Opinion on Current Crisis of Pakistan: The Perplexed: By: Brigadier Aftab Ahmad Khan (Retd)

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The intellectual, writers and columnists through media have very convincingly elaborated the clarity of ‘thoughts and objectives’, which Taliban want to achieve in Pakistan, which has left the nation perplexed. Any sane person cannot disagree with the realistic view that Taliban want to take this country and its people back to the Stone Age, though they themselves are using the destructive power of modern era to achieve their designs under the guise of their version of Islamization. However there is a need to consider the other side confronting them, i.e. the ‘Ruling Elite’ governing and (mis)managing Pakistan during last 60 years which has provided sufficient space to the radicals for exploitation. I need not to go in to the details of composition of this ‘Elite Group’ which has adequate representation form all the privileged classes of our society including the so called ‘Establishment’.
Now let us look at the present malaise, we are expecting [the most incompetent and corrupt leadership in the history of Pakistan to face this challenge, which has not been created overnight. Their immediate predecessors and those earlier had sown the seeds of this malaise to extend their rule for ulterior motives & personnel gains. The vast majority of Pakistanis are simple Muslims [both practicing or non practicing] with deep respect for their faith. The mass corruption, deteriorating economic disparity, law and order lack of justice has provided enough fuel to extremists to assume the perceived role of Robin Hood to provide a hope to liberate the people from their sufferings through their version of Islamization. Whosever dare to disagree with them he is declared as apostate (murtad) entitled for nothing less than death sentence. There is a general consensus among Muslim scholars that if a Muslim fails to perform some of his obligations and is remiss in practice or commits some such actions as are forbidden, yet he/she believes in the liability of all obligations and the impropriety of all unlawful deeds, he/she will continue to be a Muslim though will be a sinner. [The concept of Takfeer i.e declaring a non-practicing Muslim, to be ‘apostate’ and liable to be killed; by extremist groups like Taliban, calling themselves as ‘True Muslims only’, is rejected.]. As will be seen below that three categories of Muslims have been mentioned in Qur’an;35:32.
The fear of casting doubt in their faith and loss of writ of state has made the people an easy pray to extremists. While people fear ‘Theocracy’ in its worst shape, the present democracy (a form of civilian dictatorship. While previously, civil-military dictatorship) under the slogan of ‘Enlightened Moderation’ or ‘Modernization’ is symbol of obscenity, immorality, corruption and oppression in its worst shape [need not to produce a thesis as a proof, media has well exposed them all]. The innocent people know that they are being handed over form the jaws of wolf to the vulture. Only the face of masters will change. People, already in avalanche do not have much choice, to fall in ravine, ditch or be buried under the heap of snow?
The present political leadership, itself the product of corrupted system could only be able to gain tactical victory over bigots by delaying the inevitable for some more time with the help of their masters to fill their pockets. Most of them have nothing much at stake in Pakistan, their families, business, palaces and villas in Dubai, Europe and other foreign lands are well known fall back positions.
Allah appointed Muslims(all Muslims, rich, poor, black, white, educated, illiterate, pious or sinners) to inherit Qur’an, but He categorizes them in to three groups: “We have given the Book (Qur’an) as an inheritance to those of Our servants (Muslims) whom We have chosen, among them there are some who wrong their own souls (extreme sinners), some follow a middle course (sinners with piety) and some, by Allah's leave, excel in good deeds (very pious); which is the supreme virtue.”(Qur’an;35:32). As inheritors of Qur’an Muslims have a joint responsibility, Allah says: “We have made you a moderate (justly balanced) community so that you may be witness against the mankind and that your own Messenger may be witness against you…”(Qur’an;2:143). The essence of Islam is to avoid all extravagances and extremism on either side. It is a sober, practical balanced (wasat) religion. The use of violence is against the spirit of moderation.
The mainstream Islam abhors the priesthood, the institution misused and corrupted by the Jews and Christians. Priesthood is the office of a spiritual leader expert in the ceremonies of worship and the performance of religious rituals. With the passage of time a class of Mullahs (religious teachers, cleric) with priestly tendencies alien to Islam has been developed because, the Muslim leaders encouraged and created this class by not themselves leading the prayers (salah) and delivering the weekly sermon (khutba) on Fridays congregation; which was a direct link between the ruler and people. In the words of Dr.Israr Ahmad; The role of Ulema (Mullah) today, instead of being that of an engine capable of propelling the ship of Islam forward, is actually nothing more than that of a heavy anchor. Another aspect of the activity of Ulema (Mullah) that needs correction is their usually strong emphasis on trivial mattes. A serious stagnation of thought along with dogmatism has set in, ever since the practice of Ijtihad (‘independent reasoning’ as opposed to ‘taqlid’-imitation) was done away with.
The religious seminaries and Ulema (Mullah) of every sect are therefore spending most of their time and energies in defending and propagating their particular brands of dogma and rituals, often insisting that any variation in such matters is nothing short of apostasy. Such narrow mindedness has exacerbated the evil of sectarianism and the resulting intolerance among the masses has led to a dangerous trend towards militancy. The superfluous priesthood, (the form it has taken now) has to be restricted by the society whereby each Muslim or at least majority should acquire normal religious knowledge to perform routine religious functions and reduce dependence on Mullah. A class of genuine religious scholars well versed in the theology and comparative religions should always be an asset for Ijtihad, guidance and education of the masses in their religious obligations which are few in numbers.
It is deep desire of common people in any society to be governed and treated with fairness and justice. The socio economic system, education and justice system based upon the true Islamic traditions implemented by good leaders will not only strengthen the society but will also result in achieving the renaissance of Islamic civilization lost during last few centuries. The deep rooted love of Pakistani Muslims with Islam should be taken as a source of strength to harness the energies for achievement of progress and stability under peaceful environments rather than anarchy. A lot can be learnt from the Malaysian model of Islamic, multi religious & multi ethnic society.
Its time for the silent majority, the followers of ‘Middle Course’ (ummat-e-wasta) to harness their energies and support the honest leaders (though few in numbers) with track record of success and achievements to their credit, to lead the country and take the nation out of this mess. The media can play a very positive role in this regards as proven in the ‘Lawyers Movement’. Though it will take some time but at least it will be not only be a step towards right direction to reach the destination, will act as a check upon the existing leadership in the interim period.

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