By Yasser Latif Hamdani
The subject is a little outdated so bear with me. Pakistaniat or All Things Pakistan marked a great revolution in Pakistan’s blogging history. It was a progressive and fresh look for Pakistan when the esteemed academic Dr. Adil Najam started it and alas it seemed like that Pakistanis will getting up and speaking up for Pakistan- more specifically the inclusive, democratic and tolerant Pakistan envisaged by Quaid-e-Azam Mahomed Ali Jinnah. And what a revolution it brought about – even PakTeaHouse is to some extent influenced by it and the going ons of that website. Indeed much of our readership is common and we often have similar points of view on issues of national importance. It was therefore this that as someone who has passionately written for Pakistaniat website and contributed to discussions there , I was very disappointed to see a plagiarized obituary of Mian Tufail Muhammad, the second amir of an anti-Pakistan subversive and largely secretive group called Jamaat-e-Islami. It was written by some illiterate and uneducated youth, who claims to be a national kalmnist for some third rate Urdu paper in Karachi which doubles as the official Jamaat-e-Islami newsletter.
Mian Tufail Muhammad was – as is the case with Jamaat-e-Islami in general- actively working to curtail religious freedom in Pakistan and closely associated with General Zia who was by far the worst military adventurer to come to power in Pakistan. So much for Jamaat-e-Islami’s self righteous claims about democracy and constitution recently. In the obituary the author, who tops the list when it comes to lying in print, shamelessly claims that Tufail sided with the dictator for “higher goals”. Well so did Chaudhry Shujaat, Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, MQM and everyone else who sided with Musharraf. Doesn’t mean we forgive them for their role does it? And Musharraf certainly was no Zia by any stretch of imagination.
Of course Tufail mian and his organization never believed in electoral politics. The reason why they were ready to accept General Zia’s demolition of Pakistan’s constitution was because in Zia they finally saw the ameer-ul-momineen they were looking for. It was not even political opportunism for even that would have given the Jamaat-e-Islami’s irrational politics respectability, it was apolitical- it was an attempt to impose upon the people a version of Islam that they have rejected repeatedly and have rejected repeatedly. Then of course Zia’s total and complete subservience to the US (including the little known fact that Zia waived an estimated US 1 billion a year to CIA which the US knew it would owe to the Pakistan for facilitation in Afghan War) did not matter to Jamaat-e-Islami and its apologists. Even the Martial Law regime realized that Jamaat-e-Islami’s prospects of gaining mass support in Pakistan was next to impossible and after the disastrous party-less elections of 1985 saw the emergence of a new Pakistan Muslim League under Prime Minister Junejo within the National Assembly. This effectively brought Tufail’s political career to an end.
Jamaat-e-Islami – since its founding- has been a subversive group acting through back-channel and underground means. Other such groups like Khaksars or the Majlis-e-Ahrar died a natural death in Pakistan a long time ago but the Jamaat survived some how or the other. Unlike Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt , it has shown itself incapable of reinventing itself into a democratic body by any stretch of imagination. It’s role against the creation of Pakistan and its opposition to Pakistan Movement is well known. And yet somehow a website like Pakistaniat found it necessary to post the obituary of Mian Tufail who is – without a doubt- the very antithesis of any reasonable definition of Pakistaniat.
So why were the editorial board of Pakistaniat compelled to post the obituary? Apparently the whole thing started when the founding editor of the said website, bowing to public pressure, wrote a moving tribute to the late and great Michael Jackson who died the same day as Mian Tufail Muhammad. This prompted a response from the said author to be abusing the Pakistaniat management for being callous in ignoring the death of a “great man” like Mian Tufail and promoting a “singer” and “dancer” like Michael Jackson. He went on to describe this as intolerance of the “left” (apparently all points of view that are not Jamaat-e-Islami compliant are automatically “left”) It was in this context that Pakistaniat editorial board posted a plagiarized and highly controversial obituary.
Far too many times, Pakistanis tend to bow down to the pressure of this vocal group of religious extremists. Far too many times, Pakistanis are forced to give space to foaming and rabid commenters who accuse the “left” and “liberal” crowds of being extremist. Even our very own Raza Rumi – who is in my view the most right thinking patriot I know- posted a rather third rate piece by some crank to this effect. All of their claims are nonsensical. Blasphemy laws, anti-ahmadi discrimination, religious extremism, Taliban and the persecution of religious minorities in Pakistan shows a completely different picture. There are no liberal extremists in Pakistan. Forget liberal extremists, Pakistan’s history has been marked by the inaction in face of religious extremists. As early as 1954, Pakistan’s courts handed down a death sentence for Maulana Maududi for his role in inciting sectarian hatred against Ahmadis. And yet Maududi was let go under pressure of his band of religious extremists. Had the state made a horrible example of him then, perhaps we would not be discussing this issue today. When has the state even carried out the most reasonable steps to stop religious extremists in this country? If the state was an honest and impartial arbiter between the “liberals” and the “religious kind”, most of the Mullahs of this country would be in jail under Section 295 and 295 A of the Pakistan Penal Code. But state itself violates these sections of the PPC. So where are the frikkin’ “liberal extremists” that these dishonest crooks keep talking about? There are no liberal extremists in Pakistan. There are only cowardly liberals, liberals in taqqiya, liberals without a backbone.
With this background it is very unfortunate that sites like Pakistaniat have now begun to give space to the same crooks day in and day out in the name of fairness. Fairness is not isolated concept. When well meaning liberal websites like Pakteahouse or Pakistaniat give space to religious extremists and anti-Pakistan elements without seeking quid pro quo, they become tools of the overall unfairness that is rampant both inside and against Pakistan. Don’t complain then when Gojras happen all over Pakistan. You are party to it! Don’t whine when Pakistan gets abused by Paki-bashers all around the world. You are party to it.