IT was always about controlling the narrative, the creation and propagation of information, whether facts or alternative facts, to achieve the goals of undermining, discrediting representative political entities, to massively erode their popular support, and to present an image of perfection, even if a mirage, as a ready replacement.

It was John Lennon who wrote: “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.” And it did happen. Large swathes of the country bought wholeheartedly into the demonisation of anyone with any representative status and were enamoured with the larger-than-life messiah that was presented as an alternative, so irresistible was the projected image, aura.

This was accomplished via very scientific means. The most effective of the psywar tools were developed and deployed. Battalions of young men and women, in formative years, were drafted in and trained to fight the internal fifth-generation warfare just as their uniformed counterparts defended the state against foreign 5GW attackers. All this happened on social media battlefields.

Since all this was being orchestrated by those most well-versed in the art of warfare, conventional or 5GW, their targets had no hope in hell of being able to cobble together their own teams/platforms to thwart the incoming threats and launch their own counters. It was always going to be, and was, a walkover.

What we are confronting today is the fallout of the failure of the hybrid experiment, with both sides reserving the choicest invective for each other.

More so, as media houses were cajoled or coerced and journalists were lured in either by indoctrination via lies or by exploiting the so-called ‘patriotic’ chinks in their professional armour. Many joined the good cause, including some of the finest in the game tragically, only to be abandoned, even left soaking in their own blood by the wayside, when the game spun out of control and the monster turned on the creator.

It may be clichéd to say but the most carefully laid out plan is only as good as the vision of the people executing it. In this case, they did not game all elements properly. The most vital pitfall being that nobody projected as larger than life ever settles for the lesser, junior partner role in the long-run because like the ‘common’ multitudes they themselves buy into the argument that they are perfect.

If you are perfect why would you want a reversed G-3 rifle as a crutch in perpetuity? Surely, the rifle’s butt does not belong under your armpit but on your shoulder so you can aim and shoot freely whosoever you wish to target. Others will ask but what about consequences? What consequences, is how you have been programmed to react. Consequences are not for you.

One hopes that by now you are not getting tired of this oblique narration and finding it totally incomprehensible? Like a friend says someone may have decided to be apolitical and withdraw to a strictly professional role but we have no way of knowing in what phase that withdrawal is so it is prudent for us to exercise caution.

This ‘cautious’ preamble was written as many friends and readers have been asking me for my take on a presser being described as ‘unprecedented’ where an official made a maiden appearance before the media for a ‘never done before’ talk against the backdrop of a march which may potentially have a winner-take-all ending.

Was the presser then out of desperation? Was it a warning to a former protégé who has now rightfully established a claim to being a leader and can’t be dismissed lightly? Was it the drawing of a red line? These are some of the questions I am being asked as the assumption is columnists such as yours truly are well-informed.

Abbas Nasir writer is a former editor of Dawn.

October 30, 2022


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