Sheep: to Baa or Not to Baa?


The sheep is a simple creature. The associations grafted onto the poor creature through analogies drawn to human tendencies are not-so-simple. This ‘humanised’ notion of a sheep is doused in a perpetual turmoil: to baa or not to baa?

The intricate web we see strung up before us today is a marvellously ensnaring machination. A web where different strings of silk, laced with narratives and propaganda, vie for prey: and all too often, it sticks. The reality of an ‘absolute truth’ is but an abstract notion, and constricted to whoever can proffer a more convenient truth to the individual mind. In such unenvious circumstances, does any of it really matter? The proverbial lamb to the slaughter may well have little recourse even if it were to make an attempt at conscientious bleating.

That this applies to the subcontinent is a mere extension of an awfully encompassing principle. A case in hand is that of the EU Disinfo Lab unearthing necromancy of the gravest kind: an Indian firm resurrecting dead media, think-tanks, as well as the identity of a professor long-passed to serve Indian interests (at the expense of Pakistan) through disinformation. A ploy of this magnitude merely underscores, rather vividly, how unfortunate our sheep are: who would blame them for opportuning to consume all that is generously placed at their midst?

Shuffling slightly towards the west, and our own homeland too may boast of a similar device. One frame depicts the Pakistan Democratic Movement heroically pledging to break the status quo as harbingers of a shattering revolution that is devoid of any extra-constitutional intervention, for all times to come. That they have to face the drive of a lopsided accountability drive is collateral damage; transcending endeavours necessitate sacrifices and for that, the likes of Nawaz Sharif are the stuff of legends.

A parallel picture framed in the government’s colours renounces these heroic rebels as really being dacoits who have looted the state for years. These traitors are now seen working meticulously behind the scenes to secure clemency for past misdeeds. Their quest is a façade; a bid to create unrest and secure the elusive ‘NRO’. The government, however, is a stern protagonist of the loftiest ideals and is unflinching in dispensing swift, retributory justice.

Move to a spin-off premised on the same characters, and similar webs are spun. Take, for instance, the Chronicles of LNG and you’ll see two edits competing for the box office. The government’s spin attempts a defence (albeit shoddy) as to why the procurement of the elusive LNG was not as expensive as people would have you believe; in fact, it was cheaper than the contracts entered into by the inept preceding government.

On the other side of the road, the government’s take is seen as conservative and on the back foot. What else would explain the lack of a meaningful script and forced mathematics in arriving at a warped albeit ‘true ‘statistic? This particular narrative is a tale of what could have been. All the money that could have been saved, and all the trouble that the industry could have done without.

A flock wanting to shatter the conventionally entrenched gridlock might be rightfully inclined to want to believe in the nobility of any crackdown on ‘state leeches’. The fact that this commendable ideal then turns into a mangled notion upon the donning of a lens of the tinted sort is, however, problematic. The super-vision thus granted locks traitorous dispositions onto those on the other side of the fence; our house is of the pure.

The flock next door may, just as admirably, want to see a revolution for the common good. The fact that it sees it in the supreme subservience to the Constitution and without any undue intervention is also not a problem until the Spirit of the Constitution picks up a vendetta and the game of fencing with narratives resumes.

Which colours a person takes up is his own prerogative, but it is scarcely as much of our own volition as we’d like to think; we are merely feasting on the skewers of truth-bombs slid our way. And it is a dastardly conflict: there is no doubt about that. But this much can be said, the world is anything but a monochrome of black and white. The two sides to a coin unearth a plentitude of partially true facts and a generous dash of distortion.

A sheep is a simple creature. It places optimism, misplaced perhaps, in the hopes of a better future. A future premised on greater transparency, equality before the law, and genuine reform. But when these ideals substantiate in the form of an inquiry committee embodied by a conflict-of-interest-ridded Azmat Saeed; a case before the law where key witnesses essential to fulfilling justice towards Naqeebullah Mehsud back down; bulldozed ordinances with no consultation, the sheep and its sanity might well be better off in the comforts of blissfully ignorant baa-baas.

Perhaps, the time has come to let go of our shepherds and roam sheepishly in a more earnest attempt at the truth, and not convenient accusations.

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