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Smokers’ Corner: It’s a shame
Nadeem F. PARACHA
Sunday, 16 Aug, 2009 | 12:55 AM PST
Hardly a week had passed after the shameful attacks on the lives and livelihood of the besieged Christian community of Gojra, that a well-known Islamic televangelist appeared on his show on a local TV channel and freely exhibited the audacity to explain this attack by vicious Islamic sectarian organisations as a conspiracy by the West to make Pakistanis question the contentious Blasphemy Laws.
First of all, as usual, before spouting this claptrap, such TV hosts have absolutely no substantive proofs ever to back their demagogic finger-pointing rituals.
But utmost is the fact that the tongue-wagging gentleman had himself been embroiled last year in a stunning controversy where he was directly accused by his former party, the MQM, and some bold journalists, for initiating and encouraging attacks against Punjab’s Ahmadiyya community through his show.
Thus, what moral right does this highly animated fellow has to even address the issue of the attacks in Gojra, let alone offer bizarre and thoroughly unreasonable theories, pointing fingers at the usually elusive and unsubstantiated conglomerate of conspirators?
His self-righteous and delusional take on the said issue must have come as a hurtful bolt of insensitivity to those who lost their loved ones in the insane fires of fanaticism that almost completely burned down the Christian community in Gojra.
I would also like to question the mainstream TV channel he is a part of; a channel that usually loves to harp about its love for democracy, tolerance and justice, but continues to give wide open spaces to so-called ‘experts’ and ‘Islamic scholars’ who have actually turned religion into a licence to rationalise hate and half-truths.
It was a disgrace watching the same gentleman gleaming and rubbing his hands last year as one of his ‘scholar’ guests lashed out at the Ahmadiyya community, creating a tragic commotion against the community in Lahore.
The host showed not even the slightest indication of expressing any kind of remorse, and neither did the channel even when certain leading newspapers ran stories, editorials and articles on the event.
Next up was his even more bizarre reaction to the Swat girl’s flogging episode. He first condemned the event, mainly because his channel was one of the first ones to break the horrifying news.
However soon, the host suddenly took a sharp turn and started hurling abuse at the supposed ‘agents’ of the West and India, who he claimed were behind the flogging ‘drama,’ and also mocked liberal Pakistanis for exaggerating the issue.
He called such Pakistanis ‘enlightened’ with such venom and sarcasm that it seemed he was rooting for obscurantist darkness over spiritual and secular enlightenment.
After all, the whole notion of obscurantism is tailor-made for exactly such characters who hide behind their televised celebratory status, constructed from unsubstantiated accusations, a warped understanding of religion and politics, and more so, a smug and arrogant insensitivity towards the emotionally venerable sides of human nature.
The truth is, such men, who are these days a dime a dozen on the mainstream electronic media for entirely cynical economic reasons on the part of the channels who hire them in their mad race for ratings, have been of no service at all to the religion and the country that they claim they are there to save from supposed ‘anti-Islam/Pakistan forces.’
Not even once have these elusive forces convincingly been exposed — at least never through any academically and journalistically sound proofs and sources, but instead rhetorical hate speeches or a messy jumbling up of bits and pieces taken from populist conspiracy theories found in anarchic pulp literature, unsubstantiated cyber rants, and low-budget B-movie ‘documentaries’ are used to build fiery narratives that claim to offer ‘facts’ and ‘expose’ the workings of the forces that are creating sectarian, religious and political turmoil in Pakistan.
The fact that the channel actually decided to give its host the space and freedom to comment the way he did on the Gojra incident when the scars of the event were still fresh and bleeding, shows just how obsessive we become to at once promote and propagate half-truths just to defend and obscure the hollowness of that pretence of tolerance and equality we all love to portray.
A shame indeed.