There is increasing demoralisation among people about the political tussle between politicians as well as with unknown hands behind them
I don’t know about all of you but communication revolution especially social media has enabled me to talk to a large group of people in an efficient manner. I am lucky to have over 138,500 fans and friends from all over Pakistan, even in small villages. During the election campaign in 2013 there was hardly a village where a young man would not walk up to me to say he has interacted with me on Facebook. It was revealing and since then I take my Facebook postings quite seriously. I have had interesting discussions and debates with these friends on Facebook and email on social and political issues faced by the country. From these discussions I observed two distinct trends related to those that are over 40 and those under the age of 30.
Middle aged debaters when they have no other argument to defend their point come up with this final argument that Pakistani nation is unique and experiences of other nations cannot be applied to it. This argument always surprises me. Its implied message is that somehow Pakistani nation is either sub-human so its instincts are different from other humans around the world or conversely it is a superhuman that the experiences of other nations are too inferior to be applied to it. This argument is not presented by people that are not highly educated, it comes from highly educated and successful people from diverse fields. It would be interesting if some PhD researcher on behavioural sciences should tackle this question in their doctoral thesis.
My counterargument to them is that basic political instincts of all humans around the world are the same. Besides ensuring security of the basic human subsistence needs of food, clothing and shelter, all humans want peaceful lives; they want to have an opportunity to express their talents in a field of their choice; they want to be able to rise in the social status through their hardwork; they want social justice in the society and they want a level playing field for their children to have a better future when they grow up that includes good education, small business loans and job opportunities. People have an intrinsic instinct to judge politicians on these natural needs and support political parties that can offer these services to them. Instead of rejecting experiences of other nations we need to learn from them and adopt their best practices so that we don’t have to reinvent the wheel which costs time and resources. South Korea, Taiwan, China, Brazil, Turkey, Malaysia, just to name few countries, adopted this approach to catch up faster with the developed world.
The second trend, I observed, with my younger friends is that they are driven by emotions to make judgments rather than use rational and critical thinking. This is an outcome of an education system that is laced with emotionalism rather than promoting critical thinking. It is a product of a culture that demands acceptance of authority of a superior (father, boss, teacher, political leader) rather than raise questions at them before accepting their judgments as final. Some days ago I had a good exchange with young men who enthusiastically told me that we should get rid of this corrupt system of government and democracy. I asked them what alternative they offered to the nation, they said they had no alternative. I asked them then on what bases they made this judgment to get rid of this system. They had no answer. I then asked them what books they had read to understand various systems or history of other nations in similar condition. They had done nothing of that. Their only argument was that because a certain person was promoting this idea, it must be abolished.
Here is another real life story. Last year I made a post on my Facebook page criticising TTP for promoting an extremist agenda. A young man from FATA engaged me in a debate on that. He said the leaders of TTP wanted to introduce sharia in the country. I asked him how old his TTP leader is. He said about 27 years old. I asked him from which university did he get his sharia degree. He said he didn’t know. I said what books he had used to tell him about the outlines of a sharia. He said they had shown him a four-page flyer. This young man was so brainwashed that he was convinced I was going to hell for rejecting sharia and his TTP commander was a God-sent gift to the nation.
The rising emotionalism in our younger generation, which now comprises almost 75 per cent of the population, has induced some of our politicians, anchormen, journalists, and other power brokers to use irrational rhetoric to motivate them for their own shortsighted agendas. It is also interesting that the narrative of English and Urdu newspapers and op-eds is 180 degrees apart which is another indication of the ignorance divide. With each jalsa we are achieving a new low in political rhetoric. Dr Tahirul Qadri’s rhetoric to kill every male member of a politician if he is assassinated should not surprise us. Dr Qadri is not alone; every other politician is also in this race to reach new lows. Our media loves this kind of rhetoric because it earns them audiences which translate into big advertising money. Our advertisers don’t care where their ads are shown. They want their ads to be in the front which in turn produces more sales for the product.
A whole book is needed to talk about this topic. So I will close it with this final comment. Constitution is a legalistic document to control the lives of the people. There are other factors that should also play their part like culture, civic sense, and respect for others to create new red lines in our political and communal behaviour. Every right cannot be settled in a court of law. A social boycott of a corrupt or disrespectful politician has much more power but one that we have never tried.