By Fareeha Qay­oom

 

Y

ester­day there was no power out­age for three hours straight dur­ing the prime time. (Appar­ently, they made some extra energy because of the glac­ier melt­down).  I got to watch lots of cur­rent affairs pro­grams on TV between 8:00 PM to mid­night. I hadn’t tuned in for ages…Funnily enough, I hadn’t missed much. It was same old, same old blah, blah, blah…

 

First, there was Mubasher Luqman’s show on Dunya TV. I must say, it was pretty intense– (I felt like a guilty voyeur for com­pul­sively watch­ing but even then, I wouldn’t let my brother switch chan­nels!).  It was a total stand-off at ok cor­ral. I am not even sure who won? The topic of the day was the com­ing bud­get and was the gov­ern­ment even aware of the mis­ery her poli­cies were caus­ing reg­u­lar peo­ple of Pak­istan? Lots of dis­turb­ing news footage about three ordi­nary cit­i­zens of Pak­istan liv­ing the lives of quiet desperation…mixed with an intense dia­tribe from Luq­man and emo­tional, defen­sive and irra­tional out­bursts by the two invited guests who were try­ing to defend their roles as politi­cians in the sit­ting gov­ern­ment.

Then, there was Mehr Bukhari’s show. Another gloom and doom topic that advised parental guid­ance. The topic du jour was young sui­cides and was our soci­ety depressed?

 

After that we moved to Najam Sethi’s  show – his talk was about legal and ille­gal deten­tion by our intel­li­gence agen­cies and Dr. Afridi’s pos­si­ble deten­tion for a year before the pub­lic dis­play of ‘so-called’ due process.

 

What seems to be miss­ing from our pub­lic dis­course is the indige­nous, gen­uine ‘made in Pak­istan’ feel-good fac­tor, the pos­i­tive and happy stuff to bal­ance out the gloom and doom news and hap­pen­ings being bom­barded from vir­tu­ally all direc­tions.

 

There is no light relief. They have even taken away cricket from us – (am not even sure who ‘they’ are). The only ray of light nowa­days on tele­vi­sion for exam­ple is ‘Coke Stu­dio’– that’s the only cre­ative, col­lab­o­ra­tive, feel-good (musi­cal) show that allows (a sub­sec­tion of) the nation to unite, albeit on the net, over the press and pri­vately at homes. The only other light relief is cook­ery shows. (No, Indian soaps are not light relief. They cause stress to the watch­ers too!) The music chan­nels are all show­ing Indian filmy music which is hardly enter­tain­ment – the songs are obvi­ously made as adver­tise­ments for movies and have a total com­mer­cial pur­pose. How many com­mer­cials can you watch in an hour? It begs the ques­tion – is there any­thing indige­nously pos­i­tive, cre­atively bril­liant watch­able hap­pen­ing in Pak­istan?

 

There is a cul­tural vac­uum and no escape from the harsh real­i­ties of our lives. You bet we are depressed, manic and sui­ci­dal. There is no mys­tery – you don’t need to do shows to state the obvi­ous. It is sim­ple – input is equal to out­put. Peo­ple who have not dis­cov­ered God or reli­gion, back bone or indeed char­ac­ter (as Haroon Rashid and Sen­a­tor Mushahid’s sug­gested rem­edy for depres­sion in Bukhari’s show) need some peace­ful and healthy out­lets too.

 

Cit­i­zens should be allowed to let off steam in peace­ful healthy ways. There is a lot of hid­den anger that comes out when peo­ple are protest­ing on the roads, on tele­vi­sion and in the news, but espe­cially when they are protest­ing against power out­ages.

 

The TV pro­duc­ers should do some happy stuff too for prime time.  Incit­ing peo­ple to become a mob is not the answer. Allow the peo­ple to laugh too – some­thing on the lines of “hum sab Umeed sain hain” for exam­ple. I also caught sneak peek of “But tameez­ian” between com­mer­cials – that guy was a bril­liant mimic.

 

Bot­tom line, why can’t they do more laughs then cries? “Do More” or in other words, “dil man­gay or!”

 

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