Political repression in Pakistan has reached atrocious proportions. The working poor, Baloch, Pashtun, progressive factions in this country, are victims of the most vicious and calculated forms of class, national and racial oppression, and bear the brunt of this repression. Along with hundreds of innocent men and women — including what in any other country would be considered, the most respectable groups and individuals — are being subjected to police and military intelligence surveillance. Progressive writers, authors, and academics are being barred from speaking at literary festivals, while journalists who do not submit to the line of the state are being asked to resign. It seems that the most important factor to be considered in the midst of this repression is that together with its associated paraphernalia for intimidation, manipulation, and control, it reveals serious ailments in the present social order. That is, while we should not miscalculate the powerful resources available to the state, especially the police and military forces, for the suppression of all forms of opposition (and the monopolization of control over those forces), one can also determine that the necessity to resort to such despotism is reflective of a profound social crisis, of systemic disintegration. In these testing times we also need to interrogate the idea of patriotism. Who is a patriot and who is a traitor? People who have never threatened the state institutions and never asked for the murder of Supreme Court judges are seen as traitors because they only ask for the wellbeing and virtue of their fellow citizens, while those who openly challenge the writ of the state are seen as patriots. If one loves another Pakistan than the one whose laws and policies one criticizes in the present, is this not loyalty? If one is ruthlessly critical of the current state of affairs and is devoted to improving them, is this not loyalty and patriotism? In this sense dissent of state policies and a wholesale critique of the regime is the ultimate form of love and loyalty towards one’s community. Powerful people seldom appreciate challenges or embrace those who do not profess allegiance to their policies or practices. There were widespread calls for national unity in the immediate aftermath of the 2018, general elections. For the most part, these calls demanded resolute patriotism, uncritical support for state policy, and solidarity with a national narrative about our goodness and our victimhood. In this context, criticism of the Pakistani state and its powerful security establishment or dissent from state policy are, quite simply being, equated with disloyalty. And disloyalty, in turn, is associating dissidents with what had overnight become the enemy. In spite of the achievements of movements like the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement, the repressive attack of the state continues. Arrests and trials of political activists are all documented. Officially sanctioned attacks against the working poor of this country grow more intense. The officially directed assaults against the educational system — colleges and universities in particular — continue. State violence in the peripheries is, if anything, intensifying. Still, in the midst of this severe repression; PTM’s struggle demonstrate a political context counterposed to the government’s madness. In Hannah Arendt’s study of Eichmann, she argued that the prerequisite for radical political evil is not some moral or ontological predilection to evil but rather “ingrained thoughtlessness,” and it is precisely such routine thoughtlessness that dissidents aim to disrupt. If citizen virtue consists of avoiding evil, and if evil springs from state’s thoughtlessness, then thinking and speaking itself becomes the penultimate citizen virtue. Progressive writers, authors, and academics are being barred from speaking at literary festivals, while journalists who do not submit to the line of the state are being asked to resign. It seems that the most important factor to be considered in the midst of this repression is that together with its associated paraphernalia for intimidation, manipulation, and control, it reveals serious ailments in the present social order One conclusion follows from this positing of an inherent relation between thoughtfulness and justice and between justice and citizenship, any moral or political belief that is protected from interrogation, insofar as it becomes a thoughtlessly held belief, becomes an incitement to injustice. At such a moment, when the ruling circles must depend consistently on oppression rather than a popularly established legitimacy to govern, it is of utmost importance that the revolutionary and radical-democratic movements maintain an aggressive position, and assume the dimensions of a mass movement whose growth is formal. The most pressing political obligation is the consolidation of a United Front joining together all sections of the revolutionary, radical and democratic movements. Only a unified front — led in the first place by the national freedom movements and the working classes — can resolutely counter, theoretically, ideologically and practically, the increasingly fascistic and genocidal attitude of the present ruling elite. It is for times like these that James Baldwin warned us decades ago “For, if they take you in the morning, they will be coming for us that night.” The writer is a member of the Haqooq e Khalq Movement and is currently working at LUMS as a research assistant Published in Daily Times, November 29th 2018.