14 April, 2021

Why Najam Is Necessary

In the era of social change, autocratic regimes and minds want to edit both history and news

Why Najam Is Necessary

Listening to Najam Sethi’s Kewal Singh Memorial Lecture, my mind went back over several eras of Pakistani history. In the course of half-a-century of sovereignty, many dictators and autocrats had tried to suppress Pakistan’s inherent spirit of liberty and outspokenness, until a democratic polity finally dawned. Now, though they occasionally experience difficulties, elected governments, a free press and courageous ngos are still centrestage. The task of social transformation in traditional societies is onerous, particularly in the initial stages when the mask of cultural hypocrisy is laid bare. But Parliament can perform its role effectively only with the assistance of the media.

Najam Sethi was not saying anything that we in India had not heard before. Nor are our own shortfalls hidden from the gaze of neighbouring countries. Satellite television and the Internet have lit up previously dark corners, broadcasting to all and sundry the existence of wide chasms between the pretensions and practices of the ruling elite, who believe they can suppress independent...

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