Keats equated truth with beauty. Buddha said that truth could not be long hidden. Einstein declared that whosoever did not take truth seriously in small matters, could not be trusted in big ones either. Lincoln felt that given the truth, people could be depended upon to meet any national crisis. For Martin Luther King, truth was to be sought at all costs. It is indeed difficult to challenge these luminaries when they explain the importance of truth in life. However, a question comes to mind: is there any truth which doesn’t have a flip side? Perhaps, there is only one truth that could never be contested. All must die.

Truth is what is true or in accordance with fact or reality. This is how any dictionary would define truth. Truth is the first casualty in any conflict. This is what we have been hearing since childhood. As a matter of fact, all of us believe or rather claim that we speak the truth. If that belief is true, one wonders who actually lies?

Any idea why the need to suddenly know the true nature of truth?

The answer lies in the recent discovery about the present state of affairs in Pakistan. One has realized that finding truth is actually the nation’s real issue. Or, trying to resolve a mystery in pursuit of finding truth is what is most desirable. The latest example is the Election Commission’s verdict on the so-called foreign funding case. The ‘truth’ in a scandal that was haunting Pakistan’s political landscape for years was finally revealed while putting all other issues on the back burner, at least for the time being. So much so that the sad news of a sitting Corp Commander’s martyrdom and the reported killing of Ayman Al-Zawahiri took a backseat.

As if we didn’t know that political parties anywhere in the world thrive on funding. Whether the funding to PTI was prohibited or legal is a matter of interpretation of the concerned law. Since even a shred of irrefutable evidence could be challenged in a court of law while taking refuge behind technicalities, the idea of knowing the truth and more importantly, following the law to the letter is likely to produce familiar results. Divided opinions shrouded in mystery!

From the US President’s admission of intelligence failure on the presence of WMDs in Iraq to the mysterious disappearance of well-trained Afghan security forces facing the Taliban to OBL’s assassination to the details of attacks on America on 9/11 to the explosion in mid-air of a plane carrying mangoes to the Panama case to the latest assassination of Ayman Al-Zawahiri, a plethora of notable events come to mind. History is replete with numerous mysteries that were set aside after terming them, pandora boxes, at best left alone.

Even the landing of Neil Armstrong on the Moon is still shrouded in mystery awaiting the real facts. The question is: why should we worry about the truth if the facts would always remain doubtful? Why then would it be important for us to search for truth in any event?

Then there is the element of selecting ‘truthful’ issues at a given time. Instead of seeking the flight details of the drone that reportedly hit and killed the ‘mastermind’ of 9/11, the nation was discussing the pros and cons of a verdict that might take weeks and months to culminate in yet another question mark. Any idea about the political implications and strategic ramifications of this ‘assassination’ for Pakistan particularly in the context of Pak-US overall future relations? Or, some sense on the possible severe retaliation from rogue elements; assuming that the US could not succeed in the operation on its own? But no, knowing the details of the foreign funding case was seemingly the biggest endeavor for us.

It was the second of August when the tv screens kept screaming from dawn to dusk. The opinion seemed divided. The majority said that difficult days lie ahead for PTI and its Chairman as the Election Commission had declared the funding as prohibited by law. Talk shows hosts had a field day. The ‘tilt’ was obvious. Looking confident but confused, PTI officials and sympathizers expressed the hope of attaining a favourable outcome through the courts. What maximum? They will ask us to return the money? Not a big deal. We will return it. Matter ends. The leader is too popular to be sidelined. On the other hand, PTI’s detractors including some members of the Cabinet were predicting all possibilities ranging from disqualification for life to en masse incarcerations. All said and done, it seemed that the biggest issue facing Pakistan was neither the depleting economy nor the political uncertainty. It was the foreign funding case!

Naïve people like me were at a loss to see the opening of yet another pandora box to keep the nation busy in inconsequential debates.

Political scientists or jurists seem utterly helpless in explaining why truth hardly prevails. Even establishing Truth Commissions wouldn’t produce flawless truth or conclusive proofs able to be implemented in letter and spirit. The doctrine of necessity and trying to find a technical escape-window through reverse logic and extraordinary ‘circumstances’ have further harmed the value of truth. It could justifiably be argued then that finding truth is almost impossible let alone initiating proportionate actions against the ‘real’ culprits after establishing the facts on any issue. Hence, it is a waste of time to do this exercise as the truth would often be overtaken by explanations and justifications if ever the facts were established beyond any reasonable doubt. In a world of strong likes and dislikes where might is always right, does anyone believe in truth anymore? If the answer is no, then why do we insist on knowing the truth to begin with?