I know many will consider the title as either reflection of emotions or entirely untrue. I am confident that most will agree once these lines are read. First of all, let me clarify to all religious friends that you have taken abuse entirely for wrong reasons. Being religious or secular has nothing to do with being an extremist. Many religious and spiritual people around the globe are moderates. However people like Musharraf who abuse various terms and words to perpetuate their own rule are extremists. Extremism is the first step resulting in inevitable consequence of terrorism. Let’s define extremism for further argument. The extremism is the ideology where an individual or group perceives its interpretation of the circumstances to be the absolute truth. This individual or group considers others who disagree with these interpretations as enemies. This individual or group uses all means including brutal force to coerce and intimidate others to either accept its interpretations or face the consequences. This group or individual considers it to possess the absolute wisdom to define the collective good as others are incapable of contributing to the collective good. This group further assumes that either they are chosen by the Supreme forces such as God or National interest to be the final and absolute word on the common good. This approach where dissenting voices are rejected not on the basis of reason but on the basis of force is extremism. It leads to terrorism. By any measure, Musharraf is an extremist.
The tyrant of Pakistan has been an extremist as are the followers of Al Qaeda and Talban. In my conscious, there is no difference in both as both are enemies of moderation, co-existence, and human rights such as life and liberty. I will argue that Musharraf is even worse as he has disguised his extremist, absolutist, and terrorist approach to fool the peace loving Pakistanis. If other terrorist have the strictest misguided interpretations of Islam then this tyrant has the absolutist definition of the state, law, and national interest. Both groups consider it their “Emman” to inflict pain on the forces who disagree with these extremists views. Musharraf, an extremist and terrorist, was first to condemn “Mukhtaran Mai” & “Dr. Shazia” as these poor victims did not fit his definition of the image of Pakistan. This extremist forgets that image of Pakistan is not hurt by these brave victims to expose our hypocrisies but people like him who considers Pakistan as their personal property. Can any reasonable human being with any logic explain to me what’s the difference between him and those who consider that women as their personal property in this context? Without any doubt both are extremists but one is crude extremist exposed as fundamentalist terrorist while other is sophisticated to guise himself as enlightened moderate to fool the world. The basic philosophies of both are same with a variation in tactics. The extremist era under the regime of Musharraf has completely eliminated the tolerance from our society. The genuine politicians, lawyers, human right activists, poor masses, judges, people of small provinces, and the civil society as whole have suffered unprecedented wrath and terror of current tyrant.
What is the moderation then? The moderation is that people have the right to life, liberty, and pursuit of their dreams. In other words state is there to ensure that each individual within society has protection for his/her right to live, freedom to practice the religion, freedom to move, freedom to earn, freedom to express, freedom to participate in policy making, freedom to elect government. No group or the government has the right to infringe upon these basic unalienable rights on any basis. The life of every human being is precious without any discrimination. The law protects haves from the criminals with the same vigor as it protects have-nots from the atrocities of the strong. The people must be free and secure to offer prayers in the mosques, imam barghas, jamat khanas, ebidat ghas, churches, temples, synagogues, and other religious places. Neither government nor any other group has the right to stop others to do so. The moderation is defined by Musharraf as drinking, singing, and dancing. In my opinion, these are personal choices and I have no issue if someone chooses to do so. However, I am offended when Musharraf calls himself as enlightened and moderate. He has not only deprived humans of the right of life and liberty but also committed brutalities on those who raise their voice against these violations. He is the source, enabler, and creator of terrorism in Pakistan. The intelligence wing of his parent institution has created the Jehadis. This institution is still nurturing this Jehadi ally to use them for its political needs at every politically advantageous moment.
Pakistan is country of moderates. The moderates who want to co-exist as human beings as equal partners in the future of the country. Extremist Musharraf has gone to all extremes to abuse fellow peace loving Pakistanis for his political advantage. And my message to all secular, liberals, spiritual, and religious people of Pakistan: Do not fear moderation but fear extremism whether religious or secular. We all should be moderate without compromising our beliefs but do not fall into the trap of extremist Musharraf or his likes for religion or secularism. These extremist will use any mean whether God or National interest to perpetuate their reign of terror. The beard or no beard is not the core of Islam and offering Namaz in a certain way is not the core of Islam but violating “Haqooq-al-Ibad” is core rejection of Islam. The partying and drinking has nothing to do with enlightenment and moderation but considering fellow humans as humans like us is the basic core of any enlightened moderation. Alas, we are trapped by the extremist at both ends. One is using the name of Allah and other is using the name of National interest. Both consider humans as means to their ends and do not consider humans as ends in themselves. Both groups are extremists at the core. Let’s reject both extremes and accept humans as the most precious creation of Allah and consider human life and liberty as the foundation of National interest.