We’ve lost it, almost
of what it was all about from a scientific point of view, the ordinary people must have formed their opinions on the basis of what they saw and heard in the media – including the social media.
My concern is only about the formation of the collective mind. What do we hear from, to use the Urdu expression, zaban-e-khalq and how is this message related to facts and to the dictates of wisdom and rationality?
Back to the Gallup survey, as an example. The question posed to a nationally representative sample of men and women from across the four provinces was: “Some people think that this car actually runs on water while some people think that it is a fraud. What is your opinion on this?” As many as 69 percent believed in claims about the water-run car, 10 percent claimed it was a farce and 21 percent were uncertain.
Incidentally, the survey was released on September 6 this year – on the Defence of Pakistan Day. With this kind of public opinion, questions may be raised about the task of defending Pakistan. In any case, I was reminded of this survey – and the same question may yield different answers now – when I had a longish ride this week in a car sent for me for a meeting. It was from some rent-a-car agency. It allowed me to have a long conversation with the driver, who hailed from some place in the tribal belt and said that he had also been a driver in Afghanistan.
No, he did not profess any strong sympathy for the Taliban but his entire discourse was so fanciful and laden with contradictory opinions that were forcefully expressed. It made me afraid about how people like him could behave in certain situations. I would not try to repeat what he said except that he also firmly believes that it is not the Quaid’s body that is resting in his mausoleum in Karachi.
My intention is not to speak ill of the people who can be persuaded to believe that a car can run on water. Essentially, they are all very brave and deserve our respect because they have to fend for themselves and their families in very treacherous circumstances. They have to eke out a pitiable existence in a system that is thoroughly corrupt and unjust. In fact, if you genuinely empathise with the poor and the socially deprived people of Pakistan, you may yourself go crazy. That they continue to survive should make them our heroes.
That their passions and their opinions and their worldview can be entirely warped because of their limited knowledge and experiences is something else. I sometimes move around crowded bazaars or visit such places as a public hospital or the lower courts or bus terminals and wonder what they, the