Articles of the year 2005

Mobilizing the Moderates
Published on April 15th, 2005

The problem facing the country today is the increasing militancy of the MMA led by the Qazi Husain Ahmed. His fiery rhetoric is forcing the silver tongued Maulana Fazlur Rahman, normally a pragmatic politician, into hardening his own stance lest he be seen as less of a muslim than Qazi Sb. Therein lies the problem for the rest of us Pakistanis. How to avoid being branded as Kaffirs by the MMA hardliners, if their narrow agenda is not adopted.

The Govt of the Punjab CM has already been pursuing a very constructive course in its massive media campaign for the education of women. This is laudable, not just because the education of women is vitally important to bringing womenkind—largely ignored in our regions Muslim culture, a higher awareness of their role in the Family and of Society. The Pakistani woman (bless her) has created many outstanding citizens and knows well her role in doing so, she now deserves to be given the opportunity of improving her lot in life, and that of her family. The only way is for her to be educated beyond the basics. The Punjab Govt is doing a good job, but it may not be long before the MMA decides to put an end to it!The effective use of the Punjab is going a long way to showing the other provinces the way to a better and more educated society. The campaign itself is not lost on us in the other provinces, and we are pushing our Govts into a similar policy. The Media should now be focused on the goings on in the Punjab where it seems the MMA has decided to take issue with the Marathons. The MMA seems to be ahead on points in the accusations and counter accusation being hurled back and forth.We the public would like an in depth enquiry conducted by some famous journalists, someone like Fahd or Kamran Khan of Geo so that the truth should emerge. Were firearms used? Were Petrol bombs used? Were Children manhandled by the assembled mob that had been brought to the stadium?. These are questions that need to be raised and answered immediately, before they lose their relevance.

Perhaps Sh. Rashid should be sent to Gujranwala to conduct his press conference in front of the local affectees, and not be seen spouting off from some safe airconditioned studio in Islamabad. His inimitable style should be used in this instance to bring the truth to the knowledge of the masses. The public is not stupid but would like to know the details about this sordid incident. For an elected member of the Assembly to arrive at a sports function with armed disruptionists is reprehensible in the extreme and the Media should be used to focus very carefully and to expose his part in the actions on that day. The role of the media is to bring out the truth. To show the people the true face of our politicians. Warts and all. If the man is innocent then he deserves to be brought back to the house for a victors welcome.

The Punjab Govt cannot now back down on such an important issue. For to do so would be a disservice to an honourable religion like Islam, and to allow a mob to be used in such a way will set a dangerous precedence for the rule of mob violence. The MMA has just given the opportunity to the people to see for themselves what bigotry can accomplish. . The moderates can now be mobilized through effective use of the media on an issue created by the MMA themselves, and by a full disclosure of the facts.

The Image of Pakistan abroad is best summed up by the story of the Pakistani Commander of the fleet which happened to be in the Maldives during the Tsunami disaster, and rescued 367 European tourists who were stranded on an island. These half drowned survivors,who had not eaten for 24 hours, when they realized their rescuers were Pakistanis scrambled to cover themselves with anything they could find expecting the wrath of the Taliban! Much later they confessed to the Commander that Pakistanis were not what they had been lead to believe. We certainly do not deserve this label.