If the time had not come earlier, it has now. People are choosing which side of the spectrum their ideology lies on. From now, you're either a liberal, or an extremist. If you reject one, you are automatically considered the other. Observing from the sidelines, with an open mind, I have been following news articles, blogs and tweets quite closely. I've come to a few conclusions of my own here. In a profusely uneducated society, that is now become of Pakistan, it is not difficult to mould peoples thinking to your liking. And the number of such people, ready to follow you over a cliff, are growingly increasing. So on both sides, there are people who are actively brainwashing anyone who is ready to listen.
So what becomes of us now? The battle lines are clearly drawn. The liberals have had it with the extremists, and for right reasons. The horrendous murder of Salman Taseer is inexcusable. Salman Taseer was a shining beacon for human rights and equality for minorities living under one flag. His bravery is lauded even as far as India. Many claim that he is the first politician in all of South Asia to be a voice for the minority. After Salman Taseers murder, the fanatics on the right came out 40 000 strong in Karachi to protest against making any changes to the blasphemy law. As lawyers and others hailed Taseer's assassin, Mumtaz Qadri, as a hero and showered him with rose petals and garlands in Islamabad. Somewhere in Karachi, a lunatic mullah called for the head of Sherry Rehman. While the liberals were busy tweet-bashing extremists and playing victim, they could only manage a modest gathering of 300 odd for a candle light vigil in Lahore. Lousy turn up from a city that boasts a DHA (upscale neighbourhood) that never stops expanding. Is that a clear indication that Pakistan is an extremist country? Absolutely not - and here's why.
The divide between the rich and the poor in Pakistan has grown exponentionally over the past few years. The middle class, if one still exists, is dwindling to an all time low. You are either rich, or you are poor. It is safe to say, that the vast majority of the so-called liberals in Pakistan are the elite class. These people will have little knowledge or care for the cost of the most basic amenities in life such as sugar, milk, flour, vegetables. Their dinner for two at a lavish restaurant on any given night may well exceed the entire months salary paid to an average Pakistani. They have power generators producing enough electricity to run all the air conditioners at home. They have their fancy cars and their chauffeurs . Their children attend schools where the annual fee would put many universities in the West to shame. What's worse is that in their minds they live in a utopia that doesn't exist for the masses. The fundo's on the other hand, are the people of lower socio economic status. They are the real victims of the ailing economy, the ones who cut corners and work labouring jobs, they cry foul when gas price goes up, when they can't afford sugar, when they can't find flour to cook roti, can't find decent jobs, can't send their children to decent schools, and are sick and tired of paying rising electricity bills and living without power for half their day. Inflation has left them hopeless. This class of people are the ones who are leaning more and more towards extremism. To them, Salman Taseer, was a representative of the most corrupt government in Pakistani history. How can it be that the masses are living in such abhorrent conditions - being squeezed like oranges, while the ruling elite is enjoying an opulent life style? How long did they really think the masses would sit back and let them continue their charade of corruption and tyranny? Religion is, naturally, what anyone who is losing hope in society turns to. It is in the Masajids that they find Ullema who are devoid of any real knowledge, but have plenty hatred to share. They preach ideas of revolting against a system that has failed them. They preach intolerance and put insecurities in the hearts of the masses. Questioning them would surely land anyone in hot water. The Ullema use examples such as Salman Taseer to leverage their case infront of the masses, they will say "Oh look, now he is trying to change the Blasphemy law, he is an enemy of Islam". And the masses will believe it because they have been let down by the very system that put him in power. So, it is not that Pakistan is a largely extremist country. Infact, it is still very tolerant and loving at its core, but the masses are being pushed to the extreme because of poor governance, corrupt leadership, struggling economy and last, dangerous mullahs.
The right and left are both quite rhetoric yet redundant in their approach, as they are not ready to tolerate each other any longer. What is needed is a strong center, diplomacy between all sides, and of course better governance. If anyone planned to use Salman Taseer's death as a stepping stone to divide and turn people against each other, it has worked like a charm. Steps to reconcile differences must begin immediately, this is a war the liberals simply can not win by tweeting anti-mullah slogans and hoping democracy will save us eventually. They need to realize that their efforts should concentrate towards the genesis of the problem. After all, if the ruling elite can not do that, who else can? It is only after this that we can put a lid on the hate-spewing mullah's. Declaring an all out us vs. them war against our own people is the worst possible scenario for us. While the liberals bandwagon is seeing a growing number of passengers, it is seemingly being driven on an ultimate bridge to no where. For a brighter future, we need to find a way to accommodate everyone in the social economic system. The right is helpless in this regard as they are not gifted with the diverse knowledge and intelligence that the liberals may have but that does not make them purblind either. Our visions must improve enough to see a similar future for a prosperous Pakistan, but for that we need to bring the masses back from the grips of the Mullahs who have them wrapped around their fingers. We can do that by giving them hope. The enlightened ones of the society, must take responsibility and focus on holding the government responsible and making sure people of low socio economic status are looked after and given reasons for a better tomorrow. There is no point in creating an enemy with whom we share our home with. Let's try and work it out.