Rising intolerance in India is no secret. Lynchings of Muslims by Hindu extremists have made international headlines, and the world has taken notice of Modi’s unwillingness to show sensitivity to his country’s minorities. So when Amir Khan said that he too felt alarmed by the growing incidents and even his wife had asked if they should move, it should have come as no surprise. However, the reaction – both here and in India – tells a lot.
In India, Amir Khan has been termed a traitor by right-wing hyper-nationalists, with even Shah Rukh Khan thrown in for good measure. In Pakistan, however, Amir Khan is being treated at a martyr who is being persecuted for doing nothing but telling the truth. This is the correct response, and it should also come as no surprise except when we remember how we treat our own Amir Khans.
The list is a long one: Asma Jahangir, Pervez Hoodbhoy, Marvi Sirmed, Hamid Mir, Husain Haqqani, Raza Rumi, Mama Qadeer…the list goes on and one. Anyone who dares to stand up for Ahmadis, question Army’s actions in Balochistan or support for jihadi groups like Jamaat-ud-Dawa, or apologises for treatment of Bengalis before 1971 is branded as a traitor and threatened with their lives. Are we hypocrites? Or can we not see that we are acting exactly like the Hindu extremists we claim to be against?
Saad Aziz is an unlikely poster boy for terrorism. The son of a good family, educated at some of the nation’s top schools, Aziz appeared to be everything that any parent would want for their child. Inside, though, a terrible storm was building. How did this promising young man turn into a monster? This is a question that must be dealt with because, as is finally coming to light, Aziz is not the only well-educated jihadi in our midst. We look for answers to this question not out of mere curiosity, but in hopes of finding a cure for the disease. Thankfully, it might be easier than we think.
I like to think of myself as an optimist, but also a realist. Sometimes these two traits come into conflict, and in these instances, I find that a depressing reality can easily knock the rosy tint out of my glasses. And so over the weekend I found myself nodding in agreement with Cyril Almeida’s piece about our ability to respond, but not reform, and I found myself in a bit of a funk. Today, however, my positivity has returned. Not because of any breakthrough in governance – that may still be in the distant future, but because of several pieces that have begun appearing that inject a dose of realism into the national debate and, hopefully…just maybe…are pointing towards an awakening among our intelligentsia.
Raza Rumi’s latest piece is a must read for anyone concerned with the direction of the country, particularly those who believe that a free and independent media is a fundamental necessity. He begins with a troubling report on the Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent in North America (APPNA) convention held in Washington, DC where wealthy Pakistani-American professionals and journalists trashed democracy and even recommended Pakistan to join an Islamic Caliphate (all while they live comfortably in America, no doubt). But this is an issue for another post. First let us deal with the issue of journalists trashing democracy and blurring the lines between reporting on events and influencing events.
The national ideology is a topic that has been discussed from before independence. Actually, it may be even be discussed more today than it was in the time of Iqbal and Jinnah. Certainly their words continue to be discussed and debated as much if not more today. Most of the discussions of national ideology center on defending the the boundaries of the national ideology of two nation theory, keeping Pakistan from being undermined by Indian hegemony. But while a vigilant watch has been kept on one boundary, another was left unguarded.