TLP Ban: A Case For “Paradigm Shift In Religious Nationalism, Rational Thinking”
Would the ban on the TLP work? It is an open question. The panelists on Naya Daur’s Khabar Say Aagay featuring Tauseef Ahmed Khan and Dr Ayesha Siddiqa made a couple of alarming predictions (“Khatarnaak Baat” to put in Raza’s terms). They concluded that the ban would not be effective; it ‘might’ or ‘could’ work (a silver lining here) if TLP’s narrative is countered through “moral prowess” of the ruling elite, says Murtaza Solangi, and a fundamental shift in the paradigm of state’s Islamo nationalism nomenclature, as noted by Dr Ayesha and Raza Rumi.
Dr Ayesha makes an alarming prediction (“Khatarnaak Baat”) regarding the upcoming fire from Afghanistan. US withdrawal would leave a void in Afghanistan and Taliban’s rise to power would give an impetus to now suppressed, controlled, banned violent outfits in Pakistan. These reactionary forces, according to Raza, could also get new impetus and renewed legitimacy if Kashmir is excluded from India-Pakistan talks brokered by the UAE.
Tauseef Ahmed talks about how the ban could be ineffective. He warns that if banned, TLP could change its name, put forth soft image and continue operating. Secondly, unlike TTP which is predominantly a militant group and identified as a terror outfit in stark contrast to TLP, the latter would have enough space in the legal sphere to challenge the ban.
For a first, TLP’s narrative needs to be dismantled
The issue of blasphemy is too sensitive to be discredited by the masses who might feel being enfranchised, disenchanted by the state disregarding their sentiments. And that could backfire and be exploited by the group to gain political mileage. Dr Ayesha thus says that the ban won’t be sufficient enough, unless the state undergoes paradigm shift in Islamo nationalism by instilling rational thinking through education.
TLP’s rhetoric is not only popular – reverberating well at grassroot level – but it is cross cutting as well. The educated and business classes also have sympathies with the TLP’s stance, not to mention the other sects. Even the militant Deobandi, the TTP has voiced in support for contending Barelvi TLP, which is a big surprise given TTP’s past attacks on Barelvi worship places. Solangi thinks it is because both groups have a common enemy (phenomenon of “enemy of my enemy is my friend”). Dr Ayesha, however, gives another explanation that all the sects share a common, uncompromising ideological standpoint on “Finality of Prophethood”- something the govt also upheld on several occasions.
However, the government seriously lacks moral prowess and compass to navigate and challenge the TLP’s narrative, says Solangi. No word has come out from top govt circles against TLP’s violence. PTI might have to start with issuing apology for inherently contradictory party stance, evident from past alignments with the TLP, says Solangi.
UAE Brokered India-Pakistan Normalcy
There are confirmed reports that UAE is brokering peace between India and Pakistan, but Kashmir is apparently off the agenda. Raza does another “Khatarnaak Baat” that excluding Kashmir, which has been built into the fabric of Pakistan’s historical Islamo nationalism, would feed well into the rhetoric of reactionary forces. Ayesha believes that primarily, UAE wants stability in South Asia for its own interests and those of India and the US. It is not mediating on Kashmir issue on behalf of, or for, Pakistan. Moreover, the measures like ceasefire and trade cannot be labeled CBMs but a route to normalcy in relations which might improve; conditional to the fact whether Pakistan would accept India’s unwavering stance and constitutional status of Held Kashmir.