The Pakistani media is busy inculcating the seven deadly sins of pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth through the programs it airs. This continues in Ramadan and even gets amplified as people come to grab the loot offered in competitions with the lowest common denominator appeal. The idea is customer engagement for ratings and the resulting advertising revenue for channels. Our TV has nothing of value on offer. Qatar aired Al-Jazeera, which competes with top western news outlets. It is a commendable initiative. India airs KBC hosted by the iconic Indian actor Amitabh Bachchan, and the program rewards intellectual ability. India has a history of airing competitions that reward knowledge and learning. A Naya Pakistan, which is smart, conscientious, resourceful and industrious, can only be created by rewarding knowledge and learning. This will create a badly needed knowledge-based economy. Pakistan’s ranking on the Human Development Index (HDI) in 2020 was 154 out of a total of 189 countries. Patronage and direction by the state can turn things around in a very short time. The media can play a tremendous part in this endeavour if used in the right way. The first step should be to promote literacy via creative programming. At present, 60 million Pakistanis are illiterate. The format of Sesame Street is a very good example to follow to teach people how to read, write and solve basic mathematical problems. The format of Sesame Street is a very good example to follow to teach people how to read, write and solve basic mathematical problems. I recall a former maid of mine who told me that her sister-in-law taught herself to read and write by watching a literacy program aired on the state-owned Pakistan Television. She followed the instructions on the screen and learnt the alphabet and numbers by writing on the floor with burnt charcoal while cooking for the family. Creative programming that allows the most downtrodden to achieve literacy and basic mathematical skills, can motivate adults to become literate. Pakistanis’ knowledge of geography and their mathematical and analytical skills are very poor. Finding good teachers of mathematics is very hard even for the best private schools. The not-for-profit Khan Academy and its various spin-off initiatives are an excellent model to follow. Even coding can be taught via television to enhance the technical skills of bright but underprivileged Pakistanis. Along the same lines, a different set of skills can also be taught via television. Plumbing, electrical circuitry, garment construction, kitchen gardening and home improvement projects can be taught to the viewers. Competition based programming on the lines of the globally popular program “Master Chef” can arouse interest in these fields, especially as they are financially viable options to pursue a livelihood. Inculcating these skills with a methodical and scientific approach can produce a shift in mindsets. The Pakistani nation can be steered to become like the German nation, resourceful with a problem-solving approach. This can be best achieved by roping in western retirees for a cost-effective professional engagement. Our leaders have left us demoralized and hopeless. We need to celebrate our heroes to find role models. Social media can be effectively engaged to find stories of small-town heroes who benefited their community. Their stories can then be aired on national TV. Not only would this enable what is known as “best practice sharing” in management parlance but it would also inculcate a can-do spirit, which is sorely lacking. There are endless ways to disseminate knowledge using television programming, provided one possesses the will. Divine communication with humans commenced with the word “Read.” This is the greatest instruction on how to shift from darkness into light. The National Book Foundation (NBF) in Pakistan is presently not fulfilling its potential. NBF needs to stop publishing poetry, folklore, Islamic books lacking substance and age-old children’s stories. Translation and publishing best selling non-western western publications can transform the knowledge base and world view of Pakistanis, which is presently very ignorant, narrow and intolerant. Such books when legally published locally and also made available in Urdu can make them accessible to the masses. This initiative is sorely needed to fight bigotry, extremism, misogyny and the resulting violence that consumes us. Reading habits can be inculcated in people by airing television programs along the lines of a reading club. This would introduce people to quality books. Knowledge is power. To create a smart nation cost effective programming can be achieved by roping in our talented but underutilized youth. Youth-oriented programming can focus on teaching internet researching skills, creating and sharing useful apps, sharing interesting news and global developments, technically collaborating with the youth of other countries, and discussing the issues faced in schools and colleges to find solutions. This will give agency and empower our youth. In addition, knowledge can be disseminated through legal programming. Retired judges, lawyers and other human rights activists can educate the nation about their rights as citizens. The working of the legal system can also be taught to citizens for the public good. Such knowledge can create an informed and responsible citizenry. It can also give impetus for much needed judicial reform. Guidance about the public sector is also needed. Programs about government investment schemes, post office usage, public transport usage, travel-related services/advisories, and documentation procedures from identity cards, and driver’s licenses to passport issuance should be aired to create an informed and resourceful nation. The National Geographic and the Smithsonian teams can be invited to record programs on our national treasures such as the Deosai plains, which are currently attracting a lot of local tourists. Last but not least we need religious programming that teaches better citizenship and promotes national harmony. Above all this, we need to inculcate ethics in our nation by practising honesty, diligence and equal opportunity in all of these initiatives. Knowledge guides us on how to achieve our goals most efficiently. We design procedures, methodologies and systems with knowledge. We then disseminate them across the nation. This makes us progressive and prosperous. This is how knowledge-based economies become disciplined, empowered, harmonious and prosperous. The writer is an independent researcher, author and columnist. She can be reached at email@example.com.