Monday, February 26, 2018

Pakistan -- the dangerous game continues | Yasser Latif Hamdani

Pakistan’s principal contradiction lies in the fact that we have an overdeveloped a state with strong civilian and military bureaucracy but weak civilian representative institutions

Times of Ahmad | News Watch | Int'l Desk
Source/Credit: Daily Times
By Yasser Latif Hamdani@theRealYLH

As I have established in my previous articles, khatme-nabuwat and blasphemy issues in Pakistan are entirely manufactured and created specifically by certain sections within what we call the deep state. Given that Pakistan is a 96 percent Muslim majority country, Islam is in no danger here whatsoever.  Nor does the holy personage of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in any way requires defence by mere mortals who claim to act in his name. The case of Patras Masih in Lahore is yet another indication of how utterly insecure these sections are regarding their faith.  How long are we going to prove to the world that we are an intolerant and bigoted people incapable of tolerating religious difference and dissent?  Even beyond a purely human level, an empathy we must all feel, it is downright humiliating for Pakistanis like me who found ourselves away from our station in a foreign land to hear about these things.

Pakistan’s principal contradiction lies in the fact that we have an overdeveloped state with strong civilian and military bureaucracy but weak civilian representative institutions.  There are historical reasons and foremost amongst them is the fact that the British ruled large tracts of what is now Pakistan through regulations which retarded the growth of representative political institutions.  The first time the country was directly affected by the deep state when its elements roused the Majlis-e-Ahrar and Jamaat e Islami to start a country wide campaign against Ahmadis in 1953. The intended objective was to remove Khawaja Nazimuddin’s government and it was successfully achieved.  Then the same issue was repeated in 1974 but Zulfikar Ali Bhutto referred the question to the parliament which decided to declare Ahmadis Non-Muslim.  However the respite gotten from this ill-advised decision was short lived as the Nizam-e-Mustafa movement was deployed soon thereafter to get rid of Bhutto. 

With the Ahmadi issue supposedly resolved with the shortsighted 2nd Amendment and Bhutto essentially dispatched through the Nizam-e-Mustafa movement, the deep state in the 1990s found corruption as the next big stick to wield against the civilian governments, with PPP and PMLN playing a game of musical chairs in the so called lost decade.  After democracy’s return in 2008, the issue of corruption was reignited with Zardari’s Swiss bank account.  Yousaf Raza Gillani was removed as Prime Minister after first being convicted of the contempt of court.  The so called anti-corruption politics saw its culmination with the ouster of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the so called Panama Case.  Nawaz Sharif’s ability to rally the masses of Punjab to his cause was something the deep state did not count on.  Hence a small change in the oath contained in the filing papers between “I solemnly swear” to “I believe” was instrumentalised as a pretext to reignite the Khatm-e-Nabuwat issue, supposedly settled by the 2nd Amendment and 1984’s Ordinance XX. Imran Khan, whose last book Pakistan a Personal Journey rightly criticized Bhutto for the 2nd Amendment, has gotten on the bandwagon full on and has now declared it an international conspiracy against Khatm-e-Nabuwat by referring to Dante’s Divine Comedy as the first such effort by the evil West to try and blaspheme the Prophet.  Of course as usual he is wrong. Islam has always faced attacks by its opponents but its progress was not retarded. Meanwhile we in Pakistan have created our own versions of the heresiarch.  Edward Said addressed the issue of the attack on Islam and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in his classic Orientalism. It is strange and ironic that Imran Khan has referred to Divine Comedy when Pakistan too has declared the founder of Ahmadi community a heresiarch. The lack of self-awareness is incredible.

There is nothing wrong with Pakistan’s people. Most of Pakistan’s problems can be traced back to this principal contradiction in Pakistan’s political history.  There is however hope that we are about to turn a corner decisively.  Punjab, which has been the bastion of pro-military and pro-establishment sentiment, has risen up under a defiant Nawaz Sharif. The Supreme Court judgment on the issue of party leadership is immaterial.  In coming days they might try and convict Nawaz Sharif and jail him. Nawaz Sharif is roughly where Bhutto was 40 years ago but the difference is that Nawaz Sharif is from the Punjab.  The GT Road constituency belongs to him as much as the deep state.

Desperation might lead the conspirators to do something drastic. This is why Imran Khan is stoking the blasphemy fire as well. He is being handled.  The corruption issue was never strong enough to bring down Nawaz Sharif so now Imran Khan is all but accusing Nawaz Sharif of blasphemy on behest of evil western world out to destroy Islam.    This is a dangerous game that must be avoided at all costs.  We have burnt our hands so many times in it that we must tread very carefully.

All the points people make about elite capture of the electoral process, accountability, corruption, nepotism, dynasties and abuse of power are valid points.  Yet one feels that these can only be addressed after we resolve the civil military imbalance and become a functioning democracy. Democracy has a built in auto-correct mechanism. If we put our faith in it and let it work, in course of time, all these issues will wither away.  For the present though we must resist the urge to be part of the dangerous games being played.

The writer is a practising lawyer and a Visiting Fellow at Harvard Law School in Cambridge MA, USA. He blogs at and his twitter handle is @therealylh

Read original post here: Pakistan -- The dangerous game continues  | asser Latif Hamdani

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