Much like US black ops on foreign soil, our country too has a penchant for abandoning its loyal sons in the heat of battle. This bad parenting trait is justified by our leaders and pundits as being “in the greater national interest”. Of course, this means that the funds transferred into the numbered Swiss and/or Bahaman accounts in exchange for such forgetfulness in the battlefield are in the “lesser national interest”.
But who defines national interest? Who is the keeper of the keys to the Mecca of strategic depth? Is it really necessary to keep sending our offspring into battle and orphaning them halfway through? Is it really that hard to follow up on actions or stand behind decisions taken for the greater good? Why can’t we all just get along? Messrs Lennon and Kobain died of asking questions exactly like these. The diagnosis: AssasinatumNosey Parkerium; an all-too-common affliction that rears its ugly head when a celebrity smokes too much Khyber Hashish and starts to think too deeply about the intrigues that surround them.
No matter what their vocation, our nation can find a way to hate its heroes, torch their effigies, storm the Bastille and burn their memory at the stake; all over the minorest of misdemeanours, such as taking a bride whose skin is the wrong shade of pale, or accepting the million dollar prize that is the most coveted thing amongst the scientific community since the Philosopher’s Stone. Mass murderers, genocidal nut-jobs and your friendly neighbourhood rapist, meanwhile, is canonized, carried on the shoulders of the adoring masses all the way to parliament and deposited in the corridors of power to rape, pillage, plunder and make merry till such time as we find a reason to hate them.
In Pakistan, everyone is afraid of doing the right thing, lest someone find out and expose them for the goody-two shoes they are. The government figured they could eliminate electricity theft by getting neighbours to rat each other out; the army figured it could take down the Taliban by paying off hapless tribals to do their dirty work for them; Hussain Haqqani thought he could rat on the army and get the US to name him Viceroy of the Leader of the Free World to the Land Formerly Known as Pakistan. But none of these underhanded tactics worked. That’s because in Pakistan, much like when in prison, we don’t take very kindly to snitches.
Tattling is frowned upon from a very young age, so it comes as no surprise that Malala Yousafzai’s book has been banned by educational institutions across the country. Of course we can’t have a teenager spilling the beans on the largest drug and gun cartel North of Colombia. That would destroy our reputation as a country friendly to foreign investment. Indeed, FMCGs such as the Central Intuitive Agency, MI6000 and the Research into Anal cavities Wing have, in the past, considered Pakistan a lucrative market with multiple opportunities for enterprising operatives. The insurgency in Balochistan, the rise of the Tehreek-e-Taliban, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf are all successful examples of startups funded and launched by the Proctor and Gambles of the spy world.
Here’s the rub. Those courageous enough to write on the real issues are mocked as ‘satirists’; hard-hitting journalism is dismissed as mere ‘comedy’ while press releases and statements that mock the very basis of coherent language are considered the paragon of credible journalism. He said, she said, they said, KABOOM! I always say the best reportage is where you can hear the sounds of bullets and bombs flying over your head, all in the comfort of your hammock, suspended between two banana trees, on the Cayman Islands. Unfortunately, Geo TV doesn’t transmit that far South, so most of us have to stream second-rate channels such as the CNN, or tolerate the clearly biased reporting of BBC or the pro-terrorist narrative of Al-Jazeera. Of course, when you’re on vacation, the last thing you want to do is bore yourself with “realism”, so one must steer clear of all the movie channels, especially if they are playing Zero Dark Thirty or G.I. Joe 2: The Rise of Cobra, lest you learn the truth.
Take it from me, no other channels offer fiction more compelling than news channels, and nowhere is the fiction more scintillating than in Pakistan. India is a close second, but even they cannot claim to be the pioneers of ‘Ticker Wars’; where two warring media groups go toe to toe on the bottom halves of your TV screens. It’s a lot like The Untouchables: He airs an expose, you dig up a whistleblowjob. He sends one of your men to the gallows, you present one of his before the Coalition for Ethical Journalism; that’s the Karachi way!

The writer is a former journalist currently working in the development sector.

@mightyobvious_