During the past few weeks, Pakistan was hijacked. What else can you call it when a small group of people seize control of an entire nation, forcibly stopping the regular business of its citizens and taking over the representations of its people?
What I’m referring to are the Jamaat-i-Islami organized protests against Facebook. Certainly there can be a civil debate about freedom of speech and whether it is right or wrong to block access to some material that is deemed obscene or offensive. But there was no debate. There was only a small group of people forcibly taking over.
JI has 3 seats in the parliament. THREE. They sat out 2008 elections (too bad for them), so they have no seats in the National Assembly. But JUI, which was the only MMA party to stand for election in 2008, sill has 6 seats only. The people have spoken – the Jamaati politics are not what they want to define Pakistan.
But look at these photos from International Media:
Notice in the background of these photos over and over again: Jamaat-i-Islami flags. Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal flags.
This is not a representation of Pakistan, this is only a representation of a small political party that only has three seats in parliament.
When I did a Google News search for Pakistan today, though, these photos came to the top of the list. When people across the world want to learn about Pakistan, this is what they see.
It is a hijacking.
There was another side to this story, of course. There were people who did not believe that the solution to offensive was a blanket ban and Internet censorship. These people held a peaceful and informed conversation at Karachi Press Club. And BBC Urdu was there to cover the event. But notice in the video that while people are trying to have an informed, respectful, and democratic discussion about the issue, outside there are MMA supporters screaming through loudspeakers and bullying people.
Obviously, MMA and its member parties and their supporters have a right to their opinion. But they do not have a right to silence others. It is too bad for them that their politics have been rejected by the people. But being rejected does not give them the right to bully others and hijack our nation.