Governor Salman Taseer has been murdered. My condolences to his family. Full disclosure: He was the target of some sarcasm from my fourth cousin’s tweets, especially those concerning India’s space program, (which got yours sachly’s fourth cousin’s Patriotic goat because he thought that the real joke — Pakistan’s space program — didn’t get the credit it deserved for being the bigger joke). Nevertheless, as a self-made man with wealth made not from privilege, connections or Khaki, notwithstanding my fourth’s cousin’s tweets, *I* always thought of him as the vanguard of Pakistan’s future.
So yours sachly has been following twitter posts and achieved great enlightenment (not the Buddhist variety, please don’t shoot me for blasphemy!!) on how to proceed to build a strong and prosperous Pakistan and defeat the Mullah brigade. Here is my 3 point plan:
- As a nation, we should debate Hadiths at great lengths to determine what constitutes Blasphemy, and whether Blasphemy does in fact entail death as a punishment. By “nation” I mean well-traveled, middle-to-upper-class english educated people on Twitter whose tweets on non-assassination days involve booze, cricket, sexual innuendo, flirting and complaints about the latest gadgets. After all, their pronouncements on religion have much more credibility than shabbily dressed, hirsute madrassa educated firebrands who are employed in Mosques and preach everyday. Any debates along the lines of “I have traveled to a few places and have a modern education and am of the opinion that running a country with laws based on religion is a medieval proposition” should strictly be avoided. That would make Iqbal and the Quaid sad. If the Quaid said what I thought he said. But I digress. We need to defeat Mullahs in their own game!! More importantly we need to do a bait-and-switch on the questionable fence sitters (which would be 99% of the non-mullah population) who might be intimidated if we bring in too much modernity into debates and start denouncing religion as the basis of nationhood.
- While engaging in such a debate, care should be taken to protect Honor & Dignity. Western commentator says Pakistan’s laws are F’ed up? Scream “PALESTINE!!!!”. Indians taking the opportunity to brand Pakistan a medieval country where people cannot speak out without getting shot 27 times? Bring up the outrageous Arundhati episode where Hindu trained Zionist RSS terrorists did Hindu terror in her house and broke a flowerpot!! Keep in mind that *all* countries are as bad as Pakistan, they only have better PR. Fixing Pakistan is important, but not at the cost of hurting its “image” in the process!! Never for a moment even entertain the thought that Pakistan might be more F’ed up than any other reasonable-sized country and acceptance of this fact might possibly provide a good starting point.
- That brings me to the third issue: We must take a nuanced view and not end up criticizing all religious intolerance. Everyone knows that there are two types of Jihad. Internal Jihad and external Jihad. I heard it on TV once. I think that it means Jihad fought internally in Pakistan (“Bad Jihad”) and Jihad fought externally — say in India, US, Afghanistan, Palestine or Dagestan for that matter (the “Good Jihad”). While criticizing internal Jihad and religious intolerance inside Pakistan, care should be taken to balance it with vehement expressions of outrage when “OPPRESSED” indulge in external Jihad — say when a few fellows with nice sized rocks throw them on policemen in Cashmere and get shot at in the process. Ofcourse religion inspired ethnic cleansing of say, Kashmiri Hindu Pandits should be swept under the rug. Few cases of religious intolerance when a revolution is in the works are inevitable and should be condoned (Note: This applies only outside Pakistan, inside Pakistan please criticize all religious intolerance.)
And lastly, don’t let Salman Taseer’s death bother you for long. The next time Turkey sends a flotilla to Israel, Alms from the US or IMF come with strings attached, IPL does not take Pakistani players or some random Indian celebrity gets criticized in Indian media, the services of our collective outrage and short attention span would be in urgent demand. I’d say Salman Taseer should be given half the time that was spent after Benazir’s assassination debating the use of violence as a state policy.
PS> As an aside, deep introspection has revealed that Kasab is not Pakistani. If he is, he is a non-state actor led astray due to atrocities in Cashmere & Palestine. Nothing about that episode or the lack of progress in the case indicates any sort of Society-Establishment-Mullah-Army-ISI-Judiciary-Politician consensus on using radicalization-inspired violence to achieve the objectives of the state. If you are not part of this consensus, you are part of the minority. And you know what happens to minorities in Pakistan…