Intolerance, politics going hand in hand.

THERE was a time when the people of Pakistan were afraid of religious sectarianism. They thought the wave would potentially wipe out everything else. Somehow or the other the threat was controlled, though not eliminated. The recent threat, almost of similar intensity, is that of politics of intolerance. If anything, its grip on the affected is clearly more blinding than much else.

For instance, we had never heard of family feuds and friction among friends due to disagreement in a discourse involving religious views. But in a parallel world, this is happening all the time if people are discussing current politics in Pakistan. And who is not discussing it? None.

Politics is an important component of socialisation and education. It helps people become aware of their rights and to know about their duties. It enacts positive changes in society and urges people to speak up when their rights are usurped in any sense. It creates a sense of meaningful identity among the masses, and has an impact on the way people think and act. But, unfortunately, all this seems to carry nothing but textbook value in Pakistan. In practical terms, we clearly live in a different world.

The rise in intolerance is not a sudden happening. The phenomenon definitely has its history and reasons. Pretty much since independence, we have not been practising politics in its real sense. It is no wonder, then, that political instability has become a teasing tale for us. We have politicians who don't think twice before injecting their own ugliness into the minds of their followers.

There is a clear-cut difference between freedom of speech and hate speech, between dissent and bigotry, between objectivity and prejudice, between criticism and...

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