Nasima Zehra Awan’s passionate post for the Pak Tea House
“You are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques……..Religion is not the business of the State”. Thus spoke Jinnah, whilst addressing the Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947.
Sixty three years later, this is what our honorable Chief Justice has to say: “Parliament with Unlimited Powers can secularize state” (Source: DAWN,Monday August 16, 2010)
Won’t that be a good thing, judge saheb!
At a time when our country is intellectually and morally bankrupt because of its moorings as a national security state built on the toxic teachings of Maududi, isn’t secularism the way to get out of this mess. Instead of spending tens of billions to support a failed national security state, “a fortress of Islam” if you will, wouldn’t Pakistan have been better off with sustained representative governments that could have gone past the Kalabagh dam issue and built provincial consensus for half a dozen other dams that could have greatly reduced
the current catastrophe.
Unfortunately for Pakistan, this Judiciary, like most of its predecessors follows the ethos of the bureaucracy-security establishment, not the parliament or gasp, the principles of law and constitutionalism. That would entail that
they ditch the prevailing sentiment, nay, control of Jamaat Islami at all the Bar Councils and actually allow the elected representatives of the people to draft and discuss legislation that would make Pakistan a functional state in the 21st century, not an faux Ommayad Caliphate of the 8th century!
The Judges and their media supporters and urban elite cheerleaders are obsessed with going after the elected leaders of one party and folk singers; the two actually have the same political powers in Pakistan today. The dare not go
after Jihadi sectarian leaders who have rendered Pakistan into a wasteland. The damages incurred by these Jihadis; thousands of Pakistanis killed including the targeting of professionals belonging to minority sects and religions, the tens of billions of destroyed property and lost investment is incalculable. These are the fruits that the State of Pakistan, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan has reaped by constructing itself in the vision of Maududi and Qutb.
However, in the chauvinist and elitest debates about corruption, there is NO mention of the billions that are taken at every budget without audit, the tens of billions taken from foreign powers who are subsequently vilified by the same and the trillions that are made by using the country as a corporate and real estate business entity. After all, how will this debate start while we continuously see ourselves not as a modern, democratic and secular state but as the
realization of the Islamist neurosis of failed ideologues who see a warped view of religion and not shared human values, as the basis for a functional society.In a theocratic construct, such debates are virtually impossible as they go against the core those who have alloted themselves the task of protecting an ideological state. Such a state cannot accept the views of secular nationalists
who vote for the ANP, PPP and BNP. The dominant narrative of the State that has been constructed since Partition, and which has clearly served us so well since then, cannot be challenged unless Pakistan moves towards full secularism.
Today, the world is sick of our militant adventurism to the extant that it has affected their donations towards our flood relief efforts. They are wary that their donations will end up with Islamist militias who do not have the interests of humanity at heart and who continue to kill soldiers whose countries constitute the chief donors to Pakistan. The only way to salvage Pakistan is to ditch our legacy as a security state and invest all our resources into literally saving the country from drowning. A crucial step towards that is an empowered parliament whose progressive legislation is not continuously being derailed by a compromised and politicized judiciary that sees itself as the reincarnation of the Qazis of Banu Abbas, Banu Ommaya and Emperor Aurangzeb.
Like it or not, Hon. Chief Justice, we need to become a secular state and if parliament has taken the first tentative steps towards that direction in the 18th Amendment, good sense needs to prevail. A drowning Pakistan can no longer afford the mirage of “strategic depths” in Afghanistan and Kashmir. What it really needs is clean water and food for the 20 million who have been rendered homeless and for non-controversial dams in the future.