Hydra Headed Monster
By Asif Haroon Raja
While it is a fact that Pakistan was created in the name of Islam, Pakistan’s leaders didn’t make it into an Islamic state in true sense because of battle between the seculars and Islamists. For all practical purposes, Pakistan has been administered on secular system while Islam has remained in name only. Except for Gen Ziaul Haq, all our leaders were endowed with secular bent of mind. The reason is that Pakistan’s parliamentary system, law and system of justice, civil administration, police, military training doctrines and banking system were inherited from the British and no change has been brought in them. Most of our social customs have been adopted from Hinduism because of centuries old association with the Hindus in united India.
Various models of governance were tried in Pakistan but Islamic system was never tested. All systems miserably failed to alleviate the sufferings of the downtrodden. Gen Zia was close to introducing Shariah but he died mysteriously in a plane crash. Nawaz Sharif during his second stint in power tried to apply Shariah but he was prematurely booted out by Gen Musharraf. Democracy was given a chance for full five years from 2008 to March 2013, but it completely failed and disenchanted the people.
It is ironic that claiming to be Islamic Republic of Pakistan, our leaders do not pickup heart to adopt the system espoused by our Holy Prophet (pbuh) and his four Caliphs and instead ardently cling to Westminster democracy which has failed to satisfy the people. This unexplained reluctance is despite the fact that great majority in Pakistan being conservative yearn for Shariah. Children of the underprivileged receive education in Madrassahs where they learn Quran by heart. They become Hafiz in tender age but their level of comprehension remains low because of lack of education.
No leader tried to adopt the examples set by Prophet Muhammad and his four caliphs. They do not realize that Prophet Muhammad is a role model for entire humanity and what he taught more than 1400 years ago and what has been inscribed in the Holy Quran is valid today. Powerful and weak were treated alike and justice and equality were his motto. The concept of welfare state wherein woman was treated at par with man was introduced by him for the first time. Slavery was abolished and security of life and property of other faiths was granted. Capitalism was discouraged by fair distribution of wealth thereby giving a deathblow to feudalism. National economy was built by encouraging the people to focus on trade and agriculture.
Hazrat Abu Bakr, Hazrat Umar, Hazrat Usman and Hazrat Ali followed suit and strengthened democratic institutions during their respective tenures. Their entire efforts were directed towards the welfare of the people. Hazrat Umar roamed the streets at night to see for himself that people were sleeping comfortably and no one was hungry. Umar law is currently in practice in Sweden. Unlike Zardari and his team who gobbled up the wealth of the nation, Hazrat Usman donated all his wealth to the nation. While Yusaf Raza Gilani prided in wearing different designers suits daily and spending millions on daily expenses of PM House, Hazrat Ali lived in a cottage, wore coarse clothes and earned his living by doing hard labor.
The pomp and show of our dirty rich elite and their insensitivity to the plight of the poor deprived of decent living, honor and dignity has given birth to religious extremism and terrorism espoused by Taliban and other assorted groups. The have-nots feel that democracy and system of justice practiced in Pakistan are anti-Islamic, pro-rich and legacies of the British. The ones lording over them are seen as Brown Sahibs who have replaced erstwhile Gora Sahibs. Having tested them for 65 years, the people are now convinced that our leaders remain more concerned about keeping the west pleased and in further enriching their coffers than attending to their problems. They want a real change and not a cosmetic change.
Notwithstanding the deleterious role of foreign powers in destabilizing Pakistan through sabotage and subversion, we cannot ignore the fact that perpetrators of the crimes are mostly Pakistanis, whether driven by materialistic temptations or getting fed up with hypocrisy and injustices of the elites. The rank and file of the so-called Islamic oriented groups like TTP, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad and other assorted groups is filled by the have-nots having nothing to lose. These groups are involved in militancy and have extensively bloodied Pakistan. Besides killing fellow Muslims insanely, they have not spared women and children, mosques, religious tombs, places of immense historic significance like Ziarat Residency, schools, mosques, funerals and markets. Almost 50,000 people have died at their hands and double the number injured with many disabled for life. Among the victims of terrorism, many were lone bread earners of large families.
Mindless violence and bloodbath is going on for a decade with no letup and the perpetrators are justifying their wanton acts on the plea of changing the secular system to Islamic system. In other words, blood is being splurged in the name of Islam, as if Pakistan is being ruled by infidels and the people are non-believers whose slaughter is permissible. Militants are not prepared to ceasefire and shed off violence despite the government offering peace talks to put an end to the war. They continue to train teenage boys and even females as suicide bombers. More people have got killed in suicide attacks than in drone strikes.
What is this kind of Islam which practices violence and puts to swords all those who refuse to or are reluctant to abide by the perverted form of Islam running contrary to Islam taught by our Holy Prophet and inscribed in Holy Quran? Even forceful conversion of non-Muslims to Muslims is not permitted in Islam what to talk of trying to Islamize a Muslim through coercion. Instead of getting united to defeat the ulterior designs of the enemies of Islam desecrating the image of Prophet Muhammad, undermining Islam, slaughtering Muslims, stealing their resources and instigating them to rebel against their governments, these champions of Islam have chosen to fight and kill fellow Muslims whom they dub as hypocrites and bad Muslims. Allah alone is the best judge and the top guide to show the righteous path to the misled person. Preachers need to convince non-practicing Muslims to become practicing Muslims by their deeds.
The people are feeling highly resentful towards the politicians promising moon during election campaigns and then turning into pharaohs after getting elected and treating them with disdain. It pains them to see how their country blessed with all sorts of riches has been reduced to a carcass and forced to seek alms from IMF, World Bank and USA. They feel mortified seeing the dignity and honor of this proud nation rolling in dust. Over 33% of the people living below poverty line failing to keep the body and soul together keep dreaming about the golden era of Holy Prophet and Khulfa Rashida. They fondly recall the exemplary rule of Hazrat Umar bin Abdul Aziz and wish for a similar Messiah.
Drowned in such fanciful dreams, anyone raising the slogan of Islam appeals to their senses and they run towards him. Handsome monthly salary, gun and adventure are other attractions which motivate the youth from the poor class to join militant groups. Reportedly, the TTP is sending young fighters from FATA to Karachi for adventure, rest and recreation. The culture of militancy bred during the 1980s has grown into a hydra-headed monster. Despite rolling down so many heads of the monster in the last ten years, it keeps reproducing more heads.
Despite the change of government and offer of talks, the monster’s thirst for bloodletting remains unquenched. This hydra-headed monster can stop growing heads and can be got rid of if the new recruits can be weaned away from militancy towards constructive channels. This is possible only if the new government and the elite class change their lifestyle, become poor-friendly, make the powerful accountable, improve legal system to provide cheap and speedy justice to all, refine patwari and police culture, radically improve the economics and make Pakistan stand on its own legs, remove socio-economic deprivations of the neglected regions, create job opportunities, remove the imbalance between Madrassa and school by bringing uniformity in syllabus and spread education at a mass scale, popularize cultural programs through media and stage to raise level of motivation and nationalism, involve the youth in healthy programs, and last but not least, charter independent foreign policy. Economy will start reviving once Pakistan detaches itself from war on terror.
Third-time elected Nawaz Sharif stands on the crossroad of democracy and chaos. If he wants to save democracy and prevent civil war or martial law, he and his team will have to work with full commitment, sincerity and honesty of purpose and bring a real change in the lives of the downtrodden. Bearing in mind his determination, he must be given full chance to prove his worth.
The writer is a retired Brig, a defence analyst and a freelance columnist. email@example.com