Will The Political Establishment Wake Up?

By: Agha Haider Raza

Our country is at a crossroad.  Pakistan has come to a point where thousands believe they are righteous and have divine authority to carry out God’s acts on this earth.  The repugnant response by the supporters of Salman Taseer’s alleged killer has truly been mesmerizing.  Qadri’s fan base has distorted Islam to such an extent that it has become laughable to comprehend how they perceive themselves to be protecting the sanctity of Islam.  Are they protecting the very Islam, which teaches that murder of one human is the equivalent of killing mankind? Are they protecting the very Islam, which allows for questions over ambiguity? Are they protecting the very Islam that believes in modernity and equality for all? The unfortunate reality today is the religious parties although do not have the political capital; they have influence over our society.  These parties need to be exposed to the Pakistani public through education and the media.  Their dangerous interpretation of Islam needs to be questioned and highlighted.  Many in our country have been manipulated through religion and this should not be tolerated anymore.  This twisted ideology has taken too many innocent lives in our country.  Surely this madness needs to come to an end?

Much has been discussed, gossiped and publicized on Governor Salmaan Taseer’s inhumane assassination a week ago.  Above the chorus about the Governors personality, character and political viewpoint, what I find completely baffling is the absence of condemning cold-blooded murder.  I am not talking about the monotonous paragraph that has appeared on behalf of our government officials denouncing the murder, “we condemn the killing…will investigate”.  What we need from our ‘democratically elected’ leaders is, showcase to Pakistani’s around the country the draconian way of life many of our ‘religious scholars’ have adopted.

I find it highly unfortunate that the President of Pakistan and co-chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party, Asif Zardari, has not used stronger words to deplore the heinous act.  Furthermore, only two politicians, Imran Khan and Shujaat Hussain have linked Taseer’s murder to the growing extremism that many of the political establishment enjoys turning a blind eye towards.  Murder is not justified – under any circumstances.

Those who argue that Islam has no place for modernity are incorrect.  The Prophet (PBUH) was a 7th century Arab who married an older businesswoman.  He broke with tradition.  The Prophet broke idols that were in the Kaa’ba.  He broke with tradition.  The Prophet stopped female infanticide during his time.  He broke with tradition.  Islam was introduced at a time of jahaliyat and it was Prophet Muhammad who brought about a social change, expanding the concept of modernity.  Why have we been estranged from the very foundation of Islam?

What is the purpose of believing in the Day of Judgment if we are judging people and deciding their fate in this world? Is it not blasphemous for Qadri to be carrying out God’s work? If Taseer was wrong in what he said or did, why was Qadri allowed to take away the Governor’s opportunity of repentance?  Is it not blasphemous of Qadri to kill a human being when (in Islam) only God is the decider of our destiny?

The clergy has always been a powerful institution throughout history.  One cannot deny the power and sway they maintain, but in a religion where we believe that God has the divine authority, I find it hard to believe how a moderate country like Pakistan has allowed the ‘right Ummah’ to become the ‘righteous Ummah’.

It also seems very hypocritical that we seem to merrily criticize any other religion on this earth.  We mock the Jews, pass judgment on the concept of the Holy Trinity and laugh at believers who worship their own deities.  And yet, when it comes to Islam, we don’t stand for any religious tolerance.  How does one expect others to respect our religion when we don’t return the favour?  What right do we have in condemning Aasia Bibi (who is a Christian) for blasphemy, when we are guilty of the same charge when it comes to her religion?  Have we forgotten what the white stripe represents on our national flag?

The rising bourgeoisie in Pakistan needs to be exposed to heinous crimes that are being committed at the beck and call of the religious right.  Such parties are entitled to voice their opinions and sentiment, but they are not allowed to instigate violence.  The religious party (JuI) has been active prior to partition (1947).  They have never been able to secure the Federal Government.  If Pakistan believed in the ideology the religious parties put forward, we would have been a very different country today.  It is in fact, the Pakistan Peoples Party, a grassroots, liberal, secular party that is not surprisingly, the largest political party as well.

The Establishment needs to wake up and smell the putrid air that has encompassed Pakistan.  Pakistan no longer believes in their concept of ‘strategic depth’, Pakistani’s don’t want any further deaths in Kashmir, Pakistani’s don’t want to fund madrassah’s that mass produce suicide bombers.  It is the very seed that was planted decades ago, which we reap today.  It is the very ideology that was preached during the 1980s, which convinced the alleged assassin Mumtaz Qadri to empty two magazines on Governor Taseer.

The blasphemy laws in Pakistan are no doubt a very sensitive issue.  But so was the Hudood Ordinance, which was rectified by Parliament.  Pakistan went through a very turbulent period under General Zia-ul-Haq.  Laws were incorporated that reeked of a very conservative and distorted form of Islam.  But as the Governor rightly said, these are ‘man-made laws, not God-made laws’.  They can and should be amended.  The Political Establishment needs to challenge and enlighten those parties, groups and individuals who believe in suicide bombings, murder and religious intolerance.

Governor Taseer was murdered for what he rightly believed in a law that is dangerous to a prosperous society.  This law has been interpreted to a point where a citizen believes it is lawful to murder another citizen.  The blasphemy laws have been interpreted in a manner, where a citizen believes he does not need to respect the law enforcement agencies, the judicial courts or the legislative authority of Parliament.  Max Weber famously articulated that a state solely possesses a monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force.  When the power of violence shifts from the state to the people, we also see a shift from a state to anarchy.

Maybe this is what President Zardari meant when he awkwardly stated, Mumtaz Qadri threatened democratic institutions.  The only logical explanation would be that if the blasphemy laws can be interpreted in a manner that threatens institutions, would it not be appropriate to repeal or amend such a law?

15 responses to “Will The Political Establishment Wake Up?

  1. That’s pretty much about it…
    but even i missed out on something i thought you’d researched on.

    the death penalty for Blasphemy law (Section 295) was added by Honorable PML-N Chief Nawaz Sharif. lol

    give me your address, i’ll send you mine…

    and by the way,
    i’m impressed.

  2. Pingback: Pakistan : Will The Political Establishment Wake Up? « Indus Asia Online Journal (iaoj)

  3. A “sane” blog you got. I will make sure to go through the posts. Hope to learn from them too. Sucha relieve to find sanity.

  4. Pingback: Will The Political Establishment Wake Up? « New Pakistan

  5. I wish PPP could take some practical steps , but it is the cruel politics . PPP got another post dated cheque leaf for upcoming elections. Taseer`s death will serve no cause but mere election campaign for PPP.

  6. It is sheer madness which has virtually converted the religion of the prophet ‘rehmatul-aalimin’ as a killer cult of Kali Devi’.
    What would the Qadri worshippers say if somebody raises a banner with the inscription ‘Long live the mujaahid suicide bombers who sacrifice their lives anonymously to bring down zarraari sharines and mosques which bring up murderers like Qadri and the supporters for him’?

  7. It is abundantly clear that Islam is being interpreted in two different and opposite ways. The Mullahs who train persons like Qadri interpret Islam in one way, and those who give religious education to people like Mr. Agha Haider Raza and other contributors to this thread in the other. The first need is to set up a religious authority (somewhat like The Pope) acceptable to all Muslims around the world who will dictate the correct interpretation. As long as this is not done the present turmoil will continue.

    The other most important aspect of the problem is that such Qadris are religiously brainwashed, trained and utilized for strategic purposes by official Pakistani agencies in Afghanistan, Kashmir and India. It is too much to expect such Qadris not to turn their guns on others inside Pakistan who appear to their brainwashed intellects as enemies of Islam. Looking both ways can be dangerous!

  8. Comment via Email:

    Hey! Loved the last bit! I don’t think many people realise how
    vulnerable we are making ourselves as a state by allowing people to take
    the law into their own hands. Vigilante justice can never be justified.

  9. The Blasphemy law (Section 295) should include strict penalties for knowingly and sanely uttering any derogatory statement or words against Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him), and all prophets such as Jesus, Moses, Jacob, Ibrahim Ismail, Ishaq, Suleiman, Yusuf, Lut, Younus, Yahya, Hood (alahum assalam) and all others as well as other religious personalities like Buddha, Ram, Krishna, Guru Nanak and many others who are revered by other religions.

    There is a fundamental difference here – one may argue and one may say that man is born with alienable right of freedom of speech. One may speak one’s mind with the intent of maintaining decency, objectivity and a purpose in mind. Spewing venom against a prophet just to show your hatred under the pretext of freedom of speech is not something that needs to be granted in any country with exception of USA and some European countries, but it is an exceptional case because most of the citizenry of those countries have no emotional values or respect for their prophets.

    Should Blasphemy law (Section 295) be repealed? I would say – NO, it should be obligatory upon courts and judges to objectively and carefully analyze all evidences and the preponderance of the evidence must be upon the plaintiff and not the alleged party. Furthermore, it must be ascertained that this law is not abused for setting personal scores and animosities.

  10. We are MORE emotionally attached to our family. I guess there should be a clause regarding that too. Whoever says anything against our family, we should have the RIGHT to kill that person.

  11. Well written!!! I agree with you entirely. I think the blasphemy law should be repealed or at least looked over once more,so that the innocent deaths that take place because of personal issues come to an end. If there is a blasphemy law,then it must be carefully executed.NO ONE has the right to take someones life.Lets leave that bit to God.

  12. Ok. I do agree with 90% of your article. What I don’t fully attest to; “It is in fact, the Pakistan Peoples Party, a grassroots, liberal, secular party that is not surprisingly, the largest political party as well.” Yes, true but being led by a group of Corrupted thieves robbing the country blind at this time.
    The leader “Zardari” I can’t even call him a President. And all his pupets are a great embaressment. We need to have and re-elect new worthy leaders every five years instead of having someone rule forever because they have not made that Palace in Europe yet. Also, what happened to that “Ring” Bhutto bought on the backs of poor Pakistanis suffering. People are suffering, the lack of education, electricity issues, flood stricken areas, etc… What is the the great PPP doing to resolve any issues of our country. NOTHING. Our future is someone who is being educated outside of Pakistan to rule. Yes, I am talking about Mr. Zardari’s son not Bhutto’s son. Why do we call this boy a Bhutto. All of sudden children in Pakistan are not getting the name of their father. Unless, Bhutto had some secrets.
    The act of killing Salman Taseer, I don’t agree with. I do believe we all get what we deserve. Salman Taseer was not an innocent man. He made a lot of people in Pakistan angry. He like his boss toke a lot of innocent women to their beds forcefully. If we have Freedom of Speech than allow woman to speak without fear of being killed. If a woman was rapped by Mr. Taseer or Mr. Zardari do you think any of them have the right to speak and get any justice. Mr. Qadri had woman in his family. He was angry and knew he could not get justice in Pakistan and had to do something on his own. Even though I don’t agree with Qadri’s actions I still believe that ALL of us have a breaking point and unfortunately we are all victims of our own breaking points. Only, the Al-Mighty knows the truth and we will all know on the day of Judgement.

  13. Mahrqas, I am appalled by your very personal comments on Pres. Zardari and Gov. Salman Taseer ! Are you trying to imply that the murderer Qadri killed Gov. Taseer because he feared he might rape women of his family and he would not be able to get justice ???? Where does the question of rape come into Qadri’s motives for committing a murder ?

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