By Ch Shoaib Saleem
Has Pakistan Chosen The Way Back?
Most of the time I stand aghast at the sight of weird Maulvis appearing on various TV channels and presenting absurd and whimsical interpretation of Sharia and the stuff which is more likely to make them stakeholders of the state. Putting an air of arrogance and self-righteousness, they would justify themselves in the name of religion no matter how flawed and unfounded excuses they would advance during the discussions. Since the media is not serving the humanity anymore and has become like any other corporate sector, it would also come up with more controversy on the screen to sell its products and get higher ratings. So, after the initiation of peace talks with the Taliban, many of the clerics re-emerged on TV screens. They seem to be labouring under the delusion that the circumstances were most favourable to them and their interpretation of Sharia, confusing the already confused nation yet another time.
History is witness to the fact that the worst dictator in Pakistan has been the so-called ‘religious’ General Ziaul Haq. His ‘Islamisation’ loomed large being part of the constitution and other penal laws. From that point onwards, the state of Pakistan has been hijacked by the very idea of pan-Islamism. Education of hatred promoting sectarianism has been considered more important than the education in science and technology. Laws were made stricter, perhaps to please the Allah Almighty, or to make the role of Islamists more relevant in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. And surely this whole exercise could never be called into question since all the stuff it carries revolves around religion. Resultantly, the state suffered the worst type of bloodshed, bomb blasts, sectarianism, and a decade-long insurgency – all in the name of Islam.
The role given to the clerics during the dictator’s pro-Islamic regime can never be overlooked. The pseudo religious scholars assumed the role of guiding the Muslims in every field of life, from foreign policy to petty issues of drinking water and urinating. They also raped our daughters, wives and sisters by establishing Halala centres, all in the service of Islam. They harassed and molested young children but never assented to DNA test as evidence in rape cases since it was not per their interpretation of the Islamic way of evidence. They made the children beggars by sending them from door to door to collect food for themselves and their fellows. The alms they received for the mosques, prompting the believers to give out more, have not been used for the intended purposes. The illiterates and uneducated were the worst targets who handed themselves over to the religious clerics, especially in villages. And with time the interpretation became more of their own than as per the true spirit of the Holy Quran. So, the social fabric of society has become so illogical and superstitious that even centuries would fall short of putting them back on the right track.
How brilliant and fast the state has been in making the decisions is quite ridiculous. After suffering 100 billion dollars losses, besides 70,000 civilians and armed forces personnel becoming casualties, the present regime has decided to have recourse to negotiations with the Taliban, instead of taking a determinative stand for restoring peace in the country. Imran Khan’s party PTI is also talking of opening Taliban’s office and accepting them at par with the state of Pakistan. The armed forces also don’t appear to be too happy on government’s decision of letting the dialogue lead the way, instead of a military operation.
After the last coup in Pakistan, led by Pervez Musharraf, the army has been pounding on the hideouts of militants and it has never, overtly at least, supported neither the Taliban nor the peace talks. The PPP followed in their footsteps, and, ideologically, it also pursued anti-Taliban or anti-theocracy policy. But the present regime, with somewhat soft corner for the religious fanatics, will have to do a complete somersault if it preferred to rescue Pakistan by imposing its writ. But if it doesn’t, it will send Pakistan back hundreds of years by making the religious fanatics and seminary clerics stakeholders of the state.
God forbid if the talks go on, history will never forget Nawaz Sharif, after General Zia, for rendering historic services to Islam and Pakistan.
More carnage and mayhem is waiting for us ahead. The more the talks get serious, the more the state will lose its writ. And then the clerics will guide us from foreign policy to the manner of getting into cars and entering mosques. Legal Halala centres will reappear in posh areas, loudspeakers will be blaring all the time, stickers and banners inscribed with Jihadi literature will become ubiquitous, religious seminaries will get more importance than educational institutes, only the women will be punished in rape cases and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan will turn into a complete theocracy. This is what the religious clerics want – nothing more, nothing less. If it ever happens, the future generations will curse both Sharifs – one in waistcoat and the other in khaki.