NationalVolume 12 Issue # 20

Will we get it right?

The state of Pakistan is sliding rapidly towards failure and collapse. No nation can survive without accepting new ideas, following new trends, using new scientific inventions, innovations, discoveries and technology, encouraging rationalism, scientific outlook, education, research, promoting love, patience, fraternity, inter-faith harmony and moderation, tolerating criticism, raising new questions and doubts, appreciating new answers, acknowledging new philosophical, political, cultural, economic, social, regional and international realities, adhering to ethics, abiding by laws, rules and regulations and adjusting to new changes and cultural diversities. In Pakistan, all these driving, revolutionary, binding and progressive forces are non-existent. Unfortunately, Pakistan has become a land where ignorance, bigotry, parochialism, prejudice, exploitation, irrationality, emotionalism, fanaticism, religious extremism, corruption, false traditions and superstitions rule. Any one who tries to challenge these prevailing ills or talks about progressive and revolutionary ideas is destined to face dire consequences and a sharp reaction from the custodians of these dark forces.

The ruling elite, being an indispensable part of these dark and evil forces, not only gets help from these dark forces to acquire rule, power and prestige but also tries its level best to promote and protect these forces for sustaining its rule and controlling and exploiting the poor, helpless and innocent people. Any person who challenges this rule is killed; any voice that protests against this tyranny is silenced; any light which is kindled in the darkness of ignorance is extinguished; any march towards progress is stopped, crushed and trampled. Since the creation of Pakistan, the ruling elite, including politicians, religious leaders, civil-military officers, businessmen, feudal lords etc., is using religion, democracy, national interests, doctrine of necessity and nationalism to protect their own partisan interests and deceive the people. Along with the ruling elite, many pseudo ulema, fake peers and false faithhealers are also relentlessly looting the poor people of Pakistan in the name of religion. Many Pakistanis, being ignorant, simple, poor, unemployed, frustrated, hopeless and emotional, fall an easy prey to these evil people. There are many reports which expose the deplorable activities of these evil persons. There are many ulema who are creating extremism and sectarianism by their hate speech. There are also many fake “faith healers” who are not only plundering the poor but also raping many women across the country. A fake healer Ghulab Singh allegedly raped two women in Rahim Yar Khan some weeks ago under the pretext of curing them of jinns. Some days ago, a woman, who claimed to be a faith healer, along with her husband was arrested for selling a baby in Muzaffargarh.

According to the news reports, “the parents of the child had taken their baby to the woman, who had taken the baby inside a room and after two hours had declared the baby dead”. These incidents clearly show that the poor people of Pakistan are simple and superstitious, who believe that faith healers can cure their diseases, solve their problems and bring peace and prosperity in their troubled lives. The state deliberately encourages such sort of faith among the people. Because, it is a fact, there are many custodians of shrines who are in the parliament of Pakistan. They have attained power and become very rich by propagating such teachings and don’t want to lose power by introducing a process of enlightenment in the country. It is also a fact, under Zia-ul-Haq’s rule, Pakistani society became more religiously fanatic due to a politicisation of religion at an unprecedented level. Due to his policies, now, society has become extremist. Even, the students of our universities have fallen prey to extremism and religious emotionalism. The example of Mashal Khan can be given in this regard. On 13 April, Mashal Khan, 23 years old, an idealist and a bright student of journalism at Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan, was lynched by a mob, consisting of fellow students and some department staff, due to allegedly having committed blasphemy. The most horrific and tragic thing is that some faculty members and university employees incited the students to kill Mashal by using the false accusation of blasphemy. They were not happy with Mashal because he was vocal against mismanagement and corruption in the university. The KP police, chief minister, the PTI leader Imran Khan and one of Mashal’s university teachers have said that Mashal Khan did not commit blasphemy.

The lynching of Mashal Khan is a stark reminder of what our rulers have done to Pakistani society. This tragic incident is a manifestation of barbarity, intolerance, insanity, ignorance, radicalisation of educational institutions and religious exploitation. Then, a medical student Naureen Laghari’s confessions about getting training from the IS in Syria also clearly indicate that the Pakistani youth is vulnerable and could be exploited by the IS, the TTP and other terrorist groups. Even the Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa has admitted that the Pakistani youth “was being exploited by terrorist groups due to poor governance and lack of justice in society”. Addressing a seminar on the role of youth in fighting terrorism and extremism organised by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, the Army chief said: “Pakistan is a young nation, both in history and demographically. Demographically, over 50 per cent of our population is projected to be less than 25 years of age.

The future of our country literally lies with the direction that our youth take over the next few years. We are standing at a crossroads; ten years down the line, we will either be enjoying the fruits of a youth dividend or suffering at the hands of a youth bulge, especially with the youth which remains vulnerable to extremism. Extremism is a relative term. It is relative to our perception of what is normal. Therefore, we will only have a clear concept of extremism if we have a clear concept of our own identity and values.” “A youth driven towards extremism is a youth without a clear idea of its values and identity.” The Army chief maintained that the most important stimulus driving a young adult, was to find purpose and meaning in life. “It is during this stage that one is ready to commit to professions, to relationships, to causes and to ideologies. It is a wonderful stage in life; but it is also the most vulnerable.” “Extremism is also related to the environment and the time we live in. From that perspective, we must admit that Pakistani youth is being exploited due to poor governance and lack of justice in society,” the Army chief added. “As we transit gradually from major operations against terrorism to more intricate, targeted operations against residual threat , under the ambit of Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad, we must also find ways to ensure that the causes behind terrorism are addressed and National Action Plan is actualised.” “Foremost amongst them is extremism.

Please remember, while army fights terrorists, terrorism and extremism is fought by law enforcing agencies and society.”… “Although it is not always out of malice, but misunderstanding; yet it is imperative that we understand extremism in our own context.” “The Western definitions of countering violent extremism are mostly confined to what they call ‘Islamic extremism’.It is unfair and dangerous. Unfair, because of its inherent and totally wrong association of extremism with Islam. Dangerous, because it focuses too much attention on Muslim societies and masks the rise of extremism in multiple societies across the world.” Referring to the rise of Hindu extremist groups, he said: “Extremism is not due to any religion or ideology, it is a mindset where passion has given way to hate and intolerance of others.” …The country seems threatened from multiple directions. It just does not seem fair… Despite incessant propaganda, the fact is that as a nation, Pakistan has rejected terrorism. That speaks of the robustness of our social and religious values and I have no doubt that we equally reject extremism in all its manifestations.” “With Pakistan becoming securer and more promising by the day, it is perhaps time to reverse the brain drain. Your country needs you more than any other country in the world.” He said Pakistan’s enemies, both state and non-state, were actively pursuing divisive tendencies in society. “Let me say that they are waging the biggest and most sustained Hybrid War against us from multiple directions and using multiple ways.” “We are being targeted by not only terrorists but also spin masters of multiple hostile a g e n c i e s , trying to subvert our minds, par t i cular l y that of our youth. Being denied opportunities in the mainstream media, they are using faceless platforms on the internet and smart phones.”

He stated that the Indian leadership had made no secret of its active involvement in a proxy struggle in erstwhile East Pakistan and now in Balochistan; nor were the assertions of some other leaders, any more secret. “We are cognizant of these threats and are actively countering them with the support of the whole nation.” “Please remember, we have defeated terrorism together, now we will go after extremism too and rout it with our values, mental faculties and physical energies,” the army chief said. “Having defeated terrorism physically, now their deceitful message and narrative must also be defeated.” “These so called Muslims, have nothing to do with Islam. They are just a bunch of thugs and killers led by their greed and evil ideologues.” “They have realised that through the ballot they cannot achieve power but through violence they can. Therefore coercion, fear and destruction are their tools of choice. If you strip away the guile and verbosity, what they say amounts to stopping the fire by lighting more fire.” “Let’s join hands to counter extremism by providing an ideal environment in your respective institutions and through diligence and discipline. Let’s help each other in identifying, curtailing and defeating any attempts to pollute the minds of our youth,” he concluded. The Army chief has clearly pointed out all the gigantic problems which the state is facing. In fact, Pakistan needs a strong, honest, nationalist and patriotic political leadership who should have a mature political will and determination to get rid of all these problems by implementing the NAP fully, introducing an equitable economic system, ensuring speedy justice and creating a unified education system in the country. This is the only way to save Pakistan.