Addressing Cultural Fascism Is Vital To Improve Pakistan’s Future
I would like to argue that prevailing Islamism is a form of cultural fascism like Italian Fascism and German Nazism- the extremist, totalitarian right-wing Ideologies of early 20th century. Irony is that Muslims themselves are predominantly at the receiving end of violence by political Islamists.
Islamism is a political ideology which in its mildest form may at some stage become something like the Christian democratic parties of Western Europe. The Christian democratic parties accept democracy, human rights, the rule of law and the findings of science. Their main stand is that Christian values about love, family and tolerance must be promoted even in secular societies.
I have pointed this out because hypothetically if Muslim conscience can grasp the essence of democracy and human rights and secularism – which is not impossible at some stage but is extremely difficult at present – things can change for the better.
One would, however, need to make a quantum jump in time and awareness to become parties which only want some ethical standards prescribed by Islam to become the basis of an election manifesto.
Imran Khan’s Tehrik-e-Insaaf, Mian Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N and Bilawal Zardari’s PPP are not comparable to Christian democratic parties because all three uphold Sharia as the supreme law of the land, and so on. They can at best be described as moderate Muslim majoritarian parties.
The Jamaat-e-Islami is an ideological Islamic party which despite taking part in elections runs a goonda (goon) organization on student campuses, its affiliate, the Islami Jamiyat-e-Tulba (students’ run Islamic organization).The Jamiyat-e-Ulema-e-Islam (organization of Islamic scholars) and the Jamiyat-Ulema-e-Pakistan (organization of Pakistan’s Sunni scholars), Deobandi and Barelwi and some of their offshoots are right-wing parties.
Then you have extremist organizations which have carried out terrorist activities in Pakistan and India, including the Indian Kashmir.
Many organizations and individuals who have been classified as terrorists in the past enjoyed sanctuary in Pakistan. We have been the unenviable training ground for extremists and terrorists who hit targets in Europe and North America.
Islamism as cultural fascism has now been cut down to size externally because of international pressure. However, that ideology and its extremely brutal manifestation takes place daily in Pakistan through individual vigilantes, mob attacks including lynching of Christians, Hindus and Ahmadis, abduction of Hindu and Christian girls and their forcible conversion to Islam.
Pakistani state and consecutive governments after Zia-ul-Haq (d. 1988) have done nothing to remove the draconian blasphemy law and other such patently barbaric laws.
Unless someone with some intelligence and integrity comes to power to eliminate the various ideological and political networks representing Islamism as cultural fascism, I am afraid Pakistan will continue to bear the shame of brutal and savage treatment of powerless minorities.
The writer is Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Stockholm University; Visiting Professor Government College University; and, Honorary Senior Fellow, Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore. He has written a number of books and won many awards, he can be reached on [email protected]