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Shift the focus, please!


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-Photo Illustration by Nadir Siddiqui

The current political situation is like one of those soap operas that go on for decades. The characters remain the same and keep appearing after intervals in different guises and roles. The twists start becoming predictable and the plot gets drab and stretches on and on. Yet, we tend to follow it, focus on it and guiltily, want more of it.

In the midst of this, we tend to forget what really matters – or at least should matter.

Every single day the front and back pages of our daily newspapers are filled with details of our key political players, their controversies, their statements, their empty promises and their unrealistic plans. Sure, national security is important, sovereignty is crucial, foreign relations are essential and democracy is vital – but what about the bullet-riddled body found in Surjani Town? What about the four-year old girl who was raped and killed? What about the flood victims who are STILL awaiting aid? Are their stories not as important, if not more? Don’t they deserve the front-page and prime air time? Apparently not.

It seems that the memo scandal, judiciary proceedings and the government’s perpetual tiffs are what matters most – and because this point of view is further perpetuated by the print and electronic media, we hardly object.

Instead of tangling itself in constant controversies and feuds, the government should be taking the lead in paying attention to these issues. It should put a lid on its hourly statements on democracy, put aside its foreign-element paranoia and instead deliver what it promised to the common man – relief.

Instead of constantly setting up benches to hear proceedings on various cases against the government and former politicians, the judiciary should instead open the dusty files which have been waiting in line for decades and deliver what it promised to the masses – justice.

Instead of allowing one dubious character to create such a fuss over national security, the military should instead focus on the airspace violations, border protection and the discovery of OBL in Abbottabad. Instead of being caught up constantly in the midst of a political confrontation, the military should to do its core duty – protect (the good guys, that is).

Why do these leaders spend more time talking than doing? Because unfortunately we are providing them with the platform to do so, with a silent nod to go on. Be it our criticism or praise, we allow them to assume that this is their show – when clearly it is not. The show belongs to the party worker who was gunned down outside his home. It belongs to the mother collecting money to pay ransom for her kidnapped child and it belongs to the families who have no gas to cook their meals with.

The government has succeeded in continuing their term until now; however, it has been a rocky journey. So paranoid has this government been thus far, that instead of focusing on all of the issues of the common man, it has instead spent all its time nervously clutching its chair in fear of losing it. It has failed to provide any kind of relief and instead brought some (literally) dark times to the masses. The masses who they proudly claim, support them. The common, downtrodden man doesn’t support them or their beloved fight for democracy. The common man only supports the element that will give him food and shelter.

This blog and others of its kind unfortunately will fall on deaf ears but to those to whom it matters, achievement for this government will not be in completing its term, instead achievement will be in the form of solutions for the energy crisis, minority rights protection, educational reforms and provision of healthcare.

Accomplishment will not be in pushing forward a deceased leader’s agenda but in providing welfare to a state which is called a failure and the term can hardly be disputed. Triumph will not be in having a free judiciary but in having a functioning judiciary that is independent and prioritises what is important to the nation – not the leadership. Victory will not be in repeatedly declaring Pakistan’s sovereignty but instead proving that it is a nation that can stand on its own.

Until the leadership and the common man are not on the same page about what achievement and triumph means, Pakistan will continue to go around in circles of self-destruction to which the outside world will be nothing more than mere spectators to.

The writer is the Deputy Editor at

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Shyema Sajjad is a former Dawn staffer.

She tweets @ShyemaSajjad

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (21) Closed

sja Jan 13, 2012 12:32pm
Well these days it is very rare to see Mahmood Qurashi and PM Raza Gilani togather in Geo coverage just separated by one NOtable ---- how close they can come and how far they remain. Politics at its best no wonder Iqbal said Ek hi safff main kharay hogaay Mehmood and ayaz but some 125 years later them togather the truth was ek hi saff mian kharay hogaay Mehmood Qureishi and and Raza Gilani ---- khoob wazzay thi unki chahrooon ki Parishani. Very rare but so true.
Ali Latif Jan 13, 2012 12:50pm
Precisely. The reason no one really cares about the common man is because the people who are calling most of the shots in Pakistanfor all these years (Army, Judiciary, Americans, Saudi's etc) do not get their power from the common man. Even the elected representatives are not really 'elected' fairly. They are in power because they are backed by either backed by the army, favoured by the judiciary, or supported by foreign interests. Therefore they spend more time making the people who actually help them get in power happy rather than making the common man happy. Everyone should do what they are supposed to do. Focus on their own tasks. Give politicians and political parties some space so they can compete amongst each other on who makes the people most happy. As opposed to focusing all their energy on making the establishment and other interests happy!
aamir rizvi Jan 13, 2012 01:08pm
Verily agreed, and that is because the whole nation is still unsure whom to elect for the next term? And it is not happening for the first time. Supporting PPP, just for B.B, is something that the nation is suffering from. In the upcoming elections, voting for PML-N, just because it’s their turn, would make this nation suffer again. We allow the politicians to ruin our lives. Our next generation would be voting either for Bilawal Zardari (who wrongly and unjustifiably joints his name with Bhutto’s, for the obvious reasons), Hamza Shahbaz or Monis Elahi. That is because this nation cannot think, decide and act rationally. Who is COAF to intervene in the political matters? Our unprofessional army again seems to be looking for parliament lodges and other civil institutions. Each and every politician, civil bureaucrat and military general in Pakistan is corrupt. Only the Pakistani nation can bring about the change by electing someone who has not been tried yet. I am not supporting anyone but we should at least test someone new rather than giving our destiny into their hands who would obviously destroy it, as they are known to us. Otherwise, if we go for the same corrupt, dishonest, incompetent, cruel and brutal politicians then we deserve what we are suffering from.
Bilal Jan 13, 2012 04:54pm
yeah please shift the focus! But Alas! once the focus is shifted towards the sufferings and miseries of the common man instead of the artful statements of the shrewd politicians (as desired by the Writer), electronic media will find another way to draw massess' attention. The calamaties of the common man will be aired sympathetically (ofcourse after adding some spices to the recipee). The TV channels will keep making more and more money but this time through an undignified method. So the point to ponder upon is we need an educated media who does make money but not through cheap means. As far as the politicians are concerned, i agree, they seem to be a part of an unending soap-opera. Let me be a kid for a moment and fantasize that a superhero will come in the upcoming episodes of the opera and will decimate all the villains and sin-stricken characters of the opera to eventually give a new dawn to the viewers.
Tariq Khan Jan 13, 2012 06:00pm
It is not just the Problem of Politician. It is Dilemma of the whole nation that we don't think rationallaly but emotionally and our decisions, our judegment are not biased free that's why we whole are suffering. Even it is zardari party, it is Altaf party, or it is Nawaz party, and Prople support them. even they know that they have not yet done any thing for them. so it is the dilemma of the society or the dilemma of the politician.....
jamal Jan 13, 2012 10:20pm
the common person is on the same page as that of imran khan . enough is enough ppp ml leagure should be disbarred for life. Sick and tired of current corrupt leadership. Time for imran to lead pakistan out of this miserable situation . I have no faith in a leader who hides behind a glass when giving a speech.
Mohammad A Dar Jan 13, 2012 10:36pm
Western democracy, fundamental hypocrisy. Based on reason not fact, Truth absolute. Never say what you believe and always propagate what others soul desire.
Peter Jan 14, 2012 12:19am
Pakistan's problem is its army, always have been and always will be. Unless until they are sent to the barracks and made accountable/answerable to the elected PM/President, there will be no solution. Secondly, get all retired army personnel running ISI and other top bureaucratic positions out of government. Unless until this is done, there is no hope for Pakistan. It will not only be the failed state on paper but in reality.
Amit Upadhyay Jan 14, 2012 02:50am
i agree to what the user has to say, even though i should not complain about your country, when i have so much to worry about mine but still it appears to be a game, played by great players!!! huh
hamza Jan 14, 2012 03:32am
PTI and Imran Khan are the last hope for pakistan. Only PTI can bring revolution and change this stereotype pakistani politics. Its about time the nation wakes up and becomes part of PTI's psunami.
Zubia Jan 14, 2012 04:27am
Let Dawn newspaper start by doing exactly what you suggest. The first page headline should, instead of the PM's some statment or other, be of a mother expressing her grief over the loss of her fauji son who has become the fodder of our Army's policy that keeps the generals rich beyond imagination.
Mr Khalid Pathan Jan 14, 2012 05:55am
What is required is a complete overhaul of this rotten system which has ruined every institution in the country in the name of democracy. May I suggest that all the resources allocated for development including the foreign assistance must have a proper record of expenditure on a computer data base, easily accessible on demand.
Muhammad Aftab Jan 14, 2012 10:26am
Technically speaking Pakistan has potential to succeed as others developing counteries have progressed but all this will take time and our foreign educated elite always caught in comparing its pace with west which is results result of struggle of ages. Whenever we discuss things we forget the tenure given to someone. Democracy has not been given enough time as to other dictatorships.
Ansari Jan 14, 2012 11:26am
Political shortsightedness and naevity is what that defines this article best. Nations are driven by leaders, I have no hope in IK as Pakistan is a sub ordinate country to USA and the "televised revolution" IK is leading can't be in place without USA's approval, so everything is going as per plan.
ZAK in Texas Jan 14, 2012 12:07pm
Democracy is Government of the people for the people by the people. In Pakistan it is of the elite for the elite. We have to educate the people of the country to rid them of the Jagirdars and Zamindars, Waderas and Sardars who have a strangle-hold on the 342 seats on the NA. Eliminate 342 families and liberate 180 million people !!!
sohaib Jan 14, 2012 12:25pm
This is all so sad and extremely disappointing.As rightly pointed out the only people making a field day are Anchors in talk shows and channel gurus who are busy making money. As for the government why don't the coalition partners ponder over ways for making cheap electricity.It seems they are totally united in doing nothing at all. The common man watches with horror every day as inflation rises making it even harder to make both ends meet.
atif Jan 14, 2012 02:23pm
Realistically speaking, this blog has excellently depicted the real picture of pakistani polity that is being excessively focused in the media to detriment of other important issues like poor-quality education, massive unemployment, shortage of energy and brain drain. we all know that politicians are loud-mouth with little concern about real issues of pakistan. however, the media which has overstretched can by limiting and setting its fair code of conduct play an important role in highlighting above mentioned issues as elaborated by the writer.
AA Jan 14, 2012 06:23pm
I will urge the government remains fous on common man issues Itzaz is very right if president or PM will be removed by NA thee is harm to democracy. Since election is closer Imran is getting popularity so if Imran become bunjab darling which mean it is a demise of Muslim league -N. Thus for PPP, act smart and mend your relations with Army Chief who is a very sincere officer.
Asif Jan 14, 2012 10:21pm
PTI and Imran Khan. Mr. clean intially claimed that the revolution will come with the new ppl and no corrupt politician will not be the part of PTI. Since most of the corrupt and self intrest politician has joined PTI, hw such change can be made... All will go as it does.
Max Jan 15, 2012 02:52pm
Try this for 5 years .. Drop Anti-India Stand ,work together with South asian countries on economy , create new hardware + IT ecosystem. Grown together , IF you still dont see any results , you can adopt old stands. Why become fool and all south asian countries are suffering from Arms race. and non sense fights..
Nadeem Jan 15, 2012 05:23pm
Perfect suggestion from Max; only what needs to be done is the solution to Kashmir according to UN Resolutions AND there we are, the billions of South Asia, on the path to progress.