Imran Khan’s policy of appeasing radicals backfires

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Most of the Pakistani experts blame the Pakistani army and the civilian government for the present situation…writes Mrityunjoy Kumar Jha

Pakistans notorious Lal Masjid is back in the news again. In a viral video, the young girl students are shown how to behead a person who disrespect prophet Mohammad. In the background the slogan of hard-line radical Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), “Gustakh-e-Rasool ki ek hi sazaa, Sar tan se Juda, Sar tan se Juda” (Only one punishment for blasphemy against the Prophet, separation of head from the body) was playing on the loudspeakers. It was the same slogan that supporters of TLP were chanting while they lynched and burnt the Sri Lankan factory manager Priyantha Kumara Diyawadana in Sialkot on Friday.

Imran Khan’s policy of appeasing radicals backfires

Sharing the video clip, Pakistani journalist Gul Bukhari wrote on Twitter post, “Students of Red Mosque Islamabad practising how to behead a person accused of blasphemy. Pakistan’s “kamyab jawan” (successful youth) project is proceeding rather well,” a reference to the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s project for youth of the country.

Just three months back, the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan had surrendered to the firebrand cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz and allowed them to hoist Taliban flags atop the infamous Lal Masjid, situated in the heart of the capital Islamabad. In a video, the head cleric of the Lal Masjid Maulana Abdul Aziz was seen with a Kalashnikov threatening the Pakistani forces of dire consequences if they removed those flags. “The Pakistan Taliban (TTP) will teach you all a lesson,” he threatened them. The slamic fundamentalist, Maulana Aziz had issued a “fatwa” that no one would attend the funerals of Pakistani soldiers and called for “agitations” against the government. As expected, Imran Khan had to surrender to him to keep the situation normal in the capital, which is already grabbing headlines after the New Zealand cricket team left the country without playing a single game, citing security concerns.

Ironically, after this incident, Imran Khan again bowed to two other militant outfits TLP and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and it emboldened the fundamentalists of the country. And it was evident the last week when a bunch of mobs of TLP dragged out the Sri Lankan factory manager out of his factory severely tortured and burnt him in the presence of the policemen.

While Imran Khan was providing the lip service to the Sri Lankan government, surprisingly his top guy, the Defence Minister of Pakistan Pervez Khattak was justifying the gruesome act by saying that “murders take place” when young people get emotional.

“Even I can get excited and do wrong when it comes to religion,” Khattak told the media that it was wrong to blame the government”, Khattak told the media.

ALSO READ: Rising religious extremism in Pakistan

“What is happening in this country? Where is the state??

Where is the writ of the Govt ? A lashkar in making in Lal Masjid. This fanaticism must stop now,” says a decorated retired Pakistani army officer in his post on Twitter.

Most of the Pakistani experts blame the Pakistani army and the civilian government for the present situation.

“Mass arrests, outreach to the Sri Lankan government, joint condemnation by Ulemas is good. But, getting the monster genie of “jahalat” back in the bottle will require a lot of courage and will power and most importantly to make masses “unlearn” what’s been taught over years by the fundamentalists,” says Hassan Aslam Shad, a Pakistani lawyer and human rights activist.

And evidently, Imran Khan does not have courage or the will to do so.