Blackmailers galore

By agreeing to rebuild four out of the seven mosques in Islamabad at the same location, as demanded by Jamia Hafsa, the government has proved itself incapable of standing up to religious militancy. The government’s decision is going to embolden religious extremists in the country, who are already straining at the leash to wrap up whatever remotely resembles civility, tolerance and moderation. The government’s pandering to the radical clerics of Jamia Hafsa has dealt a severe blow to the government’s residual writ as well as its capacity to ensure strict adherence to the law. When even the Imam-e-Kaaba had condemned the action of the Jamia Hafsa students and said that Islam did not allow anyone to construct a mosque or seminary on encroached land, this display of timidity should have been avoided, as it further establishes the fact that the government is a silent spectator to the rise of religious extremism and Talibanisation in the country. It is (in)action like this that tarnishes Pakistan’s image and projects it as a country harbouring religious extremism. This is amply demonstrated by a recent US report, which said that Pakistan “remains a major source of Islamic extremism and a safe haven for some top terrorist leaders.” This perception is a dangerous sign and points to the perilous situation on the ground.

After having agreed to the Jamia Hafsa’s demand of reconstruction of mosques on the locations where they existed before being razed, the government could try to impart a spin by portraying it as its victory. It could also make much of the Jamia students’ decision to vacate the Children’s Library. This would be akin to making fun of the people’s wisdom. For it is not the government’s victory if the girl students of Jamia Hafsa have finally agreed to vacate the Children’s Library, as they reached this decision only after the government reached a quid pro quo with the Lal Masjid administration. On numerous occasions, the Musharraf regime has continued to describe the elimination of extremism as its raison d'ĂȘtre. But the facts on the ground say otherwise. By surrendering to the demands of an extremist faction, the government has opened up a Pandora’s Box for itself, as this will only serve as an ego-boost for all extremist elements. They would now use blackmail as a means to get the government to surrender to their will. The issue is not only confined to the government’s agreeing to a demand by the extremists who have successfully proved their ability to intimidate the law enforcement apparatus of the state, but have also shown a menacing capacity to wrest concessions from the political helmsmen of the government. The question is, where would this steamroller stop?

If today the government has decided to build mosques on the locations where they were demolished because they were built on encroached land, the next could be the permission to allow Shariah Courts to work in Jamia Hafsa, and later in other similar madrassas. There is a glaring contradiction here, as on the one hand the government is bending over backwards to mollycoddle the vicious extremist clerics and their danda-wielding burka-clad students, and on the other it is not allowing the staging of an innocuous drama by Ajoka depicting the ill-effects of growing extremism and its various manifestations. In the short run, this hypocrisy may accrue advantage to the government. In the long run, it could yield catastrophic results for the country and its road towards moderation. Already, the government’s meek approach towards the issue of extremism has engulfed not only the tribal areas, but also settled areas under the impact of rapidly growing Talibanisation.


kumud said…
A very good blog. You may read two articles at
in which some relevant material may be found.

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