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The problem with PTI supporters

In all certainty, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf seems to be heading towards majorly shifting the voting dynamics of Pakistan. Their senior management has displayed ingenuity and used their great charisma to gather and rally support for their party. On the front, they have devised a decent political manifesto and brought into limelight leaders from different factions of the society a.k.a Asad Umer, former-CEO of Engro Corporation. They have managed to bring an average Pakistani citizen to yearn for change, to proclaim their allegiance and yes, turned a majority of the apolitical population in Pakistan into political enthusiasts. We must concede this acheivement to PTI.

However, the same cannot be said about the average PTI supporter. The campaign has injected, or should I say intoxicated mass PTI supporters with self-righteousness of sickening proportions. Their campaign owes alot to PTI’s solid social media team. Coupled with that, their supporters have aided the party in launching massive smear campaigns against almost every party contesting elections.

Suddenly, it seems that the only logical, the only sane, the only PATRIOTIC choice left for a Pakistani voter is to vote for PTI. Their supporters would have you believe that PTI is the only sincere party, the only voice of truth, the sole Messiah. No other party deserves attention, no voter of any other party can vote with a clear conscience, no other voter can lay claim to patriotism, and that no other voter wants welfare for Pakistan. It would seem that Imran Khan has waved his magic wand, and all other members of his party (including a significant number of members being most interestingly plucked from other parties) have been miraculously cleansed.

PTI supporters would have you believe Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf is Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and Imran Khan is Albus Dumbledore. All other parties are various versions of Lord Voldemort and his Death Eater cronies. Unfortunately, the world is yet not quite so simple.

Talat Hussain gives food for thought

Talat Hussain gives food for thought

As the election has come closer, their supporters have become increasingly rash and illogical. Even granted that the youth will show signs of immaturity, the level of immaturity on display has been shocking. In addition to this, often PTI supporters have resorted to serious cyber harassment and abuse on social media. In their haste and anger to question your beliefs, your patriotism, your morals and faith, they won’t hesitate to crucify their own members. Shireen Mazari and Imaan Mazari would attest to that. I would love to quote Edmund Burke here,

“The most important of all revolutions, a revolution in sentiments, manners and moral opinions”.

The most important point I want to raise here is, can you really lead a revolution or change based on hateful rhetorics? Will this serve to unite the country, or only serve to unite only those that have not yet decided to vote for anyone, under the umbrella of PTI? Is this behaviour not creating further polarity among the people of Pakistan? The majority of PTI supporters are high on ‘change’ and ‘revolution’. What I can see in the future however, is PTI boasting student / youth federations with weaponised wings. For hand them weapons, and there may be no difference between them, and any other party in the future. PTI has a trigger-happy voter base waiting for self-destruction.

I can’t help but quote a beautiful message from Martin Luther King,

“Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies, ‘or else’? The chain reaction of evil, hate begetting hate and wars producing more wars must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation”

He couldn’t have said it better.

The anarchy of peaceful protests – a classic oxymoron

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. 

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