Future of a crisis

Raza Rumi

Pakistan’s devastating floods have opened up a Pandora’s Box of governance dysfunctions and historical distortions that have plagued the polity since independence. It remains to be seen what will be the outcome of the greatest calamity in our recent history. Various estimates show that the floods have affected 18-20 million people. The death toll has crossed the figure of 2000 while 2 million houses have been damaged or destroyed. Floodwaters are receding in many areas, and though there are concerns about standing water that remains in Punjab and other areas, the worst of the current flooding is taking place in Sindh.

The disaster is still not over but the fissures within Pakistan have started to erupt and once again proving how vulnerable the state is and how fractured the Pakistani society has become. Five key crises have emerged, some old and some new. However, they point to the fact that our continuous refusal to address structural problems remains a key challenge.

Martial state syndrome: Pakistan’s history is an uninterrupted tale of direct and indirect military rule and centralisation. Each time there is a crisis there is a need to resort to the de facto, real governance paradigm: the military rule. Therefore, Altaf Hussain of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Imran Khan of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) are not saying anything new. The perennial search for a Messiah, rooted in the religious ideology that the state and education system have cultivated, is back in full force. This time the media and other discordant voices are calling for another phase of direct military rule.

It remains unclear where this goal will be achieved in the short term. The odds are against a direct military intervention given the army’s involvement in war against militancy and extremism in the country. Similarly, the Generals may not be very keen to take charge of a country deep in crisis. Yet, the calls for regime change are meaningful. There is another dimension to this crisis and that relates to the Superior Courts who have now formally entered the power-wielding quartet (comprising the parliament, army, the judiciary and the media).

There have also been calls for a Bangladesh model that empowers the judges to take the reins of power as honest and impartial caretakers until the next election. Given that the elections are at least two and a half years away, this may not be a feasible idea.

Economic instability: The cyclical patterns of growth and income generation are also an established pattern in the country. The recent disaster will lead to massive downturn. The ministry of finance and its advisers have predicted a zero percent growth rate and 25 percent inflation rate. This would spell another disaster for food security and endemic problem of poverty.

It is unclear how the government, the incumbent or the future dispensation will be able to arrest the economic decline. The international community, it appears is not going to bail out Pakistan after the relief phase is over. Loans worth 3.5 billion dollars have been announced by the international finance institutions but the debt servicing needs are going to further exacerbate the economy and leave limited fiscal space for the gigantic task of reconstruction that may involve 10-20 billion dollars. A damage needs assessment is being carried out by IFIs and the government and only then the picture will be clear.

At this crucial juncture of Pakistan’s history it is clear that political instability is going to fuel economic uncertainty and, therefore, going to spur an economic collapse unless of course the quartet appreciates the gravity of the challenges and attempts to induce political stability by not attempting to sabotage the current quasi-civilian order.

However, the chances of such a consensus are remote and limited as various power players are treating this situation as an opportunity to leverage their interests and stakes, thereby rendering the primary task of dealing with the disaster meaningless. Therefore, attaining economic stability is a distant dream unless of course the parameters of political game are redefined.

Collapse of civilian administration: Floods have only exposed what analysts had been saying for a long time. Pakistan’s governance institutions in the civilian domain have lost their efficacy and relevance. Even after a month of flooding and wide-scale devastation, the civilian machinery has been unable to rise to the occasion. The national and provincial disaster management authorities are being rescued by the donors for the inherent capacity of the state to plan and execute emergency measures seems to have disappeared altogether.

Pakistan’s inability to undertake any meaningful civil service reform in the last four decades means that millions of under-paid, unaccountable and disenchanted public sector employees are not geared towards service delivery let alone dealing with disasters.

The NDMA Ordinance has lapsed since long. The new commission to be formed has still not been put into place and the provinces are more interested in scoring points with the Centre rather than coordinating relief and rehabilitation plans and delivery.

Reform is not a short term process, therefore, the situation is not going to change in the next one year or so. But the reform process has to begin now. There was never an urgent need for introducing reforms than this particular moment. First and foremost is the need to revive the local government system that had been made dysfunctional by the elected governments in 2008. This unwise policy choice, despite its legitimacy, is now there to haunt the state as well as the elected officials as they have no credible means of ensuring delivery of aid other than relying on the unelected and corrupt machinery of the revenue departments or to move towards the non governmental networks.

Furthermore, it is also imperative to set the right structures at the provincial and district levels to ensure that citizen voice and accountability are kept in view in the post-relief phase. The chances on this front are not too promising as there are complaints of political partisanship, hijacking of aid and ignoring the marginalised.

Disaffection and militancy: Contrary to several claims of the optimistic analysts, the relief efforts by the faith-based (and in some cases banned) organisations is not a positive trend. In a country, which is already fractured and split on the issue of religious militancy, this is a recipe for further unrest. Take the case of Swat where pundits had observed the land struggles as a major cause for militancy. The floods have displaced the poor and once the situation returns to normalcy the land rights of tenants or farm workers will come into the spotlight once again.

In the absence of dispute resolution or complaints redress mechanisms this will be an ideal playground for the jihadis to motivate the poor and invite them to their ranks or seek their political support. The situation in Southern Punjab will be similar as well due to the well-organised and entrenched networks of militancy.

It should not be forgotten that the suspension of the military operation for weeks may have given the much-needed opportunity to the militant groups to reorganise. The recent wave of terror in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and recently in Lahore indicates that the terrorists are back in action and would not mind hurting the state when it is embroiled in disaster-management, political squabbling and divided along several ideological lines.

Even if we discount the prospect of more recruitment of militants, the influx of several displaced and dispossessed in the urban centres will be a major boon for the criminal networks operating in the cities. The nexus between these elements and the militant groups has also been observed. Though we lack accurate data in this context, but anecdotal evidence and the incidence of bank robberies during the rise of Taliban in 2008-2009 is a rough guide.

Popular disaffection with the state has been a theme well-played by the media circus of Pakistan. Iniquitous land relations in Sindh and other rural areas, heavily hit by the floods will become a major source of public disenchantment with the state agencies. This is a situation that Pakistan cannot afford as the country needs to focus on the issues of terrorism and rebuilding the economy. How the policymakers handle this is also an area that public has limited knowledge about. In fact, whether the civilian governments are also aware of the ‘national security’ game plan is also an unknown.

Weakened constitutionalism and federalism: The 18th Amendment had provided a sound framework for Pakistan to exist and prosper as a functional federation. Its implementation is still a pending task and seems compounded by several factors. First, the Supreme Court’s hearing of the cases against the Amendment and the recent injunction suspends the constitutional provisions in effect. Had these provisions been inserted by a dictator, this was not an alarming issue. But when a new framework for governance, approved with consensus of the four provinces and two chambers, is called into question by a bench of appointed judges (with competing claims of popular legitimacy) is a worrying signal. We cannot expound further as the case is subjudice and the final verdict will make the situation clearer.

The second issue is that of the emerging resource crunch given the provinces’ dire need for reconstruction. The tensions are going to affect already tenuous federal arrangements. If the Centre raises funds through external debts, then it gets a policy lever to exert on the provinces, which rightly feel empowered after the 18th Amendment.

Finally, the rumours of extra-constitutional arrangements (national government, Bangladesh model or a martial law) imply that the implementation or even the fate of the 18th Amendment may now be uncertain. This is nothing short of an upheaval as Balochistan is already harbouring separatist sentiments and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is facing the wrath of those who want to set up real Islamic Emirate[s]. If the current party in power at the Centre is booted out then alienation of Sindh cannot be ruled out. How will the country and its federal order painfully corrected in the recent years survive? These are alarming prospects.

In conclusion, Pakistan’s ruling elites fond of palace intrigues and power maximisation tricks must realise that this may be the last chance of saving the country, as we know it. First, the democratic forces must stick together to fight the prospect of authoritarianism, fascism and media-propelled right-wing revolution in the middle classes. Second, the focus should be on the economy for post-relief phase requires Pakistan to recover from this mammoth shock. Internal resource mobilisation and cutting down on current expenditure (including deferring payments on debts) should be a clear agenda.

Thirdly, the local government system should be strengthened at once and local capacities be enhanced to deal with the mayhem in 80 districts. Finally, the Pakistan army should also remember its core mandate of protecting Pakistan from its enemies — this time the enemy lies within. It is heartening to know that there is realisation of this imperative in the top command but the distractions caused by an opportunity must be ruthlessly dealt with. Pakistan cannot afford political or economic instability. This time the spiral of uncertainty might just target the state itself.

The writer is a policy adviser, writer and editor based in Lahore.


Filed under Democracy, disaster

26 responses to “Future of a crisis

  1. Bin Ismail

    Raza Rumi:

    “…..It remains to be seen what will be the outcome of the greatest calamity in our recent history. Various estimates show that the floods have affected 18-20 million people. The death toll has crossed the figure of 2000 while 2 million houses have been damaged or destroyed…..”

    With reference to these words of yours, allow me to share with you my own perspective. I will not insist on anything, nor do I wish to initiate a debate – just sharing with you what I honestly feel.

    Divine Recompense has its own dynamics. In 2005, a massacre of Ahmadis took place in Pakistan. The majority of the people chose to remain silent. Some even lauded the religious services rendered by the ulema in eliminating some Ahmadis. Some sympathized by almost saying, “Sorry, all this happened, but in a way you guys deserved this”. Some expressed the opinion that while Ahmadis were wajib-ul qatl, their executions should be carried out by the state, not the maulvis. A few days after the massacre, a massive earthquake, measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale hit Pakistan. The epicenter was Muzaffarabad, Azad Kashmir. This earthquake left approximately 80,000 people dead. Five years later, another massacre of Ahmadis was carried out. This time too, the majority alongwith the government chose the path of silence. Shortly afterwards, came what you’ve rightly described as “the greatest calamity in our recent history”, the recent devastating floods, killing 2000 and affecting the lives of 20 million people.

    Through the ages, all men of God received revelations and inspirations from God, only some of which they shared with people. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian (1835-1908) – the founder of the Ahmadiyya Community also claimed to be a recipient of Divine Discourse. In August 1906, the following words were revealed to him:

    “..Sehn mein nadyaan chalein gi aur sakht zalzalay aa’ein gay..”, meaning, “Streams shall run through the courtyard and severe earthquakes shall come”.

    In a poem of his he says:

    “Zalzalay say daikhta hoon mein zameen zair-o zabar
    Waqt ab nazdeek hai, aaya kharha sailaab hai”

    meaning, “I behold the earth wrecked by an earthquake. The time is nigh – a flood awaits.”

    The wise among us should take heed. The insensitive should be more sensitive to the fact that when justice is denied to the oppressed on earth, it is sometimes dispensed by the heavens.

    Bin Ismail

  2. due

    Predictions make sense only when they are accurate in terms of time, place, person(s) and quantity (quantities).

    Merely saying earthquakes and floods and diseases will come is no prediction or prophecy. It has lesser value than “the sun will rise tomorrow”.

    We need accuracy and quantitative/geographic etc. verifiability.

  3. I whole-heartedly agree with and support the succinct and significant views of Raza Rumi.

    These floods, earthquakes and calamities are wrath and qehr-on-the-anvil of Almighty God (who tolerated our shenanigans and egregious-inflictions of our Rulers, footas and Chamchas (and their ilk and sycophants!) for long (because there may be some (a few!) good people, dead or burried in Pakistan) because in our Motherland merit is ignored, double standards are espoused and there is accountability is only for those who are deptived and yearning for justice; they get it on Bait N Switch, Pay and Forget bases.

    We desperately need strictest transparency and bold accountability (public hanging of the corrupt). Pakistanis holding banbk accounts and assets abroad should be banned, kaput.

    THEN and ONLY THEN THE DAY SHALL DAWN. Otherwise doiom is yawning…

  4. Midfield Dynamo

    So much of articulate emphasis on analysis, commendable!

    But only a broad brush on the solution/s.

    Are we heading for a revolution….should we wait for one with out of control forces….or be proactive and institute one with some controllable parameters?

    If so what mandate will we define for ourselves, socialist, cultural or Islamic?

    Candid answers to such questions may have a solution to alleviate the plight of the innocent in our country.

  5. Dear MD: thanks for the comment. There are no quick-fix solutions. They have to be evolved by the institutions of this country who wield, exercise or compete for power. We need a consensus on basic issues and this can only come through a political process aided by an informed public opinion, a vibrant civil society and a responsible media. We may be on a brink of a revolution but that is less preferred mode for change as we may end up with a militants-led Emirate. Pakistani state has to shift gears and reinvent itself and its priorities.

  6. Humanity

    @ due
    “Predictions make sense only when they are accurate in terms of time, place, person(s) and quantity (quantities).

    Merely saying earthquakes and floods and diseases will come is no prediction or prophecy. It has lesser value than “the sun will rise tomorrow”.

    We need accuracy and quantitative/geographic etc. verifiability.”

    Please provide accuracy and quantitative/geographic etc. verifiability of the claim that the sun will rise tomorrow.

  7. Feroz Khan

    A very pragmatic article, which makes no bones about the issues and problems facing Pakistan.

    If we follow the lead of another article on Pak Tea House on the two power classes of Pakistan, then the wise would say that there is no chance of a snow ball in hell of there being a revolution in Pakistan. Historically, revolutions need for leadership has come from the bourgeoise classes and in terms of Pakistan, our middle classes are pro status quo and are not interested in challenging it.

    The article has rightly point out that the issues of the future in Pakistan will be the more secular issues of law and order and good goverance. If there is a revolution, it will come in terms of the public expecation of such services.


  8. no-communal


    “Please provide accuracy and quantitative/geographic etc. verifiability of the claim that the sun will rise tomorrow.”

    I am sorry, what does this statement mean? There are countless experiments one can do to verify that the earth is revolving around its own axis. This accurately, quantitatively, and geographically predicts that the sun will rise tomorrow. And it will do so without any divine intervention.

  9. Humanity

    Raza Rumi:

    “Five key crises have emerged, some old and some new. However, they point to the fact that our continuous refusal to address structural problems remains a key challenge.”

    The post nails the symptoms of the disease that is doing Pakistan in. However, it fails to diagnose the root cause(s).

    The mother of root causes of the current state of dysfunction is articulated in a letter by Hazrat Ali RA to Governer Malik. The letter was included in a post in PTH recently. An excerpt from the letter is as follows.

    “Do not set yourself against God, for neither do you possess the strength to shield yourself against His displeasure, nor can you place yourself outside the pale of His mercy and forgiveness. Do not feel sorry over any act of forgiveness, nor rejoice over any punishment that you may mete out to any one. Do not rouse yourself to anger, for no good will come out of it.

    Do not say: ” I am your overlord and dictator, and that you should, therefore, bow to my commands”, as that will corrupt your heart, weaken your faith in religion and create disorder in the state. Should you be elated by power, ever feel in your mind the slightest symptoms of pride and arrogance, then look at the power and majesty of the Divine governance of the Universe over which you have absolutely no control. It will restore the sense of balance to your wayward intelligence and give you the sense of calmness and affability. Beware! Never put yourself against the majesty and grandeur of God and never imitate His omnipotence; for God has brought low every rebel of God and every tyrant of man.

    Let your mind respect through your actions the rights of God and the rights of man, and likewise, persuade your companions and relations to do likewise. For, otherwise, you will be doing injustice to yourself and injustice to humanity. Thus both man and God will turn unto your enemies. There is no hearing anywhere for one who makes an enemy of God himself. He will be regarded as one at war with God until he feels contrition and seeks forgiveness. Nothing deprives man of divine blessings or excites divine wrath against him more easily than cruelty. Hence it is, that God listens to the voice of the oppressed and waylays the oppressor.”

    The denial of the root cause and the refusal to address the issue of oppression and tyranny in the name of God will not alter the divine dynamics. This historic fact is stated over and over again in the Quran. Those nations were also adamant to know the “accuracy and quantitative/geographic etc. verifiability” of predictions of God’s wrath.

    Never forget that Allah waylays the oppressor. There is no contradiction is Allah’s sunnah!

  10. Humanity

    @ Feroze Khan

    “The article has rightly point out that the issues of the future in Pakistan will be the more secular issues of law and order and good goverance. If there is a revolution, it will come in terms of the public expecation of such services. ”

    Very true!

  11. Humanity

    @ non-communal
    “that the sun will rise tomorrow. And it will do so without any divine intervention.”

    Apparently, you and I have different belief systems about the guarantee of the sun rising tomorrow. Let’s just agree to disagree.

  12. D Asghar

    Raza Bhai, very accurate and pragmatic. I agree with your analysis. At the expense of repeating what Feroz Bhai said, “taking the lead from another article about two classes in Pakistan”, I am afraid I am in a minority of a middle class. My voice is reasonable, but that’s about it. Generally, people listen to and agree with idealistic people. But in practice, it is a whole different story.

  13. Amaar

    @Bin Ismail

    Each natural disaster can have layers of explanation and which are simultaneously plausible. For example, global warming can be explained in terms of geophysical phenomenon as well as purely economic terms of excess demand for carbon fuels. Do these explanations conflict? No. Hence, it is not without reason as to have a metaphysical or spiritual rationale for the state of our affairs.

    This flood can be explained purely in terms of climatic effects. The consequences of the floods can be explained purely in terms of poor engineering, lack of warning systems, inadequate planning and/or malpractice.

    But the intelligent mind should also ask as to why such natural disasters strike a country like ours at the least desired time. Surely, if this world has a pro-active Creator then certainly He is not likely to sit idle in response to our actions. The claim that natural disasters strike as a result of our sins is not without strong merit. Why?

    Because the sheer incompetence and haplessness of our leaders in response to this tragedy is an indicator of our moral and spiritual crisis at the grass roots level. Natural disasters strike all people no doubt. But the scale and scope of this suffering demonstrates poverty in our moral values as well.

    One could ignore this ‘warning from God’ but one cannot ignore the inadequate and pathetic mindset that we as a nation have developed. Either way this ‘punishment for the sins’ – as religion puts it – is only a corrective measure for us to get our act together and reform honestly.

  14. Amaar

    ‘One could ignore this ‘warning from God’ but one cannot ignore the inadequate and pathetic mindset that we as a nation have developed.’

    I meant that we can treat this as a warning from God and reform. Even from a non-religious perspective it would be hard to disagree that we
    need to change for the better. In either case, the course of action is the same.

  15. Ibn-e-Maryam

    The article is a good attempt to explain Pakistan’s current problems. We need to look at this from another perspective. Pakistan came into existence in 1947 and around that time many other countries gained independence from Britain. Pakistan was more or less on the right track, and especially during the 1960s, Pakistan made very rapid progress in a number of areas. Accurate planning was done for all major projects and country was headed in the right direction.

    Then, as a result of the separation of East Pakistan into a separate country, a new government was formed headed by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. The economic policies of his government and لاتعر his interference in religious matters were ‘the major diversion’ as far as the direction of the country is concerned.

    Instead of focusing on development of private enterprise, creating jobs, providing quality education, and starting development projects, which provided stimulus for economic growth, the country was focused on issuing ‘Muslim/Non-Muslim Certifications’. Private enterprises were nationalized, privately-owned agriculture land was taken away from their rightful owners and distributed to others, privately-owned educational institutions were nationalized, and the bureaucracy became a hub of corruption. From that day forward, the country has lost its credibility, image, and trust of the community of nations. The brand name ‘Pakistani’ has been tarnished so badly that it seems to be beyond repair.

    The subsequent rulers (military as well as civilians) promoted this culture. Initially, the country suffered in nationalization, and then the country suffered in de-nationalization. No real development was made economically. However, the country advanced, probably to the point of no-return, in sectarianism, declaring others ‘Kafirs’ and infidels, and corruption at all levels of the state (not only government, but state – which is you and me). Then we complain that we don’t have infrastructure of anything. I disagree; we do have an infrastructure of bribery, of kickbacks, of corruption, of thievery, and of human rights’ abuses. The private sector corporations have advanced in these traits that they have left behind the government.

    The wrath of the Creator has started, whether one likes it or not. Of course, earth-quakes and floods and other disasters were foretold as a means to show the displeasure of God in the latter days. But probably, the most severe punishment this country is facing is that the decision-makers are not capable of understanding issues and making right decisions. This reminds me of the Quran’s verse, which says ‘A Laisa Minkum Rajalun Rasheed’, meaning, ‘Do you have no one left among you who is Wise?’

  16. Ibne Mariam: many thanks for your excellent comment.
    Sent from my BlackBerry® Smartphone. Typos are regretted

  17. due

    Whoever wrote:
    “Please provide accuracy and quantitative/geographic etc. verifiability of the claim that the sun will rise tomorrow.”

    He had to wait for at most only 24 hours to get it verified.

    As regards accuracy – its extent depends upon what purpose we are pursuing by making these measurements. If the purpose is to manipulate weak-minded human beings to become mental slaves of some fascist god-concept – that is another matter. The results are there to see. God has become the most misused word today – misused by those who wish to set up totalitarian states. The atheists and secularists are at least not guilty of blasphemy.

  18. Bin Ismail

    @Midfield Dynamo (September 19, 2010 at 8:01 pm)

    “…..what mandate will we define for ourselves, socialist, cultural or Islamic? Candid answers to such questions may have a solution to alleviate the plight of the innocent in our country…..”

    A very valid and pertinent question, which calls for candid answers indeed.

    In the world of Urdu Literature, more specifically Poetry, there is a term used for a poem that needs technical correction here and there – “qaabil-e islah” – literally meaning “in need of correction”. In contrast to this, there is no specific counter-term for a technically sound poem. However, for a poem that is beyond repair, a satirical antonym has been coined – “na qaabil-e islah” – literally meaning “incorrigible”. In my opinion, the very document that defines this state, the constitution, has been meticulously rendered “na qaabil-e islah”. From the Preamble to the subsequent 18 amendments, everything has only disfigured and denatured the most important document of this country.

    I do not say this satirically – rather if anything, I say this with a heavy heart, that Pakistan is today in desperate need of a new constitution. Pakistan needs a constitution that fulfills the vision of Jinnah’s 11th August 1947 presidential address to the first Constituent Assembly of Pakistan. Pakistan needs to be run as a strictly secular state, as envisioned by the founder of this state. If religion is allowed to flourish as the business of the individual, religion will flourish in a more real sense. If, on the other hand, the state is confined to statecraft (sans religion), statecraft too, will flourish in a more real sense. The two should not be allowed to mix. This, in my humble opinion, will be the stepping stone towards building a viable Pakistan.

  19. Ammar

    The root causes of terrorism are so many and mutually cohesive thus it’s hard to determine what formulates the terrorist mindset. Social deprivation, isolation could be one of many factors. However this alienation is due to lack of initiative on part of the west to engage the Muslims in a constructive debate and the failure to enlightened Muslims to counter the militant propaganda.

  20. Bin Ismail

    @Ammar (September 21, 2010 at 9:50 am)

    The root causes of terrorism may indeed be many, but its validation is provided by a politically ambitious clergy.

  21. PGill

    From India: The article itself is nice. But, I feel that some of the comments are way off. How do people get the arrogance to speak on Allah’s behalf? How do they know that a flood is because He is angry at Pakistan?
    For Allah’s sake, start taking responsibility for your own actions. Flood may be a natural disaster, but the aftermath is largely human. I do hope the situation improves.

  22. Bin Ismail

    @ PGill (September 23, 2010 at 6:13 pm)

    To perceive a natural disaster as emanating from God’s displeasure suggests humility, not arrogance. Similarly, taking responsibility for one’s actions, which includes introspection at the national level and asking ourselves as a nation where we faltered, too, is not arrogance – it’s humility.

  23. no-communal

    “To perceive a natural disaster as emanating from God’s displeasure…. and asking ourselves as a nation where we faltered…”

    If you don’t mind, the problem with this approach is that different people may come up with different reasons for “God’s displeasure”. I find the massacre of the Ahmadis a heinous crime. Some lunatic might think the Ahmadis themselves are the reasons for “God’s displeasure”. Some Christian leaders said 9/11 was “God’s punishment” for having the gays around. Instead of correcting past mistakes, this type of logic probably just adds to the existing discord.

  24. PGill

    I feel accepting an event – flood, fire, illness etc. – as His will is humility. But – and it is a huge but- attributing reason for it is pretending to know His mind. This is not humility but arrogance. Only He knows why He does anything. Just accept – if you can- without attributing this to any other item.
    I am sorry for this theological detour. More important is what should people Pakistan do now.
    I have seen that when a young wife’s husband dies. People come and offer solace, and some time help – with or without their own agenda. But very soon people move on and she is left to fend for herself.
    Other countries may utter nice words, promise help- even partial delivery of such promises – almost all of them with own agenda. But very soon some other problem will grab international attention. Pakistan will have to solve this problem by itself.

  25. Bin Ismail

    @ no-communal (September 27, 2010 at 1:23 am)

    “…..different people may come up with different reasons for “God’s displeasure”…..”

    I agree – different people may indeed come up with different reasons for God’s displeasure. However, as long as the inferences they draw, are not to the detriment of someone else and as long as opinions are not expressed and imposed through coercive means, such as through the State, different interpretations alone, in my humble opinion, should not be a cause of alarm.

    @ PGill (September 27, 2010 at 9:25 am)

    “…..pretending to know His mind. This is not humility but arrogance…..”

    True. Pretending to know God’s Mind would obviously be as unreal a basis as pretending to know anything else. True knowledge can never be the product of pretense. But when God Himself reveals to us, His Mind, through His revealed Word, then we do not have the luxury of pretending not to know His Will either. God informs us, through His Word, the Quran, that He is displeased at the sight of persecution and atrocity. When innocent blood is spilled, when the weak are pushed and shoved, when the fallen are trampled, when the oppressed are persecuted to the point where they call out to their Lord, when the peaceful are plundered, when the voiceless are gagged and when places of worship are audaciously desecrated, then God is not only displeased, He also manifests His displeasure. Moreover, when the onlooking world becomes coldly indifferent to the sight of such atrocities, then God’s displeasure sometimes takes the form of fierce natural calamities.

  26. no-communal

    “However, as long as the inferences they draw, are not to the detriment of someone else and as long as opinions are not expressed and imposed through coercive means..”

    Do you think that level of maturity has been attained in the religious world? What if some, whose lives and family have been ravaged by the floods, are convinced that it is the Ahmadis (or some other section) who are inviting god’s wrath. What if they take it upon themselves to “correct” that “sin”?

    Even in the western world, where religious fanatism is much less, many hate crimes are by people who become pro-active to “correct” various “sins”.

    Isn’t it better to appeal to the basic human values that all possess, rather than invoking god’s will, to forge a consensus against discrimination?

    As always, I respect your own views on the matter.