By Gul Bukhari
The National Action Plan (NAP) that came into being after the horrific tragedy of over 130 children of Peshawer Army Public School on in December 2014 is now two years old, and consists of twenty points. Point 5 is ‘Strict action against the literature, newspapers and magazines promoting hatred, extremism, sectarianism and intolerance.’ Point 9 is ‘Taking effective steps against religious persecution.’ Point 11 is ‘Ban on glorification of terrorists and terrorist organizations through print and electronic media.’ Point 13 is ‘Communication network of terrorists will be dismantled completely.’
Point 14 is ‘Measures against abuse of Internet and social media for terrorism.’ And point 18 is ‘Dealing firmly with sectarian terrorists.’
Almost all 20 points of NAP are focused on eradicating terrorism which arises from religion in one way or another. Whether it has sectarian root causes or whether imposition of religious beliefs and practices by force, or by any other means like brainwashing of children in madrassas with the reward of hoors etc. All five points that I’ve mentioned above are related with communication networks and hate speech, and communication of hate speech integral to religious terrorism. However, hate speech is not defined in NAP. And whilst all manner of hate speech the authors of NAP points might have envisioned but not spelt out also remains in evidence to this day, like ‘kafir, kafir, Shia kafir’ by sectarian hate preachers, there is another kind of hate speech terrorism going on which no one in positions of responsibility is taking notice of.
Clearly, allegations of blasphemy with incitement to kill alleged blasphemers is religiously inspired terrorism. It inspires killing of innocents, and creates fear in the general public of being accused of being blasphemers. This fear can be, and is, used to silence all manner of dissent. The NAP committee on ‘hate speech’ alone comprises the most impressively empowered persons and departments of the state: Minister of Religious Affairs, Planning Minister, DG ISI, DG MI, MD PTV, Home Secretaries of all four provinces, Federal Secretary Religious Affairs, Federal Secretary Auqaf, Punjab Secretary Auqaf, Federal Interior Secretary, and National Coordinator of the National Counter Terrorism Authority. Not one of these officers or the departments of the Executive they represent, have taken any notice of the terror via blasphemy allegations that is being orchestrated in the most organized fashion in the wake of the protests against abductions of social media activists and bloggers. The campaign is flagrant, defiant and obvious. It is no longer aimed at the abductees. It now extends to prominent faces protesting the abductions and demanding recovery of the missing. The campaign has transitioned from being solely conducted on social media to mainstream electronic media.
Mr. Amir Liaqat on BOL and Mr. Orya Maqbool Jan on Neo have incited violence against the bologgers as well as against those calling for their production and rule of law. The NACTA committee is not even doing its basic job. Leave alone a crackdown on anonymous social media accounts or Facebook pages, which I am certain the state machinery is capable of getting to, NACTA committee members and departments have not even the real names and faces like Orya and Liaqat. May I remind them that the Supreme Court ruled Mumtaz Qadri, who acted on allegations of blasphemy, a terrorist. Are NACTA members awaiting for the Supreme Court to rule that the allegations are the root of this terror? Or do they have the required common sense to know so already as I do, but not the courage? Here I am, and many other ordinary screaming hoarse to call their attention to this terrorism. It’s not even our job to do so per se, but we do it because we want a sane, safe, secure country for ourselves. But these committee members are paid to tackle hate speech. It’s their job. Yet, they are on the run, neither speaking nor acting against even the most obvious, in-their-face terrorism on mainstream media.
What am I to understand from all this? These committee members are, or ought to be, more powerful than these elements trying to terrorise the population and silence dissent against state atrocities. Are these ‘anchors’ in mainstream media more powerful than the entire National Action Plan and its committee members together with federal and provincial governments?
If the anchors appear to be more powerful against the entire government machinery in this security state, it raises very serious questions. Take the example of Amir Liaqat having conducted a thoroughly inciteful programme against the abductees and the protestors on BOL channel right after the condemnation of such acts by a personage no less than the Federal Interior Minister. The minister condemned this blasphemy allegation circus, citing life risks to the abductees and their families.
But Mr. Liaqat seems to be clearly more powerful than the Interior Minister. If the Interior Minister had the will or capacity he would naturally have gone after Mr. Liaqat for his terror programs. The same goes for the entire NACTA committee. But it hasn’t happened. What is going on?