A two part post, which shall discuss the lack of a national dialogue on terrorism, radicalization of masses and the complete apathy of the state and to an extent its opinion makers, towards finding a lasting solution.

rad.i.cal – advocating extreme measures to retain or restore a political state of affairs – merriam webster

For some months now, the narrative on most of Pakistan’s leading English and Urdu newspapers and the wide plethora of internet blogs, representing points of view of both the political right and left, on issues such as ‘extremism’ and ‘terrorism’ is getting rather nasty. Instead of genuine soul-searching as a ‘nation’, the general rhetoric has been reduced to mere finger pointing, at each other.

What has personally disappointed me the most, is the fact that this third rate ‘war of semantics’ has now moved from our TV screens on to the blogosphere. The web, which was supposed to be the last vestige of the learned from Pakistan, has turned into fish-market of columnists, intellectuals, bloggers et al., calling each other names.

As things stand, you are either a part of the ‘Mullah/Hijabi’ brigade or a ‘Liberal Fascist’ these days and no body gives a crap about the actual message anymore. It’s the labels and cliches which now matter the most.

This, above everything else, shows that radicalism of thought, is fast seeping across our entire political spectrum, irrespective of the professed ideology.

Pray tell me, how will this help Pakistan through the predicament that it currently finds itself in?

I am no expert in devising public policy, but simple common sense dictates that calling each other names and pointing fingers in each other’s direction, is certainly not going to do the job for us. If the current apathetic state of affairs does not change, rest assured no one single side will be left to claim a win over the other. It’s about time that we ‘grew up’ as a nation.

Coming back to the original topic, where exactly is Pakistan’s initiative to de-radicalize its masses? Day in and day out, we read about more think-tanks, more seminars, workshops and more ‘experts’ on radicalization sprouting up, and still see no one talking about an actual de-radicalization exercise, en masse.

The radicalization exercise, state and establishment sponsored, has went on for a good 30 years now and a rather obnoxious, ill-thought and ill-conceived effort on part of Gen. (r) Musharraf in form of ‘enlightened moderation’ was never the cure. You don’t deliberately indoctrinate your nation, and then one fine day wake up and tell them to change their mind. Because now, everything that is being asked from them or told to them, automatically gets judged against a set of religiously inspired ideals (from a particularly myopic point of view). Hence, not really a case of 1 + 1 = 2.

At the same time, we cannot lose sight of the fact that it always takes two to tango. It would be rather unfair of me to simply pick up ‘religiously inspired radicalism’ and point my finger at it as the root cause of all ills in Pakistan. Throughout our history, our nation has been in the grips of one sort of extremism or the other; ethnic, linguistic, sectarian and religious. From the days of political violence during and after elections of the 1950s, FSF, introduction of student militias and weaponry in our universities under the garb of student unions in the 70s, the rampant murders of political opponents et al, and an absolutely failing law and order situation has prepared the Pakistani society as a very fertile ground for the plant of religious radicalization. Hence the people of Pakistan too, cannot absolve themselves of the blame.

So, where do we go from here? What choices do we have? And what can we do in order to come back from the brink? I’d be giving my two bits on that in the next post and would really appreciate it if the readers can pitch in with their ideas as well.

  • Therewasapakistan

    we have a choice go for a separate country. Pakistan was made in the name of islam and if u r no muslim, u will never be equal to the muslims. The constitution is heavily biased against u. You cannot become head of a state or even a Chief minister. No matter how good u r. Stop BSing about what we can do , how we can do. Our basics r wrong. How many ppl will come on road to change this constitution to make it equal to all. The God said I am rubbul Alameen but we r bent upon changing it to rubbul muslimeen. This is the majority in pak, there is no silent majority. Elites like us can sit, write blogs, discuss and then have a heavy dinner at Okra or Aqua lounge, fart, masturbate and go to sleep. this is reality.

    • Clarisse

      “de-radicalize”… reading many comments/opinions/articles, it seems that de-radicalization is only an empty word speaking of Pakistan (No one really acts for it or wants it).

      Questions are:
      – Who is part of the nation today, in Pakistan? What does the word “nation” means? Is it the same to all Pakistanese?
      – In case Pakistan breaks is separate countries, which one will be its heart? (i.e. the true Pakistan?).

      Other thoughts:
      – Is Pakistan now in a Weimar Republic falling process? (and who will define & lead the new-proud-nationalism then?)
      – As Hamid Gul said it last week, is an isolated Pakistan a solution? That is, if so, how and why (what is the strategy) ?
      – Are there other options?

      Thanks.

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  • Sanaa Khalid

    True, we can neither pinpoint any one particular reason for our distraught situation, nor can we can put blame one factor more than the other. We have to get past of how it all went wrong and turn it into what should be done to make it all right. The spirit of Nationalism is perhaps as important Radicalism. We are pleading for a better situation, yet we have given up all hope. Change comes within and realization is extremely important. Nations are born in adverse times and it has become a Now or Never situation. Perhaps we need to end Feudalism, entertain secularism. What I mean by secularism is not challenging the sovereign structure but the allowance of putting the country’s needs over any other. Religious bigotry has gotten us nowhere. One can but hope in a time like this, but one wonders if that’s all what we are capable of doing. That being said, I wish to read the 2nd part of article soon. Good job on this one.

  • Mirzasbeg

    Pakistani Muslim an endangered species

    I know that the title will shock some of you, others may be overcome with emotions of anger, but please bear with me as I take you through my journey growing up in Pakistan, What I saw, not many were Muslims, oh yeah, we had Muslim names Muslim parents, many people with beards and burqas (perceived as Islamic by some and believed as such by others) many people saying they believed in Allah, praying, fasting and going for hajj, etc, these were the so called ‘religious’ people, On the other extreme were some (also claiming to be Muslims) who drank alcohol wore ‘western’ clothing, had multiple partners (specially men), and had nothing to do with praying fasting reading of the Quran etc, their children were going to private English schools, the so called elite, wealthy or upper class or the want to be’s. These were people who had adopted the ‘western culture’ as their own, and then there was a group that was in between, these people were mixed in their practices, for example praying fasting etc but had western outfits teaching their children how to read the Quran and sending them to parochial english schools etc. All so different in their daily practices.

    The one common thread amongst all these people without any major difference were the values they had adopted. I saw these people (Muslims) having no hesitation in cheating, lying, bribing, using political and family relationship to break the law of the land, for personal gains (financial and/ or for power), I saw them discriminating against each other because they belonged to a certain place or spoke a certain language, or belonged to a certain social class, or for the sake of those that belonged to their own kin or families, but that wasn’t enough, the ‘religious’ people called each other ‘kafir’ though believing in the same god, prophet, book etc directing themselves to the same kaba, but because their interpretation was the only ‘perfect’ one they could not even fathom praying together and had to build their own masjid to be a Muslim, etc etc etc.

    If you call all that being a Muslim I will disagree. Oh don’t think I was an angel, I specifically remember an incident, I was around 16 years of age, and a new driver, driving a car without a license of course, I was forcefully stopped by a policeman, instead of giving me a ‘chalan’ he forcefully entered the passenger side pushing my front seat passenger, to the middle to become the third passenger in the front row, and asked me to drive to the police station, as we were driving the policeman asked for some money to let me go, to which i refused, as we were nearing the police station, I remembered that the commissioner house was very close and on the way to the station, since the commissioner was a family friend, I would teach this policeman a lesson by driving him into the house, as we approached the commissioner house I made a sudden turn towards the house and within no time did the policeman grabbed my steering and asked me what I was doing, and I told him without hesitation and proudly you don’t know who you’re dealing with, (I had no doubt in my mind that the commissioner will take appropriate steps to teach this weak policeman a lesson, there was no question in my mind that I will not be reprimanded for breaking the law myself). None of us had character any better than the other.

     If you ask any Muslim they will tell you lying, cheating, bribing, consumption of alcohol, fornication, gambling, killing etc etc are forbidden in Islam. In practice however, these traits were rampant. Belief in Allah, and his prophet, and their commandments, if present were limited to lip service and or limited to performing rituals. A frequent statement people made is : ‘Islam is not a religion it is a way of life’. Can anyone say, what we practiced, as the way of life, in Pakistan was Islam? 

    Islam was supposed to build our character, to make us better human beings ( can you imagine any religion which people say they believe in and follow, teaches them to cheat, lie, kill, etc. and leads them to become the worst creatures/humans), is that what we see in Pakistan?

    So if I ask someone living in Pakistan now who follows the western lifestyle what is the reason for the situation facing Pakistanis today they will blame it on religious fanaticism, if I ask a ‘religious’ person, the same question he will blame it on the lack of implementation of the Islamic law and westernization of the society, proliferation of tv film etc etc and if you ask someone who follows a path in between they are confused, whether it is the ‘backwardness’ of Islam or the adoption of western ‘values’ that has caused the society to fall apart. (by the way I left Pakistan in 1990 after an incident, where a ‘Muslim’ put a gun to my head to steal money and my watch)

    In my view, when I see people question, how can a Muslim kill a Muslim, or even another human being? I am bewildered at the thought that people have become so used to lying, that they can lie to themselves  and truly believe that they are Muslims.

    I know we are not supposed to judge the iman of others, but is that what we practice? We label people all the time by their external appearances, performing prayers, drinking, dancing etc. but we miss to see the individuals overall character, we label people as good Muslims, bad Muslims, or even ‘kafirs’ based on appearances, and performance of certain actions/ rituals, we fail to recognize how good or bad a human being one is. External appearances usually are a reflection, of ones inner self, but when the foundation is baseless ( based on lies), the external presentation deceives us on an individual level, but on a collective basis as a society, when true iman is absent it is undoubtedly reflected in the society, so in my opinion ( not judgement) ‘Muslims’ are an endangered species in Pakistan,

    We (Pakistani’s) will not be able to bring about meaningful change in our lives if we continue to deceive ourselves into believing that we are Muslims, no matter where we feel we are in the spectrum of people described above.

    If history is any lesson, we can look back at the time of the prophet Muhammed (PBUH) to see what was the society like when he proclaimed the message, and what was the message and the example he created  that caused a transformation in the lives of his people within a short period of time, and that continues to change lives (one person at a time) even 1400 years later. I remember from my Islamiat lesson in school, even before he (PBUH) received the revelation, he (PBUH) was known by his people by the titles of Sadiq and Ameen. 

    Is it the prophet’s example and his message in practice in the lives of people in Pakistan, are we deserving of being called sadiq and ameen, are we setting an example that when we put Allah’s message in front of others they will believe, if it is, why then today we feel ashamed when asked about the country of our origin, why are Pakistanis known as, people who commit fraud, people who are drug producers, terrorists, etc around the world? Is it a conspiracy to defame Muslims and Pakistan? If we are truthful we will find the right answers.

    Lets look at the lives of the people among whom the prophet Muhammed (PBUH) was raised, the jahileen of Mecca, they were followers and descendants of prophet Ibrahim and Ismail, theirs was a society with elements of ‘religious’ people who prayed and fasted and did haj etc and believed in Allah ( and whoever their other gods had become, like wealth and power, or names like, Lat etc. who were means for wealth and power for the quraish) there was the local elite with slaves and whomever their right hand possessed, people in power, people who killed the infant girls, cheated and looted and killed each other because of tribal rivalries, and many other kinds of misdeeds you find in a society that has fallen apart, they deserved the name jahileen or jahiloon (illiterates), do you see any similarities to our society?

    If a society like that can be transformed there is hope for us. Rather than playing the blame game, and pointing fingers at others, in my opinion the first step is to look inwards, at our own faith and belief (Iman) and to be honest with ourselves, if we start with being dishonest with ourselves, how can we be honest with others, not just look inside but think ponder analyze who we really are, and where are we heading what is our finality and think where do we want to be, what is our final goal. If we honestly do this exercise, most of us will find the real truth, and room for change and improvement, when we correct our inner compass can we set the direction right, it will start to manifest automatically in our daily practices, humility, kindness, caring, thankfulness, honesty, respect, (traits that identify a muslim), our prayers will not remain rituals or as something being imposed on us. Abstaining from fornication, alcohol etc will not be forced onto us, we will free ourselves of impurities and we will feel the presence of God in every aspect of our lives, we will not impose our beliefs on other people, but people will see the peace (islam) in us and want to learn and do what we are doing.
    To succeed at it however requires patience and perseverance, what our prophet showed in his example in the Meccan and early Medina period, there were only few with him, but then came the masses following them

     May Allah give me and all of us guidance and perseverance ameen 

    Here is my article written few weeks ago