Mirza Aslam Beg
PAKISTAN appears to be at war with itself, as a result of the “terrible mindset” causing deep divisions of the social order. As early as 1958, when the Khans of Kalat protested for their political rights, it was taken as revolt and the Army was let loose on them. Such action have been repeated five times against other tribes in Balochistan. Since 2005, Army has been used to settle political issues in Swat, Dir, Bajaur, Waziristan and FATA region. We do not realize that, unlike our people in Punjab and Sindh, who protest by blocking roads, sit-ins, dharnas and lock-ins, our tribals protests by moving into the hills with their weapons, which is construed as revolt and army is called to crush them, thus blocking all chances of dialogue and reconciliation.
That is the impasse we are now facing. As if this was not enough, we also have developed the habit of putting ban on dissident elements, which now number over a dozen, thus denying ourselves all chances of dialogue and negotiations with them. The banned elements now are roaming all over the country, tormenting our souls. The chaotic situation thus offers an ideal ground to our enemies to create myriad security problems. The Turkish President visiting Pakistan last month warned that, there is “Fatehullah Gullen like threat to Pakistan’s security”, which is highly dangerous and must be addressed on priority. Turkey itself “faces a growing terror threat, the country is also largely at war with itself – with deep divisions along religion class and ethnicity. The greatest source of division is between supporters of Mr. Erdogan and his opponents” – Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Our politico-ideological divide is equally complex and menacing, demanding immediate action to rectify the fault. Our present system of governance minus the ideology would collapse under pressure. Allah has given us the option to choose a system of governance, so long as its foundation was based on the principles of the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah. Following this dictate, the 1973 Constitution of Pakistan defined the National Purpose: “Pakistan will be governed by a democratic order, based on the principles of the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah.” But unfortunately democracy has been preferred over the principles of the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah. No government in the past or the present one, nor the conglomeration of over two dozen religious parties, ever made any serious attempt to fortify our ideological identity. We have failed to give our children their Muslim identity, because our education system is devoid of teachings of the principles of the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah.
The National Action Plan gives the impression as if religion is the root cause of terror in Pakistan. On the contrary, the social disorder – the ideological split of the society into liberals/seculars and the moderates, has been caused by those, who hold power and are calling the shots. The religious groups are the marginalized lot, having no political space, or policy decision-making related to governance. They themselves are the terrorized people. Our people do not vote for them, yet they have been identified as the prime source of terror. The liberals and the Secularist want to separate religion from the matters of the State, on the ground that “our human existence is not to be God-cantered human order, but the modernity preferred order, that favours individual autonomy and marginalized God. Not God first but We First.” Bangladesh is a living example, but Pakistan is different.
God forbid, if that situation is reached, Pakistan may turn into a “regional cock-pit.” Such was the situation in Indonesia in 1965-66, when Socialism/Communism was being preached, which caused violent reaction, resulting into a civil war, with more than a million and a half dead, till Suharto took control. God forbid if we fail to check the drift, the result would be disastrous, because Pakistan is not an island. In our neighbourhood, are the revolutionary Iran and Afghanistan, who would join the foray and the marginalized religious parties would find a job, to create hell out of the chaotic situation.
We, ourselves have been a party to the conspiracy, imposed by Washington in 2010, that a sum of US$ 1.4 billion was allocated for “perception management of the Pakistani nation”. This conspiracy took its toll by splitting the nation into liberals/secularists, the moderates and what not, whereas, the Pakistani nation for the last seven decades has been able to assimilate all such elements, into a perfect moderate Muslim Society, living peacefully with the liberals, secularists and all schools of religious thought such as, Kharji, Takfiri, Salfi, Wahabi, Qadri, Naqshbandi, Dêobandi, Barelvi, Shia and Sunni. But unfortunately the “political-ideological crusade” by this Terrible Mindset has debased the very face of the moderate Muslim society of Pakistan. We have to correct this dangerous drift by enforcing a simple decision to fortify the National Purpose as defined in the Constitution of Pakistan.
Parliament has to pass the law that the teachings of the principles of Quran and Sunnah, be made compulsory for all Muslim students from Class III to VIII in all English and Urdu Medium Schools. This is the only way to create balance between the two elements of our National Purpose – Democracy as the system of governance and the principles of Quran and Sunnah as the ideological bedrock of the system. But unfortunately the high and the mighty, such as the Presidents, Prime Ministers, Chief Justices, Governors and Ministers who take oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan” have failed to safeguard the sanctity of the National Purpose, as defined in the Constitution. They all have the responsibility and so have the people of Pakistan to correct the dangerous drift and the disconnect.
Next door in Iran, they follow the system of governance, called Wilayat-e-Faqih, based on the principles of Quran and Sunnah, which gave them the strength to fight the machinations of sanctions, embargos and invasion by Iraq, Iran emerged triumphant, riding the high tide of the Islamic Revolution. Similarly the Afghans, upholding the system of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, have defeated the mightiest of the mighty during the last three decades and stand firm in their resolve to reject the agenda of the occupation forces, because it contrasts with their value system, traditions and ideology. It was the ideology that prevailed. That also is the verdict of history for Pakistan.
— The writer, a retired 4-star General, is former COAS, Pakistan Army.