As we see the pandemic unfolding horrible scenes in India, and ordinary people bearing the brunt of a fascist regime, here in Pakistan, way is being paved for another fascist political party to grasp the power. A few weeks ago, thousands of people took to streets and unleashed violence on police and citizens. The whole country came to halt. Their demand was to expel French ambassador as a response to France’s defense of ‘blasphemous caricatures’ last year. However, this time around the government seemed to be in an aggressive mode, and decided not to capitulate in front of the mob. An operation was launched all over the country. Both sides lost people while many protestors were arrested. In a humiliating turn of events, what came as a surprise was the late night video of interior minister who once again seemed to be capitulated in front of that mob. The tragi-comedy kept unfolding when the government called an emergency session of parliament to discuss whether the French ambassador should be expelled or not. Everyone in parliament seemed to be proving their faith and speaking language of the mob. Even the once-secular-now-islamist Prime Minister who claims that he knows west better than anyone said that the government and TLP have similar objectives. After this humiliating capitulation of government in front of mob, the protests were ended. After two weeks, the ‘banned’ TLP not only contested in NA 249 Karachi elections despite of being banned, but almost won this seat if it had got only a few more votes. If this is not how a fascist regime is established then how?
Hannah Arendt in her book, “Origins of Totalitarianism” brilliantly analyzed the factors contributing to fascism and the politics of fascist organizations. Some of the basic ingredients for a fascist society according to Arendt are unemployment, poverty, and failure of Left in providing masses a better alternative. These ingredients are already there in Pakistan. In addition, the mainstream center parties have lost what was left of their credibility in the eyes of masses. Subsequently, this is the best time for any fascist organization to exploit masses and grasp power. TLP is doing more than best in this task. The seeds sown by a dictator some 40 years ago are being reaped now. Everywhere in this country, there is intolerance, but the sad part is that it will get worse.
One of my known activist from an Islamic organisation was arrested for taking part in the protests. He studies at university on scholarship and works in factory after the classes. I asked him why he and his friends never come out against unemployment and poverty. I was not surprised at his answer that once an Islamic regime is established in this country they would no longer be poor. It is what they are fed with in Islamic Studies courses, on TV, and in sermons every Friday. Their organisation has only given it a practical form. Another perspective of this answer of his is that these people are conscious of the fact that they are being exploited by the system. The only difference is that their solutions are based on an imaginary glorious past. This perspective gives me the reason to believe that all is not lost in these dark times that loom over sub-continent. However, Left has a huge responsibility on its shoulders to give people an alternative. The people who struggled against the fascist NRC and CAA, some of whom are still languishing in prisons or the ones who face sedition charges in Pakistan for giving the masses an imagination of a progressive future are the ones who could take sub-continent out of this miserable present. Progressives of sub-continent need to work closely for a better future, as the symptoms of fascism in both the states are similar. The fascists capitalize on the hatred of the other, as a response we must show people that this hatred is only perpetrated by fascists to grasp power. We must rekindle our shared heritage of tolerance, love and art in front of masses who suffer from state-induced amnesia. The people should know about the history of colonialism to understand how religion was the most lethal weapon used by the colonials to exploit this land of ours, and how both the states are still standing on a colonial skeleton. In contrast to the imagined ‘glorious’ pasts that fascists propagate, we need to make them understand how capitalism and fascism work hand in hand. It is a long road, yet it is the only way to save this beautiful land of ours called sub-continent from yet another catastrophe. This time around, progressives should learn from their past mistakes, and work together.