Then came the so-called democracy in the 90s and little changed the way ordinary Pakistanis would get their news. In the 00s a large number of news outlets were allowed to operate and media got a fair amount of independence. However, they were largely responsible for providing airtime to feuding politicians where the one who shouted the most won the show. This was accompanied by a decline of the print media.
In 2004, Mark Zuckerburg launch something on the web called Facebook and by 2005 it was already a social tool for the youth. By 2008 pretty much everyone using the web had a Facebook account and was interacting in some way with others across the globe. Twitter also came along and together with Facebook, constitutes what is known as the Social Media.
The flow of ideas has not stopped since then. In the past 5 years ordinary Pakistanis have been empowered and they are now part of the process. The full impact of Social Media is currently under study and no one can say for sure as to what will be the outcome. Besides other revolutions, Social Media is responsible for bringing about the Arab Spring.
We have seen the results of the Arab Spring and so far it has created more instability than stability. Syria is as worse as Iraq and Egypt is also bleeding. Chaos is spreading outwards to Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan. Other regional states are in a quasi-stable situation.
The fault lines in the Af-Pak region were already drawn but Facebok and Twitter have further sharpened these boundaries. Three main groups have emerged;
- Ultra-Conservatives, 2. Liberals and 3. Spectators.
A cursory survey of the social media shows that a vast majority of the users belong to the first category and they fighting the liberals tooth and nail both on and off the field. In the absence of effective state machinery, the militants/terrorists are having a field day with the lives of innocent citizens. The military in both countries is unwilling/incapable of tackling the terrorists and today electronic media accepted defeat by providing unlimited airtime to terrorist commanders.
The liberals were traditionally in minute numbers in this region and the militants are pursuing a deliberate policy of killing nationalist leaders to eliminate any opposition to their agenda. The terrorists’ agenda is clear; to create a terrorist base from where they can launch unhindered attacks against the West/civilized nations. The terrorist apologists are now roaming all over and they now hold important government/elected positions.
The third group of silent spectators is waiting on the sidelines and I expect most of them to join the first group. The lines have been drawn and the weapons have been drawn. The regional civil war is going to be bloody and painful. As we say in Pashto “da khudai na che rapekha she nu banda de warta mekha she”. Can we really say it’s from God??