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Wednesday July 06, 2022

Anatomy of hate

April 24, 2022

Unlike other countries, where democracy is functional and state institutions are run by visionary leaders, politics in Pakistan thrives on hate and negativity. Political leaders in Pakistan, with little exceptions, are hate-mongers and their followers are willing to kill and die for them.

This politics of hate has increased tremendously in recent times and now poses an existential threat to social and political life. The consequent frenzy and consequential intolerance has taken all of society into its lethal clutches and halted all social and economic activity. The country is at the brink of an economic disaster in view of multiple imminent defaults unless more money is borrowed from foreign monetary institutions by pledging the country and its honour.

Since last March an unending political chaos has been underway. In this tug of war for power, state institutions have been involved and made controversial. In all likelihood, in this terrible, vicious and ruthless power game among the political classes and their hot pursuit of power, Pakistan may further destabilize. It should be clear to all that none of the political parties has any concrete programme to solve imminent and mammoth problems in Pakistan.

Politics is supposed to be a positive activity where a person or a group of people volunteer and endeavour to gain power and run state institutions according to a program presented by them. In democracy, there are no dynasties. This whole activity in a democratic state is translated into reality in a consensual, lawful and peaceful manner and in accordance with agreed rules provided in the constitution and the political activity is not limited to a particular class, persons or groups and families as the constitution guarantees freedom of association and formation of political parties.

Politics and conduct of political parties is regulated by the laws to a certain extent but a large part of it is left to be controlled by social forces and self-regulation. It is also partly dependent on the social behaviour and habits of the people. A number of factors including family values inculcated at home, education, beliefs and social environment are relevant for a healthy and vibrant democracy. The individual and collective behaviour of a people greatly matters for the proper running of the political institutions in a liberal democracy where social and political norms mainly grow from non-religious sources while religion remains a personal affair although it may contribute positively as in many Western countries with secular outlooks Christian values still greatly matter.

Politics in Pakistan is based on hate where political leaders publicly abuse each other. They create and spread hate among their followers. This hatred has reached an alarming level. It has entered homes, with families standing divided. With the phenomenal rise and access to social and electronic media, this hate speech is spreading like a wildfire all across the country and wherever the Pakistani diaspora is; its debilitating and destructive power threatens every household and family, tribe and community. This social monster has become an existential threat to society and state.

In a vicious race to manipulate public opinion and turn it to their advantage all shades of society are contributories, particularly political parties. From a pulpit meant to deliver religious sermons of love and humanity to funeral prayers to pay homage to a departing soul, hate is hovering everywhere. These highest halls of august assemblies created to discuss and resolve the nation’s problems have been turned into forums of destruction. Mass gatherings that were once used to motivate people for larger causes have been converted into self-projection and character assassination of political opponents. Trickery means a political tactic and a naked lie is a great skill of putting spin on facts. Ratings are the measures for rewards. Social status is now decided by the purse. Distinctions between right and wrong, permissible and prohibited, decent and vulgar, truth and falsehood have blurred.

In addition to the politicians and their diehard workers, branded with different names, now a large number of other warriors have appeared on the scene – men with pens and tongues and access to paper or the TV screen promote political agendas of political parties. Every political party has employed a large number of social media activists who create and spread hate and lies against their political opponents. Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms have been turned into new weapons of mass socio-political destruction. As the nation has busied itself in these unhealthy and negative activities it has entered into a constant state of decay. All positive and healthy activities have stopped. No new literature is being produced and no new books are coming out. Family life is completely destroyed as everybody is busy on their phones or computers or televisions, addicted to this culture of hate and lowliness.

The causes of this culture of hate are multiple and partly historical. A class-oriented society with an incredulous and illiterate populace in its different transformative phases lost its true ethos, religious and social teachings and values inculcated by humane reformer-saints and scholars of great learning. In a vacuum thus created by several factors and long foreign rule, and in a quest for basic needs, higher social and moral values became irrelevant. It should be admitted that in this fall from grace all are responsible, individually and collectively, as the great habit of reflection became extinct. Social behaviour is now largely dictated by basic instincts – hate, avarice and anger. Social and state institutions have been weakened with the passage of time. Rather than improving upon the social, political and economic index on the world level, this fall continues for which the leaders of this nation are hugely responsible. Ours is a divided society, socially, politically and religiously and economically. These divides have increased and become more visible during the last three decades or so.

Hate generates hate. It is a negative force and no good can come out of it. No amount of legal and constitutional restrictions can stop this culture of hate. Sooner or later this menace to social and political life is to be handled by politicians and people on their own, by rejecting all forces of hate and deceit. There is no better way than shunning this negative behaviour through the ballot in a free and fair election where all forces of hate are rejected by the people.

The writer is an advocate of the Supreme Court and former additional attorney general for Pakistan. He can be reached at: mwaqarrana@yahoo.com

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