We’ve lost it, al­most

The Pak Banker - - Front Page -

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

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