General Elections 2018 followed by enthusiastic, patriotic and energetic election campaigns came to an end less than twenty days ago. The election period has time and again served as a crucial phase for both candidates and supporters to express their opinions, through a plethora of ways. Similarly the oath-taking ceremony of the Prime Minister is an auspicious moment in a country’s history; the reaction to which sets the tone for the incoming government. However, being unable to contain your emotions or opinions during these times leads to a lot of unfortunate incidents. One of the most ruthless acts of inflicting torture upon animals was seen for the first time in the history of Pakistan. Similarly, the unruly, intolerant behaviour of both the PTI leader and opposition, on August 18- left a less than favourable image of the 2018 Parliament in the minds of Pakistanis. An incident of writing an opposition leader’s name on a donkey and then beating him to death- was one of the most horrifying impacts the 2018 democratic process left upon our memory. Especially since the sentiments behind the donkey’s torture was because the party leader had called his opponents gadhay (donkeys) in a public address. In a separate event, a dog was reportedly wrapped in the opposition party’s flag and then shot dead, for the amusement of supporters. First of all, I don’t understand how viciously killing or beating an animal to death is an effective way to communicate ones opinion. Not only this – referring to a person as an animal is a common derogatory practice in our society. But wait, I am talking about a society where sometimes humans are beaten or lynched by mobs due to their religious or political affiliations. Why did the kill a Christian couple? What about Mashal Khan who was beaten to death due to rumours of him, disrespecting a religion? Moreover, why are we the people, who have set an entire Christian community on fire? Why are sacred sites being destroyed to preserve the extreme religiosity of a few? Why do we consider intolerant actions as acceptable behavior? Let’s supposed someone has truly disrespected your religion- does it warrant their murder just because he or she does not have the same opinion as you do? The media is one of the pioneering institutions for freedom of speech, and providing the masses with knowledge and information. However a long trend of illogical arguments has diminished the prestige enjoyed by the mainstream media. Hence media networks and shows should impart political views responsibly with quality arguments and logic What is frightening is that these sentiments seem to be growing as time passes. This is evident in our day to day lives, where we strongly reject another person’s opinion through harsh actions. For me, extremism is not only about killing someone but it’s the absence of not accepting your opponent’s views which for me is an early stage of extremism. Most of the times, we strongly reject the other person’s opinion through unrelenting deeds. Just go to any social media page and read any recent political debate between any two parties. I bet the conversation will be full of abusive language, harsh words, illogical arguments and personal attacks. The behaviours of ‘I am right’ or ‘I can’t be wrong’ are being nourished by the society and when these results in manifestations of extreme violence, we all mourn. Considering one’s own opinion as perfect and irrefutable is the first step towards becoming intolerant and an extremist. Such attitudes are nurtured from an early stage in life. I have seen numerous parents asking their injured, crying offspring hit by another child in a mere quarrel, as to “why didn’t you hit him back? Why didn’t you teach him a lesson?” Similar conversations, regarding the need for violent actions against anyone who opposes them seems like a prevalent parental practice. Then we are shocked when we hear about an incident of murder occurring due to religious or political differences, or the killing of animals to humiliate your opponents. Another reason for intolerance is the lack of education and multi-faceted knowledge which proliferates an inclusive understanding of the world around us. When the education we receive- whether formal or informal is one-dimensional- then it is no surprise that logic evades us. When your brain is rich which multiple schools of thought your sense of understanding different views will grow. On the other hand, a person with limited knowledge would always argue without understanding the other person’s point of view. This trend is most prevalent non-violently in Pakistani political broadcasts on television networks. There is a long list of political debates that have not concluded for decades. They just go on and on. The Media is one of the pioneering institutions for freedom of speech and providing the masses with knowledge and information. However, a long trend of illogical arguments has diminished the respect that can be given to media. Hence media networks and shows should responsibly impart political views with quality arguments and logic. It seems as though intolerance infiltrates all levels of the Pakistani society- from family, politics, religion, media etc. Tackling this, should be our number one priority as it is vital for our prosperity. And it starts from the basic level of having a conversation with someone who disagrees with us. Yes, we do have opinions- but we should opt for a decent way to express it. We should try listening to other peoples’ opinion even if we disagree. Even if we argue- there should be logic and induction. Even still, if someone disagrees with us- it’s okay- for our opinion has the right to be expressed, but it has no rights to be imposed on others. In my opinion- intolerance sits at the heart of many of our national problems. The writer is sub-editor at Daily Times. She can be reached at javeria_anam93. Published in Daily Times, August 20th 2018.