Editor’s note: There are some very valuable points in the following article, which deserve to be considered and openly debated. The LUBP is open to criticism; while some of us may disagree with some of the arguments presented in this post, we are very happy to acknowledge diverse voices at this forum and have a constructive debate.
Though I totally agree that the “fake civil society” (FCS) and all the parties listed in Sana Jokhio’s article have blood on their hands, I can’t agree that the PPP does not.
The PPP did not want to amend the blasphemy law. There are many statements from PPP politicians on this issue. The best of course is Rehman Malik’s statement, that he would shoot a blasphemer himself. (reported by the NYT) Mr Malik is not anybody in the PPP, but the interior minister.
That all the other parties and groups have blood on their hands does not wipe away the blood on the hands of the PPP.
I have read all the articles by LUBP on the issue of the fake civil society blaming everything on the PPP, but in all these articles all the others were blamed, it was never explained why the PPP did not want to amend the law and why it did not support Salman Taseer and Sherry Rehman.
To say, that we don’t support Sherry Rehman, because she is rich and from the establishment and has done some other things wrong in the past, is nonsense. To say, we don’t want to amend the law now, because then there will be an uprise against the government is cowardish. When is the right time to amend the law? After much more people have been killed?
The general Pakistani mind set will not become more liberal in the next years, but even more radical. The days to try to amend the law are counted, the more time will pass, the more difficult it will get. Pakistan needs a clear stance in favour of liberalism and secularism. If this stance is not done now, it will become harder and harder. Even if the PPP can’t amend the law now, because they lack majority in the parliament, they should say clearly, what they stand for.
If the PPP was not vague on its stance of seculaism and liberalism, then fake secular parties (MQM) would not have a chance to get votes from secular Pakistanis. The best way would be to have a referendum on the issue. Only in this way the will of the people of Pakistan can be explored. And if the people don’t want to have the law amended, then don’t amend it. But than it is at least clear to all the liberals and all the western sympathizers (who always say, the “silent majority is not as bad”) are alone and that the case is lost for some decades.
Pakistan today is floating somewhere in between liberalism and extremism, but slowly and gradually takes the direction of extremism. This muddling though problems, this “leave everything as it is”, this “just don’t touch the running system” comes at high cost.
Pakistan urgently needs a captain (no, not a dictator, but a party that stands for liberalism and for the poor working class people) who gives it an instant turn. If the ship follows the captain thousands of lives will be saved, if the ship does not survive this turn, if the crew starts to mutiny, it is a catastrophy.
But this catastrophy will most probably cost less than a slow and gradual leaning towards extremism, which in the end will lead to civil war or genocide anyway. If the PPP makes itself unvoteable, if the PPP would lose the votes of the people, then just let it be. Let the people experience another party and let them regretfully return to PPP. If the ideals of the PPP don’t fit to the Pakistani, then let it be, but don’t compromise on them. It can happen that people leave a good captain. By muddling on, civil war can only be post-poned.
I hope you don’t mind this article, but is has been lying on my tongue for weeks now. I am quite disaffected since the murder of ST and I agree to Hoodbhoy that a civil war is inevitable. “Islamofascism is a reality. This country is destined to drown in blood from civil war. I wish people would stop writing rubbish about Pakistan having an image problem. It’s the truth that’s really the problem.”
What made me a little bit angry is the “everybody who dares to critisize PPP is pro-establishment” attitude.
I can see the hypocrites, who critisize the PPP and forget critisizing the others. On the other hand, I personally critisze the PPP because it is the only party, which has the same ideals in its core as I have. It is the only party for which there is hope, because it has the right fundament. All the other parties are hopeless cases. I wish that there was at least on true secular, liberal and anti-establishment party. A worker party trying to free the poor peasants, trying to fight for the exploited. I am Austrian. I don’t have anything to do with the establishment.
I see very well that all the other parties have not spoken out against the blasphemy law. I see that they claim one thing (for example the MQM saying it is secular) and doing straight the opposite.
The LUBP blog has helped me to get a some understanding of Pakistani politics, but somehow I think the left wing of the PPP sometimes does not want to realize how far their own party is going to serve the mainstraim Pakistanis, who are – in my perception – far away from the ideals of the PPP. It started by ZA Bhutto “outlawing” the Ahmedis and is now followed by the PPP’s unwillingness to at least speak out against many of the laws that – in my eyes – urgently need amendment. It is not only the blasphemy law.
“The dominant mindset is such that even in a referendum it will be defeated hands down, in which case it’d be that much more difficult to amend it in the near or foreseeable future.” This is my impression as well. Does a political party, whose ideal would be an amendment, have the right to rule the country, if the country is against it? Is the PPP (when following its ideals) the representative of the people?
The PPP has the problem that its ideals are not the ideals of their country-men. Yes, there might be a lot of socialist veterans be sitting in the parliament, but how far are they away from the mainstream (working class) Pakistani? Pakistan’s democracy has the problem, that if the people would rule, the laws would be even more inhumane.
Pity to a “democracy” if politicians have to make “better” laws than the majority actually wants. This is the tragedy of Pakistan. This is the insight I got during the last sad weeks.
I always thought, it is the politicians, the establishment, the military and the Mullahs, who are bigots, but no, it is the majority of the nation. I have to quote Hoodbhoy again, “Islamofascism is a reality. This country is destined to drown in blood from civil war. I wish people would stop writing rubbish about Pakistan having an image problem. It’s the truth that’s really the problem.”
I have posted a brilliant article today on my wall, but I repost it here:
The most important sentence concerning the discussion here is, “The lens of fomented societal impunity and the distinction between crimes that have social legitimacy and social offences that are not prohibited by law brings to the fore an old debate, that of the relationship between law and society.”
I wish the PPP would follow its ideals, even if it would be the end of its reign. I remember the story of a Pakistani political leader (I don’t remember who it was, but I think it was Jinnah, whom I personally don’t consider to be as “secular” as the liberals want him to be). He was the chair man of a group (was it his own party, was it the whole parliament – I don’t remember). This group wanted him to do something he thought of being unjust and inhumane. He said, “I will not go along with your decision. You have voted for the wrong man. You should vote for another leader.” I really regard this words. (this leader = PPP, the group = Pakistani voters)
Maybe I am to idealistic for this world. Surely, I see the world with European eyes.