The attack on Malala has pushed liberal Pakistan to re-ascertain its face. However, the important thing to see is whether Pakistan restructures itself as a liberal moderate democracy.
THE TALIBAN attacked Malal Yousafzai due to her denial of their barbaric codes of self-described and imposed religious taboos. Unlike on the brutal murder of Salman Taseer, the people of Pakistan vociferously denounced this heinous act and stood by her – a good omen for the country, which is living in misery between devil and the deep sea.
Pakistan, which has been historically an Indus country in the past, and once was known as Sindh, have a deep background of secular ethos that until the recent past remained unchanged. The beginning of perversion in Pakistan kicked off with the adaptation of state-religion. In the social and cultural context, it began when the people of Pakistan were pushed through socio-cultural engineering by imposing Arab terminologies in spite of the local ones – replacement of Maseet with the Arabic word Masjid for a mosque and word Khuda with Allah for the God. It was the cultural fanaticism, which came first through sponsored Tabligh (preaching) and was gradually introduced during General Ziaul Haq period when he started altering historical Indian cultural roots of Pakistan and resisted possible Iranian influence- thus the Arabic terminologies, and Salafi school of thought was blended with the Sunni Hanafya majority of the country.
The post-soviet and post-9/11 phenomenon of Talbanization in Pakistan as well as of Pakistan society has a distant thin link with the anti-soviet Jihad at Afghan borders. If the strategy of Taliban in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa (KPK) province is reviewed, it reveals they have almost occupied the province in a systemic order. Their first targets were the social institutions like Hujra (the Panchayat meeting place) and the traditional tribal leadership. Once they either wiped them out or harassed them to subdue, they started to impose their writ. The one million dollar question is here that where was the ‘omnipowerful’ of the Pakistan, when all this was being done? Why did he kept silent?
Pakistani forces are engaged with the various brands and sub-brands of the Taliban in FATA and KPK since a decade. Yet, the Talban despite shirking, are increasing everywhere. Earlier, they were confined to the FATA, KPK and a few parts of KPK bordering Balochistan; whereas today they are increasing everywhere.
The manner in which Pakistani society has reacted regarding Malala is no doubt inspiring, but it is not enough. Carrying military operation against Taliban in a limited FATA and KPK terrain, and keeping quiet regarding reasons and causes behind the Talbanization of society, is nothing but eyewash.
Who have resisted the parliament of Pakistan to not liberalize the religiously biased curriculum? It’s the current government, which does not care for its power-base in Sindh, while legislating the popularly rejected and controversial local government law that has created an insurgency like situation in the province; cares too much when it comes to the questions enforcing non-fanatic legal frameworks. It is important to note that suppressing Sindhis, the only secular and liberal people in Pakistan, on the agenda of fanatic powerful will only strengthen the Talbanization in the country. Unfortunately, the real decision-making is not in the hands of the elected governance of Pakistan, which in fact needs to be more democratic.
The spirit of Malala’s courage needs to be translated into the will, actions, and commitment of Pakistani society as well as state. Either the country, which is almost at the brink of anarchy, has not yet decided a way out or it simply does not want to.
The time has come when Pakistan needs to sit with itself, think, and decide. Pakistan has to decide which kind of politics, society, and system it wants. It has to decide how long the people of Sindh, Balochistan and KPK would be pushed into a virtual slaughter-house? It has to undo the sanctuaries of barbaric thoughts and actions from the land of five rivers, which was once was a land of Sufis. It needs to re-federate Pakistan. It needs to re-structure the state. Pakistan is at razor’s edge. It has two choices – to be dissolved aimlessly in time or emerge, as a liberal democracy and honoring diversity and a federation. The countdown is already underway.
About The Author
Zulfiqar is a political analyst, researcher and rights activist, having academic background of Philosophy and Development Studies. Organized and led massive movements of minorities and land rights in Sindh, Pakistan. Contributed with many dailies and weeklies in Pakistan and now contributing with some English dailies in Nepal and Afghanistan. Associated with The Institute for Social Movements, Pakistan; and currently based at Kathmandu, Nepal.