Palmists and pundits

By:The Tube

Do you think it was silly, the way the occult was consulted (Geo, Aapas Ki Baat, 5th May) to predict the outcome of the upcoming elections? You might, but it probably wasn’t as silly as what you’re otherwise used to.

Don’t get me wrong. I find the occult silly. For grown men and women to consult palmists and numerologists over any matter is atrocious. That is a view I have long maintained as the secular, scientific rationalist I aspire to be. It is also a view I have on the basis of whatever little religion I have. Regardless of how you slice it, I will find it repugnant.

But if you, dear reader, are of the view that political analysts will do a better job, then I differ there as well. Political analysts, or what passes off as them in the media, talk out of their arses.

Their “predictions” are as much shots in the dark as the guy looking into your tea leaves to tell you about your future wife.

The biggest secret that the Pakistani news media has to hide is not how financially corrupt it is. Or how beholden it is to corporate or institutional interests. The biggest secret is how very, laughably, incompetent they are. Ironically, those analysts who do have a context-based encyclopaedic constituency-to-constituency grasp, coupled with both a studied and intuitive understanding of electoral dynamics, like Geo’s Sohail Warraich and, perhaps, Iftikhar Ahmed, are very shy of “calling it” and concede of how little their understanding is.

If the reader would like to replace the tarot card reader with a smug-looking Muhammad Mallick, with his I-know-something-you-don’t look, he is free to do so.

Ever since the PPP government took over in ‘08, the pundits have been predicting a demise. Six months, said one; a year, tops, said another. They kept at it till the end of the tenure. Did the analysts lose their jobs? No. With such a track record, your average Shah Aalmi Bazaar fortune-teller, the sort that has a parrot that pulls out a card, would be out of business within a year. On the other hand, there is no, absolutely no, accountability in the media business.

For all we know, the tarot lady prediction (PML-N biggest winner; PPP second biggest, but going on to form a coalition government) just might be true. Even if she did, I hasten to add again, pull it out of thin air.

Palmists and pundits