The extremist majority

Published: February 4, 2011
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The writer, a graduate of Brown and Cambridge universities, is managing director at an investment bank in Singapore
salman.shoaib@tribune.com.pk

The writer, a graduate of Brown and Cambridge universities, is managing director at an investment bank in Singapore [email protected]

Pakistan’s descent into religious extremism and fanaticism is deeper than any moderate had imagined. Only a hard line against those inciting and condoning violence in the name of religion will provide any hope.

Two weeks before his assassination, my father-in-law, Governor Salmaan Taseer, tweeted: “Covered in the righteous cloak of religion even a puny dwarf imagines himself a monster. Important to face [religious leaders]. And call their bluff”.

The aftermath of his murder has exposed, in stark terms, where public opinion lies — on the side of anarchic, cold-blooded murder, in the name of religion and without any recourse to the law. Many of our learned lawyers are also on the side of chaos and the law of the jungle, as are a number of students, talk show hosts and others who are supposedly part of the progressive elite (though, of course, there are a number who are not).

As the drumbeats continue in support of Qadri, a premeditated murderer by his own admission, I sit in a combination of grave concern and deep sadness about the future of Pakistan. Until this event, I was certain that the vast majority of our population was moderate and abhorred acts of violence. I felt that, despite some bad years, Pakistan would move forward as a progressive Muslim country, influenced by a free press, the internet age and a common desire for economic betterment. I had envisaged that my wife and I would spend an increasing amount of time there as we aged and our children moved into universities and careers.

Everything has changed. I’ve suddenly realised where moderates and liberals lie in Pakistan — in an ivory tower, with pen and paper and surrounded by only their own kind. What are the numbers? A few thousand at best, in a country of well over 170 million people. Terrorists have murdered thousands of Muslims in mosques, in the markets and in the streets, yet there is little public outcry. But if it’s an amendment to the blasphemy law — largely designed by Ziaul Haq and given more teeth by Nawaz Sharif — that’s worth killing over and tens of thousands will march in the streets.

There is no moderate majority in Pakistan. The large majority of Pakistanis are poor, living from meal to meal and focussed (understandably) mostly on their survival. This makes them particularly vulnerable to exploitation by irresponsible and ambitious maulvis. The majority have been brainwashed by clerics into believing that one word against their radical interpretation of Islam is a one-way ticket to Hell, whereas dying for the cause of Islam (even through killing innocent Muslims, as has been happening in Pakistan) is an immediate entry to Heaven. And many educated political leaders and professionals have decided that they will join the winning team.

Not only are acts of violence against innocents condoned, but those on the side of reason and moderation are told that they must not open their mouths. Religious leaders can issue fatwas at will, decide who they want dead with a price on their heads, and finance acts of violence and terrorism openly. But if any moderate speaks up against them, they deserve to die. Religious leaders jealously guard their monopoly on violence and also their exclusive right to free speech. They have realised that if one of theirs can openly murder a sitting governor, one of Pakistan’s best known politicians, without potentially any recourse, theirs will be the power and the glory.

If Pakistan is to stand a chance, someone with real power in Pakistan needs to take on the religious leaders. They need to have those who incited Salmaan Taseer’s murder arrested. They must prosecute maulvis who issue murderous fatwas. Any religious leader inciting hatred against others, or encouraging acts of terrorism or violence, should be chased to the full extent of the law, not hold the rest of us hostage. And, of course, the likes of Qadri should be dealt with swiftly and appropriately. Once those guilty of this behaviour are taken to task, the common man will begin to better differentiate right from wrong. Without civility and law and order, we certainly don’t stand a chance.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 5th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (70)

  • Meera Ghani
    Feb 4, 2011 - 11:45PM

    excellent piece, couldnt agree moreRecommend

  • Zubair
    Feb 5, 2011 - 12:57AM

    //There is no moderate majority in Pakistan. The large majority of Pakistanis are poor, living from meal to meal and focussed (understandably) mostly on their survival//

    Well i can guarantee you Mullahs are NOT responsible alone for Majority of Pakistanis being poor,living on meal to meal for their survival and what not ? The fact remains that Governor Sahib(May God give him place in heaven) was part of a political which being Liberal and leftist by Ideology did NOTHING for Pakistan, sat with the very Mullahs in branding others Non-Muslim so please I expect all you out there to blame Liberal elites as well for sorry misfortune that we are all in. Dont just use mullahs or people-being-poor-ALL-because-of religious partoies ‘argument’ and make them look like scapegoat because that is what you did. Perhaps you can COME BACK to Pakistan,give the SAME education to relatives of Qadri,sent the children of poor to Cambridge,Yale or Brown as well,perhaps they can join you in singapore and do wonders but wait,would you do it ? NO YOU WONT .

    The common man will do wonders when The party of your Father in law decides to actually and FINALLY give Roti,kapra and Makan to people which they PROMISED and they did NOT. the party of your father in Law have a HUGE HAND in destroying this country.
    Majority of Pakistanis HAVE NEVER voted for religious parties so your argument makes NOT MUCH sense,but what makes sense is that your Elected Liberals sat with the very Mullahs and did NOTHING this country.

    You want change ? Please come back from singapore,dont just visit PK on eids or ramadan or weddings for that matter and DO SOMETHING WORTHWHILE instead of hoping you’d see others going to make step to make life easier for you,Thank you.Recommend

  • Hassan Siddique
    Feb 5, 2011 - 12:57AM

    Mr. Shoaib, what about thousands of people killed through drone attacks and bombing in Afghanistan, who is there to represent them at any forum, where are their son in laws?, kindly have a courage to see other side of the pictureRecommend

  • An Alternative View
    Feb 5, 2011 - 1:11AM

    A very well-written article. One cannot deny terms like ‘religious extremism’, terrorism, Islamism, etc. But perhaps it would be better to define such terms as well. No doubt, religious leaders need to be targetted. Salman Taseer’s murder was praised by even our educated masses, and surely this was exploited by our religious leaders. It’s a bitter truth, but I doubt their voices can be silenced given our current state of affairs.Recommend

  • faraz
    Feb 5, 2011 - 1:13AM

    I agree, now the liberals must come out of this state of denial. Recommend

  • Mubarak
    Feb 5, 2011 - 1:36AM

    Very well written and very true. The trouble with Pakistani society is that right from the childhood we are taught to respect stick. In Punjabi language we are reminded that ‘Danda Peer ae Wagrian Tagrian da’ meaning that stick is the spiritual leader of the one gone astray. At home parents beat their kids with shoes, at Mosque mullahs use stick to teach Holy Quran to the kids, at schools teachers use stick to part knowledge and then landlords use stick to keep their wards in order. Hence who ever has the stick becomes master and has to be feared. Currently mullahs have sticks, guns and zombies to blow people up, therefore they rule now. Sorry no hope for Pakistan.Recommend

  • shehryar
    Feb 5, 2011 - 1:42AM

    We are dead as a nation. I never agreed to it before. But after the inane response to the murder, the reality has finally dawned upon me. Unfortunately our country has been hijacked by so called clerics of faith and they are backed by the majority. There is no hope. God save Pakistan.Recommend

  • Feb 5, 2011 - 1:45AM

    We are dead as a nation. I never agreed to it before. But after the inane response to the murder, the reality has finally dawned upon me. Unfortunately our country has been hijacked by so called clerics of faith and they are backed by the majority. There is no hope. God save Pakistan.Recommend

  • Talha
    Feb 5, 2011 - 2:24AM

    What are the numbers? A few thousand at best

    I beg to differ, we have millions of Ahmadis, Agha Khani’s, Bohras, Christians, Hindus, Parsis and many other minorities who are liberal and moderate.

    A high number of Sunni’s and Shia’s are moderates too but they are scared of the religious right and choose to remain quiet.

    As long as religion is used for political gains, this is bound to continue.

    This is why religion must remain a private matter for an individual.

    Religion is good in a personal capacity, better if you know it as it should be known but poison if its misused for personal, political or economic gains.Recommend

  • Asad Ahmad
    Feb 5, 2011 - 2:30AM

    Excellent article.
    Truly the myth of the silent “moderate” majority is but a myth. Although the true malevolent elements are but a fraction there is no will or popular outcry against them. It has echoes of Germany and the rise of the Nazi’s. Only a miracle can save us from ourselves.Recommend

  • shaan taseer
    Feb 5, 2011 - 2:46AM

    justice thou has fled to brutish beasts and men have lost their reasonRecommend

  • Amaar
    Feb 5, 2011 - 3:11AM

    Indeed. The more this society cowers to the mullahs the more it will sink into the abyss.Recommend

  • Nadeem
    Feb 5, 2011 - 5:24AM

    Salman, this is a lost nation, not much hope left. Recommend

  • shiv
    Feb 5, 2011 - 5:28AM

    Sir, your article is hypocritical at best. Late realization of a blatantly obvious fact and a blame game.

    Pakistan was moderate, once upon a time. In that era Pakistanis – who were perhaps less than a 100 million then were exhorted to do jihad to fight the kafirs of India, who, it was alleged, were out to snuff out Islam. And gradually in righteous indignation, Pakistan nearly wiped out all its non Muslim minorities.

    It is the height of hypocrisy to blame Zia and Sharif for setting examples of the very same attitudes that Salman Taseer himself was guilty of displaying – a veneer of westernized moderation covering a cheerful candour towards the elimination of all non Muslim minorities in Pakistan. None of the “moderate, liberal” Pakistanis ever shed a tear as the numbers of those minorities were whittled away by people who are described as “extremists” today. The guilt of omission comes back to haunt Pakistan’s fraudulent pretend-moderates who howl when its their own lives at risk. Let the Islamists rule Pakistan. After all they now own the place. Its the other ilk who need to get in line and conform.Recommend

  • Sara Taseer Shoaib
    Feb 5, 2011 - 5:54AM

    The institutions must work for the people. Only then will they have faith in them. Recommend

  • prashanth
    Feb 5, 2011 - 7:43AM

    Being poor is no excuse for being politically stupid. You just have to look at the way Indian poor vote to know that. It is a different matter that the field is not even yet. Rich and the powerful have disproportionate say in all matters. But, that has not stopped the poor from trying by voting properly.Recommend

  • Hazrat
    Feb 5, 2011 - 8:07AM

    Great piece. I used to be an extremely devoted fan of Shaheed Salmaan Taseer until I read about the things his son Aatish Taseer had to say about his father.

    What made it worse was when I saw that his daughter Sara Taseer was openly saying/tweeting that the “uneducated” Pakistanis should not be allowed the right to vote in Pakistan. Sara’s views made me think twice about the values of Salmaan Taseer, the one who we thought was a champion of “democracy”.

    The other issue I had was with the blatant self promotion in the Daily Times newspaper. I had subscribed to the paper based on my belief in Taseer as a man, but had to cancel the subscription once I realized that it was absolutely impossible to go even a week without seeing promotional pictures of Taseer’s wife and daughters plastered on every page. Recommend

  • pakpinoy
    Feb 5, 2011 - 8:18AM

    I expect most comments here will be negative and thus reinforce the writer’s point. I couldn’t agree more as well. Pakistanis have proven over and over again how deep their identity crisis runs. The average person simply does not know who they want to be. You cannot be extremist and tolerant at the same time. You can’t be a lover of mankind and a hater of those who see the world differently than you at the same time. You can’t love justice yet tolerate and support injustice. You can’t be open-minded yet not tolerate the slightest difference in world view. You can’t want a modern, progressive society yet tolerate and support the practice of not allowing free access to education (females included).

    Unfortunately, the consequences befalling Pakistani society are based on an age-old principle, “You reap what you sow.” But the majority is so deep into this mental stupor that they can’t even see what’s going on. They would rather side with extremist leaders and groups than fight for what is right if what is right somehow comes from “outsiders”. Justice, tolerance, freedom of thought, defending the weak and defenseless are not right because any person, society and nation says they are right — they are inherently right and true and worth fighting and even dying for. Until the majority decide once and for all who they want to be – what values and principles are worth defending, fighting for and, yes, dying for, then I fear there is little hope for change.

    Almost any of the world’s communities would have run to the aid of the poor, unfortunate Christian village lady caught up in village gossip and slander used against her for malicious purposes. In the Land of the Pure, however, the only person of power coming to her aid and defense is killed in cold blood and the killer decorated as a hero. Pathetic, disgusting and sick. Yet very few can even see what’s happening.Recommend

  • Feb 5, 2011 - 8:33AM

    excellent article – sharing!Recommend

  • Alibaz
    Feb 5, 2011 - 9:08AM

    qadri should be tried and hanged -murderers are the real blasphemersRecommend

  • Feb 5, 2011 - 9:20AM

    Couldn’t agree more, Maulvis are making a living out of this fanaticismRecommend

  • Feb 5, 2011 - 9:22AM

    Please accept my condolences. Your father in law must really have been very brave to take up the case of the Christian woman, Aasia Bibi. However, Governor Salman Taseer’s unfortunate assassination seems to have brought forth an outpouring from a small section of the civil society lamenting the lack of tolerance and moderation and increasing fundamentalism. Many, like you, attribute such intolerance to the policies of Gen. Zia-ul-Haq. This is not entirely correct. While Gen. Zia-ul-Haq certainly took religious extremism several notches up, the foundations for the present state of affairs were laid a long time ago, once religion was accepted as the sole reason for the creation of the State. Various promises had to be made to ulema, pirs and right-wing politico-religious leaders in order to get their support for the cause. Incitement of religious sensibilities and slogans of ‘Islam is in danger’ were freely resorted to. A weak Liaquat Ali Khan allowed the passage of the Objectives Resolution. Even powerful military leaders like Ayub Khan and later Yahya Khan pandered to extremist religious leaders. The secession of East Pakistan, a province which could have acted as a moderating influence, came as a blessing in disguise to the fundamentalist elements in West Pakistan. A significant damage was caused when the ‘secular socialist’ Zulfikar Ali Bhutto resorted to large-scale appeasement of Islamists hoping vainly to retain power. Gen. Zia-ul-Haq, both by his personal conviction and due to external interference, carried forward the efforts of Z.A. Bhutto and his predecessors to greater heights, from which retraction has been made impossible now. Each ruler wanted to outdo the previous in appeasing the religious right-wing. The two terms of governance each by Ms. Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif also helped the slide, much more in the regime of the latter than in the former. Gen. Musharraf allowed the extremists to establish a firm foothold in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and radiate all over Pakistan from that hub. Every ruler thought that frothing-at-the-mouth-corner extremists were good assets to secure the interests of the State. Therefore, Presidents, Prime Ministers, Military and Intelligence Chiefs and others have always thought it fit to attend Islamist congregations which serve to whip up a fundamentalist frenzy. After all these, what should you expect ?

    The common folks as well as rich, Anglophile Pakistani elites like you, also have to take the blame. Everyone thought it fit to employ jihadi terrorism against India in order to wrest Jammu & Kashmir or destroy India, without realizing the consequences and blow-backs. The contributions from the society for the jihad has always been pouring into the coffers of outfits such as HuJI, JeM, LeT etc. The Pakistani Army and the Establishment viewed these outfits as the first line of defence as the army assumed the motto of ‘Jihad fi Sabilillah’. Your Prime Ministers and Presidents have always spoken of how the Pakistani Army not only protected physical boundaries but also ideological frontiers of Islam. After having made such a Faustian bargain, the repercussions cannot be questioned, can they ?Recommend

  • Haris Chaudhry
    Feb 5, 2011 - 9:37AM

    Dear Salman,
    It is indeed very true that the majority of the Pakistanis have turned from being liberal moderates that we were until mid 80’s to righteous, holier than thou, jingoistic slogan chanting, conspiracy believing creatures that the world is tired of !

    Your father in law was one of those brave people that went against the populist tide and didnt cave in to the mad clergy. He is a hero and will stay so in the minds of countless Pakistanis and others that saw him sitting in the prison with Asia Bibi along with his wife and daughter. That image of him supporting one of the worst sufferers shunned by all and sundry was very encouraging and heartening.

    He gave his life for standing to the oppressors. We salute him for his stand, bravery and his courage.

    The hypocrite lot (perhaps in majority) does not see that trait. They are more concerned about romanticising with the notion that one day this land of pure will rule vast parts of the planet, that cathedrals, temples and churches the world over will be converted into mosques where the pious and the righteous will be busy converting the world into muslims. That we are so noble and so previliged nation and people that we deserve special treatment and the world owes us a living.

    The truth is that we are broke, we are being bailed out repeatedly by US of A (the kuffars that we love to hate), the IMF and World Bank (the judeo-christian institutions that clergy believes are out to get us), we are illiterate, have no sense of justice, showering rose petals to a murderer and chanting slogans to free him, unable to raise our voice against oppression, injustice, terrorism that we look the other way when thousands get raped, when women are paraded naked and buried alive, when they are killed in the name of honour and dignity, when our taliban brothers keep blowing the fellow innocent Pakistanis in the name of Islam, when primary schools are blown one after the other, when we sign peace deals with those that dont accept our constitution, parliament and judiciary, that we idolize with capturing India and Afghanistan and day dream about the days of Muslim invaders and Moghuls –

    We are blind to our own misery. We are numb to feel the pain we are inflicting to our own nation. We are detached from the injustices being carried by fellow muslims and each unjust act being approved by some mulla under the guise of Quran , Sunnah, Sharia or Fatwa. We are agnostic to the belief and feelings of others. We are self centered and hypocritical lot that sees enemies everywhere but within our own house, we are deluded and fail to realise the edge of the cliff that we are standing on. We are like a herd of sheep being channelled by sheep dogs towards the abattoir , totally ambivalent that we are going to turn into mince very soon if we dont wake up.

    We are on our way to oblivion whilst sleep walking.

    There are lots of us that share your pain and that of your family. We mourn your loss and pay tribute to your father and our hero Salman Taseer.

    May he rest in peace.

    Haris ChaudhryRecommend

  • Amir Baig
    Feb 5, 2011 - 9:45AM

    Thanks Salman for the rare voice of sanity!!!

    I just can not believe, the so-called ‘Leaders” are justifying the murder of a person in the name of religion. This is NOT islam as understood by the great scholars of Islam.

    Our whole nation is been driven in a state of hyporicy. We need real moral eduction at home, at school and in masjid.

    We need more people like you to write in URDU media as well, it has been taken hostage by nuts primarily. Recommend

  • Faheem
    Feb 5, 2011 - 10:07AM

    It’s sad that it takes the brutal killing of a prominent politician for such reactions to be so eloquently (and heartfully) put on paper. Many Pakistani’s, innocent and those with the added burden of professed (valuable) causes, have also died in the past in various measures and intensities of brutality. Nothing new here.
    If you peg your vantage against even a causal, high levelish en masse sweep, you’ll probaby see that Pakistan was hardly ever a moderate country.
    Regards,
    FaheemRecommend

  • pmbm
    Feb 5, 2011 - 10:23AM

    Common man CAN differentiate right from wrong. It is the ignorant mullahs and arrogant( usually rich) politicians who seem to have problem knowing right from wrong.
    Sorry about your father in law. But religion does not reserve heaven for a murderer,that is only Creator’s domain.Recommend

  • Feb 5, 2011 - 10:44AM

    @author, absolutely agreed!Recommend

  • Moazzam Salim
    Feb 5, 2011 - 10:46AM

    The Mullahs have the street power and there is no doubt about it. May be this has led the writer to think that the majority in Pakistan is lawless and religious extremist. The problem right now is that people who are in control of theological institutions are the ones who are spreading religious extremism. Our youth are a confused bunch with some embracing the western values and others a myopic religious point of view taught by unqualified and biased mullahs. However, one thing is certain none of them know anything about the religious extremism and its connotations. This sad incident of the murder of a sitting Governor is a stark example of this very concept. We call Quran our guide in every aspect of life and know that it is the word of Allah and yet we do not follow it when it is against our own vested interests. Allah has prescribed punishment for many a crimes in Quran but none for blasphemy as is portrayed in Pakistan these days. It directs us to abide by the laws and yet we feel pride in murder. We call the Prophet (SAW) our guide but we do not follow his example of forgiveness. The Governor’s sin was to point out flaws in a “man made” law and yet it was manouvered as blasphemy. This is religious extremism at its worst when the religion prescribes something else but we profess and act in a manner which is completely in contradiction to it. The religious-political parties needed this kind of hate to bring out support for their cause. Their shenanigans are ultimately going to hurt this country and Islam and the sooner we realize this the better. Recommend

  • sanjithmenon
    Feb 5, 2011 - 10:50AM

    Give the mullah a chance to rule please, that will expose them once and for all. Recommend

  • Angelos
    Feb 5, 2011 - 11:18AM

    You dont care for drone attacks, terrorism hit nation and its people etc etc and when one of your own is hit, you relaize the magnitude of the situation. Pity you.Recommend

  • M M Malik
    Feb 5, 2011 - 11:38AM

    The extremism in Pakistan did not rise suddenly. It started when the liberals tolerated a peaceful section of society called wajab-ul-qatal.Recommend

  • Feb 5, 2011 - 11:39AM

    @Hassan Siddique:
    Far more than that are killed by Pakistanis themselves bombing each other into oblivion. At least the drones attempt to target terrorists. The people routinely killing innocents on the streets, in mosques, etc knowing exactly whom they are killing are NOT EVEN PROTESTED. When was the last time a mullah called a rally to tell people bombing mosques not to do it?

    The sad thing is that in Pakistan, it has become so acceptable to sort out disagreements and differences to killing, that no one thinks its wrong or it can or should be stopped. Its normal – Sunnis and Shias don’t get along, so they kill each other. Christians are evil anyway – they follow the religion of the west. Kill them first. Who cares if the reason for killing makes sense or not?

    America is a problem, because they are the evil west. They are supposed to die, not kill innocent people killing only evil people anyway. This must be protested.

    I have reached the conclusion that a large majority of Pakistanis are a bloodthirsty lot. They need that quota of hated people being killed regularly to feel that they are on the right path. If a week went by without bombing…. people would be secretly disappointed. No fresh news. It would be proof that the country is being corrupt when so many evil people are obviously still living.

    If their lives are being destroyed, it isn’t because they are busy destroying them. It is because of the evil west, which incidentally has financed their very existence from birth onward. If there is a state of collapse, it is India wanting to capture their country. No one wants to think why in the world would India want a bunch of Muslims who already hate the country and are intent on killing left right and center. Of course, it can’t be “true Muslims” and “patriotic Pakistanis” who are doing anything wrong to Pakistan. Pakistan runs only through the actions of CIA, Mossad and RAW. Nothing happens without their will, which is why there are so many problems. The mullahs are the only pure people in this nonsense, figuring out the mess and telling us whom to kill so that we can reclaim the Pakistan of our dreams. Always someone else.

    It is tragic in a way many Pakistanis won’t even comprehend.Recommend

  • Usman
    Feb 5, 2011 - 11:40AM

    @Talha:
    u r right up to the extent that we are multi-ethnic and multi-cultural pluralistic people. but even those who don’t subscribe to militancy join hands with militant minority on certain issues. the moments of liberalism are sparse and gestalt is miltancy.Recommend

  • Feb 5, 2011 - 11:42AM

    @pmbm:
    You are wrong. If the common man could differentiate between right and wrong, the mullahs would be standing alone in the streets calling for the deaths of people. If the common man had an iota of sense, at least after the widespread destruction of the country, terrorist rallys wouldn’t have participation in the millions. There would be more noise to prevent the senseless deaths on the streets and in mosques.

    There would be less hate and more a sense of purpose to replace a sense of revenge.Recommend

  • Asif Iqbal
    Feb 5, 2011 - 11:59AM

    Absolutely right! It all comes down to Education
    http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=201125\story5-2-2011pg3_5Recommend

  • Sana Moneer
    Feb 5, 2011 - 12:29PM

    “There is no moderate majority in Pakistan. The large majority of Pakistanis are poor, living from meal to meal and focussed (understandably) mostly on their survival. This makes them particularly vulnerable to exploitation by irresponsible and ambitious maulvis. The majority have been brainwashed by clerics into believing that one word against their radical interpretation of Islam is a one-way ticket to Hell, whereas dying for the cause of Islam (even through killing innocent Muslims, as has been happening in Pakistan) is an immediate entry to Heaven.”
    Brilliant argument!Recommend

  • Rajeev Moudgil
    Feb 5, 2011 - 2:45PM

    I think writer is emotionally charged up because of the grief he has to suffer. I have no doubt that almost 90 percent of the population is moderate and peaceful as a true follower of Islam ought to be. Understandably, they would not like to be on the streets specially on issues about which their understanding is limited. It is hard to believe that such a great religion as Islam could have so many irrational followers whether literate or illiterate, as the author would like us to believe.

    It is true, in politics often the scale tilts in favour of the vocal and expressive section of society, once this small segment gains the critical mass. The situation in Pakistan looks bad because momentum is with those who hold a contrarian world view as they see it from the lens of Islam. In no way the situation is irretrievable, education, a little good show in terms of performace by the elected government and free media would ultimately overwhelm the forces which appear to have become so dominant today. Pakistan intelligentsia should not demoralize the nation and its common people. Democracy is at work and would have results through its slow progress, Pakistan in on the right track and would discover India on its side once the forces that are now hobbling Pakistan are defeated.Recommend

  • Saman Zar
    Feb 5, 2011 - 3:16PM

    Views are correct but what have you (author) done from your side (other than writing this article) to counter the extremists. Remember ‘Potency of bad people is directly proportional to impotence of good people’.Recommend

  • Halagu khan
    Feb 5, 2011 - 4:22PM

    The Chickens have come home to roost. All Rich anglophile landowners were busy spewing hatred against India by creating divide in the name of ‘Islam in danger’ thought nothing when these mullahs were busy calling the faithful to kill Hindus and Sikhs along with Ahemadiya and Shias.

    Now it’s too late. the compromises that ‘Socialist’ ZAB made with islamists to remain in power were only carried forward and strengthened by Zia. Even before them Jinnah made so many promises to Pirs and maulanas for the new ‘Land of pure’ that it is no wonder the poor abduls are sucker no more, they don’t own the land and business but they do own the religion. Recommend

  • Dr Dev Mishra
    Feb 5, 2011 - 4:37PM

    No ifs or buts, my dear Pakistani friends. No vague justification for murder by attacking Salman or his children.

    @ Zubair, you said that Salman Taseer did nothing for the poor. You also asked the author to come back from his priveleged life in Singapore rather than write these articles.
    @ Hazrat wrote that he had developed a negative opinion of S Taseer through the writings of his estranged son Aatish and the slightly immature tweets of his daughter. Sorry, both these comments are not relevant here.

    An argument between women in the fields would have been just that in any other part of the world- an argument- it is only in Pakistan that it becomes a state sanctioned murder of a poor Christan lady.

    It will take a long time for the embers of this extreme fundamentalism to die down. We in India are worried for this muslim extremism spills over to our side as well, with a reactionary and new rise of saffron terror. Would love to have feed back from my Pak friends.

    Dr D Mishra, UK and IndiaRecommend

  • nissar guru
    Feb 5, 2011 - 4:47PM

    Are u ready to criticize Jinnah and Iqbal who in 1929 went all out to save Ilamudin and also declared him a Ghazi for kiiling a Hindu for so called blaspheme? Well so far no body in pakistan has done that. In fact a nation was created on hatred and religious bigotry. The only way to help the people of this region is to merge with India and help create a secular Nation with people of other religions.Recommend

  • Wow
    Feb 5, 2011 - 5:35PM

    Extremists are invention of Pak military to world and they also know how to destroy it
    Ask who is a blasphemer the man who blow a mosque along with people praying in it or who just verbally criticize .Recommend

  • Raja Arsalan Khan
    Feb 5, 2011 - 7:05PM

    @shiv:

    “Sir, your article is hypocritical at best. Late realization of a blatantly obvious fact and a blame game.
    Pakistan was moderate, once upon a time. In that era Pakistanis – who were perhaps less than a 100 million then were exhorted to do jihad to fight the kafirs of India, who, it was alleged, were out to snuff out Islam. And gradually in righteous indignation, Pakistan nearly wiped out all its non Muslim minorities.”

    Hypocritical? How? Why?

    If Pakistanis were moderate before Zia, why didn’t they resisted the establishment’s jihad?
    In fact, all the ingredients were available. The local, Mideast and international establishments just used it with perfection.
    Why the Punjabi (cliamed as the most liberal of Paksitani lot) never raised voice to getting rid of FATA and expressions of past? If they were moderate, why the Punjab was cleasnsed in 1947? Can you blame the Hindus, as suggested in the official history, for “shifting” around 50 percent of the Punjabis at the time of partition? After all it were the Muslims who had opted for the land of pures? Do you know what had happened in March 1947 in Rawalpindi and later in Mianwali?
    If the Paksitanis were moderate why they labeled secularism with atheism? Why they didn’t and still not say that Kashmir is of Kashmiris and pursue their case on their behalf, and not “vice versa”?
    Why didn’t Pakistanis say to the “wisers” that they do not want atomic bomb and seek a developed progressive society, and not an over-developed, with respect to the society, armed forces? Why didn’t they demand investing in railways instead of “soon to be motorways? If they liberals why do readily follow the “militant rhetoric”? If they were liberals why didn’t they tell their sons adn daughters about the “nation state sytem” and brained washed them with “Ummah sloganeering”? Why did they provide room to the “Maududis”?

    Salman Ali Shoaib is absolutely right. But his eyes have opened too late. We were never liberal and moderate, and unfortunately, will never be. The problem is that liberalism in Pakistan has mostly been presented, associated and limited to with the “sex” and the “bottle” because the “indigenous near-Islamic” society, of which we are a product, revolves around sex-based relations. And the “puritans of all the forms and manifestations” are hell-bent to protect the patriarchial structure. Unless the liberals bins their confusion and go open to reject the things called “indigenous” no change is possible. Embrace modernity and related products, if you are envision a progressive society.Recommend

  • Abdul Hameed
    Feb 5, 2011 - 8:17PM

    Salmaan Taseer was PPP’s member first, then he was governor ….what have the PPP done to redeem themselves, and turn this downward spiraling Pakistan’s fate around? Who are the questions for? who are we asking? If the “RULING” government cant take things into its own hands and punish those that need to be punished, and make sense out of all this nonsensical drama the maulvi’s have turned our great DEEN into..then who will? For that matter , I think Salmaan Taseer would never have tasted his untimely death, if the PM and PResident and the millions of PPP ministers would had backed him at the right time..no one supported him throughout his fight against insanity..not a word of concern or support was lended towards him, and nothing was done to put things right when his comments and his outcry was taken out of perspective by the media and the mullahs…the fact is it is hypocrisy that is eating away at our roots, and when many of us start to believe that wrongs aren’t wrong if it’s done by nice people like ourselves, then there is no safe haven for nations like us…not even in the afterlife!!Recommend

  • Akki(India)
    Feb 5, 2011 - 9:31PM

    It is sad too see Mr. Taseer die. However little is know about his father. Before Partition someone published a degrading work about the holy Prophet. That person was murdered by a young man named “Ilam Din” in Lahore . Mr Taseer’s father facilitated the Murder by inciting the murderer and hailing him with the “Gazvi” title.
    check:
    http://www.tribuneindia.com/2011/20110110/edit.htm#5
    Son wanted the Blasphemy law removed that the Father Supported. Son is killed in the same fashion that the father facilitated. Now the people are calling Quadri Gazvi. Divine Irony. Recommend

  • Raja Sahab
    Feb 5, 2011 - 10:10PM

    I think to make a society in the name of religion – especially the politically & legally exclusive Islam – was a bad idea from the beginning. Recommend

  • Moho
    Feb 5, 2011 - 11:47PM

    @Rajeev Moudgil:
    Thanks Rajeev, you have more faith in the people of Pakistan, than we have ourselves.
    Wish the majority of Indians were as positive minded as you.
    Well said about ‘democracy being at work and will have its results’ I hope soon enough, otherwise it will be too late!Recommend

  • Moho
    Feb 5, 2011 - 11:59PM

    @Abdul Hameed:
    Well, for the Liberals of Pakistan, this event was their personal 9/11…a huge in your face expose of their false beliefs, that they are surrounded by sane ‘liberal’ elements….then they found out that the extremists are all around and the ones that are not really are too afraid to speak up!

    If you watch the talk shows on TV, (forget about the partisan dangerous attitude of the hosts) every second person whether in Pakistan or from London on telephone, is threatening and inciting the public towards a ‘revolution’ ala Tunisia style.

    Will any leader or the apex court come forward suo motto and lodge a case of ‘state sedition’ against them…who will bell the cat…that is the question?
    Recommend

  • S A KHAN
    Feb 6, 2011 - 7:49AM

    Fully agree with Salman’s views. Pakistanis must come to the harsh reality that their actions are only reinforcing the world’s perception that they are extremist, intolerant and militant Muslims. This blasphemy law is man made and recently at least one brave and honest religious scholar came out and said that it is not part of the Quran or Hadith. In fact the blasphemy law is “un-Islamic” and is giving a bad name to the great religion of Islam. Barbaric and outdated laws such as these are falsely portraying the great religion of Islam as violent and intolerant.Recommend

  • pmbm
    Feb 6, 2011 - 9:03AM

    @vidyut,if common man did not care for right/ wrong he would not be poor in this society.Recommend

  • yousafzai
    Feb 6, 2011 - 11:33AM

    Excellent reply Mr. Zubair! couldnt agree with your more!Recommend

  • Feb 6, 2011 - 11:40AM

    This article yet again proves that you are really in a minority. Just understand this point of view: No Muslim worth his salt can ever accept anyone abusing Holy Prophet in clear or hidden meaning. No Muslim can ever forgive someone who wants to repeal the Blasphemy law. You and everyone else saw that over 500 lawyers supported Qadri and wanted to run for his case. You saw that over 1 lakh people chanted slogans against Salman Taseer. And you read that even the official Mulana at Punjab House refused to pray his namaz-e-Janaza. Someone else had to. No one cried for him and even the President of this country and of his own party did not attend his Janaza. This is not being extremist. If it is, I am an extremist to the core. And I am in majority. Recommend

  • E. BLAU
    Feb 6, 2011 - 5:55PM

    @Subramanyam Sridharan:
    Well said. What you describe is all to common in the region.
    Words can’t adequately describe how badly I feel for the Pakistani innocent people who are not affiliated with any group, but nonetheless fall victim to murderous extremism. The great floods and the earthquake that made world news failed to bring your people together. How sad. What will it ever take for Pakistan to have a true Democracy, where the civilized rule of law prevails over murder and mayhem. The bombings are sickening.

    Pakistani priorities seem to be a contradiction of values. Modern enough to invest millions, maybe billions to have nukes, but little or nothing for alleviating the suffering of so many who were displaced by the floods, and the big earthquake.

    As an American, I am proud of America, in that while even though it’s up to its eyeballs in Afghanistan, it still provided some rescue and food relief to your people during your recent disastorous flooding.Recommend

  • kamran khan
    Feb 6, 2011 - 6:17PM

    well gentle man your article is totally one side to me. So for salman taseer murder is concern i don,t not want to comment. its very debatable and i am not think myself enough qualified to comment on that. however you write about the Mullahs and blame them for such kind of acts.i am not agreed.

    IF Pakistan is to stand there are many things to follow
    first every body in the country should get Islamic education so to play down and minimize the monopoly of Mullahs.
    secondly every body in the country should fight for the uniform eduction system
    third there is a great need to impose law there should be justice and every should be dealt equally.Recommend

  • Dr+Dev+Mishra
    Feb 6, 2011 - 9:58PM

    Two notable contributions above-

    An argument between women in the fields would have been just that in any other part of the world- an argument– it is only in Pakistan that it becomes a state sanctioned murder of a poor Christan lady.

    Sridhar- The common folks as well as rich, Anglophile Pakistani elites like you, also have to take the blame. Everyone thought it fit to employ jihadi terrorism against India in order to wrest Jammu & Kashmir or destroy India, without realizing the consequences and blow-backs…. Your Prime Ministers and Presidents have always spoken of how the Pakistani Army not only protected physical boundaries but also ideological frontiers of Islam. After having made such a Faustian bargain, the repercussions cannot be questioned, can they ?

    Sums it up.Recommend

  • Raja Arsalan Khan
    Feb 6, 2011 - 10:40PM

    @shaan taseer:

    Reasoning is impossible in the land of pures. When a child from the very beginning is asked to fear and obey unconditionally the things called reasoning goes irrelevant and ultimately redundant. There can be no scientists but too many bombers.
    Blasphemy law is now not just a issue related to religion. It is a expression of despotic nature of our society where everyone who differ would face the wrath for being a rebellion. In a traditional and oudated society or group or an individual faces the danger of being “consumed”, it goes all out to crush the opponents both internal and external. The same is happening in Pakistan and all the Muslim countries.Recommend

  • Talha
    Feb 6, 2011 - 11:14PM

    The ruling circles of Pakistan feel the same way today as the minorities felt when the nation they worked so hard for was snatched from them

    The minorities were excommunicated and made second class citizens, did you not feel for the people then.

    I am glad that some people have finally woken up.

    Now the thing is, what are you going to do about it?

    What are you going to do to change this?Recommend

  • El Gato del Valarico
    Feb 6, 2011 - 11:22PM

    I feel Mr. Shoaib has expressed a valid concern very correctly and distinctly.
    There are, judging form some of the comments, those that are ‘uncertain’ about offending Islamic clerics, as these are religious men. But it is clear that many of those have strayed from the beneficient teachings of the Koran They are, in short, creating the sort of society which Allah has eschewed. We must yearn for the days of the Corda Caliphate when Musims, Christians and Jews lived as though mutual respect and forgiveness were ‘givens’. Which, in short, they should be.
    Let me be clear.
    There is NO valid place in this world for what the west has termed,correctly, “Islamic Fundamentalism.” NO valid place. Let those mullahs be stoned as the enemies of Islam that they are.Recommend

  • pakpinoy
    Feb 6, 2011 - 11:45PM

    @Ameer Hamza:
    You truly are very representative of the majority as you have stated so clearly and unashamedly. And you are the perfect example of an extremist in thought and belief. Now you are most likely the very common type of “modern extremist” (read my earlier comment for my take on that), but nevertheless a shining example of all that’s wrong with “identity crisis” driven Pakistani society.

    You prove the author’s point precisely and you don’t even know it!Recommend

  • Abdul Hameed
    Feb 7, 2011 - 2:19AM

    @Raja Sahab:
    you can never make sweeping statement without facts to back them.. Islam is not a ritualised religion as it has been turned into, due to lack of insight and education of the Quran and worldly knowledge.
    It is meant to be first and foremost a SOCIAL ORDER…and its order to be drawn within the limits prescribed in the HOLY QURAN..if your EIMAAN makes you believe that it is the word of ALLAH, then you submit yourself to it wholly and completely, and not half ways.. The Quran is supposed to be a CONSTITUTION, and Pakistan was the land where this experiment was to be carried out again, after it had been established once in the past….in the time of our Holy Prophet(PBUH).Pakistan was and still is a beautiful and relevant idea..beautiful because it promises an ideal society where spiritual and physical development is in the hands of the state built on the ideals prescirbed by ALLAH alone (and with our resources..actual and latent) it is very much possible even to achieve this ideal today,,,and its a relevant idea and will always remain so..because it is an idea attached to the spirit of the Quran, which has a claim that it is a book that will lead till the end of time…so as long as the Quran remains..a nation where it will be implemented as a constitution will always be relevant…now its our choice whether we choose to hold on to that glorious role as Pakistan…or let ourselves perish into obscurity..while some other nation comes forward to bear this glorious burden!Recommend

  • Amaar
    Feb 7, 2011 - 11:27AM

    @Ameer Hamza:
    It is an insult to Islam to think that by killing a blasphemer the honour of the Prophet will be redeemed. The spiritual stature of the Prophet(sw) is far above such stupid and earthly laws. When God is there to avenge blasphemous acts why assume God’s authority?Recommend

  • harkol
    Feb 7, 2011 - 8:44PM

    @Author

    Was pakistan a moderate (if not secular) islamic nation? Let us compare with other islamic nations (leave along non-islamic):

    Malasia provides constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of worship to all religions and equal citizen ship to non0muslims. Only 60% of it are muslims and others live peacefully.
    Indonesia too provides constitutional freedom of worship and equal rights to non-Muslims, even though 86% are muslims.
    Turkey provides constitutionally guaranteed equal status to non-muslims, Though non-muslims are negligible in numbers

    Even Bangladesh now provides constitutionally guaranteed equal rights to all religions. Most of its hindu population was flushed out, when it was east pakistan.
    Tajukstan, Turkmenistan, Uzebkistan, Kyrgistan, Kazakhstan, Syria etc. provide constitutional protection to their minorities. These countries have 60-80% muslims.

    Where does Pakistan stand? It drove out its Hindus (from above 20% in 1947 to less than 2% in 2000). Its constitution bars a non-muslim head of state (thus second class citizenship). Hindu, a people named after the river of Sindh, were systematically driven out from a place they inhabited for a few thousand years, in just 50 years after 1947.

    Leave alone Blasphemy laws, there are so many other ways Hindus & Christians being cleansed.

    So, what is new? Isn’t this something that’s been happening for 64 years? Recommend

  • harkol
    Feb 7, 2011 - 8:48PM

    @Ameer Hamza

    Wonder who & what defines ‘true muslim’?

    My limited understanding of Quran, as told to me by my muslim friends, makes it abundantly clear that most of what is practiced in name of islam isn’t what it is meant to be.Recommend

  • The American
    Feb 7, 2011 - 11:55PM

    I don’t understand why there is a strong tendency in Pakistan to dismiss the future of the country after each atrocity. Every country has its issues – look at America – but people are trying to solve them. At least “trying”. That is the least what your country demands from you, so stop dismissing the future and starting working for it.Recommend

  • Aamir+Ali
    Feb 8, 2011 - 1:06AM

    You know I think the poster has a point. Extremists outnumber moderates in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Feb 8, 2011 - 1:17PM

    @harkol: Wonder who & what defines ‘true muslim’?

    Sir, your question was raised and answered long back, indeed very long back in circa 1954. Following the anti-Ahmedi riots in 1953, Government of Pakistan set up a two-member commission to inquire into the causes of the riots. The two members were distinguished judges of the Pakistani Supreme Court, Chief Justice Muhammad Munir and Justice M.R. Kiyani.

    The report said, “neither Shia nor Sunnis nor Deobandis nor Ahl-i-Hadith nor Barelvis are Muslims and any change from one view to the other (murtad) must be accomplished in an Islamic state with the penalty of death ” and finally concluded that “no two ulema have agreed before us as to the definition of a Muslim” — ‘. The Report further said, “ . . . if considerable confusion exists in the minds of our ulema on such a simple matter, one can easily imagine what the differences on more complicated matters will be. . .”.

    The ulema who appeared before the commission said that no legislation was needed as the religion of Islam was complete in every respect and also promised to come up with a framework for an ideal Islamic state, something they are yet to complete even several decades later.Recommend

  • Razi Anwar
    Feb 9, 2011 - 7:18PM

    The author himself lives in Hong Kong, so he’s not part of Pakistan’s solution. His proximity to Taseer colours his judgment. Maybe the majority is moderate and he himself is a liberal extremist. This article is condescending towards the majority of Pakistanis to say the least and insults their intelligence. Recommend

  • Sherry
    Feb 9, 2011 - 9:48PM

    This article takes a condescending “I am right, the rest are wrong” attitude towards the majority. As if the majority are living under some sort of mass delusion and only the few liberalas have got it right. Recommend

  • Zeeshan Gul
    Feb 9, 2011 - 10:05PM

    I disagree with the author. The majority of Pakistanis are moderate. However, their voices have been drowned by the shouts of religious extremists and the shrills and shrieks of liberal extremists, both of whom wish to impose their unwanted agendas on the moderate majority. Recommend

  • MJ
    Feb 10, 2011 - 3:42AM

    Very well said. This bitter reality hit me as well when I saw the general reaction to Taseer’s murder, not just in media, but also in drawing rooms and streets of a comparatively more liberal city like Karachi. I shudder to think the reaction in cities of Punjab. However, I do hold the political party of the dead governor as one of the main reasons for the current condition of the country. Thye, like everyone else ever in power, both civilian and military, always gave support to the mullahs. And on the other hand, were never sincere in removing the causes for this eventual result – which is good education and employment so our masses stay away from the mullah brigade. Now, the extremist mentality has seeped so deep that even our so-called educated and professional people carry the same mentality. I have no hopes for this country.Recommend

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