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Pakistan’s moment of choice February 14, 2011

Posted by southasiamasala in : Guest authors, Pakistan , comments closed

Guest author: Peter Drysdale

This article was first posted in East Asia Forum on 7 February 2011.

The precariousness of Pakistan’s future political and economic stability was highlighted no more starkly to outside observers than by the assassination of Punjab’s Governor, Salman Taseer, by his own bodyguard, offended by Taseer’s public support for review and amendment of Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws. It wasn’t the assassination itself so much, vile and treacherous though that would have seemed to many, but the outpouring of support for the assassin and the hundreds of legal volunteers that offered defence of him that shocked the rest of the world so deeply.

Sometimes we feel such dismay and anger at the expressions and acts of intolerance and hatred that confront us daily, so graphically in these sharp-focused digital days, in societies all around the world that we may be forgiven for despairing that such acts will render the prospects of peaceful or prosperous life impossible for the vast majority of humankind. Pakistan is a nation that currently induces such despair.


Pakistan: he who lives by the sword, dies by the sword January 11, 2011

Posted by southasiamasala in : Pakistan, Snedden, Christopher , comments closed

Christopher Snedden

Recent Facebook postings showed that many Pakistanis applauded Malik Mumtaz Qadri’s brutal assassination of the Governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer.  So also did statements such as by Maulana Shah Turabul Haq Qadri, a scholar of the less hardline Barelvi inclination.  For either Qadri—the malik or the maulana—Taseer was engaging in blasphemy against the Prophet, Muhammad.  His death was necessary, even laudable.

Hardline Pakistanis advocating or employing violence against other Pakistanis should stop and think.  Such brutality has a nasty habit of getting out of control, with violence able to be used against anyone not considered politically or religiously ‘correct’.  And those delivering the violence invariably determine correctness.  Equally, someone ‘correct’ today could become incorrect—and therefore disposable—tomorrow.

History shows that illegal and arbitrary violence is a fickle master.  Two example of its capriciousness come to mind: the revolutionaries executed by ‘Madame Guillotine’ as the French Revolution ‘ate its own’; the millions of deaths of innocent, patriotic Soviet citizens that Stalin’s merciless KGB and gulag killed.

Closer to home, vicious Sunni-Shia violence in Pakistan claims an increasing number of victims each year—which, in turn, inspires further inter-sect hatred and violence.  Equally, the Pakistan Army’s forceful and bloody removal from Islamabad’s Red Mosque in 2007 of Muslims who had ‘strayed from the correct path’ helped to inspire the current crop of Islamic fundamentalists now rampant throughout Pakistan. (more…)