There was a comical story I remember hearing as a child of how a man sitting next to a well was calmly mumbling “chabi, chabi, chabi” under his breath, which is the number 26 in Punjabi. When a passerby asked him why he was doing that, he pushed the inquirer into the well and changed his mumbling to “sathai, sathai, sathai”, which is the number 27. The horrific deaths occurring from adulterated medicines given for free to poor patients at the PIC, it seems, are nothing but meaningless numbers that keep rising.

Every precious life lost due to these medicines is equivalent to murder. Despite the hue and cry, the responsibility for this huge lapse has not been pinned on anyone yet. The blame games and the back and forth is in full swing, but no accountability thus far. The deaths occurring as a reaction to taking faulty medicines are over a 100 already. Last year, we saw so many lives lost to floods and then dengue fever and now this. It is as if lives in our country are just numbers, erased and snuffed by frequent tragedies that just blow over with time without any learning and thinking through done on future preventions of similar tragedies.

The real issues regarding the development of a welfare State and provision of services to the common man are way down on the priority list of those elected or placed in the corridors of power. There is no relief in sight even as all the political parties gear up for the elections. The will to create an altogether new country seems to be missing in the lead up to the polls. The common citizen is still a little lost at the brazen behaviour of all the people, who are our current team leads. Take the memogate, for example. Just as we reached fever pitch and thought the drop scene was about to happen, the star witness was scared away by a cacophony of sound bites from responsible people, who let it be known that the witness need only to buy a one-way ticket. The PM in his immense wisdom also declared, on his way to Davos, that he had changed his opinion on the boys in khaki once more and that all was forgiven and hunky-dory again. If the desired result from memogate was only to have HH replaced in Washington, then why was the matter pursued so vigorously for so many days?

While the so-called intelligentsia remains occupied with cases that evaporate into thin air just when they think they are coming to a conclusion, the moral brigade, which includes women who could be considered brain dead, pursues its own agenda of operation clean-up. A sampling of this lot was seen on a morning show on one of the channels a few days ago. This group of excited women landed in a park in Karachi while doing a live show in order to hound out and make an example of unsuspecting young people whom they caught dating. It amounted to taking intrusion to the highest level. Pakistan is certainly not going to be cleaned up like this. These women are advised to do some voluntary work in our schools and hospitals or wherever there is a need, but to stay away from such repulsive journalism. I am very sure that if we researched their lives, each one would have some history of being attracted to the opposite sex, as that’s all a natural part of growing up.

Young people, who constitute over 60 percent of the population, need guidance, counselling, handling and an outlet for all the energy, which is a part of being young. Instead, they sometimes also face sudden announcements, apart from the moral policing, that musical concerts will be banned from being held in educational institutions. This bill presented in the Punjab Assembly, in the aftermath of a stampede at a concert held recently, was quickly quashed as the roars of protest erupted. Our issues are not to remove every shred of art form from this country to purify it. Our issues are population control, health care, education, energy and most of all a revival of hope in an equitable tomorrow for all the citizens, irrespective of age, creed, caste and social status.

Postscript: Saving Face, a documentary directed by Pakistani investigative filmmaker Sharm-een Obaid Chinoy and Daniel Junge, has been nominated for the Best Documentary (Short Subject) category, as announced by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. We can all be rightfully proud of Sharmeen for being the first one from Pakistan to achieve this distinction. Her film is about survivors of acid violence and chronicles the work of a well known British Pakistani doctor, who travels to Pakistan to perform reconstructive surgery. Throwing acid at women is an extreme form of abuse that is quite common here. Official figures state that a100 cases are filed every year though it is estimated that the actual figure is higher. The observational film was filmed entirely in Pakistan primarily in the Seraiki belt, in addition to Rawalpindi, Karachi and Islamabad. If there is a desire to bring about change amidst the moral brigade these are the existing ugly realities that need to be fixed and taken up, instead of chasing youth in parks for want of something to do.

The writer is a public relations and event management professional based in Islamabad.

Email: tallatazim@yahoo.com