Hypocrisy is defined as a pretense of having a virtuous character, moral or religious beliefs and principles whilst intolerance is defined as the unwillingness or refusal to accept views, perspective, or behavior that is contrary to one’s own. Let the two characteristics breed unchecked and you have a monster that can almost never be eliminated. Pakistan is a nation that has willingly decided to let this monster creep into the soul of its national narrative.
The recent protests held by the traders against the government of Punjab for removing banners prohibiting entrance and trade with Ahmadi Muslims at Hafeez center, is a continuation of the states’ deliberate insularity regarding how it will wage war against extremist ideologies and belief. Unlike the Americans confusion over who is a good or bad Taliban we seem to be over the confusion and have provisions in our constitution that determine who is a real Muslim and who is not. The real confusion we seem to be facing as a nation is how to deal with people with extremist viewpoints that oppose the writ of the state. Hoping to find a solution to this confusion, here are a couple of suggestions that maybe the state of Pakistan can adopt.
Start by drafting up an ordinance. Let’s call it the anti-extremist ordinance XXIX. Start with a test group- like maybe the people gathered outside Hafeez Centre- round them up and make them carry special ID cards. Make sure that it states on their ID cards that they are extremist and not Muslims as far as the law is concerned. Continuing this no nonsense approach make their life a living hell when they want to apply for a passport. When and if they apply for their passports, make them renounce their school of thought. To make sure that they understand you mean business attach a 3 year prison sentence if they try to pass themselves off as a non-extremist. Put severe restrictions on their religious freedom. Do not permit them to say the Kalma, Salam, and Azan and forbid them to read the Quran publicly and bar them from identifying their place of worship as a mosque. Forcibly take over their mosques and deny them the right to assemble for any of their annual conventions. And lastly, and this is important, make sure that cannot hold any important government post or business. The drafting of the ordinance, laws should not hard to implement since we already have similar laws in the land of the pure. After we have implemented these suggestions we should tackle the other elephant in the room. The Machiavellian game of politics that our ruling elite play and how deep down the educated try to romanticize it.
Before the Facebook social activist in us takes a stand for what happens to the minorities in this land we need to tackle our fascination with political heroes whom we refuse to inspect with a fine tooth comb, simply for the sake of wanting to believe in a reasoning which has come about to serve our own social and political standing. We need to call out the fact that Bhutto made a deal with the devil. Instead of finding excellent ways of explaining away selfish acts of our political heroes, how about we take a stand and realize that maintaining these illusions is not helping anyone. The fact that he made the deal is enough. We need to accept that Zia was his creation and the intolerance and hatred faced by the Ahmadiya community that followed was a direct result of Bhutto’s vaulting ambition. We need to say it in no uncertain terms before we use the minority card to justify that we are indeed worldly and tolerant in thought.
So today, as we mourn the tragic event of December 16th 2014, we must highlight the bipolarity in our national psyche, made evident when not a single news channel covered the extremists gathered outside Hafeez Centre openly challenging the writ of the state. It is high time we address the flaw within ourselves and in our society, which challenge the beliefs of others but when it comes to our own self refuse to budge or change our warped principles. We must ask ourselves tough questions. What if these very people decide to take up arms in the coming days and attack an Ahmadi area with children present? Would the nation grieve for those children and the agony that their parents face? Judging by the events in 2010 when 100 Ahmadi’s were gunned down in Lahore and our fractured national narrative, the answer would be a soul crushing no.