Which direction, we as a Pakistani nation, are heading into? In a recent incident, Ahsan Iqbal, MNA representing PML-N, was disgraced by a mob of people publicly in a McDonald’s outlet on the motorway. People called him names and disgraced him and his party for looting the country. On the other hand, ex-prime minister Imran Khan keeps chanting kukkar Hamza, cherry blossom Shahbaz, chor Zardari, diesel Fazlu and so on. Can democracy thrive in such a toxic political milieu? Can Pakistan ever progress? DT exclusively asked Hina Pervaiz Butt what is her opinion about the toxic political culture that is growing heaps and bounds in Pakistan and who is mainly responsible for it, to which, she answered with sheer sadness that Pakistan’s mainstream political discourse was never as toxic as it is now. But if you look closely at this graph of ugliness, it started going up ever since PTI gained prominence on the political scene. Butt said that first, they tried to grab the headlines by making noise about their opponents. She said that when they were thrown out of power through a perfect constitutional arrangement, they added more adjectives to their verbal arsenal, and violently dubbed anybody who did not agree with them as a traitor to the country. In the same regard, DT exclusively interviewed Mazhar Abbas, a political analyst known for his rational opinions, and posed the same questions. He opined that name calling and character assassination in politics is not a new phenomenon, and this is rampant all across the world. He blamed the media for spreading lies and toxicity. He said that media exposure is responsible for multiplying the information which politicians take as a personal offense that ultimately diverts their attention from real issues. Abbas further remarked that Bhutto also used to call names to generals but such information was not widely spread because of the limited circulation of newspapers. He further said that PML-N also threw off pictures of Nusrat Bhutto in which she was seen dancing with Gerald Ford, the 38th president of the United States, thereby, criticizing the onslaught of western culture in Pakistan. Upon asking, Abbas further delineated the fact that nobody in the current political spectrum has clean hands. He said that in the past Sheikh Rashid has also made derogatory remarks about Benazir Bhutto in the parliament which made Bibi shed a few tears, but because she was a strong woman, she handled everything gracefully. DT tried to approach PTI’s narrative but they refused to comment. It can be observed in daily media talks that PTI members and representatives resort to below the belt use of language. Our political leaders need to redeem themselves as they are fighting just to soothe their inflated egos and no serious consensus is being considered for the public welfare. Pakistan People’s Party and ANP are the only parties who resort to careful use of language and their rhetoric is not derogatory in essence even when they criticize the actions of their opponents. When DT asked Hina Butt that PML-N has also been accused of committing character assassinations and counterattacks of the same intensity, she said that it is true that all other parties have had their bitter pasts as well, but it is important to note two things: firstly, they have not descended to the kind of words and phrases that PTI officials use regularly, and they never encouraged people on the ground to become violent and abusive with others, whereas, secondly all other political parties excluding PTI have matured with time and realized that this was not the way forward. She concluded by saying that PTI has degenerated the whole society by its actions and attitude. On the other hand, senior anchorperson Arshad Sharif recently asserted in his show that voting for PTI equals doing Jihad. Is it a responsible statement? Sharif also remarked that Imran Khan is a global leader. Sharif should have logically put forward all the credentials of Khan to justify his comment. Anyhow, Hina Butt responded to this statement by saying that PTI has largely become a thaykay-daar of religion. PTI members are of the opinion that anyone who chooses to vote against them should be expelled from their Islamic faith as well. Is PTI going too much over the board with building a narrative in its favor? What needs to be done to diminish the toxicity? Mazhar Abbas said that it is just a phase and it will pass soon. Besides, violence should be avoided and banned at any cost. The media needs to play a smart and responsible role in this regard. Throughout the political history of Pakistan, the personal vendettas among the political leaders and their incapability to resolve the political differences through table talks have endorsed the undemocratic segments to revive their strengths. However, it is high time for political leadership to comprehend their loopholes in relation to their incapacity to strengthen their roots among the public and their inability to resolve political issues over the negotiating table.