‘Intolerance gnawing into society’s existence’
By Anil Datta
Karachi: Extremism, intolerance and economic imbalances have been gnawing into Pakistan’s existence and we have to make concerted efforts to get rid of these evils before it is too late and further crippling damage is done.
This was the consensus among the speakers at the posthumous launch of the book, “Pakistan at the knife’s edge”, by the late columnist and noted journalist M B Naqvi at the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) Sunday evening under the aegis of the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research and the Pakistan Peace Coalition.
Mani Shankar Aiyer, former consul-general of India in Karachi, former petroleum minister of India and presently a member of the Rajya Sabha, fondly recollected his association with Naqvi and lauded the latter’s crusade against bigotry, intolerance, economic exploitation, and Pakistan’s subservience to the US.
“We Indians share Mr Naqvi’s dream,” he said, referring to his impassioned writings for banishing poverty, hunger, and economic inequality from society, and provision of human and fundamental rights to all citizens regardless of caste, colour, creed, and economic status.
“Any country that refuses to grant human rights to its masses could never be called a democracy,” he said.
Recalling Naqvi’s views on Pakistan’s foreign policy, he recalled how, through his writings he had been warning the government of the day in Pakistan against making the country totally subservient to the US strategic interests which, he said, could spell disaster for the country and said that he stood vindicated seeing the social cost Pakistan had to pay on account of its involvement in the US-manipulated Afghan Jihad.
He said it would be totally wrong to say that India was an economic super power. “India will become an economic superpower only when every Indian gets three square meals a day without a hassle. Same for Pakistan”, he said. He candidly admitted that in both India and Pakistan, people’s will did not matter. It was the will of the big wigs.
Later, talking to The News on Indo-Pakistan relations, he said that while the last six decades had been tortuous, there was hope of turning the page and the obstacle could be removed but through earnest and prolonged dialogue. So far, he said, the dialogues that have been going on between the two countries have been sporadic. As for the Track-II diplomacy, like “Amn Ki Asha”, he said that such moves would help but these steps had to be backed by Track-I diplomacy. He was highly in favour of people-to-people contacts.
Karamat Ali, Executive Director, Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER), lauded Naqvi’s role in the awakening of the depressed segments of society. He recalled a speech Naqvi delivered to the labourers on the dangers of Pakistan’s involvement in the Afghan Jihad. “Today we can see his warnings coming true with such accuracy,” he said.
Talking of what he termed the utter anarchy and total absence of the rule of law in the country, he pointed out the way the lawyers were behaving in Islamabad regarding the recent high profile murder of a VIP and said that those very people who were supposed to be enforcing the rule of law were blowing the law to smithereens.
Karamat said that MB Naqvi always held that Pakistan would continue to be at the knife’s edge as long as it was not made a welfare state, and as long as it didn’t banish religious extremism and militancy.
Noted journalist Zubeida Mustafa in her tribute to Naqvi, said that he just was not the one to be deterred by adverse conditions from expressing his views. His analysis and prognosis of events was invariably so accurate.
She said that Naqvi always denounced the US-army-militants nexus and it was this nexus that saw us in the mire we find ourselves in today.
“One has to really wonder at Naqvi’s insight and how accurately he could foresee things”, said Dr Jaffer, Director of the Pakistan Studies Centre at the University of Karachi.” He said Naqvi had so clearly foreseen the fissures which have appeared in our body politic on account of religious extremism, regional disparities, and institutional imbalances. He said that Pakistan would have to clearly define its ties with the US in a manner that they are beneficial to our interests and not those of the US, which was presently the case, he said.
Senator and Baloch nationalist leader Hasil Bizenjo paid glowing tributes to the late MB Naqvi and praised his commitment to social justice and egalitarianism, which, he said, the late journalist projected through his prolific writings. Referring to the recent bloody events in the country, he said that matters had come to a pass where we all found ourselves helpless.
Source: The News