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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Pakistan's Spin Zone

Original Article: Newsline Magazine
Date Published: Jan 25, 2012

Welcome to our spin zone, where we make things believable all day long. Often we may defy conventional intelligence, but it works well for our collective national psyche. This is where "breaking news" is 'broken' in such a way that it can never be 'fixed.' And here, Pakistanis, in general, buy the spin and live happily ever after.

Ever heard this one? Only if the late Benazir Bhutto didn't stand up, poke her head out of her SUV's sunroof and wave at the crowd, then the former prime minister would have survived that attack. Remember the story about the lever on the SUV's sunroof that gave her the head trauma and which was deemed to have caused her death? Forget about the video footage of the ruthless man pulling the trigger just a few feet away. Or the bomb blast. How dare she go out in the open to meet other human beings when she was forewarned by "militants" in October 2007 in Karachi?

How about our real "Lion of Punjab," Salmaan Taseer? Only if he kept his views and convictions to himself and had not been so vocal about the plight of minorities, he would be tweeting as usual. Never mind that infamous TV anchor, asking him pointed questions and making him out to be an enemy of Islam, and later on, all and sundry joining in to create the false impression that Governor Taseer was being blasphemous. How about the so-called religious leaders giving fiery sermons and declaring him a "munafiq" and a "blasphemer?"

Another fallen hero is the late Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti. But if he had refrained from carrying the message of Governor Taseer about being considerate towards our minorities, then he too would have still been alive. Forget about the fact that the late Bhatti was marked for death because he was a Christian, a PPP minorities minister and showed solidarity with a helpless lady, who till this day is behind bars.

Saleem Shahzad would be giving us insightful stories as usual, only if he would have not vowed to get to the bottom of PNS Mehran incident. It was all his fault. The people knew very well and were told that "certain extremists" were behind the attack on our naval base. Adding insult to injury was the fact that he was abducted when he was on his way to participate in a television interview to provide his professional opinion. But it was his own fault after all: why didn't he just keep all the investigative reporting confined to his laptop?

What about the Sialkot brothers? Mughees and Munib, who were brutally murdered by an angry and ruthless mob, invited the wrath upon themselves. Both brothers were of 'shady character' and were accused of stealing. No wonder they received the 'speedy justice' by the crowd, right on the spot.

There was no Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad. He died a long time ago and was buried somewhere in Afghanistan. This was all malicious propaganda aimed at maligning Pakistan. Well the evidence to the contrary and the wives of the fallen leader came from the same compound. Some of our dear anchors denied it all outright and gave it the opposite spin, as usual.

It must be clear as day to almost everyone by now that we have a prevalent spin that we get to hear, see and read. It's either the victim's fault, or there is a malicious conspiracy being hatched by our enemies. We sell this spin through our 'free' and often mindless media, all day long. People buy that spin like suckers.

After all, it's always the victim's fault to expect civility and fairness from our society. We have reached the depth of decay. Rather than showing sympathy towards the victim, we invent the "if only factor," to provide the masses a whitewash: we tell the nation "we are perfect," "we never make mistakes" and it's always "someone else's fault." The whole world is conspiring against us. The whole world is afraid of the only 'righteous' and 'truly Islamic' nation in the world. We are the citadel, the unshakable, the valiant, following the righteous path of God.

When discerning minds challenge the rhetorical spin, they are often labelled as foreign agents, stooges, beyghairat and, above all, traitors. If people buy the lame spin, then they are deemed model citizens. If they think otherwise, they are enemies of the state.

Sadly, even many so-called educated people who have seen the rest of the world get sucked into this whole imaginary narrative. This begs a very serious question: how do you change a rotten status quo? What can you do when the 'enlightened' ones are brainwashed and believe there is an outside evil force conspiring against the one and only Pakistan.

The only silver lining is social media and some independent publications that remain brave, the ones that provide an alternative, honest view on the nation. Theirs is a very reasonable attempt to start to treat this mental epidemic, a way to challenge the authenticity of the widely peddled narrative. The road is long and the challenges monumental. Sadly, no one can make this spin zone go bankrupt. It seems as if the deepest pockets fund it. And it would be wise to ponder who has the deepest pockets in our otherwise destitute nation.
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