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Still at a standstill

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The country was brought to a standstill by a frenzied mob last week, with a sheer display of disdain towards the Pakistani state, people and its institutions. Emboldened by a lukewarm response of the incumbent government, the TLP-led mob carried out a campaign to mutilate the ethical, pluralistic and rational face of our society and impose a new political idiom.

Attacking at secular elements, moderate Muslims, minorities and progressive political forces is not a new phenomenon in Pakistan. But this time around, it was full of murderous intent. Khadim Hussain Rizvi mobilised the youth from the lower socioeconomic strata who unleashed a reign of terror across the country, forcing the government and security agencies to succumb to the mounting pressure of looming political unrest and bloodshed.

This was perhaps the beginning of a new era of religious politics in Pakistan spearheaded by an ideologue of the hitherto pacifist Barelvi brand of Islam. Khadim Hussain Rizvi advocates violence and vulgarity as a means of political expression. The TLP’s political tactics are more sinister than those employed by other religious outfits in the past because of the political mood of upfront confrontation with the state, particularly those institutions that are perceived to have pampered such violent religio-political parties in the past.

The equation is not so simple this time with the diffusion of power centres in the age of social media and information technology. There are multiple power loci in the age of social media. The monopoly over knowledge and narratives has been challenged through the very process of knowledge production and its use in the age of the free flow of information.

Having said that, it would be imprudent to believe that this dispersion of knowledge has necessarily led to a better and equitable world. There is no doubt that........

© The News International