A mob of violent religious fanatics have laid siege to the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi for two weeks now. Fuming and cursing people stuck on roads have become a common sight. This came in sharp contrast to my recent encounter with the Catalonian independence movement in Barcelona. On our way from the airport to the city centre, the entrance to the city was blocked a protesting crowd wielding a Senyera patterned Catalonian flag, chanting Si, a symbolic affirmation of the yes vote to Catalonian independence from mainland Spain. With most of it’s Cabinet members in jail, the Catalonian protesters strategically blocked each side of the road for fifteen minutes each while allowing the traffic to pass from each side at turns. This way they were able to record their protests whilst showing care for the wary commuters’ long tedious journeys and their urgency to reach their destinations. They distributed chocolates and water bottles to those willing to take them. This was in total contrast to the Expressway blockage in Islamabad. Every new messiah of the country, it’s democracy or religion encourages his protestors to behave like enraged Tsunamis. They destroy and disrupt everything that comes their way, be it public life or public property. Some may blame our strange ways to the bloody legacy of the partition, which resulted in extreme violence and bloodshed across divided Punjab. However, this ignores the fact that the movements which led to Indo-Pak independence were largely nonviolent. On one hand, Gandhi is considered the greatest proponent of nonviolence protest movements and peaceful civil disobedience. On the other hand, Jinnah was a firm believer in using only prescribed democratic methods to demand independence. Violence has not been a common theme in the Subcontinents history. Non-violence has been considered the prescribed form of protest till the very recent past. Professor Gene Sharp, who is known as the Machiavelli of non-violence has said that non-violent protest and persuasion are “symbolic acts of peaceful opposition” which are often used to denounce or show dissent towards a specific issue or policy. These methods are also used to gain publicity for a cause. Parades, vigils, picketing, posters, teach-ins, educational forums, mourning and protest meetings are all considered acts of protest and persuasion. Research indicates that there is a positive correlation between civilised nations and peaceful protests. It is often said that violence is the strategy of the religious fanatic. However in Pakistan, all protests in the recent past have culminated into violence or mass destruction of public property. Notwithstanding the state’s role, society’s general inclination towards violence is a contradictory development to the non-violent norms of the subcontinent. It is a given fact that the agony through which Islamabad and Rawalpindi’s people are undergoing has not had much impact on the state in terms of dealing with the ultra-fanatic mob that has taken up stones and poisonous propaganda in the name of God. However, most perplexing to the mind is the internalisation of a culture of violence by the state and society of Pakistan. Both India and Pakistan have developed into states that see ferocious eruption of unspeakable violence symbolising protest. For Pakistan, the culture of resistance changed drastically after Zia’s Afghan Jihad which reoriented the ideals of society and state We witness the violent protesters but we do not see any civil society silently joining hands and standing as a human chain before the fanatic mob which would have been one of the normal courses of action in many nations of the world. People have been standing in front of guns and handing over flowers. Nations have registered their protests against fanatic tyrannical ideologies through banging pots and pans when they were not allowed to speak. These actions have been more potent and successful than any stone pelting or fanatic ideology wielding man. Both India and Pakistan has developed into states that see ferocious eruption of unspeakable violence symbolising protest. For Pakistan the culture of resistance, changed drastically after Zia’s Afghan Jihad which reoriented the ideals of society and state. Post Afghan war there was a rise in violence and intolerance in Pakistan. This is all very well-known and has been discussed many times. What remains to be discussed and propagated is a viable solution to gradually change this culture of violence. Our society has taken decades to evolve into what it is today. A change towards a more humane and peaceful society will be long and slow. Though, through wise policies change will come. A powerful narrative of change can go a long way in normalising nonviolence as a way of making political and civil demands. We need the civil institutions to become nonviolent and then to advocate nonviolence as a cultural norm. It is a shame when a politician responsible for legislation stands up and spews hatred. Responsibility must be shared across board for free speech as a tool for cohesion instead of division. Our education system should bear the heaviest responsibility in the transformation. Education system in Pakistan is a jumble of confusing and contradictory narratives. This confusion around the identity and affiliation for Pakistani children must be tilted in favour of nationalism rather than religion. Pakistan has recently launched the ‘Emerge Pakistan’ campaign, in current scenario, for now the state is submerged into a swamp of violence. The sooner it starts emerging, the better it be for our future. The writer is a policy practitioner, an Oxford public policy alumnus and Oxford Global leadership initiative fellow Published in Daily Times, November 20th 2017.