So few weeks back after the Abbas Town tragedy perpetrated by the usual suspects (see Takfiri Deobandis) ; i decided to browse through different Pakistani talk shows hoping for some much needed honesty. You would at least expect some self reflection on part of the so called free media and to no one’s surprise that was too much too ask for, to be honest i should have known better. What i ended up finding were the same tired talking points & usual canard of the so called “Sectarian” tit for tat narrative peddled by security “experts” & media hacks.
One particular show which crystallized the conundrum which Pakistan currently is in, was Bolta Pakistan. The show started out with same intro performed by Nusrat Javeed & Mushtaq Minhas time & over again. However it quickly got out of hand & devolved into a shouting fest between Nusrat Javeed & his co host. Here i would like to say that Bolta Pakistan is probably one of the very few shows; a rare exception, which has managed to ask some tough questions and even bothered to discuss the matter in somewhat of a balanced fashion; even in a very small capacity.
However this does not discount the fact that Nusrat Javeed knowing his limits has towed the same obfuscatory line as his media colleagues on Shia Genocide. Furthermore Mushtaq Minhas the show’s rightist enforcer and a self confessed Jamati has often intervened in Nusrat Javeed’s monologues to keep him from getting into trouble with the powers to be. The show which focused on the Abbas Town tragedy quickly became a discussion about role of state and its involvement in religion; and that is what strikes at the heart of what Pakistan faces as a country.
Sixty odd years after the creation of their country, Pakistanis have failed to have a open discussion on this most important of issue. the public discourse is steered by reactionary fear merchants(see Ansar Abbasi, Oryia Jaan et al) who dominate the pubic sphere. from media to judiciary, to even the so called liberal intelligentsia; with little to no regard to any liberal principles. With few exceptions of convoluted discussion on private media here and there; very few honest voices vociferously challenge the insanity on display which has resulted in a fractured country on brink of utter failure.
So going back to the show, we join Nusrat Javeed arguing for a state which should not be run like a religious seminary, when Mushtaq Minhas falling back to his Jamatia roots goes on a scurrilous rant, on how since the Islamic Republic of Iran does not allow Sunnis to freely practice their religion, same should apply in Pakistan, and as the country being a Islamic Republic herself; it should enforce the “majority’s” version of Islam.
So watching the show i thought may be some one should ask this question of Mr Minhas. which should go as follows; OK Mr Minhas lets for a second we take your suggestion and decide that Pakistan should run itself as strictly a Islamic Republic, which as you vehemently claim was promised by the founding fathers. Which version of Islam should the country run on ? Sunni Barelvi, Deobandi or Salafi ? lets for a second discount the fact that there are 30 or so million Shias who constitute 20% of Pakistan’s population by rough estimates. And here is where folks like Mushtaq Minhas fall flat on their faces trying to explain this all encompassing, grandiose Islamic state.
Fact remains that successful republics can not function on a religious pretense , especially in case of a country as diverse as Pakistan. What Pakistan desperately needs, is a sober look at how much the confused and contrived ideology, of a so called Islamic Republic, has failed the country from reaching its true promise. The Shias are paying the brunt of the price along with other minorities for this false promise, and it only looks like its going to get worse.A state which denies and hides her own history is bound to fail. Sane minded Pakistanis can not afford to cede the space in public discourse to zealots like Mushtaq Minhas who falsify and make up facts as they go.
I for one want a state which treats her citizens equally and does not engage in the business of declaring certain segments of population non-Muslims. State should get out of the business of being guardian of any faith where no one person should be put through a religious litmus test but a state where difference of opinion is tolerated and cherished.