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Breaking. Videos. Affidavit. Notary stamps. Texts. Audio calls. Exposé. Communication these days is based on all such and more. From sports to corporate world, from judges to politicians, scams and scandals are sprouting in every walk of life. News, social media, twitter feeds, Whatsapp placements are all excellent forums for making anything and everything viral in a matter of clicks. The bigger the name, the more the reach.

The more lewd the story the more the reviews and retweets. The more gory the video the deeper its audience penetration. Bad attracts. Black entices. Beastly disgusts. All these elements together make a blockbuster that sells at record-breaking volumes.

Netflix is made of fiction that engages subscribers. The idea is to make people move away from reality with stories that provide entertainment and relaxation. The concept of seasonal serials means long-term viewership. While many stories have a touch of absurdness due to fictional license some stories look under-stated when you compare them with reality.

This realization has become more prominent due to social media videography and virality. Political serials like “House of Cards” seem exaggerated till you compare them with politics in Pakistan. What is happening in Pakistan is like a ridiculously weird political thriller that is in its umpteenth serial. The difference is that in America it may be a serial fiction, while in Pakistan it is a reality show that is larger than fiction. Why has it reached this level where its lowness and lewdness has discovered a new bottom?

  1. Decades of political blackmailing- While politics has been dirty since time immemorial, social media has propelled it into the darkest underworld imaginable. Videos and messages circulate with such velocity that by the time the truth surfaces, the untruth becomes the truth. There was a time this was the professional job description of intelligence agencies who tapped calls and had secret cameras for security purposes. Then it became a military Vs civilian game. With corrupt leaders the military used their illegal transactions to subdue them.

The famous audio leak of Shahbaz Sharif ordering Justice Abdul Qayyum to decide cases on his whims was a case in point. The problem with this was that as soon as such audios/videos became public the people involved backed out. To blackmail them the political parties especially PML-N would trap these people in indecent situations, keep secret videos of immoral behavior, and use them to get what they wanted. The video of former accountability judge Arshad and the audio leaks of former Justice Rana Shamim are classic example of how years later they are held hostage to political influence/intimidation.

  1. New levels of Intellectual Corruption- Video leaks need reach and authenticity. What happens is that there is a lobby of writers, anchors, experts and social media trolls who create such clamour, screaming, retweeting of the video that before you know the video becomes the center of castigation on talk shows, twitter and Whatsapp groups.

  2. Pawns in the hybrid warfare-Pakistan has and will be a geo-strategic target for international powers. The way Altaf Hussain previously and Nawaz Sharif presently has been given refuge in foreign countries itself is an example of how difficult it is for the institutions to hold the absconders accountable. The complaint about bureaucracy and its deliberate incompetence has a background. They do their utmost to stall, delay and spoil projects and programs.

Most of them are wooed by international agencies through all expenses paid scholarships, lucrative consulting assignments and foreign placements. In return they become pawns in the game of policy distortions, implementation disasters and governance failures. All this is done so naturally and logically that they survive every government’s ouster becoming more successful while the country fails.

Is all lost? Is all futile? Is it just more of the same? The cynics are busy painting this sentiment of hopelessness. But in adversity lies opportunity. What the country needs is to turn the tables on these very factors:

  1. Reality loud and open— If social media helps to spread the untruth, it also can be used to spread truth. The barrier is that in a society like ours where decades of moral decay has happened the untruth spreads and has many more supporters than the truth. That is why the video leaks are important. The current purported audio of a former Chief Justice has actually done more harm to the launch lobby. It has now been taken up by the Islamabad High Court. This case needs to be made an example of exposing the culprits.

  2. Take the bold path in the last leg of the term— The government needs to review its reform agenda. With less than 2 years left the time for some impactful steps is the dire need. Economy is the main issue and inflation is the core pain point. Every ministry needs to have at least 2 main hot seller projects that ease the life of the people. The fast-track approach needs to be adopted to ensure timely finishing of the projects.

  3. Exposing the Mafias— Mafias exist in every field in the country. Cartels in Industries, lobbies in institutions, grouping in the media, batches in the bureaucracy. With the legal system so loose it will take time for them to be exposed and penalised. Meanwhile, a video campaign on “naming and shaming” them needs to be effectively carried out to create non-acceptance in the society.

We have to go back to basics. We have to create a distinction between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. We have to restore shock and disgust against creepy blackmailing. And, we have to bring back the values of dignified conduct that distinguishes a civilized society from a barbarian one.

(The writer can be reached at [email protected])

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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