Role model, a noun, is a person looked to by others as an example to be imitated.
In Pakistan this word is synonymous with celebrities. Television stars, even. Actually, the thing is, to become a role model, someone needs to look upon you for inspiration. Which means, that someone needs to hear about you. See you. Get to know you. And what you have done.
And that only happens on television, nowadays, since newspapers are busy covering deaths and explosions, and magazines are busy hooking cheap drama artists with one another.
But, unfortunately, our role model industry whilst abundant with the influx of youth, is limited to the high profile industry of television, fashion and sports. Our children know who the actor and actresses are, and they know all our cricketers, from their more than frequent appearance on advertisements endorsing one big brand after another.
And that is what they aspire to be, as a result. The next drama serial artist, professional model, singer and cricketer.
Because in this race to become the richest people alive, they find only these individuals to have possession of the key - the skeleton key...
Pakistan beat Australia in a test match after fifteen years; the government overwhelmed with their triumph, rewards each player five hundred thousand rupees. A jackpot for a first timer, considering how some players begin from the slums of this country.
I am not saying there is anything wrong with this. They did indeed do something magnificent, and the entire nation is proud of their victory. I mean, cricket is a massive phenomenon, the kind that can take people to war...
But, tell me, did this success do anything to bring stability in the country? Did the players help make Pakistan a better place to live? A safer place to live? A place to live at all?
Why are people like Shoaib Malik highlights of our media life, when having played for the national team, he will use his position and money to settle in the United Arab Emirates?
Why do people want to follow in the footsteps of Nirma and Noor, who allegedly became exclusive properties of them sheikhs?
Why are we even trying to heavily promote singing and dancing, when that will do nothing to help this third world disaster rise to any higher level?
Why are we forcing to accept these desperate-to-be-rich-and-famous fakes to become our nation's role models? Our national treasures?
Our country has plenty of sports personalities to last a lifetime. Plenty of television stars (who don't seem to retire and walk out of their deathbeds even, at times), and more than sufficient models to give television glamour a run for its money.
To become anything in this world that we currently are not, we need literates. Philosophers. Educators. People who know how to fix the dwindling literacy levels and rising poverty. People who know how to rid this place of corrupt politicians and establish a system that actually works. People who don't get complexed with the skimpy clothes every other culture wears, but rather, creates an own identity. An own fashion trend.
People who don't borrow culture. But grow it inland.
What we need to do is tell our youth that we don't want fame. We can do without it. We don't want lots of money. It will go to waste, anyway. What we need, is a better life. And we can still get it without singing or dancing, or dropping out of school to pursue a sport.
It might take longer. But it will last longer, too. Promise.
We need to get our youth out of those television sets. And get them back to schools.
And that way we will reconstruct what role models actually mean to this country, and maybe, just maybe we can change something about this place...