At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst. If any proof is needed, examine this proverb in the light of the protests taken to the roads of this country to vent our disgust and dismay against the anti-Islamic movie made in the USA. We defied the law and did not do justice to ourselves. The result is that we stand exposed to the world as lunatics to whom the sanity has said good-bye for ever. Where we stand now morally? What message did we convey to the world? Before answering the call of the leaders, did we do some heart-searching to check that our religious affections were purified enough that would enable us to make our feelings known to the world with a mind unaffected by any corporeal defilement which may possibly compel us to do things contrary to the purpose we stood for? The call for this massive turnout of people was given by every single religious and non-religious party and their followers took out separate processions with their banners held high. The unity was missing and we failed to present ourselves in accord. It clearly looked that every party was out to make a political mileage for itself out of the collective agitation. The result was disastrous because of the rioting that followed. We will keep regretting it the rest of our life.
In the olden times it was the deluge, flood or conflagration which were considered a sign of visitation of the divine wrath as a punishing tool against iniquity of the people. Now our transgressions far outweigh those of the primitive people but it appears that the divine calculus to suggest the enormity of punishment for us has gone on a holiday. In some areas of the country people are suffering from heavy floods. As if it was not enough, we rushed to cause conflagrations by setting the private property alight. We did this, perhaps, to send out a general reminder that some invisible celestial forces were at work to punish the people of God who were disobeying His commands. In addition, the loot and plunder was done only to reward ourselves for the day long toil, so no need to take it seriously. What a way to register our protest against the offensive movie! The damage is incalculable and to do the body count of those who died for no fault of theirs is simply repellent. The man always forgets that when he kills a man he has already killed his potential descendants as well.
Who bears the responsibility? Obviously, those who gave the call. In the eventual concourse that filled the streets and open space alike, the banners of the parties were swarming the air but the leaders were missing. The people went berserk instead of remaining calm, disciplined and dignified. Even a church in Mardan was torched. The other day Hanif Qureshi in a talk show was admiring the people, responding so fervently to the call, but fell short of speaking about the madness which had rocked the country. A month earlier these incidents could have been attributed to midsummer madness but in a rather friendly weather it was a madness of our own making. Hanif Qureshi is known for his provocative speeches and he was the first to admire the lunatic murderer of the late Salman Taseer. Why should these people be called to TV talk shows needs to be justified?
When the passions rule the mind, an undesirable fallout is only a foregone conclusion. A couple of days before this disastrous D-Day given for the protests, two articles each written by Javed Chaudhry and Hamid Mir were definitely incendiary. These two persons consider themselves the vanguard of Pakistan media and how much they know about religion can be anybody’s guess. Some leaders are blaming the Government. This is politics readily understood. If the Government declared a holiday to facilitate the people to find a way to temper their feelings brimming with anger, what was wrong about it? Why were the party flags allowed to be taken out and if they were taken out under instructions of the elders or as a policy to outdo each other why did not the leaders come out themselves to lead and direct the people to remain within the bounds of modesty in such a charged atmosphere? To say that miscreants did all the sabotage under the cover of this huge demonstration is not acceptable and we should not try to hide our own failure to rise to the occasion and control the situation, which had become explosive. The allegations that police in civilian clothes was also involved in vandalizing has to be proven and measures taken to discipline those found guilty to make them an example for future.
In the western world we have hundreds of mosques and seminaries and are allowed to preach our religion freely, though at the cost of not hurting anyone. Pray, tell me if the Christians have the same freedom in this country to preach their precepts and build churches as freely as we build mosques in Europe and Americas. We have many a time ransacked Christian villages, killed Christians and razed their churches but there has not been a single instance of Christians retaliating in the countries where they are in clear majority. Suppose someday they react violently to our bizarre behavior, what do you guess would happen? On a couple of times, it has been noted, when Muslims were unable to get a place to build a mosque in a certain city, the church fathers came forward sparing a space in their churches to allow Muslims to say their prayers with such humane words and courtesy as ”we all worship the same God in our different ways“. I wish that God will help us to grow one day to be as caring for others as the others are for us so readily and without conditions. It is not difficult because all we need to do is to follow the path of heart and the unconditional love for others will lace itself within us.
The damage has been done and the game is on to pass on the responsibility to others bashing the Government to account for the damage done to our reputation and giving the impression to the nations of the world that we are savages who have no respect or regard for the human dignity. We are self-righteous and always criticize others without doing any homework for self-appraisal. Simply saying that Government did not do enough to avert the damage will not absolve the parties of failing to control their people. The task to rebuke the slight intended against our religion was sacred, no doubt, but the people failed to prove equal to the task. If the situation has been exploited by the opposition to bring down the Government they have done so at the cost of human lives and public property and they should be ashamed of themselves. If they have gone by the age old axiom that end justifies the means then they have done no service to the people or the country. As for the people, do they still need guidance after over 3 score years to separate good from the evil? The entire show was arranged to convey to the world that how very devoted we are to the love of our holy prophet (PBUH) but could not suppress our inner passions which otherwise look clearly made to suit the street crimes only.
I have one solution in mind to the whole problem. Every other day, we have a grouse against the imperialist countries, especially America. So, why don’t we declare it once and for all that we do not like them and should ask our people living in Europe and USA to surrender their nationalities and work permits and return home to glorify ourselves? We should sever all diplomatic ties with them and live as a secluded nation to prosper or dissipate. Let us be another recluse like North Korea and live of our own as a forsaken nation. Tell the world that we will die but shall accept no aid or assistance – monetary or otherwise – from anyone. As a reborn nation, hermits though we may be, we must cease to live on any subsidy. Let us not dither to do it in order to hold our head high. Any takers? It’s time now to act than indulge in empty rhetoric. If we can’t do it, let us keep our mouths shut and be resigned to our fate.
In the fewest possible words, all the evidence leads to indicate that we have come full circle after 6 decades and a half which shows that we will never learn. We may scale the unsurpassed heights to reach the moon but will the sanity ever return to prove that we are decent people to talk to and be with? Sorry, it cannot be said with any measure of conviction at the moment.
The writer is in his mid 70s and has to his credit a vast experience of working with national and international business executives. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org