A person’s conversation is considered to be his advertisement. When he opens his mouth to speak, he lets the people enter his mind, his thoughts. Likewise the TV channels of any country are considered to be a direct representation of the country and the nation. It is with a very heavy, rather with a bleeding heart that I write how crestfallen I am to see that amidst blinding clouds of ambition to compete for ratings and rankings, our channels have forgotten the very exigency of exhibiting the decent side of the face of our nation.

While I was penning down this article, I felt a cacophony of emotions rushing through me as I tried to remember my childhood days, when we as children, got to imbibe lessons of altruism, moderation and clemency from the television shows.

The lust for ratings and the addiction to attract popular commercials has gone so massive and outrageous that the TV channels have virtually become an anathema for decent citizens in the country. Having spent their whole day working in offices, people fall back to their homes in the evening. Upon switching on their TV screens, to merely share a couple of moments in tranquility with their families, they get to view nothing but a set of terrible interpolations; interpolations that include blindfolded couples, shoving frosty pieces of vanilla cake in each other’s mouths, audiences from all corners shouting at the top of their vocal cords to attract the show’s host towards their side for acquiring free giveaways and little children being pushed by their parents towards the stage to beg for toy cars.

Desperate to find some vestige of an antidote to these interpolations on the entertainment channels, people turn to the news channels. What they see there are the even more torturous panels of enthusiastic jesters, vociferously jabbing comments upon political personalities to make it seem an exhibition of political satire in a humorous mode. Eventually, turning off the television is the only remaining option.

I might be too outdated to not be able to get in sync with what TV shows like Fahad Mustapha’s Jeeto Pakistan and Maya Khan’s Jeet Plus endeavor to portray. Even for a couple of days, I hypothesized that perhaps it was too obsolete of me to not grasp a few new definitions of the terms generosity, entertainment and a sense of achievement as established by these shows.

Tantalizing the audiences with the beguiling effulgence of glamorously packed giveaways and then literally flinging those giveaways towards them coupled with the people barbarically pushing each other, rushing towards grabbing these giveaways, is what generosity according to these shows is really established as. Presenting motorbikes on the best public performances of the worst saas-bahu verbal combats and that of the ones between a husband and a wife by people from the audiences is termed as the best part of the show, said to be providing nothing less or more than merely pure forms of entertainment. Elderly women imploring for Umra tickets are ensured that they have veritably “won” the tickets, making it a reason to feel a sense of achievement in what they manage to obtain at the show, by actually pleading for it.

By merely swiveling the eye, one gets to observe some well-monitored dissemination of cultural trends through the medium of television, by one of our immediate neighbors. It is but a fact that there has been a gradual, but prominent, bollywoodization of our own cultural trends and identity in some unavoidable and inexorable manner.

Be it the Award shows, where from ‘the style of comparing’ to the ‘dance performances’, everything is an exact imitation of that of Bollywood or even the way in which a sort of ‘happening news’ is showcased on the news channels with songs from various antediluvian Indian films playing in the background, adding spice to the overall feel of the breaking news. Popular Indian writers have time to time termed this, as India’s soft power.

If there is something like India’s ‘soft power’ that exists and could similarly be observed, what about Pakistan’s‘soft power’?

As a Pakistani, one should like to know as to what good is to come to our way by the ratings-centric, sensational shows by Fahad Mustapha, Maya Khan and Dr. Amir Liaquat? What constructive development is the television bringing to us? A country whose international image is already surrounded by a sea of troubles, how are its television’s management systems, working towards building its good image abroad?

Is the only thing left in this country, are masses craving for gift packs and free toy cars? Why can we not focus on making regular reporting-shows that could highlight our success so far in the war on terror? Why can we not have a show aired daily that could include healthy and friendly debating sessions between a panel of youngsters from Pakistan and a panel of youngsters from any other country with which Pakistan has its ties? Can a compilation of various documentaries based on the lives and struggle of the dedicated philanthropists of our country not be presented in the form of a program on daily basis (may be the littlest that we could do to honor people like Dr. Abdul Sattar Edhi)? Why can our TV shows not play a part in implanting a love and desire for reading books within the youth, something that is depreciating at an alarming rate in the country?

The television is an essential tool which could be used to change perception in a dynamic manner. The masses will practice better, when they will watch better. If the only thing to watch on the TV screens is hooliganism, what would bring in the motivation to move towards civilization? 

It is high time to put aside personalized petty agendas that focus on individual recognition of a person or a channel and to shirk off selfish desires of amassing popularity and gathering ratings. It is high time to realize how much this country needs itself to be positively recognized and how crucial it is, to make the Pakistanis cognizant of their Pakistaniyat.

It is the highest time, to reinvigorate the systems that matter.