Ideological polarization on the war on terror
Difference of opinion or diversity of thought is a natural and necessary part of any sane human society. But the kind of polarization we are witnessing in our country on the issue of combating the unending war on terror is crossing the danger level, to say the least. Hardcore right wing parties, under the leadership of Imran Khan are explicitly supporting talks with the Taliban as the only viable initial step in solving this chaos. On the other end is that segment of the civil society which opposes any such ‘muzakaraats’ and is in favour of the ‘hard way’ to fight the insurgents.
Though both are apparently aiming for a common end, which is peace in Pakistan, this division of approach has torn apart our societal fabric. By simply noting the language used by each side for the other, one can say that the real enemy is not terrorism itself but the ideological ‘other’. Imran Khan is labelling those opposing him as ‘America ke totay (America’s parrot’s)’ and ‘liberal fascist’ while the terms used by the other side include ‘terrorists’, ‘political wings of TTP’ or sarcastically ‘ghairat brigade’.
The comments on one of the online news clipping announcing the statement by US that they might cut off all aid to Pakistan if the blockade of NATO Supplies is not reversed, were really bizarre. I am quoting a couple of them here to highlight what path this polarization may lead us to.
“US should ban entry of IK and JI ppl in all NATO countries .. why threatening Pakistan for consequences !!”
“Usa ban kpk aid, rest of pakistan has nothing to do with taliban crackheads”
The severity found in these comments, going to the extent of even disowning one of the provinces, is a reflection of the level of extremeness that is perpetuating in our society at large.
‘Pak Fouj Ka Jawan Marey Tou Koi Baat Nahi
Mulk Dushman Ke Marney Par Tujhey Hain Tahafuzzat
Arey Kia Vote De Kar Tujhey Is Liye Sahib-e-Iktadar Banaya Tha
Ke Dar Dar Ke, Bilak Bilak Ke Tu Boley ‘Muzakarat’
It may be a sincere attempt on part of Jibran, but we cannot turn blind on what impact it may have on the public debate at large. It is adding to the hatred and misunderstanding between the two sides. This ‘either you are with us or against us’ approach is suicidal. By treading on this line, we develop a psyche where we would do things to ‘others’ which we could never imagine doing to ‘ourselves.’
The day we succeed in harmonizing this clash, we would be able to get out of this quicksand. In trying to analyze why there are such extreme views, I see misunderstanding as a major candidate for villain. People are not willing to listen to the other side and realize that what others are saying is actually not much different from their own view.
For example, pro ‘military action’ people are of the view that negotiating with the Taliban is equivalent to endorsing the stance of the Taliban. This is by no means true. Had Imran Khan or the right wing parties been endorsing Taliban’s stance, there would have been no need of any negotiations! Do friends need to negotiate? Dialogue always takes place with whom you have difference of opinion. If this point is well understood, I think half of the issue would be resolved.
Secondly, ‘Taliban Khan’ and allies are blamed for not condemning the suicide blasts and the atrocities of the TTP as fully as they do so in case of drone attacks. I don’t find any base in this allegation especially after seeing how 3 of his MPA’s have been targeted by the TTP. He is the one who immediately reached the place of the Peshawar Church blast. He is the one who went to condole with the family of General Niazi shaheed. He is the one whose political future solely depends on establishing peace in one of the worst hit areas. So if people get to understand that actually no side is discriminating between the dead, this ideological fight would subside.
Similarly, Imran Khan also need to understand that when he calls some media anchors ‘America ke pitho’, he is actually boasting up the divide between the two margins. He need to understand that those demanding further military action to stop the growth of terrorists may not be doing so on the orders of America, but by their own common sense.
I remember Hassan Nisar explaining the definition of a humane society in one of his columns, and I concur with his analysis. He was of the view that the day we start understanding others, we would be on the right track. The West has been civilized to an extend that they now empathize with each other and not only accept but also appreciate each other’s presence; though they themselves learned it the hard way, after fighting great wars. The way forward would be to spread this message of unity towards developing nations too. On the other hand, we are at a very elementary stage of development in terms of humaneness that we still fight amongst ourselves. Spreading the message of brotherhood to the whole world is not even imaginable.
I hope that the leaders of this ideological debate understand each other’s point and recognize that both parties are actually trying to achieve the same end. Unless we stop fighting amongst ourselves, I don’t see a way forward in combating terrorism in Pakistan. Ending it with a verse from Muhammad Iqbal, with the optimism that our opinion makers may learn something from it.
Ujaara Hai Tameez-e-Millat-o-Aaeen Ne Qomoun Ko
Mere Ahl-e-Watan Ke Dil Mein Kuch Fikar-e-Watan Bhi Hai?
Distinction of sects and laws has destroyed nations
Is there any concern for the homeland in my compatriot’s hearts?