By Saleem Safi
April 10, 2013
How can I buy an ideology of Pakistan that someone with Ayaz Amir’s intellectual calibre is considered to be flouting and someone like Pervez Musharraf is seen to protect? The question I then ask is: do Articles 62 and 63 fully conform to the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah?
Anyone against the ideology of Pakistan surely cannot be a patriotic Pakistani but the real issue is: what, after all, is Pakistan’s ideology? Does any article in the constitution or any detailed judgement of the Supreme Court define it? If the ideology of Pakistan refers to the speeches and ideas of Quaid-e-Azam and Allama Iqubal then we must remember that they were human – as open to criticism as any other men. For example, Iqubal was once an Indian nationalist in outlook. In much the same way, Jinnah was also against the Two-Nation Theory and in favour of a United India when he was part of the All India Congress.
For me Articles 62 and 63, besides being clearly against the spirit of Islam, are vague and defective, not to mention difficult to implement. This law demands that persons aspiring to office prove integrity and piety. From the religious point of view, considering oneself pious is a sin. The pious in our history, the companions of the Prophet, never declared themselves pious. Today, even Ulema differ and disagree over the definition of fasiq. An example would be how the majority of Ulema consider the act of shaving one’s beard an act of Fisq – and thus all shaven men fasiq. By this definition, the president, prime minister and even the CEC of Pakistan are all fasiq!
These articles of law also demand adequate knowledge of religion but what exactly is ‘adequate’ is not defined in the constitution or in any judgement. The same law also disqualifies anyone who defames the military or the judiciary. As we are all well aware, the military has been headed by people like Pervez Musharraf. Would criticism against him also be counted as defamation of the military? During the movement for restoration of the judiciary, many slogans were raised repeatedly against the military – in the presence of Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry. Now what opinion would our Election Commission hold about those who chanted those slogans? In the same fashion, at times persons like Justice Irshad and Justice Dogar were chief justices of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Is criticising them the equivalent of defaming the judiciary?
We are very selective when it comes to the principles in the constitution. Are the other articles in the constitution followed in word and spirit? This same constitution demands that all laws must be in conformity with the Quran and Sunnah. What about the economic and financial systems in Pakistan? Does our judiciary have any constitutional way out from a financial system based on Riba? Is our class-based segregated educational system in accordance with Islamic teachings?
The real spirit of Islam is not to choose the difficult path for others and opt for the easy one for oneself. But in Pakistan, the ECP and returning officers are also following the path of our Ulema instead of Islam. They chose the most difficult path for others and have taken the easy road themselves. There has been no serious effort to hold ‘free and fair’ elections in Fata, Balochistan and Karachi – but they are busy demeaning peoples’ representatives. I am pretty sure that the ROs cannot answer the questions they are asking of electoral nominees.
We must (constantly) remember that this process of scrutiny is to help us select the leadership of this country, not the leader of the Tablighi Jamaat. And again, this future leadership is going to head the state of Pakistan and not the state of Madina. It is a country where everyone – from teacher to journalist to shopkeeper – is but a symbol of sin and duality. In this society all that we can and should aspire to are the best standards, practiced anywhere in the world, for qualification of leadership – nothing more and less than.
A person holding a fake degree should be punished. A person proven guilty in cases involving tax evasion, corruption or misuse of authority should not be allowed to contest elections. Besides such disqualification, people who are guilty of these offences also deserve due punishment. Even those proved guilty in any court of law of any other major social or ethical crime must not be allowed to represent us. However, the ROs’ behaviour is still not justified. Suppose some journalist were to ask the CEC Fakhru Bhai to recite the Dua-e-Qunoot or the third Kalma?
Maybe all this is being done with the best of intentions. But all those advocates of Articles 62 and 63 should be reminded that if, after the elections, the political leadership collectively decides for separation of Shariah and politics, only they will be responsible for that. They are presenting a law given by Gen Zia as the final word. I do not doubt the intentions of the Election Commission or the judiciary, but if Articles 62 and 63 are used to derail democracy in Pakistan in the future, indeed these institutions could easily be held responsible by historians.
The judiciary and the ECP must explain and define the terms given in Articles 62 and 63 so that the qualification criteria to contest election become clearer. Citizens should be able to respect the military, the judiciary and the political leadership. Defaming any institution will lead to chaos. It is time to quit the mutual tug of war among institutions. If we do not fix this right now, there are very real chances of power being usurped by those who will punish all institutions indiscriminately.
Saleem Safi works for Geo TV.