We are currently passing through a phase which can best be described as ‘Shenanigan Time.’ It started with a celebrity anchors brush with ‘would be’ assassins and unethical finger pointing by a private channel. This created a tsunami of pro-army public sentiment on the one hand and snowballed into a war between two (or perhaps three) large media groups on the other. The private channel went on to put a foot in its mouth by airing a controversial show which generated into more popular outrage. The channel and the host were quick to tender an apology, but public sentiment did not abate. Then things happened in quick succession – first the cable operators took the concerned private channel off their network, while those that did not relegated it to the ‘tail’ of their bouquet. Hawkers refused to deliver the concerned group’s newspaper and those who did not were told by many subscribers to cancel their subscription for the same.

The Pakistan Electronic Media Authority (PEMRA), reacting to a formal complaint sent by the concerned Ministry, met in a stormy session where it split on the issue of penalizing the channel. The penultimate act of this drama was when five (or so) members convened a session of the regulatory body and issued a verdict cancelling licenses of the channel. No sooner did this happen that the PEMRA spokesperson issued a formal statement saying that this decision was illegal and therefore invalid. We wait expectantly to see the final act of this comedy.

While the PEMRA issue was hot, another story was unfolding with reference to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). The Islamabad High Court reinstated Mr. Zaka Ashraf (an industrialist from Southern Punjab) as Chairman of the Cricket Board on the 17th of May, deeming the appointment of Mr. Najam Sethi as extra constitutional - three days later Mr. Sethi was restored to his former post by the Supreme Court. This game of musical chairs did much to make the PCB a laughing stock in front of the entire cricketing world. It would do well for both the gentlemen to resign from the post in an act that would be deemed dignified and honorable, laying the controversy to rest once and for all.

The show stopper shenanigan of our times began on the day that our Prime Minister and his sibling decided that the Metro Bus (or Jungla Bus, as Lahoris are prone to call it) should ply between Rawalpindi and Islamabad. The decision turned life in the Federal Capital topsy-turvy, destroying the city’s serene and ecology friendly beauty. I happened to traverse a section of the Jinnah Avenue running along the Blue Area and stopped in shock when I saw the magnificent palm trees planted on the island many years ago being mercilessly uprooted. I have since then spoken to countless people from Islamabad, belonging to almost all sections of society and not a single word of support have I found from amongst them. The launching of this project not only lacks aesthetics, but is something that defies logic, as it will not alleviate traffic congestion in the Federal Capital. I wish that the millions being spent on the Metro Bus had been diverted for the generation of electricity, the management of gas shortages and improvement of health services. As if this was not enough, salt is being rubbed into Islamabad’s wounds by posters that have recently appeared thanking the PM for the said Project.

I have serious doubts if our rulers will ever learn not to take knee jerk decisions or ones with short term or egotistic benefits. Mere oration about improving Pakistan’s image will serve no purpose unless they cease to indulge themselves in ‘shenanigans and more shenanigans’.

The writer is a freelance columnist.