Punjab Minister and Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu’s stupid statement, that an entire nation cannot be blamed for a handful of people, echoes a long-standing liberal position. Like most liberal beliefs, this one is also patently false and dangerous.
The cricketer-turned-politician, who has been making facetious remarks for quite some time and showering praise on his friend and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, said, “For a handful of people, can you blame the entire nation and can you blame an individual?” The statement was made in response to suicide bombing attack on a Central Reserve Police Force convoy that killed over 40 troopers last week.
Navjot Singh Sidhu: It is condemnable, it's a cowardly act. It needs a permanent solution through dialogue, how long will the Jawans sacrifice their lives? How long will the bloodshed continue? People who do this must be punished. Hurling abuses won't help. #PulwamaAttack pic.twitter.com/R927il2bx1— ANI (@ANI) February 15, 2019
Of course, the awful statement was presented in a bouquet of homilies: “It [the attack] is a cowardly act and I condemn it firmly. Violence is always condemnable and those who did it must be punished.” But nobody was fooled by his platitudes; the stupid idea he expressed was noticed immediately and Sidhu was, rightly, slammed universally.
From his political adversaries to his own Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, everybody is castigating him. But such is his shamelessness and pigheadedness that he sticks to his odious stand. In fact, Amarinder has been upset with his Minister for some time. He didn’t like when Sidhu went to Khan’s swearing-in ceremony and made a spectacle of himself. Amarinder made his displeasure known to all at that time. Recently, too, he said, that Sidhu “must have realized that he had gone overboard with his Pakistan visit.”
Amarinder told a news agency, “Sidhu was a cricketer while I was a soldier, and both have different viewpoints on things.”
This time, it seems, the Punjab Chief Minister is being mild to Sidhu, for it is not a small matter of “different viewpoints” on some policy matter like, say, fertilizer subsidy; the issue involved here is national security, the lives of our soldiers. By expressing his uninformed, puerile, and misleading thoughts, Sidhu is giving credence to the narrative that Pakistan’s deep state is trying to peddle: that Pakistan is the victim and enemy of terrorism, that it has suffered immensely because of violence and thus cannot be accused of terror export.
But Pakistan’s lament that it is a victim of terror is like a drug lord’s complaint that his children have become addicts.
Unfortunately, Sidhu doesn’t see this. Nor does he see, or want to see, that jihadists in Pakistan don’t exist in a social vacuum; they are very much part and parcel of Pakistan society. The society itself is underpinned by the mores and imperatives of Islamism, which has gained strength and toxicity over the years. The education system, the prevalent culture, the political system, the judiciary, television shows, the clergy, intellectuals, opinion makers, the army, the ISI—all have contributed to making Pakistan, to use the title of Sushant Sareen’s book, the jihad factory.
It seems that Sidhu is ignorant of these realities. It will be better for him and his party that he stops exhibiting his ignorance by making stupid statements.