Sunday, 9 February 2014

Mainstreaming Hate

While discourse about the Taliban problem in Pakistan’s print media has never been awe-inspiring, at least in the good sense, you have to admit it has reached astounding new lows these past few months. Arguments have been disposed of as unnecessary or trivial, giving way to jibes and accusations. A good article today is not one that tries to reason, understand or explain,  it is one that labels the other side as, say, ignorant, cowardly, pathetic, utterly arrogant and/or shameful. All qualities possessed in abundance by one Kamran Shafi. In his writing, obviously.

This kind of writing is then celebrated by like-minded commentators with great enthusiasm, hailed as the final nail in the other side’s coffin, until next week. So while Mickey uncle has had his day in the sun as the man who finally exterminated Imran Khan, he must give way now to Cyril, who has new, more polished goodies to sell.

It is telling that a more reasoned, argumentative and evidence based piece by Babar Sattar failed to capture the imagination of this rowdy crowd in the way that the other two have. If you want to be a hero Mr Sattar, start fighting the villain.

Which is what Cyril does with aplomb, week after week.

Once upon a time Pakistan was a beautiful and serene locale, where extremism was in its place, justice reigned supreme. Enter Taliban Khan. He said our beautiful paradise actually required a few tweaks, just a little less corruption, a little more honesty, if you will. One thing led to another, and he mainstreamed extremism !! *Gasps*

It was that handsome mug that doomed us, those plaintive eyes misled us; that soft, colloquial Urdu weaved its magic, those open hands hugged us in a suffocating embrace — an irresistible package hawking irresistible simplicities, irresistibly drawing us into a quicksand of irresistible hate whose grip is, believe it or not, irresistible.

Yes, it was this man and this man alone, who caused inconceivable damage to the fabric of our society. An invasion next door had nothing to do with it. The influx of more refugees did squat. Drone attacks by a foreign power on our soil were of no concern. That we were paid by the US to fight our war of terror bothered no one. Thousands died in those operations? Meh. Millions of IDPs languishing around the country? Shit happens.

All that equates to nada. It’s all on Imran.

Simplification, Cyril says, is Taliban Khan’s greatest gift. Hmm.

Let’s recap how Imran Khan has managed to mainstream extremism in this great country of ours. He says we should talk to solve militancy, and use force as a last resort. He says drone attacks are a bad thing. He says innocent people die in military operations.

If that isn’t mainstreaming extremism, I don’t know what the fuck is.

What’s more striking is that he’s been saying all that since before the Pakistani version of the Taliban came into being, and he’s been called Taliban Khan since before the TTP as well. More strikingly, he said before we were in this shit storm, that if we continue down this path we will get into a shit storm.

Yet instead of the much maligned, short sighted idiot doing the “I told you so” dance, the far sighted, articulate and reasonable among us are … forget it.

It is incredible the amount of hate this man attracts from the Liberatti (coinage:  ). You would think it was him who helped establish the original Taliban emirate across the border. That was Hazrata Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed, before the plight of common Pakistani citizens such as Pervez Musharraf and Condoleezza Rice forced her to renounce the Taliban and come home to fight the menace.

Nor was it him who wanted to become Ameer-ul-Momineen, emulating the one-eyed wonder that is Mullah Omar. That would be democratic hero-stooge of Zia-ul-Haq; Nawaz Sharif. Before the “wants to take on the Taliban but hands are tied by Imran Khan’s rhetoric” and Saudi interests thing.

He is so evil he will impose the barbaric Shariah on us, take away the rights of women, lynch people and everyone will have long thick beards. You know, what Shaheed BB did to Afghanistan, or what Mian Sahab wanted to do here.

He wants to talk with the barbarians, he might give them FATA. Like ANP already did with Swat.

It is insane. Everything that he has never said he will do, but it is beyond doubt that he will do, has already been done by ANP and PPP. Why don’t they get that hate? They didn’t mean it you see, they just, you know, did it. He on the other hand, doesn’t say it, the cunning bastard, but he really means it. Trust us, we know.

Propaganda is a vile thing, and it works. The constant lying and more lying eventually takes its toll, and without the media means to contradict it, it is dangerously polarizing.

The recent expulsion of a PTI delegation from a Shia protest camp in Lahore is a prime example. Imran is the only leader to have gone to the Hazara in Quetta after the terrible tragedies last year. He is the only one who openly condemned the LeJ. And he is getting thrown out because the media will constantly paint him as a villain.

Meanwhile the PMLN pay Malik Ishaq the stipend and LeJ continue to operate out of Raisaini’s territory in Mastung. PPP ministers have LeJ guards, and a PPP local leader owned the bomb factory probably used in the tanker blast against Hazaras.

But facts mean less than nothing when Mickey or Cyril can take a dump and print it in a national newspaper, every week.

The only hate Imran has mainstreamed is the hate of this bunch against Imran Khan.