Intolerance, extremism, and racism, are global phenomena, looking deeply, one can notice it is more common in the Western World. White supremacy, Black Lives Matter, and religious, and ethnic racism, are even more common in the Western world. However, Pakistan, being a part of the global world order is also a victim of such evils. Although the Muslim world is blamed for such evils, actually it is a global disease and needs to address collectively. Collective efforts can overcome and cure this serious disease.
In the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, Pakistan was very much a moderate, tolerant, open-minded, enlightened nation. Those who are in the age 50s, or above may remember, the time when people were more tolerant, and accepting of other religions, races, ethnicity, and diversified viewpoints than today.
Understanding the matter better
In the decade of 1980s, by design, Pakistani society was radicalized, extremism was promoted, and Jihad was encouraged. Extremist political and religious parties and individuals were funded liberally and used as a tool to promote Jihad. Media was also used to project extremism and intolerance, purposely. NGOs and intelligence agencies were tasked to promote certain ideologies. The educational system was tailored to produce volunteers for Jihad. As a result, the Afghan war was won and the former USSR withdrew its troops. But, as a byproduct, Pakistani society was transformed into an intolerant, extremist, and emotional nation. After forty years, we are reaping, what we have sowed in the 1980s.
Today, our society is extremely, polarized, and charged with violence, unfortunately! Whether is a political divide, religious factions, or ethnic issues, people possess extreme ideology and are unwilling to understand others or accept different narratives. Sticking to own thinking, without listening to other viewpoints, rigid and inflexible behaviors is a common phenomenon. We have labeled our TV channels and scholars based on our views. Our youth is suffering from intolerance, and extreme ideology, and became stubborn and rigid. Some youths are so influenced that they became psychics and criminals.
There is a dire need to listen to others, especially with different views, we must compare others’ narratives and analyses wisely, before accepting or rejecting them. There is a need to understand others. We should not snub others right of expression and impose our point of view. Logic, sense, facts, truth, and wisdom must prevail in communication with others and while making a decision, we must exercise the highest degree of tolerance, patience, and forgiveness.
Geopolitics is changing rapidly, especially in this region, around Pakistan, and many developments have a direct impact on Pakistan’s security and future. The recently created I2U2 (Israel, India, UAE, and USA alliance) bears repercussions for Pakistan. ASK US, QUAD, etc., are also impacting Pakistan. The influence of the Ukraine war has already impacted Pakistan. Many other developments and changes are in the pipeline that is expected to happen shortly and have serious consequence for Pakistan.
Under this scenario, Pakistan has to pay attention to its domestic affairs
We need to keep our house in order. Complete harmony and understanding are desired in the country. National interests must be defined well and try level best to achieve them. Unitedly, we may survive under prevailing circumstances.
While, Pakistan is a nation of 230 million, with 97% of its population as Muslims. Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance and is moderate in nature. Holy Prophet Muhammad Peace Be Upon Him (PBUH), was teaching tolerance and moderation, and simplicity in his life. Hadeeth is full of such narratives, where he preached forgiveness, tolerance, and peace.
Our culture, teaching of our parents, and teachers are also asking us for forgiveness, tolerance, and patience. But, when our children grow up and are exposed to society, they are influenced by others and spoiled. Media, especially, informal and social media has an adverse impact on our society.
It is believed that intolerance and extremism were not in our tradition and were induced from outside deliberately. It can be cured and removed from our society. It just requires a strong will and a few practical measures. Right policies and a positive approach may help us to come out of the current crisis. It is desired that we may restore our true values taught by our religion and ancestors. We hope the potential to overcome all challenges, as long as we have a will, and keep on struggling, only victory will be our destination.
Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Founding Chair GSRRA, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization). (E-mail: email@example.com). The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.