Reality Unmasked, Unplugged

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Andleeb Abbas

“Lekin itna to hua kuch log pehchanay gaye,” (At least some people’s real self is now exposed). This is a famous Urdu verse by poet Khatir Ghaznavi. The concept of the poem is that even if you have been deceived by some near ones, at least now you can make out the difference between real and fake people. Pakistan is on the losing end. The economy is getting worse by the day and beating all records of terribleness. Women and children are dying in stampedes trying to get a free bag of flour. And what is the parliament doing? The National Assembly’s only political and intellectual output is to curse and abuse Imran Khan and pass legislations that exonerate the criminals and limits the powers of the judiciary. The auto industry is shut down. Textiles are firing millions of people. Crimes are spiking. Robberies are commonplace. These are times when all seems gloom and doom. However, one good thing that has happened is that in these testing times, many a politician, professional, intellectual, analyst, and institution has been ripped off their decades-old façade of respectability, genuineness and integrity. Just recall the visuals of the man who has, for decades, shed tears for the constitution, Senator Raza Rabbani, rushing away quietly from a reporter asking him about the 90 days election clause on the constitution being violated.
This is a world where the world knows about you more than you do. Artificial intelligence has amplified this facility. What you are, what you said, to whom you said, what you did, and whom you met is (within seconds) neatly and precisely quoted and scripted in response to questions put in the Chat GPT. This makes privacy a challenge. While the older generation is still bemused and shocked at the speed and depth of the information, the young are thriving on it. Smartphones and smart kids have made the “fooling of the public” factor transitory. The moment you say something, it can be fact-checked, back-checked, compared, and contrasted in seconds bringing out the contradictions that make mere lip service difficult in today’s era. That is why the big stars are finding their glow fading away. That is why the big guns are finding their ammunition fireless. That is why big brains are finding their knowledge hollow. Let us see how the unplugged world has unmasked the hitherto names, fame and games:
The Success that was a failure-Masterstroke. Gone with the wind. Removed smoothly. Taught a lesson. Put in their place. These were some self-congratulatory discussions that were held post the vote of no confidence on April 9, 2022. Ex-Army Chief General Bajwa felt that he had successfully facilitated a regime change of a man who was “dangerous.” Yes, he was dangerous. But, to the corrupt and power-hungry. Yes, he was dangerous. But, to 60 per cent of the cabinet of PDM with corruption cases on them. Yes, he was dangerous. But, to the power-addicted people in the state institutions who wanted at all costs to retain their seats of command. Yes, he was dangerous. But, to all those pseudo-intellectuals who were facilitators of the false narrative, the corrupt government want to spread through them. Thus, the smooth removal of the PTI government was hailed as a huge success. The honeymoon was short-lived. Expecting little reaction the handlers were stunned to see the people of Pakistan thronging the streets late at night. They still thought it will fade away. It did not. It has become a defeat in every sense of the word. The government and the establishment have failed to hide their naked desire for power. They have failed to hide their colossal incompetence. They have failed to hide their true colours of being above the rule of law. And, they have failed to hold on to their foreign facilitators. It is now sadly a match between the people of Pakistan and the PDM/Handlers. That itself is a failure beyond comparison.
The anti-establishment that were just power pawns-The “vote ko izzat do” narrative flunked. The basis of this narrative was the anti-establishment stance. Previously, the political parties took turns to be anti-establishment. This time, all 13 of them are direct beneficiaries of the few votes that the “established” parties like MQM and BAP etc provided to change the regime. Thereafter, the infamous interviews by the ex-Army chief and the complete support of the present establishment to create hurdles in the holding of the election have ripped apart any pretence of otherwise. The exposé is stunning. The Unknown is up close and known. The invisible is present and apparent. The caretaker government is taking care, but not of conducting elections but conducting brutal operations at the behest of the government and their handlers. Boys, women, and children are kidnapped and disappear for days. They come back after being given a lesson. This modus operandi has become so common that all the statements being derived out of those “disappeared” under duress have become meaningless and invite more public rage.
The intellectuals who were perk traders- For decades, the changes in government and economy were painted good and bad by the authentication of top writers and publications. These wordsmiths or narrative spinners could make a small change in the economy look disastrous and big flaws negligible. It is evident that they were at play when the world was admiring Pakistan’s best corona management as Pakistan posted the highest return to normalcy in the region with impressive economic growth. These analysts think tanks, consultants, editors, and anchors were busy painting the dooms day for Pakistan. They have all been unplugged. Without the concocted background music, their fake, hoarse spin has fallen apart. Some of them became advisors to PDM, some heads of institutions, and some got jobs in sponsored TV channels. Their rather apologetic analysis of the present historic inflation and economic crash has been ripped apart by the public in the form of their previous and present statements. The oldest English daily recently was further exposed when an American journalist tweeted about its Bureau Chief in Washington DC sharing the PDM narrative with her.
To be ousted from the government is a setback. To be at the mercy of brutal legal, physical torture is sad. To be hounded by state institutions to restrict, suppress, and kill you is shocking. But to be stripped of your respect and credibility beats all. This is a person-to-person exposé unplug session. This is a professional unplug brutal reaction. The taboos have been smashed. The plugs have been removed. The masks have slipped. For the first time, regardless of the institution, rank, position, threat, torture, the blackmail, the real character of all major stakeholders is being discussed with no holds barred.
The Moral of the Reality-Real loss is not losing the chance of another extension, another ministry, or another promotion, but the real loss is of losing your face, your character and your freedom. The fact that you are a prisoner in your own country and your own house is the real defeat. To be hiding away in other countries, constantly looking over your shoulders, fearing slogans, being hit by some angry person’s shoes, and eating nervously in restaurants with the fear of being recognized is a state of mental imprisonment. No amount of power, position, money, or connections can free you from this entrapment and save you from this loss of respect and credibility.