The fact is that from a secular dispensation to pragmatism, the PPP is a regressive party
After hearing of the announcement of celebrating “Youm-e-Ishq-e-Rasool” [Love for the Prophet Day] by our “secular” Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP), one is reminded of the father-in-law of Mr. Zardari, the late Mr. Bhutto.
Z. A. Bhutto had gone to an extent which Jamaat-e-Islami and other Mullahs could only have fantasized. To perpetuate his rule and diffuse the tense situation obtaining then, he resorted to political opportunism, an initiative which later backfired; the Pakistan state and the nation was rendered hostage to persistent religious extremism and blackmailing for all times to come.
The present PPP leadership which is privileged to be the most seasoned one in political wheeling and dealing had two main objectives in mind while declaring September 21st as “Love for the Prophet Day”: To achieve better results in elections which are nearing and cashing in on peoples’ religious sentiments, in view of the “blasphemous” film.
Second, through official participation in agitation, the tense situation could be diffused. However, many with a little common sense could smell the impending dangers in the move; PPP would not only be badly defeated in achieving its objectives, it would also embolden mullahs and jehadi outfits. Pakistan’s economy and society would further suffer and drive the common man closer to religious extremism. It would also further damage Pakistan’s image at the international level.
Hence whatever happened on that day substantiated these apprehensions.
The fact is that from a secular dispensation to pragmatism, the PPP is a regressive party. Although not a rightist or a religious entity, it is incapable of playing a role in educating the common man in the secular perspective at any level viz; official, legal and social. As regards political expediencies and opportunism, it is far ahead of religious parties, let alone fighting extremism. However, history bears witness to the fact that the PPP gained nothing out of this policy and even on 21st September 2012, slogans were raised against Zardari.
Despite gaining nothing out of this deal, the PPP leadership keeps on serving the extremist elements and considers them to be helpful in remaining in the corridors of power. And no matter how much “religious” the leaders portray themselves; the religious right would never accept them nor give them any credit for anything. The rightist parties may never win a sizable majority in the parliament, however all what they have in their manifestos would be accomplished by the feudal PPP leadership. These acts further drive the nation into the abyss of obscurantism from where no turning back is possible.
As a consequence, every year, henceforth voices would be raised to commemorate “Love for the Prophet Day” and none could have the nerve to refuse. The PPP, earlier on, has performed miracles in transforming this state into a theocratic entity, while this time around they neither could foresee the implications nor forestalled the spate of violence which erupted through the length and breadth of the country. Undoubtedly, even today there are secular/liberal elements present in the PPP, yet the leadership could go to any extent in pursuit of its short-term goals. Remember, the Taliban menace was enacted by Mr. Z. A Bhutto when he called Hikmatyar from Kabul and assigned him certain “tasks”, while finally his daughter was instrumental in the establishment of Mullah Umer’s authority in the Islamic state of Afghanistan.
Governor Salman Taseer and Minister Shahbaz Bhatti were murdered nowhere else but in Islamabad and nobody knows what is in store for their murderers. Benazir’s murder case is dragging for the last five years as if she was a forlorn lady. The case of Rimsha Masih unfolded in Islamabad where all law enforcement agencies fall under the direct control of Zardari’s buddy Rahman Malik. However, without any investigation the police registered an FIR against the poor girl.
The minority community has been attacked in Islamabad and madaris are fast mushrooming in the capital city where none of the students belongs here. Now when PPP is incapable of establishing the writ of the state within Islamabad, how can we expect her to extend it to the rest of the country? It frequently retracts or renders itself a hostage to the extremists, at the same time dumping all secular/liberal elements in the country.
The other day, the leader of the largest secular cum liberal dispensation in the country MQM Mr. Altaf Hussain stated that even a catastrophe can be endured ,but insult to the prophet………never.
Another leader of the third largest secular party Mr. Ghulam Ahmad Bilour went a step ahead and revived the memory of Imam Khomeni by declaring a hundred thousand dollar head money for the maker of the “blasphemous” film. He even stated that if the “blasphemer” is brought to him, he himself would commit his murder; all this coming from the mouth of a person who is murdering Pakistan Railways for the past several years.
The general mental condition of the people of Pakistan has now turned significantly religious. If we want them to think and act rationally we have to take corrective measures. The people should be informed that behaving violently is no solution as such incidents do not take place at the state level and are not a result of any planned conspiracy. These are individual acts and people indulging in such acts can be part of any society. By and large the West has a very tolerant culture where nobody is even interested in others’ religious beliefs. If some miscreants penetrate our ranks we cannot label the entire society as anti-social. Similarly we cannot blame the entire Western world for the “folly” of a few.
In our society, whenever religious issues are raised, everyone surrenders to the populist attitudes and avoids looking at things with an independent mind. Political expediencies and opportunism have contributed in pushing us to the edge. While the Mullah has taken us so close to self-immolation, the generals have infused militancy.
Let us see what is in store for us in the coming days.
|Arshad Mahmood is a columnist,freelance writer and a social activist.