In an earlier column, when the Memogate fire was raging at its peak, I had noted the coincidental importance of the ‘M’ factors in our national life. The factor was evident in the words mullah, military, Mansoor Ijaz, the ides of March, media and so on and so forth. The very recent clips released on YouTube pertaining to behind-the-scenes activity during a two-hour interview of tycoon Malik (whose serious allegations against the CJ’s son are now in the open), has given another dimension to the case. The names of the two anchors, exposed so embarrassingly, also begin with the letters ‘M’ as does the sir name of the person pointing a finger - so the coincidental ‘M’ factor continues!
It is now evident that Malik had bought his time on television from the owner of the channel (whose first name incidentally also begins with the infamous ‘M’ letter) and the entire two-hour interview was nothing, but a pre-planned activity with orders to the anchors by the owner to let the tycoon speak uninterrupted. The only good thing emerging out of the dirty tricks is that the unravelling has begun in earnest. The call from the Prime Minister’s son (or maybe there is another important Ali Qadir Gilani, with even the same nickname, who knows) exposes the fact that the government is not as silent a spectator as it appears on the surface. We can safely reach that conclusion now even without a Hercule Poirot in our midst. The tycoon was not just on extremely comfortable terms with the offspring of the head of government, but apparently with the nex-gen of the PML-N too. All this came to light unexpectedly by the placing of the clips on YouTube. If it is just an ordinary channel cameraman who is responsible for doing so, then he deserves the highest medal and acknowledgements from the citizens of this country.
It is for all of us to ponder and debate how the value system of our society has eroded so completely. Why the lure of the good life is too great for any person to pass up if an opportunity knocks. The Pakistan that we are looking at is a huge network of ‘you scratch my back and I will scratch yours’. Greed and lust for wealth is rampant and the brazenly corrupt aspect of getting to it is ignored and/or accepted. What a long way we have come from the way Mr Jinnah and Mr Liaquat Ali Khan conducted their affairs where finances or public money were involved.
The present case of Arsalan Ifthikhar and Malik Riaz has been so timed that it has managed to overshadow all the other cases being heard by the Supreme Court. If the idea was to walk the CJ into a corner and get his resignation, it has backfired. The citizens, by and large, and the lawyers community as well have seen the bigger conspiracy behind the whole idea and have decided to side with the judiciary so that it stays in its role. When it was restored in 2009, the independent judiciary gave us some heroes and it is our wish that the interpreters of law remain steadfast and true to their chosen calling. It is our wish that their name is not sullied and no allegations made against them. They need to be on very strict guard to be able to protect themselves from the likes of Malik Riaz who, and how the mind boggles, have travelled the distance to become Thakurs from Thekeydars in not too big a chunk of time! So much so that from being a kingmaker, he actually wants to become king! Lack of education being the least hurdle!
The mould that we made of heroes in journalism too is melting in front of our very eyes. Most of the anchors on electronic media, who each tried to outdo the others in their ‘Hardtalk’ style a la Tim Sebastian, need to clear their names from the dubious list being circulated. The authenticity is yet to be verified, but the list in circulation has the names of most of our prominent talk show hosts and how they have received hefty sums of money and plots and gifts from Malik Riaz of Bahria Town. Self-correction is the route to be taken to get out of this mess. A song that comes to mind is the one about a girl asking her beau to help in searching for her beautiful earring, which has fallen. Our version would be as follows:
“Dhoondo dhoondo rai media,
Dhoondo rai media,
Bherron mai bherr jo hai kaala!”
The writer is a public relations and event management professional based in Islamabad.