We’re seeing a revolution of sorts happening in the media and online media.

The “revolution” I refer to involves the most insidious “revolutionaries”; those who would harm Pakistan and its prestige, at every available juncture and venue, and then claim that they’re doing so out of “love” for it. They’re the ones who would gladly excoriate, shred, and defenestrate Pakistan’s dignity, and then insist that their motives for this are purely “patriotic”. Yes. Those types.

It takes many shapes and forms; does this motley crew of “revolutionaries”. It incorporates diverse – at times, wildly-colourful – individuals. Some are bona fide scholars; wielding the most important-sounding academic degrees from various foreign universities of repute. Some are genuine professionals; having honed their skills in the “service” of Pakistan as diplomats, civil servants or political functionaries. Others are relative “nobodies”, with nothing special about them, other than their knack for making the most out of a situation, and Pakistan does face so many situations on any given day. But then, again, if a situation doesn’t exist or fails to manifest itself, well they’ll just manufacture one. Something that conveniently adds to the stereotypes, prejudices and tropes that are associated with Pakistan. I mean, if Doctor-Ambassador-Barrister-Academic from the Institute of Massive Intellectual Whatchamacallit at London-Paris-Washington thinks so, it has to be right. Right?

All too often, these “revolutionaries” quote that they are in danger of persecution because of some frivolous “memo” they may or may not have initiated. Or being forcibly “disappeared” because they are writing about some sinister “incorporated” identities. Or that assassination threats loom large over their heads because of some “leak” or the other; which is why they’d feel safer in Paris, Zurich or Florida. This, of course, is why they chose to leave their venerated homeland with such a heavy heart.

Ironically, this is also why they choose to write about Pakistan and its ills, with such eloquence, passion and fire. Despite living elsewhere, in a society that is far removed from Pakistan, and paid by institutes, press agencies, media channels and publications where the mode of payment is in dollars, francs and pounds rather than measly rupees, they are taken as the definitive voice on Pakistan. Their feigned outrage at what’s happening in Pakistan is carefully contrived to feed preconceived notions about the country they’re no longer a part of. It is aimed at those who live in the country they’re desperate to be a part of. Their words are tinged with the brimstone and hellfire of the incandescently self-righteous. Their pained expressions on cable news are the stuff Greek tragedies are made of.

In the Spanish Civil War of 1936, the term “quinta columna” gained prominence; as a figure of speech for a group of people who seek to undermine or harm a larger group from within, usually at the behest of an enemy country, state or group. This has been ascribed to Generalissimo Franco, who allegedly spoke of “four Nationalist columns marching on Madrid, while the fifth column waited to rise from within”.

This, then, is the beauty of this “revolution”. The “revolutionaries” are the fifth columnists; except they aren’t, since they’re not actually within Pakistan. Instead, those that are in Pakistan are the ones they accuse of being fifth columnists; the ones who are out to destroy their “beloved” (former) country. Their targets are numerous and diverse: the military, the “establishment”, the “deep state”, various governmental “mafias”, religious sentiment and even social norms that are unique to Pakistan but are completely alien or even repugnant to an “outsider” audience.

The “revolutionaries” don’t need facts, figures or hardcore research, or any research for that matter, to fire up the “revolution”. This is because they’re feeding into a narrative that has already been well-entrenched in minds that are all too eager to hear their existing (mis)conceptions reinforced. For their efforts, they’re awarded important-sounding prizes for intellectual courage or journalistic fearlessness; which look jolly good on their resumes, by the way. Their books make best-seller lists, on a regular basis. They’re much in demand on the lectures-and-talks circuits, worldwide. As long as they’re telling their adopted audience what they want to hear, that is.

And that is why they’ll offer hyperbole and sensation, and downright falsehoods, in ridiculously generous servings.

That is why these “revolutionaries”, and by now, everyone has an even more fair idea of them, are so dangerous to the image of Pakistan, domestically and abroad.

The poet and musician Gil Scott-Henry once wrote a song titled “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”; an epic narration which was perhaps one of the most culturally significant songs pertaining to the Black Power movement of the 1960s.

In Pakistan, it seems the “revolution” will not be televised, either. Then again, perhaps it might be. But on Fox News, maybe. Or the BBC World Service. Or NDTV. On PTV, though? Probably not so much.