Why Pakistani Society Leaves no Paper trail

Pakistani society as it stands today is extremely dynamic. It is metamorphosing with such rapidity that it makes any analysis irrelevant in a matter of days. Each morning, we wake up to a new set of experts, commentators and news analysts, and the issues and headlines take just weeks to radically transform. And then, politics is not the only socially relevant aspect in flux –take economy, demographics, human development indicators, or even cricket, and you are bundling up an enormous amount of social change, all happening by the day.

But much of this change just remains in the air –heavily talked over, but ethereal and utterly unsustained. The effect of not documenting a set of changes is that the very process of analyzing and communicating about that it cannot begin. Think about it: when we analyze current events, we base our analysis on news clippings, statistics, magazine reports, Facebook, or the electronic media. Even the guy on TV at 9 ‘o’ clock reads out the news to us. It all begins with writing it down, and certainly it stops when we cease to rigorously document it.
Much of the European Renaissance owes its evolution to the undying spirit of its pioneers to aggregate as much of information as they can, and as the British Museum’s section on the the Renaissance in London stands witness, that was a lot of information, passionately sought, and meticulously organized, documented and analyzed. 
Rigorous academic effort to document, analyze and hence direct the current social dynamism remains starkly absent in modern day Pakistan. To start with, it is a thankless job. None of the TV anchor would invite a bland information gatherer on a primetime slot. Very few viewers would be interested in knowing the fine points of current social, demographic, political or economic change. Writing objective and honest thesis requires some dedication, but knowing that much of decision- and opinion-making in Pakistan is not rooted in evidence but rather hearsay and myths, the dedication understandably meets its breaking point prematurely.
It really is the need of the day to popularize more academic versions of the changing social dynamics, a.k.a ‘current affairs’. The society needs to have some impression of the complexity of the factors that dictate the rules of politics, economy and society. Its all the more important since Pakistani population is finally approaching a more populist form of self rule, with more regular elections, party politics taking root, and several popular political movements springing in all parts of the country. The challenge is not just to the professors and the academicians, but to anyone who has enough aptitude to grasp this post –that we all need to observe, write and constructively engage with fellow writers about the changing society, so that we are able to come up with rich narratives and explanations of how the Pakistani society really is like for now.
Now is a good time to start writing, because just two decades ago, the World Wide Web made Internet a globally accessible network of knowledge. And just less than a decade ago, social networks started connecting Internet users in more ways than ever. Broadband connectivity is reaching out to more and more towns in rural Pakistan. Even if not representative of Pakistani population, the Internet users of Pakistan have gained enough critical mass to have a ripple effect that is carried to the whole of Pakistan and beyond through print and electronic media. You really have a potent voice now, and given that both education and time at hand are privileges, we can consider ourselves among a select few who can really get things going. A small initiative and an active interest from all of us can raise the many voices that can interact more constructively, and leave a paper trail for the next generation of writers and students of history that is both knowledgeable and instructive.

This entry was posted on Friday, October 12, 2012. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Responses are currently closed.

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