1. Am seeing quite a few people saying 'liberals' need to recognize how extremism of the sort espoused by the TLP enjoys popular support, and that secular/progressive politics is both marginal and hegemonic at the same time (somehow, depending on the commentator).
2. Do religious parties and organizations enjoy mass support? Yes. Is some of this support an expression of discontent with a political and economic system dominated by venal elites? Perhaps. Have the Left and liberals (not the same) failed to capitalize on this? Sure.
3. But let's not miss the wood for the trees. The TLP and similar outfits have gained power after decades of the state weaponizing religion to legitimize itself and attack those who question it.
4. Are many people genuinely religious? Of course. But as the persecution of Ahmedis and the use of the blasphemy law shows, for example, the conversion of religious sentiment into violent, intolerant hatred is facilitated by the broader legal and political context.
5. Put differently, would extremist organizations have as much purchase in society if they had not been cultivated as strategic assets by the military establishment? If they had not been pandered to by civilian leaders boosting themselves through appeals to religion?
6. Similarly, have secular and progressive forces failed due to the poverty and inadequacy of their ideas, or is it due to decades of state-led violence and repression aimed at quashing dissent?
7. Also problematic is the idea that if the TLP enjoys popular support, it must reflect what people want. Should we assume, then, that hundreds of thousands of people are irredeemable bigots who lack the agency to respond to alternative narratives if/when they are given space?
8. Pakistan's political system is dominated by military and political elites who have systematically worked to protect their narrow interests while excluding and suppressing forms of politics and ideological narratives that might challenge their hegemony.
9. Religion has long been a tool wielded by the military and political elite to secure their interests, and many observers are not wrong to point out how, after decades of state-led efforts, religious extremism is proving to be a potent force for popular mobilization.
10. What this shows, however, is the need to dismantle the political and economic system that has produced this outcome. The struggle against extremism cannot be won without challenging those who preside over this cynical system of manioulation, exclusion, and exploitation.

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More from @HassanJavid_

20 Aug
Understanding dynastic politics in Pakistan - A Thread
1. In debates on social media, critics of the PTI are often accused of supporting 'dynastic' parties. The idea is that because the PPP and PML-N are headed by members of a single family, they are inherently undemocratic and incapable of articulating other interests.
2. While there are plenty of questions that can and should be asked about the extent to which these parties are internally democratic, I think it is important to remember that the problem with 'dynastic' politics extended beyond the party leadership.
Read 17 tweets
20 Aug
An #OSINT thread on Foreign Funded Agents in Pakistan.
1. As a member of Pakistan's #OSINT community, I try to unearth grave threats to national security that mainstream sources refuse to discuss because of their own treacherous agendas. One thing I am increasingly concerned about is foreign money being used to recruit local agents.
2. In the ten minutes I spent on Google looking for evidence of these conspiracies, I was stunned to discover that actors working at the highest levels of government and policy have been taking foreign money for years! ImageImageImageImage
Read 11 tweets
28 Jul
1. 'A Kalashnikov bullet travels at 800 meters per second. A Mujahid has the forehead of a Russian in his sights 3,200 meters away. How many seconds will it take the bullet to hit the Russian's forehead?'. This question was in textbooks used in KP and Afghanistan in the 80s & 90s
2. Back then, the US helped fund 'education' initiatives explicitly aimed at radicalizing young people through propaganda that glorified the idea of waging holy war against the Russians in Afghanistan. These textbooks remained in circulation until the early 2000s.
3. While violent propaganda of this kind has (hopefully?) been expunged from contemporary textbooks, there is plenty of problematic content that demonstrates a fundamental point: The Pakistani state has always used textbooks and curricula to push its ideological agenda.
Read 18 tweets
27 Jul
1. It's difficult to comment on the proposed Single National Curriculum until the document is made public. Fears that it will allow the state to indoctrinate students with religious and nationalist dogma are not misplaced, but remember this has already been happening for decades.
2. Pakistan Studies and Islamiyat already serve as vehicles for spreading the state's official ideology, the imprint of which can also be seen in other subjects. Just take a look at textbooks on science or the humanities to find evidence for this.
3. Also remember that laws like the Punjab Curriculum and Textbook Board Act of 2015 enable the state to regulate what is taught in schools and ensure it conforms to the state's nationalist and religious narrative.
Read 10 tweets
28 Jun
1. Dr. Farrukh Saleem has written another article defending Pakistan's high defence spending. I have already commented on similar arguments he has made in the past, and would like to respond to a few of the points raised in this latest piece.

2. The first point Dr. Saleem makes is that it is acceptable to not include military pensions as part of the defence budget. He argues that retired military personnel become civilians once their service ends, making it valid to categorize their pensions as a 'civilian' expense.
3. However, as the article states, the decision to designate military pensions as a 'civilian' expense is a relatively recent one. Indeed, the switch was made in 2001 by the Musharraf government. Prior to that, military pensions were included as a part of the defence budget.
Read 26 tweets
25 Jun
Overthinking Imran Khan's 'ideology' - a thread
1. Back in 1994 or 1995 Imran Khan visited my school. He was there to raise money for the Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital, but much of the time he spent speaking focused on what he called 'brown sahibs' - local elites impressed by and beholden to the West.
2. Back then IK railed against 'brown sahibs', saying that they were responsible for Pakistan's subservience to the West and its lack of progress. It was only by challenging these elites, and the Western hegemony they served, that Pakistan would be able to prosper.
Read 23 tweets

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