Published in Daily Times on June 22nd 2014.
Now that the army, backed by the government, albeit hesitatingly, has waged war on the terrorists, one feels like there is some oxygen to fill one’s lungs with. The question is if Operation Zarb-e-Azb is merely a reactionary hit to break down their stronghold in North Waziristan or if it is a long thought out strategy to dismantle the entire insurgency. Are they attacking the tactic or are they eliminating the source? If it is the first case we may as well all try downloading visa forms to countries were the roads are wide and the lawns manicured. In the second instance, we can stay but not without asking if that itself is enough.
There is a greater war on superiority that has to be waged even more vehemently. This is what has provided the cannon fodder to insurgency, provided the Taliban with no shortage of devotees: brainwashed and enraged. This enemy has festered in this region we now call Pakistan for as far back as one can go. The warnings against creating a cesspool of complex groups began when the Objectives Resolution was passed and Sris Chandra Chattopadhyay stood before those passing it and said: “I also say, what is in the name? Name may be given to mislead people but it will smell of theocracy.”
The central conflict is our pull towards stating that the divine will be supreme and furthermore that the divinity of the Muslims will be supreme. He warned that the craze for having Muslim exclusivism in the country and its laws, one day would result in only a particular sect of Muslims left to define the laws and that the rest would fall out of that definition. Since then, aided by successive democratic governments and the Zia era, the noose has tightened around non-Muslims. And that was okay because many were not on the short end of the stick. Every man entering any army institution or public education system was first educated about the superiority of his faith and was provided a flowing list of the murtids (apostates). These people now make up a considerable part of our country and its executing bodies.
A war is no war without a re-education of this society — a reframing that demands that Muslims are part of a milieu on the same path as those who wish this country well, regardless of religion, caste or creed. We need a Pakistan where the role of women is defined by women, where questions of science are answered unadulterated with scripture, where reason and rationality are supreme and, ultimately, free thinkers and critical thinkers are the ones moving the country forward. Where we do not just tolerate our minorities.
Sris Chandra Chattopadhyay again: “In my conception of state where people of different religions live, there is no place for religion in the state. Its position must be neutral: no bias for any religion. If necessary, it should help all the religions equally. No question of concession or tolerance to any religion. It smacks of inferiority complex. The state must respect all religions: no smiling face for one and askance look to the other. The state religion is a dangerous principle. Previous instances are sufficient to warn us not to repeat the blunder. We know people were burnt alive in the name of religion. Therefore, my conception is that the sovereignty must rest with the people and not with anybody else.”
Jinnah, our founding father, categorically denounced the option of a theocracy for Pakistan. He expected the principles he founded the country on to be upheld. Never in his wildest nightmares would he have thought that it would be members of the minority community who would have to defend and plead for their rights as he had once done in United India.
This war has to have interventions from all pillars of the state for it to strengthen its spine. It has to identify the enemy, even those within, even those we birthed, otherwise we will be drinking soup with a knife.