I remember when I was in kindergarten and prep, my teachers at school ensured a great deal to foster the correct social conduct and mannerly behavior among all children. In particular, we were repeatedly reminded to bear in mind the precise rules to carry out sophisticated, polite conversations with our elders as well as our fellow kids. The rules were plain and simple: harsh tone and abusive language are considered uneducated, rudeness is a herald of defective upbringing and hence it is to be avoided, the degree of loudness is directly proportional to the intensity of stares and glares that you are likely to receive back as a response, and interrupting someone while he/she is still in the middle of speaking is a cardinal sin! The failure to abide by these regulations as well as the cases of extreme infringement was categorically reported to our progenitors on the much dreaded occasion of the parent-teacher meeting. A formal tribunal of penance was then held at home, an inevitable consequence that followed and it was eventually declared that we need to inculcate the right kind of communicating skills and quit being a source of embarrassment to the household by exhibiting indecorum of any sort. Year after year, our annual result report card contained a column on which we were graded upon our general propriety of behavior and mannerisms within the school realms. This pattern of constant reinforcements, I must admit, helped substantially.
As we grew up and our minds developed, we began to ponder upon the universe and formed our own little beliefs and opinions. Being the little orators of our own little worlds, we deemed it highly essential to convince our peers and siblings to subscribe to our evaluations upon various matters. Therefore, a boisterous argument with a sibling was not an uncommon sight for our parents to witness each day. It was then when our parents helped this golden rule to dawn upon us: it is not a symbol of timidity but rather nobility to settle a difference of opinions calmly rather than bursting into a brawl which is downright brute by all formulas of judgment. As we leaped into our university life, we were emphatically taught in our university core course of communication to carefully avoid all forms of logical fallacies like ad hominen, ad baculum, red herring and tu quoque in order to argue for our stance reasonably and get it across effectively. Anyway, let me not get further into the details of how effectual parenting and schooling attempt to convert individuals into more shapely human beings, and unfold the question, indeed not novel in its nature, which popped up in my mind today after watching a couple of talk-shows on different news channels: Were most of our politicians taking a nap during all these stages of their own schooling, socialization and development? Because their behavior surely doesn’t exhibit any traces of human sophistication that education embellishes a person with.
Our news talk-shows have rarely been a source of fruitful debate but a mere platform for a bunch of politicians to unleash their acrimonious selves and dish out allegations on anyone and everyone who belongs to the opposition, being the quintessence of perfection that they themselves are. The current heated up political environment has left many politicians incensed and more illogical than they have ever been. As I tuned into a very famous talk-show and saw Mr. Faisal Raza Abidi seated on the panel of guests, I was glad I could finish my meal without needing to monitor the remote-control, because with him on the screen, the sound waves that the television emits are largely audible even when set at the minimum levels of volume. Such are the incredible wonders of Mr. Abidi! He is indeed hired to play the mouthpiece of PPP, and that too the most vitriolic of a kind. As Mian Mehmood-ur-Rasheed of PTI brandished a pile of documents and continued to corroborate and enlist the various foreign properties possessed by the honourable Mr. President, Mr. Abidi could no longer suppress his responsibilities of advocacy of the eternal truth that he represents. He dived in with the fervor that he does not need to advertently gather; it comes naturally. He raged and ranted at the top of his voice and almost got up from his chair in an attempt to snatch the papers from Mr. Rasheed and gauge them for reliability. He even abandoned the courtesy of ‘aap janaab’ and dropped down to “yaar tum” which by no means fell in the category of a friendly gesture. Call me a capitalistic mind, but I speculate that Mr. Abidi’s bonus salary is proportionate to the amount of action that he successfully puts at display in each show. With no disrespect intended, I also assume that during those crucial early years of schooling that I discussed earlier, Mr. Abidi must have regularly bunked them and sneaked to video-game bars instead. It just showed.
Hopelessly, I switched to another channel only to find out the following in another program: As the foreign properties of the Sharif Brothers were recounted, a PML(N) ‘tiger’ Mr. Parvez Rasheed roared in and remarked, “ You are a liar!” Ahem. I assumed may be he has resigned according to the challenge put forth by him (that he would resign if PTI could get even as many people required to fill the chairs placed in the Lahore Jalsa of the 30th October) proving himself to be the epitome of truthfulness and hence the brimming confidence to call another a liar. I was wrong.
On another channel, I had the honor to witness the very unique of her kind Ms. Fauzia Wahab, screaming “OOO BHAIII O BHAIIII” to the anchorperson just to get herself heard and downsize the analysis of the rest. She indeed puts all her past acting expertise to a perfect use. When an analyst accused the big parties of blatant corruption, Mr. Ahsan Iqbal of PML(N), with an ever complacent smile on his face responded comfortably that Imran Khan, too, has admitted in his book that he had been involved in matchfixing at some point. I immediately made a mental note that this response was a perfect example to explain to my freshman friend what does the logical fallacy of “tu quoque’’ mean. Congratulations Mr. Iqbal, you just made an educational contribution in the life of a student! Mr. Iqbal also passed a very profound evaluation that Imran Khan does not deserve to be in the government because he lacks the experience to govern and rule while PML(N) has learnt it over years. The host expressed a remark carved out of sheer humor: “Yes indeed you have very well learnt how to get away without being caught.” If the two politicians were merely smoldering by now, this comment set them ablaze and they exploded into a combat. Amid all the animalistic noises that ensued, I successfully decoded a fragment of a sentence uttered by Ms. Wahab that was directed towards the host, “Call the CEOs of big firms in your show and then try to talk to them like this.” I am sorry Madam but the validity of that comparison did not hold any ground; the CEOs are only answerable to their own shareholders, while you being in the government, are accountable to every Pakistani.
The unseemly behavior of our political class does not just end at these little excerpts from these talk shows, which last from 8 to 11 every night and are rarely any productive, rather it is also evident in the annoyingly crude routine ‘bayaan-baazi’, that includes dishing out cheap one-liners, be it by Ch. Nisar or Dr. Rehman Malik in order to malign their opponents. This is the loathsome community that politically represents Pakistan the world over.
Considering the uncivil and illogical communicating skills of our politicians and the great disservice they do by generating disuniting tendencies, I hereby propose to the higher authorities to not just declare the Bachelors degree a prerequisite for contesting in elections, but also insist that it is imperative for all the members of the Cabinet and the National Assembly to produce their early schooling report cards. They must be required to ensure that their attendance remained regular and they were not subject to parental negligence. Moreover they must submit the testimonies to prove that over the course of their development, they have internalized the basic criteria in order to be categorized as civilized citizens (read: human beings). Needless to say that the boundless creativity of our ever innovative politicians might as well force them into forging these documents because “degree tou degree hoti hai, chahay asli ho ya jaali ho.”
*This was originally written on 1st November 2011.
*Some parts are obviously meant to be satirical.
*Offence at places is indeed meant.