Peshawar Massacre: We Must Hold the Mullahs Accountable

In the aftermath of the greatest tragedy visited upon Pakistan in recent times, the mullahs still keep spewing the rationalizing bullshit that has poisoned our national culture. One example of such venomous rhetoric is the stance taken by the Imam of Lal Maijid, Maulana Abdul Aziz. In his Friday sermon, just days after the murder of our children by the Taliban, he said: “O rulers, O people in power, if you will commit such acts, there will be a reaction.” Furthermore, he also declared that the “operation in the North Waziristan is un-Islamic.” While the first statement posits the murder of our children as a step within the logic of an ongoing war, the other questions the very validity of our fight against the terrorists.

I am sure he is not an isolated figure; there are other mullahs like him who are still rationalizing the Taliban action in Peshawar as a just outcome of a causality linked to the government actions and the logic of war. I am not new to such explanations of complex issues, and most of my work involves putting things in perspective, reading the signs within a context.

But, I belive, the time for these rationalizations and explanations has passed. The Taliban have now crossed a line of no return. As a nation, it is time for us to come together to eliminate all the material and symbolic networks of fundamentalism, terrorism, and violence. Mullah Abdul Aziz lives in a mosque in the capital and he lives with armed guards. Why does he need these gunmen to protect him? Who gave him the permission to convert this mosque into a fortress? We as people must ask our government to put en end to such enclaves of terrorist sympathizers amidst our cities. We must rid our mosques of such terrorist sympathizers.

We cannot expect our government to  monitor and police the rhetoric of all our mullahs, but we as citizens can do that quite easily: we must challenge these mullahs whenever they try to pour sectarian, terroristic poison in our ears. We must challenge them at every street corner in every mosque and madrassa.

Yes, as a nation we have developed a habit of always blaming outsiders for all the ills that befall us. But the biggest reason for terrorism and sectarian hatred in Pakistan is that we have allowed these demagogues to speak on our behalf and allowed them to push their intolerant and violent views on our youth. We must come together to stop these messengers of death and violence: We must report and highlight and expose their lies and their false claims on all forums.

So, for the sake of our children and their future let us come together to hold these Taliban sympathizers accountable.

Masood Raja

Originally from Pakistan, Dr. Masood Ashraf Raja is an Associate Professor of Postcolonial Literature and Theory at the University of North Texas and the author of "The Religious Right and the Talibanization of America" (Palgrave, 2016).