Forget the likes of Imran Khan, the Sharif Brothers, Chaudhry Nisar, or even the mighty General Kayani whose mouths never utter the magic word. Forget the likes of Hamid Mir, Javed Chaudhry, and Ansar Abbasi whose journalistic careers are devoted to pleading for “our own” people. These men of easy conscience are themselves shady characters one way or another. But what has happened to Ahmadis, Hindus, Christians, Sunni Barelvis and even the Shias?
After every bombing or shooting, it is customary for the relatives and representatives of the victims to hold press conferences and shed tears and wail for being targeted by the ‘militants’ or ‘terrorists’. Pakistani (fake) ‘liberals’ in various garbs too are full of philosophizing about the terrible mess their country has become. Even the august Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has steadily kept track of the ceaseless campaign of murders and assassinations of the civilians. The Army chief and the ISPR spokesmen never tire of claiming how brave and principled they and their men are despite the tight circumstances.
But one word is never spoken: “Deobandis”.
Even when the Taliban or their various incarnations proudly claim that they have slaughtered soldiers and civilians, no one condemning ‘militants’ or ‘acts of violence’ utters “Deobandi”. What binds the Taliban (TTP), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Sipah-e-Sahaba (ASWJ-LeJ), Jundullah, Jama-e-Hafsa, Jaish-e-Muhammad, and various terrorist outfits? Only one word and one ideology: “Deobandi”.
Christians and Hindus condemn Muslims. Ahmadis condemn Pakistanis. Shias condemn the enemies. One was appalled to see a PPP MNA from Parachinar, a Shia gentleman, claiming that it is the American-Israeli conspiracy which is behind the incessant murderous campaign against the Shias. In contrast, the Deobandis of TTP-ASWJ proudly upload the videos showing how passionately they slaughter Shia “Kafirs”. Carnage after carnage, they claim responsibility. But from on the lips of the aggrieved party, be they Shias, Sunni Barelvis, Christians, or Ahmadis, the word Deobandi never comes, not even by way of a Freudian slip.
Shias and Sunni Barelvis usually blame Saudi Wahhabis for attacks on Sunni shrines and Shia mosques. However, while Saudi-based Wahhabi Salafis are key sponsors of Deobandi terrorists in Pakistna, the actual violence in Pakistan remains the exclusive domain of Deobandis, not Salafis.
Yes, the ‘militants’ kill. Yes, the ‘terrorists’ kill. But, on what basis do they slaughter innocent people? Do the non-Deobandi Pakistanis—which by the way make up over 90 percent of the population—suffer from Stockholm syndrome? Have the people of Pakistan fallen in love with their tormentors? Or else?
These questions require longer answers than can be given in an editorial. But a few pointers can be made.
The most important point to note is that due to the combined might of the Saudi petrodollars and the sheer physical, brutal power of the Army/ISI, the entire discourse in Pakistan’s media and society has been twisted into the favour of the Deobandi-Takfiri weltanschauung. In this worldview, there is no room for a ‘non-compliant’ view or person—even to exist. The discourse prevailing in the Pakistani media and society has succeeded in making people believe that the only orthodox ideology is the Deobandi-Takfiri one. Thus any destruction caused by the Deobandis is only frowned upon for international consumption because Pakistani ruling elites and their instruments such as the media and the ‘liberals’ do not wish to be seen to be complicit in the Deobandi crimes against humanity; and there is a lot of aid to consider too. Other than that, it is business as usual. Deobandi terrorists with their Takfiri ideology are fast turning Pakistan into Takfiristan without facing any viable resistance.
The never-ending campaign of Shia pogroms and gross human rights violations against Christians, Hindus, and Ahmadis are the result of the triumph of the Deobandi-Takfiri discourse. The only way to confront and then defeat the bloodthirsty Deobandi-Takfiri Islamofascism is to launch a campaign of counter-discourse which emphasises secular values of human rights and equalitarian peaceful coexistence while identifying and naming the Deobandi-Takfiri terrorists, leaders, generals, and media men. This is not going to happen in the mainstream media. But we need not depend on it. There are various venues to start the counter-discourse. Social media is a more significant platform than the mainstream media. The proposed counter-discourse can be raised at the international level too. Books should be written and conferences held to defeat the fascism of the Deobandi-Takfiri discourse. The possibilities are unlimited only if people are willing to fight for their and their fellow Pakistanis’ survival.
The sociologist Jean Baudrillard was not entirely wrong when he claimed that the Iraq War did not happen. What he meant was that since the Western-dominated media did not show the facts of the war, there was no way of finding out what actually happened. The mainstream discourse in Pakistan has stifled the facts about the perniciousness of the Deobandi ideology. But it is for the responsible Shias, Christians, moderate Sunnis, Ahmadis, Hindus and the rest of the Pakistani ethnic and denominational groups to make the counter-discourse a weapon to defeat the evil that “Deobandi” and its various avatars and collaborators are.