Politics of Hypocrisy and Immature Journalism
Political philosophers of the past indicate that some immoral activities such as deceit, theft, falsehood and even murder are also the principles of politics. Particularly, Machiavelli advises the leaders to have a lion-like image outwardly, and act upon the traits of goat inwardly. In his sense, a good leader should be a good opportunist and hypocrite. Morgenthau supports immoral activities as part of political morality.
This duplicity in politics continued for a long time, but in modern era, by bringing contentions of politicians and bloody wars of rulers in our bedrooms, electronic media made it difficult for them to continue the same at the cost of their own people and armed forces. In these terms, modern politics and media are interrelated, as both depend upon each other.
Regrettably, quite opposite to the modern trends like fairness in politics, and maturity in journalism, some political figures in the world in general and Pakistan in particular still follow past practice of hypocrisy, while media pursue immature journalism. They forget that politics is a divine field and sanctified arena which inspires people to undertake the sublime responsibility to serve collective cause and larger public interests.
Unfortunately, the prevailing political trends and social practices have made the magnificent discipline of politics as an abuse, tirade and misuse of authority to achieve individual or collective goals. In this regard, US Journalist Craig Unger related it with “dog-whistle politics,” as American President George W. Bush and Cal Rove used coded language in political campaigning, delivering one message for overall electorate, while at the same time, communicating quite a different idea to targeted evangelical Christian political base.
The pejorative and deceptive nature of political practices in Pakistan have become awfully repugnant and disgustingly distasteful, rendering the general masses handicapped in catching the high frequency whistles which can only be understood by members of the parliament. Thus, making politics incomprehensible and perplexing for the majority which are common citizens.
Journalism and politics have close relationship with intertwined compulsions to make the policy guidelines explicit, widespread and all-inclusive. Public approval of broad strategies to meet the national goals is gained through objective media reports and matured practices of journalism.
But, it is our misfortune that media and journalistic community stands divided, while politicians are free to level allegations against their opponents, showing egotism and rebuking demeanor, paying least attention to real issues faced by masses.
Past experience proves that our political parties and politicians have worked on the principles like allegations and counter-allegations, hostility for the sake of hostility, formation of alliances and counter-alliances to win the elections. Much time is wasted in retaliation against the previous government instead of fulfilling the promises, made with the voters during election campaign. They set aside the real aim of public mandate by resolving the economic and social problems of the masses.
In fact, concentration of wealth in few hands has created a privileged class of landowners and industrialists who contest elections winning the same against each other again and again. During the election campaign, they employ all means, fair or foul to defeat their opponents and capture political power. In order to obtain their selfish interests, they mislead the general masses through false propaganda and exaggerated speeches.
Besides, various mal-practices such as horse-trading, nepotism, bribery, illegal obligations and other forms of corruption are very common among our political leaders.
However, in a democratic world, politics is played through political parties which are created on definite ideologies and philosophical concepts to work for the betterment of general public. Political parties constitute the platforms where people pin hopes to achieve their goals and look forward to realize their aspirations.
While, switching parties is considered a bad sign, and politicians in most democratic countries are labeled as disloyal and selfish, lacking commitment. Generally, their political careers end, while they are associated with untrustworthiness and elusive self-indulgence.
Contrarily, in Pakistan, changing sides to gain advantage has become a standard practice of political norms. Political persons change political sides to gain power, popularity and prestige. Political ideology is dominated by patronage and kinship, resulting into public repression, victimization, selective application of rules and jaundiced polity coupled with social injustice and rampant corruption.
The so-called political heavy weights change sides, feel no shame in becoming disloyal to their political ideologies, and in tarnishing the image of Armed Forces.
These heavy weight politicians in Pakistan are opportunist feudal lords who are filthy rich, highly influential and powerful. They consider politics as their business and tend to invest with political parties from where they can earn better profit. Hence, they quickly join the popular parties to maximize their chances of getting elected. In this context, names of the politicians like Javed Hashmi, Marvi Memonm, Arbab Khizer Hayat Khan, Nabeel Gabol, Zahid Hamid, Hussain Haqqani etc. might be cited as example.
Media reports suggest that Khawaja Saad Rafique, the energetic and outspoken Railway Minister of PML (N) was all set to join PTI led by Imran Khan, as he was fired as General Secretary PML (N) Punjab by the Prime Minister Nawaz Srarif. And, Haroon Rasheed a senior, credible and matured journalist in his Urdu article “BUHRAN KE BAAD” revealed that Khawaja Saad Rafique fiercely reacted to Nawaz Sharif’s decision, chewed his teeth in rage, wrote letters, showed annoyance and frustration. He also approached PTI leadership to join PTI as Secretary General. He was not much encouraged by PTI leadership, and was told to take carefully measured decision in changing political loyalties. Today, he presents different posture to prove his loyalty with PML (N). In this respect, our, media must offer objective analysis to uncover the facts.
It is notable that people also whisper around that PML (N) Punjab led by Saad Rafique, sent Javed Hashmi as PML (N) sponsored Trojan Horse to join PTI. Javed Hashmi’s allegations against PTI leadership are one thing, but dragging Pak Army into political impasse is another issue. His grievances against his own political leadership (PTI) may be critical, but it should not be done at the cost of distorting the image of Army. In this regard, hypocrisy appears to have become the hallmark of Pakistani politics.
It is mentionable that in the recently held joint session of the parliament, ferocious debate between Chaudhary Aitzaz Ehsan of PPP and Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan (PML-N), Federal Interior Minister made noise for general public, but message given to the parliament was in coded language, creating space for corrupt practices and making compromises on gross violations of law with regard to LPG quota, land mafia turbulence, and use of PATWARI culture for self- promotion. Similarly Khurshid Shah’s (opposition leader) speech in the joint session of parliament is perceived to have given different message to the ruling party PML (N)—go tough on the sit-ins protestors at Islamabad, while at the same time, he encouraged some PPP leaders to support the stand of PTI led by Imran Khan and that of PAT led by Dr. Hahirul Qadri.
And, in wake of the ongoing political turmoil and sit-ins at Islamabad, our media stands divided and journalists behave immaturely. Some take sides of the protestors, and others support the ruling elite. In this context, distorted media analysis, biased opinions, created sensationalism and confused perceptions, while making negative comments about Armed Forces—have become traits of Pakistan’s media.
At this juncture, Pakistan’s Armed Forces are successfully obtaining their objectives in North Waziristan Agency (NWA) against the terrorists through military operation Zarb-e-Azb, and are engaged in flood relief operations. Besides, Pak Army has also been coping with subversive activities in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and other parts of the country including tribal areas in wake of India’s war-like diplomacy and cross-border infiltration from Afghanistan’s side.
So, parliamentarians and politicians must not distort the image of Army, while media must also resort to objective reporting, enhancing the image of Armed Forces.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations