It has been several years since the boom in news channels in Pakistan. One would have thought that, if nothing else, they would eventually train politicians to become more sophisticated in their approach to their opponents, given that they get so much practice to do that on the electronic media. Freedom of expression notwithstanding, Im sorry to report that there is not even an iota of improvement in extreme crass behaviour on camera by representatives of different parties. They do not pause to listen to one another or their publics and make an art-form of unforgivable bad manners and upbringing. People, who care about the state of the country and who, out of habit, watch news channels on prime time to listen to opinions of those in power to try and make sense of the current burning issues, are disappointed day after day. The garbage that they get instead comprises a whole lot of baggage that the different parties carry. It is always personal and abusive and it is never about solutions. It is also on top of their voices and is more a screaming contest, carried on simultaneously, that just leaves the viewer bewildered and no wiser, apart from depressed. It is as if the participants would get rotten eggs on their faces, if they listened quietly and politely to the other views and then made a considered response. Apparently, the bigger and vicious the fight, the better standing with his/her parent party for the scene-creator and the higher the rating of the programme. As a nation, we are sick to death of being reminded that the PML-N was a creation of Ziaul Haq and that its leaders opted for exile compared to jail and that the PPP is incorrigibly corrupt and inefficient. This broken record that has got stuck in the groove needs to be removed and we have to have a new song, even if not new party. Mistakes have to be acknowledged and avowed not to be repeated. Some message has to be taken from the brilliant comedy shows, based on political satire, that are done by various channels. The shows are accepted as just meaningless comedy by those who are constantly the butt of the programmes, and who continue with their stuff shamelessly and undeterred. Wit, while it lifts our spirits, is not going to make our problems go away unfortunately. Only democracy and a vision for how to manage the country better can do that. Like somebody said that the most basic of human species are happy spending time criticising one another, while the best among them are the happiest when discussing ideas or concepts. Close your eyes for a minute and try and recall how many times you have been excited or infected by a politician, who is trying to explain his vision for progress since these past four years. The recent upping the ante by leaders of the PML-N and the President, (who really cares two figs about his particular position being above partisan) is also not about issues. It is only about calling each other names and ker lo jo kerna hai attitude. Are these irresponsible school boys or what? Look at the problems we face. There are no easy solutions to any of them and those are what we should be focusing on and debating, instead of recalling all the wrong choices that the two parties (and Musharraf) made in the past. It is now time to only worry about the future, in the light of what we have learnt from our past, which in any case, is another country. Elections and more and regular elections will weed out people, who should not be in Parliament and the standard of debate can only get better from where it is right now. Nothing goes unnoticed. The recent public address by the Prime Minister on the campaign trail in Azad Jammu and Kashmir being a case in point. As the public sat sweltering in the heat without even fans, the Prime Minister remained unaffected by the hot weather, receiving the cool blast from an air conditioner placed on the stage while he spoke. There could not have been a clearer example of being a have as well as a have-not in this country. Postscript: Two good things happened a couple of days ago. Pakistan helped to secure the release of the 22 merchant navy sailors, who were taken hostage by Somali pirates for ransom, off the coast of Somalia, some 10 months ago. The sailors included four Pakistanis, while all the others were foreigners, including six Indians. The effort was spearheaded by social worker Ansar Burney and Pakistan has earned several brownie points by delivering the Indian citizens to their country safely. The other is the release of the much-awaited Shoaib Mansoor movie Bol. He manages to make films, which boldly tackle complex issues faced by our society, despite the environment of fear and conservatism. When he has a good story, he tells it exceedingly well and one movie from him is equivalent to one thousand propaganda exercises, as far as impacting or moulding minds is concerned. More power to Shoaib Mansoor and the shining talent he personifies. n The writer is a freelance columnist. Email: