Gen Mirza Aslam Beg

Friday, June 27, 2014 – Tahirul Qadri suffers from an acute sense of anomie. He thinks that the social order is rotten, to be demolished and a new structure is to be raised. He claims to have the plan, to build such an utopian order. Therefore he declared “I am coming, at the peril of my life, to save Pakistan.” He arrived on 23th June, to lead the revolution, Imam Khomenie style. But soon he back tracked after meeting with Governor Punjab, who is an appointee of Nawaz Sharif, against whom Qadri has declared war. What will be his next move is unpredictable, but what is known and predictable, must be examined.

During the period 1997-98, he was a coalition partner in Pakistan Awami Ittehad (PAI), under PPP leadership. He had no vote bank of his own, but had a strong support-base of students of Minhajul Qur’an Madaris and Darul Ulooms, created by him, mainly in the province of Punjab. For example, to demonstrate his strength for the PAI jalsa in Peshawar in 1998, he packed-up over forty buses with students and teachers of his Madaris from Punjab and crossed over Indus to Peshawar, and did create an impression. But the fact is that, so far he cannot boast of winning even a single seat of the National Assembly, except the one awarded to him in 2002, for supporting General Musharraf’s referendum. It is the political and ideologicalaffinity with Musharraf, which is the force behind his movement. Musharraf’s close associates like Pervez Ellahi and Sheikh Rashid are in-step with him in his revolutionary march towards a new social order in Pakistan. In fact, these ‘revolutionaries’form part of the global forces which, since long have remained active against political Islam in Pakistan, Egypt, Turkey and Algeria. They reject Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and the Revolutionary Islam in Iran. Their preference is for secular Bangladesh. This is the ideological conflict, which has been the root cause of miseries of the Muslim world, for over three decades.

The people of Pakistan have the right to know, as to which school of religious thought Qadri belongs, out of a dozen or so religious parties demanding a different political system for the country. Dr. Qadri rejects the present democratic order as rotten, and hopeless, and the alternative he suggests, is wage, whereas, the Constitution of Pakistan, which embodies the will of the people, affirms a democratic order, based on the principles of Quran and Sunnah. Qadri’s “approach to Revolution” therefore, is against the very fundamentals of the constitutions and the norms of democracy.

Asking for a revolution in Pakistan, which has yet not achieved full nationhood, amounts to courting disaster. No doubt change is demanded, because that is the verdict of the 2013 General Elections, which has thrown up Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) as the third largest party in Pakistan, which is a moderate party, and its political vision is in harmony with the political ethos of the Pakistani nation, which rejects both, secularism and religious extremism. Similarly change also occurred in India, giving a U-turn, from Secularism to Hindutva, which means Hinduism, combined with extreme nationalism. This kind of change has been rejected by the Pakistani nation.

In fact, both, Qadri and Nawaz Sharif, appear obsessed with the “contrived change” which occurred on night 15/16 March 2009, when the movement for the restoration of judiciary was joined by PML(N) and the threat of march from Lahore toIslamabad created the effect. The march had hardly crossed river Ravi bridge, when Islamabad bow-backed and accepted the demands of the movement, meaning thereby, that, for General Musharraf the ‘game was over.’ Nawaz Sharif feared that the ‘game could be over’ for him also, as Qadri arrived at Lahore, refused to leave the aircraft and demanded to negotiate with the Army representative, which was declined. He then sought army security cover, which was also refused and that totally disappointed Qadri, because there appeared “no possibility of the kind of message from the Army, as on night 15/16 March 2009.” He agreed to talk to the Governor Punjab and returned home, under his own security. A drama so well orchestrated by him, came to an end, within nine hours of his arrival in Pakistan. What will be his next move is difficult to predict.

The surprising aspect of this whole episode is the nervous reactions of the sitting government in dealing with the situation, created by Qadri in open defiance of rules of business, to bring about change through the power of the Madaris and the lurking fear in Nawaz Sharif’ mind of the telephone call from Islamabad. Obsession and fear thus created the dilemma. Qadri tried to emulate the Afghans who used Taliban power, to checkmate two super powers, within a period of three decades.” The Madaris in Afghanistan have a history of their own, which spans over centuries, steeped into their values, traditions and sense of sacrifice, which helped them fight and win, one of the most torturous wars of all times. Qadri’s Taliban lack these qualities.

Since 1990, the Madaris have played very active role in shaping the security environment of Pakistan. Qadris’ revolution is one such phenomenon. One may not be surprised if this kind of autism may also affect the minds of our educationists, operating country-wide, English School systems, such as Beacon House, Roots etc, who may be weighing-up their ‘options for revolution’ to make the national scenario more interesting and ‘khabarnak’.

Living in a state of anomie is no good for Dr. Qadri, and to swim against the tide is dangerous, particularly at this time of turmoil and turbulence. Better to ride with the tide and steer the way to a better future, free from exploitation and corruption.

—The writer is former COAS, Pakistan.

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