Original Articles

Blaming the victim – by Sana Jokhio

It has come to our attention that a certain section of (fake) civil society (FCS) is using the martyrdom of Governor Taseer to malign the remaining PPP leadership. At a recent candle light vigil in Islamabad, where PPP supporters were also present, Farzana Bari and a couple of others used the solemn occasion to take petty shots at President Zardari. In light of these cheap tactics, we are publishing the following post by Sana Jokio that analyses the murder of Governor Taseer. (Editor)

Pakistan’s self-labelled civil society (comprising a few media advisers and consultants, members of NGOs and foreign agencies) has been making the following assertion:

The PPP has Governor Taseer “blood on its hands” because they abandoned him out of fear and “hung him out to dry”.

This is wrong on the following:

1. Obscuring the issue

Governor Taseer’s killing should be viewed in context and as part of an emerging effort to create the next MMA. In that regard, it worked to unite the Islamists against the PPP and this is a great development for the establishment.

Before the JUI breakaway, both JUI and the Barelvis were under control of the PPP government and supportive of the much larger battle against the Taliban and its local Jihadi partners (SSP, LeJ, LeT, JM etc). The Jihadis had alienated the rest of Pakistan and the attacks on Data Darbar and Abdullah Shah Ghazi had widened the gap between the Deobandis and Barelvis; the latter represent the largest sectarian denomination in Pakistan.

The Deep State needs could not afford to have the Islamists divided on the Strategic Depth policy that is still being maintained at the cost of Pakistan and the murder of Governor Taseer provided a boost to the sagging policy of strategic depth; i.e., the use of Jihadi proxies to gain control of Afghanistan and Kashmir.

2. Diluting and even denying the role of other players

MQM: Put the coalition under even more pressure. Constantly proclaiming oneself as secular does not change the reality on the ground especially when MQM starts supporting the Jamaat Islami on Aafia Siddiqi and stay silent on the blasphemy issue. Did they support Taseer before he was killed or were they too busy coercing the Government and fuelling violence in Karachi in order to control more of the city. They have behaved like the opposition while enjoying the benefits of being in the government coalition.

ANP: They have too many problems and continue to be stuck between the pincer of the Taliban and the establishment.

PML N, Q, PTI : Supporters of the Taliban, two of them made very diluted and safe statements on the blasphemy issue. Furthermore, PTI and the PMLs don’t ever have to worry about Jihadi backlash as they actively support them. Civil society is welcome to place their hopes in them like they did with the movement to restore the compromised bureaucrats like Chaudhary Iftikhar. However, before they do that, they must explain that the Blasphemy Law had been given parliamentary cover under a PML N which had 2/3 majority in parliament. The guard who killed Governor Taseer was provided for by the Punjab governor; yet no one is talking about PML N’s role in this affair. Is there a rift within PML N between a hard pro-Taliban faction and a soft Taliban faction under Nawaz Sharif which is loosing influence in the party. Taseer’s killing suggests that there is a is plausible connivance of PML N and if they don’t come clean then political forces which again serves the Establishment.

Judiciary: Avowedly anti-secular and pro-Jihadi, they have a track record of being the establishment B-Team and continuously disrupting the democratic process by interfering and derailing the efforts of the elected legislature and executive. Contrary to what earnest supporters of the lawyers movement believed, they remain pro-jihadi and pro-establishment. Evidence is their soft corner for jihadis, not taking suo moto on Taseer’s shahadat and against the flagrant baiting of tasser’s killers and supporters. Establishment links also reveal on continuing lack of interest on Baloch abductions and missing people. When some of us wrote that the lawyers movement (particularly the post election phase) was like the PNA we were told to be disingenuous apologists for Zardari.

Media: Were even more instrumental in inciting hatred against Governor Taseer than mullahs; Mehr Bokhari has the blood of Governor Taseer on her hand. Her interview where she draws a dishonest analogy between the blasphemy law and allegedly similar laws in Canada, Denmark and the United States that prosecute on the basis of religious criticism is patently dishonest.

Not to mention, the disgusting manner in which she placed Governor Taseer into a corner and coerced him into providing ammo to the Jihadis. The same can be said for much of the media like Ansar Abbasi, Shahid Masood, Orya Maqbool and Nasim Zehra. Also in her program on the 6th of Jan she and Orya equated Qadri with Ghazi Ilm din without even mentioning that Taseer had committed no blasphemy.

[Fake] Civil Society: Hated Taseer when he was alive and remained conspicuously absent when Taseer’s personal life was being dragged out for his loyalty to the PPP. Also they did no mobilization after he had stuck his neck out and went to see Aasia Bibi. Their political understanding and stupidity is also legendary! Furthermore, they have never properly addressed the role of the establishment in promoting religious extremism. They link it to geo-political events and NOT to the deliberate use of State resources to spread the poison of bigotry.

As it turns out they are the ones who fully supported and marched with the black coats in a dubious cause and thus, they too have Governor Taseer’s blood on their hands by positively associating with those who showered rose petals on his killer. By continuing to associate themselves with a counter democracy movement that strengthened a prejudiced and Jihadi-evangelist judiciary, can they too be held responsible for Taseer’s murder?

By continuing to worship the judiciary and side with them against the elected representatives, the fake civil society has proven that they, wittingly or unwittingly, are also in agreement with the establishment’s policy of strategic depth – the policy that provides the oxygen to extremism. Instead of falsely posturing themselves as have they have, have they ever called out Altaf Hussain for staying put in London instead of going after remaining the PPP leadership.

It is PPP and ANP leaders and activists who are being killed. From BB to Taseer to many ANP elected representatives and their relatives, it is they who have suffered while the MQM backstabbed the coalition on the Kerry Lugar Bill that called for action against the Jihadis! It was PPP jiyalas that ensured that Salman Taseer would have a burial and namaaz NOT the fake civil society. The fake civil society (FCS) should do some maths and come to their senses in realizing that the PPP does not have the numbers to do anything on the blasphemy law. On the contrary, without PPP’s Afzal Chishti (who is now receiving death threats for leading the funeral prayers) and its Jiyalas, would Salman Taseer’s funeral even have been possible?

The PPP and the Future

This might not be the right time to do anything that would jeopardize the larger struggle of weaning the State away from its destructive Jihad policy. A mass party cannot alienate all religious factions, especially when there is no support from other parties. Politics dictates making tactical retreats. Ultimately it is the PPP which will remain the fulcrum around which all liberal gains can be achieved.

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  • I do not see any distinction at all between the FCS and the military establishment. Symbolically (not Islamically), if the Taliban are kafir, the FCS are munafiq, worse than kafir. Hypocrites!

  • I have strong objection for adding NASEEM ZEHRA name in the list of psuedosecular hypocrite media ankers as she is the only anker who is doing shows of this issue on every week…i do agree with each and every word of this post…but why PM YOUSEF RAZA is not saying publically that TASEER was SHAHEED….??and do you realy think that YOUSEF RAZA GILANI,SHAH MEHMOOD QUIRESHI,BABAR AWAN are the realy jialas..??what was the reaction of party leadership when BABAR AWAN SAID “no one can touch blasphmy law in my prasence..??

  • Well written Sana Jokhio, I feel that Pakistan is bitterly divided in those who are pro-PPP or anti-PPP. The anti-PPP walas just join in the bandwagon in Bughz-e-Muawiya than Hubb-e-Ali

  • @Ahmed Baloch,
    Naseem Zehra is playing a decent role, but remember, she has been an office bearer of PTI.
    On the matter of Babar Awan, I was disappointed with him. Similarly, the way Babar Awan is acting these days, he is stepping on a number of people’s territory and confusing people.

  • very nice article…ppp should support left wing element in it…like struggle…as left wing is strength of ppp,,,thanx

  • This is a post, which I wrote to a fb-friend and he asked me to publish it here.

    “I am glad that you posted this article.

    Though I totally agree that the “fake civil society” and all the parties listed in the article have blood on their hands, I can’t agree that the PPP does not.
    The PPP did not want to amend the blasphem…y law. There are many statements from PPP politicians on this issue. The best of course is Rehman Malik’s statement, that he would shoot a blasphemer himself. (reported by the NYT) Mr Malik is not anybody in the PPP, but the interior minister.
    That all the other parties and groups have blood on their hands does not wipe away the blood on the hands of the PPP.
    I have read all the articles by LUBP on the issue of the fake civil society blaming everything on the PPP, but in all these articles all the others were blamed, but it was never explained why the PPP did not want to amend the law and why it did not support Salman Taseer and Sherry Rehman. To say, that we don’t support Sherry Rehman, because she is rich and from the establishment and has done some other things wrong in the past, is nonsense. To say, we don’t want to amend the law now, because then there will be an uprise against the government is cowardish. When is the right time to amend the law? After much more people have been killed?
    The general Pakistani mind set will not become more liberal in the next years, but even more radical. The days to try to amend the law are counted, the more time will pass, the more difficult it will get. Pakistan needs a clear stance in favour of liberalism and secularism. If this stance is not done now, it will become harder and harder. Even if the PPP can’t amend the law now, because they lack majority in the parliament, they should say clearly, what they stand for. If the PPP was not vague on its stance of seculaism and liberalism, then fake secular parties (MQM) would not have a chance to get votes from secular Pakistanis. The best way would be to have a referendum on the issue. Only in this way the will of the people of Pakistan can be explored. And if the people don’t want to have the law amended, then don’t amend it. But than it is at least clear to all the liberals and all the western sympathizers (who always say, the “silent majority is not as bad”) are alone and that the case is lost for some decades.

    Pakistan today is floating somewhere in between liberalism and extremism, but slowly and gradually takes the direction of extremism. This muddling though problems, this “leave everything as it is”, this “just don’t touch the running system” comes at high cost. Pakistan urgently needs a captain (no, not a dictator, but a party that stands for liberalism and for the poor working class people) who gives it an instant turn. If the ship follows the captain thousands of lives will be saved, if the ship does not survive this turn, if the crew starts to mutiny, it is a catastrophy. But this catastrophy will most probably cost less than a slow and gradual leaning towards extremism, which in the end will lead to civil war or genocide anyway. If the PPP makes itself unvoteable, if the PPP would lose the votes of the people, then just let it be. Let the people experience another party and let them regretfully return to PPP. If the ideals of the PPP don’t fit to the Pakistani, then let it be, but don’t compromise on them. It can happen that people leave a good captain. By muddling on, civil war can only be post-poned.

    I hope you don’t mind this article, but is has been lying on my tongue for weeks now. I am quite disaffected since the murder of ST and I agree to Hoodbhoy that a civil war is inevitable. “Islamofascism is a reality. This country is destined to drown in blood from civil war. I wish people would stop writing rubbish about Pakistan having an image problem. It’s the truth that’s really the problem.””

  • This is another post.
    “What made me a little bit angry, before I wrote last comment, is the “everybody who dares to critisize PPP is pro-establishment” attitude. I can see the hypocrites, who critisize the PPP and forget critisizing the others. On the other hand,… I personally critisze the PPP because it is the only party, which has the same ideals in its core as I have. It is the only party for which there is hope, because it has the right fundament. All the other parties are hopeless cases. I wish that there was at least on true secular, liberal and anti-establishemt party. A worker party trying to free the poor peasants, trying to fight for the exploited. I am Austrian. I don’t have anything to do with the establishment.

    I see very well that all the other parties have not spoken out against the blasphemy law. I see that they claim one thing (for example the MQM saying it is secular) and doing straight the opposite. The LUBP blog and Ali Abbas have helped me to get a some understanding of Pakistani politics, but somehow I think the left wing of the PPP sometimes does not want to realize how far their own party is going to serve the mainstraim Pakistanis, who are – in my perception – far away from the ideals of the PPP. It started by ZAP “outlawing” the Ahmedis and is now followed by the PPP’s unwillingness to at least speak out against many of the laws that – in my eyes – urgently need amendment. It is not only the blasphemy law.

    ad “the dominant mindset is such that even in a referendum it will be defeated hands down, in which case it’d be that much more difficult to amend it in the near or foreseeable future.” This is my impression as well. Does a political party, whose ideal would be an amendment, have the right to rule the country, if the country is against it? Is the PPP (when following its ideals) the representative of the people?

    The PPP has the problem that its ideals are not the ideals of their country-men. Yes, there might be a lot of socialist veterans be sitting in the parliament, but how far are they away from the mainstream (working class) Pakistani? Pakistan’s democracy has the problem, that if the people would rule, the laws would be even more inhumane. Pity to a “democracy” if politicians have to make “better” laws than the majority actually wants. This is the tragedy of Pakistan. This is the insight I got during the last sad weeks. I always thought, it is the politicians, the establishment, the military and the Mullahs, who are bigots, but no, it is the majority of the nation. I have to quote Hoodbhoy again, “Islamofascism is a reality. This country is destined to drown in blood from civil war. I wish people would stop writing rubbish about Pakistan having an image problem. It’s the truth that’s really the problem.”

    I have posted a brilliant article today on my wall, but I repost it here:

    The most important sentence concerning the discussion here is, “The lens of fomented societal impunity and the distinction between crimes that have social legitimacy and social offences that are not prohibited by law brings to the fore an old debate, that of the relationship between law and society.”

    I wish the PPP would follow its ideals, even if it would be the end of its reign. I remember the story of a Pakistani political leader (I don’t remember who it was, but I think it was Jinnah, whom I personally don’t consider to be as “secular” as the liberals want him to be). He was the chair man of a group (was it his own party, was it the whole parliament – I don’t remember). This group wanted him to do something he thought of being unjust and inhumane. He said, “I will not go along with your decision. You have voted for the wrong man. You should vote for another leader.” I really regard this words. (this leader = PPP, the group = Pakistani voters)

    Maybe I am to idealistic for this world. Surely, I see the world with European eyes.”

  • @European

    There are some very valuable points in your comments above, which deserve to be posted as an independent article. The LUBP is open to criticism; while some of us may disagree with some of your arguments based on reason, we will be very happy to acknowledge your voice at this forum and have a constructive debate.

    Now posted as: http://criticalppp.com/archives/38118

  • Ever notice how none of the civil society types, NONE, including Farzana Bari, have EVER come out with a statement in praise of the ANP, Pakistan’s only political presence ideologically opposed to the Taliban?
    The ANP activists are getting killed but Bari and Co are performing the far more important national duty of having coffee in cafes.
    But this then applies to the so-called liberal journalists as well.