After the surrender

I could not actually look into the eyes of my 7-year-old son when he asked why the people were burning public properties and why they were torturing policemen

2017-11-30T17:43:29+05:00 Imad Zafar

The riots are over, the fanatics, after winning and having all their demands fulfilled are gone. Life in Islamabad, Rawalpindi and other cities of Pakistan has returned back to normal. Everything is back to routine but there is a sense of emptiness, an unbearable weight of a state’s defeat. The document signed between the religious extremists and state is a reminder of the 'Dhaka fall' tragedy. This document can easily be termed as the “fall of Islamabad”. This surrender has completely changed the political and social horizons of the country. This surrender of the State has established a new precedent that anyone who can gather a few thousand people by exploiting religious sentiments can actually dictate the State and make it bend to its knees. This surrender has horrific implications.

First, the faith of every citizen will be subjected to the approval of non state actors precisely by the religious clerics. Then it will be determined whether he deserves to be a living being or dead meat. The example in this regard is the Punjab law minister’s case. The Law Minister Rana Sanaullah is asked to present in front of a spiritual leader peer Hameed-ud-din Sialvi who along with his accomplices will decide whether Sanaullah is a true faithful Muslim or not. Failing to do so will not only make him a 'kafir' but a fatwa of blasphemy can also be given against him. So if the law minister of Punjab, who is one of the most influential person in the ruling party and government, is even asked to testify his faith, then what about the common citizens? They are of course left to the mercy of the 'faith mafia'.

The State, by signing the surrendering document, has also agreed that the country’s largest province, Punjab’s, text books will also be checked and revised by extremists like Molvi Khadim Rizvi. This will give these religious clerics the opportunity to brainwash the children’s minds and hold them hostage to the 'faith mafia'. Imagine a country in the 21st century giving the charge of shaping the minds of future generations to the fanatics and extremists. Being a father, I felt helpless sending my son and daughter to school, thinking of what would happen to them if fanatics like Khadim Rizvi amended the text books as per their interpretation and faith. The past few days’ violence already had a negative effect on the minds of children. I could not actually look into the eyes of my 7-year-old son when he asked why the people were burning public properties and why they were torturing policemen. I am sure one day when he grows up he will ask me the question why I left him at the mercy of the religious fanatics.

For the rest of the minorities, life will be harder because the State has also agreed not to intervene in Section 295c of the Constitution that deals with blasphemy cases. Extremists like Khadim Rizvi can now accuse anyone as a blasphemer at any time. Then, there is another dimension of this surrender, the civilian law enforcement agencies, the Police and FC are left humiliated and demoralized by the surrender. They fought and sacrificed their lives, were injured and kidnapped at the hands of fanatics and at the end what they saw was a complete surrender from the State. Adding insult to injury was the scene where the DG of the Rangers was distributing money among the fanatics. The question arises as to whether or not that money was distributed among the fanatics for burning properties, lynching police and FC officers and bringing a State to its knees? The establishment by using the Barelvi sect to its advantage has actually left no stone unturned for a civil war in the future. Can anyone guarantee that in future anti-establishment forces will not use Deobandi or Wahhabi sects to settle the score? And how is the Army chief suggesting his boss, the Prime Minister of Pakistan to virtually bow down in front of the mob of fanatics, not a clear violation of the Constitution?

Islamabad High Court’s chief justice has already termed this advice against the law and in his observation stated that it seems that the military leadership was behind the sit-in. One wonders why the honourable chief justice did not declare the agreement null and void. On the part of political parties they all criminally supported the architect of the sit-in and weakened an already fragile democracy. One cannot criticise Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf as it is not a political party. In fact it is a group of opportunists together under the leadership of Imran Khan whose only aim is to get the seat of Prime Minister, even if it takes handing over KPK to the Taliban. But the role of the Pakistan People's Party actually surprised everyone. Their behind the scenes support for the planners of the sit-in will certainly go down as a dark chapter in political history.

The ruling party, in a move to just survive, preferred to retreat, ultimately resulting in the State surrendering to extremists. What Sharif and his party members were unable to realise was that the forces who staged this sit-in will never let them off the hook even if they surrender. Sharif should have realised that his battle with the establishment cannot be won by surrendering each time and especially by surrendering the writ of the State. In any case all the pillars of the State acted selfishly and contributed to the fall of Islamabad. The surrender or the fall of Dhaka resulted in the loss of eastern Pakistan and as a result 90 thousand soldiers were held hostage by the enemy. But this surrender of Islamabad resulted in the death of Jinnah’s Pakistan and made the population of 20 million hostage to the religious clerics. The dream of seeing the motherland as one of the civilised and progressive civilisations of the world now seems over.

It seems that like us our children will too grow up in a society where research and debate only revolves around checking the beliefs of each other, declaring each other blasphemous and conquering the world through jihad. Every compromise or surrender a society makes, demands new compromises. This surrender has compromised our ideological, political and social growth. It is a defeat of a progressive and peaceful society. The fanatics and their sympathisers have successfully kidnapped the true essence of Jinnah’s Pakistan. The new Pakistan emerging after this surrender is a country hostage to extremism, mobs and religious clerics. The code for survival is now silence, a silence that only suits graveyards, not the living societies.

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