VIEW : The defining moment — Mohammed Ahmad
Those who plotted Mr Bilour’s assassination must be made to pay for their actions and the mindset that supports such fanatics on the mainland needs to be tackled now not later
It was Bashir Bilour on Saturday and Benazir Bhutto before that. Some other brave leader may be next but then the serpent of terror will also strike the timid. Its war is with democracy, freedom and any system that allows plurality of views even if it is in a stifled fashion. Even decades of military rule has not been successful in making people who democratically achieved a country believe in any system other than democracy and this is what is at stake. A successful election in Pakistan is the worst nightmare for terrorists who want the system to crumble and offer them the window to attain power here.
Pakistan is paying a heavy price for what has been done to it over the years. In the wake of the communist coup in Afghanistan, its radical president, General Ziaul Haq involved it in the Afghan war and made its people embrace tyranny and oppression in the name of national security and no one dared to question the response for fear of life or being branded a traitor. All were made to believe that it was a war for freedom while in reality it was a war waged to secure and perpetuate the dictatorship in Pakistan. The dictator had succeeded in befooling both the US and the people of his own country to see it otherwise.
Why did the Soviet Union invade Afghanistan? The answer is simple. While Afghanistan had had its share of emirs, kings and tyrants, it had never had a democratic welfare government. It was internally weak and was thus ripe for a takeover by a form of government that at least claimed equality for all and claimed that all its actions were pro-people. History had proved that the communist invasion of Eastern Europe could not move westwards because of the democratic welfare-oriented governments there. Democracy rather forced the Bolsheviks to erect the Berlin Wall to stop the subjugated from crossing over. The free Germans saw the benefits of democracy and that was the end of the Soviet advance in Europe. The real solution for Pakistan was power to the people. The dictator instead adopted the course of a proxy war in a neighbouring country. The war fought for the self-interest of the dictator brought to this part of the world all those who could fight for money and of course, some unsuspecting Muslim youth as well who were made to believe that it was a war for Islam. The fall of the Soviets and the later fall of the Taliban government evaporated their utility there and made hundreds of thousands jobless overnight and now they are doing what they know best: killing and oppressing the vulnerable. Since the human conscience even at its lowest ebb abhors plain murder, they are deceiving both their own souls and those who fall prey to their propaganda as a war for faith.
It is unfortunate that years of radicalisation have created for these terrorists sympathisers in Pakistan who offer them sanctuaries. These sympathisers are the real force for the operatives who bank on them for dividing the people and weakening the response. On the larger horizon, these sympathisers work behind the scenes to convince the common man that democracy is secular and is hence opposed to religion. On a smaller front, they work on the common man to dilute the reaction when Shias, Ahmadis or Christians are targeted so that society fails to garner for itself any common value that may bring the people closer. The radicalisation has thus divided the national thought and whenever there is need for action there is divergence of views.
After a struggle of more than 60 years going through dictatorship, civil war and finally democracy, the people of Pakistan again stand at a crossroads. There are two paths to choose from. One is the easy path, the path of least resistance, the path of fatalism and ultimate despair, rule by tyrants and the Taliban, and governance by violence and terror. The other is the path of struggle and sacrifice, the path of hope and progress, in which the people of Pakistan find their identity in Jinnah’s vision and stand united with his ideas and dreams. No doubt taking this path will be painful but the reward is a land of dreams. The decision we take will mark our destiny.
Pakistan is in desperate need of a modern, liberal, progressive and vibrant welfare society Pakistan needs to be developed as a modern, progressive, secular democracy adhering to the principles of fairplay and social justice. Those in authority here need to wake up and realise that when people give the authority to rule they do so to be given a better and secure future. A future of oppression and intimidation is not what the people of Pakistan want. The response of a responsible government cannot be timid. It is duty bound to act to save Pakistan. Those who plotted Mr Bilour’s assassination must be made to pay for their actions and the mindset that supports such fanatics on the mainland needs to be tackled now not later. We need to take the fight to them rather than waiting as sitting ducks to be targeted at will.
Pakistan cannot survive without upholding the principles and guidelines provided to it by its visionary founder. The time is now for all patriotic forces to band together and let democracy stay at all costs. Democracy may one day give us back Jinnah’s Pakistan, the land of our dreams where all citizens live in peace and harmony, a country full of hope, optimism, and security for all. Jinnah struggled to protect and nurture the cultural values of the Muslims of South Asia and not those of the tribal Chechens, Arabs or Sudanese. Jinnah’s Pakistan was to be a land free of prejudice. Discrimination was to be the forbidden word in Jinnah’s Pakistan. Jinnah’s Pakistan was not created for the Taliban.
The destiny of Pakistan will not be inked by India, the US or China. The future of Pakistan will be determined by the choice of its people. Do we want to take the easy path of doom and be ruled by the Taliban or do we want to take the path of struggle where the reward is prosperity, freedom, and democracy? Now is the defining moment. It is either now or never.
The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org