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Friday, August 31, 2012

The Root of all problems in Pakistan

This has been posted by a friend, JohneeG

I think I have zeroed in on the root of all the problems of the Pakistanis(imagined or real) which has lead to its present state and which will lead it to further ruin(unless and until it is addressed).

I think the problem started right at the time when the idea of Pakistan(as an Islamic state) started. No, I am not opposing the Two-nation theory(and no, I am not supporting it either). I am not going into the merits or demerits of two nation theory. I won't criticize the idea of religion as the basis of a nation either.

Let us, for the sake of analysis, make some assumptions:
a) Two- nation theory is valid(or justified).
b) the idea of religion as a basis for a nation is also flawless.
c) Islam is perfect and muslims don't kill each other(and further, that muslims love each other).

I know that each of the above assumptions is bogus(or at least highly debatable). But, lets assume them regardless, because I wish to make a different point.

Now, people may complain that if we assume all that there is nothing left to criticize. I disagree.

Anyway, the important point is that a regular Pakistani has made all these assumptions. So then, what is the source of his takleef?

The root of all the takleef is that no one has yet clearly defined what is 'Islam', who are 'muslims'. In any other country, this may not be a major issue. But, in a country which claims to be founded for 'muslims' by 'muslims', this becomes a major issue.

The sectarian war that we are witnessing within Pakistan is the direct result of this lack of clarity.

This question should have been raised when the idea of  Pakistan was first floated. The Brits or the Congress must have asked the 'Muslim' League to define 'muslim'. They did not. Jinnah claimed that muslims were completely different from Hindus in every way(and hence, need a different nation). But, curiously, he never defined what is 'Islam' according to them.

One may ask, "Why is there a need to define 'Islam' or 'muslim'?"
The simple answer is that because there are diverging definitions of what constitutes 'Islam' or 'muslim'. Each sect has its own definitions of 'Islam' or 'muslim'. Each sect considers other sects as 'munafiqs'. Munafiq means a religious hypocrite who pretends to be a 'muslim' when he is not. And in Islam, the only people who are hated worse than kafirs are munafiqs.

Some of the major sects that claim to be 'muslims' are: Sunni, Shia, Kharijis, Druze, Alawi, Ismali, Ahmadiyyah, Sufi ...etc. I have come across one site that claims there are 73 sects in Islam.

What is more, each sect has many different schools. Each school again differs with others on the definition of 'Islam' or 'muslim'. To give an example: Deobandi, Barlevi, Wahabi, Salafi...etc are all sunni schools.

Among all these variant claimants, who is correct? Whose version of Islam is correct? The importance of this question cannot be over-estimated, especially when a nation itself claims that it is primarily based on this idea.

It should have been properly defined at the time when the idea of Pakistan was first floated. That was not done. Maybe muslim league wanted as many people to support the idea as was possible. So, they may have cunningly and/or cautiously avoided defining 'Islam'. But, once they achieved their goal of carving out a new country from India, they should have legally(and constitutionally) defined terms like 'Islam' and 'muslim'.

They did not do that. Instead, there was power struggle between various regional factions. Mohajirs had the initial grip on power. Very early, pakjabis(using their control of on army) sidelined the mohajirs and seized the power. Large demographics of Bangladeshis(or East Pakistanis) was becoming a threat to the pakjabi domination. So, there was a power struggle which culminated in the genocide of East Pakistanis by the pakjabi army. Ultimately, East Pakistan seceded.

The country was broken. As a direct reaction, the islamization of Pakistan was further fueled. Pakistanis believed that they failed because they were not 'islamic' enough(not because of pakjabi genocide of banglas). So, there was further radicalization of the Pakistani society and state(including army).

But, the basic question was not raised by anybody: what is 'Islam'? or who is 'muslim'?

Without answering this question, Pakistanis assumed that they had to resort to 'more Islam'. So, each sect (and each school within a sect) radicalized itself. Over time, the clash was inevitable.

Even in a liberal polytheistic environment(like the Hindu society), such differences can lead to irritation. In a monotheistic environment, the effects are amplified. In a radicalized situation, they most certainly lead to violent clashes.

Since there is no clear definition(especially by the establishment), the only other way to prove that one sect/school is right and others are wrong is by defeating it(or eliminating it) in a war. This is the idea prevalent in that society.

This has resulted in its present chaos. Each week witnesses at least one major sectarian incident killing people. There are bombs blasting each other's 'mosques'.

Right now, sunnis have control of the establishment, so they are ahead in the race. Others are suffering heavy causalities. They face either subjugation or elimination unless they are able to reverse the trend.

The full extent of effects of differences among the various schools has not yet come forth. It is another time bomb ticking.

In conclusion, even if we assume that:
a) the Two-nation theory is valid(or justified).
b) the idea of religion as a basis for a nation is also flawless.
c) Islam is perfect and muslims don't kill each other(and further, that muslims love each other).

Pakistanis first have an important task of defining 'Islam' and 'muslim'. Once they define them, then the assumptions can be put to test.

Unless there is an equal equal of every Pakistani problem with corresponding Indian problems, the WKKs (Wagah Kandle Kissers) are not happy. So, let me give an equal equal of the above Pakistani problem:

India's social and political problems are partly due to lack of official definition of 'secularism'.

Let us assume that 'secularism' is perfect and it is the correct method for India. But, there must be official definition of 'secularism'.

What is 'secularism'? How will it be implemented?

These two questions must be answered in detail. Without an official definition, each one(person/party/community) comes up with their own definition of secularism which leads to confusion.

Of course, some sections prefer this confusion(just like in Pakistan some people prefer confusion over what exactly is 'Islam'). At the same time, they will claim that 'secularism' is absolutely above reproach (just as they claim the same about 'Islam'). The essential goal is to keep the idea of 'secularism' flexible enough to twist it to suit their needs (the same purpose is served by 'Islam' for establishment in Pakistan)