Govt of Pakistan comes under pressure of TLP on the issue of expulsion of French ambassador. By Hem Raj Jain
21 Apr 2021
USA shouldn’t remain a passive spectator on the issue of expulsion of French Ambassador being considered by the National Assembly of Pakistan (ii)- For the victory of ‘liberal Western democracy' the proper handling of TLP controversy by the USA is extremely important.
In his April 19 address to the nation ( as given at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMgq-sZuCXU ) PM Imran Khan talked about contacting all Muslim countries and international forums for taking action against France and any other country which indulges in blasphemy but it hardly convinced any one in Pakistan because Pakistanis know that Imran said (and to great extent did) same thing (about Kashmir after India on August 5, 2019 repealed special status of J&K and converted one State of J&K into two Union Territories) without any result / success worth the name. Hence TLP (Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan) and other Islamic parties (which supported April 19 shutdown call by TLP and which was reportedly successful) didn’t agree and kept pressure on the government with the result that the government has not only lifted the ban on TLP and other concessions to TLP but also agreed hence has brought a bill in Parliament on April 20 on the issue of expulsion of French Ambassador etc. as reported at https://www.dawn.com/news/1619319/na-session-to-debate-expulsion-of-french-envoy-begins
Here it is pertinent to add that Govt certainly overreacted when it banned TLP and arrested its leader Saad Rizvi on April 12 (without any FIR for alleged terrorist activities of TLP and without first giving notice and opportunity to TLP to explain its position). But Govts all over the world do overreact which is got corrected by aggrieved parties by moving the courts of competent jurisdiction. The TLP also could have moved the Court and got the remedy but instead it resorted to street violence which has resulted in huge loss of lives, blood and properties (of government and people). The TLP got increasingly emboldened because not only it was successfully arousing religious sentiments of its workers and other people of THEOCRATIC Pakistan but the government from the beginning was seen by TLP to be afraid when on November 16, 2020 its two ministers signed an agreement with TLP for moving Parliament for expulsion of French Ambassador etc (thus taking refuge before Parliament) though such decisions are taken by governments without any need of approval from Parliament.
In the backdrop of current controversy about France, many in Pakistan (including PM Imran Khan) are not correct when they say that Pakistan was made for 'Islamic Nizam' / Pakistan means ‘La ilaha illallah’. Nobody knows better than Pakistan founder Jinnah that what for Pakistan was made. Jinnah pressed for secularism in his August 11, 1947 address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan but after partition Jinnah got carried away by Muslim communal forces which was mainly due to huge loss of lives, blood and properties during partition for which being a bigger country India is more to be blamed (because there was no provision for population transfer in ‘Indian Independence Act’). During partition had Gandhi, Nehru, Patel etc declared that there would be no population transfer due to violence and every displaced (Hindu, Sikh, Muslim etc) would be rehabilitated back in his / her respective native country, it would have established genuine secularism in both India & Pakistan and even partition-violence would have been much less. Now when theocracy has become a problem to Pakistan itself, it should gradually adopt secularism (as mentioned at https://www.pakistanchristianpost.com/opinion-details/3806 ).
Presently whatever is happening in Pakistan and if the USA tries to bring gradual secularism in Pakistan then it will have immense political impact in India too. Constitutionally secular India has been able to dilute secularism also by taking the excuse of Pakistan in addition to acts of omission by Indian Muslims and acts of commission by Hindutva forces and condoning by other political parties of said acts of omissions and commissions. Hence if Pakistan moves towards secularism then India will have to move towards genuine secularism which will not only immensely impact the politics of Hindutva forces (BJP, RSS etc) but will put especially another national party Congress also in an embarrassing historical perspective hence may not be liked by political parties in India in general but Hindutva forces and Congress in particular. Hence the USA will have to keep this factor in mind while trying to bring gradual secularism in Pakistan
Moreover the USA should also take keen interest in this matter otherwise in the on-going global war against ‘authoritarian Chinese democracy’ the ‘liberal Western democracy’ led by the USA will lose irretrievably if nascent Western democracy (yet to become liberal) in Pakistan (a Muslim majority nuclear country of about 220 million people) presents such a bad example of governance during this TLP (so-called blasphemy by France) controversy.
Therefore the USA should expect (by public statement) that the National Assembly of Pakistan will not come under the undue pressure of communal elements (while considering the bill on the issue of expulsion of French Ambassador and related matters) and instead will usher Pakistan gradually towards secularism.