At Crossroads

It seems as though the country has been neatly fractured into two visible sides: the conservatives and the liberals. Every incident in the recent past, be it the assassination of Governor Salman Taseer or the Veena Malik debacle, reminds us again and again, that the valuable middle-ground and the people who actually make some sense instead of senseless rants on TV shows and in mosques, are silent. Most of them are sitting on the fence watching how this will play out. By “this,” I mean the future of this nation.

Meanwhile the ranting continues, everyone talks about the mullahs and how they are constantly giving edicts and fatwas against any kind of freedom. However, no one is questioning the liberals about what their actual agenda is. Fine, so they want anyone who can hold a mike and speak, become a national figure but what is the next step? Do they realise that the rest of the country is living in a very different world than theirs? Do they know that most of Pakistan, even today, if asked to  vote, would not want the social system that the liberals are advocating?

We understand, even those sitting on the fence, that for a country to function it needs basic human rights and justice. However the kind of mindset that is being demanded by the liberals is very difficult to achieve in a country with a literacy rate as low as ours and with the mosque not separate from the state.  Is it possible to achieve high ideals like peace and justice for all in a place where we cannot even agree on whether murder is justified? Is it viable to be one of the 7 per cent and stand outside press clubs across the country, when those issues do not even matter to the majority of the nation? Of course, everyone has a right to protest about what they feel is unjust. However, can these protests not be replaced some kind of dialogue, something tangible instead of just crying ourselves hoarse?

Let us look at the other side of the equation. Do the extremists and fundamentalists think that in today’s geo-political age, such hard line views exist? Do they think that a re-formation of the Caliphate has a real chance? Say they manage to gain hold of the reins of power in Pakistan (hopefully not) in the way they took over Afghanistan – do they think that they can do so without any repercussions from our nieghbouring countries, which I might add, are several gargantuan sizes larger than us. Again, the point is: what will they gain after this jihad within Pakistan? More jihad with the rest of the world? Endless wars and killings? Is that the grand goal our peaceful religion has taught us?

In my opinion, both sides of this equation are absolutely wrong. There is no way this nation can go towards one direction without fracturing into many, many parts. The prudent thing here would be to try to heal as a nation through dialogue rather than inflicting new wounds on each other’s intellectual and physical self. We have many serious issues that need to be dealt with immediately. We may have lost our way but that does not mean there is no good in Pakistan.

All international aid agencies claimed that millions of people would be without shelter or clean drinking water in the aftermath of the recent floods, but that did not happen. We stood together as a nation, put aside our differences and lent a helping hand. Is that not proof enough for us that unity works? Those who are silent spectators in this debacle – the onus is on them, to stand up and raise their voices. They need to remind the fractured nation, that we need peaceful dialogue to begin our journey together towards progress. I realise it is easier said then done, but we need to start somewhere.


As published in The Dawn Blog on 27/1/2011

  1. Rightly said, we hail from a society where mosque cannot be separated from the state.

    To diffuse the polarity and reduce the stratification within our fissured and fractured social landscape, we desperately need to enhance our legitimate literacy rate and pave way for a strong middle class to evolve.

    Probably I need to be more positive about the whole thing but can’t somehow get passed the cynic in me!

  2. What’s wrong with Pakistan? Time to declare it as failed state, give the control to the UN or something.

    That is a good observation and though the solution you have suggested is very idealistic, but very realistically speaking, I don’t think that is what is actually going to happen. For instance, I am not with the liberalistic PoV of the country and these liberals who mostly form the upper foam of any society have clutched some reigns of the country at some point , or to some extent, but its all just slipping away, and their idea of a perfect state can be found anywhere outside pakistan, but not here.

    Its high time that liberal people realized that being a muslim to some conscious muslims meant more than just having a muslim name, living in a pseudo muslim country, and having a lifestyle picked out exactly from a fashion magazine or a bollywood masala movie. And well, as some passsionate muslims want to establish a Muslim state on the lines of Caliphate, it may seem very idealistic to you, as it did to me too, but frankly speaking, that is what is going to happen InshAllah, whether the liberals or semi-liberals frown or sulk at it. My belief for that assertion, arises from the prediction in Ahadiths of the Islamic literature, I would like to know though what is the basis of your inference, current political scene and wolrd politics etc, right?

    Ofcorse one can argue about what is the best way to go about it and what is the least likely way to go about the islamic change in harmony, but the sooner a muslim realizes his reality, the better it is for his own good. Being a muslim goes far beyond this nation, I love this country too, to bits, but my love for Allah, by definition has to exceed my love for my country. When one understands the dynamics of love required in this faith, things unfold themselves, no cleric, no mullah or no liberal can dictate to you what you believe to be true in your heart. And I am one example of that 🙂

    Its just a lot of clamor all those people blaming mullahs all the time, finding the time to portray demeaning jokes for them, in their earnest efforts to vilify their image to draw dirt against them, but who is it really they are targetting? the youth of this country? Like Me? Sorry I am already taken, and not by Mullahs( whoever they are) Just a basic understanding of QUran and Hadith can take you to a level of realization that no amount of mullah bashing can for so many years. Cheers to you too 🙂

  4. India is fortunate that there is a huge middle ground group of people. People whose minds are not clogged with religion. Most Indians –Hindus–have a small temple at home where they do a 2 minute “namaskar’ and then the rest of the day is spent on other matters. Our movies too take the “temple” lightly. Who woul dhave missed Amitabh Bacchan angrily shouting in Deewar to the god in a temple and blaming the god for not being fair? And he was drunk at that. The latest joke doing the rounds in emails these days is a parody on Lord Ram.

    I wish Pakistan woul demulate Turkey in the manner in which they manage their religious affairs. We in India would be relived and happy. Perhaps regular movies from India if shown in the tribal areas of Pakistan may help.

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