spit with anger, but Bhutto, Sharif and Khan are all acceptable former collaborators. And you wonder why democracy doesn’t succeed in Pakistan? Whether the military officers or the politicians created by the favoring a General, they are all walking free, ruling our country and we are complaining that we need saving. Really?
And my most confused hate… Why are we killing each other? From target killing to ethnic based violence, we are killing each other to the merriment of our enemies who fund this unrest. Why can’t we all learn to get along together in the same country? Other cultures do it in much larger numbers that us.
Merae hum watano!
We need to save ourselves. The hypocrisy needs to end so we can move forward as a nation. We cannot continue to stew in our own hate and expect the nation to get any better any time soon. We need to start healing Pakistan ourselves. We are all part of one giant, dysfunctional family, as Pakistanis, and are in serious need of some counseling and communication.
For decades, we have focused on what is burning on the stove, rather than tending the fire spreading around the walls of our house. What happens in your home when someone threats or attacks from outside? You draw together and fight. You forget what your internal issues are for the moment and defend your home from the attackers. This is what Pakistan needs to do today. Right now. We just can’t because we hate so much.
We are two months and a few days on from the Army Public School attack. The government formed a National Action Plan and quickly handed over as much power to the army and got out of dodge. Then the fights started over madrasahs, seminaries, colleges, universities, military courts, hangings and the list continues, and the politicians didn’t know how to defend any of the decisions, explain the progress or speak intelligently to the public. But can we really expect more from political parties whose media departments consist of finding the best pictures of their leader to use.
Why weren’t the top advertising agencies, public relations firms and media personalities brought in to create a national narrative? Why has this government not bothered to use the print, electronic and digital medias to inform or educate the population on this war? No one wants to take a position because “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” and no politician wants to be on the other side of this, whether they hold loyalties to the extremists, terrorists, political parties or the military.
The hate that we let burn is killing Pakistan and us.
We all need to put aside our petty differences for the time being and stand together. Stand as one nation. One family. Against the terrorists, the politicians and anyone else who wants to do harm to our house and our family.
We need to stop allowing distractions to draw our attention away from the objective. The little fight between Imran & Altaf, the “manufactured” petrol shortage that seemed to sort itself out, or any of the other superficial issues that the media created for the entertainment of Pakistanis.
We have much bigger to deal with and that is a simple target – anything that bring Pakistan into disrupt, shame or embarrassment, whether it be the raging fire of terrorism, the forest fires of fundamentalist camps, the corruption of the government, the failure of the judiciary, the inefficiency of the police, ad nauseum. That is our target first.
Then, we can come back to fighting over what is burning on the stove.
I think next week, we’ll start building that narrative together.