Stop Lahore’s Talibanisation

Raza Rumi

The worst has happened. Data Darbar, which defined the contours of peaceful Islam for a millennium, has been desecrated in Lahore. Its markets have been attacked and its minorities live in fear after the Ahmadi massacre. Last year, the petrified traders of Lahore’s Hall Road burnt objectionable CDs after receiving threats from extremists. A year later, low-intensity blasts took place in the crowded Hall Road — a market for electronics and kosher and non-kosher DVDs. This week, two internet cafes were targeted in densely populated areas of Lahore and some time back Peeru’s was also bombed. Reports have suggested that the cafes had received threats from unidentifiable numbers asking them to stop their businesses as they were turning into hubs of ‘immoral activities’. Just because no one died there, media attention has been patchy. A younger female colleague told me how tailors are hesitant to take orders for sleeveless shirts and other designs that may offend the purist dress code. The militants are employing tactics of social control used in Swat. It cannot be brushed under the carpet anymore. Prior to 1947, Lahore was a cosmopolitan city with a discrete culture of inter-faith harmony, with a reputation for the best education and socio-cultural movements. After its provincialisation, the resilient city re-emerged as a vibrant centre of progressive politics, avant-garde art and extraordinary literature. Since the 1980s, Lahore is a city with formidable infrastructure and boasts of great public spaces, especially parks. The innate openness and tolerance of this metropolis could not be subjugated by growing extremism. Given its reputation, putting this city under siege will be a major victory for the extremists. The low-intensity attacks are dangerous and call for a concerted campaign by all those who wish to see a prosperous and moderate Pakistan. I could be accused of Punjab-centric here but surely I will not be chided for naiveté. The greatest threat to Pakistan’s survival comes from within. Militant groups seemingly out of control, and dwindling state capacity to fight them, haunt our future. Add to this the economic meltdown when we ought to be creating millions of jobs for the youth. Yet, denial appears to be our collective response. First, the confusion about political Islam continues. Democratic politics is being demonised unabated by media and unelected state institutions, paving the way for a vacuum. Anti-Americanism is diluting the impact of crackdowns against banned outfits. It is therefore imperative to deepen Pakistan’s democratic spell and hold politicians accountable without making them look like villains. Punjab is now the new playfield for terrorists and institutions will have to collaborate to clean Pakistan through democratic means. Madrassa-education reform and enhancing the capability of criminal justice institutions is key to a solution. Political mobilisation against extremism is also the need of the hour. This is time for tough action and political consensus. Blaming drones, Blackwater and the Indians is simply not enough.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2010.

6 responses to “Stop Lahore’s Talibanisation

  1. What a shame! How low have these perpetrators of HEINOUS CRIMES FALLEN IN THE NAME OF ISLAM.My parents lived in Lahore,before Partition; my Ammy Jaan,may Peace be upon her Soul,was incharge of the FEMALE SECTION of LAHORE CANTT. GENERAL HOSPITAL,told me stories of a VERY FLAHORE,where it was all peace & GAIETY.My MARHOOM CHACHA JAAN had the PHILLIPS Radio Agency on Anaarkali Bazaar.He told me,”Jehra LAHORE NAHIN GIYA,UH JAMMIA HI NAHIN.” Is it still true or not? If not, I have wasted my 62 years of life.It is my FONDEST WISH THAT I SEE LAHORE,BEFORE I GO INTO ALLAH TAALAA’S FEET,when I SHED MY MORTAL FRAME,AS PER ALLAH’S WISHES!!!

    • Choudhary Javaid Akhtar

      Don’t worry Gurdip, it still holds good “GINNAY LAHORE NAHEEN WAIKHYA O JAMMAYA HI NAHEE”. It is DATA DEE NAGREE and In sha Allah its going to survive till the day of judgement. You know what TALIBAAN means. In litarary sense it means “seeker” Now what do they seek? They seek for Hell, therefore the true expression that ought to be used for them should be “TALIBAAN-E- JAHANNUM.
      Like any other LAHORIE, you too seem to be an ardent “Lahore Lover” and this city will get you on its soil one day any way. Just don’t mind these SHURLIES and PATAKHAS by these Talibane Jahannum. It’s they will get tired, not Lahories

  2. Hi, I have been following your blog for a long duration of time. I must say that i am impressed by the secular moorings that it has. It is very rare in today’s world to hear such a secular voice coming out of Pakistan. I hope there will be more who will stand up and be counted. Extremism of any kind and by any religion should be accepted. If we all have to grow then secularism, mutual respect and non-violence has to be promoted.
    I am a Kashmiri pandit and have seen what fundamentalism can do to you. It can leave scare that rarely heal. It can change your life for worse, for ever. But hope floats and we are seeing lot of Raza Rumis coming out of the shadows.

  3. Very Nice Information

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