A series of talks under ‘Ye Watan Hamara Hai’ at The Second Floor (T2F) began on Tuesday evening with a talk on deradicalisation.
Moderated by T2F Director Arieb Azhar, the panellists were Supreme Court advocate Faisal Siddiqui, journalist and author Nasim Zehra, journalist and writer Mohammed Hanif and political activist and lawyer Jibran Nasir.
Azhar started the conversation by referring to Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, which emerged as the sixth largest party in terms of the votes it received in the General Elections 2018. Speaking about the constitution, Siddiqui said there were two phases to it with the first being before 1971 a colonial judiciary with remnants from the 1935 Act.
“A different framework emerged post-1971 through the constitution of 1973, which was dubbed too Islamist by the liberals and too secular by the Islamists. The constitution was a compromise between the two groups and was a contradiction in itself by being not too Islamist or secular,” he said.
“I feel that after the mid-90s, there was a pushback against radicalisation in the judiciary. After 1993, no superior court has passed any law which was radically Islamist.” Sharing his views about the mainstreaming of the TLP, Nasir said the argument of these organisations endangering democracy was a weaker one because they were able to reach the larger audience in ways other than just political power.
“When Ghazi Alamdin is declared a martyr and idealised in history, on what grounds do we tag Mumtaz Qadri as a criminal? The rightwing bodies are able to amass audience and support because they know how to organise by sending their messages from the pulpit and by reaching out to those who are seldom heard,” he said.
Nasir added that the formalisation of these organisations wasn’t the problem; rather, the approach to deal with the youth was. Hanif felt that the idea of the literature of languages becoming a factor to counter radicalisation hadn’t proven to be right in light of the blasts in Sindh in the last two years.
“Maulana Haq Nawaz Jhangvi, despite knowing Punjabi, addressed the people in Urdu focusing on Shias to be declared as infidels, and the impact of his words could be witnessed till a few years back when the community was targetted for their beliefs.
“I have always felt that Shahbaz Qalandar’s mazaar is a place where people of different beliefs come together, but the suicide bomber who attacked the dhamaal did not fit the stereotype of a terrorist; rather, he was a Sindhi lad who would have definitely come across Bhittai at some point in time, so disassociation from languages isn’t the reason for radicalisation exactly,” he said.
Discussing the role of media in both the processes, Zehra felt that before the boom of the electronic media, the institution which was usually seen in print played a role of an auditor. “Media can never be black and white when it comes to reporting certain issues. When Salman Taseer was shot, the entire media discussed the issue thoroughly and criticism was also levied against the ideology which led to his murder. But the same media became a silent spectator during the Faizabad sit-in. Rather, Zahid Hamid’s resignation could have been dealt with differently because he hadn’t done anything of that sort,” she said.
Pointing to the statement recently made by the ISPR director general asking the media to produce positive stories about the country for six months, she said it would not change the reality of the country.
Hanif however felt that a recent fire at the country’s tallest building wasn’t covered too, which also spoke about media’s news. Nasir spoke about the presence of social media with respect to different groups and said that if a certain narrative wasn’t appearing on timelines of people, it didn’t translate as its absence.
Siddiqui however was optimistic and said the militant Islam would not survive for long and the recent verdicts like the ones about Mumtaz Qadri and Asia Bibi showed that those who misused the blasphemy law would be prosecuted, and that the judiciary would not tolerate the radicalisation of religion.
Nasir mentioned that until the state addresses the issue of de-weaponisation which goes hand in hand with toxic masculinity it would be difficult to reach a point of deradicalisation. He emphasised the need to halt sporadic killings and to tackle the situation in the frontiers because ignoring the rightful rage would not lead to solutions.
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