Age of extremism | Pakistan Today

Age of extremism

With education increasing in numbers around the world, one would expect more tolerance and less bigotry. Literacy would pave the way for future generations, or so we thought. But it turns out, as time progresses, so does the mindset of the people. Despite Hillary Clinton being the quite obvious better choice, a man considered nothing short of a joke found himself holed up in the Oval Office. The extremist ideology with intolerance on display had its day in the field. Donald Trump, despite his bigoted mind and hawkishness won the US presidential election and became the leader of the free world.

Building a wall to keep out Mexicans and banning all Muslims from entry remained among his foremost agenda items as he assumed power. Such short-sightedness and belittled mindset was comfortably elected to the top office in the USA, and thus the world. Trump’s win only signifies the presence of more extremist sentiment in the general public and less tolerance as opposed to the past. It’s possible that such sentiment is brewed by the ongoing economic meltdown worldwide with people competing for every little thing in their lives. Some perceive it to be the survival of the fittest or so it seems. Nevertheless, the devotees of intolerance and bigotry speak their minds through the ballot in this day and age. In spite of the presence of countless educated people, the US literate class lost to a lost cause. Trump’s condescending smile materialised into reality with his opponents being bullied back into their homes.

In a far-off world, thousands of miles away, the people of India, in the shape of Narendra Modi, have a Donald Trump of their own. The man already responsible for inciting violence in Gujrat, is a known fanatic and a strong adherent of violence. Coupled with his thirst for violence, Mr Modi is further known for his intolerance towards religious minorities, mostly Muslims. Yet, he found himself seated as the Prime Minister of India, and more than once came close to a nuclear stand-off with Pakistan during his incumbency.

During his first campaign, the entire narrative of his election was built around targeting Pakistan. Inciting the youth of his country in a tirade against Pakistan, Mr Modi beat the war drums and flared up the crowds as if his election was a quest against arch-rival Pakistan. The campaign even included promises of targeted strikes within Pakistan as soon as he assumed charge. These escapades got him elected once and Mr Modi was sworn in as the Prime Minister of India to the utmost disgust of minorities in his country.

It is evident that we are currently living in an age of extremism, where the common man would rather vote for an extremist who shared his violent views as opposed to an educated, literate person advocating simpler ways to overcome the existing predicament

Nearing the end of his tenure, Mr Modi again employed the age-old tactic of creating war hysteria and diverting his country’s focus from his failures to their western border. Naturally, during times of a national emergency, the larger focus would remain on the possible adventures on the border as opposed to Modi’s incompetence as a leader for the past years. To top it all, his opponents lacked the nerve to take him down and build a narrative of their own. They did exploit his military adventures, but were largely unsuccessful as the Indian media fully collaborated with Modi during the war hysteria.

Once shot-down IAF pilot Abhinandan was safely back on Indian soil, Mr Modi even sold the narrative that Pakistan had cowered before his threats and bowed to his pressure and had immediately returned the pilot safe and sound in fear of backlash. As satirical as that may seem, the Indian public with the active support of the media did buy the story to some extent.

By making the possibility of a military conflict flare up, Mr Modi effectively outmanoeuvred any and all criticism of his failures as a leader in the past. The intense campaign led by his opponents did not gain traction against Mr Modi as he continued to cash in on extremist thoughts and ideas. The Pulwama incident and the escalations in the aftermath paved way for Mr Modi’s victory as he transformed his promises into action by sending in the armed forces across the Indian border. The ‘surgical’ strikes were enough for the Indians to rally behind their leader. Hardcore, extremist Hindus triumphed as Modi continued to increase the pace of tensions between the two countries.

Not only did the escalation take place, but Mr Modi was careful in taking a step back when the situation so demanded. It seems he never intended entering into a full scale confrontation with Pakistan. He wanted to remain subtle enough to secure himself another tenure in the Lok Sabha as the Leader of the House.

As fate would have it, the Indian public and peace in the South Asian region became the first casualty of the Indian general elections. With Mr Modi returning to power, his opponents are likely to face the brunt, including Muslims who fiercely opposed him during the polls. Peace and stability in the region, on the other hand, will continue to be on its toes with Mr Modi sitting on the Indian trigger. He has proved himself to be trigger-happy. Kashmir, for one, has seen the blood of dozens spilt during his reign. It seems that another string of tougher years is likely to engulf the freedom of the Kashmiris in a dark shadow in the shape of Mr Modi. Tougher sanctions against the Kashmiri public are likely to be unfolded during his second tenure.

With the likes of Donald Trump and Narendra Modi enjoying themselves in the corridors of power, it is evident that we are currently living in an age of extremism, where the common man would rather vote for an extremist who shared his violent views as opposed to an educated, literate person advocating simpler ways to overcome the existing predicament. Lashing out on the weak, it seems, is the preferred option in this day and age. Instead of learning from the history, we are more likely edging back to the times where wars will be fought over food and water. Extremism, it seems, will have its day in the field.