Sunday, June 14, 2015

Is Pakistan capable of protecting its minorities?

The recent attack on the Ismaili Muslims in Karachi brought a lot of things into perspective. Firstly, it exposed the ineffectiveness of various military, rangers and police operations, and, secondly, it unveiled the dangers our minority communities are exposed to.
But seeing this attack in isolation would not be of any help. We need to understand how religion has facilitated the state and, by extension, the militant organisations over the past decades and how it has led to the conundrum that we find ourselves in now.
The first time Islam came to serve the government was in 1953, for Mumtaz Daultana, which led to the victimisation of Ahmadis. After this, while almost every government took religion’s aid to stay in power, it was during Ziaul Haq’s era that the scope of religion was extended as an agent to fight the American war against Russia. This step essentially led to the establishment of the first international religious jihadi organisation, the Haqqani Network – according to Stanford University.
And the number of jihadi organisations has grown rapidly since then.
According to the South Asian Terrorism Portal, currently in Pakistan, there are 48 domestic, national and transnational militant jihadi organisations operating. This alone shows how fertile the country has become for religious organisations that have devoted themselves to eradicating ‘lesser Muslims’ – like the Twelver Shias, the Bohri Shias, Ismailis, Ahmadis and the Barelvi Muslims.
Countries across the globe chalk out cohesive and well-planned strategies to eradicate radicalisation of any orientation. However, in Pakistan, it is the opposite; here, the state has been reduced to issuing mere condemnations after every brutal killing. And, similarly, it has no power whatsoever to conduct operations against those extremist elements with which it shares cordial relations and considers as ‘strategic assets’. The terms ‘good Taliban’ and ‘bad Taliban’ are a manifestation of this unrealistic approach. The state has adopted a dualistic approach here. It sponsors extremist organisations and also condemns the killings of innocent citizens by those very organisations.
While it is not to say that India might not be involved in training actors who could disrupt peace in Pakistan, it is the state’s responsibility to ensure the security of minorities from all of its enemies. The ordinary man is least concerned about who carries the attack out; their sole worry is about their own security – a primary right which the state has failed to give them.
Ismailis have been targeted previously as well – in Chitral, Gilgit.
In Chitral, many Ismailis were killed during Zia’s regime and Ismaili jamatkhanas (worship places) were set on fire during the same period. A number of Ismailis, who have been killed individually, have never been reported on mainstream media. In Karachi, the Ismaili jamatkhanas have been attacked previously and many Ismailis have fled Karachi due to security reasons from Garden and adjoining areas.
In 2014, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) released a 50-minute long audio message threatening Ismailis to stop their work as they were supposedly “promoting western culture” in Pakistan.
After the Karachi incident, the media in Pakistan stopped mentioning the words ‘Ismaili Muslims’; instead, it carefully adopted the words ‘Ismaili community’ – the Urdu newspapers used the word ‘Ismaili bradari’ – to refer to the minority. The news analysis projected the philanthropic work of Ismailis and their imam, and asked the government to protect “a community that is economically contributing for the betterment of the country”.
One wonders if “contributing economically” is the reason for the state to protect its citizens or is it the nature of the social contract that a citizen has with the state under which the government is solely responsible for the protection of its citizens. That still needs to be answered.
States do not protect minorities because they contribute towards the betterment of the economy, health, education, or art; they do so because they are citizens of the state.
Coming from an Ismaili background, it was interesting to note that many prominent news anchors and journalists have literally no knowledge of Ismaili history. The Ismailis were mentioned as Aga Khanis in each report, which is not the religious identity of Ismailis. Aga Khan is an honour title bestowed on Hasan Ali Shah, the 46th imam of Nizari Ismailis, by Persian King Fath-Ali Shah Qajar.
It was funny to note one journalist asking naively why Ismailis were being killed as they were neither Sunnis nor Shias. Such is our understanding of various Islamic sects. Moreover, in almost all newspaper reports, the attack was not condemned as an attack against an Islamic sect – it was condemned because the “Ismailis were peaceful people”. This sums up very well how informative and free our media is.
The attack on Ismailis, and other minority groups in Pakistan, is a result of the failed Afghan-jihad policy of the state. And unfortunately, the state has no interest in learning from its past mistakes as it still debates in its parliament about the Yemen issue and seems enthusiastic to fight another war despite having lost 50,000 of its citizens. In the meantime, militant organisations are mobilising masses to protect the Harmain Sharaifin at the cost of their lives.
Pointing all fingers towards RAW and India is giving safe passage to the extremists who are subverting peace of the country and are brutally killing members of minority communities. The state has zero interest in dealing with these militant organisations. This attitude of the state must send a clear message to minorities that their killings will continue in the near and distant future.
Some people will light up vigils, some TV channels will air talk-shows, and some newspapers will highlight their ‘peaceful attitude’ and their ‘great services’ for the nation. But no one will try to discuss the real problem, and in turn, its solution.
Legendary Urdu poet Jaun Elia once said,
Hamara aik hi to mud’da tha,
Hamra aur koi mud’da nahi
(We had only one desire,
We don’t have any other desire).
The minorities in Pakistan had and have only one desire – the right to live freely as a citizen of the state. But does the state have the same desire?
Originally Published Here

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Gilgit-Baltistan elections: The nth nail in the coffin of women equality

Religion has deepened its roots into Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) once again, where the Legislative elections are set to be held in June, 2015.
The first symptom of this religiosity is the allegations against various party leaders for using mosques and imambargahs as launching platforms for their political activities. The second symptom is the current unanimous decision of a so-called jirga (local council) which bars women to vote, as it would put the religious, cultural and social honour of the region at stake – according to a report by BBC Urdu.
The jirga was held in Diamir, one of the seven districts of G-B.
Whereas both of these factors have always been part of Pakistani politics in various constituencies, the important aspect of this recent decision is not that the fatwa was declared in the first place, but that this fatwa is being equally endorsed by candidates of all major political parties contesting the elections. The political candidates of all parties unanimously agreed to follow the directions of these ‘ulema’ (clerics) to keep intact the religious and cultural dignity of the region and ensured the jirga that they would not bring women to polling centres.
For me, this is more disturbing than the decision of the fatwa itself. Candidates who are supposed to be neutral in terms of religious polarisation are throwing all ethics out of the window and siding with a draconian decree that is grotesque as well as backwards.
Women are the first to suffer when it comes to honour – albeit of a man, a family or a society. Our patriarchal roots have always tried to subjugate women; we have many examples of that. Be it the case of Mukhtar Mai and the backlash she faced after standing up for herself, or Benazir Bhutto and how she was maligned and slandered by the high-ups in politics, or Malala Yousufzai and how she is still being hated by majority of Pakistan – we see patriarchy at play in many colours here.
And this recent jirga decision is just another nail in the coffin for Pakistani women.
The jirga’s decision will disenfranchise almost 13,000 women from using their right of vote. Three days have passed since the decision was made, and so far no action has been taken against the clergy or the political candidates who supported this shameful and irrational proposal.
The decision is a strict violation of both human and legal rights of women. Such methods of isolating women from participating in a discourse in public life is an attempt to make them feel inferior and passive – who could easily be moulded according to the wishes of their male benefactors.
Women today constitute almost half of the population, yet they have been subjugated for religious and cultural norms in various part of Pakistan. We can’t predict if the future will take a realistic approach vis-à-vis women apartheid. But we can observe that the age-old practice of female seclusion is still very much present in the 21st century.
Back in 2010, the National Commission on the Status of Women found the same practice of women disenfranchisement in various parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and FATA and asked the Election Commission of Pakistan in the recommendations of its report to take serious notice of the issue, but to our dismay, after five years, the same draconian method is being used against women in G-B.
The chief minister and their cabinet members, who we are told, are highly educated and respectful individuals, are still silent on the issue. Such is our moral standing. Moreover, respective party heads of G-B chapter are also silent on the issue, and they have not condemned so far the attitude of their party’s ticket-holders who were partners in crime with the jirga in presenting and agreeing upon the barring of women to vote.
The people of GB must differentiate between the honour of women and rights of women. Discouraging women to exercise their basic human right of freedom and expression must be opposed in all possible ways. Women can’t remain as silent observers in society following the orders dictated by men. The election commission, political parties, and civil society of G-B must record their protest and take steps to ensure that 13,000 female voters in Diamer are not secluded from the democratic and electoral process.
The government must take serious action against all those religious leaders who are denying women their rights though religious justification. As far as the political candidates are concerned, the election commission must ban them from running political campaigns unless they change their stance about women participation in the election process.
It is also important that religion and politics or religious politics should be replaced with democratic and rights-based politics – a more humane and equal-participatory democratic process. If democracy is ‘government of the people, by the people, and for the people’ then women participation must be ensured or else the state must introduce a new definition of democracy – a government of the men, by the men, and for the men.
Right to equality, justice, empowerment, and representation in a democratic system stems from the right to vote. Denying women this right is like denying them all the basic liberties that are essential for a society to grow. The women of this country need to be more active; they need to have a sense of equality within them and they should feel proud of being citizens of a democratic state.
(Originally Published Here)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Secular Democracy: the only way forward for Pakistan

Today, on 15th March, 2015. Two Taliban suicide bombers attacked a Christian church in Lahore, killing almost 14 and injuring around 76 people. The death tolls will increase, it is doubted. Previously, Christian churches have been vandalized, and towns resided by Christian community have been set torched and looted by fundamentalist Islamic groups. Number of Christian individuals have faced severe punishment as they were falsely accused of blasphemy in Pakistan.  As a state, Pakistan finds it hard to compromise with its growing religious militancy.
Both the secular and religious allies of Pakistan like America, United Kingdom, Saudia and Iran have a coherent framework concerning with their respective secular and Islamic state ideologies. But as far as Pakistan is concerned, the state oscillates between secular and religious identities, and finds no suitable compromise. The country is controlled in some parts by religious militant wings, by the military in other parts and by elected representatives in some other parts. The country is managed by politico-military-mullah alliance.
This is the basic reason that the elected governments have no consistent policy in formulating defence and religious policies of the country. The policy related to defence is controlled by its military establishment, laws pertaining to the blasphemy issue is safeguarded by Islamic parties and other; the elected government in the end is limited only controlling administrative issues. A Leading Pakistani newspaper DAWN labels it the Government’s Confusion in a recent editorial.  It has, however, been the collective confusion of all previous governments.
Often, the state, heavily dosed by Islamic ideology, finds itself helpless in taking bold decision in deciding the course to take the country out of its current tumultuous conditions.
Though its ministers legislate in favor of the rights of its minorities, yet thousands of people belonging to minorities have been killed. Shias, Ahmadis, Christians, and Hindus have continuously faced various sorts of state violence, mob violence and persecutions.
The state through its official media always reassures to its citizens that it highly respects the freedom of expression, yet several pages propagating democracy, secularism and liberalism have been banned by the its broadcasting agencies.
The state has maintained duality vis-a-vis its state policies. The best way is to adopt a coherent, inclusive policy based on secular and democratic principles instead of religious emblems.
Pakistan has always loved and hated secularism. Some of its political parties and military dictators were outspoken liberals and others were religious psychopaths. This duality has created numerous problems in better governance of the state. Given the multiplicity of various rival Islamic sects, Pakistan is certainly not in position to adopt a religious state like Iran and Saudi Arabia. The solution for its survival has to be ensured through a secular democratic political system.
Unfortunately, in Pakistan, secularism is seen as a system opposed to religious values. The powerful religious urban elites mobilize people against secularism in their Friday sermons in mosques. Huge literature produced by right wing political and religious circles define secularism as a western innovation against religious values. But, the fact is totally opposite to what is being preached to the masses of Pakistan.
In his famous book, Formations of the Secular: Christianity, Islam, Modernity,Talal Asad draws an interesting analogy between America, United Kingdom and France about the varying degrees of being politically secular and socially religious. He observes the existence of a secular society and government in France, established religion and secular society in UK and religious society and secular state in USA. The American experiment is an obvious example that the secular state is not always opposed to religious values, a lesson that Pakistan could ponder over.
Secular democracy is not a system about negation of God in the society; neither is it a system of taking God out of politics. Thus we see, with exception of Roosevelt, majority of American presidents have been taking oaths on Bible. Thus secular democracy is to give complete independence, liberty, and confidence to its citizens as an important stakeholders in state affairs without any religious and socio-cultural discrimination.  Only under a secular democratic system can an individual can both have secured religious and political rights.
Once secular democracy is place in order in the country, the state must focus more towards the ‘Politics of Recognition’, a political term coined by Charles Taylor. The basic idea, as Taylor puts it, ‘is that our identity is partly shaped by recognition or its absence, often by the misrecognition of others, and so a person or group of people can suffer real damage, real distortion, if the people or society around them mirror back to them a confining or demeaning or contemptible picture of themselves. Nonrecognition or misrecognition can inflict harm, can be a form of oppression, imprisoning someone in a false, distorted, and reduced mode of being’.
The growing uncertainties among smaller provinces in Pakistan are due to this misrecognition of the rights of smaller units by federation. For example, the state patronage of militant outfits in Punjab is tolerated at the expense of Shia killings. By doing so, the state is negating the rights of liberty and security to Shias. The nationalist movements in  Pakistan are seen as a threat to the state instead of the nationalists’ urge to be recognized and given equal treatment.
A basic democracy, as Taylor argues, must embody ‘a fair degree of nationalist sentiments’. The nationalist sentiments within states are not always insurgencies or conspiracies against the state as seen by the state agencies rather they are deeper sentiments of being recognized and empowered by smaller groups. The state can solve these phenomenal issues through decentralization of powers.
The better future of the state lies in promoting secular democracy and incorporation of ‘Politics of recognition’ in its otherwise religiously biased constitution. Pakistan must recognize these two political ideals to make its future secure.
( Originally Published here )

Saturday, March 14, 2015

ملاله کی جیت

یہ صرف ملاله ہی کی جیت نہیں تھی – یہ تو صدیوں سے چلی ائی تمہاری پدرانہ نظام کی شکست بھی تھی جس میں تم نے سماج اور مذھب کے کندھوں کو استعمال کر کے عورت کو ادھا جنس قرار دیا ہے۔ –
تم بندوقوں سے لوگوں کو سلانے میں مصروف رہے اور وہ قلم کتاب تھام کر لوگوں کو جگانے میں مشغول رہی – تمہارا ہتھیار تمہارا خوف تھا اور اسکا کُل اثاثہ اسکی بے خوفی تھی – ایک ہی شہر کی گلیوں میں تم دونوں اپنے اپنے دھن میں مگن رہے – تم سکول اڑاتے رہے – وہ سکول کھولنے کی کوششوں میں شریک رہی – تم وقتی طور پر جیت گئے اور وہ ہمیشہ کے لئیے امر ہو گئی – تم ہار گئے – وہ جیت گئی۔-
تمہاری ہار کے بعد تمھارے ہمدرد میدان میں کود پڑے – انہوں نے بھی اسے شکست دینے کا عزم کیا – سو دلیلیں گھڑی گئیں- اسے قوم کے ما تھے کا داغ قرار دیا گیا – وہ ماتھا جسے تاریخ نے داغدار کیا تھا اسکی بدصورتی کا الزام اس عورت پر ڈال دیا گیا – اسے قومی عزت فروش بیٹی کا خطاب دیا – وہ قوم جس کی عزت پر بستیاں جلانے ، اقلیتیں پھڑکانے اور تیزاب پھینکنے سے حرف نہیں آتا مگر ایک عورت کےنوبل انعام جیتنے سے حرف آتا ہے۔

عورت تمہارا ازلی دشمن ہے – باغ عدن سے نکالنے سے لیکر معاشرے میں بے حیائی پھیلانے اور خاندان اور قبیلے کی عزت خاک میں ملانے کا سارا الزام تم نے اسی پہ ہی تو دھرا ہے – تمہارے مشہور فلسفی ارسطو نے بھی عورت کو اس لئیے عورت کہا کہ اسمیں کچھ ‘بنیادی نقائص ہیں’ – تمھارے افلاطون نے بھی دو وجوہات پہ ہی تو خدا کا شکر بجا لایا تھا – ایک یہ کہ ‘خدا نے اسے آزاد پیدا کیا’ اور دوسرا یہ کہ ‘اس نے اسے عورت تخلیق نہیں کیا’ – تھمارے ہی ایک مشہور عیسائی عالم تھامس آئیکونز نے عورت کے بارے فرمایا تھا کہ ‘وہ اس لئے کمتر ہے کہ اسمیں مرد کے مقابلے میں عقل اور شعور کی کمی ہے’ –

ساحرلدھیانوی نے تمہاری برادری کے بارے میں ہی تو کہا تھا کہ تم نے عورت کو جنم کے بدلے بازار دیا – سو ایک عورت کا نوبل جیتنا تمہاری مردانگی کیسے برداشت کر سکتی تھی – تم نے اپنی مردانگی کی شکست کا بدلہ اسے غلیظ قسم کے خطابات دے کر نکالنے کی مہم جاری رکھی – اسے یہودی ایجنٹ کہا – اسکے مقابلے میں عبدالستار ایدھی سے لیکر ڈاکٹر ادیب رضوی کا نام لے آۓ- وہ واویلا کیا ، وہ شور مچایا کہ عقل نادم رہ گئی – اوریا مقبول اور انصار عباسی سمیت تمھارے قبیلے کے سرخیلوں نے اسکی کتاب کے ہر سطر میں کفریہ جراثیموں کی موجودگی کا انکشاف کیا – اس عورت کے اپنے صوبے میں اسکی کتاب کی فروخت پر پابندی لگا دی گئی – اسی صوبے میں اسے خراج تحسین پیش کرنے کی مخالفت ہوئی – اسے عالمی جنگ کا ایک مرکزی کردار گردانا گیا – اسکے اپنے باپ پر اس پر حملے کی منصوبہ بندی کے عظیم انکشاف کی سعادت بھی تمہیں حاصل ہوئی۔

یہ ہو تم ، یہ ہے تمہارا معاشرہ، یہ ہے تمہاری مردانگی اور یہ ہے تمہاری ذہنی کیفیت – تمہیں دکھ ملاله کے نوبل انعام جیتنے کا نہیں ہے – تمہیں دکھ اس بات کا ہے کہ تمہاری پدرانہ معاشرتی نظام کو ایسی بہادر عورتوں سے خطرہ ہے – عورت پر تمہاری گرفت خطرے میں ہے – ملاله خواتین کے لئے ایک رول ماڈل بن رہی ہے – اور ایک عورت کا رول ماڈل بننا تمہاری مردانگی کے خلاف ہے – عورت کی برتری کو نہ تم نے بینظیر اور عاصمہ جہانگیر کے کیس میں قبول کیا ہے اور نہ ملاله کے کیس میں کرو گے۔
اور ہاں مقابلہ سخت ہے – سو اپنی بندوقیں تیار رکھنا اور اپنے الفاظ کو اور کاٹ دار بنا لینا – تمہیں ایک عورت کو کمتر قرار دلانے اور اسے شکست دینے کا عظیم کارنامہ سر انجام دینا ہے – تم لا علاج ہو – تم پہ صرف ماتم ہی کیا جا سکتا ہے۔
چلتے چلتے علی زریون کا یہ شعر بھی سن لیجئیے!!

مجھے پسلی سے پیدا کرنے والے
ذرا آدم کی نظریں سیدھی کر دے

(Originally Published here)

عمران خان کے نام تین خطوط

محترم جناب عمران خان صاحب!
امید ہے کہ آپ، محترم وزیر اعلیٰ خیبر پختونخواہ پرویز خٹک اور کے پی کے حکومت کے تمام وزراء خیریت سے ہوں گے اور حکومتی مراعات اور سیکیورٹی کا بھرپور استعمال فرما رہے ہوں گے۔جناب اعلیٰ آپکی حکومت نے سکولوں کی حفاظت کے پیش نظر اساتذہ کو ہتھیار فراہم کرنے کا جو اعلان کیا ہے اسے سن کر دلی خوشی ہوئی ہماری مدت سے یہ تمنا تھی کہ اساتذہ اور طلباء کے ہاتھ میں قلم اور کتاب کی جگہ بندوق ہو۔اگرچہ یہ اساتذہ بچوں کو زیور علم سےآراستہ کرنے کےلیے ان سکولوں کارخ کرتے ہیں لیکن بچوں کی حفاظت کےلیےاگر ان کومسلح کردیا جائے تو کون سا آسمان ٹوٹ پڑے گا۔
کپتان صاحب اس عظیم مشن کو شروع کرنے پر ہم آپکو مبارکباد دیتے ہیں اور اس میں آپ کی کامیابی کےلیے دعا گو ہیں۔ بندوق اور امن کا چولی دامن کا رشتہ ہے ۔ ہمیں معلوم ہے کہ حسب ِسابق پاکستان کے نام نہاد لبرلز اور خود ساختہ دانشور طبقہ آپکے اس فیصلے کی مخالفت کرے گالیکن ہم امید کرتے ہیں کہ آپ بھی حسب سابق مکمل عزم کے ساتھ اپنے منصوبے کی کاملیت پر ایمان رکھیں گے اور ان کی چوں چاں کو درخور اعتنا نہیں سمجھیں گے۔
جناب اعلیٰ آپکی حکومت نے سکولوں کی حفاظت کے پیش نظر اساتذہ کو ہتھیار فراہم کرنے کا جو اعلان کیا ہے اسے سن کر دلی خوشی ہوئی ہماری مدت سے یہ تمنا تھی کہ اساتذہ اور طلباء کے ہاتھ میں قلم اور کتاب کی جگہ بندوق ہو۔
یہا ں اس بات کا تذکرہ بے جا نہیں ہوگا کہ بندوق سے کھیلنے کا ہمارا وسیع تجربہ ہے ۔ اپنے اس تجربے کی روشنی میں ہم آپکو یہ بتانا مناسب سمجھتے ہیں کہ کے پی کے میں اساتذہ کی تربیت کا کام ہم ڈاکوؤں کو سونپ دیا جاے ۔ہم وثوق کے ساتھ کہہ سکتے ہیں کہ پولیس سے تربیت حاصل کرنے کے بعد یہ اساتذہ طالبان کا مقابلہ کرنے میں ناکام رہیں گے ۔ہم آپ کے علم میں یہ بات لانا ضروری سمجھتے ہیں کہ ہم نے تمام پولیس مقابلوں میں ان اہلکاروں کو بدترین شکست سے دو چار کیا ہے۔اس کی دو مثالیں گوجرانوالہ اور اندرون سندھ ہماری برادری کی پولیس مقابلوں میں فتح ہے ۔ ہم آپ کے سکولوں کے تمام اساتذہ کو ماہر نشانہ باز بنانے کی سو فیصد ضمانت دیتے ہیں ۔ ہماری خدمات مناسب قیمت پر حاصل کی جاسکتی ہیں۔ اساتذہ کے ہاتھ میں بندوق ہماری برادری کے روشن مستقبل کی ضمانت ہے۔
صدر آل پاکستان ڈاکو ایسوسی ایشن (رجسٹرڈ )پاکستان
محترم چئیرمین پی ٹی آئی جناب عمران خان !
بعداز سلام امید واثق ہے کہ آپ کی شادی شدہ زندگی اور کے پی کے کی حکومت اللہ کے فضل سے درست سمت پر گامزن ہوں گی۔ (اس فقرے میں اللہ کے فضل کو فضل اللہ پرھنے سے گریز کیا جائے)
اساتذہ کو ہتھیار بند کرنے کے آپکے فیصلے سے دل بلیوں کتوں اچھل رہا ہے۔ جس دن آپ کی حکومت نے یہ اعلان کیا ، اسی دن ہم نے اپنی تنظیم کا ہنگامی اجلاس طلب کیا اور اس نتیجے پر پہنچے کہ یہ بلاشبہ ایک عظیم منصوبہ ہے جس کی کامیابی کے لیے ہم خصوصی دعائیہ تقاریب منعقد کرنے کا ارادہ رکھتےہیں اور اس سلسلے میں رقت آمیز دعاوں کے بعض ماہر علماء سے رابطہ بھی کرلیا گیا ہے۔
عمران خان صاحب جیسا کہ آپ کے علم میں ہے اور سارا ملک بھی اس بات سے بخوبی واقف ہے کہ ہماری تنظیم کے کارکنوں کو اسلحہ چلانے کا نہایت وسیع تجربہ ہے۔ ہر سال ہم سینکڑوں کی تعداد میں احمدیوں،عیسائیوں اور شیعوں کو پھڑکاتے ہیں جو ہماری تنظیمی مہارت کا منہ بولتا ثبوت ہے ۔ ہم یہ امید کرتے ہیں کہ اساتذہ کی تربیت کے لیے ہماری تنظیم کی خدمات حاصل کی جائیں گی ۔ ہم تربیت کی تمام سہولیات مفت فراہم کریں گے بشرطیکہ آپ کی حکومت جیلوں میں موجود ہمارے کارکنوں کی رہائی کا بندوبست کرے۔ بندوق چلانے کے علاوہ ہماری تنظیم سکول اساتذہ کو دستی بم بنانے، خود کش جیکٹ بنانے اور دیگر ایسی مہارتوں کی تربیت بھی مکمل ایمانداری اور دلجمعی سے فراہم کرے گی –
امیر تنظیم
ا ب پ ت ٹ – کالعدم
محترم عمران خان!
السلام علیکم !!
ہم اللہ سے آپ کی اور آپ کے وزرا کی دن دگنی اور رات چوگنی ترقی کےلیے دعا گو ہیں ۔اللہ آپ کی حکومت ہمیشہ ہمارے سروں پر قائم رکھے۔آمین ثما آمین۔ آپ کے علمِ علیم میں ہوگا کہ آل پاکستان ایجوکیشن الائنس اینڈ کلاشنکوف کمپنی ایک غیر سرکاری تنظیم (این جی او) ہے جسک ا قیام نئے پاکستان کے ساتھ ہی عمل میں لایا گیا ہے۔ اس تنظیم کے بنیادی مقاصد میں اساتذہ اور بچوں کو تعلیمی و نصابی سرگرمیوں کے ساتھ جہادی میدان میں بھی تعلیم و تربیت فراہم کرنا ہے۔ اللہ کے فضل سے ہماری تنظیم پاکستان کی واحد تنظیم ہے جو بچوں میں مردمومن اور شاہین کے اوصاف بیک وقت پیدا کرنے کی کوشش کررہی ہے۔
محترم عمران خان صاحب ! کلاشنکوف کمپنی کے اراکین نئے پاکستان میں سکولوں کے اندر” بندوق پھیلاؤ”مہم میں آپ کے شانہ بشانہ ہے اور ہمارااس بات پر کامل ایمان ہے کہ آپ کی ایماندار اور مستعد حکومت ہماری کمپنی کے ساتھ مل کر اساتذہ کے اندر چھپے کمانڈوز کو جگا سکتی ہے۔ہم اس سلسلے میں حکومت ِنیا خیبر پختونخواہ کو اپنی خدمات خلوص اور عقیدت کے ساتھ پیش کرتے ہیں ۔ ہمارے مشیران کے لیے آپ کی حکومت کو نہایت مناسب قیمت پراپنی خدمات سے مستفید ہونے کا موقع فراہم کرنا ایک اعزاز ہوگا ۔ انشا اللہ وہ وقت دور نہیں جب کے پی کے کا ہر استاد اور بچہ سکول سے ایک ماہر نشانہ باز طالب بن کر نکلے گا ! آزمائش شرط ہے ۔ سروس کی گارنٹی ہماری۔
مثبت جواب کا منتظر
ڈائریکٹر آل پاکستان الائنس برائے تعلیم و عسکریت پسندی

(Originally Published here)

Saturday, January 31, 2015


Sharia is open to multiple interpretations. The emergence of numerous sects in Islam is a product of such interpretations at particular times and as responses to changing social and political dynamics.
At the same time, the multiplicity of possible interpretations of Sharia has also served political and religious elites well in their effort to consolidate power. The inclusion of Wahab’s thought in modern Saudi Arabia, for instance, or the role of the Ulema under Mughal emperor Akbar’s rule in India can be seen as instances of this technique of extending power under the guise of Sharia implementation. In his book Tareekh Aur Danishwar, Dr. Mubarak Ali cites various examples to illustrate how Akbar did not hesitate to use fatwas from different schools of thoughts to legitimize his royal orders and thus exercise control over his subjects.

In his books The Mughal Emperors and The Islamic Dynasties of India, and Iran and Central Asia, Francis Robinson argues that collaboration between Akbar and the Ulema of various fiqh was an integral part of the former’s monarchical power. In contrast Ulemas opposing the Emperor’s orders were often sent away on pilgrimage.

This sort of active collaboration between powerful religious and political elites has been an integral part of history. Across religions, the elite have instrumentalised religious cannon and scriptures to strengthen their hold over power. American sociologist Clifford James Geertz calls such collaboration a ‘Sanctification of Social Inequality’, a process by which religious and political elites collaborate with each other to use religion to maintain their power over people.

Another author Ira M. Lapidus in his voluminous book, A History of Islamic Societies, defines such collaboration as ‘urban religious elitism’.

In Pakistan, this sanctification of social inequality by the way of mullah-elite collaboration has been a crucial aspect of political and public life.

This collaboration reached its peak during the Zia dictatorship. In the 1980s, the partnership between Jamat-e-Islami (JI) and General Zia-ul-Haq resulted in the introduction of the Hudood Ordinance and Blasphemy laws into Pakistan’s constitution. Through this collaboration, the JI attempted to gain political influence, while Gen Zia-ul-Haq arguably sought to enhance the social base of his dictatorship.

The inclusion of JI in the Zia government multiplied the impact of such elitism and the sanctification of social inequality. It also played an important role in giving the otherwise ideological war between capitalism and communism a religious colour.

Successive governments since the Zia era, have lent support to religious groups to serve their own political ends. The creation of the Islami Jamhori Ittehad (IJI) in the late 1990s and Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) under the Musharraf dictatorship played a significant role in entrenching this process.

The growing violence in the name of religion is an expected outcome of this mullah-elite connivance, which is increasingly preying on even its own kith and kin. The case of Junaid Jamshed is its latest manifestation.

The case of Junaid Jamshed:

Born again Muslim, pop-singer turned televangelist, Junaid Jamshed was recently implicated in a blasphemy case. He had to escape to London, to the amusement of many liberals and progressives in Pakistan, for he was wont to deliver long lectures about the rotten culture of the West.  

However, the case of Junaid Jamshed indicates that the Sharia can be moulded as per requirement. Several religious Ulema came forward in support of Junaid Jamshed, saying that the door to repentance remains open in such cases. However, in the cases of two other blasphemy accused—Asia Bibi (a Christian woman) and Junaid Hafeez (a young university lecturer)—no such voices of succour could be heard.
Junaid Jamshed’s case has highlighted the deep hypocrisy that marks the mullah-elite consensus. Everything, from the Constitution to religious order, can be amended for the benefit of the powerful and to oppress the poor. 

Junaid Jamshed’s association with the Tableeghi Jamaat won him lot of sympathy from the top Ulema. The same Ulema, who had no hesitation in applying a different set of Sharia rules for Junaid Hafeez and Asia Bibi.

This farcical episode also teaches us an important lesson: contradictions cannot be reconciled merely through an elite consensus. Events intervene and disrupt the elitist scheme.

A passive government:

The other aspect yet again brought to light by the blasphemy laws is the passive attitude or worse, the irrelevance of the state apparatus.

In the past, the blasphemy accused have been killed by individual zealots (Salman Taseer, Salman Bhatti, Shahzad Maseeh and others).In other instances, charged crowds have taken to vandalising Christian neighbourhoods (Badami Bagh, Gojra and Shanti Nagar).

In all such cases, not only did the state apparatus prove to be impotent, but the government of the day could not find even the courage to condemn the incidents.

The need of the time is to review these laws. The urban religious elite might show willingness to do so in the context of the Junaid Jamshed affair. However, a mere repeal of the laws is not enough. There is also a need to create an environment where the ‘sanctification of social inequality’ and ‘urban religious elitism’ becomes less an instrument of state policy.

The clerics supporting Junaid Jamshed should also have the moral courage to speak for the less fortunate victims of the blasphemy laws.

One may also suggest that the government breaks its silence. 

Originally posted here

Thursday, January 29, 2015


The brutal assassination of 146 children in Peshawar on 16th December 2014, the attacks on the French newspaper on 7th January killing 11 people and injuring 10 and the flogging of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi has again generated a hard debate about moderate Islam and Islamic militancy.
The opinions vary widely among those who believe the issue is of the interpretation of Quranic verses and those who believe the divine source itself contains texts openly inviting Muslims to kill the apostates.

Soon after the Paris attack, the British evangelist Anjum Chaudhry was quoted by The Independent saying that ‘Muslims don’t believe in freedom of expression’. Similarly, after the attack on Army Public School-Peshawar, the Lal Masjid cleric openly refused to condemn the Taliban who claimed the responsibility of killing 146 children.

This is the lethal interpretation and mind set of Muslim clergies.  Having numerical strength in almost 50 countries, Islam today is the second largest religion. Its growth is multiplying fast in Europe. How to understand it all?

Rationalism defeated:

The earliest Islamic tradition was based on the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. It was a time when religion and government was under the command of the Prophet in a very traditional setting suited to the Arab world primarily based on Oral Culture that had still to witness the reading and writing system, according to Walter J. Ong. Ong has written in detail about aspects of oral cultures in his famous book Orality And Literacy.  

The religious decrees were conceptualized and implemented by the Prophet. Richard Osborne notes that such teachings were not philosophical but ‘a simple monotheism full of the chivalrous Bedouin sentiments of the desert - kindliness, generosity and brotherhood.’

After the demise of Prophet, the internal clashing among Muslims caused a heterogeneous Islamic society deriving its impulse from multiple interpretations of the holy text. Verses from Quran were interpreted on sectarian footings. Large Hadith corpuses were developed under various Islamic dynasties for their own political motives. Dr. Ghulam Jilani Barq has shown in a very detailed way the politics behind Hadith literature in his works.

Exposing prophetic orders and the Quranic text to multiple interpretations caused a huge fragmentation among Muslims. The emergence of Islamic orthodoxy: the Asharriats, and Islamic reformists: the Mu'tazilites,  shaped the Muslim society’s intellectual and traditional narratives both of which are equally appealing to the Islamic societies currently.

Both the Orthodox and Rationalist moment competed for survival. However, for a number of reasons, the rationalist movement that started with Kundi in 830 ended soon in 1100 with Averroes (Ibn-e-Rushd).

The philosophical world that emerged in Arab lands ended in Arab world. Unfortunately, the deep philosophical ideas emerging from Arab world could not get the attention they deserved in other Islamic countries.

On the other hand, the Orthodox interpretations also emerging from the Arab lands were accepted much rapidly by other Islamic countries. The most notable among were the ideas of Muhammad Ibn-e-Abdul Wahab and Hassan-al-Banna. Both these thoughts - deeply orthodox in their manifestation -- deeply affected the social, religious and economic rubrics of the Islamic world. Moderate Islam was replaced by orthodox Islam, which further played a significant role in creating all the Islamic fundamentalist groups in Muslim countries like TTP, Al-Qaida, ISIS, Boko-Haram. They all have a global agenda of the Islamic Sharia system. There are also local militant outfits that have local agendas of uprooting Islamic minorities.

While the rationalist Muslim thoughts in the Islamic world survived for a very brief time period, the orthodox thoughts were successfully exported/imported among the Islamic countries enthusiastically for a greater time period.

Whereas the Greeks were formulating ways for a sustained democracy in the 6th century BC, the majority of Muslim societies are still governed through monarchic rule and limited democracies. Thus dealing with a wider society that lives in the 21st century but lacks the refine ideas of governance and democracy of the 6th century BC, needs a different approach towards reconciliation and accommodation.  

Today, Muslim orthodox scholars are trying to control women. This could be witnessed in the case of Boko-Haram’s kidnapping schoolgoing girls; Taliban’s bombing girl schools, and Laal Masjid’s attacks on ‘sex workers’ in Islamabad. Such teachings were frequent during the dark ages. Christian missionaries wrote similar treaties to force women. For example St. Jerome penned down detailed treatise about decent living of women.

Moderate Islam --- as argued by many scholars--- in fact is either the individual quest of a few rationalist Muslim individuals who paid the highest price for their progressive attitudes or dynastic patronage of intellectual traditions in Islamic societies. The two important factors that led to fall of this intellectual tradition were the gradual decline of Islamic ruling dynasties and the persecutions of Muslim intellectuals.

 Many of the Muslim scientists and rationalist thinkers were declared heretics and they were punished accordingly. Just imagine in the context of Pakistan the case of Syed Sibt-e-Hassan, who spent most of his life in jail under the Zia regime. Likewise, Dr. Fazl-ur-Rehman and Dr.  Abdus Salam were forced to leave the country. In more recent times, people like Jibran Nasir demanding Madressah reforms are being declared western stooges and Ahmadi agents. Such is the price for taking steps to promote rationality and moderation. It is not only in Pakistan, but the case of Muslims who stand and speak for modernity, liberty and separation of state and religion is the same all over the Muslim world: intimidations, threats, persecution and what not!

Blurred case:

The case of moderate Islam is blurred. The Quran is interpreted in line with sectarian, political and personal attachments. Ahadith are controversial, each Islamic sect believing in a different version of them. Minute details of prayer methods, fasting times, Azans wordings are creating greater controversies. Acceptance of each other is eroding and license to kill the lesser Muslim is getting dramatic popularity.

The scholars who have written extensively on reformation and enlightenment attribute four main factors to its origination: (a) gradual erosion of the church and monarchial power-relation, (b) North European Christian’s agitation against church exploitation, (c) the rise of humanism in Italy, and (d) scientific discoveries and philosophical debates against the Christian teachings.

Can these four conditions apply to Islamic countries today? The answer is a simple ‘No’. The power nexus between states and religious clergies is stronger. In certain Islamic countries, in fact, state affairs are dictated by religious clergies. Their power is maximizing with the passage of time. Challenging their monopoly leads to death. As far as challenging the indoctrinated false teaching is concerned, even a modest demand of curriculum reform in seminaries creates a storm. The recent ‘Reclaim Your Mosque’ campaign in Pakistan shows the dangerous consequence of such demands. A recent report in Pakistan's leading newspaper Dwan notes that even the seminary teachers confess their graduates’ involvement with terrorist outfits, yet the reform is unacceptable to the majority of these teachers.

On a parallel side, we have the most dangerous fatwas coming from the noted Muslim scholars having a large following. The fatwas include Saudi Grand Mufti’s concept of ‘The Sun revolving around the Earth’Convicting 15 Men, Women for Mingling at Partybreast feeding the co-workers, ‘Necrophilia to be Halal’, and the Iranian fatwa blaming ‘scantily clad women for earthquakes’.

The scholars commenting on renaissance and reformation, however, ignore the common people in this intellectual process. Without their acceptance of the philosophical debates; the reformation would have perished away. The common masses in the West also disposed of their mediaeval thoughts and accommodated the ongoing philosophical debates. The western educational institutes highly appreciated teaching philosophy as a subject. These two factors are also missing in Islamic societies where a majority of people still believe their religious ideas to be the final source of truth. Philosophy is a highly ignored subject in Islamic countries.  In the case of Pakistan, philosophy is taught in 9 out of 49 universities in which social sciences and humanities is being taught. Islamic studies is taught in 29 universities, by contrast.

Today, the glorious Islamic period of scientific revolution has been replaced with the organizations that promote a myopic and tunnel vision of both Islam and the world. Hope for a moderate, reformed Islam is hard to entertain. 

Originally published here