The Language to Gossip in

BY SEHAR SAYS
Nov 20, 2010

Why does the Pakistani press have to stoop to lurid trash when writing in Urdu?

He is the renowned columnist in English and Urdu, famous TV anchor and the Fateh of May's Gaza Flotilla who single-handedly faced the Jewish, Israeli murderous onslaught while not backing away from the reporting frontlines.

But Talat Hussain seems to have multiple personality disorder – and that is the kind explanation for the sexist, racist and lurid analysis he produced in a popular Urdu daily.

A great translation and reading between the lines to extract the true meaning of the text has already been done by Kala Kawa (here) . To summarise, Fateh Flotilla has put Angelina Jolie’s recent remarks on the lavishness of Pakistani rulers during the tragic floods that hit the country into context by describing in painful detail the faults and flaws of Ms. Jolie.

He concludes that if even a completely morally corrupt, debased, psychopathic, lesbian found the behavior of Pakistani politicians terrible, it must indeed be terrible.

Solid Analysis. Well done Fateh Flood!

 

106 US actress Angelina Jolie visited Pakistani flood victims as the UNHCR's Goodwill Ambassador.

 

While Cafe Pyala has written extensively and eloquently about the hypocrisy and bigotry of Mr. Hussain (here), I want us to focus on his multiple personality disorder.

I did a search for the articles that he had written for the English-language publication of Express and found them to be rather balanced pieces on issues of governance and national security. None of them pontificated on the relative morality of celebrities. None of them reeked of bigotry. So it made me wonder why Mr. Hussain had to stoop to such absurdities while writing in Urdu?

a) He has multiple personality disorder.

b) He’s a bigot and a hypocrite.

c) Or maybe we all have total disconnect disorder.

The response to Mr. Hussain’s article is a combination of situations b and c. He is a bigot and a hypocrite and deserves the outrage being heaped on him. But the collective surprise and disgust of the Pakistani blogosphere at the writings of Mr. Hussain is also testimony to the fact of how little our blogging world connects with the world of Urdu journalism.

Facts are not in high demand. Drama dominates in the Urdu press.

Writings like his piece on Jolie are a regular feature in the hallowed columns of the Urdu Press. Over-the-top language used to construct elaborate conspiracy theories on social and political issues is the norm. Facts are not in high demand. Drama dominates in the Urdu press. And it’s a much more complicated world than our world of laptops, blogs and enlightened debate.

What Talat Hussain wrote is not new to the Urdu Press.

This is troubling because the majority of the Pakistani public relies on the Urdu columnists for their daily dose of analysis and opinion. They are the leading opinion makers amongst the masses – not you and me with our little laptops and our little blogs and our little-read articles in English papers.

We feed different segments of our society different qualities of analysis and facts.

Therefore, when Talat Hussain writes those balanced pieces in English and then such lurid trash in Urdu, he exposes not just his own hypocrisy but that of our media as a whole. We feed different segments of our society different qualities of analysis and facts and we further broaden the class divide that exists in our society.

We must read more of the Urdu media – it will either desensitise us to such trash or the Urdu media gauging a change in readership will be forced to produce something more balanced.

But till then and for the near future – the Urdu media shapes public opinion and determines the national discourse on important social and policy matters. Therefore, the media – which is regularly shouting for greater accountability and responsibility from all those in power, needs to exhibit some of the same its self. If this is to be the case, then Urdu columnists like Talat and Co. must be held accountable for their language schizophrenia.

So the next time someone tells you, the fly sitting on your food is a Hindu-Zionist-American conspiracy, take pity on the poor soul. They have been fed on a constant diet of tripe in the Urdu press.

The likes of Talat and Co. have debilitated their capacity to think, analyse and prioritise.

Don’t hate them.

Hate Talat Hussain.

 

This post was originally published on Sehar Says in October 2010.