To believe is human..
[There's a few hyperlinks in this post that may only be visible in the original post, not on FB]
Pakistan: a political issue has (once again) spiralled into complete and utter chaos.
It is not as much as the fact that the law and it's implementation when it comes to blasphemy is unfair, but the highly divisive debate that is underway. Just reading the thread of comments below this Tribune.pk article makes one realise that this division is deep and surpassing all socio-economic strata. "A nation that has lost religion has lost everything", one says. "The nation's gone to the dogs if we're being held hostage by such laws", another responds. Neither is listening to the other.
Having inherited religion from tertiary sources, unlike in Arabia, the Pakistani is insecure, God-fearing, and confused. However, he is not willing to change their way of life in any shape of form with regard to state guidance on religion, evident from the fact that in over 60 years, in what is a country overrun by closet conservatives, the religious right has been unable to secure any substantial form of political mandate. That being said, they are still the most organised groups are are able to mobilise masses of support instantly.
Without going into Salman Taseer and his posthumous glorification, I'm hoping to examine the fundamentals of this issue as I view it from a distance.
Two days ago, even the Pope spoke up against this law - which I guess 1) shows how central Pakistan is to the world's agenda, but 2) gives you a feeling that someone ought to issue some advice to the man about keeping distance between himself and fun ol' Pakiland. Anyway, I digress.
Laws are not the problem (believe it or not, the UK still has a law against blasphemy), but the institutional discrimination that they've resulted in. It is common practice for people of influence, especially in rural areas, to achieve a ruling against lower class individuals on grounds of blasphemy, to serve a political gain, or simply exhibit their power. The judicial system is broken and incapable of delivering punishment for such extreme laws.
The trouble with this debate is that a new term 'liberal' has been coined without any understanding of what that means as an ideology. Post Musharraf's 'moderate muslims' reference, this is the latest fad. Additionally being against the blasphemy law is being equated directly to liberal or secular. These are two different things. Your belief in God has nothing to do with your opinion of a law that is executed in an inherently unjust manner.
It is undoubtedly the fear that by being part of a generation that 'let' the law be repealed that is causing such an outburst of emotion against its repulsion.
Let me put you at ease, fellas. I can bet any money that in a society that has great amount of respect for religion (superficial or otherwise), it is not like removing this law would necessitate the creation of a scenario where any random striker was out there tearing up copies of the Holy Book or calling the Prophet names. It is not going to happen. Relax.
In fact, it isn't going to affect the way of life for a majority of people, but then again, I suppose they wouldn't be so pro-Islam all of a sudden if it did.
And for heaven's sake, what's with the acute insecurity, and the need to 'protect the honour' of God and such. Look - If you believe that God's Almight, and that the Prophet's a great figure, then how is it that a mere mortal's words or action can hurt such a divine honour. Surely, that honour is not that easily tarnished? (Case in point, the Danish cartoons incident from a few years ago - sigh..).
In some ways, the govt must be rejoicing at the fact that this has distracted people from what the real issues in the country are. In other ways, it's good that albeit violent, this debate is at least being aired. Once can only hope that the final outcome is similar to the fate of the adultery law, another brutal legacy of a.. God-fearing.. military dictator.
We've got a problem. The white on the flag, representing minority rights, is shrinking.