by Ahmad Nadeem Gehla
Stop fooling yourself! You want others to fight for you? That would not happen. You want PPP to fight for a liberal Pakistan. Be a part of that struggle! Not a spectator!
Who is most vocal in vicious propaganda campaign against Pakistan’s only political party with liberal and democratic credentials? Not fundamentalists alone. Powerful military establishment, judges, journalists and liberal rights activists were not behind either. Well, military establishment living a utopian dream of controlling the world through ‘children of Zia’ had an agenda to weaken the liberal and secular party.
Why did liberal, leftist and secular segments of society including journalists, rights activists, lawyers and laborers participated in that campaign? Had they an alternate? Today a weakened and isolated PPP is trying to survive by making all sorts of alliances and compromises. Yet, they don’t like it to compromise.
Pakistan People’s Party faced ruthless propaganda from the liberal and left wing political and civil society groups beside persecution in hands of right wing fanatics. The so called left parties supported PMLN in 1990’s and some of them joined right wing alliance of JI and PTI to boycott 2007 elections. Not a surprise; a leader of same Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) has announced to provide financial support to the police official’s family, who killed Governor Taseer.
In an English Daily, a gentleman has questioned Presidents move of isolating Salman Taseer, who became a soft target for extremists. To an extent one has to agree with his assessment. Certainly, no decision was taken without consent of Governor himself; surely, he would have been taken in to confidence by party leadership on policy.
Let us agree with the proposition. But then, who isolated PPP? Where were civil society, rights activists, media and judiciary when its workers and leaders were facing persecution and state oppression? Did liberal and secular crowd which mistook itself as ‘civil society’ during lawyer’s movement ever realized that weakening the only voice of oppressed will endanger their own existence? No. They continued to live the fantasy of freedom to be their right which they have earned with sacrifices. The fragile freedom has vanished.
Why was Salman Taseer martyred? His only crime; he lived the ideals of Bhutto. Otherwise similar statement was made by Punjab Law Minister while his party disowned the idea. Was not he isolated? Imran Khan made a similar statement but being a darling of extremists, no one harmed him.
Extremists are out with full force. They will silence any dissenting voice. They are no more dependent on Establishment to paddle their agenda as they enjoy support in young urban middle class. The much needed resources flowing from Middle East and local trader class would finance their sacred mission.
The sanity and tolerance has been buried with Governor Taseer. The crowd which overestimated itself as a ‘civil society’ is scared and frustrated. They have lost the same freedom. They are screaming that PPP has been infiltrated by right wing and submitting before extremism.
Wait a minute. Who created a space for right wing in PPP? That was none else but the left and liberal segments which sat on side watching PPP being slaughtered by establishment and religious fanatics. Did you come to join and support it? No. They joined the right wing propaganda campaign in order to exercise their freedom of expression.
Then how do they expect others to fight for them? Well, if you want PPP to fight for your freedom; you have to join the struggle. Don’t act as spectators. Away from mainstream politics, the liberal crowd would not be able to defend itself. Similarly any space vacated inside PPP will be filled by right wing elements.
Also, the state institutions have to redefine their role as their very existence is at stake. The widespread extremism in society is not their friend either. Further patronizing that mindset will harm them as mush as it does to PPP. Winning back a lost state will need a long struggle if sanity prevails. Neither PPP alone, nor crowd of liberals lacking roots in mainstream politics would be able to win this war.
Liberals, leftists, civil society and media has to pick a side. One can not be on side of Yazeed and Hussain at the same time. You want to win back your country back? You have to be on right side of divide. That would not be an easier task; it is an open war which will require sacrifices. Be a part of struggle; do not bank on others blood for your freedom.