Don’t Crush Dissent
Why the question of freedom of speech is still valid in this world! It is because the problem still exists. It is only the weapon we could have at our disposal, through which we use and share the thoughts and the way we can mobilise the suppressed. The history reasons that without the element of free speech, there could never be any progress in human social life. Better is to improve than to deny the very basic thing because for you it doesn’t work the right way. Which right way?
The way you want to use that against the already suppressed. The people who wanted to speak out for the price hike and the odds they see in system will not be sharing their thoughts within their own drawing rooms too. If the expression goes down this level, the powers should understand that denial will destroy the society they rule as a whole. We can move forward to free the speech, either it is for the propertied class or the one living in the huts in Pakistan, demanding the right to life, and the right of shelter. We have no other option.
We can’t deny the freedom of speech to a specific community or a class. We need to understand that what would be the outcome of suppressing the voices of opposition in a country? Nothing? What then will we do with that nothingness?
The example of Asif Zardari’s interview with Hamid Mir is here. The programme ran only for three minutes and then was stopped by some known reason. Before protesting for the right to free speech, it would be better to raise a question that if the programme could go uninterrupted, what the weight of the argument, which Zardari had, had affected the masses so far? The paradigm of a conformist country like ours has already been settled and no doubts prevail in masses, you say. Do you think that Zardari could really affect the already set narrative? If so then you should have think of your narrative and its effects very seriously. You should have at least the power to reason something and argue on that. (Knowingly that the powers never practice this, they can never).
Can’t you argue? You should. The capitalist schools should at least teach you to argue, rather than stopping the others to speak. Don’t we? We have been doing it for hundreds of the years because we believe in a dialectical discourse. For the fellow countrymen, it is important to understand the force of a reason. If someone is not ready to listen to the reason coming from any side of the opposition or from the same corridors, because he/she is not trained to argue, but only to use physical force to stop the dissent.
Witnessing the trend on Twitter against the journalists speaking for the censorship in Pakistan, the conclusion I went on is that we the Pakistanis are not very much concerned about reasoning. For us, the only way to tackle the people having different point of views is to arrest and hang them. The same group of people may validate the Hitler’s act of killing the masses, and of Stalin’s worst.
Mostly in third world countries, the masses are attracted to the fascist conclusions very easily and this is because of the wrecked living circumstances they are kept with. This matter can be connected with the war propaganda in Europe during the Second World War. The fascists had to stop the voices by arresting the socialists and stopping their papers and publication which were basically the understanding of the circumstances of the war worldwide. The war didn’t work though, because wars are never in favour of the masses, the dissenters were of the opinion that time. At the end of any conflict, there is a table and people sit around that to settle the war and sign the peace treaty, the only right solution to the right problem.
In Pakistan’s case, the only thing to do is to see things logically. The different ways of thoughts are the cards to match and draw the right solutions. Grabbing the collars of each other will not give the right picture. For current situation, not being able to reason is the part of strategy came out of that nothingness I’ve mentioned before.
What PM Imran khan could be expected to do, he is doing it already. He has no options other than to take the U-turn on his own statements in favour of freedom of speech when he was not in power. He actually had to deliver on the position he has been selected for, which he has failed too badly. Now the option left for him to chain the masses who are about to attack the system sooner or later.
An Oxford’s graduate in Philosophy, Politics, and Economy is now tackling the problems and dissent in a way he was expected to. Not blaming the Oxford university for the problem, but can’t ignore the fact that the lessons capitalists always read is to crush the dissent.
That is what taught in military schools and should be, because armies are meant to grow their own way. Civil society demands some civil norms to observe to live a normal life, and that is so valid too.
Freedom of speech is the basic need for human societies to grow and we are demanding that right which we understand the powers will give only to make sure their safety. Not a bad deal though, lets free the speech anyway.
The writer is a journalist based in Lahore. He writes on the issues related to human rights, politics, and censorship. You can follow him on twitter @salmandurrani0