I have studies in BJP rule ...never in my schoolin any text book showed islam as an evil or inferior religion, for that matter neither christianity nor sikhism.....Again i say that country is not just boundaries....Hindus have only one country to look upto and that is India..dont u get it....Muslims have an entire islamic world to look up to..christians have an entire western civilisation...and everyone knows to what extent israel go to protect jew rights....its not their mistake that they couldnt cross the border,...theres no pakistani muslim who loves India and it is a well known fact..no need to debate on that....but under those circumstances i know Pakistani Hindus definitely want to live in India...What poverty..what nonsense...if this is the case then deport all the beggars and poor people from India as they are spreading poverty....I cannot talk abt other religions caz hiostorically hindus have a sense of attatchment with this land ...with India,,,,they do not have anywhere to go ....and if pakistani muslims had a sense of loyalty for the mother land pakistan would never have formed,,,,,India is the only country that the hindus around the world look up to...its a fact..u cannot change it....indus have been living here since time immemorial so they have only one land which gives them the sense of home or security..i say it again..Hindus have every right to look upto India as a saviour and if India,the homeland of hindus cant do anything abt it....then it doesnt have nayright to be a nation that stands for freedom....No a hindu not loyal to pakistan under those circumstances cannot be termed as traitor because they openly want Indian citizenship..and if that is the case than Indians my friend helped traitor Bangladeshis ...that means India is the bad nation not Pakistan...Hitler was not bad then as jews were traitors..according to you then Hitler did the right thing by trying to exterminate jews
N.B.: Notice the way Dr. Hoodbhoy talks and the way Zaid Hamid talks. This clearly shows the difference between education and indoctrination, between cultivation and philistinism, between sense and baloney.
All this having been said, I agree with Mike Scheuer that killing these guys in onesies and twosies, while "hoping" for "hearts and minds" is a recipe for defeat. To do more than kill one or two at a time, we have to either: 1) make it in Pakistan's interest to once and for all end the sanctuary for both the Taliban and especially al Qaeda, or 2) if Pakistan cannot or will not do this, we need to eliminate the sanctuary ourselves -- not with fire weapons, but shock forces (marines and infantry taking and holding the ground and controlling not only the resources, but the people there.)
Given the political costs of option 2, I vote for option 1. The question is, what possible leverage can we give Pakistan to get them to once and for all remove the Taliban threat to Afghanistan that is currently based in the FATA? Surely, the world's remaining superpower -- despite the squandering of immense opportunities, treasure and too much blood over the past nine years -- still has the clout and the savvy to make Pakistan and offer it cannot refuse to embrace with the proper sense of urgency.
I will offer only one small item for contemplation, as I need to get back to work. Pakistan is an artificial construct whose legitimacy as an independent nation-state is increasingly called into question -- not only by some in the international community, but by increasing numbers of their own population. The largest Muslim nation in the subcontinent is not Pakistan, but India. Muslims live well -- indeed, on average, better -- in India than in Pakistan. This is not lost on the Pakistanis. Prognostications for India over the coming fifty years are pretty rosy from an economic perspective. That can hardly be said for Pakistan -- whose Punjabi elites control but a mere sliver of land between India and the FATA region to the north and west -- largely peopled by the Pashtuns. Further to the west are the Baluchis -- no friend of the Punjabis either and eager to go their own way.
Given all of this, what if the U.S. finally decided to take into account the strategic culture of the region and decided to go over the heads of both the Pakistani and Afghan governments and make the following offer. The Durand Line is no more. We support the existence of a free and independent Pashtunistan and Baluchistan. Moreover, we could invite India to assist in this with Muslim Indian troops. It worked in Bangladesh. Why not here?
If Islamabad were to be handed this as our alternative to their fixing the Taliban/ al Qaeda sanctuary once and for all, I think we would have their attention and their absolute cooperation.
I go back to something I read during the Vietnam War: A country that cannot defend its neutrality is not neutral. If the enemy is operating from and staging combat forces in your country -- and you do nothing about it -- you are no longer neutral.
Waziristan is not supposed to produce international stars in sports or make any other contribution to civilisation. The area has been forced to produce religious militants. Only militants like Baitullah Mehsud, Hakeemullah Mehsud, Nek Mohammad, and Mullah Nazir can be the symbol of Waziristan. Any contradictory symbols from the area have to be suppressed or at least treated with state neglect and disdain
What is common between Dr Abdus Salam and Maria Toorpakai? Dr Salam is an internationally recognised Pakistani physicist. Maria is a talented squash player from Waziristan. There is one thing common between the two: the state disdain towards their talents in their respective fields.
Dr Salam is arguably the best mind Pakistan has ever been able to produce. In the world of physics, he is known as one of the 20th century’s most distinguished scientists in particle physics, a difficult but fundamental area of science. He is Pakistan’s only Nobel Laureate. He had a deep love for Pakistan and wished to establish an international centre for theoretical physics in Pakistan. Pakistan showed no interest and ultimately the centre was set up in Trieste, Italy. Today, the centre facilitates the scientific work of scientists from developing countries, including Pakistanis. In Pakistan, Dr Salam was ostracised simply because he was an Ahmedi. There is no institution in Pakistan that is named after him. His name is not known to the young generations in schoolbooks or in media discourse. The state disowned him due to its pursuit of a narrow ‘Islamist’ identity that discriminates against minorities and excludes Ahmedis from the fold of Islam.
Maria Toorpakai could be a rising star of Pakistan in the world of squash. She aims to win world squash championship for Pakistan. She has the potential to do so. She has been Pakistan’s No 1 female squash player from 2003 onwards. She won third position in the World Junior Squash Championship. She has represented Pakistan in the UK, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Kuwait, India and Iran, and has been wining matches at the world level tournaments in these countries. The World Squash Federation also nominated her for Young Player of the Year award.
Maria complains that the government of Pakistan does not provide her the necessary financial support to facilitate her training as well as participation in international squash competitions. Her family had to buy her shoes, rackets, balls and other necessary equipments. Despite several requests, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has never sponsored her air ticket for participation in international events. Her father has to borrow money to buy her air tickets.
Recently, she had a sponsorship from a US sports company to buy shoes, rackets and other necessary squash equipments. She still needs sponsorship for her air travels and stays abroad to participate in international tournaments. Her father, a lecturer in a government polytechnic college in Bara, Khyber Agency, and her mother, an assistant director at the FATA Education Department, cannot afford the expenses for her participation in the tournaments abroad. They request the government of Pakistan and sports sponsors in Pakistan and abroad to offer her the necessary sponsorship.
Moreover, Maria’s father has been receiving threats from the Taliban. They demanded him to stop his daughter from playing squash, go on tableegh (preaching) or be ready for serious consequences. Despite the threats, her father firmly supports his daughter’s struggle to become world squash champion. He and Maria are sure that she has the potential to become the world champion and win honours for Pakistan in the international arena.
Her relatives and friends inform that the Pakistan Squash Federation has been hindering Maria’s efforts to meet President Zardari to apprise him about her problems. They also complain that Maria is neglected at the official level simply because she is a tribeswoman from FATA. Maria’s relatives and friends do have a point.
Squash star Maria simply does not fit into the state scheme of things for Waziristan. Waziristan was the first territory in FATA where the state wilfully surrendered its writ to the terrorists in pursuit of the strategic depth in Afghanistan. It has been presented to the world, along with the rest of FATA, as a religious extremist society that hates modernity. The world as well as the wider Pakistani society was misled into believing that the tribes of Waziristan gave refuge to al Qaeda. All independent scholarly or journalistic access to Waziristan was blocked to frustrate any attempts to crosscheck the state discourse of religious militancy in the area.
Thus, Waziristan is not supposed to produce international stars in sports or make any other contribution to civilisation. The area has been forced to produce religious militants. Only militants like Baitullah Mehsud, Hakeemullah Mehsud, Nek Mohammad and Mullah Nazir can be the symbol of Waziristan. Any contradictory symbols from the area, be it Maria, the squash player, or Kamal Mehsud, the singer, have to be suppressed or at least treated with state neglect and disdain. The policy of strategic depth in Afghanistan can explain why the Pakistan Squash Federation is not cooperating with her.
It seems as if the state would make sure Maria never succeeds in squash at a global level, just like it made sure that the masses of Pakistan never appreciate the contributions of Dr Abdus Salam to physics and Pakistan. Dr Salam was a victim of the state policy of a narrow ‘Islamic’ ideology. Maria is becoming a victim of the state policy of strategic depth in Afghanistan.
The writer is a PhD Research Fellow with the University of Oslo and currently writing a book, Taliban and Anti-Taliban
VIEW: In favour of drone attacks —Azizullah Khan Khetran
The drones are targeting all those people who are bent upon the real violation of our sovereignty and who are busy in a declared war against our army and state machinery. They are not the ones who, if scared, will respect our sovereignty
From June 11, 2004, when the first drone attack was carried out against militant commander Nek Muhammad, to October 29, 2010, 1,344 militants have been killed, including the Taliban’s and al Qaeda’s first rank commanders like Sheikh al-Fateh, the al Qaeda chief in Afghanistan, Siraj Haqqani’s cousin, Haji Omar, the key Taliban commander in Mir Ali, Tahir Yuldashev, leader of the Islamic movement of Uzbekistan, Baitullah Mehsud, founder of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and hundreds of other low rank commanders and foot fighters. It was revealed in recent research conducted by the New American Foundation that drones proved the most effective of all the weapons used in the war against terrorism. They not only stripped the TTP and al Qaeda of its leaders but also of its sanctuaries as locals cannot afford providing them with safe havens. The Taliban are so disturbed by the drones that local tribals, in their sittings, are making fun of them by calling the drones khizra ala salam, referring to their effectiveness.
Civil society in Pakistan is well aware of the fact that the drones are cleansing us of terrorists but sometimes they fail to resist the temptation to speak out against them. This is caused by the extreme right trumpeting warnings of US encroachments on our sovereignty. Ordinary Pakistanis are made to think of them as a bad omen that may embolden the US to launch a formal, physical incursion into Pakistan.
Sovereignty is the complete power to govern a country. First of all, unfortunately, FATA has become the backwater of Pakistan. Whatever little control Pakistan’s establishment had there is now being put an end to by the TTP, al Qaeda and its offshoots. The Taliban are openly roaming around in FATA, alleged criminals are publicly executed in shariah courts, people are amputated and frequent attacks are being carried out against our army. The demolition of schools has become an old story. But even then no one can deny the fact that FATA is an integral part of Pakistan. Here we need to shun the influence of the right-wing and become rational. We should not interpret sovereignty in terms of the fundamentals of political science. From that perspective, no state in the world has sovereignty without constraints; the US is bound to subscribe to UN conventions, resolutions and international law, and so are all other states.
First, Pakistan is the US’s frontline non-NATO ally in the war against terror, which means that Pakistan and the US have to willingly extend their best possible support to each other. Drone attacks are now to be considered as committed support in that process. Second, the drones are targeting all those people who are bent upon the real violation of our sovereignty and who are busy in a declared war against our army and state machinery. They are not the ones who, if scared, will respect our sovereignty.
What is our chief security threat? It is terrorism. What should we prioritise? No doubt, its elimination. And what are drones doing except the same? Rather than theoretical terms we need to think in terms of ground reality. We are faced with a severe threat and cannot channel our meagre resources to military operations against the militants.
Some, who are unaware of the ground reality, claim that civilians are being killed in drone attacks. Though civilians are killed in such attacks, they ought to be considered as semi-militants or the militants of tomorrow as they provide the terrorist leaders of today with safe havens and feed and facilitate them. If the local tribals were unhappy with the drones then they would have raised their voice against them. Recently, according to news reports, some people in Miranshah gathered in protest against the drone attacks; perhaps they were being supplied by hidden hands. According to the Aryana Institute of Regional Research and Advocacy, 80 percent of tribals think that drones hit exact targets as pointed out on the basis of authentic information. They compare this with military operations that prove more destructive. In military operations, hundreds of homes are demolished, people are compelled to flee and civilian casualties become a natural thing. They also provide the Taliban with anti-army sentiment.
The extreme right never loses an opportunity to blow the anti-American and anti-India trumpet in our direction just to play petty politics and secure their vested interests. Recently, an opposition leader claimed that they had raised the drone issue on every platform. But he failed to tell us how big a soft corner he and his party have for Islamic fundamentalism. Was it not Shahbaz Sharif who asked the Taliban to “spare Punjab”?
The present government should not get blackmailed by rightist propaganda; it should boldly and publicly acknowledge the agreement with the US (regarding drone attacks) if there is any. Agreements strengthen sovereignty and soften one’s image.
What we need to do is remain true to the ground reality and national interest, think rationally and push for an operation against the North Waziristan-based Haqqani network where the maximum number of drone attacks are carried out. It is reported that the Haqqani group is now mediating between warring tribes in the Kurram Agency in a bid to have new strategic depth in that strategically important area. These activities might invite severe action on the part of the US and NATO forces. We should not heed rightist propaganda and empty slogans. Let the drones hover over the terrorists and terrorise them.
It has been confirmed that Shireen Mazari, that doyenne of hyper-nationalistic pseudo-patriotic nonsense nutters (a.k.a. 'everyone's out to get us because we are so brilliant' conspiracy theorists), who took charge of The Nation after the bitter falling out between patriarch Majid Nizami and nephew Arif Nizami, has been forced to resign her editorship. Staffers were formally informed of the change today.
Shireen Mazari: a particular kind of alaap
She lasted in her position about 14 months to the day. Though in one sense it seemed like a marriage made in heaven, it lasted slightly longer than I expected, given the humongous egos of both Ms Mazari and Mr Majid Nizami.
There has been a lot of speculation the whole day among journalistic circles about what exactly led to the falling out between obsessive India-bashing Majid Nizami (the main thrust of his 'doctrine' at the Nazaria-i-Pakistan Trust [Pakistan Ideology Trust], which he heads, is that 'Hindus' will always be 'our' enemies) and obsessive Blackwater-behind-everything Ms Mazari. But as of yet, we do not have any confirmed details about the reasons. If anyone has solid information, please do share with us.
Meanwhile, no indication yet of the fate of Ms Mazari's 'political' cooking show (yes, she hosted a cooking show!) on Waqt TV. No doubt the handis would probably be a bit burned.
: : : UPDATE : : :
Ms Mazari has sent the following email in response to the speculation on the Pakistan-MEDIA discussion group to explain the circumstances of her departure (thanks to Marvi Sirmed for sharing it with us). We are reproducing the email as is (not much of an 'editor' is she?):
"I was nevee Chairman and Editor in Chief of TheNAtion but was the Editor. I have resigned today as I was asked to shift to Lahore where the owners want the editor to now sit full time. This was not possible nor was it part of my TOR so I resigned but have agreed to continue for a few days so a new editor can be appointed. There is really nothing conspiratorial at all - more an issu eof logisitics! Shireen Mazari"
Aw. Ms Mazari getting upset about conspiracy theories.
November 11, 2010 (2 days ago)
By I.A. Rehman
THE contribution public school textbooks make to the production of narrow-minded elements, even if all of them do not become suicide bombers, has not received due attention. It is time this attitude was abandoned.
Many civil society initiatives have exposed the atrocious contents of textbooks. But the revised integrated curriculum has only confirmed its authors` inability to address the demands of a plural, democratic society.
Commenting on the new textbooks for classes I to III in Punjab, a curriculum expert observed that their content was insufficient to enable a child to gain basic knowledge in any subject and that these textbooks were overloaded with religious and moralistic preaching and paid scanty attention to themes related to nation-building.
Even a cursory perusal of textbooks for classes I to V in Punjab shows that these are full of poorly written religious essays and are apparently designed to keep children ignorant of their society and environment.
For instance, Meri Kitab for class I declares that Punjab, Frontier, Sindh, Balochistan and Kashmir are parts of Pakistan. Is it fair to tell children that Pakistan includes Kashmir? The provinces are mentioned in textbooks for primary classes but the Punjabi, Sindhi, Pakhtun and Baloch people are nowhere recognised. In the textbook for class IV students are told of two poets who wrote in Punjabi — Mian Mohammad Bakhsh and Mian Waris Shah — and both are essentially religious figures. It is only in the Urdu book for class V that Sachal Sarmast is introduced as the founder of the Kafi tradition in the Sindhi language “while Punjabi is rich in Kafis, thanks to Hazrat Bulleh Shah”. Sachal also is basically a religious figure. The Punjab Textbook Board is not aware of any Pakhtun or Baloch poet or any other figure or does not consider it appropriate to mention them in Punjab schools.
The Urdu book for class V allows students to look beyond Punjab — at Quetta and Ziarat. While the lesson on Ziarat does not disclose that this town is in Balochistan, in the description of Quetta a reference to Balochistan is unavoidable: “In respect of area, Balochistan is the largest province of our dear homeland Pakistan…. Many tribes live in this province. Its inhabitants speak, along with national language Urdu, Balochi, Brahvi and Pushto.”
There is no discussion on Pakistan`s non-Muslim citizens in the book for primary classes. Meri Kitab for class II only says that Pakistan`s population includes non-Muslims. Then in the Urdu book for Class V, while describing `Our Punjab`, non-Muslims are mentioned: “the majority of people living in Punjab are Muslim. The people order their lives according to Islamic teachings. [Delusion is sweeter than ignorance.] Here, besides Muslims, the inhabitants also include non-Muslims.”
In all stories in these textbooks the children are Muslim boys and girls. None of them meets a non-Muslim child. The textbooks for classes I to V contain 41 poems but Allama Iqbal`s beautiful poem, Child`s prayer , which is supposed to be recited at each school before the start of classes, comes last in the class V Urdu book, possibly because it refers to the poor and infirm.
It is easy to see what kinds of half-truths and distorted facts are dinned into children`s ears. The attempt at converting and reconverting Muslim children to Islam, and putting each hero in religious clothes can induce boredom or worse reactions. Introduction to religious belief is one thing. An obsession with religiosity is far less creditable. Apart from undermining the purpose of education such exercises confuse impressionable minds and cause a huge waste of time, to use an expression favoured by great religious authorities such as Aurangzeb and Sir Syed.
However, if the textbooks for the primary classes attract criticism for distorting reality or their preference for selective factualness, civic textbooks contain much mischief. At a recent seminar in Karachi, the material contained in the textbooks in Sindh was criticised for being outdated and distorted. The situation in Punjab is equally pathetic. Here, too, the books on civics prescribed for classes 9 to 12 are full of subjectively edited quotations from the Quaid. He is said to have described Pakistan as a `laboratory` for testing religious principles. All these books are loaded with controversial interpretation of many themes, such as the Pakistan ideology, the Islamic state and the continued relevance of the two-nation theory.
— Democracy and dictatorship have seven merits and eight demerits each. A merit of dictatorship is that under it “the whole nation is inspired by the will to progress and each citizen considers honest labour as his duty and therefore the pace of creativity and progress is fast”. Another merit of dictatorship is that “because of the absence of opposition political parties the people are rid of partisan politics and factionalism; the people`s solidarity and national unity are assured and this makes the country prosperous”. (Civics, Classes 9-10)
— “One merit of Urdu language is that it upholds Islamic civilisation and culture: therefore, its promotion is one of our important obligations from the religious and national point of view, too.” ( Ibid )
— “Provincialism is a curse that undermines national unity. Some opportunist elements fan provincial and regional affiliations; we should eradicate such trends.” ( Ibid )
— The Khilafat movement is discussed over four pages in the textbook for class 12 but there is no reference to what the Quaid thought of it.
— A demerit of the federal system: “Dictatorial attitude of the judiciary”… “the central government and the governments of the units often quarrel with one another and this, on the one hand, weakens the federation and, on the other, the judiciary, as the superior guardian of the constitution, gets an opportunity to intervene”. (Book for class 12)
When a student reads that it is necessary to practically enforce the divinely ordained system in Pakistan so that the Islamic revolution prevails across the globe (book for classes 9-10), he might wonder as to what is wrong with the Taliban. More objectionable are omissions such as the absence of any reference to the havoc caused in Pakistan by authoritarian regimes and war-mongers.
Quite a few educationists claim that a review of civics textbooks was undertaken in 2008 but that the government has been sitting on recommendations that would have replaced the present material with new and democratic concepts of citizenship.
Similarly, there are allegations that the curriculum review decisions of 2004 and 2007 have not been fully or properly implemented. If true, these claims reveal a scandal of the first order. Delay in revising school textbooks to promote the values of pluralist and participatory democracy, inter-faith harmony and human rights will render the government liable to indictment for laying, unwittingly if not deliberately, the foundations of religious extremism.
I am not sure about the link, if is allowed in DFI. But the script is as following
How do we explain that despite several Sufi shrines being targeted by suicide bombers, the Ahle Sunnat ulema are demanding that Aasia Bibi should be executed? How can the Ahle Sunnat ignore that fact that they themselves are on the hit list of extremists who consider them guilty of crimes no less serious than blasphemy?
Professor Brij Narain was a famous Lahore-born academic whose books on economics were on the required reading list of the curricula of pre-partition universities. Enamoured by Jinnah’s English lifestyle and mannerism and himself strongly secular and idealistic, Brij Narain underestimated the morbid impact of the rabidly anti-Hindu and anti-Sikh rhetoric of the 1945-46 election campaign in Punjab. He developed a strong set of arguments to prove that Pakistan was economically feasible and viable. When partition took place in mid-August 1947 and Lahore was burning, he continued to believe that Hindus like him could be Pakistanis like any other community. A mob arrived at his door and mercilessly killed him notwithstanding his pleas that he supported Pakistan.
Miss Ralia Ram was a Lahore-born Christian lady who wrote letter after letter to Quaid-e-Azam warning him about Congress machinations. She too believed in the righteousness of Pakistan. Her letters are easily accessible in the several volumes of the Jinnah Papers. Fortunately in 1947, Christians were not a target group. Many Hindus and Muslims saved their lives by faking a Christian identity. Both in Amritsar and in Kasur thousands of Muslim refugees received medical aid from Christian volunteers.
Even more interesting is the fact that the majority of Punjabi Christians supported the Muslim League’s case for Pakistan before the Punjab Boundary Commission. Their leader, S P Singha, argued that the Christians would rather have a united Punjab, but if Punjab were to be divided they could expect better treatment in Pakistan than in caste-ridden India. The leader of the Anglo-Indians Mr Gibbon informed the Punjab Boundary Commission that the Anglo-Indians were happy to be in Pakistan. They regarded Lahore and West Punjab as their homeland.
I have already mentioned in an earlier op-ed that the leadership of the Ahmediyya community was deeply worried about persecution in a sectarian Pakistan. However, just before the partition of India it was decided to support the Pakistan movement (Munir Report 1954: 196-7). Thereafter the Ahmedis put all their efforts behind the Muslim League’s campaign. Sir Muhammad Zafarullah Khan, a leading member of the Ahmediyya community, presented the Muslim League case before the Punjab Boundary Commission with sterling competence. The counsel for the Congress Party, Mr Setalvad, could not restrain himself from publicly paying compliments to Zafarullah during the proceedings. In 1947, the Ahmedis were still included in government statistics among Muslims, and that alone had inflated the Muslim percentage of the Gurdaspur district to a bare majority of 51 percent.
All such stories sound unreal in the light of the Pakistan experience. The Hindus were naturally the first to flee from Pakistan. The next to exit were the Anglo-Indians. The Ahmedis started seeking refuge in the west in the 1980s. Only in Sindh a Hindu minority survived while in the rest of Pakistan mostly the poorest Christians stayed put because they had nowhere to go.
Ridiculing Sikhs as simpletons is a prejudice that still survives in Pakistani Punjab, but their leaders proved to be the most farsighted in anticipating the type of Pakistan that would emerge. In the second half of May 1947, the Sikh leaders met Jinnah in Delhi. Jinnah and Liaquat had come fully prepared to convince them to support the Pakistan demand. They told the Sikhs to write down whatever they wanted and it would be granted. The charm offensive, however, was too late in the day. Earlier, in March 1947, Sikh villages in the Rawalpindi, Attock and Jhelum districts had borne the brunt of mob attacks at the hands of Muslims. At least 2,000 Sikhs lost their lives.
No Muslim League leader, including Jinnah, issued a public statement condemning those attacks. I have looked in vain in the two main English-language newspapers of pre-partition Punjab, the Tribune and The Pakistan Times as well as in the Jinnah Papers for any evidence of the condemnation of that outrage. In the event, Hardit Sikh Malik, who acted as the spokesperson for the Sikhs told Jinnah that they could not risk their future on his promises; the day he is gone things would change. He was right.
I have always held the view that the anti-minority stance took birth at the time of the 1945-46-election campaign in the Muslim-majority provinces of north-western India. Once it was born, it assumed a life of its own. Only someone totally naive can believe that Jinnah’s August 11, 1947 speech was a magic mantra that could suffice to make it vanish. Already in early 1951, the ulema of all Sunni sub-sects — including the Barelvis — and the Ithna Ashari Shias had signed the 22-point Islamist agenda for an Islamic state prepared by Maulana Maududi. Gradually that agenda encroached on the constitutional and legal machinery, culminating in the Islamisation measures of General Ziaul Haq.
The mindset that such measures generated percolated all sections of society, with a few honourable exceptions. In the current situation, while President Zardari and Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer are willing to spare the life of the Christian woman, Aasia Bibi, who most certainly has been wrongly framed on charges of blasphemy, federal Law Minister Babar Awan has made theatrical pronouncements in support of the draconian Blasphemy Law, thus undermining his own government. The legal fraternity remains badly divided. While the Lahore High Court has issued a stay order against the reprieve granted by the president, the President of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), Ms Asma Jahangir has boldly criticised that decision. The confusion is absolute.
How do we explain that despite several Sufi shrines being targeted by suicide bombers the Ahle Sunnat ulema are demanding that Aasia Bibi should be executed? How can the Ahle Sunnat ignore that fact that they themselves are on the hit list of extremists who consider them guilty of crimes no less serious than blasphemy? The Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) is considered a ‘democratic, parliamentary’ party by some western academics. I have seen with my own eyes a doctoral thesis passed by the reputable Gothenburg University of Sweden in support of JI’s democratic credentials. Its leader, Syed Munnawar Hassan, has also demanded that Aasia Bibi should be put to death. That is the type of democracy the JI actually represents.
Can one seriously believe that all these people who are crying for the blood of a poor Christian woman are doing this for their love for Prophet Mohammad (PBUH)? Perhaps, but what a love!
The writer is Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Stockholm University. He is also Honorary Senior Fellow of the Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore. He can be reached at [email protected]