Absar Alam secures a moral high ground by relinquishing the chairman PEMRA position immediately after the Lahore High Court decision on his appointment as chairman. PEMRA remains what it is. It will continue to remain a toothless institution that is the handmaiden of the ruling government and a handy tool in the power tug of war in this country. Regulation is the key to the institution, as the nomenclature clearly shows. But regulating what? The powerful electronic media in Pakistan is one of the main power centers in the country. Being subservient to the power centers means it is not above the pressures that come with the game of politicking. Regulation and suppression are two different mandates. A democracy regulates, while an oligarchy cuts institutions to its needed size by carrot and stick. Media in Pakistan is subservient to religion and politics, but it is not responsible to the democratic ideals. This is the flaw we see at its worst in private television. The print media is being affected by the breaking news and sensationalism prevalent in the electronic media, especially the television. PEMRA should be the instrument of governance to streamline democratic values in the media structure. The enormous task ahead needs vision, not conformity. A look at the media landscape clearly shows the lack of coherence in the overall structure. Print journalism has to compete with the TV and online. This has affected it badly. Cross-media ownership is rampant and it is eating away the very ethical fabric of the already fragile media industry. Radio remains his majesty’s voice in the public sector, while the private experience is using FM technology to air non stop entertainment. The potential of community broadcasting is being lost in a country that is notorious for the use of radio by militants effectively. The cheap FM technology is being sold out in open bids to run back to back music. PEMRA, till date, remains a license issuing authority, at best. PEMRA and other regulatory authorities should be making rules not following orders. Once we get this fact straight, we are on the right path. We are not there yet! This is the start of a positive process that would lead to better empowerment and governance processes. This is not the destination. The fruits of social processes are seen in cultural manifestations It does come into action but this happens only when the government in power or powers that be needs. This is not regulation in any sense of the word. Mr. Absar Alam’s recent episode could also be best understood in this context. The incumbent government is nearing its term. He might had to go anyway. So, why not now?! This doesn’t take away anything from his moral courage to depart without even being asked to. The political elite in the country have a lesson in this. A lessen they already know but never learn. But the bigger question is the nature of public institutions, especially in journalism, broadcasting being a strong pillar of it. Public service institutions are not political in the sense of being subservient to the ruling elite. These are supposed to be serving the public, the tax payer. This is the very philosophy of democratic governance. Governments rule in the name of the people, these don’t “Rule” the people. It is not the Hobbesian Leviathan that a democracy pays to rule its people. It is the sustained empowerment of people that a democratic government is meant to be serving. This is a fact governments need to understand in all areas, but it is very important in the case of media regulators. The reason for it is that the media itself is growing into a power hungry monster, an instrument of neoliberal expansion. Any regulatory authority in the field of media should first and foremost be a dialogue forum between the audience, consisting of all layers of the social strata (not simply retired bureaucrats and the “good citizens” chosen by the power elite), and the media decision makers. The decision makers don’t mean the owners alone. Journalists in the field, editors should be represented accordingly. Regulations should be made according to the recommendations of this dialogue. And this should be a continuous dialogue, a horizontal forum that is inclusive of all regional, ethnic, and linguistic identities of Pakistan. The fact that Pakistan is not a monolith but a diverse cultural entity should never be forgotten. This is not an impossible task, but since we are addicted to the vertical model of chain and command, participatory processes seem absurd and boring to us. We need to change the perspective, from ruling to governance. We need to bring home to fact to our own very selves that common wisdom is more relevant to the health of the polity than borrowed elitism. PEMRA and other regulatory authorities should be making rules not following orders. Once we get this fact straight, we are on the right path. We are not there yet! This is the start of a positive process that would lead to better empowerment and governance processes. This is not the destination. The fruits of social processes are seen in cultural manifestations. Shortcuts are fancy but shoddy. Patience and perseverance are keys to cultural transformation. We need to teach ourselves this axiom before we look for a better tomorrow. The writer holds a PhD from the Institute of KMW, University of Leipzig, Germany. He has had a long career as a working journalist and trainer. Currently, he is Professor of Journalism at the University of Peshawar Published in Daily Times, December 30th 2017.