Doing away with our heads

As if we needed anything to be left to the imagination of what constitutes an Islamic state and what ultimate end it will have, ISIS, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, has already had a couple of executions via beheading to its name, most recently that of a Kurdish man. The first victim with US citizenship was that of freelance journalist and photojournalist James Foley. His beheading video was brutal. Tragically, the video was made viral on social media. This confirmed a few things. First that there is a lot of thrill in fearing the bogeyman of extremism created by self-proclaimed Muslims. This fear is not just from those outside the faith but also from those within it who are in the grey. It gives one the same pleasure of scratching a clotted wound. You know it will hurt but it demands to be felt. The perverse pleasure of knowing how insane is insane, how horrid is horrid and how inhumane is inhumane. So the video went viral.
The second thing is that fear has in its grasp the ability to authorise paralysis, especially of rationality. The world is now splitting into two halves: those that live under ISIS fears and those that cause an international drive to crush governments that are home grown. Let us remind ourselves that ISIS exists indeed because of a vacuum created by the intervention to dismantle existing governments in the Middle East, those governments that were undoubtedly with hamartia but were fulfilling that vital role of maintaining the political PH balance of the region.
The third thing is that when vacuums are filled, as they often are with debris, then clean ups are pushed for that create more voids. Currently, according to The Times, the US government “does not have a strategy yet for ISIS,” yet being the operative word. Beheadings are nothing new for Pakistan. The Taliban have routinely done it to Pakistan army officers. Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter, was beheaded in Karachi by Khalid Sheikh Mohammad in 2002. That gruesome video was seen worldwide.
There has also been a vacuum bursting at its seams in Pakistan since then. In 2003, 189 deaths occurred due to terrorism. This number peaked in 2009 to 11,704. Today, those killed by terrorism in 2014 stand at 3,231. Can we now question the wisdom of trying to topple a sitting prime minister? How can we not question the wisdom of the so-called revolutionaries to have brought the agitation politics impasse to a point where the only arbiter is the army? Is it justifiable, especially to those who have lost livelihood, to have an almost month long hostage situation in the country? Should the national narrative not have been an alignment of the institutions that serve the country: education, health and security?
It comes full circle. We are perceived as incapable of governing ourselves and, to prove them right, we topple governments that have come with a people’s mandate. We rattle the world because, as a nuclear capable nation, we really do not seem to have our act together. So we do it, we scrape our clots. How much power is power?
Then we bring to standstill what was crawling. We are unable to understand the importance of continuity and that success does not come in a tsunami but in waves of tiny miniature successes. The economy has suffered a terrible blow. International contracts have suffered. No one hears the weeping businessmen. The small businesses will continue to sob and the large ones will just pack and set up shop elsewhere.
Lastly, we have proven ourselves to be among those who cannot resolve disputes amicably. The arrogance and ultimatum politics have proven to Pakistanis and to those abroad that things will always be hairy with Pakistan. Just like society keeps away from socially inept individuals by isolating them, this crisis has isolated Pakistanis from Pakistanis and others from them even further. There is probably no golden plan to restore the loss we have suffered. Chances are we are headed to a place that turns us into another Middle East crisis. At least then we will be doing away with our heads literally.

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