Saturday, May 23, 2009

Failure of religious forces in Pakistan - Part I by Nadia Khan

Pakistani citizens, in or out of the country, as a nation, are quite religious (probably conservative) in all aspects of life. However, failure of religious forces in Pakistan is also quite obvious. The formation of Pakistan is based on "two nation's theory" as Hindus & Muslims were two distinct nations and a separate homeland was needed for Muslims where they could exercise their rights within the frame work of their religion. The founding fathers of this homeland had dreamt a piece of land where Muslims could have their basic rights and an implementation of true social justice as envisaged by the earlier rulers of Islam – the Caliphates.


This dream never came true even after 60 years. Be it general elections or council level selections you wouldn't find much of religious or righteous figures successful there. It is a well known fact that "beside all their conservatism, many of Pakistanis wouldn't like to marry their sons & daughters with Molvis or Mullanis – man who prays five times a day religiously & grows beard or a woman who observes veil!"


Here, by religious, we mean the outlook of a person is as per the inspirations of religion defined by many of our religious scholars. To make it clear, we would say – Molvi outlook. You may disagree with this definition however this is the outlook of religious elements that had created major chaos in Pakistan under the banner of Taliban.


If we analyse religious movements in last 60 years, it is obvious that all were failures. After independence till 1956 an agreed constitution wasn't written or implemented. The entire country was run under the British system of governance, as left by Englishmen, for many years.


In mid 60s, first time religious elements took strong stance against General Ayub Khan when he had tried to implement his own interpretation of Shariah; however it was confined up to matrimonial matters or Muslims Personal Laws.


In 1977, Nizam e Mustafa movement, which comprised all factions of religious forces, went in wrong directions and General Zia had taken the due advantage of it. By chance, an opportunity came up and USSR invaded Afghanistan , hence he became the blue-eyed boy of USA for a decade & ruled Pakistan militarily.


In 80s, General Zia's infamous Hudood Ordinance didn't bring fruits to entire nation and many of the innocent women became its victim.


Later in 90s, Shariat Bill, brought forward by JUI and Maulana Sami ul Haq,  the man behind it, wasn't a success. And the nomenclature of the country remains under the rule of British Laws till today.


Even, during General Musharraf days, there was much protest against women protection bill, and it was termed as in opposite direction of religious requirements by many of religious personalities. Politically, during Musharraf era, religious elements under the banner of MMA won partial victory and became the balancing force however the out come of their efforts is the passing of 17th amendment which had strengthen the dictatorial powers of Musharraf, and derailed the democracy in Pakistan from its centre point for unknown period. Hence President became more authoritative then the Head of the Govt – Prime Minister and we have seen weak Prime Ministers such as Jamali, Aziz, and Shujaat with all their secular agendas!


The fall of religious political parties is also evident such as Jamat e Islami, an organized religious-political party with roots in most of the educational institutions, lost ground in cities like Karachi to Altaf Hussain's MQM and in Lahore to Nawaz Sharif's Muslim League.


JUI, be it Sami ul Haq's or Fazlu ur Rehman, couldn't become rising star on national horizon or to form federal government. They remain confined within the borders of NWFP or partially in Baluchistan and helping hands for parties like Muslim League or IJI type joint associations.


Then the era of ethnicity came up in Pakistan with the fall of Afghanistan Jihad. Small religious groups became the ethnic-fighters within their small towns or large villages, were evident. Be it Haq Nawaz Jhangvi's SSP in Southern Punjab or Sipha e Muhammad, a Shia ethnic-fighter group formed to counter SSP, or Salim Qadri's Sunni Tehreek in metros like Karachi or likewise smaller groups, considered as ethnic group promoting religious hatred in last 20 years with very small ground gaining position, as they were winning one or two seats of assemblies.


Then it came to Lashker e Tayyaba – a religious group mostly engaged in Jihadi activities in occupied Kashmir or Indian cities. Even though with die-hard fighters, their approach didn't win the hearts of many Pakistanis, and worked in reverse order bringing Pakistan & India at the brink of war.


Until recently Taliban surged and took the ground in NWFP. Initially PPP led govt got engaged with them thru ANP and worked out a solution that was based on their long-standing demand – Nizam e Adl. However, days after that, Taliban, as it looks like didn't sense the sensitivity of International pressure and PPP govt didn't succumbed that and hence a full scale army operation against the corrupt elements of Taliban is now in action under the name of "Operation Rahe Rast" means  the True Path!


Taliban or the corrupt elements hiding behind the curtain of Taliban, likely welcome the operation as it looks like their initial target to engage Pakistan Army at home-front. However the operation has displaced almost 2.5 million residents to live under open sky with less basic amenities.


All this was done in the name of religion or in the name of the interpretations of Quran or Sunnah. All ethnic sects feel that their interpretation is absolutely correct and others are wrong. This approach has extended up to a level where the "killing" of those who differ became the path of Jannah!

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