IF you are filled with sorry despair and feel utterly hopeless, rest assured that you are not alone. Even the most optimistic of us are now forced to acknowledge the darker reality because it hit them in the face.
Sialkot was just another, albeit brutally harsh, reminder that sanity and our devastated land have come apart. The fuse ignited decades ago when religion was deployed to fight the wars of foreign powers, and later to manipulate public opinion to thwart the democratic process, has now rushed to its explosive-laden home.
If there was ever any hope, it is now lost sight of that a popularly elected dispensation will provide clean governance and at least offer some dignity to the poorest sections of society and repel the madness that rages today. ‘hui. An election that has perhaps delivered that is nowhere on the horizon.
But why should we be shocked? The day before Sialkot’s arrival, the Prime Minister asked universities to study the “harmful effects of Western culture on our family system”. Yes, this is what he considered to be the top priority for sociologists / researchers; not what fuels extremism, intolerance or why blasphemy is armed at will.
Many say Pakistan has already come to the brink.
The man who called those who oppose religious activism and murderous extremism “liberal scum” wants to speak to mass murderers and is trying to forcefully introduce religious studies into schools across the country. You only have to read Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy’s article in this article yesterday to understand how the unique national curriculum and its ramifications were deployed. Such a focus on the study of history, mathematics, science and literature would have yielded a far greater dividend, as would the education of some 25 million out-of-school children. But when a dogmatic interpretation of the faith drives an agenda, what else can we expect.
My friend and founder of Naya Daur digital, Raza Rumi, made a poignant observation on the day of the Sialkot tragedy when he said how calm and “normal” these young men looked who had brutally killed a being. human and burned his body, while talking to reporters. .
As if it was the most natural thing to do. This is how normalized such behavior is, he said. This is indeed the case and it is not overnight; it is the result of years of indoctrination and conditioning. In Sialkot, young men were taking selfies against the backdrop of a burning corpse.
Such behavior was “normalized” a long time ago. I remember when Mumtaz Qadri, a member of the Punjab governor’s security team, decided not to protect but to kill the governor in January 2011 in Islamabad. He emptied an AK-47 magazine, then reloaded and fired before putting his gun to the ground and raising his hands.
The other members of the detachment, guns in hand, neither intervened nor fired a single shot at the policeman who had become the murderer. (An account of the murder suggested at the time that they may have been told by Qadri of his plans and somehow decided not to arrest him.)
The result is that Pakistan is on the brink of a precipice. When I say this, many friends argue that it is already out of date. Despite my unwavering optimism, I too lose hope, simply because there is no evidence of an organized attempt to stop the descent into self-harm of gargantuan proportions.
I can’t believe those at the head of the security state are ignoring it. But, I’m sorry to say, their own extended institutional / personal interests and rather uninformed worldview of what is good for the country and what is not supreme, taking precedence over everything else.
Any resistance, even supported by a popular mandate, is blunted, and beyond a point, judged against the national interest and stifled. The resulting mess is where we find ourselves today. Even on my own, that would be scary. But this is not the case.
Many may disagree, but I also think the power of the security state is grossly overstated. Undeniably, it works wonders with compromised politicians; it can also be effective when harsher elected officials must be expelled for asserting their right to govern in accordance with the Constitution and to muzzle dissent.
But coming from their own creation, that is, the monster driven by faith, their helplessness is reminiscent of that of Dr. Frankenstein. Their policy of “rolling them out, rolling them up” seems to have run its course and “rolling them up” is proving difficult.
The result is official paralysis. The “same page” hybrid regime that handled the latest round of TLP protests was a glaring example. It seems that part of the page wants to get tough, while the other is wary of the repercussions and decides to appease the extremists again.
If supporters of the appeasement policy can claim success insofar as the peaceful dispersal of the protesters from GT Road was involved, they will also have to recognize that the protesters returned home after each of their demands had been met. .
The Pakistani security establishment has long advocated the “integration” of militants, but fails to present a coherent and achievable de-radicalization program to accompany such a process, as this must certainly be a precondition. There have been proposals that militants be drafted into the security forces.
Without a deradicalization program, who can say that the “extremist” point of view, attractive as it is to many, does not become the dominant ideology? This would be the reverse of the intended goal, the dilution of the toxic ideology of the extremists.
It is now a question of integrating the TLP into the political process. Of course, there isn’t even a clue as to how the entity will be de-radicalized, if at all. I fear a movement to the right for all political parties as a reaction and more dogma, and isolation from the world.
As the leaders of the Hybrid regime lead us down this dark alley, the mainstream opposition seems content to wait for a power-sharing deal to give them “same page” crumbs. All of this as the economy crumbles and will fuel more extremism.
The writer is a former editor of Dawn.
Posted in Dawn, le 5 December 2021