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“The Journalist’s Conscience and The Queen of Command”

by Wajahat Masood
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wajahat Masood

Renowned poet, playwright, and novelist Alexander Pushkin holds a place in Russian literature similar to Geoffrey Chaucer in English literature and Walt Whitman in American literature. These three writers introduced modern themes and techniques into their respective literatures, bestowing their unique national identity on their works. Alexander Pushkin lived only 38 years, but in the following centuries, luminaries like Gogol, Lermontov, Turgenev, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and Chekhov shone brightly under his influence.

Alexander Pushkin created a drama titled “Queen of Command.” It is a story of a greedy military officer in the Tsarist Russia, on a quest to uncover the secret of a wealthy old lady’s fortune. Rumor has it that the old widow had concealed her wealth within a deck of playing cards in a unique order. The military officer, holding a pistol, intrudes into the old lady’s house one night. He manages to extract the secret of the cards, but kills the lady in the process. The officer, wanting to enjoy the fortune, decides to play cards but is baffled by the shuffled order, ultimately losing everything.

This allegorical story can be applied to any era, demonstrating the consequences of greed and the helplessness of the common people. Our country’s history is still being played in shadows, where the common man is not destined to share the rewards.

The role of a journalist is to illuminate the difference between shadows and light, but some media outlets are continuing to operate underhand, while certain pens have been deprived of their radiance. As Shakespeare once said, “What’s in a name?” We would answer, “A lot.” The power of the spoken word, derived from the sweet lips of the Queen of Command, has sculpted the social consciousness with thoughtful words.

In the 1946 elections, Bengal was a united province, where the Muslim League secured a decisive majority. The leader of Bengal’s Muslim League, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, was not only deprived of becoming a member of the constituent assembly but also subjected to a citizenship investigation. Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan called him a traitor. The sin was not only in becoming a constituent Assembly member but also in his citizenship. Fazlul Haq, the one who presented Pakistan’s resolution, made a government in 1954 with a two-thirds majority, but he was labeled a traitor. His party was cursed by Bhutto for decades. In the freedom movement, Abdul Ghafoor Khan remained steadfast against foreign rulers for thirty years. We kept him under house arrest for seventeen years.

Ask the students of literature in our country if they know about Sheikh Ayaz, Gul Khan Nasir, Ghani Khan, Major Ishaq, the writings of Subho Gian Chandani, or Qalandar Khan Mumtaz. Do they know that Rais Mir Bakhsh was a prominent Sindhi fiction writer? Will they recognize the contribution of the former Chief Minister of Balochistan, Dr. Malik as an important Balochi fiction writer?

In General Zia’s dark years, Bhutto’s name was banned from newspapers and publications. According to Etimad-ud-Din, the mention of monsoons and swarms of locusts was restricted. Radio broadcasts hinted at the arrival of rain, but farmers faced locust swarms.

This happened until Mr. Lateef’s song “Lahore Lahore Aye” became a hit. In those days, news channels and print media circulated the saying “Mister Ten Percent” to avoid naming the then Prime Minister. On November 22, 2012, four senior military leaders’ names came forward for the post of Army Chief. According to the procedure, one of them was appointed. The honorable title bestowed upon them was “Hafiz Sahab.” These are the people who declared Yahya Khan as the creator of the Islamic Constitution. These are the individuals who addressed General Zia-ul-Haq as the “Man of Faith and Truth.”

The difference between a journalist’s conscience and the Queen of Command’s bewitching words is remarkable

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