Extremists learnt how to radicalize the democratic state


By Farman Nawaz

Mumtaz Qadri wanted to teach a lesson to the people who would even dare to talk about any change in blasphemy law or to debate against any aspect of the said law. Similarly the purpose of sit-in in Islamabad was to refrain the government to amend the laws somehow relevant to the finality of prophethood.

In Mumtaz Qadri case Pakistani courts tried to stop the people taking law in their hands and deciding the issues which fall under the jurisdiction of courts. However the successful sit-in in Islamabad has set an example that issues related with the Parliamentary legislation can be decided on roads outside the courts and the parliament. The way this issue was resolved paved way for future endeavors to twist the arm of legislatives bodies and governments.

Mumtaz Qadri and Islamabad sit-in episodes are similar in the sense that they are against any amendment in the laws relevant to the religion. Secondly against both these episodes Pakistani courts have shown its resentment. But the difference is that Mumtaz Qadri took the law in his hands while the sit-in and protests is the democratic right of every Pakistani.

It’s a new development where fundamentalists have learnt how to use their political right to radicalize the state and society. This sentence can be rephrased in this way that hidden hands can use fundamentalist forces to kneel down the sitting government. The Secular and liberal Pakistanis might have reservations but the fact is that democracy gives this right to the citizens. Now in future militancy might seek a shelter in this type of successful techniques to fulfill their mission of radicalizing or destabilizing the state.

Islamabad sit-it exposed the reality that Pakistani government can be destabilized by protests or threats of civil war – a more lethal weapon than terrorism. In the past government of Awami National Party had signed an agreement with Maulana Sufi Muhammad of Swat for implementation of Sharia law in Swat and surrounding areas. Afterwards Maulana Sufi Muhammad ended his protest camp at Timergara and assisted in ceasefire between government and TTP.

After the incidence of Army School Peshawar the militants had lost their popularity among the common Pakistanis. Army operations against TTP did not faced any social uprising due to the fact that the massacre of innocent students had molded the minds of Pakistanis. But targeting the legislative bodies by the religious group is a new phenomenon that can provide new horizons to radical elements.

Many aspects of modern life in the big cities of Pakistan are not acceptable to the radical elements of Pakistan. There is no proper legislation in the constitution of Pakistan to stop the modern trends to creep into the society. Islamabad sit-in has open a new opportunity that will lend a hand to the religious groups to compel the legislative bodies for putting an end to these modern customs and traditions like coeducation, female working in offices, valentine day, fashion shows, film industry, and many aspects like these.

However democratic values allow all the people of Pakistan to express their viewpoints and to protest against any legislation that affects their religious or political sentiments. The fundamentalists might be seen as a threat to the modern liberal and secular values but it’s their democratic right to protest and demand any reformation in the legislations.

The politics of sit-ins is part of democratic process. The radical elements can’t be deprived of this privilege. Their viewpoints might not be acceptable to the liberal sections of the society but there is a way out to deal with the radical viewpoints. The question is who represent the general masses? If radical elements are the real representatives of general masses then what is witnessed in Islamabad that is the destiny of Pakistan but if general masses are not radical then Mombathi Mafia will have to come out of their bedrooms and will have to spare time to protest against the radicalization of the state.

Democracy gives the right to everyone to have a say in the legislative process and courts. Radical democracy will be a new edition of people’s representation that cannot be copped with.

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