Fanning extremism

It is ridiculous that lawmakers choose to occupy themselves with forming committees to discuss banning hindu cartoons.

Editorial September 08, 2010

A proposed ban on cartoons inspired by Hindu mythology being discussed by legislators in Punjab highlights our government’s skewed priorities and blinkered vision. It is unfortunate and in fact ridiculous that lawmakers choose to occupy themselves with forming committees to discuss a perceived threat to Pakistani culture from a few animated characters at a time when southern Punjab, and indeed much of the country, has been devastated by floods. Surely the economic and social upheaval that has followed the floods is more of a danger to the fabric of our society than a cartoon showing symbols of a non-Muslim belief system. To think that one’s culture and faith will be diluted or tainted because of the availability and broadcast of programmes showing the values of a different faith or religion is to underestimate the power and resilience of one’s own values and beliefs. Besides, banning interaction with or exposure to other cultures and ideas only breeds more intolerance, unease and extremism — and there is far too much of these already in our society. Furthermore, the proposal to ban the cartoon pre-supposes that all of Pakistan’s population is of one faith, when that is clearly not the case.

Juxtapose this outlandish development with what the Punjab government has done (read not done) in battling extremism within its jurisdiction. For instance, Ahmadis have been denied relief because of their belief and so far there has been no development on catching those who ordered the attack on the Ahmadi places of worship in Lahore in May of this year. This perception of being soft on battling the extremists is reinforced by instances of the law minister travelling with a senior leader of a sectarian outfit in central Punjab during a bye-election campaign some months ago. No wonder then that Punjab has become a hot-bed of militancy and extremism and who has suffered as a result of this: no one other than its ordinary hapless citizens who have had to bear the brunt of repeated attacks and bombings. And it is precisely absurd proposals such as these that send the militants the message that the provincial government for one will not seriously come after them.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 9th, 2010.


relightened | 11 years ago | Reply @sharifL glad to hear someone with an open mind. Hopefully more tolerating people may come through and reshape our lost empire.
sharifL | 11 years ago | Reply I agree fully with your sentiments. It scares me that in the next elections this party of pro taliban might come to the driving seat. Hindus and Ahmadis need protection from such fanatics. WE talk about the pastor burning quran and show ruthlessness to our minorities. It seems to me that if this American pastor had not existed it would almost have been necessary to invent him. There can be few even impeccably liberal and tolerant Western persons who while well aware of the harmlessness of the majority of Muslims and need to defend the civil rights and dignity of Muslims in the West have not in their hearts occasionally lost patience...Rushdie, Hirsi Ali and Cartoons...solemn and often byzantine explanations of why we should understand all this stuff in a way that does not involve eye-rolling or outright contemptuous laughter, somewhat intercut with fear of nutters...the nutters failing to understand that by spreading fear they also spread the contempt. Really let us rise above extremists and accept opposition and show tolerance towards our own minorities and those nutters in Florida. they are only about 50 in a population of 250 millions. Peaceful protests should be more than enough to show to the world that majority Pakistanis are not going to kill innocent people because somebody far away burned the holy book. After all we have millions of copies still available and can always print more.
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