The Caretaker Prime Minster of Pakistan came to Lahore yesterday on his two-day official visit to the provincial capital, and he started his visit by holding an interactive session with the students of Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). This was a unique step on its own because politicians try to avoid these gatherings where they would be asked tough and unfiltered questions regarding their policy decisions and the implications they carry. The session was broadcast live on almost all TV channels including the state-owned PTV. As soon it ended, different clips went viral across social media, of students grilling the Prime Minister about various issues, but to our surprise, almost none of the questions was related to policy-making or economic decisions rather everyone seemed to be just interested in the normal political discourse. For example, a clip that’s got the most traction on Twitter is of a student asking the Prime Minister why he got 30-40 minutes late.
The former ambassador of Pakistan to the US and a renowned academic criticized this behavior and posted on his X-profile “I wish the Pakistani nation could understand that rhetoric or political maneuvering is not a manifestation of intelligence. Making someone embarrassed or silent does not demonstrate capability. In essence, no student has shown any brilliant ideas on the economy, national security, or foreign policy. Just the kind of ability that is displayed on TV.”
کاش پاکستانی قوم یہ سمجھ سکے کہ جُملہ بازی یا جُگت بازی ذہانت کا مظہر نہیں ہوتی۔اور کسی کو شرمندہ یا چُپ کروادینا قابلیت کا نمونہ نہیں ہوتا۔ لمز میں کسی طالب علم نے معیشت، قومی سلامتی، اور خارجہ پالیسی پر کوئی ذہین بات نہیں کی۔ بس ویسی ہی قابلیت دکھائی جیسی ٹی وی پر دکھتی ہے۔
— Husain Haqqani (@husainhaqqani) October 31, 2023
The question about the event not starting on time shocked many as LUMS often comes under the limelight due to its various “extra-curricular” activities like “Bollywood Day” and suddenly the students have become extra cautious of their time, and that too when they are to sit the with the Prime Minister of the country to ask him questions.
I have a strong dislike of Kakar but this kid is very silly and those appreciating him are even sillier.
When I go to a dentist with an appointment, I still occasionally have to wait an extra 30 minutes or even an hour and I actually pay the dentist a lot of money. https://t.co/nmdWajOXlJ
— Thucydides (@DThucydides) October 30, 2023
The interaction also shows the current discourse that is prevalent in our academic institutions and even the likes of LUMS, the most prestigious institution in the country is also a victim of that political sensationalism, as was evident in the questions being asked.
There were two or three good questions regarding the upcoming elections and the skepticism that revolves around that topic and another student questioned the state’s policy to deport illegal aliens. Apart from these two questions, everyone was more invested in proving a point instead of having a meaningful conversation, and even the Prime Minster pointed out that most questions were being asked just to get a round of applause from the audience. And this exactly was the reason their videos were getting viral on Twitter and Tok-tok as the public generally loves such gimmicks without lacking any depth.