New Age Islam Edit Bureau
04 December 2017
Jirga Violence And Punitive Justice
By Marria Qibtia S Nagra
Discarding Terrorists’ Narrative
By Dr Muhammad Khan
A Wrecked Ship
Fencing the Tribal Areas
By Ghulam Qadir Khan
Moving To the Right
By Umair Javed
A Right Conciliation
By Muhammad Usman
Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
Jirga Violence and Punitive Justice
December 1, 2017
CONFLICTS and disagreements generally invite two pronged responses to their settlement: by dialogue whereby the opposing parties manage to resolve the issue at hand through peaceful means or by violence as a course of asserting ascendency of one of the parties over the others, something that always propels a discordant stalemate. A couple of days ago, as the Pakistani nation stood at a screeching halt, with the life of the citizens divested of normalcy and punctuated with chaos and telling’s of anarchy as a result of the Faizabad sit-in episode, the only pertinent concern consuming the political hegemony of the state was to resolve the crisis at hand via plausibly peaceful means, something that materialised in the resignation of the law minister Zahid Hamid.
Seen in this context, a repudiation of violence, on a macrocosmic level, enabled Pakistan to extricate itself from a civil-strife like situation, yet on a microcosmic level, the state yet again manifested its failure to clamp down the resort to ferocity as a means of retributive justice, conveniently practiced under the banner of Jirga system, as indicated by the recent murder of a young couple on the orders of a Jirga in Karachi, for contracting a marriage of their choice. Jirga’s not only engage in a brutal negation of the human right values enshrined in Pakistan’s constitution but also by virtue of their draconian edicts make life a pandemonium for individuals. Though the Jirga system was outlawed by the Sindh High Court in 2004, yet till date runs wide across the country, manifests the conscious disengagement of the government from the ferocious contours of punitive violence practiced under the name of justice.
The Jirga’s assume a problematic posturing on several fronts. Claiming to provide speedy justice to individuals, the dynamics of Jirga operation manifest a repugnant reality, where justice is not only denied but ferociously condemned for individuals who do trespass the prescribed repressive social code of conduct that primarily converges on the expression of freewill of individuals, who do want to assert autonomy in decision making. Is not autonomy of individuals a right enshrined in the constitution of land, and mandated by humanity itself? Is it so grave an offence that it qualifies as a contentious issue of honor, whose restitution can be brought about by death and death only?
Additionally, the potential notion of women seeking justice from a Jirga usually sounds a death knell for the victim, who finds themselves to be mere pawns, lacking agency, on the dangerous checkerboard of family feuds and their resolution. The fact that women are not sanctioned as a Jirga’s members, witnesses or complainants, instead can only access it through male relatives of their family, manifests the misogynistic bearing of this system. In this context, it does not come as a surprise that quite recently Pakistan has been declared as the fourth worst country for women by the Georgetown Institute of Women Peace and Security something which is quite frightening to consider. The victims of Jirga violence are pushed to the periphery, where they exist in a liminal space, categorically marking their subservience to this vehement system. Lacking the ability to pronounce their disagreement over the Jirga’s edicts for fear of further reprisal, it is high time that robust measures are taken to give voice to the victims and to deal with this issue at the earliest.
For this fore mostly of all, the government instead of manifesting its obliviousness to the grating reality of Jirga’s by attempting to give legal cover to them under the Alternate Dispute Resolution bill, should adopt coercive measures to provide justice to all those for whom it now even fails to exist as a dream. This goal cannot be attained if national leaders continue being active participants in Jirga proceedings and deliberations. A case in point is that of Baloch senator Israrullah Zehri who defended the grotesque killing of five innocent girls, who were tragically shot and buried even before they were pronounced dead, all because this act was seen to be in consonance with the Jirga’s edict.
Secondly, it must be realised that deterrence serves as half the cure to grave social ills as Jirga sponsored ferociousness. Justice becomes a farfetched dream when offenders come to be conveniently released on bail enjoying the backing of a political bigwig. This simply undermines the attempt of addressing lawlessness in the society. Moreover, in clamping down Jirga violence, the local media can play an exigent role in condemning the Jirga justice in favor of formal judicial process. The rural target audience needs to be informed of their fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution, particularly Article 25 that sheds light upon concerns of gender equality, women empowerment and the Principles of Policy that protect the institution of marriage, unit of family and relation of child, something that Jirga system edicts are inconsistent with.
Violence perpetuated by the Jirga’s does not resolve conflicts rather germinates them. It is farcical to even consider that violence can create a dialogic space, necessary for social harmony, when all it does is engage in a blatant monologue of social apathy. It is high time that concerted efforts are rendered to cure this malaise or else it would not be long before there would be another unceremonious burial of a silent victim of Jirga ferocity somewhere across the state, unfathomably killed because of the exercise of her right to exert autonomy , and hence to live.
On December 1, 2017, militants once again targeted an educational institute in Peshawar, killing nine which include six students and the security guard of the institution. It was 12th Rabi-ul-Awwal and people of Pakistan were celebrating the Eid Milad-un-Nabi, the birthday of Holy Prophet (PBUH) once Directorate of Agriculture Institute in Peshawar was assaulted by five militants. Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) accepted the responsibility of this attack. Earlier this organisation has destroyed hundreds of schools and academic institutions in FATA and KPK areas from 2007 onwards. While the memories of two prominent attacks by TTP terrorists; the APS Peshawar in 2014 and Bacha Khan University in 2016 were still fresh in the minds of Pakistani masses, the Directorate of Agriculture Institute was attacked.
Over the past one decade, TTP as a terrorist organisation while taking cover of Islam have been doing everything which goes against the basic teaching of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). Whereas the essence of the teaching of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) is ‘promotion of education and acquiring knowledge for the betterment of humanity and essence of TTP and other terrorist organisations is to bring an end to the educational system and push the people towards darkness. How can they call themselves as Muslims, once their narrative is against the core of Islam? The Prophet of Islam Muhammad (PBUH) once said, “A father gives his child nothing better than a good education.” On another occasion, the Holy Prophet said “It is incumbent upon every Muslim man and woman to acquire knowledge.”
Being the worst sufferers of the terrorism, the people of Pakistan have unanimously rejected the narratives of all terrorist organisations, since they are against Islam and humanity. The word Islam itself denotes peace and Holy Quran ‘teaches love and compassion for every human being’ irrespective of their religion. Indeed, Islam denounces terrorism and the violent and intolerant beliefs. Truly the radicalisation, the extremism and the terrorism is not the agenda of Muslims and Islam. Then, why Muslims are blamed for promoting and undertaking this menace of terrorism? A simple answer is that, all major terrorist attacks were either done by Muslims and most of the terrorism is found in Islamic world, therefore they get the discredit. But, nobody has ever tried to unearth the motives behind promotion of; radicalisation, extremism and terrorism in Muslim world. This has not been done even by the affected class; the Muslim scholars.
Generally, it is assumed that the anti-Muslim forces are conspiring against Islam and the Muslims. This may be partially true, but have the Muslim regimes ever tried to evaluate their governance system. Compared to West, in almost all Muslim worlds, there is a clear division between ruling class; the elites and the masses; the streets. Whereas, the elites enjoy the best of facilities, the streets suffers on economic grounds and mostly lack the very basic facilities; the education, medical treatment, justice system, basic nutritional requirements and above all right to express their concerns.
Owing to socio-economic deprivation, which indeed is a governance issues, the Muslim streets get into an extreme mind-set. This extreme mind-set push them towards radicalisation which subsequently outbursts into violence and terrorism. Since Muslim world has been bestowed by Allah Almighty with numerous resources and strategically located geopolitics therefore, as a rule of power politics, the international forces exploit the available opportunities, which is the law of nature. In the process, the elites (ruling class) lose the trust of masses and feel vulnerable, thus take support from external power(s), at the time of domestic violence. The external power(s) then, decides as per its own national interests and convenience. They exploit both; the elites for their obvious susceptibility and streets to use them against the rulers as well as for their strategic and economic achievability. This cycle of exploitation then continues unabated.
Had a farsightedness prevailed among the Muslim world, the ruling elites could have removed the basic anomalies and disparities, found among the masses of the Muslim world. Addressing the socio-economic deprivations would create the element of trust among the ruling class and the deprived masses. A good governance calls for a better care of the masses in all respect. This is the essence of Islam and humanity. Let’s have a positive usage of Islam as a religion as per its essence. Education is the process of learning and knowing, which is a holistic process and continues through our life. Even the regular happenings and events around us educate us, in one or the other way.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that the existence of human beings is fruitless without education. The essence of Islam is education as mention above. The current anti-Islam narratives of terrorists, while taking cover of Islam have created a scare among the youth in our educational institutions. Besides, some of the political elites in Pakistan too have made use of these elements for their political gains and as a vote bank. This is an example of bad governance. Let’s promote the education for discarding the narratives of terrorists as well as of those forces, conspiring against education, the religion and the state of Pakistan.
It has gradually set in, never a huge cataclysmic event but a slow but sure seeping in of a perfusion finding permanent residence in the crevices, fissures and widening cracks finding permanence without healing what was fractured. Newer thoughts normally should never be the anti-thesis of existence but to withstand the reverberations of the spirit, both the mind and the body need to be strong to assimilate.
The body, the state of Pakistan, has been repeatedly battered and weakened to the point of emaciation; while the thought is the ideological clash impacting its foundations. The people who form the nation and society are the ones who undergo the tumult of this clash. They are the ones who must digest the consequences. Fresh thinking nourishes societies but a healthy core, a healthy mind and a healthy attitude is what makes newer thoughts welcome. In Pakistan, sadly we lag monumentally on the scale of such nourishment.
Some time we conceive badly and inappropriately. Every idea must like any plant find a suitable environment to grow. When that is not the case even the best of thoughts will only wither and decay. That is the case of the rate at which we wish change to happen and the state in an ill-prepared receiving environment for the newer seeds of thought and word. Pakistan suffers from serious and major deformities. Its governance system doesn’t suit the mindset in which these are applied; that is why our governance remains weak and mostly decrepit. Those that rule carry the making of kings, and those that choose their rulers haven’t shaken off the yoke of being subjects. This is the most basic fault-line of our societal structure which we let go quite conveniently even in serious consideration of why the society and the state have not melded. The kings follow no rules, while the subjects simply submit before the rules of their overlords, not of any written law. Constitutions and rule of law become alien to this way of interaction. Both then become lost pursuits. In form we may be pursuing the ideals of a modern state, but in effect we remain a couple of centuries behind in time.
Society is anachronistic. Fata is a geographical manifestation of such a societal disposition which is now under the spotlight. Fata still might change because it is a narrow domain, but what do you do when the entire society is only nominally under modern rules but held back in time in practice. Without addressing these core vulnerabilities the rants of modernity that we sound every day from the pulpit of various avenues in the media are meaningless. Every new thought weighs heavy on such a structure.
The vulnerabilities have been far too many: we had no constitution for a long number of years after we became a society and a state, and before then only the kings ruled. Constitutions were alien to our way of living. When an attempt finally began it fell victim to parochial and tribal motives borne from selfish ends; provincialism, parochial tribalism, primacy of one language over the other, the clamour for resource and political power, institutional disharmony, a dismembered country, of skewed priorities and power structures, of sham governance systems – presidential, prime ministerial, autocratic or democratic – which in effect were the same. And we were already a broken body even when we came around to agreeing on one. The intellect of those who led, and of those who were led, was always inadequate to address the deformities which only became entrenched. And when nothing works, religion takes over.
Somewhere along the way the people were totally forgotten; we were so enamoured with the resource and its control. As a society we mimic eighteenth-century traits while the state only nominally exists in the twenty-first; in its effect through disposition and function it still largely is captive of the twentieth century. With such dichotomy the rupture is inherent. Now load this with the progressive thought largely gained through foreign education, external exposure and a liberal strain which dominates the daily discourse, and the divisions only magnify.
Social media, far removed from the masses, is where such liberal presence congregates. To those inhabiting the digital world, the 250 or 300 members in their group constitute their world. Ditto for Twitter. Hundreds of millions remain outside the ambit of such rewarding discourse (pun intended). More importantly, those that interact seem to be speaking to the world, forgetting how narrow its domain is. When Nawaz Sharif or his daughter claim renewed idealism it unfortunately is aimed at satiating the tiny world of WhatsApp groups and Twitter followers. Or to spite an institution in a competitive sense. These are only games at the upper end of the societal crust with zero engagement of the masses. If the Flavians of Rome had their Colosseums, the upper-crust elites of Pakistan have their own set of power games.
This is when religion took over. The government today is sans leadership, sans ideas and sans competence. It practically doesn’t exist. In this vacuum, competing power centres emerge. We saw one at Faizabad for three weeks. A cleric, not a noted scholar, waived before the people the sacred name of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and the entire country shut down. Next would have been the burning of ‘Rome’ had the ineptness of the power wielders extended beyond initial attempts at instituting their writ. Writ relates to moral and political competence. When you are bereft of both, the writ is lost – never to be reinstituted until the capital rebuilds. This should become the abiding lesson of the last few weeks.
When we invoke civ-mil dissonance as the reason behind such incompetence we enable very convenient cover to ineptness. Unable to see its weaknesses, the state only slides even further down the scale of failure. It is bigotry in reverse when we fail to acknowledge that what was on display at Faizabad is the real us. Perhaps not those who live in the exclusivity of modernity, but the masses only exhibited what is their belief system. It may be at odds with how we may wish to believe but we have all along failed to acknowledge that two separate belief systems exist here –depending upon which level of the societal scale you are located at.
Till the cumulative intellect of society is enabled to the level where conservatism can be challenged – especially related to some dearly held fundamentals of the religion – we will need to slow down our idealism to the rates that this society can adapt to and assimilate. Too far, too fast will generate another disconnect. The failure is patently ours.
December 04, 2017
FOR better border management, Pakistan security forces are fencing the country’s border with Afghanistan — rather, they have almost completed the job. This will not only regulate the movement of people and goods but will also check infiltration of militants from across the border.
As much as fencing was needed for security reasons, it will no doubt contribute to the tribal people’s economic hardships. This is a major change in the lives of the tribes living astride the border, and should have been properly planned with clearly identified steps to offset the ensuing hardships. It is pertinent to note that although there is subsistence agriculture and livestock activity, most of the economic activity in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) was in some way related to cross-border trade with Afghanistan. An already impoverished people, ravaged by years of war, instead of getting support and relief are further trounced into extinction without any remedial measures prior to fencing.
Without getting into the politics of the Durand Line and easement rights, it is suffice to say that Fata is the poorest area in the country. More than 70 per cent of its population lives below the poverty line. There are no economic opportunities; no apparent development activity taking place; colleges have been closed for ages; and, above all, the people have no rights. The rights given to all Pakistanis by the Constitution and those committed through international instruments are brazenly denied to Fata’s people. Whatever little economic activity there was has been dismantled by the ongoing militancy.
Focusing on border management alone at the expense of economic development will backfire.
But this is not all; the people of Fata have nowhere to go to register their grievances. They have been abandoned by the state and its institutions. The Supreme Court is ready to fix the prices of tomatoes but does not appear to be prepared to protect the rights of the tribal people. The president and the governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa — nominated as guardians by the Constitution — are adding insult to injury by not even trying to understand the plight of the tribes.
It is in this state of affairs that the government decided to fence the border with Afghanistan. With businesses demolished and trade with Afghanistan made difficult, if not disallowed, we are moving towards disaster. With poverty already sky-high, fencing the border will drag Fata further down. As the saying goes, ‘they prefer stealing to begging’. A vulnerable people will become more vulnerable and easy prey for anti-social elements to use for their nefarious designs.
The status of Fata wasn’t very clear until the 1973 Constitution declared it a part of Pakistan, removing all ambiguities. Fata was a special entity. Many laws were not extended to it, including the Customs Act, and hence to take anything into or out of down-country Pakistan one needed special permission of the political agent. The Customs Act was extended to Fata in the 1980s, of course without the tribes’ consent. Once the act was extended, these permits should have been discontinued — but they continued and their rates kept on increasing, becoming a great source of revenue for the Fata administration.
Under the local government act in the provinces, all districts levied zila tax. The zila tax was collected at the entry/exit of each district and the rates of taxes for all items were fixed and properly displayed. To make it transparent, the collection was auctioned in open bidding in which anyone could participate. In the 1990s, the government replaced the zila tax with general sales tax. Share of all the districts in the GST collected was fixed equivalent to their last year earnings of zila tax. GST is collected on site of production/distribution, hence no one is exempted. Like the rest of the country, the people of Fata also pay GST on all items — but unlike the districts where collection of zila tax was discontinued, tax collection at the entry point of tribal agencies continues. The GST was to replace the zila tax, but in Fata it is in addition to the agency tax. Thus Fata’s people end up paying the tax/cess twice.
The funds collected through the issue of permits are un-auditable and are spent on undefined administrative functions. The amount collected is huge, and it’s no secret that to get posted as political agent one literally has to bid a price. Throughout the world food items are subsidised, but in Fata, to our bad luck, it is a major source of earning for the administration.
The need to regulate movement on the border cannot be denied, but fencing the border without proper planning and taking remedial measures the government has practically turned Fata into one huge refugee camp. The government should have made alternate arrangements for the livelihoods of Fata’s people in general, and the tribes astride the border in particular, before starting fencing. It should have discontinued the permits and other collections; it should have invested in mega projects to generate economic activity; and should have amended the anti-development law, the Frontier Crimes Regulation. Without alternate economic activity, the government is pushing an already desperate Fata into an inconsolable situation.
My plea to the president, as the executive authority of the federation over Fata, is to stop the illegal collections of the local administration forthwith. The budget already allocated to every agency should suffice for administrative duties; if not, they should take up the case with the finance division for additional funds. My request to the prime minister would be to nominate a chief executive officer without further delay, so that whatever investment is to be made in Fata materialises as early as possible. A new office takes time to establish, and there is a long list of approvals from various forums before a project can be initiated.
It is pertinent to note that none of the above requires any constitutional amendments. I strongly believe that providing economic opportunities will in itself go a long way towards reducing militancy.
IS Pakistani society becoming more radicalised or intolerant with each passing day? The question pops up after we see fellow citizens endorse violence or threats of violence by fundamentalist groups. Most observers feel we reached a conclusive answer (yes, we’re doomed) after Salman Taseer’s assassination, when large segments of the urban, social media-using population engaged in celebration, apologia, or whataboutery of epic proportions.
Similar views have been witnessed after other such events, including the latest one in Faizabad. At a deeper level, some point to the popularity of diffused forms of religiosity as clear indications of the median shifting at least towards greater conservativism, if not radicalisation.
Every now and then, however, someone points out that this trend might not be as linear. Lots of underlying developments are taking place that appear to contradict the idea of a society tottering on the brink of Islamism. Popular examples include the growing space for women in public life through education and the labour market, continued growth in the urban entertainment industry, which includes film, music, and television, and sporadic growth of lifestyle liberalism in facets such as life choices, inter-gender relations, and leisure time activity.
The mechanisms used to establish new limits and then push them further to the right are grounded in who can shout the loudest.
Both sides of this debate draw on some concept of majoritarian rule, implying that the cultural values and aspirations of the largest chunk of our population will end up reflecting themselves through the state and its legal framework.
Pessimists predict that the overall trend is towards a theocracy empowered by the acceptance of radical ideas among large swathes of society. The (lukewarm) optimists suggest that our ethnic and communal make-up will ensure no one brand of Islamism ever wins out and that growing disillusionment with violence might actually lead to a more tolerant outcome.
There are empirically valid points in both camps, which is not surprising given Pakistan is both a country of over 200 million people and is experiencing significant social and demographic change. Point being if you look hard enough you’ll find something to back up any assertion.
In trying to predict the future through an estimate of majority sentiment, we run the risk of missing out on the way changes have happened and will continue to happen independent of what regular people are thinking or doing.
If 2017 is our starting point, we’re already covered a great deal of distance towards becoming discriminatory and intolerant. There are laws banning people from practising faith on their own terms, and others that perpetuate vigilantism. None of these laws are the outcome of majoritarianism in the traditional sense. There were no elections or referenda fought on these precise changes. Instead, it was the state elite — politicians and military personnel — championing these changes or agreeing to their demand by others. Some did it because they genuinely believed in it, others did it out of expediency. In all cases, the actual driving force was a small set of ideologues and their followers.
This particular pathway of winning ideological battles has proven to be quite successful in Pakistan. All you need are a few thousand followers, which enterprising extremists almost always have, and a phrasing of your pet cause in a way that resonates with the basic religious sentiment of enough people.
The Faizabad Dharna provides a good case study of this phenomenon. There was no actual issue at the heart of this three-week long contention. Instead, we had a range of rumours and half-truths regarding what the government had tried to do through its legislative amendment. These rumours were repeated across television channels, social media, and through mosques and madrasas till they became, for all intents and purposes, the truth.
Once this new, volatile truth fell in place, the entire issue became one of expediency and damage control. As the driving rationale of Pakistani politicians is retaining office rather than ideological commitment, electoral or popularity-based considerations took precedence over all else.
For their part, religious extremists have done well in either capturing little pockets of ideologically motivated voters across the country, or creating the perception that they can potentially swing some constituencies. This explains why appeasement of protesters was the first instinct of different members of the ruling party, including the chief minister of Punjab and, subsequently, why opposition parties steered clear of condemning them outright.
Out of this toxic combination of lies, expediency, and street protests emerged a great deal of media attention, a minister’s scalp, and an agreement that elevated a bunch of ideologues to the position of valid stakeholder. It also reaffirmed certain red lines as far as the institutional and legal makeup of our state is concerned.
The mechanisms used to establish new limits and then push them further to the right are grounded in who can shout the loudest more than anything else. Working in their favour is the fact that there is no one to shout back. Political parties are either scared, selfish or ideologically complicit. There are no civil society organisations capable of laying siege to Islamabad in the name of tolerance. Nor are there any progressive groups who can swing even a handful of constituency battles. The game is now rigged in a way that it can only muddle further to the right, because any attempt in the other direction will be defeated through violence, protest and self-serving opposition.
To go back to the original debate, asking whether most Pakistanis actively want to live under a state run by fundamentalists is increasingly irrelevant. Fundamentalists themselves have decided they do want to run both state and society. And to their sordid credit, they’ve found a way to do so that doesn’t involve winning elections or the hearts and minds of some amorphous majority.
In 1976, Bhutto was at pinnacle of his power. Opposition was in a disarray. It was
considered a poor lot which failed to put its act together despite his highhandedness to oppress rivals and silence dissent. On the outside, Bhutto was a democrat but on the inside, he was a feudal. Absolute authority was his obsession. In democracy, a two third majority in parliament could give a whip of some legitimacy to drive chariot of such make and type. Arguably, it was prime objective of Bhutto in elections. Convinced at heart to sail through, he decided to call early general elections however, his calculation suffered serious setback when electoral alliance of nine opposition parties emerged namely, Pakistan National Alliance.
Sensing a real threat, Bhutto allegedly decided to rig elections. Outraged by ballot fraud, PNA launched anti-rigging campaign. It started gaining momentum however, it got real impetuous when it had Islamic core; enforcement of Nizam-i-Mustafa in the country. Soon it became unstoppable snowball. It was no more a mere campaign of political cause. It was more of for religious cause. Bhutto used club and bullet. Blood started to spill but no relent was seen because violence breeds violence. Movement continued for months. As time passed, civil administration started showing signs of wear and tear. Eventually, Army was called in but caught between pull of military task and religion, it also felt constrained. It was an unwarranted test. Inevitably, Bhutto had to talk with opposition despite his abhorrent to talk from a position of weakness.
Lawyers’ movement for restoration of Judiciary is a golden leaf in political history of Pakistan. It instantly started with removal of Chief Justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Choudhry by Gen Musharraf in March 2007 and clinched resounding victory in March 2009 against extreme dislikes of Asif Zardari regardless of the fact that finally it landed in hands of a reluctant Nawaz Sharif and pied paper Aitzaz Hasan. Lawyers and people alike never wavered and flinched to bring it so long because to them, cause was sacrosanct; no nation could survive in absence of Justice and judiciary is its fountainhead. A decisive moment came on 15 March 2009 when long march reached Gujranwala and poised to storm Islamabad next day. Government was in no amenable mood to listen councils of good sense despite writing on wall; no violence could succeed against people, charged with a cause at deep recess of their hearts. It was COAS General Kiayani who showed sagacity and acted as interlocutor to avert potential chaos. It was no capitulation rather conciliation to what people wanted which otherwise is primary responsibility of a democratic and responsible government. It was triumph of righteousness of cause.
A 21-day long sit in on Faizabaz interchange by religious protestors in wake of allegedly amending Khatm-i-Nabuwwat clause in Election Act 2017 finally ended when an agreement was reached between Tehreek-i-Labbaik and Government. Make and break clause was resignation of Federal Law Minister, Zahid Hamid for having allegedly engineered the amendment. Following the agreement, there was an uproar that agreement is a sell out to religious extremism, vandalism, abuse and edicts of extra parliamentary forces. It is a capitulation under duress. It is a blueprint for others to hold state and society hostage at gun point. It ends dream of a modern and pluralistic Pakistan. World would now look at Pakistan warily. It is an attempt to ditch democracy. Religious frenzy is now a factor to be reckoned with. In a free society, everyone is entitled to own opinion and interpretation, however, this the language which our arch adversaries would like to speak. In reality, nothing bad has happened. Nation at large has already endorsed this fact happily with immense satisfaction and relief. Whole episode needs to be viewed with sober reflection, not with skepticism.
During passage of Election Act 2017, issue of tinkering with Khatm-i-Nabuwwat clause came to fore. Given background, no one could believe that it was an oversight or accidental. It was deliberate. Government remain obdurate and indifferent. People of Pakistan are extremely sensitive about Khatm-i-Nabuwwat. They could sit mute on hunger, deprivation and bereavement but not on issue of Khatm-i-Nabuwwat. It goes limitlessly deep in their hearts. Only insane mind could think to double the use of force, not because of fear but due to force of right cause. Situation called for sanity in thought and action. Agreement was its apt illustration.
Armed Forces of Pakistan have fought valiantly against terrorism and extremism. They have shown ability and resolve repeatedly. They could take on anyone who tries to hold wrong end of the stick. After disqualification of Nawaz Sharif, government of PML (N) is continuing which blunders every now and then. People of Pakistan are not wishy-washy liberals. They are genuinely generous liberal and tolerant. They have successfully kept sectarian divide and fight at bay despite continued mischief of our nemesis. In elections too, they have shown sophistication. Poor electoral showing of religious parties is its indicator. World knows this when it does not put on lens tainted with prejudice.