extremism pakistan

Written by Raja Abdullah 1:08 pm Opinion, Published Content

All Hail Extremism

Raja Abdullah addresses the prevailing extremism, and its detrimental impact on the sociopolitical environment in Pakistan. He observes that extremism (religious and political) started growing roots since the early years of the state’s inception. The full extent of that extremism now threatens to engulf the people of Pakistan.
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About the Author(s)
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Mr Raja Abdullah is a final year student of BS IR at the National Defence University, Islamabad.

Aggression and frustration in a community pave the way to extreme poles, which eventually endanger the stability and put a stop to the progress of society. In the post-modern world, perceptions of acting out are leading to a paradoxical situation whether it be the leaders through their statements and actions fueling extremism or the public demand that shapes the reaction of the leaders.

This paradox is prevailing in the political scenario of Pakistan since its inception. If we go through the pages of history, democratic phase or dictatorship, each era held its own sort of extreme either religious or political. Now, that we are at the peak of the digitalization of politics, Pakistan is experiencing a new kind of aggressiveness that dominates each fiber of the social fabric.

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It would not be wrong to say that the ship of Pakistan is in a storm of staunch extremism and the only option left is sinking. In spite of this situation, power-hungry individuals and organizations jump to fill that void. The intentions of the general public are taken care of by the leaders in alignment with people’s approach to politics.

There are few agendas—short-term economic policies, religious rhetoric, anti-Americanism—that are addressed to meet the public demand and in the end, key issues—political stability, education and health, homogeneity—remain untouched. Key political figures are in a phase of fear that if they don’t stick to the popular narrative they might face defeat in the upcoming elections. This vicious cycle of power and public approach has continued to grow, and it has given birth to an unprecedented level of bewilderment.

Six years after the secession of East Pakistan, the government was in the hands of religiously motivated Zia-ul-Haq who forcefully marginalized his opponents. Soon after the death of Zia, a ten-year musical chair game was played between PMLN and PPP. After the disintegration of the USSR, domestic political turmoil and strategic tensions with India in Kashmir kept the state busy.

While the implications of Zia’s hardcore policies were prevailing in society, Musharraf overthrew Nawaz to rule the state with liberal-oriented policies for the next nine years. The policies of Zia and Musharraf were entirely contrasting; the former tried to Islamize the structure and the latter did the opposite of that. One thing that remained constant in both aforementioned eras was the attractive wrapper of extremism in which the policies were sold to the people.

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After the restoration of civilian democratic rule in 2008, Pakistan faced severe magnitudes of terrorism which is still haunting the security of the state, and counter-terrorism measures influenced the foreign policy as well as public policy. With the advancements in the media industry, the agenda of politics in Pakistan undergoes a paradigm shift from the battle of the systems to the competition of strong narrative construction.

The progress of Pakistan is swaying between the popular media discourses of the two political gigantic balloons with smaller interest groups on each side. The followers of each side consume a huge amount of emotional or rational explanations on TV or social media.

By mentioning the courses of history, I want to argue that the fabric of Pakistani society is skillfully sewn with the threads of extremism in every sphere of life. The opportunist political elite persuade the minds of the people with extreme emotional statements and people buy that in order to be a part of the societal assembly. The socio-political structure of Pakistan is in dire need of attention and transformational policies because the paradox of extremism will prevail unless its antidote solution is gradually and systematically injected.

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