Masroor’s Mixed Messages
The election of Masroor Jhangvi to the Punjab Assembly (PP-78) has caused concern in Pakistan. Mr. Jhangvi is the son of the late Maulana Haq Nawaz Jhangvi, founder of Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), a sectarian terrorist group that was banned in 2002. In recent days, videos have surfaced of Masroor Jhangvi giving sectarian speeches, a fact that Mr. Jhangvi was forced to address in an interview with Kamran Khan on Dunya.
Asked about a video of himself expressing sectarian extremist views, Mr. Jhangvi replied that the video was at least five years old and does not represent his current beliefs. “The beauty of democracy is that once you win the election, you not only represent the people who have voted for you but also those who didn’t”, he said. In the same interview, however, Mr. Jhangvi also cited support for his father – the founder of SSP – as a decisive factor in his electoral victory.
Mr. Jhangvi appears to be sending mixed messages by distancing himself to a previous speech while also drawing clear connections with his father’s legacy of violent extremism. If Mr. Jhangvi truly believes that he represents the interests of all his constituents, not just those sympathetic to his father’s extremist ideology, he must clearly and unambiguously condemn and disavow sectarianism and religious intolerance – not only in words, but in his actions.