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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pakistan: Secular or Theocratic State?


After 63 years of independence, some people still raise the fundamental question: 
Why was Pakistan created? 
While some prefer to emphasise the economic independence within secular Pakistan, others dream of theocracy like Iran. They try to support their perceptions by misquoting and twisting sayings of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. Both are far from the reality. This fundamental question has been settled through Objectives Resolution, adopted by first constituent assembly on March 9, 1949, and subsequently by all assemblies till now. Any ambiguity was further clarified by Liaquat Ali Khan, the 1st Prime Minister of Pakistan, also a close associate of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, in his speech on the Objectives Resolution, March 9, 1949. 
"Pakistan was founded because the Muslims of this sub-continent wanted to build up their lives in accordance with the teachings and traditions of Islam, because they wanted to demonstrate to the world that Islam provides a panacea to the many diseases which have crept into the life of humanity today."
"Islam does not recognize either priesthood or any sacerdotal authority; and, therefore, the question of a theocracy simply does not arise in Islam. If there are any who still use the word theocracy in the same breath as the polity of Pakistan, they are either labouring under a grave misapprehension, or indulging in mischievous "propaganda."
"The Preamble of the Resolution deals with a frank and unequivocal recognition of the fact that all authority must be subservient to God. It is quite true that this is in direct contradiction to the Machiavellian ideas regarding a polity where spiritual and ethical values should play no part in the governance of the people and, therefore, it is also perhaps a little out of fashion to remind ourselves of the fact that the State should be an instrument of beneficence and not of evil."

"The Muslim [in Pakistan] shall be enabled to order their lives in the individual and collective spheres in accord with the teachings and requirements of Islam as set out in the Holy Quran and the Sunnah"
[Excerpts: Liaquat Ali Khan, the 1st Prime Minister of Pakistan, on the Objectives Resolution, March 9, 1949] . Read more >>>> 

BBC-Urdu




Monday, March 28, 2011

Pakistan: A revolution against whom?


In Pakistan, there may be a public disconnected from the power of the State, but there is no 'regime' to revolt against.
Pakistan's politicians may be discredited, but analysts see little outlook for major political changes 
Pakistan is a country often described as being on the brink – of what, precisely, is up for speculation. There are fears economic, social and political crises, separately and simultaneously, will cause the country to implode into an ungovernable, anarchical mess: a failing, if not failed, state.
Indeed, there are those who argue that this has already happened.
On the one hand, it is difficult to argue with the point that the country is facing simultaneous challenges on several fronts.
With inflation on basic household items at 18.88 per cent (according to government figures) and unemployment at an estimated 15 per cent (according to the CIA’s World Factbook), households in Pakistan are feeling the economic pinch.
Simultaneously, the country appears to lurch from one political crisis to another. The latest issue in the political sphere could have come straight out of a spy novel: the case of Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor who shot and killed two Pakistanis on a Lahore street who he said were attempting to rob him, and was then released after the payment of $2.3 million in compensation to the victims’ families.
The opposition, led by Nawaz Sharif's PML-N party, has slammed the government for dithering over the issue of whether or not Davis had diplomatic immunity, and for allowing the deal to be struck, terming it a question of sovereignty.
Meanwhile, the opposition also continues to criticise the government for its performance on service delivery, revenue generation, economic policy and foreign policy (specifically its stance to tacitly stand by the US and its use of drone strikes on Pakistani territory, while simultaneously being unable to curb extremist attacks in the country).
Things do not appear much better on the social front, with public discourse lurching towards an ever-narrower view of what is acceptable, as evidenced by the recent killings of Shahbaz Bhatti, the federal minister for minorities, and Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab, for their stance against the country's blasphemy laws as they currently stand. Analysts argue that the murders are indicative of a country where the social sphere is going through an upheaval that leaves less and less space for liberal discourse.
It is the Davis case, though, that Imran Khan, the leader of the Pakistani Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, believes will be the spark that lights public discontent into a mass uprising. Speaking to Time magazine, he says the country is "completely ready" for a revolution, "even more … than Egypt was".
Khan called for mass rallies to be held on the Friday after Davis was released, but only a few hundred people showed up at the PTI's gatherings. Several religious parties, too, called for demonstrations, but were unable to create significant momentum. This after weeks of rallies in several cities where thousands would call for Davis to be tried and hanged.
So what's the difference, then, between Pakistan and Egypt, or Tunisia, where popular uprisings based on several of the same push-factors (high inflation, rampant unemployment and a public that feels completely disconnected from the power of the State) have occurred?
"You quickly run out of the similarities [with Egypt and Tunisia]," says Cyril Almeida, an Islamabad-based columnist. "Far more interesting, and numerous, are the differences."
Almeida points out that the uprisings currently being seen across the Middle East are aimed at "long-running dynasties or autocratic rulers".
Protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, Manama’s Pearl roundabout and Sanaa’s University Square were united by one slogan: "The people want the fall of the regime".
"In Pakistan … we get rid of our dictators every ten years or so… There is no 'regime' to overthrow … the first question is: an uprising against whom?" asks Almeida.
And it is that question that strikes to the heart of the difference between Pakistan and Arab states that are currently facing political upheaval. The political landscape in the country is fundamentally different from that of the Arab states where uprisings are currently occurring, because while protesters in Tripoli, Sanaa, Manama, Cairo, Tunis and other cities were calling for dictators to be overthrown and free and fair elections to be held, Pakistan has no 'regime', and already holds elections.
"Why would you need an uprising against Asif Zardari [Pakistan's president] when you know 24 months from now that he's going to get chucked out? Who do you revolt against?" asks Almeida.
"You can argue that there can be a popular uprising against the political system itself, i.e. against electoral democracy predicated on routine elections and transfer of power, but then you're in a very different kind of uprising," he says.
Dr Hasan Askari Rizvi, a professor of political science and a political analyst, agrees.
"It is different [from the Arab world] in two or three respects," he told Al Jazeera. "First, the political system is not so oppressive in Pakistan, and you have a lot of freedom to express your views to organise against the government, set up political parties. And the media, unlike the media in the Arab world, is very free."
Moreover, Pakistan arguably already saw its own popular uprising in 2007, when lawyers led a successful political protest movement against former president, General (retd) Pervez Musharraf.
Second, Rizvi points to an existing framework of elections allowing for governments to be changed.
His third point, however, is as telling as the question of who to revolt against:
"Unlike Egypt, or even Tunisia, there is a lot of fragmentation, both political and religious. Split after split – the situation is very polarised in Pakistan. And the religious parties are too ideological and more literalist in their approach than the Islamic parties in [those countries]. The possibility of a nationwide uprising that involves all sections of the population – all political, ideological and ethnic groups – that  kind of possibility is very limited."
Rizvi says that while there are "common factor[s]" in the population of Pakistan being very young, an "acute dissatisfaction with the performance of the government at all levels, whether federal or provincial", and "widespread alienation from the rulers and the democratic experiment", the greater danger in Pakistan is of a government that is unable to govern.
"Pakistan is threatened with a state of anarchy," he says, "rather than a nationwide agitation that would topple the government… the situation may be different in Pakistan, but that doesn’t necessarily mean things are stable."
An economy in crisis
Economically, too, Pakistanis are caught between a (increasingly expensive) rock and a hard place. With prices of household goods spiraling (though below the inflation levels of more than 20 per cent seen in 2008), and limited opportunities for work for both skilled and unskilled labour, they are feeling the pinch.
Kaiser Bengali, a well-respected economist who has worked with the Pakistan People’s Party-led government in the past, argues that the situation in the rural areas is not as bad as in urban centres, where "manufacturing is in a state of recession".
For Bengali, the main issue remains one of revenue generation. Without adequate revenue, the government continues to run a deficit of around six per cent, two percentage points above what was agreed under the terms of an International Monetary Fund emergency loan taken a little over two years ago.
Tax collection rates remain low, and "any new tax would meet opposition", Bengali says, because taxes that target industries would hurt the PML-N’s primary electorate in Punjab.
"Currently the government is trying to meet the deficit [targets of four per cent set by the IMF] by cutting development expenditure," he told Al Jazeera. That means less money for everything from road and infrastructure construction to income support programmes for the country's poor.
Bengali argues that between fighting an insurgency, providing flood relief and a "stagnation" of revenues, the government is forced to "squeeze" on development projects that not only provide infrastructure, but also jobs.
In recent months, the government has seen a large amount of political wrangling over the issue of a Reformed General Sales Tax (RGST) and a proposed agricultural tax that would target large landholdings.
Bengali argues that the RGST, an indirect tax, in actuality targets large industries as much as it does consumers, and that the agricultural tax is a "good political slogan", but difficult to enforce.
In a sign of how dire Pakistan's income emergency is, the government on March 15 unveiled a "mini-budget" that, between expenditure cuts and new taxes, would free up Rs120 billion. The move implements development expenditure cuts and introduces Rs53 billion in new taxes on income, imports, agriculture and other sectors. The taxes were introduced through presidential ordinances, exempting them from parliamentary approval, with the express intention of meeting the IMF targets.
Almeida sums up the economic stresses, independent of the government’s budgetary concerns:
"The economy is doing wretchedly, there is rampant unemployment and lack of growth combining to leave the urban poor particularly vulnerable, if not already plunged into a state of deep economic misery."
Of right wing parties and 'confused idealists'
Activists in Pakistan say that while the economic and political stresses exist in Pakistan, the difference in landscape makes an uprising unlikely.
Al Jazeera spoke to Fahad Desmukh, a Pakistani activist and journalist who has lived in Bahrain, where the February 14 uprising is currently calling for major political reforms, for much of his life.
"Bahrain is relatively free socially, but not politically … opposition activists have been jailed for demanding changes, so the avenues available for expressing social and political frustration are limited," he says. "On the other hand, Pakistan has a much longer history of political activity, with long-established political parties, student groups and labour unions. The parliament and the executive are elected, and the media is much more free. It means there are more avenues to express frustration and 'let off steam', as it were."
Desmukh argues that given the lack of a 'regime' to revolt against, the only kind of uprising that would "make sense" in Pakistan would be class-based, aimed at ending the country's feudal system. He concedes, however, that "this seems unlikely in the near future".
The only other option would appear to be protests against the country's military, which holds great influence over the political sphere, but Desmukh, Rizvi and Almeida all agree that such action is also unlikely.
Beena Sarwar, a political and human rights activist, argues that those calling for a popular uprising in Pakistan are actors "who know they will not come into power through the electoral process – the right wing so-called religious parties… and confused idealists like Imran Khan who seem to have no grip on political realities".
Sarwar says that included in this group are politically disillusioned educated young people who are "alienated from the political process" and are "fired by emotion, youthful zeal and vague ideas of Islamic supremacy and anti-Americanism".
She argues that wide-ranging political change "will come if the political process is allowed to continue", through the political parties and parliament, without interference from Pakistan's military, which, historically, has interrupted democratic transitions with coups.
Democracy’s 'birth pangs'
Rizvi, the professor of political science, and Almeida, the columnist, both disagree, however, at least in so far as the chances of there being any actual positive change.
Almeida says that while he expects elections to take place as scheduled in 2013, "electoral disappointments are likely".
"People forget that the only other option for power [the PML-N] is already in power in Punjab. It mirrors the PPP’s performance … between the PML-N in Punjab and the PPP in Islamabad, there is very little to tell them apart, in terms of incompetence."
"The latest phase of electoral politics is less than three years old, so I don't think there's any fatigue with the system, even if there's genuine tiredness with the current government… Ultimately the great worry for Pakistan is that it may not have enough time to go through the birth pangs of democracy because of the security situation."
Rizvi agrees that the outlook for political change is bleak.
"[The political parties] are good at engaging in polemics, they are good at criticising, but none has been able to present a formula or a framework for addressing socioeconomic problems," he says, pointing to the example of the issue of terrorism, on which political parties "make ambiguous statements and avoid taking a categorical position against particular groups".
"I don't expect [new political players to gain popular support] in the near future, because all the political parties lack ideals and a sense of direction, except in rhetoric.
"The thing I would repeat is my fear that increasingly the Pakistani state system is on a very fast downward slide. If it is not collapsing, it is losing its capacity to function effectively."
With another military coup unlikely, given that the memory of a Pakistan under Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf that was not doing much better is still fresh in most Pakistanis’ minds, and the likelihood of substantive political change from within the existing system being limited, at least in the short term, what appears most likely is that Pakistan will, as it has for so many years now, blunder on.
It is a country riven with ethnic, religious and political divisions, battling multiple insurgencies (in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Balochistan), and facing both economic and identity crises.
"And yet," as Anatol Lieven, a scholar and journalist argues in a soon to be released book, "it moves."
You can follow Asad Hashim, writer,  on twitter @AsadHashim.
Comments:
If there is an illusion of democracy, free press but massive corruption, misrule and anarchy, what else is required for change if Pakistan has to exist as dignified peaceful state? Should we just watch the loot , plunder and disintegration of state? or do some thing to change through:
 1) Peaceful protests, sit-ins against corruption, misgovernance, violation of law, to force political leadership to change. 
 2) Openly support Judiciary in visible way, pressurise government  to implement court decisions, adhere to constitution and rule of law.
 3) If all efforts fail, press for fresh free and fair elections, through independent election commission. 

There are enough reasons to change the status quo, else system of musical chair [PPP, Muslim League and Military] shall continue till some one takes over this piece of land physically, though they are already in control through their proxies.
Related Posts:

Funny Jokers of Political Circus: In Pakistan an average of 20 Pakistanis die every single day in terrorist-related violence. Over the past seven years, total fatalities in terrorist violence stand at 33,467 Pakistanis. In 2010, 7,435 Pakistanis were killed in 473 bomb blasts and 49 fidayeen-type suicide attacks. In Pakistan three out of four Pakistanis make Rs170 per day or less. Imagine; atta sells for Rs600 per 20-kg, ghee for Rs143 per kilo, tea Rs90 for 200 grams and red chili powder Rs64 for 200 grams. Now, welcome to the circus. For our politicians Pakistan is one big circus. MQM is developing a specialty in acrobatics, somersaults to be specific – forward, backward and sideway somersaults plus 360 degree flips, feet over head. PML(N) is becoming a pack full of tightrope walkers some walking along thin ropes while others perform publicity stunts specifically designed to attract attention of voters – nothing much else. More >>>>>

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Reality of “Mardin fatwa” of Ibn Taymiyyah to justify mass murder by Al-Qa'ida and Taliban



حقيقة فتوى ابن تيمية من ماردين لتبرير القتل الجماعي من قبل تنظيم القاعدة وحركة طالبان

The focus of the meeting was the “Mardin fatwa” of Taqi al-Din Ahmad Ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328). Al Qaeda and its affiliated networks have repeatedly invoked the decree to justify mass murder in the name of Islam.
The scholars collectively examined what they described as “one of the most important classical juridical foundations of the relations between Muslims and fellow human beings, namely: the (classical juridical) classification of ‘abodes’ (diyar) as Islamically conceived, and related concepts such as jihad, loyalty and enmity, citizenship, and migration (to non-Muslim territories).” Read Full>>>>>

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Funny Jokers of Political Circus


In Pakistan an average of 20 Pakistanis die every single day in terrorist-related violence. Over the past seven years, total fatalities in terrorist violence stand at 33,467 Pakistanis. In 2010, 7,435 Pakistanis were killed in 473 bomb blasts and 49 fidayeen-type suicide attacks.
In Pakistan three out of four Pakistanis make Rs170 per day or less. Imagine; atta sells for Rs600 per 20-kg, ghee for Rs143 per kilo, tea Rs90 for 200 grams and red chili powder Rs64 for 200 grams.
Now, welcome to the circus. For our politicians Pakistan is one big circus. MQM is developing a specialty in acrobatics, somersaults to be specific – forward, backward and sideway somersaults plus 360 degree flips, feet over head. PML(N) is becoming a pack full of tightrope walkers some walking along thin ropes while others perform publicity stunts specifically designed to attract attention of voters – nothing much else.
JUI has assembled a trained bunch of jugglers. Their head honcho has become an expert in devil sticking, at times juggling with knives and fire torches, while his junior lieutenants juggle balls and beanbags. PPP, in the meanwhile, gets up every morning prints Rs300 crore worth of currency notes and by the time PPP is finished printing notes it’s already time to call it a day.
The Pak Army is fighting on so many fronts, and when it is not fighting it is either making movies about its fighting or playing the ringmaster – directing and stage managing our political acrobats, tightrope walkers and jugglers. Our ringmaster has all the political authority in the world and yet little political responsibility – best of the best some would argue.
The fact remains that Pakistan is burning. The other fact is that there is so much combustible material present right now that the conflagration is spreading like never before.
Who will put an end to the circus and put out the fire? Pakistan cannot remain Pakistan without drastic reforms – economic, social, political plus legal, and in that order. A trillion rupee annual deficit will burn us all and not just our skin but our muscles, bones and our blood vessels.
We all know what Pakistanis need: personal security, economic security and dispensation of justice. The circus must end or Pakistan will be burnt with her citizens in severe respiratory distress. Our acrobats, tightrope walkers, jugglers and note printers must come out of their tent and see the real Pakistan before the tent also catches fire. End the circus and assess the patient’s breathing, his airway and his circulatory state before it is too late.
Some of our democrats actually believe that democracy is the ‘art of running the circus from the monkey cage’. And then there are some who fiercely complain that Pakistani TV has turned our democracy into a circus. To be sure, the circus was already there, Pakistani TV just shows day-in-day-out that not all performers are up to the mark.

The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad. Email: farrukh15@hotmail.com

MQM-Narrow moves

Nadeem Paracha traces the changing ideological shifts of MQM 
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement is one of the most enigmatic political parties. It has been enjoying overwhelming support in Karachi and Hyderabad ever since the late 1980s, in the process becoming perhaps the country’s first true urban party with a significant middle and lower-middle class support and leadership. Beginning life as a representative of urban Sindh’s Urdu-speakers (Mohajirs), the MQM, at least in theory, shed its ethnic make-up in 1997, even though its core support still stems from the Mohajir community.

Ideologically the party has stood for many things, from Mohajir rights, to secularism to local and development-oriented democracy. Nevertheless, recently it has been increasingly moving towards issues being championed by the country’s small but loud religious groups and right-wing elements in the media. From 1984 till about 1998, the MQM was embroiled in a battle of both wits and fists with the state by practising a rather militant brand of politics, whose roots lay in the economic and political stress that Karachi suffered since the influx of Afghan refugees during the Pakistan-US-backed ‘anti-Soviet jihad’ in Afghanistan.

It was the MQM’s constant electoral strength that kept the organisation intact in the face of the violence it faced (and indulged in) from and against the state and the Sindh-based Afghans and Pakhtuns and political parties like the PPP and the Jamat-i-Islami (JI). The MQM’s activism remained inherently secular mainly due to the fact that it had wiped out the political support religious parties like the JI and Jamiat Ulema Pakistan (JUP) had enjoyed in the city before the rise of the MQM.

When state action against the party came to a halt at the start of the Musharraf regime in 1999, the MQM rapidly evolved into a publicly confessed secular party with a penchant to undertake widespread developmental work in Karachi and a taste for popular local politics. Though throughout the last decade the perception of it being a militant ethnic outfit remained engrained among political groups operating outside Sindh, in the province’s urban centres however, the MQM successfully devised itself as a hands-on, liberal-bourgeoisie outfit.

Throughout the Musharraf regime the MQM remained an integral part of the political scheme and became one of the most vocal opponents of religious extremism and the Taliban while concentrating on strengthening the positive image it had constructed for itself as a party skilled in pulling off vital development projects in Karachi and Hyderabad. After Musharraf’s unceremonious departure, the MQM joined the PPP-led coalition government but eventually its functioning as a federal and provincial-level party failed to match the role it was enjoying as a local level when the PPP-led government suspended the local bodies system.

Musharraf’s departure also saw the relative growth of the Pakhtun nationalist party, the ANP, in Karachi’s Pakhtun-dominated areas as well as of groups close to the PPP in Karachi’s Baloch/Sindhi dominated neighbourhoods. The MQM, the ANP and the PPP (all secular in outlook) are the most prominent parties in Karachi. However ever since the 1980s, the city’s politics has been such that all these parties have had to retain large numbers of armed cadres to keep a presence in Karachi’s street politics.

Many of these cadres are involved in various property-grabbing scams and other criminal mafias, all looking to their respective political parties for patronage. There was thus bound to be trouble due to the animosity between these groups with overlapping economic and political interests. Being struck by the cross-fire are smaller groups such as the Sunni Thereek (ST) and other, militant, organisations that are trying to not only gain support from the vacuum being created by the MQM-ANP-PPP tussle on the streets, but to also venture into the same shady endeavors being indulged in by the more anarchic cadres of the MQM, ANP and the PPP.

Finding itself on the back foot in this respect, the MQM’s top leadership has increasingly begun to shed its secular and liberal skin. It has not only been returning to expressing its besieged mindset of the 1980s that generated the birth of the MQM, but the party is also retreating further back into appealing to the political conservatism that was exhibited by Karachi’s middle-class before the rise of the MQM.

In the last six months or so, the MQM’s rhetoric against extremism and the Taliban and its stance against political-religious parties are slowly being replaced with rhetorical idioms that are re-enacting the party’s old persecution-complex as well as incorporating issues close to small right-wing parties and the populist media. There is talk among supporters who suggest that the party’s changing of gears is also a way to get positive attention from the people of Punjab and some ‘agencies’ said to be champions of the anti-West/India mindset.

But playing to the gallery of this section by suddenly questioning the merits of liberal ideals, and sympathetically relating the heartburn being felt by what is called the ‘ghairat brigade’ over issues such as Aafia Siddiqui’s indictment, Raymond Davis’ release, drone attacks, etc., the MQM has, at best, left large sections of its support feeling rather confused – especially the generation of supporters who’ve come of age during the party’s secular phase in the last decade or so.
By Nadeem F. Parach, Smokers’ Corner: Narrow moves
http://www.dawn.com/2011/03/27/smokers-corner-narrow-moves.html
Comments:
MQM is sharing power with in one form or the other during last two decades. The ''Revolution' rhetoric cursing the rulers [past to present] inviting military intervention does not match with the practice of MQM. History proves that military inventions give nothing but leave in mess. MQM  has never made any serious effort to use its leverage against corrupt rulers to mend their ways. In fact corrupt rulers are plundering with the covert and overt support of MQM, which keeps them in to power. The verbal statements can not be-fool the people except themselves. The speeches are excellent, words reflect true feelings of people, but alas they are hollow, lacking action! MQM is primarily concerned with its local vote bank in urban Sindh, while raising voices to remain in national media. If it gets serious, to national politics it can play a decisive role, but leadership lacks that vision.... 



Friday, March 25, 2011

Leadership Crisis


Did Jinnah, a civilized and urbane man if he was anything, create Pakistan so that these humbugs, supported by our friends in the military – let us never forget this crucial nexus – should preach right and wrong to us? ..... Our highest temples should have been raised to education and science, art and invention, sports and culture. We should have justified Partition by outperforming the rest of the sub-continent. And we should have been able to keep Pakistan together by not giving a raw deal to the people of East Pakistan. May our sins in this regard be expiated. And may we have the wisdom to do something about the anger seething in Balochistan. Are we incapable of learning from the past? ..... Why are our elite classes so dumb and feckless? Why can’t they think through things clearly? And why are they incapable of taking a tough stand where such a stand is required? 
Since the political class has little faith in itself it cannot bring itself to appeal to the good sense of the people. So by default the space thus left vacated is filled by the armies of the benighted. This is Pakistan’s real tragedy, the cowardice of its governing classes. With no convictions to speak of, it is futile expecting them to have anything resembling the courage of their convictions? 
How do we become a normal country? By going back to first causes and purging the national mind of all the ideological deadwood allowed to grow in it. National security will not be protected or enhanced by nuclear capability but by investing more in education and science and industrial endeavour. (Which doesn’t mean we abandon our nuclear capability...only this that we stop treating it like something akin to the holy grail.) And we free our minds of the hypocrisy in the name of religion injected into it during the Zia years. [Excerpts from, 'Reinventing Ideology of Pakistan' by Ayaz Amir,   http://thenews.jang.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=38025&Cat=9 ]
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Zardari’s vision is to stay in power and further enrich his person and his family. End of story. The common belief is he has enough but, by all accounts, we are dealing with insatiable appetites. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s vision is to enrich his family. If a tenth of the stories doing the rounds are to be even tentatively believed, they are doing pretty well for themselves. Names close to the army high command are also the subject of lurid rumours.
But the problem is greater than a few names. 


Pakistan’s governing class as a whole has earned the distinction of being rotten and corrupt. Everyone rightly-placed is on the take. Those not so fortunate are less emblems of virtue than martyrs to opportunities absent or lost.
A leadership thus tainted, compromised by ineptitude and greed, can neither initiate reform nor reverse the tide of obscurantism now washing against the walls of the Republic.


Lest we forget, the armies of the faithful – with their fearsome beards and shaven moustaches, shalwars pulled up over ankles – have never been in power in Pakistan (the MMA’s stint as Musharraf’s co-travellers in the Frontier not really counting in this equation). 
What Pakistan is today, the depths it has plumbed, the failures courted, the follies assiduously pursued, have been the handiwork of its English-speaking elite classes – who wouldn’t be caught dead calling themselves secular but who, for all practical purposes, represent a secularist point of view.

The mullahs have not been responsible for our various alliances with the United States; our entry into Cento and Seato; our militarist adventures vis-à-vis India; and the honing of ‘jihad’ as an instrument of strategic fallacies. This last piece of brilliance came from the army as commanded by Gen Ziaul Haq. Religious elements became willing accessories in this game but were not its inventors.
If the first Constituent Assembly lavished attention on a piece of rhetoric of no practical benefit to anyone, the Objectives Resolution, instead of writing a constitution which was its chief duty, the fault lay not so much with the clerical fathers as with the Muslim League leadership. 
The phrase ‘ideology of Pakistan’ was an invention of Gen Yahya Khan’s information minister, Maj Gen Nawabzada Sher Ali Khan. The central tenet of our security doctrine which sees India as an implacable foe out to undo Pakistan was woven in no madrassah or mosque but in General Headquarters, and a mindset which has been a distinguishing feature of the Punjabi elite.
Our fractured education system is a gift, paradoxically, of our English-speaking classes which have never felt the slightest need for framing a common education policy – the same books and curriculum, the same medium of education – for the entire country.
The army, a secular institution to begin with, has ruled Pakistan. The mainstream parties have been in power. Pakistan’s failures are their failures. The religious parties have been the hyenas and jackals of the hunt, yelping from the sides and helping themselves to the morsels that came their way. Lords of the hunt, lions of the pack, have been Pakistan’s generals and politicians, assisted ably at all times by a powerful and equally short-sighted mandarin class.
If the misuse of religion, the exploitation of religion for less-than-holy ends, the yoking of religion to unworthy causes – such as our never-ending adventures in Afghanistan – has poisoned the national atmosphere and narrowed the space for reasoned debate, the principal responsibility for that too lies with those who have held the reins of power in their hands. Why could they not have reversed the course of events, especially when it lay in their power to do so?
True, Gen Zia’s rule amounted to a visitation from the outer reaches of purgatory. We say he distorted Pakistan, which of course he did. But it is 22 years since his departure, time enough to have healed the wounds he caused and dismantle his legacy. But if the many temples to hypocrisy he erected survive, who is to blame? The Pakistan of today is Zia’s Pakistan not Jinnah’s. But if we have been unable to go back to our founding principles the fault lies not with the zealous armies of the bearded but Pakistan’s secular rulers, in mufti and khaki.
It is not the mullahs who frighten the ruling classes. These classes are afraid of their own shadows. And they have lost the ability, if they ever had it in the first place, to think for themselves. They live on imported ideas and the power of their own fantasies.
It is not a question of the English-speaking classes – our so-called civil society with its small candle-light vigils, usually in some upscale market – standing up to the clerical armies. This is to get the whole picture wrong. It is a question of the Pakistani state – its various institutions, its defence establishment and the creeds and fallacies held dear as articles of faith by this establishment – getting its direction right and then creating a new consensus enabling it to retreat from the paths of folly.
If the Pakistani establishment continues to see India as the enemy, keeps pouring money into an arms race it cannot afford, is afflicted by delusions of grandeur relative to Afghanistan, and remains unmindful of the economic disaster into which the country is fast slipping, we will never get a grip on the challenges we face.[Lets not forget Indian adventures to create Bangladesh, occupation of Kashmir and other disputes]
The raging cleric, frothing at the mouth, is thus not the problem. He is merely a symptom of something larger. Pakistan’s problem is the delusional general and the incompetent politician and as long as this is not fixed, the holy armies of bigotry will remain on the march. 
[Excerpts, 'The clerics are on the march' By Ayaz Amir, News ]


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