Sunday, 26 May 2013

The painful game of mudslinging

Mahmood Sadiq

In the middle of the last century, a man led a fragmented horde of ignorant people to achieve something unbelievable. His detractors called him a fraud and a pawn of the foreign occupiers. They casted doubts on his religious beliefs, some of them even declared him an infidel. Instead of wasting his energies in campaigns of counter abuse, he kept his moral high ground, ignored the negative propaganda and improvised.
He would spoke in a foreign language to massive crowds of locals, a vast majority of whom would not even understand his speech, yet they believed in him and whatever he said. This was so because it was not just the mouth of this old man that uttered words but his whole lean yet unwavering body effused trust and conveyed unflinching confidence.
He had earned this trust through long years of uprightness. Starting as a principled lawyer, he also upheld high moral values as a politician at a time as much in want of persons of character and integrity as is ours. Keeping focused, the old man eventually secured a separate homeland for the Muslims of India. Now we call him Quaid-e-Azam (the Greatest Leader) and his achievement, Pakistan.
We stand fragmented and humiliated again. We again need great leaders. If someone is there with the claim of leading us to the path of prosperity and honour, he must prove it through his conduct. His greatness should be visible to the ignorant us. He and his comrades must not indulge in mudslinging in response to the character assassination campaigns of his disparagers.
After our media attained a fair degree of freedom, which was reinforced by the arrival of social media, it was hoped that we would not take too much time in evolving a culture of constructive dialogue, fruitful discussion and positive debate. But unfortunately this has not happened.
In run up to the elections, we are seeing almost all the parties and their leaders picking at their opponents in the most malicious manner possible. I wish they focused on telling people what they have to offer and how they would solve the national problems. The media, both electronic and press, is equally to blame for this unfortunate practice. Ignoring their important role of gate-keeping, they are trying to gain maximum from election booty.
The situation on social media is even worse. Here we find meanness and mischief at full play. Most notably, the warriors of PTI and PML-N are trying every evil word and heinous depiction to debase each other's leaders. It's wrong and no argument can justify it. No election, no party, no leader can deliver the change we need, if we do not change ourselves. The upright leaders would start emerging and the corrupt ones vanishing the very day we proved that we are civilised people who deserve honest leaders.
I was impelled to write this piece after my eyes caught my Facebook friend Sana'a Aamir, who is a PTI zealot, engaging in a petty battle with a PML-N supporter. Sana'a is a brilliant young engineer from Lahore pursuing her PhD from the Netherlands. She argued that the rage and abuse at play on the social sites were the expression of frustrated people who were sick of corrupt. And I urged her to play her role to end this culture of sickness, instead of becoming a victim of it. “Gaali denay sy problems hal nahi hotay,” I told her. This is in fact a destructive way of dealing with the frustration; we need to invent better ways to fight off the evil,” I maintained. But may be many people believe in Franklin. P. Adms’s saying: “Elections are won by men and women chiefly because most people vote against somebody, rather than for somebody.”
Now that three days are left to the polls, emotions are running high on all sides. But we need to realise and accept that no party is going to clean sweep the elections, and most likely we are heading for a hung parliament – as wished by the national and international power brokers. The destination is too distant, yet; we need to keep walking patiently and cover the voyage inch by inch with utmost care and wisdom.

Published in The Nation on 7-5-2013


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