Published Date: May 9, 2017
Left needed to counter extremism, de-humanisation of society
To stem the rising tide of extremism, inequality and de-humanisation, the beleaguered left has a great role to play in countries like Pakistan.
This was stated by speakers at the launch of a book detailing the life of renowned Sindhi left-wing activist and intellectual Jam Saqi in SDPI on Monday. The book ‘Chale Chalo Ke Wo Manzil Abhi Nahi Aai’ (Move on; the destination is still far away) has been co-authored by Ahmad Salim and Nuzhat Abbas.
"There is no doubt that the collapse of communist Soviet Union, the veering of China towards market economy and the rise of extremism has dealt a mortal blow to the left. But given the weaknesses of political parties, whether religious or mainstream, and the establishment’s clinging to status quo the ‘left’ is a beacon of hope to set the nation’s moral compass," Senator Farhatullah Babar said.
"We need the ‘left’ because its ideal is justice for all. When blood is shed on different pretexts we need left that glorifies neither religion, nor ethnicity nor nationality. The moral compass imposed by the extremist right and the establishment since 80’s has de-humanised the state and society," he said, adding the left needs to re-group itself to reverse that process.
He also called upon the leftist intellectuals to revisit their standard chant of condemning everything; American imperialism, establishment, drones, fanaticism. "The chant of ‘downing’ everyone and everything may be emotionally appealing to the dispossessed and disappointed populace," he said.
"By chanting this slogan, however, we have not been able to focus on the real threat to the state and society from militants producing human bombs blowing up everything from schools to markets and from churches to imambargahs," he said. "It will be an immense service if the leftist forces re-united on a common platform and re-framed the debate in terms of what matters to the state and society of Pakistan," he said.
"The ideals that matter are the ideals of peace in the region, ending the privatisation of jihad project, stemming religious extremism, humanism, advancing fundamental human rights, women and non-Muslim minority rights, and economic justice to the people," he said.
"The left’s chief weapon is discussion, debate and reasoned dissent; that of the right is self righteousness. In this battle of ideas the left can and should employ the very dialectics of rightists instead of appearing to be against religion itself," he said. "Imperialism must be condemned and ‘down with imperialism’ chant raised, but only if imperialism is a stumbling block in the achievement of these ideals," he said.
"The left should have a clear idea of the extreme right’s political discourse to fight it effectively. Pakistan needs left to challenge the narrative of extreme right, to create and expand space for dissent and discussion and for airing of alternate views to resolve contentious issues," he said.
Awami National Party (ANP) leader Arasiab Khattak lauded the struggle of Jam Saqi against the tyrannical military regimes. "Religious extremism in Pakistan was launched in the country by certain elements as a ‘nation-building strategy’. However, it actually turned out to be a nation destroying strategy," he said.
"The state has a late awakening in this regard. Operations like ‘Radul Fasad’ are a welcome step. Unfortunately, the notion of good and bad Taliban has yet to be divorced by the state," he said.
Ahmad Salim, the co-author of the book earlier said that the idea behind portraying the life of Jam Saqi was to highlight some critical aspects of the element of resistance and sacrifices that had been rendered for the rights of people in this country.
Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, SDPI executive director, said that young generation needed to be aware of political history, especially the contribution and sacrifices that had been rendered by the courageous and visionary leaders like Jam Saqi. "The world we are living in is changing rapidly. Hence, we need to learn from the past experience to remain relevant in the modern world," he said.
Nasreen Azhar, Council Member of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), said that the history of Pakistan was evident of an enlightened society which later deteriorated. "Our youth, especially students can learn several critical lessons from the life of Jam Saqi," he said.
Hassan Nasir Syed, senior politician, Naeem Ahmad Mirza, a prominent voice from civil society, and Dr Humera Ishfaq also expressed their views on the occasion and said that the book on life of Jam Saqi was important to record some critical events of our national political history.