A crisis is a terrible thing to waste: Salman Taseer and Pakistan


I can never appease my guilt whenever I argue with my mother, snub my maid, cannot find anything to give to a beggar or when I skip my prayers. It remained in my mind that i am accountable to Allah for my deeds whether Huqooq-Allah (our responsibilities towards Allah) or Huqooq-ul-Ebaad (our responsibilities towards mankind).

All my small actions neither make me a staunch follower of Islam nor prove I am not. In my childhood, I was always taught that Allah can forgive Huqooq-Allah (our responsibilities towards Allah) but not Huqooq-ul-Ebaad (our responsibilities towards mankind). But sometimes, intellectual prowess chokes at a point when both Huqooqs are clearly juxtaposed. I certainly believe that Islam has clearly defined everything for guidance of mankind. We, in any case, are answerable to Allah so Huqooq-ul-Ebaad basically come from Huqooq-Allah. When Blasphemy Law is discussed, it is not a human rights issue, it is not religious, it is Huqooq-Allah.

When Salmaan Taseer was murdered, I was only worried how political forces would be manipulating his murder to gain favours. Pakistan’s fragile social structure cannot put up with ramifications that are rooted from religion. I suddenly thought how “Diffusion of Innovation” will creep into society and how Social Architects orchestrate new “Atheism” in Pakistan. Thus after a few days of the murder, a clear divide is being witnessed within the social structure of Pakistan. This paradigm shift is certainly not showing any positive signs.

This time, innovation came in an old formula wrapped in a new “divide” form. Divide between the elite of Pakistan that interacts with international community through social networks/media, and the lower strata of social fabric that remains vocal within Pakistan. The former, who is in favour of amending Blasphemy Law because they consider it against the human rights, and the latter, who are ready to sacrifice their lives for keeping sanctity of Blasphemy Law intact, feel Islam is in danger because of a certain group that is fighting against the religion in Pakistan.

This polarization apparently is because of Salmaan Taseer’s murder, but close attention to the whole crisis reveals that the two systems, two ideologies and two divisions have become deeply confrontational. Consequently, this dichotomy has harnessed our own energies against each other and the process seems endless until desired results are achieved from at least one end. An alarming common threat can force competing interests to suspend their antagonisms in a sprawling contentious democracy, but when threats are made significantly different, moment of opportunity for others is matchless. Thus Rahm Emanuel’s memorable statement, “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste” applies to the situation very well. The underlying insight for this statement is very distinct in Pakistan’s case.

I am not feeling elated to indicate that “Atheism” is rooting in Pakistan, and few of the youth groups have started a campaign named “Baghi” (Rebel) on social networks that are influencing minds in one way or the other, taking them away from religion. This rebellion approach is against the “Mullahs” (Clergy class) who are connoted to stigmatise Pakistani society with their extremist thoughts. As per my observation, a few “Mullahs” and religious outfits have been engaged in foul practices, but that does not apply to everyone. There is a difference between religious fanatics and mediocre religious minds. My favors for those who do not support extremism, are not enough for me to justify Taseer’s murder. However, placing every “Mullah” in the same column of extremists is unjustifiable.

Throughout history, it has been evident that all religions have been involved in shenanigans for persecutes of people from same religion or minorities. Similarly in Pakistan, certain perceptions have mushroomed since General Zia-ul-Haq’s era. It is believed that the military dictator began to use Islam as a political tool to unify the insecure youth. It is believed that the military dictator began to use Islam as a political tool to unify the insecure youth. Thus current Pakistani government can organized trainings for these Mullahs, so constructive information is ensured, that passes through. However these fanatics are of those who set loose in Zia’s regime and now pose threat for the civil Governments and suppress the tolerant voice further their individual acts bear ripple actions.

Cognitive development and institutional training is important for life-long perception we follow, but the way “Diffusion of Innovation” is creeping into Pakistani society, whole arenas of social fabrics are changing. No liberals or extremists are going to benefit from it. But this crisis is going to benefit those who eye it as golden opportunity to make Pakistan a non-Islamic state. For me, both liberals and religious conservatives are wrong on their footings. Liberals by announcing blasphemy as a human rights issue, and religious conservatives by telling Islam allows killings. Both groups are extremists and not ready to listen to each other’s arguments. For few, the silence of the armed forces is ominous, but for me, that is the best strategy to be followed in these times.

These imploding fanatics are not portraying nagging challenges to the United States who is pouring in a lot of money to fight the extremist elements on the Pak-Afghan border. However, they are making Pakistan’s social fabric weaker that can be easily torn apart. The need of the hour is that both oscillating sides adopt a nationalist approach to cope up with this situation.

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