An auto mechanic took my car for repairs with the promise to return it in three days. He brought it back after 10 days with inflated charges (over what was agreed) and fitted with fake parts. Now, we have a dispute going on. Welcome to the real world!I pay a hefty amount for my family’s health insurance policy. But every time there is a claim or a medical test request, the insurance company’s management finds a clause to dispute or reject it. Banks and airlines offer promotional packages, but in small letters “terms & conditions apply.” Auto dealers play the same tricks. There is always a hidden catch to deceive, manipulate and control people. Welcome to the real world!On another philosophical level, feminist activists raise hell that women are considered sex objects – which they are incidentally because of nature’s inherent system of union between women and men and the continuity of the human race. But on the issues that truly matter, they have not done much to stop the disgrace meted out to the female body in TV commercials and media advertising. Nor have they been actively instrumental in stopping the “Miss Universe” and “Miss World” beauty pageants. It seems, philosophically and conceptually, the entire approach to human emancipation as promoted by feminist activists, their male counterparts and commercial interests is flawed! Welcome to the real world!But the above-mentioned examples are minor infractions of violating ethical, moral and philosophical standards of conduct needed to run human societies fairly and justly. In the real world, look around and you will find deceit, dishonesty, deception, misinformation, circumvention, fraud, jugglery and perceptual manipulation everywhere. It seems as if the world has become a stage or a theatre for a full-scale deception and manipulation of the human race. More so, in matters that concern the welfare of humanity and its governance. Take for example, the American ideological stand on democracy. They claim that they are the champions of democracy and human rights. And yet, they have inflicted such terror and destruction on humanity that has no precedent in the entire history of human civilisation. From dropping atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima to the brutality of the lethal use of power in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, they have earned the unmatched distinction of “angels of death”. General Powell openly lied about Saddam Hussein’s “weapons of mass destruction” in front of the United Nations General Assembly and got away with it. Instead, Iraq, one of the oldest human civilisations, has been turned into ruins and Saddam Hussein was hanged. Tony Blair doctored the evidence to go to war against Iraq, yet he is the “free world’s” envoy for peace - as if a murderer has been made a judge to dispense justice in a murder case. Barack Obama is the recipient of the “Nobel Peace Prize”, but “drones” are raining missiles on innocent civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and who knows where else. Obama, hailed as the champion of democracy and human rights, is the architect of one of the most lethal military technological approaches to global conflicts - peace through the barrel of a gun is Obama’s doctrine for the 21st century world. And yet, the American President is getting away with it. Welcome to the real world!It is common knowledge that the US gave rise to al-Qaeda and the Mujahedeen Movement to fight their proxy war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Later, in the wake of the Afghan war, the same mujahedeen have been turned into terrorists. Now, there is a new twist to the American policy: President Putin in his address to the APEC Summit meeting in Vladivostok (September 7-9) said the US was recruiting al-Qaeda affiliates or “some other organisations with equally radical views…....in its campaign to overthrow the Bashar al-Assad regime” in Syria. Welcome to the real world of contradictions and contemptuous manipulation!It is ironic that the US, the champion of democracy, human rights and global peace, should be trading in arms with such intensity and vast investment. Finian Cunningham, in a recent article, wrote: “Just this week, a US Congressional report revealed that the United States is responsible for nearly 80 percent of all global arms sales in 2011 - some $66 billion worth - a figure that has tripled on previous years.” Cunningham also critically examined UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s role in the 16th Summit of NAM in Tehran on August 30, 2012: “But then, in his speech on this historic day, Ban engaged in a disgraceful diplomatic offensive. He pointedly denounced those who ‘deny the [Nazi] holocaust’ and who call for the Zionist state’s destruction. Ban championed ‘Israel’s right to exist’ without a word of condemnation of Israel’s decades-long crimes against humanity on the Palestinian people and its violation of countless UN resolutions. In that way, the UN Chief was peddling the spurious Western propaganda that seeks to besmirch Iran’s principled opposition to the Zionist state’s record of criminality…....No, he would rather engage in pejorative, baseless innuendoes against Iran, while disgracefully covering up Western crimes of aggression in Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Iran and the ongoing slaughter of innocents with US drones in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.” Ban Ki-moon also did not mention anything about Kashmir’s right of self-determination. Nor did he call on India to resolve the Kashmiri issue for furthering peace in the region. On the home front, in the beloved country of Pakistan, contradictions and perceptual manipulations abound. The incumbent Prime Minister said recently that the living standards of the common citizens in the country have improved appreciably due to the economic policies of the PPP regime. The question is: on what planet has Raja Pervaiz Ashraf been living - Mars? Does the PM not know that poverty has drastically increased in the country, hunger is widespread, price hikes are unprecedented, the health and education sector is nearly demolished, industrial growth is at the lowest in the nation’s history, national commercial institutions including Steel Mills, Railways and PIA are bankrupt, the nation is without electricity and oil, gas is unavailable and the Pakistani currency is nose-diving. Add a few more things like deplorable law and order conditions, drone attacks and mass displacement of people in the northern part of the country and bullet-riddled dead bodies thrown on the roads in Balochistan. Is that what the incumbent Prime Minister considers common citizen prosperity, progress, and development and material advancement? Welcome to the real world of glaring contradictions and continuous manipulations. We, as a nation, need to develop, “counter powers, spaces of spiritual, intellectual, social, political, cultural and economic resistance…....The ethics of counter power require an ethical counter power…....one that is never compromising, compromised or selective,” wrote Tariq Ramadan, Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University.Perhaps, we should search for a new real world! Shouldn’t we?
The writer is UAE-based academic policy analyst, conflict resolution expert and the author of several books on Pakistan and foreign policy issues. He holds a doctorate and a masters degree from Columbia University in New York.Email:firstname.lastname@example.org