Yesterday’s post about Pakistan Rangers raid against Nine Zero has received a lot of attention. Much of it, unfortunately, negative. I saw unfortunately not because I am opposed to debate. Actually, I think it is sorely needed. But because the quality of the responses indicates a serious problem with the way we approach certain controversial issues.
Most of the negative responses can be divided into two camps: Pitthoos and Strawmen. The Pitthoos are obvious and boring. Anything that Army does cannot be questioned or criticised, and the most outrageous claims are given in their defense. One person Tweeted that MQM deserved to be raided after killing 16,000 innocents. Really. 16 THOUSAND innocents? REALLY!?!
Such bone headed statements have to be understood in the larger context of media narratives, though. Why not give an obviously ridiculous number when media reports with a straight face that 26,000 criminals have been arrested since launch of National Action Plan in January. Or when media constantly reports about alleged ‘billions stashed in Swiss banks‘, despite the fact that no such sum ever existed. Or the fact that the number of people killed in the war on terrorism seems to rise by 10,000 every year despite the fact that we are also told that terrorist attacks are on the decline. “Facts” are invented from thin air to serve and defended with full passion. What is the point of arguing with this?
Then out come the straw men. These are the responses that say, “So if JUD is not raided then MQM should be allowed to do criminal activities?” Well, no. Obviously not. That is why no one ever said any such thing. The point made wasn’t that anyone should be above the law, it’s that no one should be above the law – including those less politically convenient to hold accountable.
And here is where things get really messy. Because now the keyboard jihadis AKA “JUD Cyber Team” assembles their troops and we hear all manner of transparent propaganda. For example, “No court has ever convicted any JUD member!” Well, yes. Obviously not. But what does that really mean? After all, haven’t we all been told that the courts cannot be trusted with cases against militants? Isn’t that why we so desperately needed Army to take over the judiciary?
At least the JUD cyber jihadis understand their message, though. Their supporters are not quite as sophisticated and tend to let the cat out of the bag too quickly with responses like, “JUD only attacks Indians, not Pakistanis.” Aha! And there is the answer, quite nicely presented in a perfumed box. There is one law for MQM, and another law for JUD.
Had security forces conducted operations to deweaponize MQM and JUD, ASWJ, PTI, etc etc etc, then the controversy would be minimised. The problem is, by only conducting operation against MQM, the appearance is that the state is going after politically convenient groups while ignoring the massive elephants in the room.
Rule of law cannot show favour to some just because we we agree with them. MQM needs to clean its house. That is not denied. But we cannot expect MQM to willingly abide by one law while watching other groups be given preferential treatment as if governed by a different law. The result is easily predictable, but just in case we need it spelled out, MQM MNA Syed Ali Raza Abidi has done it for us.
Those who approve of the reason Taliban are created because of drone attacks, will you support a reaction from MQM if oppression continues?
— Syed Ali Raza Abidi (@abidifactor) March 12, 2015
Between the pitthoos and the straw men lies the truth: No country can survive if it treats different groups of citizens unequally under the law. We saw what happened when this was attempted in 1971. Lets not repeat that mistake.