Growing polarisation in the society
IN a vibrant democratic dispensation, it is rather an encouraging notion to have diversity in opinions. Diversity opens up new avenues to purge the society of status-quo.
Democracy itself has always been an explicit proponent of the freedom of speech and encourages the right to association. With such diversity emerges a vigorous democratic society.
Interestingly the diversity turns into ignominy when it causes the fragmentation of the society on the ethnic, religious or on political grounds.
Similarly, Pakistani society has gone through deep political changes that unleashed a systematic polarization culminating into sharp differences not only within the country but within the families at large.
The deeper we dig into it, the more frightening outcomes we get. Initially, it all started with the political rhetoric of maligning the rival politicians by Mr Khan with unduly calling them names and addressing them as ‘foreign agents’ and ‘traitors’. This trend has unfolded to an extent that no political leader feels safer within public sphere.
The fateful incident at Masjid-i-Nabvi followed by miserable treatment with Ahsan Iqbal in a restaurant, more recently the crowd hurling abuses in a disrespectful manner at Maryam Aurangzeb in London all are the outcomes of political polarization of the country.
When the polarization in the society reaches an alarming extent, it ends up dividing the families, causes the relationships to unravel and begets unjustified hatred and abhorrence amongst the individuals.
In contradiction, the societies which are rooted on sound political grounds does not yield to this social and political evil.
Putting it into more accurate manner that the societies which have deep rooted political wisdom and mature political institutions does not succumb to the curse of polarization.
Thus, having a sense of political awareness leads the entire society to a smooth and peaceful functioning of democracy.
Another major element that serves as the proponent of polarization in a society is continuous demonization of opponents.
In doing so, people quite often use slang and unduly call names to the opposition as saying them Dakus or Gaddars which has left a narrow space for the diversity in opinions to exist. We as Pakistanis have grown in truly a polarised society but in recent times this trend has caught an unprecedented acceleration where no one feels safe.
Since the rise of Imran Khan on the high echelons, this vilification to the politicians has become a new normal in the society.
Ironically the media in Pakistan has always served as the agent where the narratives of division and hatred are intentionally injected in public minds. These rhetoric amplified in media further brings democratic evolution to a complete halt.
Thus, the media in Pakistan is eroding the concept of mutual respect and is questioning the very existence of diversity of opinions in Pakistan.
Pakistan, an already disgruntled society, has been further propelled into political commotion by the way the politicians deal with their rivals.
Resultantly, the public seems weary of such an unprecedented division of the society. The gloomy picture of state of affairs in the country has squeezed the space for the various narratives to exist causing public alienation from the system.
The country where merely a 55 to 60 per cent of public turns over to vote cannot live up to the threats posed by political polarization.
Conclusively, the only way to come out of this crisis is to stop mud-slinging and to keep the difference aside for the greater national cause.
The national cause is to develop Pakistan into a formidable democracy and a prosperous nation.
Our politicians need to come to a negotiating table set a standard in political system from which no one would be able deviate. Instead of dirty politics, they ought to focus on more genuine economic and social issues. If this polarization in the country is not checked, it may unfold undesirable consequences for us
—The writer is independent researcher at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad