Obituary of liberal-secularism — I

Published: August 20, 2011

The government seems inclined to launch a countrywide de-radicalisation campaign. Seemingly, the inspiration was an army-organised seminar in Swat to showcase its de-radicalisation campaign for which Rs6 million were sought from the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government. The event brought together military men, politicians, journalists and academics to ponder over ways to de-radicalise the country.

But this may be too little, too late, as liberal-secularism is almost dead. Radicalism is going to be the future of a country where the religious and political right are increasingly gaining strength and followers. It’s the emerging culture in which the battle-lines will be drawn between ‘us’ and ‘them’ on the basis of religion and a specific interpretation of religion. While post-modernist academics have infested national and international universities and are trying to popularise the radical right-wing narrative as representing the people’s popular instinct, the fact is that these academics base their analysis on elite ethnographies. Moreover, they forget that radical views acquire the arrogance of divine sanction and thus are difficult to counter.

Besides the religious parties, radicalism is now nested in all mainstream political parties such as the PPP, all versions of the PML and the MQM as well. The intellectual base of some of the top leaders of all political parties is the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI). They might have shed the affiliation but not the thoughts. Similarly, we have a significant portion of the media which is affiliated or sympathetic with the religious right. To top it all, the fashionable post-modernist narrative is inherently right-wing. The Pakistani post-modernist academics are in the process of creating a narrative that will eventually replace any existing liberal narrative which, in any case, is scant.

The issue here is not of militancy but radicalism. While militancy translates into violence against pockets of people, radicalism destroys a society internally. It forces people to think of those who do not subscribe to their religious interpretation as being the ‘other’, which results in segregation and ‘ghettoisation’ of a society. While we remember Ziaul Haq’s dark era, we forget how radicalism spread in the country during the 1990s as a social movement denoted by organisations such as Tableeghi Jamaat and al Huda. Moreover, while the so-called liberals were happy that the Jamaat-e-Islami and other religious parties did not gain much in the elections, the influence of the religious right sneaked into the society at all levels. Today, even the begums of elite families are connected with al Huda-type movements. For example, the Leghari household reportedly invites al Huda to hold an annual milad ceremony for the wives of their political workers. How much more elite and fashionable could this get?

Nevertheless, it’s only the liberals who are reputed to be elite mainly due to their failure to connect with people across the socio-economic spectrum or offer a pluralistic political, social and religious narrative. The protest of the begums of Islamabad in 2008 against the going-on in Lal Masjid is a case in point. Another problem is that the liberals are ill-equipped to deal with religion in a religious ideological state. As a resultant, they can’t gather people behind them with the same force as the radicals. Sadly, the liberal elements have tried hiding behind the argument that radicalism has no future due to the preponderance of the Sufi culture without understanding that the essence of Sufism is against all forms of injustice and not just religious bigotry. Nor do people realise that the machinery that operates Sufi culture now suffers from major problems and lacks an alternative to counter the post-modernist radical narrative.

But can we even imagine fighting radicalism on the basis of a flawed historical narrative? Reportedly, some senior retired military officers at the Swat seminar were indignant about the idea of recognising that they had a hand in creating the jihadi Frankenstein. The alphabet of terrorism in South Asia starts with Pakistan fighting someone else’s war during the 1980s at its own expense. Dictator Zia opened the doors to Afghan refugees, weapons, drugs, jihadis and all sorts of intelligence agencies. The jihadi proxies were never discarded, not even now. Can de-radicalisation work when jihadi outfits and the support structure remains intact? Who says that hundreds of murders later leaders like Malik Ishaq, Masood Azhar, Hafiz Saeed and others will change?

And can radicalisation be countered without recognising that we can’t ‘have our cake and eat it too?’

Published in The Express Tribune, August 21st, 2011.

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Reader Comments (62)

  • Saiyed Hussain
    Aug 20, 2011 - 9:04PM

    Brilliant and in depth article.


  • Frank
    Aug 20, 2011 - 9:12PM

    The alphabet of terrorism in South
    Asia starts with Pakistan fighting
    someone else’s war during the 1980s at
    its own expense.

    Apart from being bad writing (alphabet of terrorism?) this is a gross misrepresentation of the facts. That war was forced on Pakistan by America and a military dictator they may not have created but certainly sponsored and gave vital support to. The alphabet of terrorism starts with Ronald Reagan and the good ole US of A. but Pakistan is now a convenient scapegoat for everything.

    America tells the Pashtuns that “God is on your side” – check out his video


  • Irrational
    Aug 20, 2011 - 9:21PM

    great insight


  • Irrational
    Aug 20, 2011 - 9:26PM

    I think attaching post modernism with radicalism is totally wrong. Do you think Foucault, Darida, Said, the likes post modernists were radicals? May be you better explain what do you mean post modernism in Pakistani context?


  • TheOther
    Aug 20, 2011 - 9:30PM

    With all due respect madam, for years in the post-9/11 era liberals like you have aggressively sought to hegemonise all social political discourse and demonise all sorts of religious narrative, in the process digging their own grave. When you club together Millitant outfits, TJ and Al Huda as one and the same example of radicalism, despite each constituting very different facets of religious spectrum (one is militant, the other a proselytizing group, the last an orthodox islamic educational insitute) you are guilty of the very crime you are attempting to condemn – that religion is ‘The Other’ – the very anthesis of liberalism.

    I also think Zia is given too much credit for the islamisation process. If it was possible for one person to radical transform the social and political landscape of the country, then surely Musharraf should have suceeded in reversing the process though his push for ‘enlightened moderation’.

    The reality is Pakistan has always been religiously conservative amongst the larger masses. We need to figure out how to make it work like Turkey has.


  • faraz
    Aug 20, 2011 - 10:00PM

    Islamic states of Saudi Arab and Iran earn stability from their vast oil reserves and strong state apparatus. In case of Pakistan, where population is huge, resources are diminishing and institutions are weak, increasing radicalization would only lead to increased violence, global isolation and economic collapse. Every now and then, a radical linked with Pakistan would carry out a terrorist attack in another country. Internally the writ of the state is extremely weak in Karachi, FATA, and Baluchistan. There are no liberals in the army, bureaucracy or political parties; the liberal intelligentsia is restricted to English press and their impact on the society is negligible. I agree that the process of radicalization cannot be reversed. Recommend

  • BruteForce
    Aug 20, 2011 - 10:10PM

    I know, even I sense that it is too late. What a sad thing to admit. Its easier for an outsider to see this than an insider I guess.


  • Max
    Aug 20, 2011 - 10:20PM

    There is nothing more that I can add to the very sober but moving analysis of Ms. Siddiqa. Tears came through my eyes as I was reading her lines and these do come very often now. This was not the Pakistan that I had in my mind but then it never was what I had thought. Pakistan and I were born the same day and for last sixty four years, I have counted every tomorrow to be a better tomorrow. What I got was a worst one. I left it in the middle of Zia’s mockery with a promise that I will return one day. That day never came and perhaps will never come. I hope Pakistan can understand my feelings and of several like me, but I doubt it very much. There was a time that I use to recite Zahir Kashmiri’s line:
    Hum ko maloom hay kay hum hain charagh-e-akhar-e-shaab
    Hamarry baad andhera nahin ujalla ho gaa
    (We know we are the dwindling lights of the morning hours, there will be day-light and not the darkness of the night after us).
    Kashmiri sahib left Pakistan in 1950s as he did not see this happening and I left about thirty years afterwards, but kept the flame alive for next twenty years. I think I was wrong. It was a wishful thinking and I finally came out of this illusion on September 11, 2011. Now I have given up my hopes and agony gives me a soothing pain.
    Thank you Ms. Siddiqa for not letting extinguish a dying flame inside me.


  • Aug 20, 2011 - 10:25PM

    hmm… I think dere was no need to long writing just one line should be sufficient for express wish/thought/idea dat ‘Nato plz leave Afghanistan n join Pakistan..’
    Dis blog iz one ov part ov ‘naam nuhaad rooshan khyaali’
    D blogger iz very disappointed from Pakistan, its politicians, its security institutions, its courts, its system in vich blogger herself lived. It iz advice before writing said style n tone, should try to understand as Iqbal said:
    ‘Chamak Soraj mein kia baqi rahy gi
    Agar bey’zaar ho apni hi kirn sy’

    After observing deeply said blog, i recall legend Lata one song:
    ‘Apney hi giratey hein nasheman pey bijalyan’


  • Nadir
    Aug 20, 2011 - 10:30PM

    BRAVO! I’ve posted this on facebook! SUPER job !!!!!


  • kashif manzoor
    Aug 20, 2011 - 10:36PM

    The liberal-secularism is dead. The ultimate truth. alhamdulillah. This piece is showing desperation on part of liberals.


  • M M Malik
    Aug 20, 2011 - 11:05PM

    All true Muslims are liberals and they never fade or get eclipsed.


  • tanoli
    Aug 20, 2011 - 11:07PM

    Ghrib ul watan pakistani where to go.


  • Iqbal Khan
    Aug 20, 2011 - 11:26PM

    Sadly, liberals like Ayesha Siddiqa have repeatedly tried to create some sort of a “battle” between “good seculars” and “bad Islamists”. This is farthest from the truth. The real battle or issue is between “haves” and “have-nots” in Pakistan. And, liberals are mostly in the “haves” camp. They are the ones who ruled Pakistan for its entire life (whether politicians, beaurucrats). And, it is their disconnect from the common man that has put Pakistan on the disasterous path that it is now.

    It is time we stop using terms like liberals and Islamists and focus on Pakistan’s real problems. Go Imran Khan!Recommend

  • parvez
    Aug 20, 2011 - 11:29PM

    Brilliant opinion piece, there is little to dispute.


  • malik
    Aug 20, 2011 - 11:51PM

    The reason liberal-secularism is dead because radicalism has now reached the upper sections of society. Girls from educated, modern background now believe it is hip, and cool to wear veils, thus setting examples for their sisters from uneducated, rural background to remain in their veils. You see more and more burqas these days which was not the case before. And you see more and more young educated guys and girls, defending and promoting the virtue of wearing burqas which, I am sure, was not the case even during Zia’s time.

    A radical when cornered with a counter narrative, reacts with more ideas borrowed from extremists and now becomes a intense radical than before.

    This is what has happened in our campuses where, these days, it is common to hear the speeches of educated guys, engineers and MBAs peppered with the inevitable conspiracy theories and where it is common to hear them talk about how persecuted they are and what victimhood has done to their nation. Narrow vision and ‘us’ and ‘them’ outlook on the basis of religion, are not restricted to the graduated of Madrasas anymore.

    Liberal-secularism is dead. And we have to live with the fact that radicalism is going to be the way of life in our increasingly paranoid nation.


  • usman
    Aug 21, 2011 - 12:31AM

    @ Irrational. ain’t Chomsky and Said are tools in the hands of radicals. they have been cited increasingly by right-wing. why? because they see and differ with the hegemon from inside when no one had guts. Now their criticism of the hegemon is produced at the drop of hat by radicals.


  • mind control
    Aug 21, 2011 - 12:52AM

    @Ayesha Siddiqa


    Science tells us that nature abhors a vacuum and also that the same space can not be occupied by two objects.

    If you want to eradicate darkness you do not ‘de-darken’ a room, you light a candle. Similarly if you want to eradicate radicalism you do not ‘de-radicalise’ , you promote rational, moderate and dare I say, secular values.

    If through the school system we teach the children about the enemies of Islam and Pakistan and ‘proven superiority’ of Islam and Muslims and the joys of Jihad and then try and ‘de-radicalise’ the end product, we are bound to fail, because nature abhors a vacuum and the lessons learnt in school can not co-exist with any other.
    Reform the school syllabus and one generation down the line ‘radicalism’ will cease to be an issue.


  • Great
    Aug 21, 2011 - 1:32AM

    Holistic in approach in dealing with the issue of radicalism. Cutting edge and sharp analysis. It is time to counter the post-modern narrative which provides justificatory paradigm for radicalism.


  • Dr Ali
    Aug 21, 2011 - 2:38AM

    Pakistani post-modernist

    hahahha. Inherent contradiction, postmods cant be “Pakistani”, mam.


  • Junaid A Khan
    Aug 21, 2011 - 2:42AM

    nice article. we need a Mustafa Kamal Ata Turq


  • N
    Aug 21, 2011 - 2:45AM

    Obituary of something that never existed! If you want to argue otherwise, then perhaps it was so weak that it never registered to make a difference.
    Since our inception, the conservatives won – we were created in the name of religion by people with zeal and passion. Book were changed, narratives were changed – all in open daylight with gusto. The liberals – if there were any, with their silence and not-India attitude, encouraged the grip of bigotry in our society as a whole. ZAB – the lion of liberals – instituionalized discrimination in our constitution and the civil society played a monumental role in sidelining the Bengali citizens!
    Even today, liberals are not heard – they claim their credentials in English media but ask them to express their sentiments in Urdu and see how quickly they assume the default position of the state – anti USA/ India and ‘pro’ military. There are no mass protests against overwhelming corruption and terrorism both of which we encouraged and nurtured. My point, shed a tear when you read the so called obituary. But first have the courage to ask: did liberalism really exist to have made any difference? Honest instrospection is a start.


  • Urooj Hussein
    Aug 21, 2011 - 3:01AM

    Brilliant analysis by Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa. This is going on my face book !


  • Ali Ahsan
    Aug 21, 2011 - 3:07AM

    Mind Control: Agree with you but what makes you think it is easy to change the syllabus? The forces that control Pakistan today will not allow for any change in the education system. Our children will be fed on hatred and suspicion of others without understanding that we are also to be blamed for what is happening to us.


  • Aug 21, 2011 - 3:43AM

    Dear max and Malik.I understand the anguish ,sadness and despair.I’m older and left India after the partition after witnessing the masacre.I came here during JFK call to engineer all over the world to come to USA,I have never looked back.I take deep intrest in the happenning of Sub-continent with the detachment.I’m not bound by any ism,religion but I do subscribe to various secular philosophy,and have developed detachment as such I neither grieve or rejoice.If you do not develop these stoic detatchment,you are in for lot of heartache as your beloved country will break your heart more before it turns around for better.To many people who blame others,villians every where,jews,hindus,mossad,raw,cia and USa,never take any responcibility,every one is part of conspiracy to destroy the land of pure,every one but us.If when ,even educated who have other avenue to get facts, and cross check,but simply refuse to see,whom can you blame?We still believe 9/11 and 26/11 is done by CIA(US and RAW,INDIA),there is not going to be reality check and turn around in our life time,get used to the idea,the pain will be less and tears will at last dry up,I sincerely hope so.When you love something dearly,when it slips away,frusteration and delusion sets in.Wise never allow that to happen.


  • Khadim Husain
    Aug 21, 2011 - 5:06AM

    Ayesha has no courage to admit that Liberal Fascism has failed with the departure of Bush and Mush. Now leftover liberals have seen that their theories were wrong, as such 90% world population hate that ideology. Ayesha has routes of PPP so it is natural that she would be against Zia, she belongs to Sufi family so it is natural that she hates those parties that she mentioned in her article.
    Liberalism was never issue of Pakistan, however socialism remained as hot topic of discussions. Problem with socialists turned capitalists is the real failure and above story is failures of highly educated class who got degrees on different scholarships, in fact no one among them like to follow true version of Sufi’s, even no one is follower of classic sufi practices in present world. Sufism is blind man’s elephant for so called liberals, it does not base on any theory but entirely asks for practice.
    I don’t think that PPP is a secular party, all type of Sufi’s, Makhdooms and Pirs were enrolled by Bhutto, continued in BB era.
    Heart of liberal fascists is sinking because of defeat of Uncle Sam in Afghanistan, gold eggs laying hen is departing…Afsoos…Sad Afsoos…


  • Abdullah
    Aug 21, 2011 - 5:24AM

    Who is on the driving seat of this country from the last 60 years? Liberals or Islamists? Was Ayub Khan graduate of Darul Uloom Deoband? Or did Yahya Khan went to Madarassa Haqannia ? Was Bhutto product of Jaamia Ad Dawaa al islaamiah, Markaz Taiba? Zia went to Stephen College of Delhi and Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. Benazir went to Harvard and Oxford not Jaamia Hafsa ! Musharraf was brought up in enlightened liberal environment of turkey and graduated from Saint Patricks and Forman Christian College !! May I remind that it is Dr Ayesha Siddiqua (graduate of King’s College London) and her likes who had Pakistani press, state media and huge intellectual and physical infrastructure at their disposal for the last 60 years !! You are the opinion makers !! You tried your best to spread liberalism and secularism in Pakistan but you failed, so you rightly groan in pain. Pakistan is product of secularism and liberalism NOT ISLAM !!! For 60 Years you looted and pillaged this country and now you act as if you are victims !!! Secularism and Liberalism is very much present in Pakistan. ITs NOT DEAD. Yes there is war going on between Secularists and Muslims. Secularists believe mankind received ultimate truth in form of liberalism, humanism and secularism in 18nth Century, France and since then have been trying their level best to spread it. Muslims on the other hand believe mankind received ultimate truth in 6th Century in Cave of Hira. Now if Islam has started encroaching in liberal and secular institutions, why make such a fuss ??!! Its about freedom of choice after all, isnt it?


  • Abdullah
    Aug 21, 2011 - 5:28AM

    There are no liberals in army, right – Ayub, Yahya, Musharraf were mythical characters of Pakistani political history, brilliant


  • Saleem
    Aug 21, 2011 - 5:45AM

    The islamist started from the school, they first brain washed the teachers , thereafter the girls started the veils, scarf hijab , latter as said even the educated madam started to go classes lectures etc , slowly the men have started putting on a beard. What the islamist lost in the votes , they have hit back thru culture dominance. Today all tv channels are matching trp by having ramzan all day sessions. In order to avoid the self destruction of the society, it would be for people to bring the atmosphere of sanity by de-emphasising religion like Bangladesh is trying to do.


  • Arsalan Nazim
    Aug 21, 2011 - 7:01AM

    Dear Ms. Siddiqa,

    A good insight indeed but perhaps with much focus on radicalism as an ideology rather than a reactionary force. This article sounds like a victory beacon for supporters of radicalism who have only found their way into our society on the shoulders of skewed allocation of resources, sadly always in the favor of our liberal elite. This has rendered the “liberal cadre” prone to misrepresentation, leading masses hostile to the very basis of modernity and liberalism.

    It seems the underlying force behind this issue of “us” and “them” feeds upon the problem of economic inconsistencies which can only be solved by a true representative government, either religious or non-religious (I prefer religious or non-religious instead of radicalists or liberals).

    This societal segregation would diminish if Pakistan adopts the ideology of JUSTICE as it is the former that guarantees progress.


  • Wellwisher
    Aug 21, 2011 - 7:35AM

    Medicines are not adequate to cure the ills of Pakistan. It is suffering from acute cancer. Only surgery can stabilize the body. Cure, think of it later. DECLARE PAKISTAN AS SECULAR STATE. Then take all others steps connected with that.


  • Mirza
    Aug 21, 2011 - 10:02AM

    Very timely and right on target. Thanks and keep it up!


  • Mirza
    Aug 21, 2011 - 10:18AM

    It is not just the author but also JI’s founder Modudi’s son says the same things about the religious parties and their role in Pakistan. This is a must see to understand the role of religious parties in Pakistan.

    An Eye Opener Interview with Maudoodi’s son


  • FN
    Aug 21, 2011 - 10:54AM

    Liberalism cannot completely die out in Pakistan as long as these guys are around:


  • mind control
    Aug 21, 2011 - 10:57AM


    Who is on the driving seat of this country from the last 60 years? Liberals or Islamists? Was Ayub Khan graduate of Darul Uloom Deoband? Or did Yahya Khan went to Madarassa Haqannia ?

    Brother if you really want to know who was in charge and what ideology they subscribed to, then after asking the question, you have to take the next step of finding an answer. You can make a beginning with a three part article titled ‘Jihadism and the military in Pakistan’ by A R Siddiqi, a retired brigadier of Pakistan army. You can find one of the articles at\19\story19-8-2011pg3_5

    Now if Islam has started encroaching in liberal and secular institutions, why make such a fuss ??!! Its about freedom of choice after all, isnt it?

    Is it? You seriously belive that the 53 poor souls who got blown up while at prayer were exercising the freedom of choice, or even the poor brainwashed teen ager, who blew himself, freely chose this path of action? The way some people talk about ‘freedom and ‘choice’ without understanding either is amazing.


  • faraz
    Aug 21, 2011 - 11:21AM


    Ayub turned to Islamic rhetoric after the defeat in the war of 1965. Yahya’s information minister is the real father of the ‘Pakistan Ideology’. Yahya used religious militias against Bengalis. He supported JI and Mian Tufail declared that Yahya’s PCO was according to the principles of Islam. Musharraf used jihadi groups to wage Kargil war. After 911, he expelled the mainstream parties and brought MMA into power in KP and Baluchistan. Taliban captured entire FATA and Malakand during his reign.

    Personal habits of the chief of staff don’t represent the policy of the institution. Army chief is not a monarch whose word of mouth becomes the law. The policies reflect the consensus of the top generals and they don’t believe in a tolerant moderate Pakistan. The institution has always used religion to achieve senseless foreign and defense policy goals. Clean shaves not make a person liberal.

    And your concept of liberalism is quite narrow. A person who doesn’t believe in equal rights, free speech or welfare of the people can’t be a liberal. Army took 70 percent of the budget during Ayub era while people died of poverty, disease and hunger; that’s not liberalism. Elites abuse religion, ethnicity and nationalism to hold on to power and take control over resources. Nobody can challenge the lifestyle of the elites; no moral squad can terrorize people in the Cantt or DHA. it’s the common man that suffers.

    Who will carry out this surgery?


  • Arifq
    Aug 21, 2011 - 12:10PM

    Ayesha is being polite. Facism and Totalitarian state better describes the state sponsored religious hegemon. I wish Pakistan luck and God speed cause the civilized world will not be patient forever.


  • ali
    Aug 21, 2011 - 12:31PM


    Thats sarcasm!


  • Frank
    Aug 21, 2011 - 12:34PM

    Faraz, how often do you get out of the Defence housing schemes? When was the last time you went to Baghbanpura or Lohari? And it must have been a lifetime ago when you last crossed the Ravi? You sound like the archetypal Lahori burger kid. The man on the street remmebers Ayub Khan’s rule as a golden era. How is it that he knows nothing about dying of poverty because of Ayub Khan’s army? The majority of officers in the army have a relaxed attitutde to religion. They have to because most are too fond of the Scotch Drink than Islam allows. There are religious officers, of course, but being religious in the army automatically raises suspicions these days. It is not the norm. How about foregoing your ultrafast fibre optic internet connection today and paying a visit to Lohari to talk to some ordinary people to see what they really think?


  • habib
    Aug 21, 2011 - 12:35PM

    Bigotary and intolerance has deeply penetrated among the majority and I think sufism can defend us from this onslought. All the liberal and free thinking muslim should do something otherwise we are doomed.


  • Abrar Hussain
    Aug 21, 2011 - 12:54PM

    My generation loves Indian and western foods, films and music. They also love Islam as the ideology of Pakistan and Jihad, as was taught to us in our schools. We are thus a rather confused entity which can be dubbed as secular-fundos. I do not think further radicalisation or de-radicalisation has any chance with us. It will, therefore, be good for both secularists and fundamentalists to concentrate on the next generation for results of their liking. Just leave us be.


  • D'maagh
    Aug 21, 2011 - 1:42PM

    Bring in Army rule and all will be well. Like China or Singapore, Pakistan as a country is well-suited to military rule to instill faith discipline unity and order in the country and it has always progressed fastest under military. these secularism and democracy are western concepts alien to our culture as seen from all that is happening to our country. Once we implement proper shariah the country will be the best in world and people like miss ayesha will be crying even then. if this article is meant to make us sad, its misguided. Liberal secularism is basically western imperialism as seen from events of last decade.


  • Abhi
    Aug 21, 2011 - 1:59PM

    I agree with few points of Abdullah. I think it is failure of liberals who support western style of liberalism, probably because of their education and background they were unaware of local cultural practices and traditions. If they had paid some attention and tried to mix with common people, they may have succeeded in creating a true liberal and inclusive society. Here I want to correct Adbullah also, not everybody educated in convent or western institutes is a liberal similarly not everybody coming out of traditional education system is hardliner. The failure of elite liberals was that they didn’t bother to identify and encourage liberal strands of local culture of Pakistan and relied heavily on western ideas and the hardliners could easily influence the population with use/misuse of Islam.


  • Irrational
    Aug 21, 2011 - 2:02PM

    @ Usman: I think any true post-modernist would deject the radical meta narrative as forcefully as western/European hegemony. Post-modernity is based on liberalizing the false pretext of positivists/so called enlightened Europe, justifying crusades against humanity on the basis of false logic, mainly after second world war. I don’t know how this fits in Pakistani contexts, but the false interpretation of religious text by our so called illiterate molvis poses the same sarcophagus of dis-enlightened thought as European modernity posed to the humanity.


  • schazad
    Aug 21, 2011 - 4:23PM

    @the title –> hasrat un ghunchon p jo bin khilay murjha gye

    @the article–> going through the article based on some forged facts and false analysis based on fear of religion and also some of the preceding comments, I enjoyed as well as felt pity for the mental state of the new form of liberals. While the author like few others like her portray to be flag-bearers of liberalism, they are unable to digest if people opt to submit to religion and want to live their lives as per ALLAH’s commandments. She seems okay with Sufism only till it challenges “radical Islam” but this digestible form of sugar coated religion becomes problematic for her because “the essence of Sufism is against all forms of injustice and not just religious bigotry” so her problem is obviously with religious radicalization not with other forms of injustice…
    Another interesting thing that comes up with this article, the author’s problem with Islamic radicalization is not limited to JI, HT, TTP, AQ. She is worried to see people inclining to religion through the peaceful groups like TJ and Al-Huda which till now have not even started challenging the prevailing status-quo. So if some liberal sections of society have so far chosen to respect people’s choice to practise religion, Ms. Ayesha terms them so-called liberals. So it’s again her who is narrowing down liberalism to secularism. So liberals are truly liberal only when they are secular. Deep in their hearts lies the strong wish that secularism is imposed on the society by disengaging it from religion, will the seculars still term themselves as liberals? Alhamdolillah the deception seculars have given to society in the name of liberalism is getting exposed again and again, not by radicals but by their own actions.


  • Feroz
    Aug 21, 2011 - 4:29PM

    This article smacks of helplessness of liberals to the many challenges facing the country. While the observations are accurate and the reasons for violence may be well explained, throwing in the towel reflects a defeatist attitude.
    The main difference I see between the two neighbours of partition is that one country has got overcome by the rhetoric of Religion and the burden is too heavy to carry. In contrast Indian people have looked upon their leaders as their servants and are demanding accountability. That country produced an assembly line of non political social reformers who pushed and broke down the barriers that were holding the country back. Social Justice was their war cry and they could rally the people and get them onto the street in thousands. The potency of non violent protests and the efficacy of fasting unto death could make the Empire bend and fall.
    There is always Light at the end of the tunnel if people do not allow the Rulers to suppress and ride rough shod over them. Man made constructs like any Religion are not the panacea for any problem nor will it solve any. It is the human values within that we must recognize and tap to reach a higher plane that will help us achieve all our goals. Look for the strength inside our self and we will see that we need no external assistance.
    The situation however hopeless it may look can always be redeemed.


  • mind control
    Aug 21, 2011 - 4:37PM


    The man on the street remmebers Ayub Khan’s rule as a golden era.

    Well Field Marshal sahib’s era came to an end in 1969. To remember this era as a golden era the man on the street should at least be 51 year old taday. Now this UNDP report says that a full 63% of the Pakistani population is below 25 years of age. Looks like you are meeting too many ghosts on the street.

    The majority of officers in the army have a relaxed attitutde to religion. They have to because most are too fond of the Scotch Drink than Islam allows.

    I guess you are not aware that the motto of Pakistan Army is Imaan, Taqwa and Jihad-fi-Sabilillah. Now which one of these appears to promote a ‘relaxed attitude to religion’. And are you sure that the Army allows its officers to drink Can you cite the permission from the rulebooks.

    Somehow, I get a feeling that you are a man on a mission, a mission of spreading baseless falsehoods.Does the name Hizb ul Tahrir sound familiar to you?


  • Frank
    Aug 21, 2011 - 5:35PM

    mind control

    Well Field Marshal sahib’s era came to
    an end in 1969. To remember this era
    as a golden era the man on the street
    should at least be 51 year old taday.
    Now this UNDP report says that a full
    63% of the Pakistani population is
    below 25 years of age. Looks like you
    are meeting too many ghosts on the

    What a silly and nonsensical post. The point was that those who actually lived through the Ayub era remember it as a golden era, contrary to faraz’s claim of army induced misery among the masses. What are you on about?


  • Adam Malik
    Aug 21, 2011 - 5:50PM

    Analysis are given very good and comprehnsively but I think that terrorism or extremism can only be countered by masses, so there is a question that how the masses can be mobilized. Political leadership, intellectuals and civil society should have program to mobilize masses.


  • Rizwan Noor
    Aug 21, 2011 - 6:55PM

    the fashionable post-modernist
    narrative is inherently right-wing.

    How would you say that? I could not understand the logic behind this. How would you substantiate the point that “narrative is inherently right-wing” ?


  • Rasputin
    Aug 21, 2011 - 9:43PM

    Religion has to go
    we want to survive


  • ali
    Aug 21, 2011 - 10:32PM



  • Sajida
    Aug 22, 2011 - 2:14AM

    Zia played a role in Islamization;but, what gave it support was all the migrants who cam back brainwashed from ME.
    This process is also happening in Kerala.
    From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 7, Issue 40, Dated October 09, 2010
    KERALA’s Radical Turn
    In a pluralistic part of India, fears of rising Islamic extremism
    The author has a tendency to avoid inconvenient truths.


  • faraz
    Aug 22, 2011 - 5:26AM


    And that golden era ended with Dhaka fall. Ayub is mainly responsible for alienation of Bengalis. And DHA is built by the land forcibly acquired.


  • My Name is Khan
    Aug 22, 2011 - 5:39AM

    I’m fascinated by the comments above. We have people like Frank who are ultra-right wing and must defend the military at every step. We have people who fail to understand that Pakistan’s own liberals have failed it. We have a lot of “false” liberals. They are the politicans and big industrialists who live a life full of excess, shopping trips to Dubai, college educations in the US, etc. but back home in front of their voters / employees, they revert to being ultra-religious.

    The fact of the matter is we have a society that has failed from top-to-bottom. At the top, we used religion as a tool to create our nation. Muslims in South Asia self selected. Those who thought religion was no reason to create a nation and were happy living with Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, etc. stayed put and while this may be a shock to some of you, some Muslims actually crossed into India during Partition because they worried about what would happen in Pakistan. Strangely enough, the Mullahs did not want to create Pakistan because they felt it would dilute their power.

    On the other hand, the well-educated and elite Mohajirs who helped create Pakistan and thought the creation of our country would benefit them, came mostly to Karachi and Hyderabad. They are some of the least religious Muslims and while they provided our country much needed talent and skills, we resented them as we resented Ahmaddiyas. In the mean time, the Mullahs realized our politicians and bureaucrats needed them to control the masses who could not understand why our country was failing.

    So there we have it. We created our country on the lie that we cannot live peacefully with each other. Today, we are sowing what we’ve reaped. We can’t even live with other Muslims. We can’t live with Baluchis, Sindhis, Mohajirs, Hazaras, Pashtuns, Mennons, Punjabis, Kashmiris, Baltistanis, Parsis, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, and Ahmmadiyas. We are a nation constantly drawing lines over who is Pakistani and who isn’t. Who deserves to be here and who do we hope disappears. And here we are bemoaning the demise of liberal secularism – the truth is, we never really had it. We believe others hate us and so we hate everyone else. My family before my tribe. My tribe before my ethno-linguistic group. My ethno-linguistic group before my brand of Islam (Deoband, Barelvi, Wahabi, Salafi, etc.). My brand of Islam before Shias. Muslims before Non-Muslims.

    What have we become?


  • Muhammad
    Aug 22, 2011 - 10:00AM

    Brilliant stuff


  • observer
    Aug 22, 2011 - 12:38PM


    The point was that those who actually lived through the Ayub era remember it as a golden era, contrary to faraz’s claim of army induced misery among the masses. What are you on about?

    If that be so, why did the same people eject Ayub out of power. And why do serious historians believe that ‘one unit’ policy and diversion of resources from East Pakistan laid the foundation of Bangladesh.

    In so far as I am concerned, I am not about manufactured narratives.


  • Frank
    Aug 22, 2011 - 1:07PM


    Ayub is mainly responsible for
    alienation of Bengalis

    Nonsense. Vicious racism, economic neglect and the imposition of Urdu by Punjabis and Muhajirs was the cause of their alienation.


  • Ali Syed
    Aug 22, 2011 - 5:04PM


    Pakistan INVITED the US to help fight the Soviets. When Carter offered only 400M$ of nonmilitary aid to help the refugees, Zia turned it down calling it peanuts.

    Pakistanis had been training the Afghan to fight the Communists since well before even the USSRs invasion.


  • Frank
    Aug 22, 2011 - 6:01PM


    If that be so, why did the same people
    eject Ayub out of power.

    Valid point. To some extent it’s nostalgia for a rule that seems golden in comparison to those that came afterwards. My only point was that faraz’s claim of massive army-induced misery among the poor during Ayub Khan’s simply cannot be right. There were both bad and good things about Ayub Khan’s rule, but these liberals don’t deal in subtleties. It’s all Bollywood-like black and white with them.


  • Deb
    Aug 23, 2011 - 6:26AM


    If religion goes, then where does it leaves Pakistan?Pakistan without religion is like ‘life without water’. Isn’t it?


  • Moderate
    Aug 23, 2011 - 5:03PM

    I can understand expressing concern over millitancy and violent forms of religious groups. But when people like the author raise disproportionate amounts of hue and cry over non violent orthodox religious groups it presents not only a huge problem for those who are moderate but also that these views tend to get packaged and advertised to the West.

    There are even concerns in the West that exaggerated focus on no violent religiosu group is not only racist but ultimately hurting the cause of fighting the real extremism as seen from the op-ed in todays Guardian:

    Stop having a problem with anyone who is devoutedly(butpeacefully) religious!


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