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Editorial

October 12, 2017

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Words and venom

Words and venom

PML-N leader Captain Muhammad Safdar’s incendiary speech against Ahmadis on the floor of the National Assembly has drawn near-universal condemnation. PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has spoken against what he called the “bigotry, hatred and extremism on display in the National Assembly” while human rights lawyer Asma Jahangir has urged Nawaz Sharif to take notice of what she considers speech which incited hatred. In his inflammatory insistence that Ahmadis not be allowed to serve in the military or on the judiciary etc Safdar was disrespecting many who have served this country. Safdar has attempted to portray the Ahmadi community as a threat to the sovereignty of the nation even though it may be among the least powerful communities here. Its members are under constant threat actuality of violence and murder, and there have been regular mob attacks on their places of worship. Above all, he was disrespecting the constitution and its guarantees to the people of the country. Nawaz Sharif had, as PM, honoured himself by naming the physics centre at the Quaid-e-Azam University after Nobel laureate Dr Abdus Salam. That Safdar wants the name of the centre changed is ironic given that the sin he wants undone was committed by his own father-in-law. Frankly speaking, hearing the name Dr Abdus Salam from someone like Safdar is itself an experience that tries one’s senses and sensibilities. Just days ago, on the floor of the same house, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal had lashed out against hate-inciting ‘fatwas’ on social media and called for them to be banned. Safdar’s speech was also in violation of the contents of the National Action Plan drawn up in 2015 by all parties and led by the PML-N as a means to prevent the spread of hatred or incitement of violence in society. Parliamentary speech is privileged but the PML-N has the power to rebuke and sanction Safdar. It is unlikely, though, that the party will do any such thing.

So how has this man helped the cause of his party under the well-known circumstances it faces? How interesting that Captain Safdar, the brave new defender of our faith and polity, is currently out on bail after a brief detention by NAB, which is hearing corruption cases against him and his family. Is Safdar trying to shield his neck and reputation and gain easy sympathy in his constituency by being a loose cannon? Or has the PML-N – under pressure from opposition parties in recent days over the Khatm-e-Nabuwat clause issue – decided that the best way to fire back, or shield oneself from the consequences of one’s own folly, is by scapegoating or targeting the already marginalised who cannot retort back? What is certain is that there is no Ahmadi invasion on this country to take over the state. It is also important to point out that, while it is easy for politicians to tweet out messages or post them on Facebook, it is all essentially a show of hypocrisy meant to embarrass a political rival. Our politicians don’t want to see that cynical and hypocritical use of religious emotions in politics can only lead to killing fields. Safdar may have tried to draw attention away from his own legal troubles and the PML-N’s political controversies by doing what comes to him instinctively – fanning hatred and intolerance. He should know that it will do him no good and may only further harm whatever good we are left with.

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