Javed Ahmed Ghamidi , a sane voice among religious scholars, has been threatened out of this country, just like scholar and political philosopher Fazlur Rehman was in the 1960s. When two of Ghamidi’s colleagues were killed last year, he decided to quietly leave the country. Still optimistic about the future of this country, he shares his thoughts with TNS on telephone.
TNS: How do you assess the current situation of Pakistan? Is it leading Pakistan towards becoming a failed state?
Javed Ahmed Ghamidi: I am an optimistic person and I don’t think that Pakistan is a failing or failed state. However, I fear if we did not improve the situation and revise our policies, we would move to such a situation. The kind of role our governments, religious and political parties, security and intelligence agencies and bureaucracy are playing needs to be reviewed. The time has come to learn from past mistakes and to make Pakistan a torch-bearer of peace and prosperity. Otherwise we may proceed towards total anarchy.
By Dr Pervez TahirExtremism, militancy, political uncertainty and economic instability have played havoc with our social fabric. Under the banner of Aman Ittehad (United for Peace), a large group of civil society organisations from across the country has for the past two years conducted a dialogue on critical issues of peace and prosperity. The deliberations have brought up the need for a new social contact. What must be the elements of this new social contract?
At the time of independence in 1947, Pakistan inherited a constitution in the form of the Government of India Act. A Pakistani constitution should have followed, reflecting mutually beneficial rights and obligations and a code of morality embodied in the constitution of a Pakistani society. Before this could happen, constitutions informed by the implicit social contract embedded in the All India Muslim League rhetoric were made and unmade. With the establishment taking over early to set up a national, non-pluralistic agenda, an informal, unwritten constitution of the state gained pre-eminence.
The imperative of building a new nation that negated the recognition of multiplicity and imposed the fictional idea of one nation, one religion and one culture
By Rubina SaigolWhen Pakistan appeared on the world map in 1947 as an independent country, it was an ethnically, linguistically and religiously diverse entity composed of multiple identities. At least five ethnic/linguistic groups - Bengalis, Pakhtuns, Balochis, Sindhis and Punjabis - comprised the major constituents, while a number of smaller linguistic and ethnic groups, within the larger units, represented a segmented and layered society typical of other South Asian nations such as India. The five main components voluntarily joined the new country albeit after some internal conflicts over whether or not to join the emerging nation.
It might have been possible to enjoy the suicidal dance of the politicians if it were possible to banish the fear that our children may not be able to pay the bill
By I. A. RehmanThe gruesome killing of Shahbaz Bhatti and its aftermath has thoroughly exposed the bankruptcy of the country’s political elite. It has been found wanting not only in capacity to prevent a disaster but also in ability to manage its fallout.
That an important member of the federal cabinet was brutally cut down in broad day light in the capital city, that is swarming with more law-enforcing personnel per square meter than any other settlement in the country, and this soon after the assassination of the Punjab Governor, did surely raise questions about the efficiency of the security paraphernalia. While it is probably true that if a group of militants has decided to eliminate a person, even at the cost of their lives, the task of protecting the target becomes nearly impossible. But this argument could not be offered in the instant case as a big security lapse was clearly evident.
Down and out in the South-West Balochistan has been and continues to be a major political challenge for the federal governments of Pakistan - civilian or military. One manifestation of which is that the province is under the grip of an insurgency and remains largely off limits to the media. The grievances of the biggest province, in terms of area, mainly stem from economic deprivation and disempowerment of local populations in the development process, such as the Gwadar Port. Target killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti in a face-off with Musharraf’s military regime in 2006 and rape of Dr Shazia Khalid in 2005 added fuel to the fire of insurgency in Balochistan.
In this backdrop, it remains to be seen if the reconciliation process started by the democratic dispensation of PPP in the shape of Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan eventually bears fruit.