Tallat Azim The daily desperate acts of the enemy and the ensuing loss of innocent lives manages to sadden and depress. Our kids are not going to school and our everyday lives are affected. On top of all that, the ship of state seems rudderless with no visible cohesion at the top. Amidst all of this, our countless news channels continue to have talk shows that sensationalise rather than analyse. The lawyer's movement of 2007, among other things, was a key factor in addicting the people of this country, across the board, to news channels. I remember ex- President Pervez Musharraf complaining to an interviewer once that his idea for having so many channels was to provide and encourage entertainment, and he could not understand why people only wanted to watch news In the heydays of the lawyers movement, it was these news channels that brought the live coverage of the chief justice's amazingly long road journeys, the vibrant receptions at the end, the unending gul paashi and the full-throated naaras into every home. It was story book stuff. With news channel ratings at their highest ever, the popular anchor persons became equivalent of movie stars. But that was then. As time has moved on, the TV talk show style has not. The issues discussed are never civilised conversations that bring varying viewpoints and perspectives around one table. Instead, they are screaming matches, where no one is assimilating or even trying to understand the other's point of view, with the anchors thriving on the difference and egging them on. The viewers are left confused and angry, unable to make an intelligent choice in anybody's favour. The guests on these talk shows, a la Sheikh Rashid, are over exposed to the point of silliness. The era of Pakistan's TV talk shows has spawned many experts. Most of these experts on different issues are invited to talk shows for, you guessed it, their expert opinion As the experts are few and far between and the talk shows far too many, all being aired at the same prime time, one can very often see the same guests on 2 or 3 channels simultaneously, with a couple being pre-recorded and one going live Ours is probably the only country where that happens In fact, one elderly gentleman is known to ask his TV host to allow him a five-minute premature exit simply to allow him enough time to move to the next channel's discussion. One wonders how the barricades in the Capital have impacted his channel-hopping In all this scenario one channel has decided to give viewers the laughter therapy, yes the same thing that the Indian Gurus as well as doctors in the west keep harping about, as being the best thing for coping with critically stressful lives. And, boy, is it working They have a format in which all current events are discussed between one actual journalist and a Lahore based stage actor in a make-believe role of an analyst. The programme discusses a lot of big and small aspects of our national lives including politics and government. It also tries to educate the layperson in easy language on some important long-term and short-term issues that affect the country and what were the possible solutions. But most of all, and, by virtue of having a hand on his pulse, it sums up and reflects the feelings of the common man. The stage actor is a known brilliant wit who represents the common man's humour as well as his sagacity. His mimicry, par excellence, of people in key positions and their imagined conversations has people in tears from laughing too much. The programme is aired fairly late at night so it is, usually, the last thing one is watching before turning in for the night. It definitely manages to de-stress by sending people to bed laughing and in a good frame of mind. Given our everyday situation currently, there is no one more deserving of the pride of performance award than Sohail Ahmed in the role of Azizi, on the programme Has be Haal. It has more people hooked on to it compared to all the other talk shows put together. Moreover, it is showing and teaching our leaders not to take themselves so seriously and be able to enjoy the fun made of a particular situation. The government, for all else that it is doing wrong, or not doing at all, is proving its democratic credentials as far as the freedom of expression of the media goes. The crispness of Autumn has set-in and there is an enjoyable nip in the air. As leaves begin to fall to give way to new ones in Spring, the army has begun another clean-up operation in South Waziristan. Much like the Autumn leaves, one hopes that Pakistan's territory will be wiped clean of aliens and give way to stability and progress in every far-flung corner. Will the governing trees of Pakistan also shed some useless leaves I wonder, as this is the season for shedding and cleaning. Postscript: The dash to Washington and back by Shah Mehmood Qureshi for a couple of days only to clarify the clauses of the KLB was quite dramatic - event though one never caught on to who he was clarifying for For all the lightening speed of his action, it seemed more like he went to Nathiagali and back Furthermore, his speech which showed no signs of jet lag, at the conclusion of the Kerry-Lugar Bill debate in the Parliament was very watchable. It had all the masala ingredients that fill the viewer's gallery. It was done, a la ZAB, with much passion, theatrics, emphasis, force, choice of words and so on. But now, all of a sudden, the fizz has gone out of this performance just as in a flat soda. Because some spoil sport has broken the story of how Zain Qureshi, the son of our good-looking foreign minister, is or has been in the employ of Senator Kerry (of Kerry-Lugar notoriety) in Washington. It's wheels within wheels within wheels within Washington The writer is a freelance columnist.