Listen to me, brothers! I am from within you, made from the same earth, brought up in the same surroundings, brainwashed with the same propaganda. But an accident happened: I acquired a brain by a strange accident which landed me amongst the people. I too believed our narrative once. But my first run-in with ‘US’ happened in Bangkok, when I was required to sign off on my passport application to declare the Ahmadiyya ‘kafir’. I was only eighteen. That’s when revulsion took root in my heart. I could not come back to my country without signing off on state propaganda. I believe that was the beginning, though it was to bear fruit much later. But I believe that was the seed sowing moment.
For years thereafter, despite my disquiet, I kept buying our narrative. Because narrative setting was in ‘our’ control. Then General Musharraf made the mistake of opening up of the media. No matter what the narrative of the state, the simple fact that people were exposed to all sides of the story began to change minds, including mine. We began to research more and more beyond the official Pakistan Studies. And I began to watch current affairs closely, through the eyes of the media. I know at this point you must be swearing at the unbridled media for poisoning the minds of people such as me. Don’t. Because it’s a flood; you can only order hirings and firings of local media men, not of international. This is the age of information: you can blackout local channels and persons, what about the entire world?
You trumped up DawnLeaks as a conspiracy against the country, but the rest of the entire world laughed at you, and I, your own sister, laughed with them. You lost, they won. There was a time when you could claim in local papers that Pakistan was winning the war a day after surrendering in Bangladesh; even then people used to listen to Sairbeen on the Radio for the truth. But today we have the internet. I know how you’ve tried to conquer it but believe me, you are losing badly. Within half an hour your campaigns get exposed. Why not listen to your sister, instead of trying to gag her? You’ve successfully gagged many individuals in the past and present, but were you able to gag the truth? No.
The truth is breaking the banks and the dams. The truth is like the water that breaks the dams. It’s all around you, it has surrounded you. Is there a point at shooting into the water?
Listen to me. If you could lose me, you can lose everyone. Admitted, your tactics helped you for decades, but your tactics are old and the world is new. Someone moved your cheese, yet you cling to practices of yore. They are not working in your favour. Each day you get discredited in a manner worse than before. Your core constituency, sons and daughters of generals, are leaving you seeing the falseness of your lore; seeing the anti-people policies and practices you have espoused for decades under the garb of patriotism. Know this, there is now amongst the people no higher patriotism than holding you to account. Yet, the people are willing to forgive you if you mend your ways. Today. Don’t let that time come, when come what may, people will not find forgiveness in their hearts.
Dear brothers, did you watch how Punjabis felt on NA120 election night? Did you just swear and write off the few bad eggs? If you did, then the loss will be yours. Because these were not a few bad eggs that could be crushed with brute force. These were a trailer of where Punjab is now. Go ahead. Argue with the point. But you will just be wasting precious time. By felling a popular leader once again, you’ve lost the last province that always stood with you. Punjabis always abetted your crimes or looked away because the victim was the ‘other’. Brothers, I say this sincerely in your interest, Punjab has revolted now. I can understand your reluctance to accept this reality. You are too used to subservience and a little bit of use of force. You are thinking that we will manage this mess. But now it’s beyond management. See the writing on the wall.
You can try and get people fired from media channels. Do you think that will work? How many will you get fired? Two, five, twelve? Don’t you understand that narratives aren’t controlled by mainstream media anymore? Social Media has run away with the truth. How many amongst the Social Media can be gagged? Your last adventure with the bloggers backfired too. Go ahead, disable the internet. For how long will you do that? Do you think that disabling the internet at key moments will help? No. The minute you turn it back on, and you shall have to turn it back on, you will be deluged. It’s a losing proposition.
Running photoshop campaigns is a thing of yesterday. Maligning people’s governments with false narratives, whether of corruption or whether of undermining their economic performance, are games of yesterday. You are hurting no one but yourselves. Don’t convert the civil-military tug of war between the military and civil governments into a war between the military and the people. Please. We love you. Don’t change it.