By Shaheera Syed
20, Nov 2013
It Is A Battle For Ideas, Narratives And Tales.
Get your story straight. Get your story right. Even if halfway through you realize that you have chosen the wrong side or perhaps the less profitable one, don’t panic. All is not lost. Get up, brush yourself off and get your act together. Be better prepared and equipped to make a come-back that flashes through the dust of time. Present a story that sticks, a narrative that gels well with the stakeholders, and a tale that grapples the audience. Anything ranging from a heart wrenching confession from the past to an optimistic commitment for the future would work to excuse your behaviour. The trick is to make it convincing to a level that the audience is completely and utterly drunk on the idea. And boom! You work is done. You’re back in the game.
The problem with Pakistan is that it has never been able to define a narrative for itself and even when it has; it never stuck with it long enough so that it settled with the public or with the international community. Case in point: Failure of project Jinnah which aimed at creating a positive image of Jinnah and ended up sparking an infuriating debate about the difference between Jinnah’s ideologies and actions.
We as a nation have been marred with a benign disease: the curse of confusion. A confusion that has deadened our spirits, scared our ideology, paralyzed our thinking, crippled our state machinery and blinded our public. From the question of the reason for the creation of Pakistan to its current status on terrorism to its future goals, we have been confused about everything. We don’t have to look far for examples; our frequent experiments with religion throughout our history provide a glaring testimony to that.
The only good thing out of this manifested confusion is that it provides a lot of grey area for our political leaders to move around. They secretly guard their loyalties and never openly declare who their friends or foes are. This provides them with ample room to get cozy with one, sleep with another and all along, flirt with all the available partners. It is a good game play for as long as it works but we have worn out our cards and exhausted this strategy. We have shifted our sides’ one too many times and there is a limit to how many times you can go back to your old partner without butchering your soul and completely diminishing your self-esteem. There comes a time, when those around you figure out your game and refuse to mingle with you anymore. Pakistan is at that stage of abandonment.
The magnetic surge of internet and the subsequent boom of social networks have changed the way politics is done in the country. It has disposed immense amount of power at the disposal of the public. Anyone with a strong argument is immediately bought forward in the spot light and is made a stakeholder in the political arena. The already existing players are more vocal than ever and their differences are highlighted, magnified, and painted in the color of controversy by the rating (read profit) starved media. Couple up this entire mixture of variables with a heightened civic sense of the community and you’ll get the current state of affairs of Pakistan. The government is facing exuberant amount of pressure from all sides to clearly define its stance on issues of national and international importance. Pakistan has to realize the dangers of continuing with the war on terror in its narrative-less state. This is not a sustainable policy and if not rectified, it will backlash soon.
We have to make a decision, pick a side and then stick with it. We can’t continue to harbor the enemies while simultaneously condemn attacks on girls like Malala Yousafzai. We can’t make under table agreements to support drone attacks yet spread anti-American sentiments on the public front. We can’t let statements like that of Munawar Hassan discredit the efforts of hundreds and thousands of people who have lost their lives in this battle. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. The sooner Pakistan realizes this better it will be otherwise, it is only a matter of time till the catastrophic consequences of sharing the bed with both the enemy and the friend will take a toll on the health of the nation.