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Political discourse and (dis)order: This is why TLP protest makes no sense whatsoever

Political discourse and (dis)order: This is why TLP protest makes no sense whatsoever


Background: Over the last few years, Pakistan’s Barelvi movement has become politically active and religiously mobilized. The social movement discourse in Pakistan has been disrupted as new actors are getting involved through dangerous channels. Not to mention that our history is greatly affected by ideological positionality however religious sentiments have never been exploited like that since the Zia regime. In short; Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), Pakistan’s newest hardline religious party, calls for blasphemers to be put to death and celebrates those who have murdered the alleged perpetrators.

History of TLP: The assassination of former Punjab governor Salman Taseer in 2011, and the hanging of his assassin Mumtaz Qadri in 2016, have radicalized sections of the Barelvi movement in Pakistan around the widely contested and controversial issue of blasphemy. 

Analysis: This movement was consolidated by Tehreek-i-Labaik and advocated by an over-sentimental public. To say that TLP emerged out of nowhere is not just wrong but almost ridiculous. Our society is built upon some vicious structures to entertain a specific class and community. This obsession of TLP leader Khadim Rizvi to create a homogenous Muslim society is the reality of our overtly Sunni dominant federation. The only thing which separates Khadim from other religious personalities is his fixation with violence and obscene language.

But is this how our political discourse will grow?  

Political chaos and disorder are a reality of any political discourse but the humiliation of democratic institutions is not. We remind ourselves every day that our country is a democracy where the constitution upholds supremacy and no one is above the law is part of the problem. To only blame TLP for disrupting political order and attacking law enforcement officers is not enough. TLP grew in this society which is created by all of us. Our silence towards fiery rhetoric and problematic philosophical and religious positionality is threatening. We have made space for these actors to launch their idea and install them in the common man’s mind. 

Why TLP makes no sense: TLP initiated their rebellion against the government when the Mumtaz Qadri verdict came out. They mobilized people on the base of the most controversial issue in Pakistan’s history; blasphemy. Back in 2017, government officials negotiated with them and pacified the situation. Just a side note, TLP is facing charges for destroying public properties. On Monday, TLP held its rally and marched from Rawalpindi Press Club till Faizabad in Islamabad against the publication of caricatures by the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. But their demands are as absurd and horrendous as their political strategy. Their most prominent demands are a boycott of French products and the removal of French ambassadors from Pakistan. These demands could have been shared without locking down the entire city and beating of police officers. This Macho politics has been a problem in Pakistan which has no good whatsoever. Our security systems lack gravity and autonomy. 

So the point is if we let any organization exploit our religious sentiments whenever they want to put on a show then we should be prepared for more chaos, violence, and hatred.   

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