Legitimising extremism: The state’s deafening silence

Published: February 10, 2011

Thanks to the media, the extremists are no longer hidden.

Despite fighting a long war against militancy the state seems to have displayed recent apathy towards the spread of extremism over the past year. Its inability and unwillingness to challenge jihadi groups has legitimised the cleric and his judgments. Sadly for minorities, this has turned into an increased threat as many feel that their connection to the country is rapidly deteriorating.

Last month, the Federal Shariat Court issued a ruling that declared several sections of the Women’s Protection Act 2006 against Sharia law. The ruling effectively stated that “no legislative instrument can control, regulate or amend FSC’s relating to the Hudood ordinance.”

Minorities afraid to integrate

Human rights activist Peter Jacob has said that inter community interactions that were once prevalent in Lahore during the 60’s and 70’s have disappeared. He says that more people feel scared and threatened by hate speech and wall-chalking that has taken place in the aftermath of Salmaan Taseer’s assassination. Jacob questions why the state is unable to act upon these heinous acts and senses an ideological bias.

This ideological bias is explained quite aptly by Khaled Ahmed in his weekly piece for The Friday Times titled “Human rights and majority community” as he writes:

“In Pakistan, most reports into violence against non-Muslims are either not ordered or are prepared to confirm the ideological bias against what traditionally are considered zimmi communities…In the case of Gojra, it was Sipah Sahaba that was responsible but the party in government decided to seek alliance with it instead of standing guarantee for the Christians against it.”

Is extremism really rare?

Senior South Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch Ali Dayan spoke about the dire human rights situation in the country earlier this month. He said:

“Instead of capitulating to extremists who intimidate, threaten, and kill those with opposing views, the government should protect those at risk, such as Sherry Rehman, and hold those inciting violence accountable.”

The context of extremism, which many people say has been exasperated through the un-popular Afghan war, seems to discount years of systematic discrimination against minorities. For years, the general belief was that extremism has always been in the shadows as a minority phenomenon, because they had never won any of the few elections that were held. This has changed with the advent of media in Pakistan.


Sher Khan

A Lahore based reporter for The Express Tribune

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.