Intolerance across the spectrum

  • Political and otherwise


Yesterday was the international day of tolerance that is observed by UN members annually. Pakistan, being a member, does the same but if one were to take a look at the situation on-ground, there is nothing much to write home about in that regard. There prevails rampant intolerance across the spectrum that shows little to no sign of any improvement, at least in the near future that is. For starters, there is the political landscape that has been marred by a level of intolerance that has not been seen before. There has been a gradual and consistent increase in polarisation in society’s political views starting from when the PTI solidified its position as a formidable opponent for both mainstream parties, the PML-N and the PPP, to where it stands now, in power. This process has unfortunately culminated into a situation where the ruling party is simply unwilling to even accept that there is an opposition and rather prefers passing legislation outside Parliament through presidential ordinance while keeping alive an atmosphere of rudeness, disrespect and rashness through its many ministers sitting on the Treasury benches inside Parliament. As a result, there is barely any consensus on major issues ranging from the dire straits the economy is in, foreign policy, national security and the contentious NAB law that requires immediate amendment for it to be more rational and effective. Listening to and understanding the point of view of one’s political opponent without making it a personal problem, is key to any constructive debate that can be had on a given issue. This leads to a healthy working democracy where necessary laws are passed in a bipartisan manner. But when the PM is unwilling to shake the hand of the Leader of the Opposition, actively avoiding the latter when he does visit Parliament; no such relationship can even begin to take shape.

These attitudes are reflected in society as well. Social media has provided a platform of debate that is more toxic than constructive, with more trolling than discussion. From a religious standpoint, extreme views against people of other faiths remain prevalent. How does the government expect others to be tolerant towards those who hold opposing views and ideas if it does not practice the same?