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Wake up Pakistan ! Presently the Muslim societies are in a state of ideological confusion and flux. Materialism, terrorism,...
Saturday, December 26, 2015
Friday, December 25, 2015
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
IN the National Action Plan (NAP), points 10 and 18 convey the state’s resolve to register and regulate madressahs and eradicate sectarian terrorism. Both actions fall primarily within the preview of the criminal justice system but we are still far from achieving these objectives. We need to undertake a forensic analysis of the madressah landscape in Pakistan before we can move forward.
The commonalities and differences between formal education and madressahs can be identified through a diagnostic approach whose terms of reference should include the following: what percentage of school dropouts is attracted by madressahs? Is there any established link of madressah curriculums with militancy and terrorism? Are madressahs really spreading sectarianism and extremism? Is integration of madressahs into the formal education system a viable option?
Would it be appropriate to reform madressahs in isolation or should such reforms be part of broader educational reforms? What are the hurdles in communication between government and madressahs? What is the actual number of madressahs and their students?
Where schools are absent, madressahs are an alternate educational facility. Our madressahs have multi-dimensional characteristics, including political, sectarian and foreign leanings. According to the report The Madressah Conundrum, there are approximately 35,000 seminaries in Pakistan. Organised under five boards of different ideologies, most of them are of Deobandi and Barelvi persuasion and, according to media reports, are imparting religious education to approximately 3.5 million students.
There has been a mushroom growth in the number of women’s madressahs, and the reasons for this should be explored. Although a clear breakdown of male and female madressahs is unavailable, it is estimated that girl students constitute 30pc of the total strength.
Foreign students in madressahs are not really an issue. Over the years, strict government regulations as well as the obsolete curriculums taught at madressahs, have led to a 74pc reduction in foreign students’ enrolment. In 2006, there were 10,117 foreign students from 45 countries enrolled in Pakistani madressahs; currently, the figure is down to 2,673 from 37 countries.
Religious leaders too have been the target of militancy.
A total of 182 suspect madressahs have been closed since NAP was announced. Of these, two were in Punjab, 167 in Sindh and 13 in KP. A research-based study can determine how many graduates of madressahs have been involved in militancy or criminal activities. Has anyone devised a programme to integrate madressahs into the formal education system? How about examining the ways in which the clergy can be used to counter extremism?
Section 21 of The Societies Registration Act, 1860, which was inserted in 2006, requires registration of madressahs within one year. Originally the act was meant to cover the registration of literary, scientific and charitable societies in colonial times. As per Section 21, madressahs must submit annual reports of their educational activities and audited accounts to the registrar’s office. Section 21(4) clearly states that such institutions shall neither teach militancy nor spread hatred.
Seminaries are generally regarded as traditional educational facilities not compatible with modern educational values. However, such perceptions need to be objectively evaluated. For their part, madressahs, which tend to believe that curriculum and management are their exclusive jurisdiction — in the process of which they neglect curriculum development and teacher training — must cooperate with the state and prove they are not in conflict with it.
Without a partnership between academic institutions, madressahs, the National Counter Terrorism Authority, investigation and intelligence agencies, it will be difficult to determine the exact linkages between madressahs and militancy.
Reforms cannot be effective until the reasons for mistrust between the clergy and state are understood. For the majority of the clergy, madressah reforms are an initiative driven by an external agenda with foreign funding.
After 9/11, and more recently following the announcement of NAP, madressah reforms once again are in the forefront. However, reforms without the clergy’s participation prove futile. Although registration is a legal requirement, madressahs do not want to surrender their autonomy. To equip the faculty with modern teaching skills, it is imperative to establish teacher training colleges for mohtamims at provincial levels. They should be trained in human rights, religious tolerance, interfaith harmony and computers.
One should not forget that madressahs too have been the target of militancy. Religious leaders like Maulana Hassan Jan and Maulana Sarfaraz Naeemi lost their lives at the hands of extremists against whose tactics they spoke out.
Madressahs should not be seen as an adversarial educational system but rather as an alternative. But it is the state’s responsibility to regulate them.
By MOHAMMAD ALI BABAKHEL
The writer is a police officer.
Sunday, November 29, 2015
Reclaiming the original ideology
Liberalism is a political philosophy or world view founded on ideas of liberty and equality. The former principle is stressed in classical liberalism while the latter is more evident in social liberalism.
By Zahid Hussain
Liberalism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberalism
Nawaz Sharif is under intense attack by the religious lobby for calling for making Pakistan a ‘liberal’ democratic nation. The chief of the Jamaat-i-Islami wants the prime minister to withdraw his comments, which were made at an investment conference. Though Sharif actually used the term in the context of the economy, it has nonetheless triggered a renewed debate on the ideology of Pakistan.
Islamic parties gathered under the umbrella of the Milli Yakjehti Council (MYC) have threatened to launch nationwide protests against what they describe as a ‘conspiracy’ to turn Pakistan into a secular state. “We cannot compromise on the basic ideology of Pakistan,” they have vowed. This squabbling lot that never agrees on any religious issue now appears united in defending the country’s ‘Islamic identity’.
Such a strong reaction to the mere mention of the term ‘liberal’ does not come as a surprise given the ignorance and narrow outlook of our religious elite. More shocking, however, are the views of some supposedly moderate political leaders on the concept of liberal democracy and secularism. One wonders how these political philosophies clash with the basis on which this country was founded.
Nothing could be more ludicrous than the claim by Sirajul Haq that the remarks by the prime minister are contrary to the Constitution, the philosophy of Allama Iqbal and the principles laid down by the Quaid-i-Azam. How do concepts of political and civil liberties and religious freedom come into the conflict with Pakistan’s original ideology and the vision of the nation’s founding fathers?
Liberal democracy was the core ideology of Pakistan’s founding, as articulated by the Quaid himself.In fact, it is an attempt to redefine Pakistan’s ideology that has harmed the country the most by widening the religious divide within its polity. The Islamist groups gathered under the banner of the MYC have been instrumental in fuelling sectarian differences and religious extremism in the country. One of the participants in the group’s recent meeting was Jamaatud Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed whose organisation is on the UN list of terrorist organisations.
Liberal democracy was the core ideology of the foundation of Pakistan, something that was clearly articulated by Mohammad Ali Jinnah in an interview to Reuters in 1946. “The new state,” he said, “would be a modern democratic state with sovereignty resting in the people and the members of the new nation having equal rights of citizenship regardless of their religion, caste or creed.”
Pakistan was never supposed to be, in the words of Mr Jinnah, a “theocratic state” that these religious groups strive for. In fact, the country has long deviated from this core principle. Theocracy is anathema to the modern democracy that the Quaid had envisaged.
The country drifted from its ideals when the state got involved in religious matters, and with deciding who was and wasn’t a true Muslim. It went from bad to worse when the religious groups, many of whom are part of the MYC, took it upon themselves to determine the Islamic credentials of different sects. This has also been the major cause for the deaths of thousands of Muslims in sectarian violence in Pakistan.
Rising religious extremism and intolerance have led to escalation in violence against religious minorities and their systematic persecution. The mob attacks on Christian colonies and the lynching of Ahmadis in the name of faith has given the country the dubious reputation of being among the most intolerant nations in the world. What happened in Shantinagar, Gojra, Joseph Colony, etc and more recently in Jhelum is testimony to that.
Many of these religious groups have been directly and indirectly patronising militant organisations such as the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan. They rationalise terrorist attacks that have killed thousands of innocent people including young children and also provide religious sanction to suicide bombings. Is that the country that our founding fathers had envisaged?
Not surprisingly, the MYC has criticised the recent Supreme Court ruling upholding the death sentence of Mumtaz Qadri, the police guard who murdered Salmaan Taseer. Most of those comprising it have publicly condoned the killing of the former governor of Punjab in the name of alleged blasphemy. They have reserved their harshest criticism for that section of the ruling that said that calling for the reform of the blasphemy law is not blasphemy.
The misuse of the blasphemy law both against Muslims and non-Muslims has increased in recent years, in that it is being used as a licence to kill. Many of the mob attacks are instigated by clerics associated with these groups. The latest such example is the burning of an Ahmadi-owned factory and an Ahmadi place of worship in Jhelum last week sparked by allegations that some employees of the factory had committed blasphemy. Announcements from area mosques instigated the crowd to violence.
One wonders why the law has not come into action against Hafiz Saeed for making inflammatory statements. Although the media is barred from reporting the activities of his organisation, his remarks against the prime minister were widely covered. It is highly ironic that he is projecting himself as the protector of Pakistan’s ideology.
Liberalism is the essence of modern democracy. It is a philosophy that believes in progress, religious tolerance, the essential goodness of the human race, the autonomy of the individual and protection of political and civil liberties. How are these values in conflict with our religion as these self-styled guardians of Islam claim? For this country’s stability and progress we need to go back to the ideals of our founding fathers.
The country has suffered hugely as a result of religious bigotry and the wrong interpretation of Pakistan’s ideology. Pakistan was created to be a modern democratic state with freedom of belief and religion. It was not supposed to be an obscurantist state as the country is now being portrayed by assorted so-called Islamic groups. We must reclaim the original ideology of Pakistan if we really want to move forward and establish a tolerant society. Liberal democracy is the only answer to violent extremism and religious bigotry.
By Zahid Hussain: The writer is an author and journalist.
RIAZNov 25, 2015 07:27am
Liberal or theocratic are both irrelevant. Their is one and just one ideology practiced in Pakistan. It is feudal ideology in every nook and corner of Pakistan's culture and mindset irrespective of one's claims to be liberal or Islamic. Corruption, nepotism, patronage and the high and mighty being above law and accountability are feudal paradigms that are in the very DNA of Pakistan. The so called liberals keep the nation illiterate to ensure their vote bank of ignorants who vote for them no matter how corrupt and disgusting they are. The religious on the other hand ensure their vote banks by offering free education with free board and lodging. They churn out useless programmed human robots with ability to think rationally rendered immune for good at a young age with systematic and sustained dogmatic indoctrination.
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