What about state and society?
A man is hanged by the state according to the law of the land for murdering one of its citizens who happened to be a sitting governor of the country’s largest province, too. But it seems as if all hell has been let loose as thousands and thousands (some initial estimates say, around one hundred thousand) gathered to give the convicted cold-blooded murderer a hero’s funeral. And this is despite the fact that not only due of process of law was allowed to complete but also that the motives for the murder were skewed – even if not skewed the murderer had no right to take law in his own hands and pump 28 bullets into the body of the slain governor.
And not only that the convict was police commando but also that hundreds of lawyers showered rose petals on him when he was brought to the court for the first time. The remaining due good thing was done by a former chief justice and a brother judge of the Lahore High Court plus hundreds of other learned lawyers who offered to defend him free of cost. Add to it the feelings of the general populace who think somewhere deep down inside that the fanatic had done the right thing; and the picture of today’s progressive Pakistan its forward looking society is complete.
Qadri embodied what has gone wrong with the country, as one newspaper’s editorial said. But the picture that we drew above tells something about where the state of Pakistan and the society as a whole has reached. And it gives birth to too many serious questions that we must answer as a nation before it gets too late: How have we reached here? What were the main reasons, factors and actors that played the most crucial part in bringing us here? What creates the monsters of extremism, sectarianism and terrorism? And what are that most crucial factors that are helpful in the continuation of this process and which we must do away with?
The story is very old and its genesis can be traced to the creation of the country. Quaid-e-Azam tried to correct the course for the newborn state. And he would have succeeded but for four unfortunate reasons. First, that it was too little, too late in the sense that this effort was started just before the formal inception of the country – for a very brief time. Second, though the Quaid explained the outline of the new state before the most important and influential quarters, it failed to get popular legitimacy as it was mostly done away from the public eyes and ears. Third, Jinnah left the scene without having a chance to get the state actually started. And, fourth, the leadership that succeeded him had no constituency in the areas which constituted Pakistan as almost all of them had migrated from the areas that were now part of India; and they had to continue playing with the Islamic card as they had no other reason – or stature – to continue in power without giving the country a constitution or offering themselves for to be popularly elected.
That was the reason that contrary to the ideals of Quaid-e-Azam and the guidelines he had set before the members of the constituent assembly, an ‘Objectives Resolution’ was thrust down the nation’s throat which to this day it neither can spit nor swallow. After the Pakistan Movement, this was the first step of our long journey towards extremism and theocracy as a nation state.
Riding on the waves created by the independence movement of the Muslims of subcontinent, and later on the adoption of Objectives Resolution as the guiding principle, the emboldened clergy, with people’s support, opted to enter the anti-Ahmadiyya moment that culminated in Lahore Riots of 1953 and introduced the army and the nation to the concept of limited Martial Law on May 6. Many more developments followed until the country was rid of the ‘non-constituency’ immigrant political and bureaucratic leadership by a military dictator who imposed martial law in 1958.
But the struggle continued between the religious lobbies and the new liberal leadership for supremacy. Ayub Khan, having the confidence of a limited, yet most powerful, ‘constituency’ in the shape of armed forces, called the shots during the initial years but gradually lost control over power due; a) the 1965 war, b) popular movement for political rights/democracy and, c) opposition of the religious right.
The 1971 war created a new bond between the army and religious lot, led by Jamaat-e-Islami in former East Pakistan. The alliance remained dormant for some time because Bhutto was catapulted to power as a result of strong poplar support. But the religious right did not relent in its struggle to give Pakistan a religious identity. They were tacitly helped by army and bureaucracy due to their own grudges and loss of power and prominence at the hands of Bhutto. So, the moment it was felt that Bhutto’s popularity was waning, a ruthless campaign was first launched to prove him non-religious, secular and even an infidel and then a Niza-e-Mustafa Movement to overthrow him from power.
Bhutto’s ouster at the hands of a fanatic military general in the aftermath of a movement run in the name of religion opened a new retrogressive and bloody descent into the abyss of lawlessness, loss of writ of state and rise of the religious thugs who on the one hand wish the state to run on their interpretation of religion and whimsical dictates and who on the other hand won’t stop at anything short of slitting Muslims’ throats in order to make a society of the Momineen like their own self. After 1979’s Russian military intervention in Afghanistan and the Iranian Revolution, the army led by Zia and the religious vultures of all sorts had a field day which they are enjoying to this day.
But the question is why have the religious groups gained power and influence during the past 35 years that they had not achieved during the 1,400 years that preceded it? What will be the fate of the state if this slide is allowed to continue? And if we don’t want the state to be washed away by the current ‘extremist’ wave of exhibitionist religiosity, what can we do to stop it?
There, of course, are many reasons and answers to these and many more identical questions but the most important is the division of the state institutions from within.
Four military rules, stretched over a period of 33 years in a total of 58 years since 1958, gave a taste of power to military generals besides giving the military as an institution a larger than life clout and say in all the important matters of the state which otherwise fall outside its constitutional and moral mandate. In order not to let it go and to maintain their dominant position vis-à-vis the civilian side, they have, historically resorted to methods that may not be justified otherwise. Beside many more things, on top of the list of such manipulative measures are; 1) constant fear of the enemy, 2) playing of the corruption drum of political class, 3) questioning their integrity on self-defined notions of patriotism, 4) using every propaganda method to achieve all these objectives (media, etc), and 5) religion.
Among this short list, the dual component of religion and corruption has always played the most important role, particularly after the Zia’s fateful era. Since 1980 all religious lobbies, parties, groups, the pulpit-mullah and so-called ulema and mushaikh have been either on the top of state’s largesse/patronage list; or in case of groups/militias patronised by the state itself with lethal fire-power, the state has constantly been looking the other way, surrendering the state’s legal and political writ and monopoly on violence and even its sovereignty over large chunks of its territory.
The first casualty of this policy was segments of the armed forces itself to suffer from the ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ and be affected by the ideology/ideas that were first tried on the Afghans and then on home ground; not only for the reincarnation of the bygone Muslim Khilafat to be led by Mard-e-Haq but also to beat the civilian political side with. Even Musharraf accepted publically that the state of Pakistan under him was running with hares and hunting with hounds.
This was the policy and this was the background that finally culminated in everyone being Islamised to the extent that they are now ready to defy and take on the state. Whether they are cognizant of this fact or not, the citizens have reached the point where after some time they may take the conscious decision of doing away with the state altogether in favour of some delusional Islamic Khilafat, like the one some thugs established in tribal areas and Swat.
It is a matter of great satisfaction that the army has gone under a great transformation during the past some time. Signs of a ‘paradigm shift’ first started to appear during the latter half the previous army chief who declared the internal enemy as existential in nature. But it took a certain shape under Gen Raheel Sharif who finally decided to take on this enemy.
So far, so good.
But there still seems to be some more clarity required. It is clear we can’t choose between good and bad Taliban. Similarly, we can’t take a sigh of relief on clearing tribal areas from the hardcore terrorists unless their breeding ground is annihilated in the cities and towns and villages all over the country. Likewise, we can’t shun religiosity selectively; we can’t do away with it in case of those who took up arms against us and keep it promoting among the citizenry in order to keep politicians under the thumb and to maintain the dominant position in every sphere of the statecraft. And to beat the civilian side when it does not behave as desired.
This has already caused incalculable damage to this state, its institutions and its people. Such approaches and policy decisions have brought us to the point where autonomous entities have emerged within state within the state; where someone under the chief makes a conspiracy and execute it to oust a constitutionally elected government, but the chief doesn’t know or can’t stop it; where the chief of another institution that is supposed to uphold the law of the land, offers his services free of cost to a person who had confessed to have killed an official of the state in cold blood and challenged the writ of the state so brazenly; where suspicious people are found in the entourage of the president; where armed forces personnel are found involved in attacks on army chief; where lawyers say farewell to law and the state authority in favour of misplaced and illegal religiosity; and where one hundred thousand people gather to break the confidence of the rest of 199,900,000 in the future of this country.
Thanks God majority of them are religious zealots living on the fringes of mainstream society yet. We can’t afford to carry on with such disastrous experimentations anymore. Nor can this state afford to have people on the helm who have love (bordering lust) for making illegal money at the expense of shaking confidence of the people in the system and, consequently, in the state. Or next time, the proportion of the people gathered may be in reverse order if something like this happened a few more years from now.
Initially progressive barrister Jinnah laid the foundation of Pakistan in 1946 by calling on Muslims of preindependence India for Direct Action as a result in the city of Calcutta Minority Muslims killed 5000 Majority Hindus in a single day. From then on there was no looking back.
Well said sir ‘ there still seems to be some more clarity required’
The state implemented the law but the gathering on funeral prayer has once again proved that minds of this nation are still confused. They want peace but they are still unable to differentiate between right and wrong . The reason behind it is absence of clear policy and strategy.
What Mumtaz Qadri did was right as he did it to punish a blasphemer. What the judges did was also correct because under the law Mumtaz Qadri was to establish in the court that salman had committed blasphemy which he failed to prove and hence martyred.
The story of Mansur Alhalaj has been revived once again.
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