For many years, the political mood in the land of Pakistan has been resonating with one content, one theme & one idea. When you sign in to your social media, you are encountered with one predominant debate. When you switch on your tv sets for some talk shows, you find thoughtful analysts discussing only one theme. When you enter your office, all and sundry are confabulating over one issue. And that issue, talk or debate is about a thief or ‘chor’ in local parlance who they deem absconded abroad on the false pretext of being seriously ill and never came back to date. This is how many think, nay, the people have been made to think, rather the narrative has been shoved down their throats, or more vividly the description of ‘chor chor’ has been injected in their veins.
To implement the idea some years ago, around 20 anchors and analysts were hired. Politicians were trained. YouTubers were created out of ashes. Keyboard warriors were assigned the tasks. Intellectuals were fed a particular narrative. All of them were to perform one job with different characters so as to penetrate single thought and content into the hearts of the audience. At last, they were successful. The idea clicked. The audience was mesmerised. They started dancing to the tunes of the accounts of ‘theft’ they were told. They believed each and every letter of the stories recounted to them by these media men and intelligentsia. With the passage of time, the naive audience became diehard devotees, who never needed any proof to corroborate the yarns of theft.
With all this hard work and well-crafted strategy in the backdrop, a nation was prepared. It was exactly like a potter who with his dexterous hands made a beautiful pot out of shapeless clay. But this was a nation of flesh and blood, emotions and feelings. Yes, the emotions devoid of the capacity to brood over the things told. They were now ready—ready to get released in the market; just like a new and different brand, created through utmost care is presented in the market, expected to work as per the installed software.
This new generation with frowns and growls on their forehead started pouncing on anybody who thought differently. They stripped off the attire of courtesy and became loud-mouthed on streets, bazaars, offices, nooks and crannies. People with different ideologies started flinching from expressing their different thoughts on any public platform for fear of getting the harshest vituperation. So the streets, nooks, and social media became infested with abuses and innuendos. Insults and smears hurled at the enemy on public spots remind me of primitive tribes of Africa yelling and dancing just before the attack on their foe. Thus, the voices of dissent got silenced, and the shouts of smear and slander got louder and louder.
The devotees were given an idol in the form of a political leader. The image of the leader was presented as being away from the filthy world of corruption. Each aspect of his life was romanticised by the hired pack of analysts and YouTubers. The devotees started worshipping him. Any accusation against the beloved leader faced the harshest blow from the followers. After some while, the followers began denying the instructions. The software installed got corrupted by the inclusion of different bugs. The directors soon realised that the train was moving on the wrong path. The leader lacked the capacity to deliver. Things had gone disrupted. The populace had started suffering. The erstwhile beauteous picture started moving upside down making the whole scenario doleful.
It was decided to dispense with the services of the leader and send him packing. He was removed by the people’s representatives. This infuriated the leader. He called his media team and devised strategies to humiliate the directors and all the other players who carried different narratives. New slogans were introduced to be relevant; different tunes were invented, and novel strategies were adopted, but the theme and the content were the same. The followers were told that theirs is the struggle to break the shackles of slavery; theirs are not only the efforts, rather a jihad—which gives them the wisdom to discern between right and wrong, good and evil. So, no tolerance for those who support the corruption of society. From here erupted the wanton whim to unleash the venom of hatred upon opponents.
For example, this group of Pakistanis does not feel concerned with bullet-riddled chests of the praying Muslims in Al-Aqsa Masjid; it does not want to think about how the Hindutva narrative has let been let loose, or the mountains of sufferings on Indian Muslims in the recent past. I remember whenever such oppression used to fall on the defenseless Palestinians, the Pakistanis in Pakistan & abroad used to stage protest demonstrations outside UN offices. They used to write about the desecration of Muslim holy places. Social media used to be abuzz with heart-touching content studded with poignant words stirring the Pakistanis to think and pray for their Qibla-e-Awal! In the 1930’s, the Germans were also carried away by Nazism, a narrative that forced them to kill those who thought differently. The perilous narrative took the lives of millions in Europe. After the death of Hitler, the problem posed was how to get rid of the narrative. It took almost two decades to de-nazify the Germans, making them reconcilable with an alternative ideology—accommodating those who think differently.