Bread and Circuses


By definition “Bread and circuses” or bread and games; is metonymic for an apparent means of appeasement. In political science, the phrase is normally define as the intent of persuading public approval, not through exemplary or excellent public service or profoundly determined policy, but through diversion; distraction; or the mere satisfaction of the instant, shallow requirements of a populace, as an offered “palliative”. Its originator, Juvenal (Prominent Roman poet, active in the late 1st and early 2nd century AD, author of the Satires), used the phrase to criticize the selfishness of common people and their negligence of wider concerns. The phrase also implies the erosion or ignorance of civic duty amongst the concerns of the commoner.

In light of this definition, as rulers’ tool of distracting the masses from the real issues, Gladiators in Colosseums used to “unite” ancient Romans during difficult times. Similarly American baseball World Series somewhat kept “together” the fabric of American society in great depression and opium was love of Chinese in their “shining years”. Following the fray, shaken not stirred, it looks like cricket seems to be doing well for us. From socio-economic, perspective; if a nation state has went down to a level, in which it needs a platform of “leisure” to agree upon a common agenda than it is about time that they should start assessing their priorities. Pardon the forthcoming harshness of content but people of Pakistan badly need a touch of reality. Sports create fans not nations, otherwise; Manchester United would have a passport and a permanent seat in UN Security Council.

Finally, the fever has ended, PSL concluded. It provided moments of joy to a nation, which was suffering from drought of positives. I hope that now, things will start to get back to normal and within the realm of reality; or we thought so. Within in the boundaries of reason sport and expression of adoration of a society towards it is a healthy sign, but when house is in fire and walls are stained with splatters of blood, calling upon a celebration to display the “spirit” is beyond impractical. On moderate note and off course as usual, there are two interesting perspectives, blown straight out of proportion, one that says PSL (as a sporting event) was a total flop display and the other claims it to be the nation’s heartthrob and declaring it as a victory parade which marched through all the obstacles of plights and misery of Pakistan and rose on the other side under the sun prevailed. Either way, ironically, it is this exact intensity level of extremities on show that makes it characteristically Pakistani.

There will be plenty more time for autopsies and discussions on how the PSL could improve, considering its first two seasons have been a blockbuster hit on Pakistani primetime. More than finals of the competition, the Quetta-Islamabad last year and Peshawar-Quetta clash this year were the culmination of a venture that appeared unattainable not too long ago. Especially considering the odds, however, it would be a great disservice to evaluate the success or failure of the PSL as a product in terms of numbers and sentiments alone. That is not the topic; so why not leave this in more than capable hand of our masses, who “check” all the compulsory columns to do so, like, one being killed almost every day 2. Majority with no health, educational or even basic necessities 3. Have been on the brink of national water crisis 4. Being ruled by corrupt incompetent elite of their own liking and last but not the least, getting administered by a rotting 18th century colonial governance system. With a resume like this, they certainly ought to have an analysis worth listening. Who else can provide feedback on potency of a substance better than a junky?

No one is against having sports, fun and festivities, it is among the necessities of the human nature to satisfy itself with leisure and get entertained within the limits, but it should not over-judiciously surpass the other more fundamental provisions. Advocating the “fact” that arranging/hosting, propagating a spectacle that gives the illusory impression that its time of feast in Pakistan is doing more harm than good, we need to re-arrange the priority list, which should reflect, and address the ground situation more realistically. If there is any more sporting, event is to be host by Pakistan then Players should get player’s level of security not presidential detail. This can only happen when its committedly gets decided that working on a long-term strategy to bring and illustrate stability is key to bring smiles more permanently, not set of cosmetic, short-term, ad-hoc measures which only express the delusional state of bipolarity dilemma our minds are experiencing. PSL is over folks, think about some of this and before doing so, one very important thing needs to be done; wake up.

Ahsan Malik is an IT professional with a passionate & candid version of his own on national and international issues relating to Pakistan, he tweets @MohdAhsanMalik and can be reached at

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