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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Time for End of Sham Democracy in Pakistsan

Good review of sit & analysis by Akhtar Malik sahib. All the status quo forces have joined hand PPP is also part of this UnHoly Alliance. TUQ & IK are different but can coop on min joint common agenda. THIS IS FINAL BATTLE FOR CHANGE viz STATUS QUO. . political manipulation, gimmick is required to beat crooks who are rich & powerful..


A nationwide protest movement against electoral rigging is in the offing. Imran Khan has announced that the protest will not be stopped till its logical outcome- the electoral reforms to ensure fair and free elections- is achieved. Parallel to PTI, another movement is also being launched by Dr. Tahir ul Qadri of PAT, with the aim of revamping the whole corrupt system that has played havoc with the lives and properties of the citizens. Both the leaders have pledged not to support martial law but to install a real democracy that will reflect the aspirations of poor masses and down trodden strata of society. A number of other political parties and religious will also join the protest.

IK has knocked on all the doors to get justice in his cases against election rigging but couldn't, even after a lapse of one year. The govt of PML-N seems to be ignorant of what all can happen on 11 May and onwards. They had neither taken any action to avert this eventuality nor are they expected to take any now. Only statements like ' foreign agenda', hidden hand', 'derailing of democracy' etc may not help to resolve the issue. Something concrete should have been done to satisfy the aggrieved party.

Over the past one year the situation has been made more complex. As per constitution the election tribunals are bound to decide the cases of alleged rigging within 4 months. As and where an election tribunal gave orders for recounting, the member from Noon went to courts and obtained stay orders. Ayaz Sadiq Speaker NA is dragging his case for 8 months. If PTI went to courts, they ruled that it is the domain of election commission and not the courts. But at the same times courts have been issuing stay orders in the same cases. The point to ponder is- if a system comprising ECP, election tribunals and the Judiciary at various level is unable to dispense justice even within one years, and the sitting govt also feels 'unable' to do anything in this situation, then what is the use of this inept and rotten system which needs revamping immediately?

It is not understood as to why the Noon govt has taken this burden of election rigging on themselves? Noon was not the one who had conducted elections. It was the caretaker govt and judiciary who performed this task. Had Noon govt conducted an impartial inquiry in to rigging, there could have been two scenarios:

(1) If Noon thought that allegations leveled by PTI were baseless and Noon got a genuine mandate of the people then Noon should have voluntarily offered a broad based inquiry and ensuing results would have silenced PTI once and for all.
(2) If during inquiry some irregularities came up, the govt could have taken appropriate action against persons responsible and would have made necessary changes in the electoral processes. Obviously Noon was not to be held responsible for malpractices in polls.
(3) A re-polling could have been ordered in disputed constituencies. As Noon had secured an overwhelming number of seats, even if they lost 50% to PTI that wouldn't have made any difference. Noon would still be in leading position to form govt.
(4) Based on the facts obtained from inquiry and after punishing the culprits responsible for rigging, a comprehensive plan could have been made so that future elections were in fair manner.
(5) In the worst scenario if the Supreme Court had rendered the whole elections null & void and ordered re-elections, it would have been a feasible option. Re-elections are the solution for many problems. It would have averted the chances of anarchy and martial law.

But unfortunately the govt didn't adopt this strategy and let the situation reach the present point. Now if Noon thinks that protest launched by PTI, PAT etc will pose no problem for them, then in my view the govt is playing a risky gamble. There can be two outcomes of this protest:

(1) If the protest is not supported by people ie the people do not come on street in reasonably large numbers and the protest becomes unsustainable then the movement will fizzle out. In that case Noon govt can relax and pass the remaining time in peace. This situation can also arise if the govt is successful in luring in the protesting parties to a compromise. The movement will then come to an end, waiting for the govt promises to be fulfilled, which will never be.

(2) If people come out in large numbers and the movement gains momentum with every passing day, the chances are that it may swell beyond proportions. In that case the govt will make hasty and erratic decisions and will eventually scum to public pressure.

In the case of movement becoming successful the govt will come under tremendous pressure. Army is likely to remain neutral and will not become party with Noon against will of the people. In that case the movement may result into an interim govt taking over the power.

Every problem has its solution, but with the passage of time as the problem becomes complex and serious the solutions tend to become more difficult and costly. We have examples as to how the strong rulers were disposed off in 1968, 1977, 1999 and 2008 as a result of public uprisings.

How PML-N govt will tackle this issue will be a test of its political acumen.

Akhtar Malik

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Imran Khan on the go against Rigged Elections

عمران خان کی تحریک

وقت اور حالات نے عمران خان جیسے سیدھے سادے شخص کو بھی آزمودہ کار سیاستدان بنادیاہے۔ انہوں نے الیکشن میں ہونے والی دھاندلی کے خلاف ملک گیر تحریک شروع کر کے ایک تیر سے کئی شکار کئے ہیں۔ دفاعی کے بجائے جارحانہ کھیل کھیل کر تحریک انصاف کی صوبائی حکومت گرانے اور اسے ناکام بنانے کی کوششوں اور سازشوںکو ناکام بنادیا۔ جلسے جلوسوں نے تحریک انصاف کے اندر جاری توڑپھوڑ کو بھی روک دیا۔ مایوس نوجوان حامیوںاور پارٹی کارکنوں میں روایتی جوش وخروش دوبارہ عود کر آگیا ۔علاوہ ازیں خیبر پختون خوا (کے پی کے) کی صوبائی حکومت کو سکون کا کچھ موقع مل گیا ۔
نون لیگ نے اپنے بہترین سیاسی مہرے مہتاب عباسی کو خیبر پی کے کا گورنر بنا کر ترپ کا پتہ پھینکا تھا۔خیال تھا کہ بتدریج خان کو دبائو میں لایاجائے۔فضل الرحمن، آفتاب شیرپائو اور اسفند یار ولی کے اشتراک، گورنر ہائوس کی سرپرستی اور نون لیگ کے ماتحت وفاقی افسروں اور اداروں کے تعاون سے تحریک انصاف کی حکومت کو گرادیا جائے یا کم ازکم ناکام بنا دیا جائے۔ لیکن عمران خان کے جوابی حملے نے نہ صرف اس چال کو ناکام بنادیا بلکہ نون لیگ کے شہ دماغ حکمت کاروں کو بھی مات دے دی۔ سیاسی کھیل کو نون لیگ بمقابلہ تحریک انصاف بنا دیا۔ اب ایسا لگتاہے کہ باقی جماعتیںحکومت کا دُم چھلا ہیں۔
عمران خان نے ڈی چوک کے بعدفیصل آباد میں خوب میلہ لگایا۔عوام بھی بہت بڑی تعداد میں تھے اور تقریریں بھی پرجوش ہوئیں ۔ایسا لگا کہ تحریک انصاف کا عہد شباب لوٹ آیا ہو۔ خود عمران خان کا بھی ہنگاموں، احتجاجوں اور معرکہ آرائی میں دل لگنے لگا ہے ۔ مقابلہ آرائی میں ان کی خوابیدہ صلاحیتیں کِھل اٹھتی ہیں۔ عمران خان کی تقریر کافی جامع تھی اور اس میں غیر معمولی ٹھہرائو بھی تھا۔ وہ کافی پراعتماد دکھائی دیئے۔ واضح نظرآتا تھا کہ تقریر کی تیاری میں کافی محنت کی گئی ہے۔ کبھی وہ ایک سماجی مصلح کے اسلوب میں کلام کرتے جو لوگوں کو انصاف ،اصول اور میرٹ کا درس دیتا ہے۔ کبھی لگتا کہ وہ مذہبی رہنما ہیں جو دینی حوالے دے کر حاضرین کو اپنا نقطہ نظر سمجھا رہے ہیں۔ انہوں نے بڑے مدلل انداز میں الیکشن کے نظام میں پائے جانے والے نقائص اور انتخابات کرانے والی مشینری کی نااہلی کا پول کھولا۔ یہ مشینری دھاندلی روک سکتی ہے نہ شکایات کاازالہ کرنے کے قابل ہے۔انہوں نے دھاندلی کے حوالے سے متاثر کن اعداد وشمار پیش کیے جنہوں نے پورے نظام کی قلعی کھول کر رکھ دی ہے۔ عمران خان نے کافی مربوط انداز میں خیبر پختون خوا میں آنے والی بہتری کی طرف اشارے کیے اور اس عزم کا اظہار کیا کہ وہ خیبر پی کے سے کرپشن کو جڑ سے اکھاڑپھینکیں گے۔
عمران خان کے جلسوں کو سرسری طور پر لینے اور ان کا ٹھٹھا اڑانے سے مسائل حل نہیں بلکہ مزید پیچیدہ ہوتے نظر آتے ہیں۔ حکومت کو فوری طور پردھاندلی کی شکایات کے ازالے کے لیے دوسطحوں پر اقدامات کرنے ہوں گے۔ جن حلقوں میں دھاندلی کے الزامات ہیں‘ ان کی شفاف تحقیقات کرائی جائیں۔ مقامی عملہ ملوث ہو یا امیدوار‘ انہیں عبرت ناک سزائیں دی جائیں تاکہ مستقبل میں کوئی بھی شخص یا ادارہ انتخابات میں دھاندلی کا تصور بھی نہ کر سکے۔ ایسا کرنے میں بہت سے خطرات پنہاں ہیں کہ اس طرح الیکشن کا پورا عمل ہی مشکوک ہو سکتاہے لیکن یہ خطرہ مول لیے بنا کوئی چارہ نہیں۔
مستقبل میں ایسی صورت حال سے بچنے کی خاطر حکومت کو دیگرسیاسی جماعتوں کی مشاورت سے الیکشن کے نظام میں پائی جانے والی خرابیوں کی اصلاح کا شفاف میکانزم بنانا ہو گا۔ دنیا میں شفاف الیکشن کرانے کے بہت سے جدید طریقے رائج ہیں۔ ان سے استفادہ کیا جا سکتا ہے۔ بائیو میٹرک سسٹم ان میں سے ایک ہے۔ کئی ممالک میںالیکٹرانک مشین کے ذریعے ووٹ ڈالے جاتے ہیں۔ علاوہ ازیں جعلی ووٹ ڈالنے اور سرکاری یا غیر سرکاری سطح پر دھاندلی کے مرتکب افراد کے لیے نہ صرف عبرت ناک سزا تجویز کی جائے بلکہ اس پر برق رفتاری سے عمل درآمد کو بھی یقینی بنایا جائے۔ اسے ناقابل معافی جرم قراردیا جائے۔انتخابی عذرداریوں کے مقدمات کے فیصلے کو لٹکانے کے بجائے چند دنوں میں نمٹایا جانا چاہیے۔
بہت ہو چکا۔ اب پاکستان چونکہ جمہوری شاہراہ پر گامزن ہوچکاہے لہٰذایہاں ہرقیمت پر شفاف الیکشن کے نظام کو یقینی بنانا ہوگا۔ ماضی میں جوکچھ ہوا وہ عبرت انگیز اور شرم ناک ہے۔ایک ایک شخص درجنوں ووٹ ڈالتارہا ۔ اسے پوچھنے اور روکنے ٹوکنے والا کوئی نہ تھا۔ایک صوبے میں ایک سیاسی جماعت پورا نظام ہائی جیک کرتی رہی اور الیکشن کمیشن تماشا دیکھتا رہا۔ اندرون سندھ ،بلوچستان اور خیبرپختون خوا میں جہاں سرداروں ،وڈیروں اور خانوں کا زور چلتا وہ من مانی کرتے رہے۔ پنجاب میں تحریک انصاف نے پہلی بار نون لیگ کو چیلنج کیا ۔اس کی کوششوں سے یہ حقیقت آشکار ہوئی کہ انتخابی نظام میں نہ صرف اصلاح کی ضرورت ہے بلکہ الیکشن کمیشن ہی کو ازسر نو استوار کرنا ہوگا۔جمہوریت اور ووٹ چوری ساتھ ساتھ نہیں چل سکتے۔ یہ دونوں ایک دوسرے کی ضد ہیں۔
اگر حکومت تحریک انصاف کے الزامات کا ٹھوس جواب نہیں دیتی تو بتدریج اس کے خلاف ایک بڑا محاذ بنتا نظر آتا ہے۔ قاف لیگ پہلے ہی فوج کی حمایت کے نام پر پنجاب میں جلسے جلوس کر رہی ہے۔ کچھ مذہبی جماعتیں بھی وزیراعظم نوا زشریف کے بھارت جانے پر کبیدہ خاطر ہیں۔ اسٹیبلشمنٹ ایک ٹی وی چینل اور پرویز مشرف کے خلاف چلنے والے مقدمات سے نہ صرف ناراض بلکہ رنجیدہ ہے۔ دلچسپ بات یہ ہے کہ جاوید ہاشمی جیسا سیاستدان جو چند ہفتے قبل جمہوریت کے لیے وزیراعظم نواز شریف کے ساتھ کھڑا ہونے کے اعلان کیا کرتا تھا، اب حکومت کی رخصتی کے دن گن رہا ہے۔
جلسے میں عمران خان نے جس طرح مذہبی اصلاحات کا بے محابہ استعمال کیا،اس سے آسانی سے یہ قیاس کیا جا سکتا ہے کہ وہ تحریک انصاف کو ایک نئی شناخت دینے جارہے ہیں۔جس میں مذہب اور حب الوطنی کا تڑکا خوب استعمال کیاجائے گا۔کرپشن کے خلاف وہ پہلے ہی بے نیام تلوار ہیں۔اس الزام میں آفتاب شیرپائو کی جماعت قومی وطن پارٹی کو مخلوط صوبائی حکومت سے نکال چکے ہیں۔تحریک انصاف کے کچھ صوبائی وزراء کو بھی اس الزام کا سامنا کرنا پڑا۔چند ہفتے قبل وزیرصحت شوکت یوسف زئی کی چھٹی کرائی گئی‘حالانکہ وہ عمران خان کے بہت قریب تصور کیے جاتے تھے۔صوبائی حکومت نے سرکاری پروٹوکول کا سلسلہ بھی کافی کم کردیاہے۔پشاور کے صحافی گواہی دیتے ہیں کہ سرکاری نظام میں بہتری کے آثار نمایاں ہیں۔ 
خیبر پختون خوا کو سدھارنا کوئی آسان کام نہیں۔یہ پاکستان کا سب سے مشکل صوبہ ہے۔اس کے پچھواڑے میں قبائلی علاقہ جات ہیں جہاں گزشتہ تیرہ برس سے جنگ جاری ہے۔وہاں ہزاروں غیر ملکی پناہ گاہیں قائم کئے ہوئے ہیں اور پاکستان پر حملے کرتے ہیں۔ا س پس منظر میں خیبر پختون خوا میں آنے والی معمولی تبدیلی کو قومی سطح پر سراہا جاناچاہیے۔ خیبر پختون خوا کاپنجاب سے مقابلہ کرنا سراسر ناانصافی ہے۔پنجاب میں عشروں سے زندگی معمول پر رہی ۔علاوہ ازیں پنجاب کو نسبتاً اچھی صوبائی حکومتیں ملتی رہی ہیں۔شہبازشریف سے پہلے بھی پرویز الہٰی اور گورنر خالد مقبول نے زبردست کارکردگی کا مظاہرہ کیا تھا۔ لاہور ،سیالکوٹ، گوجرانوالہ اور فیصل آباد صنعتی مراکز ہیں۔اس کے برعکس خیبر پختون خوا میںصنعت وحرفت کا وجود ہی عنقا ہے ۔ اسی کی دہائی میں یہ خطہ افغانستان میں سوویت یونین کی جارحیت کے خلاف مزاحمت کا عالمی مرکز بنا ۔کسی نے یہاں کے لوگوں کو روزگار ،تعلیم اور صحت کی سہولتیں فراہم کرنے پر توجہ نہیں دی بلکہ انہیں جنگ کا ترنوالہ بنایاگیا۔اگر خیبر پی کے میں سیاسی استحکام آ جاتا ہے اور وہ خوشحالی کی راہ پر چل پڑتاہے تو یہ تحریک انصاف کی بہت بڑی کامیابی ہوگی۔

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Monday, May 26, 2014

Social sector: Welcome to NGO hell!

“ You’ve no idea how difficult it is to live in this country and do what I do. Each day it gets more difficult, but we put up a brave face and do our fashion shows in the face of terrorism,” she said before turning around to a colleague who then added, “I’ve never even felt the need to sell clothes to Pakistanis.”
It may be hard to believe but by recalling these conversations, the intention is certainly not to mock anyone or their profession. Bizarrely enough, these conversations are heard too often and replied to with a rather patronising “We are here to listen to your problems”. The fact is that the person responsibly listening to the conversation has no authority to be able to resolve the issues in a local context; he or she is usually a foreign diplomat with a curated list of ‘influencers’ who they must speak to, in order to understand the country better — a dangerous, unpredictable and obviously exotic country that they’ve been posted to for roughly a year.
In one such conversation a gentlemen repeated “We don’t have the ideas but we can write the cheque,” so one imagines he’d lean back and start rubbing his pot belly as he cackles. Yet we sat around him looking rather attentive and listened to lots of talk about capacity building, trainings and the need for more conferences. In the past year, ‘deliverables’ and ‘deliveries’ have been spoken more in the development sector than in three years at the gynaecology ward. “Par bibi project deliverables kya hain?” These usually range from creating awareness to reaching strategic goals that can enable a better understanding of the issue to strategic capacity building initiatives. No, I don’t understand what that means either.

An anonymous insider gives us a tongue-in-cheek taste of what it’s like to work in a foreign-funded NGO

“Array Shehansha/Alija/Sir jee kaisay hain ap?” There are a range of adjectives selected, curated and developed to address the donors; if your donor is brown, rigorous use of the term “Sir jee” along with a warm head shake, an ear to ear grin, a little submissive tilt of the head, embellished with a warm handshake and a hand on the chest will do the magic. Don’t forget to repeat “Yeh to sab Khwaja Sahab ka vision hai” every time you meet a new person in your donor’s presence. If it’s a potential foreign donor, start with “Let me tell you something about Pakistan,” mix in news of a few threats here and there, words like “state persecution” and a dab of “but we continue to be hopeful, shattered but hopeful”. If he/she is really listening, go ahead and say “We need your help and support, especially the international community’s” … and your job’s done.
The corruption and harassment within the development sector is immeasurable. Simply because it doesn’t occur in isolation an entire culture, or mafia if you like, feeds the NGO-Industrial Complex. There’s lots of talk about stricter cross checks for NGOs but not a word about donor-enabled corruption. For instance, if you’ve pitched a project and received money for it and let’s say you’ve been able to do the job in less amount of money than originally quoted, you’re likely to be penalised rather than lauded.
A well-meaning rights activist — yes they exist — once told me that during one of her initial projects they were able to do 12 events instead of six, simply because they found a cheaper venue: “Excited, we sent our report to the donor only to find out that they were disappointed at our supposed inability to make accurate budgets.” In such a situation, civil society organisations would rather focus on spending the money than on how to get the most out of funds being spent on interactions.
If you’ve allocated a certain amount of budget for travel and do not require it at some point of your project and you can’t put it to better use; you must use it or send it back. Before you know it, you’re tailoring ‘projects’ according to what’s required by the donor. The donor’s demands may change from what the current director is interested in; to a high-profile incident with strategic foreign policy value. Between that and donor’s own research on what’s important in your region; there’s a little likelihood that you’d actually be able to do what you feel or think is important.
It’s a badly broken system where incompetence and rampant corruption is seemingly unquestionable. That’s not to say that every single development worker in Pakistan is involved in corruption or hoarding funds, but the bureaucracy of it all leaves even the most optimistic clamouring for support. The fact is that the system only works for the donors and NGOs and does little or nothing for the problems that they’re trying to address. There are exceptions, which could’ve been more common had it not been run like an industry more focused on spending money as fast as possible than on investing it strategically to reduce dependency.
The answer doesn’t lie in the over regulation of the NGOs or their donors but a total dismantling of the NGO-industrial complex. Until then, conferences and consultations on ‘labour rights’ can continue to be held at five star hotels — which for one are known to underpay their employees — without a hint of irony and we’d continue to have lots of project reports to show for it.
Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, May 25th, 2014

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Imran Khan: Historic speech at Sialkot

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) head Imran Khan said that no change could come to Pakistan without free and fair elections.
Addressing thousands of supporters in Faisalabad, Khan said that no power can stop people from making a new Pakistan.
He slammed PML-N for its attempts to distract people from attending the PTI’s rally. "I want to tell the PML-N that there is no price of passion and ideology," he said.
“A year has passed since the establishment of PML-N government, but there is no positive change in the country,” he said.
“Laptops are being distributed to buy youth. I want to ask youth if they are getting jobs,” he asked. “I am the only politician who is given money to run the Shaukat Khanum Hospital.”
Khan said that the PML-N government broke all records of foreign loans in just one year instead of breaking the begging bowl. He pledged that he would tax the rich after coming into power.
The PTI chief said that money collected in the form of taxes would be spent on people. “Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has ordered two BMW vehicles at the cost of Rs220 million.  Are we that rich?”
“The biggest problem being faced by Pakistan is family limited politics. This is not democracy, it is monarchy,” he contended.
“I am talking about re-opening of four constituencies for voter. Massive rigging has been carried out in every constituency we have opened so far,” he contended.
Khan accused PML-N, former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and Geo News of rigging the elections and called for action under Article 6 against them after a probe.
He announced that PTI would stage its next rally in Sialkot on June 7.
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Siyasat Aur Qanoon 11pm To 12Am – 25th May 2014 by zemtv

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Jinnah for all

Ever since Jinnah`s death in 1948, we have been gazing intensely at our navels to figure out what the founder of Pakistan said and/or didn`t say. Many of us have our own set of quotes of a man who passed away just one year after the creation of this country.

I have been going through Jinnah`s numerous speeches that he delivered from 1946 till his unfortunate death in 1948.

It seems Jinnah was everything to everyone a progressive nationalist to the liberals; a faithful religionist to the religious right; a middle-of-theroad Muslim statesman to the moderates.

But the truth (to me) is that first and foremost he was a sharp politician. And like all good politicians, Jinnah was a pragmatist, adjusting his words according to his immediate surroundings.

For example, in multicultural Karachi he would insist that the state of Pakistan was to be progressive and democratic.

In Lahore, the scene of vicious Hindu-Muslim riots, and where many clerics had accused him of being a `fake Muslim leader` in 1946, he would take a moderate view, suggesting that the South Asian Muslims had a rich cultural and political history that Pakistan ought to match.

In Peshawar, where Jinnah`s Muslim League had struggled to remain afloat in the f ace of the challenge posed by the left-leaning Pakhtun nationalists, Jinnah appealed to the sensibilities of the conservative tribes and clerics opposed to the nationalists.

While talking to the Western press he reminded the world that Pakistan was not to be a theological state, but a democratic Muslim-majority state where all citizens, no matter what their religion or ethnicity, would be given equal rights.

Ever since Pakistan`s inception more than six decades ago, its politicians, military dictators and intellectuals from all sides of the ideological divide have talked about working towards building `Jinnah`s Pakistan` The liberals and even many moderates have continued to present Jinnah as a progressive Muslim and an unbending democrat. The mainstream religious right and the conservative lot have been hailing him as a champion of `Muslim democracy` and a modern interpreter of an Islamic state.Left-leaning parties like the populist PPP, and the other such groups have been vowing to create a Pakistan based on the progressive vision of Jinnah.

Religious parties like the Jamaat-i-Islami (J1), on the other hand, want a Pakistan based on Jinnah`s desire and commitment of creating a country that would become a bastion and fortress of our faith.

Populist conservative parties such as PMLN, and Imran Khan`s Pakistan Tehreek-iInsaf (PTI), interpret Jinnah`s vision as something to do with Pakistan being anIslamic Welfare State` Then there have been military dictators as well, all of whom claimed to be following the course laid down by Jinnah.

The secular Ayub Khan dictatorship (1958-69) understood Jinnah as a progressive Muslim statesman. The Ziaul Haq dictatorship (1977-88) claimed Jinnah to be a fearless Islamic figurehead. The Musharraf dictatorship (1999-2008) re-figured Jinnah`s image and made him to be a `moderate` again.

But what exactly was Jinnah`s Pakistan? This question usually bags numerous dilTering an-swers. No party, military dictator, historian or intellectual trying to address this question has been able to come up with an answer that has enjoyed widespread acceptance. Jinnah died just too soon af`ter the country`s creation l`or one to convincingly judge exactly what sort of a Pakistan he really wanted. Between Pakistan`s creation in August 1947 till his death one year later, Jinnah usually spoke according to the nature of`his audience.

He was still in the process of testing the waters and f`ormulating a cohesive idea about Pakistani nationhood when he died. That`s why all that emerged after his demise are just angled interpretations, claims and counter-claims by politicians, ideologues and historians about who Jinnah was and what he wanted.There is nothing wrong in studying history and, especially, learning from it. But on most oeeasions than not, this is not really what we have been doing.

We only highlight things about our collective past that are according to what we like and imagine, while shunning, repressing and even decrying those bits that contradict our current stances.

That`s how Jinnah has been seen as well.

Liberals will mark out the progressive views of Jinnah, whereas the conservatives will loudly quote from books that only mention quotes of Jinnah in which he comes across as a faith-ful conservative.

Today`s existentialist battles in Pakistan are being fought with what the founders of Pakistan said or didn`t say many years ago; A battle of` existence that is threatening our future like never before. It is a battle lacking the desire to construct a vision or adiscourse of what is to be done today and tomorrow.

Even while discussing possible future courses, we keep slipping backwards, quoting who said what in the past to supplement our view of Pakistan so it can dominate over the views of our ideological opponents.

We seem to be stuck in our own imagined views of history.

With so many Jinnahs floating around, the time has come to create a Jinnah of the future.

By this I mean a well thought-out, debated and consensual vision of a Pakistan based on today`s realities.

Jinnah should be accepted as a pragmatist who today would have addressed issues like extremist violence and acts of bigotry not as an ideologue, but as a pragmatic statesman who would know that such issues were retarding the country`s economic, cultural and political evolution.

He would have understood that the rapid proliferation of conflicting ideas in Pakistan in the last three decades or so have made the bulk of the society increasingly reactive.

The pragmatic Jinnah would not sit on the fence like most of today`s `moderates`, and call it a middle-ground.

He would assertively create a real middleground between religious conservatism and liberalism, for which he would not hesitate to alter, modify and ref`orm a number of` things.

Jinnah would not do this out of any ideological compulsion. He would do so for the survival of Pakistan a country torn and plagued by religious and ethnic strife that is bringing its economics and society to a standstill.

The pragmatic Jinnah would try to find unity in diversity and draw from each ethnic culture, as well as from Muslim sects and sub-sects and minority religious groups in the country, choosing the best that they have to offer to Pakistan in developing its economy, its arts, its sports and its reputation as a modern, thriving and vibrant Muslim nation-state. It`s about time we stop studying and propagating Jinnah as an ideologue. He was an astute and enlightened pragmatist, and pragmatism demands we begin to see him in this light and do today what any enlightened and astute pragmatist would do for the country that he so painstakingly created.
By Nadeem F Piracha: http://dawn.com

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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Exploring extremism

INCREASING intolerance and the growing incidence of violent behaviour in Pakistani society require a review of the conventional understanding of extremism in Pakistan. Apart from the process of social transformation in the country, the Pakistani diaspora`s influence on the native community can also highlight important aspects of religious extremism in Pakistan.

No doubt, thinking patterns in Pakistan are transforming due to the influence of changing socio-cultural, religious-ideological and politico-economic dynamics here and around the world. But in recent years, Pakistani expats in the West have emerged as one of the important factors shaping the outlook of the upper classes in the country.

Western societies are concerned about the religiosity of the Muslim diasporas, which is perceived to be rising. There are also identity-related issues. Though the pattern of social transformation is not the same across the West, the latter`s political and intellectual establishments see the potential rise of parallel societies. The Western security establishment feels the ultimate outcome will be violent extremism in their lands.

In response, Muslim diasporas are struggling to make their social, religious and cultural values compatible with Western living. The biggest challenge is to find a rational basis for their religious norms and values. The Salafi movement and clergy are out there to help them.

Even the non-Salafi movements, mainly those purportedly following moderate and Sufi traditions, have made considerable adjustments to appear closer to the Salafi discipline. Tahirul Qadri`s Minhajul Quran is following a similar trend in the Scandinavian countries and Canada. Paradoxically, these movements (or groups) maintain different approaches to the same issue in their host and native countries. Dr Qadri`s speeches on Pakistan`s blasphemy laws had sparked a controversy a few years back.

The educated among the Muslim diaspora appear to feel that Salafi Islam`s social values are compatible with Western values,especially those related to divorce, marriage and child custody. They feel that Salafi Islam is more flexible compared to other Islamic schools of thought.

Though SalaH political thought, backed by groups such as Hizbut Tahrir, raises questions, important concerns about Salafi ideology emanate from the fact that most Islamist militant movements follow the same school of thought. At the same time, the social values of the Salañsts are becoming popular among diaspora communities and they export these tendencies to their native towns.

Seen from this perspective, Pakistan has two channels of Salafi and Wahhabi influences. First is the traditional channel of overseas Pakistanis working in the Arab countries who return with conservative Salafi tendencies. We see these taking root among the lower middle classes in the country. The second stream comes from the West and influences the upper middle and elite classes of Pakistan.

Though the two streams of Salafi Islamare trying to increase their influence, South Asian Muslim societies, which traditionally follow Hanafi Islam, are resisting this influence. Both Deobandi and Barelvi Islam are the offshoots of Hanafi Islam.

Deobandi Islam is trying to offer solutions to daily and social problems in a manner similar to what Salafi Islam is trying to do in the West.

The Deobandi discourse is thriving in Pakistan. Its influence is spreading to every sphere of life from religious to modern education, Islamic financial institutionalisation, tableegh and politics. Above all, it has shaped the militant discourse of the country. However, Deobandi Islam has less influence among the Pakistani diaspora communities it is at some level competing with Salafism.

Nonetheless, Deobandi militant groups have formed a brotherhood with the Wahhabi and Salafi militant movements including Al Qaeda. This brotherhood provides an environment to absorb each other`s tendencies but at a societal level the room for such nexus does not seem practical, at leastnotin the nearfuture.

The urban structure in Pakistan is forming its religious, social and cultural orbits with the help of Deobandi Islam. Barelvis are increasingly coming under the influence of Deobandis. Though some Barelvi groups are trying to resist, the influence of the Deobandi discourse is increasing as the latter has multiple sources of strength ranging from politics to militancy.

Where the Shia community is concerned, the Deobandis have a contradictory atti-tude, even though anti-Shia sentiments are common among the Deobandi clergy.

While anti-Shia Deobandi organisations are increasing their outreach and activities, Deobandi political parties such as the JUI-F try to accommodate Shia parties politically. This could have the effect of putting the latter under constant pressure.

On the other hand Deobandi Islam is a beneficiary of the hyper urbanisation in the country. Religiosity and radicalism are considered by-products of urbanisation. In the rural to urban transformation, communities need to protect their values and heritage. If ethnic, linguistic, cultural and tribal bonds are missing at that stage, political and religious parties come forward to help preserve some values. In mass migration cases, political and religious moments have to address their identity crisis as well.

In most parts of Pakistan, political parties have no formal structures and are not connected with the socio-cultural fabric of society. At the same time, political parties do not offer any sense of collectiveness to citizens in urbanisation transitions. The religious parties are there to fill this void.

The rise of religious movements means the level of tolerance will decrease. Religious movements offer solutions to some issues but for other problems they prefer to deal with force and authority. It depends on the state: does it want to share its authority with them, or does it want to enforce its own writ? m The writer is a security expert.

BY M U H A M M A D A M I R R A N A : 

  • http://epaper.dawn.com/DetailImage.php?StoryImage=18_05_2014_009_005
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sectarianism_in_Pakistan
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deobandi
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salafi
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