An emotional Pakistan -- the ravages

Daily: Daily Times
Date: 26.03.14

In a way, the spirit of the Khilafat Movement of the early 1920s is still alive. Religion has
become blended with politics. Emotionalism, mostly in the name of religion, is now ingrained
in society. Attempts at pan-Islamism have been made at both state and non-state levels.
Speakers delivering fiery emotive speeches have become leaders. The press, especially
the Urdu press, supports and is feeding off the phenomenon. In the past, Mohammad Ali
Jinnah decided to hold himself back from the Khilafat Movement but many other leaders did
not. Furthermore, at that time, the movement failed to achieve its objectives but devoured
the lives and properties of thousands of Muslims. The spirit of the movement still lingers on
and so do its debilitating consequences.

Today, the spirit of the Khilafat Movement manifests in different ways. First, for the past
several months, militants have been attacking polio vaccination drives in both northwestern
parts of Pakistan and Karachi. If one polio vaccination drive was used to track down Osama
bin Laden, could all such drives be ploys? If a vial of polio vaccine is an imported product,
does the administration of vaccine drops mean pouring westernisation down the mouths of
Muslim babies? Every vaccination drive does not reek of a conspiracy. Nevertheless,
Pakistanis are a gullible populace and on top of that they (mostly) brook nonsense.
Further, they are averse to scaling the gap between fiction and reality. They want to be at
peace with delusions. They have abandoned their fate to the mercy of circumstances. They
still crave for those movements that become repositories of their emotions. They give no
space to the surfacing of a rational Pakistan.

Second, just a few weeks ago, a developed country advertised (published in Pakistani
dailies) an invitation to the minorities of Pakistan to seek immigration. Now, other countries
have started taking notice of the persecution of minorities in Pakistan and have been
offering them immigration as a chance to survive. Before 1947, the members of the Muslim
community who constructed their case for having a separate land — because, in the
shared land, they could not find their due political, economic, social and religious rights —
are now denying the same rights to other communities inhabiting the said land. Why should
the concept of the ‘Two Nation theory’ be confined to Muslims only and why can the theory
not be used by other communities to find their due rights in Pakistan? Pakistan seems to
have repudiated its pledge for the protection of minorities. The point is simple: the
persecution of minorities is sullying the image of Pakistan internationally.

Third, this year again, on March 23, the Pakistan Day parade was not held in the parade
ground, Islamabad. The country is independent but has been celebrating Pakistan
Resolution Day in hiding for the past several years. The size of the celebration has also
been reduced to a minimum. State TV informs people of the successful occurrence of the
festivity inside the presidency. The state is not afraid of outsiders but it is fearful of insiders.
In this part of the world, the biggest proponents of pan-Islamism are the Taliban. Pakistan
was reeling from terrorist attacks before it entered into a truce with the Taliban. By the way,
the Taliban have been trying their best to extend the physical and ideological boundaries of
Pakistan to Central Asia. Was this not the future Pakistan yearned for?

Apparently, these three events are disparate. However, there is present a strong
connection between them and that is emotionalism. Ignorance is stoking the intensity of
emotionalism, which has taken deep root in society. Emotionalism has stultified the rational
growth of Pakistani society.

Emotionalism has stymied rational thought in Pakistan. Intolerance is one such expression.
Militancy is an improved version of the same manifestation. Militant Islam is a general term.
In Pakistan, there is a Pakistani version of militant Islam. Resultantly, the progress of
Pakistan has slacked off. There is a direct relationship between emotionalism and pan-
Islamism and between pan-Islamism and militant Islam. The irony is that, in this globalised
world, some sections of the Muslim community think that the concept of a global village can
still be challenged on the basis of religion. That is, the world, the segments of which are
becoming increasingly connected through telecommunication and transport, can still be
divided into a Muslim half and a non-Muslim half and that the division is tenable.

In the context of Pakistan, one of the dangers of mixing religion with politics is that religion
exploits politics and politics carves its way into religion. The exploitation of politics in the
name of religion has derailed democracy several times. An army of sycophants has
surfaced to reinforce the derision of democracy at the hands of the military. Dictatorships
masquerading as democracy have kept running affairs for more than half the country’s age.
On the other hand, the exploitation of religion in the name of politics has fanned
sectarianism in Pakistan. The acceptance of $ 1.5 billion in aid from Saudi Arabia cannot
make Pakistan progress but it may stir sectarianism in Pakistan.

Before 1971, religion was considered a strong reason for unity. After 1971, the common
enemy factor emerged strongly as a competitor of religion. Recently, some people opined
that the game of cricket is a good alternative and can act as a uniting force. A nation hollow
from the inside has attached its sense of honour and disgrace to the wins and losses of
cricket matches. Both religion and politics have also penetrated Pakistani cricket. Rational
thought has been trammeled. Emotionalism is also bound to spoil Pakistan’s cricket — the
supposed national uniting force.

The apparition of the Khilafat Movement is still haunting Pakistan. These select events beg
one question: is this a drift towards Jinnah’s Pakistan or away from it?

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