Pak’s Drift to Despair
The massacre of the school children at the hands of the Taliban terrorists in Peshawar represents Pakistan’s descent into unimaginable depth of disorder and despair. The bestiality shown by the gun-wielding Talibans cannot even be expected of even the worst enemies of Islam and Muslims. No words could be enough to condemn the bloodbath. The event should be taken as the defining moment for Pakistan as it calls for a decisive stance against agents of disorder in whose unleashing, the Pakistani establishment had a major role.
Pakistani state is being called up to take upon the shameless merchants of death with its fullest might and Prime Minister Nawaz Shariff’s words have in no uncertain terms betrayed the seriousness with which they would be pursued. But doubts remain robust as to its willingness, if not the capacity, to take upon the Taliban. Policy-makers of Pakistan have tied themselves in knots that refuse to disentangle now. The country cannot blame anyone other than itself for choosing a path it finds difficult to deviate from. By blind espousal of militancy to settle the Kashmir issue, Pakistani state hosted all kinds of extremists, militants and terrorists. The protégés are now reaching for the jugular of their patrons, mentors and sponsors.
Mere pursuit of the perpetrators of the massacre would not serve the purpose. Pakistan must review its foundational principles, a longstanding need in the wake of a changing world. The country must come to terms with its history, diverse nature of people, Indo-Aryan languages and the traits of composite culture that lie in its base. While negotiating with the forces of modernization, urbanization and industrialization, the country should have opted for renewal of Islam rather than revival of medieval Islam. Politicisation of Islam and over ritualisation of public life have done immense damage to the body politic in Pakistan.
The diversity within Islam and Muslim society, removed from the original version by 1400 years in time and thousands of miles of terrain should have convinced the ideological fathers of Pakistan of the necessity to tread with caution. Unfortunately, the religious zealots, totally unaware of the modern context of the nation-state, ignored the need for the glue of liberalism. Several pieces of legislation in the country smack of medievalism and are clearly an attempt at exclusion of certain segments of people. While India has accommodated regional and sub-regional sentiments with fine balance with federalism, Pakistan is still worshipping the four original provinces. Intolerance of dissent has driven a vast chunk of Pakistani intelligentsia to the greener pasturelands in the West. Law and order is killing productivity and fattening the all-pervasive and all-powerful Army.
Pakistan and Pakistanis must introspect. The country is seriously adrift. Corruption is eating into its vitals. No nation can march ahead with mere inspiration from the past, however glorious it might be. A vehicle on the road to future cannot afford to replace the wind shield with a rear view mirror. Nations that tend to live in the past risk being cast into the waste heap of history. God forbid that fate befalls Pakistan.