Misuse of social media

Malik Ashraf

INTERNET and the emergence of social media are undoubtedly the astounding technological advancements of the 21st century, particularly the latter is having a profound impact on the life of the people around the world. The social media with infinite potential of connectivity between the people all over the world is probably the most popular medium of communication. It is being utilized by the business community to promote their commercial interests and capturing markets. People around the world are using it for exchange of ideas, social interaction and connectivity. These are the positive ingredients of this technological advancement which are making lives more exciting, challenging and rewarding. But like everything else in the world this phenomenal forum also has a down side like privacy issues, impersonalizing of relations between human beings, cyber bullying and damaging and soiling reputations of individuals, groups and public figures with sinister designs. So the overall utility of any technological development like social media depends on how it is used.
The social media is also very popular in Pakistan. Younger generation has particularly become addicted to its use. The business community, other interest groups and the politicians and political parties are also now increasingly relying on the social media to put across their messages to the people and in some cases also to spread false and concocted stories about their political opponents with an ostensible purpose to soil their reputation. This newly emerging culture is very worrisome for the whole society. We have heard people denigrating and ridiculing constitutional state institutions in the past which created quite a stir.
The government move to check this trend came under heavy criticism by the vested interests and the proponents of the freedom of expression who probably think that this liberty was unbridled. This is a wrong notion. Freedom comes with responsibility and nowhere in the world societies and governments allow this practice to go unchecked. More than the government it is also the responsibility of the society as a whole to make sure that the new technologies impacting the lives of the people are not misused or exploited for sinister designs. The fact is that through the sensational and unbridled freedom of expression a deliberate attempt is being made to pummel the cultural values such as tolerance, mutual respect and political accommodation besides vitiating democratic norms and parliamentary traditions.
My motivation to write this piece stems from a story that has gone viral about the family background of the minister of state for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Marriyum Aurangzeb and allegedly how the family amassed wealth and secured her induction into politics and consequently her elevation as a senator. It is unbelievable to note that the people could stoop so low as to fabricate a falsehood like that to soil the reputation of a sitting minister and her family the way it has been done on the social media by her political opponents. In politics opposing each other’s political ideas and policies and to present them in dismal colours for political gains is quite understandable. But launching personal attacks and spreading totally false information about a political opponent and his or her family is the most detestable pursuit. It is usually done by the people who are bankrupt in ideas and are on a weak wicket both morally and politically. As a columnist I feel it obligatory to nullify this shameful attempt by the political opponents of the minister and unravel the truth before the readers and the people. I am based at Rawalpindi for the last 54 years and know the political journey of the mother of the minister and her aunt as well as the history of the family she got married into and honestly feel that what is being circulated around is absolute non-sense and a piece of trash. Najma Hameed and Tahira Aurangzeb since their entry in politics have been supporters of the Muslim League and they have stood with the party and Nawaz family in every thick and thin, particularly when the family was in distress after the Musharraf coup and the party stalwarts did not have the spine to support the family or come near it for fear of reprisals. Begum Kalsum Nawaz was arrested from their house. The mother of the minister did Masters in Political Science and she was class fellow of now an eminent politicians Javed Hashmi contrary to the falsehood being bandied around that she was only middle pass and gained favours from the Sharif family by cultivating relations with it through the mother of the Prime Minister.
The father of Najma Hameed and Tahira Aurangzeb was a businessman of Multan and the grandfather of Marriyum Aurangzeb, Sardar Kala Khan was the only politician elected on the ticket of the Muslim League in 1946 election from the North Punjab region. Quaid-i-Azam while returning from Kashmir in 1945 had stayed at his residence. So to give the impression that they came from a very humble background and amassed wealth through securing favours or undesirable means, is the most preposterous proposition.
— The writer is freelance columnist based in Islamabad.
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