By Sarfraz Ahmed Rana.
An approach of ‘appeasement’ may remind us the interwar period between the end of the First World War and the beginning of the World War Two, during this relatively short era of interwar, apparently there was no war but there was war. One would wonder the connection between ‘appeasement’ and World Wars – if there was any connection it was tragedy – that the then British Premier Neville Chamberlain’s misjudged idea of appeasement to the dangerous radical fascists possibly to avoid conflict, in fact invited the greater catastrophe of global scale – beginning of another World War effected the entire world through its apocalyptic grand scope of destruction.
In consequence of the fact that, from Hitler to the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, chronicle of history have had proved an any act of ‘appeasement’ have being faulty understanding to deal with the evil merely intended to pursue the false hope for peace.
The latest application of ‘appeasement’ we all have witnessed was exhibited in Islamabad with all pomp and circumstances when the state browbeaten into acquiescence to the small group of extremists demands those who during the weeks-long session of testing the limits of state authority by wreaking havoc in the Capitol have returned home triumphant. The worst pattern of appeasement has been set for the generations to remember; government’s euphoria of today to achieve a short lived peace laid the foundation of bigger national crisis to come.
The Minister-in-charge who seems to be a Professor-cum-administrator, a man who refused to be the Interior Minister of banana republic showed less than his usual astuteness dealing into the drama brought an international opprobrium. After the botched attempt to violent mob, he landed with the fallacy of logic certainly to handle the damage control and to legitimize the state’s policy of ‘appeasement’ saying if state did not reach a deal with the radicals who virtually controlled the writ of the state for weeks, the situation probably would have gone to a greater tragedy therefore, agreement of appeasement was inked to achieve the peace metrics. Well, if he smelled the conspiracy quite some time before than why botched attempt? It is just like pretending to despise and belittle that which is beyond the reach.
Yet the state’s persistent inability to take stern action against the miscreants who vandalized the private and public properties to which apex court of the country declared an anti-state activity tells the different story of surrendering to the demands of right-wing extremists which was believed to have a part of the quid pro quo strategy to secure Barelvi constituency in general election 2018 also having the fear of getting Fatwas by the powerful clergy of the country affecting the loyal bloc of voters as it has been the practice in the past of creating troubles for political parties victimized through the Fatwa card. Here comes the time-honored practice of the Pakistan’s undemocratic political culture of putting self-interest over national interest in which the preservation of state authority and strengthening state institutions never been an important objective.
The state’s role seemed fully complicit in the whole scheme of discord fuelled by the violent mob who took advantage of state’s inability to exercise the monopoly of power rather conceded to their demands which further create the space for mob rule to control the system through provoking violence, hatred and chaos that will deepen the problem in the country. Since the inception, people have been rejecting them through the power of ballot yet state empowering those making deals and creating amenable space in the constitution for them.
The Islamic Republic of Pakistan becomes a country in which a group of religious extremists imposes religious tests to recertify the faith as a price for freedom contrary to the ideals of Jinnah who founded the country based on the principals so that people could practice their faiths with freedom as they choose. Who knows if one day state would acquiescence to another appeasement to conduct a procedure of acquiring & recording information door to door as part of greater scrutiny to recertifying Muslims faith through an oath certificate? Isn’t enough that Allah the Almighty is subtle & acquainted and knows at best about our intentions?
During the weeks-long crisis, the state’s modus operandi jeopardized the rule of law, fundamental rights and civil liberties. All too often, internal divide based on sectarianism, ethnicity, language, provincialism and religion, has replaced inclusive nationalism where the idea of Pakistan no longer matters. We are reminded that the religious divide remains a curse that can be revived through little effort with devastating consequences for the very survival and the security of the country. Douglas MacArthur, an American general once said, “I am concerned for the security of our great Nation; not so much because of any threat from without, but because of the insidious forces working from within.”
The incumbent government, however, did not live up to expectations rather failed to recognize the insidious forces within undermining the security and prosperity of the country for decades though this crisis surfaced as a test case for the civilian authority in which the legitimacy of the government as a whole is being fallen to disgrace and opened the for extremists and traditional religious institutions to become more directly involved in politics. It also underscored the vulnerability of the country in the face of the growing division along religious line, the tendency will serve active anti-state detractor to carry out ominous machinations at the cost of country’s well-being.
Nonetheless, the fate of the state can never be seek through the policy of making concessions to the evil in order to avoid conflict but by building an enduring political structure, state institutions, rule of law and creating stable and secure society that discourages the discrimination and arbitrary rule of all forms. Let’s pray that the state’s gracious attitude of appeasing sneaky forces does not bring the catastrophic tragedy to Pakistan but surely, no amount of appeasement would satisfy them.
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are of the writer and do not reflect the policy of The Weekly Pakistan.
The writer is the columnist and International Relations Research Scholar.