Living in Denialistan

Raza Rumi

The recent attack on Abdullah Shah Ghazi’s shrine is another reminder of the plain truth that the Pakistani state needs to focus on its domestic crises rather than remain obsessive about external threats. The unholy conglomerate comprising al Qaeda, sectarian outfits and elements within the state has targeted Karachi’s best-known public and cultural space. This is a continuation of Islamist battles against Pakistan.

Yet, apologists remain adamant. Butchering of civilians and annihilation of a plural Sufi culture is a reaction, we are told. First, it was the US occupation of Afghanistan, then the invasion of Iraq and now drone attacks in Pakistan. True, Muslims and Pakistanis are enraged at US policies and its sheer arrogance in dealing with the region. But using anti-Americanism as an excuse to overlook the growing cancer of bigotry at home is disingenuous and dangerous for our future.

Denial is etched in our memory and cultural ethos. Even today we are not willing to admit that the majority of Indian Muslims did not migrate to the Land of the Pure. And that we mistreated the Bengalis. We are also in denial about the ever-growing crop of suicide bombers and how sectarianism has penetrated our society over the last three years.

The truth is that we are a fractured and crumbling society in denial. Even the glorification of our nuclear weapons is an act of denial: such prowess does not provide social services, internal security and economic prosperity. We are paranoid about our nuclear weapons — the common view is that everyone in the world is out to forcibly remove them.

Despite the common perception that it wants to denuclearise us, our military is dependent on the West. American culture is now the standard culture, our students yearn to be in US universities and migration to the Newfoundland remains a desirable ambition. Such schizophrenic realities are also denied and swept under the carpet. Until we confront ourselves and admit some home truths we are not likely to get far.

The reach of Islamism is also palpable. Watch a standard TV show, read the Urdu press (a leading newspaper quotes Taliban links and websites as references and prints their adverts), or participate in a regular drawing room conversation — myths have become real and the penetration of political Islam is capturing the discourse amid confusing globalisation.

Worse, the de-legitimisation project of secular, moderate political parties is ongoing. The wise know that if anything prevents political Islam taking over the state, it is parties such as the PPP, the ANP and the PML-N. Even the JUI is no longer Islamic enough — hence the recent attacks. These forces are a bulwark against the tide of Islamism and its agenda. But the historically naive and complicit middle class of Pakistan refuses to smell the coffee. It beats its proverbial chest over fake degrees, why the ‘corrupt’ are in high places and why the Taliban sympathisers, such as a sportsman-turned-politician, are not in power. It fails to see why reactionary movements are effectively ‘anti-change’. The recent gibberish about revolution and clean politics is familiar but comes at a make or break juncture.

The PPP government, despite its uncertain shelf life, owes it to the people of Pakistan to forge consensus on a new education policy, madrassa reform and developing a national counter-terrorism plan. This is an area where initiative is lacking. Detoxing Pakistan is not a short-term process. It will be a five to 10 year unavoidable battle if Pakistan wishes to remain a viable state and relatively functional society. Reform should start with revisions to curricula and focus on a grassroot campaign against sectarianism. The prerequisites for such reforms are political stability, policy continuity and a growing economy.

Unelected institutions of the state no longer have the luxury of orchestrating games of musical chairs amongst politicos, technocrats and opportunists. ‘Denialistan’ and its masters must wake up.


Filed under Pakistan

21 responses to “Living in Denialistan

  1. Attackers cannot be Muslim (Sarcasm intended)

  2. Talha

    The psyche of average Pakistani has been moulded to deny all that occurs around them as a reaction to the doings of others.

    This is national protocol of the establishment to divert attention from the failures of the state onto conspiracy theories and the ever existing foreign hand.

    Ladies and gentlemen, we have been duped by these people for a very long time. Do not believe what they say but demand what you need.

  3. Talha


    The psyche of average Pakistani has been moulded to deny all that occurs around them as a result of internal issues and rather project it as a reaction to the doings of others.

  4. Hi

    Dear Buddies,
    Good to know about PTH forum and lovely to read you. Go well.
    People who are still in a state of denial or reluctant to merely denounce the menace act of terrorists; also to be held them equally responsible for this whole mess. Why one should be deliberately hushed despite being known the self explainatory historical evidence of unforgettable barbaric acts of “salfi, wahabis?
    The”cult” (wahabism,salfism) granted to Pakistan from one of the most benighted state of “KSA” relatively 40 years back and, since only a handful of hardliners of Pakistani embraced it through their proactive followers of “Ibne Abdul Wahab Najdi (founding father of wahabism in early seventies).
    It is a sheer monstrous dynasty of “IAWN”(Ibne-Abdul Wahab Najdi) in form of a today’s terrorism of “Talbnization”. How ongoing brutalities of terrorists inside the country can be excused and confused, by indorsing the well- planned argument of the reaction of the external forces causes to provoke the minds of people, If that to be accepted for the sake of an argument, how would then to be justified the bloody collapse of “Ottoman Empire”, these very thugs were planted, paid and trained by their old friends (Great Britian) for toppling down the current regime of that time.
    History is hard to remember and easy to forget. How ruthlessly these wahabi Saudis bulldozed the ancient graves of the beloved followers of holy Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) (in harmain shareef) and a lame excuse was given that the Prophet commanded to Hazrat Ali (R.A) that all the marble’s graves to be demolished as it found no sign into Islam. This self made heinous school of thought of IAWN being introduced across the Muslim countries to install the wahabi virus.
    Bush invaded into Iraq to liberate the Iraqi women and killed over millions and on the other hand, quite ironically, jihadi (fisadi) landed into Iraq, raising a slogan lets March to Iraq: “jihad against infidels”. But I was taken a back after got to know to my close friend of Iraq, “I see Iraqi being killed through my naked eyes by these wahabis, he said”. They bloody tried to vanish the spirit of resistance of indigenous movement of iraqi against the invader, instead of supporting them. In long and short, wahabis have always been faithful and well bonafide agents of impearls forces, making their god fathers plane more accessible and successful to accomplish their targets. Who bombed and attacked the holy shrines in Iraq? When the majority of population of Iraq solemnly bases on two groups sunni and shia, which does not subscribe the filthiest approach of attacking holy shrines at least.
    External threat is always there until internal threat alive. The longer the society relentlessly remain fails to address the core issue of wahabism and deobandism , the more the disaster will come.

  5. leghari,

    as a matter of fact pakistani society is a herd of hypocrates who love to remain in the state of denailism.we seldom pratice what we preach.

  6. Ahsan

    “But using anti-Americanism as an excuse to overlook the growing cancer of bigotry at home is disingenuous and dangerous for our future”

    It says it all I think.

    I disagree with American presence here but that doesn’t mean for me to justify for what is happening in our cities as a reaction of all this. We have allowed our brains to become Hermit Kingdoms. Time has come I think where we have to give space to the one with whom we strongly disagree.

    One more point,
    In our ‘constitution’ article 20 guarantees everyone to practice and Yes, PROPAGATE his/her religion but ARE WE ALLOWING EVERYBODY TO PROPAGATE HIS/HER FAITH? Our so called liberal and secular parties I am afraid are captives of reactionary forces. I want to see if they have the nerve to challenge all the religiously discriminatory parts of our constitution.

    Last but not least, you have an inherent right to disagree with me.

  7. Nasir

    a wonderful article!

  8. Jay

    One thing I don’t understand, isn’t going to shrines and praying from or through sufi graves is prohibited in Islam? I simply do not understand, in which way they call themselves muslims when they go to these shrines and pray there. Don’t they know even when you go to Madina people are not allowed to face the Prophet (PBUH) grave and make dua? then why all these people gather to shrines and graves (did these sufi’s ask them to gather like this?) I simply don’t understand

  9. Straight-Talk

    Why these people, angry with the presence of USA in Afghanistan, kills their own people, in their own country and that too in holy shrines?
    How can be the brazen killings of innocent people in a holy places be shrugged off as simply as the reaction against the govt policies in tribal agencies or its support of USA in Afghanistan or as only sectarian war? Are they afraid off to attack the govt and instead kills unarmed people which is quite easy? Are these people really put a thought and employ a little bit of sense and logic when they choose their next scene of mayhem and murder? Isn’t it intriguing that attacks on Abdullah Shah Ghazi’s and Data Ganj Sahib’s shrine does not arouse any passion in the mass, where as they drum up their chest every time on even a very small incidence against minorities in India. Is it dual stand or Denialistan?

  10. Taha Rizvi

    Spot on !!

  11. Feroz Khan

    The so-called secular parties of Pakistan are the biggest beneficaries of denialism in Pakistan.

    The simple reality is that these so-called secular parties never bothered to prepare the Pakistani people for the reality, which exists outside of Pakistani comfort zones of denial. These political parties have no hope or the level of required competence needed to solve Pakistan’s problems and their only avenues to power is to preach lies and make false promises and hopes.

    The people of Pakistan live in denial, because they are encouraged to live there and they believe in a world of make believe, because they were educated to believe and accept that world.

    The question is, who had the power in Pakistan to create this narrative of denial in our national and social, religious and political thoughts and sustain it and in the process, prevent the truth from being exposed?


  12. D Asghar

    @Raza Bhai, it is no surprise that I agree with your spot on analysis. I agree with a lot of interactors as well.I wrote a piece about this suicide bombing business, which highlighted that Taliban strategy of using religion as a shield is doing wonders for them.

    You can pretty much use religion as a shield to cover and regretfully you have plenty of suckers in Pakistan, willing to buy that. Looking at their strategy and state of general public’s slumber, it is clear who is victorious here.

    Lastly, if US was to exit out of Afghanistan, you will see this out of control monster moving in full throttle. The excuse will still be the same. The government being the stooge of “Imperial forces.” These great visionary leaders envision the Pakistan as the new “Jahilistan” and would like Pakistanis to dwell in the caves. Real estate developers are you listening, the new cash cow in real estate is not Islamabad but the caves in KP or Balochistan. :)Regards.

  13. Maryanne Khan

    Feroz says in response to Raza’s having courageously broaching the subject of denial:

    “The question is, who had the power in Pakistan to create this narrative of denial in our national and social, religious and political thoughts and sustain it and in the process, prevent the truth from being exposed?”

    Several of you have pointed to the inextricability of Islam and the national psyche and the fact the religious power mongers are using ideology as a shield. What no one is actually saying (and I would be interested to hear it) is what is at stake – in tangible, economic terms – for these people? Surely, the religious have something tangible to gain in exercising such power over the many who follow them, unquestioning, because they claim exclusive ‘connectivity’ to the Big Boss. Dogma-bullying, shall we say.

    The Reformation in Europe was based on just such power politics, a revolution against the Catholic Church’s monopoly on religious power, yet equally,
    it was also a challenge to its temporal power.

    Where is the financing for Pakistan’s religious groups coming from? Who is footing the bill for their activities and why is it worth the while of the ‘backers’ to incite such social instability? I would guess that one does not need to simply point the bone at ‘India’ or ‘The US.’ The heart of the matter lies elsewhere. Perhaps someone stands to gain within Pakistan.

    As Raza says in making a case for necessary reforms, ‘The prerequisites for such reforms are political stability, policy continuity and a growing economy.’ Yes of course these are the longer-term objectives, obtainable ONLY if action is implemented now. The main issue of whether or not Pakistan survives is the last point, a growing economy and this can only be achieved via the first two. Plus education plus the realisation that a modern state cannot survive if it limits participation in national life to certain ‘approved’ groups at the exclusion of other, ‘lesser’ citizens.

  14. Thomas

    If it is actually true, that the super neoconized “O” administration is thinking of snatching Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, then all bets should be off and we must re-examine some things we currently accept as fact or believe to be true.. Further , it opens the question, has all that has happened been the policy from day one, or more precisely, day 9/11/01? Or just a series of haphazzard occurrences and reactions by governments?

    Perhaps what we are actually witnessing is a masterstroke of statecraft! A putsch of sorts, in which two countries use a third [host] country to affect an attack on their mutual enemy Suppose that [host] country is the U.S. and the country that is the chosen target is Pakistan! and the object of the attack is to disarm Pakistan of their “Isalmic bomb” ….

    There is no end of benefits to those pushing hardest to, first, attack Afghanistan. It would free up India to concentrate on empire’s enemy of tomorrow, China. And it would free Israel up to attack Iran without fear of an Islamic nuclear reply which, while being unlikely, is not altogether impossible. We should not forget how John Bolton werked the deal with India to report Iran to the Security Council [in exchange] for the dispensation from the Suppliers Group exclusion of non NPT signatories.

    Moreover it gives India a leg up in her nuclear competition with Pakistan! Why didn’t the U.S. give the dispensation to Pakistan for her help in extricating Al Qauda and the Taliban…. Pakistan has lost hundreds of troops and spent billions fighting those who resist the U.S. Why??
    Wasn’t it India that first reported that head of the ISI, Pakistan’s chief spy Lt. General Mahmoud Ahmad had directed Ahmad Umar Sheikh to wire $IOO,OOO to Mohamed Atta in Florida?

    [Wikipedia: “On October 9, 2001, The Times of India reported that “US authorities sought his removal after confirming the fact that $100,000 were wired to WTC hijacker Mohamed Atta from Pakistan by Ahmad Umar Sheikh at the instance of Gen. Mahmud,”[5] and although no evidence has been officially recognized, the Wall Street Journal and other media outlets have reported on this alleged connection.[6] The 9/11 Commission Report made no mention of the allegation and stated that the question of who financed the terrorist attacks was “of little practical significance” and that it had “seen no evidence that any foreign government–or foreign government official–supplied any funding.”]

    Anyone who has done any research at all regarding the 911 attacks soon becomes aware of Israeli strange goings on. From the “Art Students” who appeared at government instillations all around the U.S. to the “Israeli Movers” who high fived and videoed the strikes on WTC 1&2……

    What about the way Pres. “O” may have taken the deadly bait when he fired Gen. McChrystal and replaced him with neocon mole gen.Petraeus?
    Way the clever Pres. “O” snookered by that fireing… Notice how it has the same flavor as the Helen Thomas episaode.. Being honest is forbidden!!
    I’m getting tired and wanna go to bed…. You can work out the details using google.. All the dots are out there…. It takes someone like Rick Rozoff to connect then.. What a great job he has done on this article..

    I would walk through fire to ba able to get journalism of this quality.
    Congratulations Mr. Rozoff. Your work is the absolute best I have found!

  15. Amna Zaman

    @talha. Interesting article, the need of hour is to get out of this denial mode that we all have put ourselves into. We must admit the domestic threat we face and address it rather pin on external threats.

  16. Hira Mir

    @talha. Could not have been put in a better way, this is exactly what has been happening in the past with citizens. Maybe it is about time we get the hell out of this denial mode and nuclear dreams.

  17. YLH

    “Even today we are not willing to admit that the majority of Indian Muslims did not migrate to the Land of the Pure.”

    I presume that by Indian Muslims you mean Muslims who are now Indian Muslims… or from regions that now constitutes India… because if you mean Indian Muslim in the pre-1947 sense and “migrate” in the sense of becoming citizen of… then you are wrong. But I know you are a reasonable person and probably not given to writing in a state of drunken stupor, so I am assuming that this is not your position.

    So on the assumption that you mean Indians Muslims from the regions that constitute India today….
    what is this supposed to mean anyway Raza bhai. Who has claimed that a majority of Indian Muslims had or were supposed to move to Pakistan?

    That an overwhelming majority of Indian subcontinent’s Muslims became citizens of Pakistan – East and West – is however also a fact of history.

    And another fact of history… a near unanimous majority of those left behind and who could vote voted for Pakistan in the 1946 elections.

    So what denial (vis a vis migration of Indian Muslims) are you referring to ? Who denied what, when, where? Wasn’t June 3rd plan agreed upon the basis that there would be no transfer of populations?

  18. Hola

    “And another fact of history… a near unanimous majority of those left behind and who could vote voted for Pakistan in the 1946 elections.”

    .. And the Indian liberals blame “Hindu extremists” for asking IMs to go to Bakistan …

  19. Pingback: Raza Rumi: Living in Denialistan « New Pakistan

  20. YLH


    Why should you ask Indian Muslims to leave India?

    Should we ask those Pushtuns who supported Congress to go to India?

    This is not how it works.