The Nation, Lahore

03 Muharram, July 30 , 1998, Lahore Pakistan 



Food for thought

Truth and lies



When India exploded its series of atomic explosions and Pakistan was weighing its options, there were many that wanted tit for tat explosions.

There were very few, who wanted to take any decision after full preparations and examining all other options. The government was under intense pressure by press and the people who wanted an immediate response. In those days, many column writers considering anyone who thought otherwise as an American agent or a representative of rich people who might loose some privileges in case of an atomic explosion. I remember a major Urdu newspaper who was pushing very hard for the atomic explosions blasted Prime Minister in its editorial for wasting the time of Nation in sending representatives to different countries of the world instead of exploding a bomb. 'This whole exercise is a waste of Nation's time. We should explode atomic bomb first," the newspaper demanded.

Last week when Pakistan was in its worst economic crisis and its currency was nose-diving and was sending shock waves everywhere, the same newspaper wrote another editorial. Now, these newspapers again blasted the Prime Minister for not taking major steps before the atomic explosion. The same newspaper demanded that why missions were not sent to foreign countries before the atomic explosion to clarify and explain Pakistan's position.

I just wonder sometimes that how easily some people change their positions without any embarrassment. And we as journalists are not better than others. We are in fact worst than others because we publicly say one thing one day and change our stances the very next day without any proper explanation. Just as anyone else in the public office has a responsibility to the public, the journalists too who consider themselves as sacred cows should be more careful when they write.

Our government which gave its words and made it a law of country that money deposited in 'Foreign Currency Accounts' would be safe and would be returned to the owners whenever they want it back. The same government declined to give it back to the people. Our Finance Minister on national TV gave the reason that this money was spent already. He was smiling and was very lively when he was making this statement. It seemed as if he hadn't confiscated people rightful money but had won a big jackpot. This eleven billion dollars was not spent only during Benazir's regimes. The previous and present Muslim League governments also used this money. And this money was not spent on atomic explosion or on welfare of the general public but was spent to maintain the rich lifestyle of our rulers. Re assured the Pakistani public that the government had once again started the 'Foreign Exchange Accounts' and that people should open their new accounts. He further said that the government now would guarantee that new accounts would be safe in future.

Well, we as a Pakistani nation may be stupid to elect representatives like that but we are not that stupid. The government is now spending more on advertisement costs than the total deposits in new accounts. People are not angry that a country in crisis needs money, people are angry because the government lied and confiscated their money instead of asking them. This is the same nation which gave millions of dollars to lmran Khan to build a hospital. This same nation collected millions for Maulana Edhi so that he could run nationwide welfare services. But like always, our rulers forget that this is not the Mughal era. We are entering the next millennium and our public is now learning the lessons of political maturity very fast but it seems that our rulers have not learnt the first lesson - 'Not to lie'.

Even though we consider Western nations as evil, but the fact is that truth is considered very important there. The sex scandal of President Clinton was not all about his sexual adventures. The most important thing for the prosecutors was to figure out if President lied about his relationship? And if he had lied, he would have been removed from the office. The most powerful political office in this world could have be shattered by just a lie. Well, we have proved that we are more politically 'strong' than others because our leaders lie and lie and still, they survive.


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Dr. Rana Jawad Asghar
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