Critical Commentary

Posted on May 14, 2013 by


Extremists Pursue Mainstream in Pakistan Election

            Declan Walsh wrote “Extremists Pursue Mainstream in Pakistan Election” for the New York Times on May 5, 2013.  The article talked about how Maulana Abdul Khaliq is the leader of the group that was going to enter the Pakistan election this week.  He is part of a banned Sunni Muslim group that changed their name in order to enter the general election.  They were fielding candidates across the nation to take part.  The author took a very negative approach to explaining the circumstances.  He tells the story of what the party is trying to do but puts a negative spin on it by using examples and using different expressions.

From the start he uses a negative term by calling the group “Extremists” in the title.   The first time he mentions the group in the article he emphasizes that they are banned.  The wording he uses when he says the group used a “deft name change” infers that the group used a sneaky way to get allow themselves to be apart of the election.  He goes on to mention a public speaking event where the warm up speakers use “typical populist tropes” when they use America in a negative sense.  Since this article was published in the United States, one has to realize that the majority of the readers will take this in a negative tone.  The author then uses his most blatant comparison.  He talks about how “relentless Taliban attacks” have “tilted the field in favor of conservative parties.”  In saying this, Walsh infers that this group is much the same as the Taliban since there would also be considered extremists in this example.  Americans reading this article now have an awful feeling about this group because of this comparison.

Declan Walsh uses many examples of negative acts that the group has done to farther tarnish their reputation.  One of the examples is how he described their group being banned.  HE says that the group was banned in 2002 by president Pervez Musharraf for being a “terrorist organization.”  Again this language really speaks to his American audience.   The next example used refers to the actual bloodshed the group has been linked to.  The specific example is in reference to the group’s “most notorious offshoot,” Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.  What they are responsible for include the following: roadside executions, drive-by shootings and two major suicide attacks in the western city of Quetta that killed almost 200 people earlier this year.  Obviously the author used this data to prove they are an actual deadly terrorist organization.

The final way the author makes an argument against the group is by quoting someone that used to be an ally of the group.  His name is Mr. Hiraj.  The author quoted Hiraj in say the group is filled with “strong fanatics.”   “Fanatics” is another interesting word choice because of the negative feel it has.  He continued in saying, “These people don’t even consider Shiites to be like human beings.  Their first philosophy is to kill a Shiite.”  This is the most powerful statement of the article.  The statement makes this group out to be some sort of monster.

This article is very well written to get the author’s point across.  Declan Walsh makes sure to use techniques that make the group in question out to be very negative.  Three main techniques are evident in his writing.  These include the following: Terminology, specific examples, and quotes.  These techniques could be used in either a positive or negative way, but Walsh used them negatively to make his point.  Overall, Walsh did an excellent job of making his argument and the article was written quite well.

Declan Walsh, Extremists Pursue Mainstream in Pakistan Election, New York Times, 05/05/13

Posted in: Islam