As the Pakistani state embraces the Taliban, the chorus of the clerics drowns out liberal voices.
TV talkshow journalist Raza Rumi was attacked and nearly killed in Lahore in the last week of March because a) he was seen as a liberal, or b) working for an Ismaili-owned TV channel, or c) for visiting India and writing a book about shrines in Delhi that the non-state actors of Pakistan don’t like. Meanwhile, Pakistan is talking peace.
As Pakistan smokes the peace pipe with the Taliban after yielding 60,000 civilians and 5,000 troops dead to them, the media is measuring the impact. The clerics who never get votes and therefore don’t contest elections have become empowered and appear scary in their aggressive rhetoric. The TV anchor has become anti-American and anti-NGO and warns about “liberals who get paid by America to oppose Islam”.
The Taliban see the tide turning. And they are outspoken in their preferences and discrimination about a nation they have been massacring without distinction. They say the “secular” Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Awami National Party (ANP) are their enemies and the rest can be spared. The high-value persons they have kidnapped belong to the PPP and ANP. Out in the street, Islamic practices are in full force; nobody dare stop the illegal use of the loudspeaker blaring the name of Allah. The common man uses speech habits that highlight his faith.
The state is ready to hang Pervez Musharraf, subliminally bending the knee to the Taliban decree of death against him. Little girl Malala, shot in the head by the Taliban, has been rejected now even by girls who perceive insult to the Holy Prophet in her book, which has been banned in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.
Listen to the BBC reporting on the Nigerian common man in areas under attack from the Boko Haram, who attack schools and colleges just like the Taliban and behead Nigerian troops together with innocent Muslim civilians. Last month, in one such reportage, pre-teen Nigerian labourers telling how they ended up in the street, peppered their sad account with references to Allah to an extent that Pakistanis don’t yet. People in the Islamic world are preparing themselves for the slaughter that is coming from their own brothers.
The Arab Spring has not led to democracy but to the rise of jihad. Elections threaten to bring Islamists to power, whose ideology is based on a pre-modern hatred of what is going on, like banks, global dress codes, cinema-TV entertainment and culture in general. In Lahore, all rickshaws carry threatening messages against purveyors of entertainment.
Some Arab scholars have suppressed their anti-Westernism to reveal that military dictatorships nursed the jihadists continued…