Debate is the soul of human civilization. It leads to cooperation and collaboration that is critical to problem-solving and progress. Arguably, it is a rational dialogue that sets human species apart from other creatures. In our society, debate used to be confined to university campuses, political offices or drawing rooms of ruling elite and opinion spaces of print media. However, mushroom growth of electronic media and advent of social media have opened up the floodgates of debate in Pakistan. Resultantly, the country has become argumentative and vocal. The entering of debate in public domain is a progressive development prerequisite for an enlightened society and a responsive polity. Nevertheless, overall quality of content calls for soul-searching as the current quality of debate is far from being productive or reflective of a tolerant and progressive society. The sensational debate on political trivia and frivolous topics have marginalized the most pressing problems of Pakistan. What is direly needed is the productive and dispassionate debate on real issues notably land reforms, education reforms, police reform, judicial reforms, governance reforms, child abuse, women rights, climate change, extremism, water insecurity and human rights violations. A cursory look at TV talk shows or debate on social media reveals that the nation is consumed by insatiable appetite for a daily dose of dramatized debate on some non-issue that is overshadowed by a bigger non-issue after a day or two. Topics chosen for discussion are often transient and do not correspond to the root causes of what ails Pakistan. For instance, fleeting and frivolous issues like Pakpattangate, row over the new PM’s heli rides or the seizure of allegedly two liquor bottles tend to hijack and hog national attention until some other equally peripheral and more sensational issue bursts upon national horizon. It is a vicious cycle with corrosive long-term effects on impressionable minds of our new generation that has begun to view social media as the ultimate source of information and political talks shows as the fountainhead of all wisdom and analysis. With a few honorable exceptions, majority of political talk shows end up in confusion rather than in a logical conclusion that is an essential element of a healthy discourse. Conspicuous by absence in our debate, are the key ingredients of substance, coherence, objective analysis and discussion etiquettes. Unauthentic raw data is passed as information that is dished out as knowledge. The partisan political pundits and analysts in our midst, are rendering budding minds of our young generation scattered and confused Moreover, questions posed to the guests, are framed to be more sensational than though-provoking. A reasonable query is important to get a rational answer needed to enlighten the public on a subject. Be it on electronic media or social media, the way debate is being conducted is also a cause for a grave concern. Most of the current affairs programms are high on rhetoric tinged with partisan tone and tenor. Bombastic questions are hurled at guests who, more often, are not bona fide experts on the subject under discussion. The growth of intellectual quacks pretending to be know-all, is another phenomenon that continues to blur the lines between fact and fiction. The pseudo-intellectuals try to pose as polymaths and are invited to comment on the complex topics ranging from climate change to Sufism. Tragically, a person devoid of knowledge but overflowing with information, is viewed as an intellectual in our society. Pertinent to point out is that the genuine intellectuals are those creative people who create innovative ideas and theories. Worryingly, the debate on social media platforms, is more chaotic and shallower. With 24/7 war of words, social media discussion often drifts away from civilized behavior degenerating into mud-slinging and outright abuses heaped on the person with opposite views. Pakistani youth need to realize that it may be enjoying freedom of expression while suffering from control of thought. The pitfalls of the post-truth online era necessitate the cross-checking and verification of what we consume as readers, viewers and listeners. Debating an issue requires to be dispassionate and objective allowing the truth to prevail. If debate is engendering polarization and confusion in society, it is indicative of some fundamental flaw in what we discuss, and the way discuss. Debate ought to be knowledge and analysis-based with zero tolerance for fabrication of facts and figures. Dialogue is the only alternative to violence, with room for agreement and disagreement in a civilized manner. An argument should be confronted by a superior counter-argument. Shouting down of a constructive critic or resorting to character assassination are against the very sprit of a fruitful debate. The partisan political pundits and analysts in our midst, are rendering budding minds of our young generation scattered and confused. Contamination of minds of young population is a heinous crime against a nation and is the murder of a nation’s future as the rising generation with confused minds infected by intolerance, conspiracy theories, preconceived notions and disdain for dissent, is a perfect recipe for bleak future of a nation suffering from intellectual poverty and cognitive chaos. The onus lies on the state, media, opinion makers and educated citizens who are supposed to reset and improve the quality of debate that ought to be substantive and productive if the dream of a peaceful and prosperous Pakistan is to be translated into a tangible reality. Together, we can cultivate the culture of constructive debate with due regard for dissent and critique. Disagreement and dissent ought not to be viewed as blasphemy. Embracing a more logical argument is critical to broadening of one’s own mental horizon. In essence, the ultimate aim of an argument or debate, is progress not a polarized society or the triumph of one’s ego. The writer is a PhD Scholar (IR) at National University of Modern Languages Islamabad (NUML). He can be reached on his Email: email@example.com, and Twitter: @munawarmahar Published in Daily Times, October 23rd 2018.