Musharraf’s Core Constituency and His Prospects

By Raza Habib Raja

I remember watching his last speech in a crowded room and also the huge roar when he announced his resignation. Just two years have passed and it’s amazing the way the fortunes have turned (or have they?). If election were held on facebook, Mr Musharraf’s only tough competition would come from Imran Khan!!. The “enlightened moderates” are up in arms and ready to wage a struggle (unfortunately or shall I say fortunately on facebook only) to bring their leader back.

 How do you explain Mr Muharraf and his sophisticated and yet confused core constituency? The constituency comprises of the segment of upwardly mobile urban middleclass, with which he has experienced such a love hate relationship. It was elated when he deposed Nawaz Sharif and was swearing against him when he deposed the Chief Justice. The same middleclass, which prospered during his tenor was in arms against him when he challenged their ideological orientation and it is vociferous in its zeal to bring him back.

What is really amazing is that in many ways Musharraf had violated some important ideological “standards” which this constituency holds in high esteem. After all let’s not forget that Muharraf had a very pro West outlook, and was “guilty” of allowing the US to violate the so called national sovereignty several times. Moreover, Musharraf’s biggest mistake was sacking of the Chief Justice which virtually unleashed a movement against him eventually turning middleclass and the media vehemently against him. The mistake was topped by the stories of deals with late Benazir which again was against the urban middleclass mindset. A substantial chunk of urban middleclass hates PPP and construes the party to be the most corrupt organization which merely comes into power due to the votes of “illiterate and foolish” masses.

 Musharraf was also not helped by the dwindling economy at the end of his long reign either. The huge bonanza which the urban centers had enjoyed during his tenure, spurred largely by property and stock market boom, was coming to an end and this coincided with all the aforementioned political developments. In fact after Benzair assassination and 18th February’s elections, Musharraf was increasingly isolated and ultimately it was a very unceremonious departure of virtually an impotent President.

And now he is back into the political arena. Although he will not be hailed by masses but nevertheless has regained the core constituency(if you could even call it a constituency!) of upwardly mobile professionals belonging to the urban middleclass. It is somewhat closer to Imran Khan’s constituency but some crucial differences exist. In Musharraf’s case the constituency is largely composed of slightly more liberal strain of the urban middleclass whereas Imran largely attracts either ultraconservatives in the old age bracket or teenagers who have no clue about political ground realities. Moreover, Musharraf’s followers are largely professionals and fall in the age bracket of thirty plus who have witnessed the economic boom during his tenure.

 In some ways Musharraf was lucky that early part of his tenure coincided with 9/11 which suddenly elevated Pakistan’s strategic importance. Huge aid inflows coupled with low interest rates spurred a period of high growth. The economic indicators improved a lot and most of the gains were made by the middleclass professionals. Corporate, telecom and financial sectors were major gainers and so were the large number of the employees working in these sectors. The low interest rates also spurred a consumer credit boom and suddenly middleclass had easy access to high end commodities such as cars, electronics etc. The stock market and property booms also benefited a lot of middle income families.

 Many of these middleclass professionals still fondly remember the huge income increases during the Musharraf period and though they opposed him in the later years, the economic crunch they are facing now, coupled with the overall deterioration of the “”feel good” factor, has rekindled their support.

Moreover, a substantial chunk of this group has always been skeptical of democracy and “chaotic” ways of the politicians. They know it very well that Musharraf’s tenure could at best be called a quasi democratic rule. Musahrraf due to his uniform was never sensitive to those kinds of political necessities which a political leader has to comply. Instead of reaching out, Musharraf could actually deal with iron hand and now that ability is being remembered rather fondly.

What makes the entire situation even more interesting is that Media and Judiciary have become extremely strong in the recent times and both the institutions are vehemently against Musharraf. Considering the fact that both the institutions are actually well supported by urban middleclass, the resurgence of Musharraf’s popularity is basically due to the perceived dismal performance of the present political set up. Musharraf has regained his constituency due to better “memories” rather than some ideological reasons.

 Now what are his likely prospects? Let me reiterate what I wrote in the beginning that if facebook constituted the electoral landscape, parties of Musharraf and Imran Khan will become the ruling and the main opposition party respectively. However, the ground reality is very different from the world of facebook.

Musharraf’s chances to bag any seats will depend on whether PML (Q), which frankly is just a group of powerful independents, can group around him. In rural Punjab the politics is more about candidate’s political clout at the local level which explains as to why parties have such a strong preference for feudal lords. That preference is pragmatic rather than ideological. PML (Q) was basically carved out of PML (N) and constitutes strong individuals united by their one time support of Musharraf rather than anything ideological or philosophical. The party contested elections and in fact returned a sizeable number of members to the legislatures. If these strong independents can retain their local clout and join hands with Musharraf then perhaps they can bag a few seats.

Likewise Musharraf’s party can bag some seats in rural Sindh if it allies itself with the functional league of Pir Pagara. In NWFP and Baluchistan, there is frankly no chance. In cities, it will be tough despite the fact that his actual core constituency is in the urban Punjab and Sindh. The irony of both Musharraf and Imran is that their core constituency does not like to stand in queue and actually vote! Yes they will tag articles on facebook, share videos where anchor persons lynch “corrupt” politicians of PPP and PML (N) but when it comes to actual trouble of going to the polling booth, they fail miserably. There is a reason as to why the name “chattering classes” has been allotted to them!!! Frankly most of them are just internet warriors and nothing else. You know the type who instead of street activism will always be indulging in pseudo intellectual nonsense about “corrupt” politicians.

There is also substantial talk of Musharraf becoming an “establishment” candidate. Frankly I don’t see this possibility to materialize. I think the word establishment is often overhyped and repeated to death whenever something happens. Although I consider myself a liberal but I would admit that liberal side also suffers from a conspiracy theory mindset where everything under the sun is blamed on that murky thing known as establishment.

 Even if “establishment” does decide to support Musharraf, the latter does not enjoy support in Judiciary and media which make it difficult to actually manipulate.

Last but not the least: if I am given choice between Imran and Musharraf only, I will vote for Musharraf!! At least he is not politically naïve and does not adopt apologetic defense of those monsters, Taliban. I have huge admiration of Imran as a cricketer and philanthropist, but frankly I hate his politics.

36 Comments

Filed under Democracy, lawyers movement

36 responses to “Musharraf’s Core Constituency and His Prospects

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  2. Sher Zaman

    Of course the writer as rightly said that there is a huge difference in Cricket and Politics, but unfortunately our cricket also suffers from the politics within the team. Imran Khan is certainly a hero for the whole nation as a cricketer but his role in politics is doubtful.

  3. nasir

    As far as i am aware Mushy has been the only political leader in Pakistan who has tried to repeal the religious column in Pak passports (all other leaders have lakced the backbone to try it) , that coupled with his armani suits are enough to make me vote for him

  4. While I agree with the writer for most of his opinions, I also want to say that instead of illiterate, corrupt and ignorant people in the politics today, there is a man, who despite his many blunders, have a vision to lead.

    The only problem with him is that unlike many politicians, he is blunt in saying what he feels, rather than hiding facts and making people fool.

    His silent vote bank may burst open someday, when he attains political maturity.

  5. Bin Ismail

    @nasir (October 6, 2010 at 3:14 pm)

    “…..As far as i am aware Mushy has been the only political leader in Pakistan who has tried to repeal the religious column in Pak passports…..”

    Yes, he tried, but succumbed soon to the pressure of the mullahs. It was, unfortunately, one step forwards and two backwards. To stand up to the clergy, certainly requires more spine.

  6. Feroz Khan

    @ Bin Ismail (October 6, 2010 at 6:03 pm)

    It was not the mullahs who forced Musharraf to backtrack on the issue of religious column in the passports.

    It was Ch. Shujaat of PML-Q.

    ciao

  7. Bin Ismail

    @Feroz Khan (October 6, 2010 at 7:00 pm)

    “…..It was not the mullahs who forced Musharraf to backtrack on the issue of religious column in the passports. It was Ch. Shujaat of PML-Q…..”

    Blessings of the mullahs via a politician – not exactly the first time.

    Regards.

  8. iqbal akhund

    Please Mr. Raja, tenure.
    PS. good analysis

  9. ash

    “…Last but not the least: if I am given choice between Imran and Musharraf only, I will vote for Musharraf!! At least he is not politically naïve and does not adopt apologetic defense of those monsters, Taliban….”

    and you will conveniently ignore his double game

  10. Can it be that Musharraf only appeals to people who need some kind of consumer-loaded ‘feel-good’ politics? Is there no sense at all among the electorate that he 1. might have the ultimate benefit of the country in mind? Or 2. might be a patriotic Pakistani who is willing to admit his own mistakes along with those of others. And 3. is a person who can perceive clearly the corruption, religious, and financial, which has dogged Pakistani political leaders for many year, and means to alter it in at least some fashion;

    Musharraf never exactly ‘ruled with an iron hand’. Does anyone remember the regime of the late unlamented Zia ul Haq? Is there no authority required, personal or otherwise in order to restore
    Pakistan to some semblance of civil order? Where exactly would one find it – at the hands of the
    Supreme Court, the National Assembly, the lame pretensions of the prevailing political parties?

    Regarding General Musharraf as a last resort, compared to the feeble pretensions of a cricket
    hero tells more about the author of this article’s political intelligence than it does about Musharraf. Really, what kind of choices does Pakistan now have politically?

  11. Mohammed Iftikhar Hussain RAJPOOOT

    Mister Parvez Musharraf of Hide Park would be lucky to garner a few votes.
    As far as Bradford University Chancellor Imran Kahn is concerned … ignoring his million-pound London flat and medium size foreign bank accounts (courtesy not corruption but Miss Goldschmith), his kitchen cabinet is full of incompetent, sycophant and rattling cutlery. He should gather decent people of integrity and vision around himself, all committed to national service rather than national surface.
    John F, Kennedy was fairly mediocre himself but he collected good quality people artound him. There is no dearth of outstanding talent in Pakistan.

    Otherwise it is business as usual, the rot has set bin and will linger on.

  12. D Asghar

    Raza Bhai, The only way Mush will be able to make a dent as I indicated in one of my scribbles is if he has Kings Party (Q Lug Nuts), Pagara Non Functional, may be some MQM H and some MQM A disgruntled and amazingly still living dissident candidate (s) along with Cheeda Talli (Sheikh Rasheed Pindi Waal) of Awami Muslim League on his side. Other wise much like IK, may be one seat on his own, that’s what he will be able to get.

    If the moves are to be clearly monitored, PPP is on a steep decline. N League cannot win on its own in the entire Pakistan. The game has begun with this launch. It is going to be a cobbled alliance between Mush, MQM and PPP (minus Zardari) to reach the galleries of NA. N League and Q Lug Nuts if try to cobble, they still need MQM and this is where Mush will step in to pull MQM and Q Lug nuts away. So if you followed a scribble I wrote many months ago on another site in my usual Punjabi style on the other site, this will be a game of Mush vs NS. Majha tey Saajha.(The title was All Pakitsan Mush League, when there were just initial talks of him forming a party).

    Speaking of the establishment, there are 2 scenarios, if it is going to follow the route of elections, then Mush is their blue eyed boy. If it is going to deviate from that path, still Mush is their best bet. This is my read based on the events as they are unfolding right now. Tomorrow who knows what’s in store.

  13. T.S. Bokhari

    @BinIsmail

    “Yes, he tried, but succumbed soon to the pressure of the mullahs. It was, unfortunately, one step forwards and two backwards. To stand up to the clergy, certainly requires more spine.”

    He failed also in controlling the Holy Loudspeaker (PEACE BE UPON IT) but he had succeded at least in lifting ‘Chanda-dubbahs’ from the shops, which have appeared again now, though with different humanitarian names.

    Mullah seems to be unbeatable, especially when he got himself armed with the guns of LS, through which he has started bombarding our houses, affecting our womenfolk also.

  14. Raza Raja

    @ j wilson

    The article is just an analysis of Musharraf’s political prospects. It does not try to analyse his credentials. And his prospects are not shaped by your positive perception of him. Political ground realities are very different and let me assure you will not be affected what you say in your comment about ‘honesty’ of Mr Muharraf. Mr musharraf dealt Baluchistan with an iron hand and was chiefly responsible for carnage on 12th may also. he declared emergency and virtually put the judiciary under house arrest. Yes compared to Zia , he was better but the article is not a comparison between Zia and Musharraf

    He was compared to imran because both tend to draw similar kind of supportes. That was the reason. Obviously both are world apart. Kindly read it again before talking in condescending manner about my political intelligence.

  15. Naveed

    @Mohammed Iftikhar Hussain RAJPOOOT

    “He should gather decent people of integrity and vision around himself, all committed to national service rather than national surface.”

    Priceless, Sir.

  16. Naveed

    @ Raza Habib Raja

    Well, Raza, another excellent piece of writing and analysis. You cover so many angles that it leaves little room for us lesser mortals to comment. Please ignore my complaint, I would not have it any other way.

    I would humbly add here that Mr. Musharraf also lost support amongst his ‘core consituency’ because even the selective accountability drive (which made him so popular initially) fizzled out after a couple of years of promising moves. The irony is that it culminated in the NRO! It also became obvious that he did not respect the rule of law and what he said and actually did were two quite different things – detracting his political support dramatically.

    That said the ideals that he claimed to stand for, still live on in his core consituency’s dreams. Perhaps, like other written off figures, he will see his day again because he will be in the right place at the right time; it does n’t seem too likely but he is making his moves to at least lay out his stall.

    As observors of Mr. Musharraf or other similar Pakistani leaders might say: “Whenever a man has cast a longing eye on offices, a rottenness begins in his conduct. “~Thomas Jefferson

  17. Raza Raja

    @naveed

    I am flattered by your praise!!Thanks a lot bro. Yes I agree about his political selective accountability drive and his destruction of institutions over time.

    As a politcal force, Musharraf wont matter unless and unti he is able to gather support of powerful independents of Q league. He may also take some votes in urban Karachi but not enough to win seats.

  18. Feroz Khan

    @ Raza

    Imran Khan is trying to be a populist and like a weather cock, will always turn to the direction from which the prevailing wind is blowing. He has no political experience, so he latches on the ingrained distrust of the people towards the United States and the west to build a political base for himself on the issues of anti-Americanism.

    As to Musharraf; old generals should fade away before they are chased away. Musharraf is not the solution we are seeking and it would be a mistake to elect Musharraf. Musharraf lacks a credible political foundation and in any case, will rely on others for political advice and whether he will get honest or misleading advice will depend on the people in his “political party”.

    Politics, as Harry Truman told General Eisenhower in 1950 when Eisenhower became the president, is not like the army where you give an order and expect it to be obeyed.

    Pakistan needs to look past the present crop of political leaders. The dynastic cycle of leadership rotation has to be broken and new leaders, atuned to the needs of a young, agiated, and confused population need to be elected and the present student leaders of nearly 40 years ago need to be shown the door to a permanent exile in Dubai or where ever their bank accounts are located.

    This will irk the vast majority of the self-centered morally superior self-arrogated guardians of piety, but they need to be stripped naked of their false hypocrisy. Pakistan needs a political party that exists on left of the center on the political spectrum and follows a staunch socialist outlook and is proudly athesist. This party party should inoculate a mindset, which views religion with skepticism and if possible, the idea of political communism as an anti-thesis to religious dogma in Pakistan needs to be strongly encouraged.

    The present parliament needs to torn down brick by brick and a new one created, on whose ediface there is no religious inscription. Pakistani political cutlure already has a tradition of local village councils and should seriously think of direct democracy instead of a representative democracy. The parliament should be more about legislating the final intents and purposes of the majority decisions, which should always be settled through a plebsicite.

    Political parties should be allowed to exist but severely regulated in all aspects of their conduct. Political parties need to be elected on their basis of their competence to solve the problems facing the nation and not on their political promises.

    Death penalites for miscarriage of offical duties in the present world may not be possible, but humilating punishments can still be meted out to officials who fail in their duties. Being tarred and feathered or being made to ride a pig naked through the streets are some good ideas and need to be implemented. Just to make sure that the message hits home, the wife and the children and members of the extended family can also be made to walk naked behind the person riding the pig.

    Media should be encouraged to cover such events and telecast it live so the greatest amount of people can see it.

    The people can lose their fear of God, but they can never lose their fear of the law! This is the principle we need to work on if we wish to reform our society.

    ciao

  19. Tilsim

    @ Feroz Khan

    “Pakistan needs a political party that exists on left of the center on the political spectrum and follows a staunch socialist outlook and is proudly athesist. This party party should inoculate a mindset, which views religion with skepticism and if possible, the idea of political communism as an anti-thesis to religious dogma in Pakistan needs to be strongly encouraged. ”

    I believe a Pakistan communist party exists – existed for a long time but has made no impact on the body politic. I understand the intense sense of frustration behind the current state of affairs but is this really the best prescription?

    Let’s also reflect on Bismark’s maxim ” politics is the art of the possible”.

    Read Ayesha Siddiqa’s “the Conservatively Hip” in Newsline about the attitudes of university students. It talks about a survey of 608 students across Pakistan’s elite universities. 88% of students defined their identity as Islam and 84% of students said they offered prayers. Most did not want to get involved in active politics so it was not simply a survey of Jamaatis.

  20. Feroz Khan

    @ Tilsim (October 7, 2010 at 9:18 pm)

    The Communist Party of Pakistan was hounded out of existence by Ayub Khan and as a result, the right became too dominant and the political balance was titled too much in one direction, whose end result is the highly charged conservatism we are experiencing in Pakistan.

    Last time, I checked, Islam was a religion and not an identity. 80 percent offering their prayers to me is a useless statistic, because we as a nation have a tendency towards ritualism in our religion; we favor form over substance.

    There will Muslims in Pakistan, but there will be no Islam in Pakistan. Islam cannot exist in Pakistan as long as the Pakistani society practices elitism and political, religious, ethnic, gender, social and economic apartheid. Islam is an egalitrian religion, where all considered equal.

    When was the last time when everyone was considered as an equal in Pakistan and more importantly, are we capable of treating everyone as equal in Pakistan?

    Do Pakistanis like to be treated as equal before the law? If the answer is no, then how can Islam exist in a society that does not believe in egalitrianism?

    Bismarck was also of the view that a citizen’s loyality must be towards the state and not his/her god and he started a program called Kulturkampf towards this end, which was basically against the Roman Catholic Germans, whom Bismarck doubted as to whether they were loyal to Germany or the Pope in Rome.

    The irony of Pakistan is that it was a nation created in the name of religion, which is being destroyed in the name of religion.

    ciao

  21. hydepark

    today’s (07.10.10) wikipedia front page features several persons.

    2 japanese getting Nobel prize for chemistry
    2 persons of russian origin for physics
    etc.

    and one pakistani – son of a high ranking pakistani military officer – getting a long jail-term for trying to kill innocent people randomly in NY.

    How else can it be?

  22. Tilsim

    @ Feroz Khan

    I don’t at all disagree with you about form over substance including the practise or understanding of Islam in Pakistan. However, Islam for better or worst (if one is not a believer) is very much part of people’s identity in Pakistan. Personally I don’t seen any conflict in Pakistan being a secular state and my being a muslim but I know that many Pakistanis do see a conflict. The same survey said 34% of students felt the same way as I do (I was surprised it was that much) but still the majority did n’t agree. I would also like to support and promote the concept of a secular state for the reasons that you mention (of equality of all citizens), the farce of mixing religion and politics in Pakistan as well as the immense corruption of spiritual and ethical values through religion’s pursuit of power.

    That said, I see problems of public acceptance to a proposal that says a secular state needs to be propagated by a political party which “is proudly atheist” and which “should inoculate a mindset, which views religion with skepticism”. Falling into a line of argumentation which says that religion and secularism are mutually antithetical will play straight into the hands of political Islam in my opinion. Being citizen of a secular state and being a Muslim are not necessarily mutually antithetical and the solid academic and reform centred work for this needs to be developed and laid before people in my view. No easy short cuts, I’m afraid. In Pakistan it is Muslims who will have to win this argument (assuming they are not killed) against our fellow Pakistanis who are enamoured with a Wahabi/salafist/Jamaati/ Hizb vision for Pakistan.

  23. Nasir

    @ Bin Ismail – you are right we do need someone with more spine but from the current options he is till probably the best pick

  24. no-communal

    Tilsim

    I know it’s probably a pipe dream for Pakistan for now, but if people see in their daily lives agnostics and atheists who are just as tolerant, humane, and successful as others, the religious fervor is bound to come down. This has happened in India. We Indians can blame the Communist Party of India all we wish (and I am not a fan of their economics), but over the years they have played a central role in this. Bangladesh, because of the existence of a left-tinged intelligentsia, has seen markedly less religious extremism than Pakistan.

  25. Tilsim

    @ no-communal

    The issue at hand in Pakistan is whether a secular state can be brought about in order to protect all citizens of the country and indeed to protect religions. Irreligion is viewed with deep suspicion in this increasingly conservative society prone to conspiracy theories. Islam in danger is a very easy rallying cry. Conflating irreligion and secularism in Pakistan will backfire in my view. What works in Bengal probably won’t work in Maharashtra for example? Also seeing the discourse from afar for India, I am increasingly of the view that India has a very significant battle ahead of its own; having the CPI around helped balance things I am sure but they don’t seem to be dictating the direction of the political wind. Reform of the prevailing ethos in a society from within surely offers the lowest hanging fruits for change. We need to take a leaf out of the ways of the Sufi and Bakhti saints to understand what tolerance means and how religion can be helpful rather than a hinderance to personal and communal harmony. Islam is not alien to South Asia but widespread adoption of radical puritanism as a response to modernity is.

  26. no-communal

    “Irreligion is viewed with deep suspicion in this increasingly conservative society prone to conspiracy theories. Islam in danger is a very easy rallying cry. Conflating irreligion and secularism in Pakistan will backfire in my view.”

    I agree with you but only for the short term. In the long term, a country will perhaps need complete freedom of thought in order to really uncork its potential. There is obviously no dearth of explosive talent in Pakistan, in music, sport, literature, and science. But so far only Indians know about it.

    A few more Parachas being able to speak out without fear, Pakistan will look and feel very different.

    “What works in Bengal probably won’t work in Maharashtra for example?”

    You would be surprised Maharashtra is not that religious. In fact Mumbai has a strong legacy of socialist-communist trade unionism in its blue collar industrial life. The state you have in mind is probably Gujarat, where for example alcohol is prohibited. However, from what I have learnt from my friends, Gujaratis sneak into Maharashtra to drink in the weekends.

    “Also seeing the discourse from afar for India, I am increasingly of the view that India has a very significant battle ahead of its own; having the CPI around helped balance things I am sure but they don’t seem to be dictating the direction of the political wind.”

    I would be surprised if many Hindus actually go and worship in the Ram temple if and when it is built. The religious faction in India is like NRA in the US. There is a passionate group advocating Hindutva, but the country at large has remained unmoved. Sure Hindus have supported dividing the land in Ayodhya, but many prominent figures have also spoken out against it. The country as a whole wants to push it to the past.

    The recent fall of the communist party is for its old-school economic policies and dogmatic anti-Americanism. Everybody knows they will bounce back, for better or worse.

    “We need to take a leaf out of the ways of the Sufi and Bakhti saints to understand what tolerance means and how religion can be helpful rather than a hinderance to personal and communal harmony. Islam is not alien to South Asia but widespread adoption of radical puritanism as a response to modernity is.”

    I completely agree with you there.

  27. no-communal

    P.S. My comments are for Tilsim.

  28. Tilsim

    “In the long term, a country will perhaps need complete freedom of thought in order to really uncork its potential. ”

    I agree. One of Musharraf’s lasting legacy was the freedom of media. As much as we malign it, that and the internet has resulted in many Pakistani going public with their views.

  29. Feroz Khan

    @ Tilsim (October 7, 2010 at 10:55 pm)

    This whole interact chat/thread started over the question of whether the prescription was harsh or not for Pakistan. The solutions to Pakistan’s many ingrained and inbreed problems do offer the luxury of sugar-coating the vile realities, which Pakistani society faces today.

    The only two options are to accept that fact that Pakistan has failed as an idea and that the idea of a nation based on a religion was flawed.

    The other option is continually believe that Islam and the state can co-exist and if we persist as a nation, we will reach the promised shores.

    The latter option is a classic defination of insanity, when one keep doing the same thing; making the same mistakes, but expects different results while ignoring the historic experience itself.

    Pakistan failing as an idea is not as awful as it sounds, because Pakistan of 1947 did in fact fail, when Bangladesh was created in 1971. The problem, and it is now being daily compounded by terrorists in Pakistan, is that Pakistan did not define the Islam and the religion it wanted to practice and instead of actually practicing Islam, the Pakistani state used religion as a form of a wrapped nationalism to bind together the ethnic diversity, which found itself in Pakistan at the time of its creation.

    The simple truth of the matter is that religion has been the destruction of Pakistan and as long as Islam exists in Pakistan and for as long as the state continues to profess its raison d’ etre on the basis of religion, Pakistan will always be a failure.

    The genesis of that failure is not the religion of Islam, but the refusal of the Pakistani state to follow Islam and to mutate Islam for its own political goals.

    Secularization of Pakistan does not mean the negation of religion but it does mean the emancipation of the individual from the mental slavery of a religious thought.

    Pakistani society needs to regain its humanistic perspective and this means that the society needs to review human affairs outside of a religious explanation. It needs to create an emotional balance between the demands of the religion and the needs of the world.

    As far as the comments to the political parties are concerned, the individuals in the party may not be athesists, but the parties cannot claim to support any religion per se.

    In any case, Pakistanis and their love for religion and their constant, historic, refusal to accept the envitability of their mistakes made on the premises of creating a state based on religion, will eventually foster a societial reaction, which will be anti-religion and more partial to an agnostic/athesist existence, where religion will lose its place of centrality in the person’s live.

    In the meantime, Pakistanis would be well adviced to stop crying rivers of crocodile tears at the acts of terrorism taking place in Pakistan. As long as Pakistanis are unwilling to accept the simple truth that religion is the cause of their problems and needs to be removed from their social lives, if not their personal lives, nothing will change.

    Pakistan is, presently, in the middle of a religious civil war and religious civil wars are the most bloodly and painful wars of all wars, because once you start fighting for your God; you cannot stop because that would mean a failure of your religious doctrine and so, the end result is a war of extermination fought till either your enemy does not exist or you do not exist.

    Pakistan and Pakistanis need to make a choice. Either they fight to exterminate the religion from their lives or religion will destroy them. Period.

    The prescription is hard and the choice is yours, my fellow dissatified Pakistanis; do you wish to reject it or accept it!

    ciao

  30. Feroz Khan

    Correction:

    “This whole interact chat/thread started over the question of whether the prescription was harsh or not for Pakistan. The solutions to Pakistan’s many ingrained and inbreed problems do not offer the luxury of sugar-coating the vile realities, which Pakistani society faces today.”

    ciao

  31. Tilsim

    @ Feroz Khan

    I think you are a bit harsh on the concept of religion and it’s centrality to people’s personal lives. Spain, Italy, South America, Poland, Syria, India – all very religious societies but also secular states and generally peaceable as far as I am aware. Even the United States is long on God. In each case, a compromise of sorts was reached.

    Muslim societies have also generally not been in continuous turmoil like we are currently experiencing so I am not sure your generalisation and stark choice rings true for me.

    I put the turmoil down to the methods and aims of a certain distorted ideological view of Islam; an approach to Islam that sees the nation state as a vehicle for a political and cultural vision (which can range from modernist interpretations (such as Iqbal) to the Salafist ones). Personally, I don’t care for mixing religion with matters of the state in this way – I think it corrupts, confuses and creates revulsion for religion.

    You made various points and at times I am not sure I followed you clearly so I apologise if I have misunderstood what you were trying to say.

  32. Feroz Khan

    @ Tilsim (October 8, 2010 at 9:25 pm)

    Mark my words, Pakistan will be destroyed in the name of religion.

    You have a simple choice; Pakistan as a secular state or no Islam. If you wish for Islam in Pakistan, then please be prepared to expect what is happening in Pakistan in the name of religion as the normal course of affairs and learn to live with it.

    It is your choice, but you cannot have both.

    ciao

  33. T.S. Bokhari

    @Feroz Khan

    A very good analysis and a fine write-up, but the remedy suggested – secularism through Marxian communism – is debatable.

    In the first place the very term ‘religion’, is so subjective and ambiguous, it can mean anything for any body. Secondly almost every movement against a status quo is charged as communism as was Mohammadan Islam charged by Farooq-bin-Hasham, known as ‘Abu Jehl’ by Mohammadans. A reference to this charge against the prophet is available in Quran which has been expressed by Allama Iqbal in a poem in Persian about Abujehl, a couplet from which is given hereunder whereby Abujehl says:

    “Eein massaawaat eein mawaakhaat ajmi ast
    Man khoob mi daanam Salman Mazdaki ast”

    [This preaching for equality and brotherhood (by Mohd) is a concept alien to Arab culture
    I know well that Salman (Salman Faarsi who was alleged to be teaching the prophet) is a Mazdaki (Follower of the Persian communist leader, Mazdak, a contemporary of the prophet)].

    Thirdy, the secularism is not the central piece of Marxian communism but its main objective is the end of exploitation of man by man, basically the economic one. It attacks religion only when it is abused to protect the vested interests in any form in support of the exploiter, the capitalist . The religion, especially the original Islam, as such is not essentially antithetical to communism. Rather it supports egalitarianism desired by communism.

    In fact the seeds of extremist Wahabism ly in the very genesis of Pakistan Movement which was opposed by the Deo Band Wahabi Mullah as a class. They had failed to prevent its establishment and are now threatening its existence because of the senseless policies of the establishment (both khaki and civilian) and the self-seeking politicians.

    I don’t think there is any scope for Marxian communism in this country or for secularism for that matter. Our hope lies in a democratic system according to the vision of the Quaid as laid down in his speech of 8/11. Otherwise, as our history shows we as Indians, being disappointed by the national leaders, begin to look outside for our deliverance. It may be recalled that the Sikhashahi tyranny in Punjab, which then covered almost the entire Pakistan of today, was got rid of through the British who established law and order in the country for a long time which was disturbed later on again by religious communalism. We are again facing the somewhat same situation to day. This time the cause is the muslim sikhashahi and on our borders stand armies of the NATO, poised for action against the Talibani and Alqaidah terrorists within Pak territory. We can only wait and see. What can we do at this critical juncture but to wait and see.

  34. Bin Ismail

    @ Feroz Khan
    @ T. S. Bukhari

    1. What Pakistan needs today, and quite desperately so, is secular politics and secular statecraft. The remedy, in my humble opinion lies not in “atheistic” but in “secular” politics. To the extent of political activity and the business of the State, religion should be kept out, both for the sake of Religion as well as for the sake of the State. We do not need a State Religion and we certainly do not deserve the title “Islamic Republic”.

    2. Egalitarianism needs to be brought about, at the level of “rights and responsibilities” of the citizen. On the plane of personal belief, however,or at the level of society, diversity of religious affiliation is perfectly natural, harmless and should be perfectly welcome, as long as it is not to the detriment of other citizens and does not interfere with the activities of the State.

    3. Instead of insisting on Marxism and once again putting the country into another whirlpool of nationalization, the State could well confine its commitment to providing more equitable opportunities and efficient governance to all citizens of the state.

    3. For the sake of record, Abu Jahl’s name was Amr bin Hisham.

    4. I agree that this is indeed a critical juncture and that time does seem to be running out.

    Regards.

  35. T.S. Bokhari

    @Bin Ismail

    Thank you for your kind response and correction.

    You say:

    “4. I agree that this is indeed a critical juncture and that time does seem to be running out.”

    I think the time has already run out with the dangerous game we are playing now as Non-NATO allies by stopping and burning the NATO oil tankers all over Pakistan.

    Now re. my mistakes:
    I had quoted the real name of Abu Jehl from memory, which is failing now. I now recall what I had read somewhere that the name of Hazrat Umar Farooq and that of Abujehl are the same as Umar-bin-Khitab and Umar – bin -Hisham, respectively, to refute the general mis-conception that names can be Islamic or un-Islamic.

    I had made another mistake also in quoting the Quaid’s speech which should have been 11/8 instead of 8/11 as I realize now.

  36. Bin Ismail

    @ T.S. Bokhari (October 10, 2010 at 4:58 am)

    Thank you indeed. Taking the liberty of momentarily deviating from the original topic of discussion, may I add that prior to Omar’s accepting Islam, the Holy Prophet once prayed, “O Allah, from among Omar and Amr, choose for Islam, whoever is dearer to You”. The Prophet’s prayer was answered when, against all odds, Omar accepted Islam. It may be worthy of noting that while Amr bin Hisham lived and died as a foe of the Prophet, his son Ikrama bin Amr not only accepted Islam, but eventually died for Islam.

    With respect to your words, “I think the time has already run out”, it would actually be quite difficult to differ with you on that. However, it is my sincere prayer that God may rescue Pakistan from the curse of Mullahism and save our dear country.

    Regards.