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Wake up Pakistan ! Presently the Muslim societies are in a state of ideological confusion and flux. Materialism, terrorism,...

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Competing Narratives & Counter Narrative

Let’s revisit the debate on narratives and imagine the kind of alternative narratives that we require in Pakistan. Can the Constitution provide and strengthen such narratives that may weaken the narratives of non-state actors? Alternatively, will the good governance mantra thrown around by the establishment be enough to defeat militancy in Pakistan?
The Constitution of Pakistan is a comprehensive social contract upon which most parties, espousing different thoughts, agree. Many experts believe that the Constitution has the power to eradicate negative narratives, and that this activity will help in laying the foundations for positive thinking. They argue that it is the only document on which all segments of our society — including nationalist, secular, liberal, moderate and religious forces — are in agreement, despite their divergent views and reservations on certain clauses. They can launch campaigns against such clauses. Political parties can contest elections to seek the mandate to amend such clauses. But, ultimately, this is a written, formal social contract built with consensus — and it binds forces of divergent views and values together. The Constitution and democratic system can ensure transparency and accountability.
Of course, someone else could argue that strict systems, authoritarian rule, and monarchies can also bring about some extent of social order. However, this depends on how one defines ‘good governance’. Can a sort of authoritarian discipline, different types of suppression and bans on divergent expressions be thought of as characteristics of good governance? Which would be considered a model of governance: a functional delivery system with all, or limited freedoms? Most importantly, can such paradigms remove multiple ambiguities prevailing in our society? Would it be enough to actually bring the extremists on the right path?
Those who believe the answer to be in the affirmative would then observe that the country does not need a counter-extremism policy, that it deserves applause for what it has attained in the form of a state of ‘new normalcy’. So what, they would say, if it is not up to scratch in terms of global norms, or that our society seems morbid from the outside. There are many states in the world which are surviving with even worse indicators. Why is the world worried about us? May be we have something beyond mere narratives that worries the world.
   BY MUHAMMAD AMIR RANA :The writer is a security analyst.
Published in Dawn, July 17th, 2016

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