The burden of radicalisation

Published: February 27, 2012
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The writer has previously written for the The Nation and The News and is former vice-president, information and media, of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf

The writer has previously written for the The Nation and The News and is former vice-president, information and media, of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf

The radicalisation of society in Pakistan is an undeniable phenomenon which has gathered in pace and intensity in the recent past. Its gruesome symptoms are a daily occurrence which symbolise the regression shaping the way people have started reacting to events and situations. It is violent and wicked. It is abominable and depressing. Even worse is the extensively pervasive nonchalance with which it is greeted at every appearance.

The fragmentation of society on religious, ethnic, sectarian, social and economic basis has become a norm. For the rulers, it is a convenient means of securing and perpetuating their hold on power and for the ruled, it is a method for manifesting their allegiance to accrue benefits. It works to the mutual advancement of both. Should it, therefore, follow that this is the best that we have and this is the way it is always going to be? A scary thought of what one may actually have to live with!

The manner in which freshly-baked extremist concoctions are unleashed with monotonous regularity, sends shudders down my spine. It is bizarre that people and organisations are unable to interact and engage productively with each other and are often seen brandishing their weaponry on trivialities. They want to decide in a violent manner what, under normal circumstances, should be deliberated and decided in parliament.

But then, they are not the only ones to blame. When the supposed centre of democratic activity is rendered irrelevant by the rulers, to serve their personal interests, issues are bound to pour onto the streets. When centres of power — secured through the process of elections — are used for subverting other state institutions, they lose their legitimacy, sparking off an unstoppable process of liquidation.

The transition from a civilised society to an outfit that is caught in the throes of violence and extremism makes for an intriguing study. The liberal ethos of the nation, as envisioned by the founding father, has been systematically sacrificed by democratic leaders and dictators alike in developing mechanisms for personal survival. One goes back to the days when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto allowed his constituency to slip from the poor people of Pakistan to a fundamentalist coterie, and there has been no turning back since. Ziaul Haq added more venom to the potion through proclamations that have dug deep into an inherently liberal and sustainable fabric of the society, eroding it to a point of obliteration. It is now hanging by the shreds so to say!

The power struggle has always been self-motivated against advancement of established principles and norms. Even the democratic leaders that ascended the throne have remained stuck with stamping their corrupt, inefficient and debilitating versions of governance over the universally established values, system and structure. When the sole transcending objective should have been the formulation and implementation of policies for bringing relief and succour to an increasing number of people falling below the poverty line, the self-aggrandising policies of the ruling mafias have further aggravated their misery.

Instead of teaching the virtues of discipline, seeds of disharmony have been sown. Children seeking books have been handed out guns and enough indoctrination to fire indiscriminately. Life has been disrupted, futures destroyed and the society has been riddled with unbridgeable chasm of hatred dividing one from the other and communities from communities. Instead of standing together, we are now poised against each other — brimming with hatred and eager to kill. Civilised behaviour has given way to indiscriminate barbarity. Should we attribute all this to the fruits of democracy?

Agreed that the ground conditions may not be extremely propitious for the advent and practice of genuine democratic values, but at least we could learn how to use these values to the benefit of the general public. This we have not done! Unless we unmask the forces that want to hamper progress, we’ll continue to suffer at their urgings and keep sacrificing our future to ensure theirs. The state, weakened as it is, may not be able to sustain this accumulating burden of radicalisation!

Published in The Express Tribune, February 28th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (11)

  • Babloo
    Feb 28, 2012 - 12:14AM

    I agree with the author.
    What is sown in propoganda today , will be reaped in self-destructive policies tomorrow. Yes lies have consequences for nations too.

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  • Falcon
    Feb 28, 2012 - 12:42AM

    Well said Raoof Sahab. However, I also fear that while radicalization is talked against by many, its root causes and the process of spiritual decay is less understood. The issue runs so deep that even when we are stuck knee deep in it, we don’t know the precise dynamics of it and therefore the solution to comprehensively and systematically counter it.

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  • Cynical
    Feb 28, 2012 - 2:03AM

    Just guessing, what @Zaid Hamid will post.

    Radicalism is our philosophy, Radicals our asset and Radicalisation is the natural progression.

    On a serious note I share the author’s concern.

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  • HEM
    Feb 28, 2012 - 2:31AM

    The writer is very honest, a very brave indeed to tell the truth, but unfortunately for Pakistan he is a minority voice. Today in Pakistan many more Muslims are killed by their fellow Muslims and nobody seems to complain about it; any small attack by USA, Isreal or India can create fireworks in the streets but any killings of innocent Muslims by Muslim Jehadis is not even noticed by the majority of the population.

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  • Babloo
    Feb 28, 2012 - 3:43AM

    Here are two examples of how lies, cause grave damage to the liar.

    Bush administration, launched lies and propoganda on WMD against Sadaam Hussain.
    Those lies trapped USA into a very damaging and costly war in Iraq, nearly destroying its economy. USA will suffer economic consequences of this war for decades and generations.

    Pak establishment, has launched virulent propoganda aagainst India and encouraged propoganda against Hindus for last 60 years. This has locked the state into a aggressive, irrational policy both towards India and against India’s so called conspiracies in Afganistan.

    The result, the state is totally distorted and facing meltdown.

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  • Iron hand
    Feb 28, 2012 - 6:10AM

    The current generations are lost. One can only hope their children and grandchildren can free themselves of this diseased extremist brainwashing and transform the Pakistan of the future into something better.

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  • arif
    Feb 28, 2012 - 8:09AM

    I couldn’t agree more… Pakistan can only progress if the corrupt leaders and the extremist groups both are controlled with an iron fist. Both these extremes have destroyed the country.

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  • Zalim singh
    Feb 28, 2012 - 10:59AM

    religion dear sir, religion.

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  • wonderer
    Feb 28, 2012 - 11:57AM

    A scholarly piece indeed; very timely and relevant in the present context!

    What is surprising and even shocking is why the writer did not write all this a long while earlier. He seems either to have just woken up after a very long snooze, or just landed on Pakistani soil after a long journey from some distant planet!

    All what he says has been expected for ages.

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  • Shyam
    Feb 28, 2012 - 12:05PM

    As marx once said “Religion is the opium of the masses”. Too much of opium usually leads to a drastic reduction in IQ

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  • Rapid
    Feb 28, 2012 - 2:50PM

    As long as people believe in absurdities they will continue to commit atrocities. (Voltaire)

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