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The War Within Islam

So, while the sensible voices mourned the demise of democracy, I could see a much bigger problem. The intolerant, harsh, ritualistic, extremist label had been successfully achieved. We were already being called a failed state by even Bollywood actresses. Yes, Imran got what he wanted but at the price of everything we held dear. As my 21-year-old daughter followed the race for power in dismay, she remarked, ‘ignorance is bliss, I wish my hope had not been taken away’.

 

“Pakistan has accepted billions of American dollars, and used those funds to provide safe havens for the Taliban and other jihadist groups. Pakistan is directly responsible for the killing and wounding of thousands of American and allied soldiers.” You’ll recall that Osama bin Laden found refuge in Pakistan until U.S. special operators arrived unannounced at his villa. The claim that no Pakistani authorities knew he was in Abbottabad — a garrison town not far from Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital — is risible....

 
Why Imran Khan’s Invocation of Medina is Deeply Regressive
Arshad Alam, New Age Islam
Why Imran Khan’s Invocation of Medina is Deeply Regressive
Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

The prime minister of Pakistan has to believe in the ‘unity and oneness of Allah, the books of Allah, the Quran being the last of them, the Prophethood of Muhammad as the last of the Prophets and that there can be no Prophet after him, the Day of Judgment, and all the requirements and teachings of the Holy Quran and Sunnah’. Now if this is the oath that the prime minister takes, then it is understandable why Medina would continue to appeal. After all, the first experiment to establish Islam took place in Medina and the first country which got created specifically in the name of Islam was Pakistan....

As Pakistan braces for the next phase in its polity, there are lessons to be learnt from countries like India and the US where fear of change has led to the emergence of similar ‘strongman’ leadership. Those who voted for Narendra Modi or Donald Trump are not all bigots, misogynists or racists. Many are just ordinary people desperate for “better days” and to make their country “great again”. This is not too dissimilar from Imran’s supporters seeking “change”....

It needs no understanding of individual psychology or of Khan’s personal profile and proclivities to assert that these promises will be betrayed. Through history, leaders have never been able to escape the logic of the dynamic that propelled them to power. Pakistan’s founder, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, who harnessed religious polarization and the idea of jihad to engineer India’s Partition, and then sought to transform his fledgling country into one where “religion or caste or creed” would have “nothing to do with the business of the State”, is a glaring example of leaders who become prisoners of the means that bring them to ascendancy....

 

India and Pakistan, can work together, towards the development of their respective nations. Many avenues are open to forge a healthy alliance between the two nations in the field of education, health services, technology and the media, for instance. Being immediate neighbours, India and Pakistan cannot afford to remain antagonists; rather, they should strive to forge cordial relations in all possible spheres in order to lead the two nations onward, along a parallel path of development!...

 

Admittedly, the Miltablishment has stitched up an extraordinary political dispensation in difficult times. But, unlike Nawaz, the person they have chosen to lead it is strong-willed and unpredictable. In fact, Nawaz was eminently pliant. Yet, after a while, he felt compelled, given the nature of power, to try and be his own man. But this was unacceptable and he had to pay the price for even thinking such rash thoughts. Imran Khan, on the other hand, is a different kettle of fish....

The result of Pakistan’s 25 July election was foretold. The pre-polling environment had been muddied by the blatant meddling of the country’s all-powerful military, assisted by a judiciary eager to please the generals. The results – a disputed victory for cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and his Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf (PTI) party– won’t make a dent in Pakistan’s reputation as a ‘crisis state.’...

 

Mr. Khan, till now the vitriolic candidate and opposition leader, will have to mature to be a more sobering influence on government and on his many first-time, overly enthusiastic Ministers who are inexperienced in governance, much like himself. Probably the considerable influence of the military and the judiciary on him will go a long way in helping this. Or, perhaps, the current Mrs. Khan’s visions will now guide his and the country’s future....

 

We have powerful, all-knowing ringmasters, caged lions, knife-throwers; trapeze artists flying from perch to perch, even cruelty to animals are included. Ours is a circus which looks to be performing its last show before it shuts down – evidenced most clearly by its last act, the clown. The political record of the former cricket star Imran Khan, who is thought to be near to victory due to the backing of Pakistan’s powerful military establishment, has long been one of opportunism and obeisance....

 

Throughout the polling period reports kept coming in, mostly from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, that, women were not being allowed to vote. A few days before the poll the ECP was approached with a complaint that in four districts of KP, the various political parties had signed a compact, ie they had conspired to keep women away from polling stations. Election 2018 did not bring an end to the organised denial of women’s right to franchise. It was, as usual, a contest limited to privileged moneybags and owners of hereditary privilege....

 

It is because as a society, we have internalized and normalized the unfair treatment towards minorities who do not ascribe to the religious beliefs and ethos of our entitled Sunni majority- may it be Ahmadis, Parsis, Christians or Shia Muslims. It is deemed acceptable that a candidate may be harassed regarding his personal views for a religious minority while campaigning in a so-called “democratic state”....

 

Khan’s new Pakistan was going to be a bit like Sweden and a bit like Singapore — or, really, like old Medina: According to him, all welfare state models are borrowed from early Islamic empires. He supports the blasphemy law and has defended the justice system adopted by the Taliban from Pashtun tribes....

 

But Turkey may have bitten off more than it can chew. Security in Afrin is getting worse. A double bombing in June killed nine people. Reports of infighting and looting continue to surface. People in Afrin chafed under YPG rule, a local resident says, but the insurgents who followed are worse. “The Turks must make these monsters go home.”...

 

Against all odds she is struggling to establish secularism and democracy. Though personally she is a practicing Muslim, she believes that religion is for individuals and secularism is for all. To achieve this goal in Bangladesh in its present social and political condition will take time. My Iraqi journalist friend was satisfied but asked me, 'Why don't your government propagate this truth strongly in the world especially in the Middle-east?...

 

In 1924, when King Abdulaziz conquered the Hijaz, one of the most important regions of the Arab peninsula where Mecca is located, he promised an elected council, participatory politics based on the Islamic doctrine of consultation, and absolute freedom. King Abdulaziz denounced fake elections, a nominal parliament and unfulfilled promises to the people. In the elected council that he proposed, the elected members would have the power to check executive action, approve the budget and propose legislation. In 1926, King Abdulaziz drafted a constitution-like document that provided the theoretical framework for a degree of accountability and power-sharing....

The army has also been more visible this time. In 2013, when terrorism was a bigger problem, it deployed 70,000 soldiers to polling stations. There will be 370,000 of them on July 25th. The Election Commission of Pakistan, which oversees the vote, has granted army officers the power of magistrates. This will give them control over proceedings in polling stations....

 

The MML isn’t the only unregistered or proscribed group that is using a different platform to compete in the upcoming polls. A faction of the Ahle Sunnat-wal Jamaat, the political face of the banned Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), for example, is in the electoral race from the platform of the Pakistan Rah-e-Haq Party. The Tehreek-i-Jafria Pakistan has registered its political front with the ECP as Islami Tehreek Pakistan (ITP)....

 

The rural people of Pakistan don’t have the luxury of weighing ideologies and campaign promises of political parties. Who they vote for is determined by a smile, by a disapproving look from the feudal lord. Tens of thousands of votes are cast for the political party the overlord favours — a choice he always makes after weighing the balance of power. The practice of democracy in the countryside is almost invisible to the television anchors and columnists and other influential urban compatriots who pay American prices for a cup of coffee in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad....

 

Significantly, TLP, an Islamist party, erupted against the alleged change in the Khatm-e-Nabuwwat [finality of Prophet-hood] clause, and has now underlined its extremist-terrorist orientation. TLP chief Maulana Khadim Hussain Rizvi, who has fielded as many as 152 candidates for the General Elections 2018, declared on July 9, 2018, If they give me the atom bomb I would remove Holland from the face of the earth before they can hold a competition of caricature. I will wipe them off the face of this earth.....

 

This does indeed seem like the only possible course of action left for religious minorities in Pakistan. Perhaps they should leave while they still can, because the Muslim majority in this country will ultimately turn to genocide against them before ultimately killing each other. Ghulam Abbas, the great Urdu short story writer, predicted this much in his classic Hotel Mohenjo-Daro in the 1960s. Soon there will only be ruins left in what was once a young country with great potential....

Nawaz Sharif has accused the deep state of rousing central Punjab’s shrine-connected feudal PML-N loyalists to rebel against him. He alleges that his government was nearly toppled by a foul-mouthed, wheelchair-riding imam of a Masjid heading the Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), Khadim Husain Rizvi. Rizvi staged a violent encounter with the police near Islamabad because “the PML-N government had insulted the Holy Prophet”....

 

Pakistanis will not waste a second criticizing Myanmar for their appalling treatment of the Rohingya – and rightly so. The cause of the Palestinians is loudly proclaimed, as are those of Chechens, Bosniaks and Albanians. But on the Uyghurs, all are silent. So what about Muslim solidarity? Muslim solidarity certainly makes for a good and popular slogan for political leaders. And the people are all in favour of solidarity, so long as this requires little sacrifice on their part....

 

The conviction of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif by an accountability court last Friday has set the stage for him to portray himself as the latest martyr for democracy. He has argued, as others have done before him, that he is being punished not for corruption but for standing up to Pakistan’s invisible government — the military-intelligence combine that has dominated the country effectively since 1958....

 

How is it possible for us and the government who always wanted to be seen at the forefront, championing the rights of the Palestinians and other persecuted Muslims, not to feel anguish and pain for the Uighurs and their present state of affairs, their trials, tribulations and torture? If these Uighurs were simply escaping the political persecution of the CCP, they should be protected at any cost, even if it upsets the Chinese to whom the previous government was indebted due to the hundreds of billions in loans. But this is a new dawn for a new Malaysia!...

 
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