More than a month has gone by since the attack on APS, Peshawar. Military courts have been established and schools have been made responsible for their own security. The country is still limping back from one crisis and is now forced to deal with a self-imposed fuel shortage. Are these events written in the stars or does the fault lie within ourselves? We are racked with violence and extremism while our civil society is inept and known to celebrate suicidal maniacs with vigour and fanfare. Hangings of convicted murderers bring out a vote for sympathy in their favour. Volunteers administering polio shots are killed and anyone with a different ideology is destroyed.
The land of the pure wishes to represent all Muslims of the world, where ever they maybe, by rioting for their causes and protesting in their support. Buildings are burnt and facilities are demolished because of the emotional tantrum we suffer on account of real or perceived insults to our belief. Is Pakistan only made up of emotional mobs and nothing more, where might is always right and each citizen is left to their own struggle for survival of the fittest? Why then are the expectations of the population so lofty? There is talk of democracy and a demand for progress. Herein lies the contradiction and where we need to find the answer to how Pakistan can operate as a nation. Today’s society appears to neither have the intent nor capacity to right itself but is indecisively wavering about in search of answers. The ‘Pakistani Nation’ as a whole is at fault. Pakistanis act as their own worst enemy and are on a circular path that leads nowhere. This cannot be righted by anyone but ourselves and it must start by de-radicalising the populace.
Once the radicalised element is under control, society can relearn to live for their belief rather than to just die for it. People will once again be free to discuss in the open whether Pakistan is an ideological state or not. If, according to outspoken opinion, the most important pillar of statehood is ideology, then it should certainly not be left in the hands of the fanatical mullah. This extreme aberration holds domestic and foreign policy hostage to his own interpretation of ideology, causing violent protests if his narrow views and demands are not strictly adhered to.
A moderate form of religion-based governance may not be feasible, when one person’s interpretation of religion does not recognise another person as a Muslim. If ideology itself is responsible for dividing the nation into small little hate groups, then surely one needs to consider rational statehood in lieu of the theological form. Was Pakistan created as a result of repression or was it created in order for Muslims to have a way to repress others? Was Pakistan always an Islamic Republic? If there is an alternative identity which doesn’t violate the number one priority, the well-being of its populace, then it must be sought. Regardless of whether Pakistan turns into a more inclusive system or not, madrassas must be reined in and the role of religion in politics has to be reviewed. The authority of the maulvi also requires clear definition so as to avoid any delusions. The state should be returned to the citizens, to live in an air of freedom without fear and fraud, without prejudice and malice towards anyone.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 26th, 2015.