A friend recently returned from US. He said that right wings (he used the term ‘conservatives’) are coming back very strongly in US. Every where you go, it is Sarah Palin and Glen Beck. Even Newt Gingrich is back in the news. The recession may turn out to be Obama’s undoing and is tilting the US nation towards the right. The right wing media is trying to assert itself aggressively. [Since I am not in US, I cannot vouch for it, but this is how my friend reported it]. From the financial press, I can see that they prefer Democrats over Republicans but the Wall Streeters are not a representation rather hold opposite views than main street.
How about Pakistan. Is it turning right wing? Before I get into that, little bit about what brought this up. Ramzan is here and greetings are being sent to everyone like Ramzan Mubarak, Ramadan Kareem, Ramadan Mubarak etc. The English blogosphere of Pakistan is going nuts over it.
Some have an issue with ‘Ramadan’ saying that we should stick with Urdu ‘Ramzan’ and thwart the wave of creeping talibanization. Personally I could not care less. The Arabs have different dialects and there are different pronunciations amongst them but ‘Ramadan’ is the dominant one. The bloggers/journalists/columnists state that we should stick to pronouncing it Ramzan which is localized or Urduized. What I find ironic is that these bloggers prefer English over Urdu everyday but if there is a tinge of religion/islam anywhere, they feel possessive Urdu. They never complained when pronunciation were becoming Anglicized in Urdu. Moreover, the same bloggers look down upon Urduized/localized pronunciation of “Amreeka” always delineating it in inverted commas. For their information, the native English speakers pronounce it Ramadan.
Then someone recently said to me that why are people wasting so much money and time on greeting each other Ramzan Mubarik. The millions being spent on sending SMS which adds to the coffer of telecom companies and the corrupt government through taxes could have been better used on flood relief. One blogger called wishing ramzan greeting as religious obsessive compulsive disorder. I agree with the first part that better use of money is flood relief work but again I don’t find these bloggers/commentators complain when happy new year or happy valentines day is sent around and millions are wasted or everyone religiously updates their status on such dates when the latter is mainly a commercial day started by Hallmark and the likes to sell their cards and merchandise.
Recently I read an article by Mosharraf Zaidi wherein he talks about the current crisis in Pakistan. His concluding remarks were
Pakistan may be lucky to have a decidedly non-extremist MQM ruling Karachi–but in urban Punjab, over the next decade, the absence of that seat will almost certainly be addressed by a right-of-centre political force. How far to the right is anybody’s guess.
I had commented on something along the following lines which the author deleted later on:
What is your definition of extremists: someone who is right of centre? If the May 12 massacre is not enough to render MQM extremists, then killing of almost 60 pathans in the 4 days of target killing Karachi would justify some sort of extremism. May be MQM is not extremist because it did not target ANP office holders in revenge of their office holder rather indiscriminately targeted roti walas, sabzi walas, bus and truck drivers etc. May be that is what makes them “decidedly non-extremists”.
To the question which way Pakistan is turning, I would say that those belonging to and those who follow Urdu newspapers/media are right wing or right of centre whereas English media which includes newspapers/bloggers and followers of the same are ‘decidedly’ left wing.
And if the western media is to be believed, the relief work being done by banned/islamist organizations is opening the way of talibanization/right winging of large number of population.
NOTE: The definition of right-left wing spectrum in Pakistan is quite different from the one used in US.