Why am I doing this? Maybe because it makes the three of us look smart. But mostly because it’s amusing and I admit I wanted to test out some new graphs and models before I tried them out at work.
The events I chose from the past week are as follows, listed by alphabets:
First, here’s graph 1, which maps out the progression of political drama as the week went by (click image to enlarge).
So, some interesting points to note: drama last week was at its lowest when university faculty rallied against cuts to higher education funding, shutting down university campuses across the country. At the same time during the week, the opposition introduced a rather controversial bill that, if passed, would allow citizens to initiate legal proceedings against individuals for high treason.
The high point, on the other hand, comes at the end of the week: with news that Pakistanis now support Musharraf overwhelmingly being followed by the Afia Siddiqui verdict, Minister Jatoi’s sacking and the news that NRO beneficiaries may be headed out of the government.
At the end of it all, we see that cumulative drama was +190, which shows that our politicians are drama queens and we are a willing audience.
Now let’s translate this graph into another (graph 2) to see how hype corresponded with actual significance (click image to enlarge).
In this graph, look at quadrant IV – here are the usual suspects: higher education, the economy and changes to legal frameworks. These are all aspects that actually count and make a difference in the way the state interacts with people.
Quadrant II has important political developments, which actually shows that about half the things causing a frenzy last week were actually important.
Then there’s quadrant I: the useless consultations with Bilawal, Ejaz Butt putting the proverbial foot in the mouth, issues of sovereignty as NATO admits to crossing over the Pakistan border (face it, it’s probably happened before) and, of course, Afia Siddiqui. These are the things that captured our imaginations but had little real significance.
The lesson: I’ll leave you free to draw your conclusions. But there’s one overarching lesson – obvious but often forgotten – to be drawn from all of this: that the developments that draw the least attention in the media and the political scene are often the ones most significant.