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Another death, another day

Another death, another day

The Federal Minister for Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti was killed today in an attack on his vehicle in Islamabad.

Two gunmen fired on Bhatti’s vehicle in I-8/3 area of the capital. He was taken to the hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

No surprises here. Another voice bold enough to speak out against the madness that has gripped the country has been silenced.

Bhatti, a Pakistani Christian, had been an outspoken critic of the misuse of the controversial Blasphemy Law and according to his colleagues he was facing death threats from those who just wanted him to shut up.

After former Punjab Governor Salman Taseer’s assassination at the hands of a uniformed extremist more than a month ago, Bhatti has become the second high profile victim of the violent fanaticism being demonstrated by those who want the Blasphemy Law to stay put, without any amendments whatsoever.

Why shouldn’t these madmen continue the way they have been so far – slaughtering innocent men in the name of faith, taking out highly-charged rallies condoning the murders and using mosques to announce their list of those who (according to them) are wajibul qatal.

Why shouldn’t they, indeed. Because who are they afraid of? Not the state, not the government, not the law. All three have simply capitulated in front of the psychosis that is ever so often being presented to us through TV talk shows, mosques and cyber space as the ‘true faith.’

Forget the state, the government and the law. One never knows where they stand on anything anyway. The government is weak and is more interested in its own Machiavellian survival, blackmailed into further submission and paranoia by an anarchic, double-talking group of allies and an opposition still stuck in limbo between Riyadh and Raiwind!

And the state? Well, what can be expected from a state that has a history of both creating and hosting exactly the kind of faith-driven lunacy each and every Pakistani is now engulfed in?

For years a convoluted narrative has been circulated by the state, the clergy, schools and now the electronic media: i.e. Pakistan was created in the name of Islam (read, a theocratic state). Thus, only Muslims (mainly orthodox Sunnis) have the right to rule, run and benefit from this country. ‘Minority’ religions and ‘heretical Islamic sects’, who are citizens of Pakistan are not to be trusted. They need to be isolated constitutionally, socially and culturally.

What else? Yes, parliamentary democracy too cannot be trusted. It unleashes ethnic forces, ‘corruption’ and undermines the role of the military and that of Islam in the state’s make-up. It threatens the ‘unity’ of the country; a unity based on a homogeneous understanding of Islam (mainly concocted by the state and its right-wing allies). Most of our political, economic and social ills are due to the diabolical conspiracies hatched by our many enemies.

Now the same state is struggling to control the glorified monsters that it created. These monsters have no fear of their creator. The state is hapless and stunned; only good to play silly games with its subjects. The Pakistani state is not grounded in reality. In fact it is not grounded at all. It is a fantasy that has now started to rot and look redundant. It is a 63-year-old daydream about being pious, just and strong. And yet it has been anything but.

No one trusts the Pakistani state anymore – ironically not even those who want to make Pakistan look and sound macho, ghiaratmand and devout.

Going fascist

So now I wonder, who applauded the killing of a ‘blasphemer’ this time.

Bhatti was shot not only because he was vocal about the controversies that surround and emerge from a man-made law that is considered divine, he was also shot because he was from a minority religion in this country.

By the way, men like Taseer too are a minority: an orthodox Sunni Muslim but secular and liberal. Think about it.

The state and its religious allies have for long collaborated to continue sidelining and alienating the non-Muslim and non-Sunni minorities, so much so that there are actually state-approved history text books out there which to allude them as enemies.

It seems as though Pakistan’s survival can only be justified by the number of enemies we can concoct. As if there is no honour in being a country that does not have or cannot make any enemies. The whole ‘jihad’ industry that we have constructed, the fatwah factories and an army of twisted apologists, their performance and credibility is measured by the number of ‘enemies’ they can either kill or pinpoint.

The bad news is that such beliefs are symptomatic of a society that has started to respond enthusiastically to the major symptoms of fascist thought.

Symptoms such as a xenophobic exhibition of nationalism, a disdain for the recognition of human rights, identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause, supremacy of the military, obsession with national security, the intertwining of religion and government, disdain for intellectuals and the arts, and an obsession with crime and punishment.

We do not debate. We only react and then huddle up behind our flimsy and lopsided historical and national narratives about ‘Pakistaniat’. We manifest our destiny as conquering Muslims, cursing the world for our ills, looking out for ‘infidels’ and ‘heretics’ among us, or for scapegoats in the shape of media-constructed punching bags.

We are going nowhere. We are only busy constructing walls around ourselves. Societies that do this have lost their will to keep up with and positively compete with the world at large. It begins to isolate itself, cut-off from the outside world and only allowing itself to be compared to its own mediocrities.

So then, the whole world is against us, right? But I am convinced once we have shut ourselves up from this cruel, scheming world, we will then turn on each another (actually, we already have).

The goras have to go, then the religious minorities, the Shias, the liberals, the Sindhis and the Baloch and the Pukhtuns, the Deobandies and the Wahabis, the Barelvies will then begin cleansing ‘bad Muslims’ from among themselves. Qadris vs. the Chishtis vs. the Naqshbandis, and so on and so forth.

Such madness can only vanish when it eats itself. Unfortunately, by then very few will be left to celebrate its end.

Nadeem F. Paracha is a cultural critic and senior columnist for Dawn Newspaper and Dawn.com.

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

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478 Responses to “Another death, another day”

  1. SB says:

    Bhatti and Taseer are not and will not be forgotten

  2. Vishnu says:

    The stony silence f politicians from all politicians is dangerous. Mian Bhai Nawaj does not want to offend his partners from religous parties. He could be least bothered by few murders. But PPP which has always claimed to be champion of all sectiions of Pakistani society. So when no body from PPP is able to stand up and take a stand for the people mudered, PPP stands exposed.

    What about Army ? Do we not expect Kayani to take a principled stand and serve notice on Jehadis? Right after partition, Army redeined national interest as Anti India policy. Pakistani Military thereafter reaped rich dividend as it ruled for decades and then it’s final gift to the nation was Jehadism which it nurtured.

    So we know what to expect from politicians and what to expect from Army.
    Judiciary is the only hope.

  3. SB says:

    Going fascist! so true. keep writing

  4. Sohail Ansari says:

    Dear Nadeem, Thanks for once again enlightining the educated or not so educated… You are the best!!!

  5. asim says:

    We are not a failed state. The extremists are trying to hijack the state with a very sly strategy. They are working from the ground roots up and I think now is the time for everyone to stand up against them because before long they shall be too strong for us to do anything about it but run to another country for refuge. I do not want to leave my country hence I implore all of you out there to do what little you can; we can stop these terrorists!

  6. mILLI says:

    “By the way, men like Taseer too are a minority: an orthodox Sunni Muslim but secular and liberal.”
    This cracked me up :D

  7. petrus says:

    It seems that most Pakistanis accept that in the unlikely event the murderers are caught, that they will not be subject to any real sanction. That, coupled with other murders of any minority, or anyone who attempts to speak with the voice of moderation, means that Pakistan is well down the slippery slope to anarchy. A failed state!

  8. kumar says:

    Why muslim brothers are not responding to this article? i can see only Indians or other foreign nationals are reading this article not pakistani’s?

  9. LetUsBeObjective says:

    Reading dawn is one of my favorite past time over the weekend, and gives me some level of connection to the country where I was born. I understand Pakistan is in pathetic state, but the reason is lack of morals, not Islam. Even the religious figure heads have double standards, and that is they never win an election. We should learn to respond, not react with hate or emotions to anything we don’t agree with. Respect everyone’s views, even if we don’t agree with.

  10. dude138a says:

    Nadeem,

    I am a BIG fan of yours. And your articles are almost unbelievable to come out of a Pakistani publication. Fortunately for you, not many reads your writings in your own country because of language limitation and that are why you, yourself is still not in the firing range of these fanatics yet.

    Please be safe and if you get any threat to your life then please seek asylum in any country and keep writing from there. Your life is precious, cherish it and don’t ever stop your writings.

  11. rksingh2002 says:

    Any Idea why Pakistan is in such a pitiable state?

    It is purely due to intolerence. The day Hindus and Christians are taken care of (i mean cared for), you will see change in pakistan for the better. The speed at which India is forging ahead, Pakistan will never be even in decent distance to India- econimically or otherwise. Please spread tolerence.

  12. Tahir Rizvi says:

    Pakistan was NOT created in the name of Islam and we should clearly understand it and accept it. Please read our history of the independence movement. Quid-e-Azam’s speech is quoted below in part.

    From Jinnah`s address to the Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947: You may belong to any religion or caste or creed, that has got nothing to do with the business of the state…. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one state.

    We have drifted from our founding fathers concepts for the establishment of Pakistan and we are all paying a high price for getting away from the sacrifices our ancestors did in life, blood and prolonged struggle for creation of Pakistan. We are on the wrong course. Pakistan was NOT created in the name of Islam. We should stop denying our history.

    Twisting our own history is not right. Ignorance and denial of our own history is NOT a bliss.

  13. gireesh,kerala,India says:

    Dear Nadeem,

    Article is very good .Being an indian my perception was that there is nobody to talk for pak minorities, but people like you r there .

    In india voice for minorities is very laud.And i think minorities in India are in a better condition than that of pakistan.Because they never feel lack of security as the minorities feel in pakistan however some incidents like gujarath riots are there.

    And we indians are very confident that we can transform our nation into a developed one and we have dedicated leaders like former president APJ to motivate the people.

    Unfortunately if my perception is right that much confidence is not there in pakistan.

    keep writing articles like this.But articles which can boost the confidence of the people are also needed.

    Regards.

  14. Binu Abraham says:

    Dear Pakistanis,

    Dont get upset by sympathy we Indians are showing now.. Its your bad time…
    Hope things will get better by your efforts. .
    We Indian had bad times and will have bad times… You can show sympathy at that time, not happiness…
    After all we are brothers right, even many of us are not open to think like that…
    As our Prime minister said, a stable, but not very aggressive Pakistan is what we India wants…

  15. shizel says:

    What we see today has already been experienced by Christianity in the dark ages…….persecution, killing, settling personal scores, being branded witches and burned……..all in the name of religion!!!! History only teaches those who are willing to learn from it!!!!! Need i say more!!

  16. Muhammed Ali says:

    The death of the Christian minister is not only a loss of the Pakistani Christians, it is Pakistan’s profound loss. I am so grateful he chose to serve his country and initiated interfaith harmony dialogue. The minister was indeed a brave man who stood by the principles that Pakistan is all about.

  17. Ahmedi says:

    A country on it’s path of destruction, only if world powers stop bailing it out for once …

  18. Steven says:

    Those in Pakistan who want to be free should rise up like your neighbors and replace all the chaos with democracy.

  19. J.R. Norway says:

    Heard about this terrible murder of Bhatti, and I say straight out:
    This gives a bad signal to the world! But I see with pleasure that many in your country,
    condemned this. It bodes well for the future!

    Remember: The real martyrs risk their lives for a good cause,
    but false martyrs kill themselves and others intentionally!
    It’s a big difference in this!

  20. observer says:

    Dear brothers and sisters of Pakistan,

    How long will you all keep silent with all this happening around you? Take note of the changes your Arab brothers are able to make just by showing unity and taking to the streets, Completely non violent. There lies the path you need to consider soon. In the present state, the country is on a slippery slope to nowhere.

  21. Amit says:

    Nadeem deserves full support and his articles should be widely translated in Urdu and regional languages in Pakistan. Pakistani society needs an infusion of liberal ideals.

  22. Pendoo says:

    A government must not have any business in people’s beliefs. Politics and religion is always a deadly combination. For God’s sake (God who created all faiths and their followers) stop to feign mourning and repeal laws that give excuse to these terrorists. Strike the Blasphemy Law out of your constitution. God Almighty will protect the honor of Prophet (pbuh).

  23. Azam Khan says:

    If you take poll any day of the week , Zardari’s popularity is less than 15-20%.What is he afraid of ? He has the opportunity to take a stand against the black law, push the legislation through the parliament.He might resurrect himself as an ‘enlightened’ leader.

  24. Wazir K says:

    Chattering class sitting in the guest room,sipping tea in the finest china, gossiping but have no guts to become vocal in the public. So called secular parties like PPP, NAP,MQM are going with the flow, they will not challenge black law of blasphemy. Muslim League (N) & Therik-e-Insaf can’t offend mullahs. Who is going to bell the cat?

  25. h harris says:

    Bhatti was a targetted man, clearly threats were made against him. Where was his security detail that govt had provided them? How could gunmen come up to him, fire so many shots and no security response or counterfire by body guards who were suppose to protect him? How the gunmen were allowed to escape so easily? Everything smells fishy. Was the govt or police complicit in this murder? We will never get the real answer in Pakistan.

  26. ajith says:

    Minorities would gradually leave pakistan for good. they will have no other choice in the years to come. Another worse thing that can happen is all the minorities forming some kind of a small fighting unit and waging a guerilla war.

  27. R S JOHAR says:

    NFP, most of your write-ups touch the right chords but this one is so emotional that even the worst critics of Pakistan from across the border will support the people of Pakistan who are suffering so much due to reasons mentioned in the article. Though we cannot do much from here but our moral support shall always remain with you all to fight this menace of fanatacism and peace returns to Pakistan soon.

  28. Bored_Fan says:

    Another boring article with similar tone and words…..Wake up NFP, you always point your rifle only in one direction but there could be another enemy in the other direction as well.

  29. Shakib says:

    Rightly Said.

  30. Dev Saha says:

    Pakistan has lost another courageous man. It was expected but we would love to see both Bhatti and Tasseer to have been alive and fought for another day. But that not to be. Only God knows where this will end. Stay safe my friend!


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