Monday, March 14, 2011

Past the Crossroads

Feroz Khan on PTH

Whether it was right or wrong, the fact is that vast majority of the Pakistani population wants Pakistan to be Islamic and ruled under sharia laws. It does not matter what Jinnah thought or Zia-ul-Haq did because the only issue that matters, today, is what does the present generation of Pakistanis want for Pakistan.

Zia-ul-Haq is just a blink of the eye in the narrative and Zia only put the capstone on the work that was started in 1947. In 2011, it really does not matter what was promised in 1947 or what was the reason for Pakistan in 1947. The vast majority of Pakistanis believe that Pakistan was created in the name of Islam and it is their perceptions of Pakistan, which matters and will decide how Pakistan’s future evolves.

This is what the majority of the Pakistanis think and if true democracy is allowed in Pakistan, the majority of the Pakistanis will vote in favor of Islam and sharia. Therefore, true democracy of one person-one vote cannot be allowed to exist in Pakistan. The denial of this demand then creates an emotional and instinctive hatred for the centers of power in Pakistan, which keep proming this eventuality, but do not deliver on it.

The logical outcome of this is a massive sense of alienation between the people and the rulers as their interests in Pakistan and its forms of goverance are diametrically opposed. The electoral dissatisfaction of the Pakistani populace, once it has grown disenchanted of its ruling cadres, automatically sought other alternatives of pursuing their vision of Pakistan.

This vision, then, finds a sense of identity and commonality with the religious parties in Pakistan and thus, the people support the religious parties not because they agree with them, but because the religious parties are seen to be representing the ideas that the people wish to see being implemented.
The ideas in politics are not measured in the grains of reality but in the sands of perception. There are been a silent coup d’ etat in Pakistan and this coup has forever changed the balance of power in Pakistan. This coup has given substance to three new political ideas in Pakistan, which influence the direction of Pakistani politics. These ideas are the people, the mosque and the Pakistani army.
There is a common linkage between these three ideas. The common thread is all of these ideas; the people, the religious right and the army stand for Islam and see Islam as the source of their identities. Not only does this troika see a common purpose between them; they also see any obstacle to this idea as a common threat and they will support each other in order to remove this threat.

Once this new trinty of power is understood in Pakistan, it also explains the fissures in Pakistani society that came to surface in the aftermath of the assassination of Salmaan Taseer and the popular reaction to it. The religious right refused to blame the murder and instead glorified the murderer of Salmaan Taseer and the people cheered their verdict by coming out on the streets in demand for religious laws and army supported all of this by its silence on the matter.

If there was a doubt as to where the Pakistani army’s heart was in the matter, it should have been disspelled by its silence over the killing of Salmaan Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti. There is a duality in the policies of the Pakistani army vis-a-vis the issue of religion and extermism in Pakistan. Pakistani army encourages religious extermism where it suits its interests, as in the case of patronizing certain religious groups, which are seen as strategic assets and it fights religious extermism, as in the case of the Taliban, where such activities are seen as a threat to its ideas of being govering Pakistan and being the defenders of its “ideological and geographic frontiers”.

The day Salmaan Taseer was killed, January 4th 2011, was the day that Jinnah’s Pakistan and any dream or hope associated with it died. It was on that day that the first shots of this coup were fired which changed Pakistan forever. The Pakistan of today, in the aftermath of the murders of Salmaan Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti, is a theocratic state dedicated to the principles of sharia and Islam and it refuses to tolerate any more dissent against those ideas.

Pakistan is not at a cross-roads any more, old friend; it has crossed the Rubicon!


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