Integrity and uprightness, along with most of our leaders’ assets, fled Pakistan quite some time ago. It seems now that logic and sense have also followed suit. Last month, Maulana Fazl ur Rehman declared that in certain circumstances, dogs can be deemed martyrs. Not to anyone’s surprise, this was ridiculous enough to make headlines. And this wasn’t the most absurd thing to come out of Pakistani news that week. Maulana’s comments were in response to the death of Hakimullah Mehsud, a man who led the TTP from 2009 till the day he was reportedly killed by an American drone. In his lifetime, Mehsud was known for his long, luxuriant hair; a wicked sense of humor; and for being the leader of an outfit that has killed scores and scores of innocent Pakistanis. In his death, he is remembered as a martyr – a man whose peace credentials were so strong, that our interior minister labeled his death as the ‘death of peace’.

Munawar Hassan went a step further. Hassan declared, on Pakistan’s most watched news channel, that not only was Mehsud a martyr, but that those countless soldiers who have lost their lives in the line of duty over the past decade fighting men like Mehsud, weren’t. Of course, in no shape or form do Hassan’s views reflect those of an average Pakistani, who responded with outrage, the ISPR chimed in, and talkshow hosts were overwrought and overcome with horror. But the fact that we’ve reached this point – the fact that we’re even discussing this – makes one wonder if our government should ditch banning websites, and move onto banning reproduction. Till three months ago, these people were our enemies. Then we started looking at them as ‘stakeholders’. Now they’re martyrs, and we’re infidels. More clerics will refuse to carry out burials of our soldiers, and our interior minister will continue on being heartbroken whenever a terrorist is killed.

How did we get here: where the two biggest debates this year have been whether our soldiers killed in the line of duty have been martyred, and whether a 16-year old girl is the enemy of the state. All the while, less than 100 km from our Prime Minister’s estate in Lahore, lies a country that just sent a mission to Mars. At least we’ve still got our ghayrat. We’re well aware that what we’re discussing as a nation is futile, counter-productive, and ridiculous, but we fail to realize that it’s also fatal. Instead of wondering where on earth we’re going to find water to drink fifty years from now, or even how great the revival of Pakistani cinema is, we spend time discussing how patriotic one journalist is, and the level of ghadaari another has achieved.

Our three-time Prime Minister’s love for all things massive and Arab-esque is all well and good, but this enthusiasm doesn’t spill over to matters of the greatest import: where we’re heading as a people. The current leader of the opposition, who as minister in the last government threw his full weight behind a conman who claimed he could power our cars with water (...yes, in case you forgot: Khurshid Shah was Agha Waqar’s number one fan boy...), does little to inspire as well. Whereas, Imran Khan, the de facto leader of the opposition, has learnt that things really are easier said than done. Our religious leadership seems to prefer politics to religion. And our intellectual leadership…err, do we have one?

Competent leaders, as repeatedly pointed out by everyone who isn’t blinded by Sharif’s want to turn Gawadar into Hong Kong or Imran Khan’s crowd pulling abilities, are a scarce commodity in Pakistan. Maybe the current government does deliver energy, wider roads, and bullet trains, but their legacy - what they leave behind - won’t be about the underpasses and bridges they built, but rather of being incapable of waking us up at a time where we can’t afford to sleep. Perhaps PML-N and their ambitious projects push our infrastructure into the 21st century, but what of our soul that’s stuck in the 17th century? Last week’s incident in Karachi, where an ex-Navy man’s severed head was left hanging from a Sohrab Goth flyover, over a four-lane highway, is the bluntest possible example for our metro-obsessed government that metro-’modernization’ doesn’t mean we’re going anywhere as a people.

Until someone puts sense before sensation, our national quandaries will become pettier. Sense will remain dead. And the only Pakistanis truly enjoying themselves will be the ones sitting in a Sharjah Stadium, hoping and praying that their team turns itself around. A lot like the ones back home, foolishly hoping the same for Pakistan.

The writer is based in Lahore.

Email:wtirmizi@gmail.com

tweets at:@walitirmizi