Could they have done anything different? Could the protests have been any other way? I mean, we all know by now that almost none of the prominent religious scholars can be trusted to raise an unconditional voice against the madness that comes automatically programmed into an average Pakistani protestor. It also remains undisputed that the large-scale protests were nothing, if not political. All religious groups and parties have proven beyond all doubt that presently, the religious scholars of this country are not fit to lead anyone.
So who can?
It may be fair to conclude that most of them did not want what ensued a month ago. However, none of them have displayed the courage of going against the popular norm. None of them publicly denounced with conviction the chaos that was taking place. No, their tone, their stance against the angry mob was how one friend might talk to another close yet misguided friend; ‘Yes I understand what you are doing and why you’re doing it, I know , I am hurt too, but please don’t do it.’
It’s come to a point where you’ve got to ask, ‘Who are they kidding?”. I mean, we have a long and colorful history of mass protests in which we have repeatedly exposed our distasteful disposition to violent behavior. Are our religious leaders really that naïve? Is their shock and surprise at the destructive nature of the mob really genuine? I don’t believe it, but if they expected something different, it would only go on to confirm the level of their disillusionment with reality!
As much as it saddens me to say it, for I have been a firm believer in the mantle of leadership being borne by our religious scholars, this is a combined failure of the whole religious organizational and political structure. The notion that we can be led and guided by them in these testing times has come crashing around our feet. Their wisdom and their politics both have disappointed me. The idea of religious leadership is dead.
This is what @tazeen had tweeted about them, and to which I fully agree:
Why is the protesters’ leadership called Ulma-e-Karaam by all the TV channels, surely we all know that they are hooligans.
Mufti Naeem on TV the other day, publicly denounced these acts and yet he had the audacity to talk about them in a polite and understanding manner, asking protestors to please go home and that God will reward them for their emotions and actions.
Does that not confuse you about the message they are trying to convey? Are our religious scholars not aware that an unruly faction is always waiting for such mass protests to create havoc, burn and loot valuables and public property? Do they not themselves recognize these events as an opportunity to promote their own agendas and display their hypnotic power over the masses, and do the protests not waiver strictly from the original purpose to everything deemed un-islamic? Why were banks and cinemas attacked and American flags trodden on and burned if that’s not the case? Their leadership and mandate has no direction; their political statements are more or less garbled insults at everything American (they are well aware of how much an average Pakistani likes to hear that).
On Saturday at Jauhar Chowrangi, a religious party had laid down an American flag on the road and took pictures as cars drove over it. I am greatly saddened for currently, there is no future for this country if such religious leaders continue to hold power over the masses. A peaceful protest in Pakistan is just a myth.
If you go on a social media round, as I’m sure most of you have already done, you might go on to question who the heck is on the roads when most of us seem to be in agreement on not resorting to violent discourse and adopting peaceful and more beneficial means of countering such anti-islamic propaganda. But then we all know that the majority does not have access to the internet for a start; a large majority of those who do, have not yet embraced social media. Add to that our unfortunate language barrier. As a result, we, the bloggers and the writers, only seem to be talking and discussing and expressing horror among ourselves! We may occur as intellectuals, but practically, what are we doing other than showing how sharply we can think and how eloquently we can write?
Maybe we need to ask ourselves if our efforts, with all our best intentions, are even sufficient to make a tangible difference. We debate, we argue, we discuss and exchange views. Yet this exchange and development of thoughts is not trickling down to the masses, most of which cannot even read. It’s just a theory, but there’s got to be something wrong in what we are doing. Are there any avenues for us to reach the masses? We know Pakistan does not have a vibrant reading culture. Can we reach out to the masses in a better way? Can large communities be educated through seminars and schools?
I am stumped to be honest. The only way I see to improve the situation is to break through the barrier between the intellectuals and the mere followers. How can we do that? Let’s generate ideas and share our thoughts. I am sure that when all of us start to think in these terms; we will come up with great ideas to expand the information flow from a trickle to a river.
The majority of our people only get to listen to the perpetually inflammatory media and the sermons of the self-appointed representatives of religion that are well aware that they are their only source of knowledge.
We must challenge that source.