National Sauv-ray-nitty

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

A slightly edited version of this article was first published in the Daily Times.

The tool of manipulation every ultra right wing fascist in our country prefers is this so called “national sovereignty” or as our shrieking anchors call it sauv-raay-nitty .

First of all this term is entirely misapplied and used by people who are clueless as to what it means. When a people are sovereign, it refers in main to their ability to make their decisions on their own through a democratic process. On a purely legal plane Pakistan’s constitution vests sovereignty over the entire universe in Allah almighty. Therefore the question of national sovereignty becomes redundant constitutionally in Pakistan’s context. Since people – ie people of Pakistan who form the Pakistani nation- are not sovereign, surely they must then be subject to the will of the almighty who according to our constitution is sovereign. After all this may soon be the cornerstone of our theo ummm democracy after the Supreme Court gets done with the 18th Amendment.

This issue is however is only incidental. Our anchors do not tire quoting as an example of a “proud sovereign nation” the Islamic Republic of Iran which has stood on its feet (forget that it is one of the largest oil producers in the world) and told Americans to go to hell. That last bit tickles the fancy of not just our right wingers and Zaidonists but also our leftists and socialists who still dream of a great red revolution tranforming Pakistan into the vanguard of the global anti imperialist movement.

We must however consider what kind of country the Islamic Republic of Iran is and whether it can be considered, by any stretch of imagination, a model for Pakistan or any Muslim majority country. Iran has on its statute books a law that calls for the stoning of death fornicators through rocks that are neither big enough to kill the sinner immediately nor small enough to qualify as stones and pebbles. What is more is that Iran routinely carries out such punishments.
This is its expression of national sovereignty.

Pakistan too has – during dictator Zia’s time- put this punishment on the statute books. Zia did so against the better advice of council of Islamic ideology and Federal Shariat Court which claimed quite rightly that no such punishment was prescribed by the Holy Quran and the practice of rijm was a borrowed practice. In any event the standard of evidence is so stringent that hardly anyone can attract the punishment of rijm under law. Therefore no one has been stoned to death by law in Pakistan. There is also another reason. Pakistan by virtue of being part of the United Nations is signatory to various treaties and conventions that call for respect of human life and freedom. As a major aid recipient from the United States, Pakistan has to tread pragmatically and carefully. It has to check elements who want to wage war against our neighbours and kill off minorities. This is the new reality or atleast one would hope so. It also means that Pakistan has to tax its landed class. Agricultural tax is the easiest route to land reforms in Pakistan. In a proud and sovereign Pakistan agricultural tax would remain a distant dream.

God forbid that Pakistan was sovereign like Iran! Our sovereign nation would have a wild wild time bringing back lynching and witchburning in fashion. In the process we would disparage Islam even more than we have done. I suppose in such a Pakistan Afia Siddiqui would be much safer because women would be denied a right to education in the name of national sovereignty. As they like to say in our part of the world “no flute when there is no bamboo”.

As a patriot I for one believe such “sovereignty” would be a curse. It is a question of priorities. The Pakistan I want is a tolerant, egalitarian and progressive nation that is respected in the comity of nations and not feared. This business of chest thumping is the exclusive preserve of pauper nations and it is time we realised that we owe our poor much more than some fake and fleeting sense of “national sovereignty”. The rich and privileged have a responsibility to their less privileged compatriots to secure for them those irreducible minimums that have been promised to them in the name of a social welfare state, which incidentally is a constitutional obligation, though one which is subject to the provision of requisite funds.

The alternative is not as attractive as our national sovereignty mongers tell us. Those who are familiar with Monty Python series will appreciate that a proud and sovereign Pakistan would be much like the Black Knight. Then again our nation has perfected masochism into a national passion and pastime albeit unwittingly so may be this is what they want. In that case please ignore this scribe’s ramblings with the contempt they deserve.



Filed under Pakistan

19 responses to “National Sauv-ray-nitty

  1. D Asghar

    Great piece Yasser Bhai..I think in our “sauv… run” Pakistan, just like Iran it will only be the religious right wingers on the throne of Isloo.

    Any one who would disagree would be subjected to the “ treatment”, the Iranian style. Which means all the PPP’s, ANP’s etc. etc. will be limited to the drawing rooms. The “luc tions” will be as “sauv …run” as we witnessed the Zia and Mush “luc…tions.”

  2. Suvrat

    Iran’s women have much better literacy rate in Iran and there are more woman than men in Iran’s universities. However there is no doubt that foreign policy of Iran is extremely regressive and anti-semitism of Ahmedinijad looks out of place

  3. Bin Ismail


    “…..On a purely legal plane Pakistan’s constitution vests sovereignty over the entire universe in Allah almighty. Therefore the question of national sovereignty becomes redundant constitutionally in Pakistan’s context…..”

    On a practical plane, while Pakistan’s present constitution, on one hand, vests sovereignty in Allah, on the other hand it places law-making in the hands of the Parliament, thus exalting the Parliament to Divinity. This is not merely a logical deduction, the conduct of the Parliament has literally established this.

    It was this very Constitution that empowered the Parliament and emboldened it to declare Ahmadis non-Muslims, in September 1974. The Parliament acted as if it was absolutely Sovereign and the Knower of Hearts and thus willfully played God.

  4. Fellow-Pakistani

    @Bin Ismail:
    “It was this very Constitution that empowered the Parliament and emboldened it to declare Ahmadis non-Muslims, in September 1974. The Parliament acted as if it was absolutely Sovereign and the Knower of Hearts and thus willfully played God.”

    Yes, Bin Ismail is CORRECT. I wonder if he would like to be correct again, when he reads following statements by Elders of Qadianis e.g. Mirza Bashir Ahmad (the so called “Qamar-ul-Anbiyya” [Moon of prophets] of Qadianis) and by Mirza Mahmud Ahmad (the Qadiani Khalifa 2, and their “Promised-Guide”[ “Musleh-Mahud”]):
    “Thus, according to this verse, every such person who believes in Moses but not in Jesus, or believes in Jesus but not in Muhammad (peace be upon him), or believes in Muhammad but not in the Promised Messiah, is not only a kafir but a staunch kafir and is excluded from the fold of Islam.” ( Kalimat-ul-Fasal p. 110)

    “(3) the belief that all those so-called Muslims who have not entered into his [i.e. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s] Bai’at formally, wherever they may be, are Kafirs and outside the pale of Islam, even though they may not have heard the name of the Promised Messiah. That these beliefs have my full concurrence, I readily admit.”
    — The Truth about the Split, Rabwah, 1965, pp. 55–56. The 2007 edition of this book is available on the Qadiani website from the link www dit alislam dot org/books/. See page 56 for this extract.

    “…not only are those deemed to be Kafirs, who openly style the Promised Messiah as Kafir, and those who although they do not style him thus, decline still to accept his claim, but even those who, in their hearts, believe the Promised Messiah to be true, and do not even deny him with their tongues, but hesitate to enter into his Bai’at, have here been adjudged to be Kafirs.” (A’inah-I Sadaqat pages 139–140 of 1965 edition; page 148 of online 2007 edition)

    I HOPE BIN ISMAIL SHOWS HONESTY AND COURGE TO DENOUNCE ALL THOSE (including Qadiani Khalifa 2 and Qadianis “Moon of Prophets”) WHO IN WORDS OF BIN ISMAIL: “acted as if it was absolutely Sovereign and the Knower of Hearts and thus willfully played God”.

  5. Bin Ismail

    @ Fellow-Pakistani (October 11, 2010 at 12:07 am)

    Thank you for responding. May I respectfully bring to your attention that during the 1953 Munir-Kiyani Inquiry, this very question that you have belatedly raised was placed before Mirza Mahmud Ahmad, who was then the Imam of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat. Mirza Mahmud Ahmad’s reply was to this effect:

    Based upon the jargon of Islami Tassawwuf (Islamic Mysticism), there are two categories of “Islam”:

    1. Islam fauq-al Eman [Islam transcending the spiritual heights of Eman]
    2. Islam doon-al Eman [Islam short of the spiritual heights of Eman]

    By definition, in order to attain the level of “Islam fauq-al Eman”, one would have to be at a truly high standard of Eman. “Islam doon-al Eman”, on the other hand is Islam sans spiritual excellence. The overwhelming majority of Muslims, not exactly leading the lives of auliya, belong to the category of “Islam doon-al Eman”. After presenting this classification and definition, Mirza Mahmud Ahmad clearly stated that whenever he declared a Muslim “outside Islam”, for any reason whatsoever, it was invariably in the sense of not being within the fold of “Islam fauq-al Eman” ie the level of saints, not in the sense of being outrightly “non-Muslim”.

    Moreover, Mirza Mahmud Ahmad’s statement cannot logically be compared to a legislative act that becomes part of the constitution of a country and affects the lives of its citizens. I am quite certain you would not face a grave intellectual challenge in appreciating the obvious difference between a religious opinion and an Act of Parliament. I trust you would similarly have no major difficulty in discerning the difference between the implications of these two either. Mirza Mahmud Ahmad has clearly qualified his statement and his usage of the term “Islam”. There is a huge difference between saying that so and so falls short of being saintly, that too without affecting his basic human rights, and declaring someone legally non-muslim and depriving him of his basic human rights.


  6. Fellow-Pakistani

    @Bin Ismail:
    “After presenting this classification and definition, Mirza Mahmud Ahmad clearly stated that whenever he declared a Muslim “outside Islam”, for any reason whatsoever, it was invariably in the sense of not being within the fold of “Islam fauq-al Eman” ie the level of saints, not in the sense of being outrightly “non-Muslim””

    If Bin Ismail believes in what his Qadiani Khalifa 2 Mirza Mahmud Ahmad “said” in Munir Inquiry Commission, then would Bin Ismail cares to tell us what Mirza Mahmud Ahmad meant when he said the following quotes?? In following quotes Mirza Mahmud Ahmad was NOT talking about saints but any Tom, Dick and Harry reciters of Kalima-Shahada (i.e. a Muslim) as Kafir (the worst kind of a Non-Muslim) and like of Christians, Hindus, Dogs etc:

    3) “It is obligatory for us not to consider non-Ahmadis as Muslims.” (Anwaar-e-Khilafat, p. 90).

    4) “… and one who does not believe in the Promised Messiah, whatever his reasons for this non-belief, he is kafir.” (Zikar-e-Illahi, p. 22).

    5) “The third matter to which he (Maulana Muhammad Ali) calls my attention is the issue of ‘kufar and Islam’. He says the path of peace is that we consider non-Ahmadis as Muslims, but I say ‘the path of peace is that we accept the decision of the Holy Quran. The Holy Quran calls the non-believers in a Prophet a kafir, and the same Allah calls Mirza Sahib a Prophet’.” (Haqeeqat-ul-Amar, p. 17).

    6) “Is there any such irreligious non-Ahmadi who will marry his daughter to a Christian or a Hindu? You call them kafir but in this matter he is better than you in spite of being a kafir, but you even being Ahmadi marry your daughters to kafirs.” (Maliakatullah, p. 46).

    7) “We met a person in Lucknow who is a great scholar. He said ‘many of your adversaries falsely propagate about you that you call us kafir. I cannot believe that a person of your vast capacity would be saying so.’ Sheikh Yaqub Ali was talking to him. I told him, ‘you tell him that we in fact call him a kafir.’ On hearing this he was much astonished.” (Anwar-e-Khilafat, p. 92).

    8. All such Muslims who have not entered in the Baiat of the Promised Messiah, whether they have not heard the name of the Promised Messiah, are kafir and out of the pail of Islam. That these beliefs have my full concurrence. I readily admit. (Aaina-e-Saddaaqat. p. 35).

    His younger brother Mirza Bashir Ahmad, M.A., surpassed him when he wrote:

    “Every such person, who believes in Moses but does not believe in Jesus, or believes in Jesus but does not believe in Mohammed, or believes in Mohammed but does not believe in the Promised Messiah, is not only a kafir but a confirmed kafir and out of the pail of Islam.” (Kalamatul-Fasal, p. 110)

    “The fifth tenet that is binding upon my sect in this erase is that you should not give your daughters to non-Ahmadis. He who gives his daughter to a non-Ahmadi does not know what Ahmadiat is. Do you find non-Ahmadis giving their daughters to Hindus or Christians? Non-Ahmadis are, according to our faith Kafir, but they are better than you in this respect. In spite of being Kafirs themselves, they do not give their daughters to Kafirs but you, in spite of being Ahmadi, give your daughters to non-believers.”
    (Malaika-tullah; by Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud)

    “It is incumbent upon us that we should not regard non-Ahmadis as Muslims, nor should we offer prayers behind them, because according to our belief they deny one of the messengers of Allah. This is a matter of faith. None has any discretion in this.”
    (Anwar-e-Khilafat, by Mirza Mahmood Ahmad Qadiani)

  7. Bin Ismail

    @Fellow-Pakistani (October 11, 2010 at 8:41 am)

    Thank you for affording me the opportunity to elucidate some matters for you. I’ll try simpler English this time.

    1. Whenever and wherever Mirza Mahmud Ahmad refers to a non-Ahmadi as a disbeliever, the disbelief is only with reference to Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. In even simpler words he calls a disbeliever of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad a “disbeliever of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad”. Nowhere has Mirza Mahmud Ahmad said that a disbeliever of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad does not believe in Allah, His Angels, His Books etc. You seem to have gotten somewhat carried away by your traditional dislike for Mirza Mahmud Ahmad.

    2. Obviously, since Ahmadis consider Mirza Ghulam Ahmad to be the Promised Messiah and Mahdi foretold by Muhammad the Messenger of God, it follows logically that they ought to consider accepting him necessary for the perfection of one’s faith. And obviously, if the Ahmadis consider Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as God-sent, they cannot rationally accept someone who denies the Mahdi as truly fulfilling the requirements of “Islam fauq-al Eman”, a level of Islam close to perfection. And this is what Mirza Mahmud Ahmad has argued.

    3. Congregational Prayer (Namaz ba Jamaat) is not a social activity like having tea together or a group discussion. Worship is a spiritual activity that demands a certain degree of conformity between the leader and the the led. Not praying together does not bar anyone from being friends, by the way.

    4. Regarding marriages too, there is nothing irrational about what Mirza Mahmud Ahmad has said. Parents with different religious affiliations, usually create an extra challenge for their children in selecting a path for themselves. Indeed there are exceptions, but this does happen to be the general rule.

    5. You’ve still missed the real point. Whatever Mirza Mahmud Ahmad may have said or written, does in no way affect the basic human rights of the citizens of Pakistan, or of any country for that matter. The constitution of Pakistan, on the contrary, does affect each and every single citizen of Pakistan and if something in the constitution undermines the fundamental rights of a certain group of Pakistanis, that something deserves to be corrected.

    Smart move by the way. Typical of you and your likes. Whenever a discussion relevant to Pakistan comes up, you’re there to derail it.

  8. zainulabidin

    Despite your desire to quote off topic. I think it is imperative to differentiate between was Mirza Mahmood Ahamd said and what the Parliament has done. While Mirza Mahmood Ahmad was stating his religious beliefs that one who does not accept Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as the Promised Messiah a “kafir” which I think Bin Ismail already elaborated on. This honest statement of belief does not impinge on anyone’s civil rights. The parliament went on to actually interfere with the civil rights of citizens and created an environment for potential religous persecution to flourish.

  9. T.S. Bokhari

    The discussion on what is Ahmadiat or Qadianiat though very interesting and informative but is off the topic of sovereignty of the state, viza viz, the sovereignty/rights of its citizens.

    I think 0n both these counts the state of Pakiland is lying down in a quandary. Firstly, it calls itself Pak and Islamic, which is a contradiction in terms as Quran admonishes the believers not to call them pak (Ascribe not purity unto yourselves – 32/53) and secondly, The very political terms ‘nation’ and ‘state’ are antithetical to Islam. It recalls to me a Hindi film song:

    “Yih kia jageh he dosto yih koun sa dayaar he
    Hadde Nigaah tak jahaan ghubaar hi ghubaar he”

    Now coming to the Costitution: Good or bad it was a constitution till 9/74 when it was virtually nullified by the Second Amendment, which reduced it into a ‘Fatwa’ creating a new category of Muslims, ‘Halfy Muslims’. It is only the Paky Muslim for whom it is mandatory to submit a declaration about the faith of himself and that of some other citizens or persons whom he may not have not seen even, in order to be recognized as Muslim by the state. As it is we have lost the right of calling even Muslim ourselves as of right as we could before coming under a paky state following uswa-e-Yazid who had required a declaration to be submitted even by Nawaasa-e-Rasool.

  10. T.S. Bokhari

    A correction, please, in my previous post;

    Read ‘may not have ‘ instead of ‘may not have not’


  11. Bin Ismail

    @T.S. Bokhari (October 12, 2010 at 12:51 pm)

    Well said. It was in September 1974, that Pakistan’s Parliament, by adopting the Second Amendment to the 1973 Constitution, very deliberately opted to follow the example of Yazeed – “uswa-e Yazeed” as you have rightly put it.

    It was Yazeed indeed, who for the first time in the political history of Muslims, established a Political Clergy. This institution of the Political Clergy functioned under the auspices of the king and provided him fatwas and validations, as and when required, for all his doings, which were, in most cases evil.

  12. T.S. Bokhari

    Thank you dear for your kind response.

    Yazid calling for a declaration,called ‘beyit’ in those days, from Imam Hussain, was perhaps the worst form of terrorism or fascism whatever you may call it. This gory drama was repeated in the Naional Assembly of Pakistan on 9/74 in its secret session, the deliberations of which have been kept secret from the nation to this day. But ZAB who had once called himself Hussain against Ayub Khan succumbed that day to the evil Mullah (Ullema-e-soo) only to save his ‘Mazboot Kursi’. I am afraid the same drama is being repeated today with the Zardari brand PPP in power.

  13. Bin Ismail


    Hats off to you. You were compelled to send three comments in a row. I guess I was right, wasn’t I. Any discussion with reference to the future of Pakistan, does somehow, get on your nerves, and to the extent that you indulge yourself in a monologue. You’ve sent three comments. Send three more and the other participants, out of boredom, will vacate this thread for you – end of debate. You tend to remind me of this four-year old, who when he feels, is not getting the attention he wants, starts talking to himself aloud. Earlier on, I had commented on your modus operandi, calling it a “smart move”. Might I add that your move is uniquely smart and boringly juvenile, both.

  14. Fellow-Pakistani


    [If you have anything civil to say about the subject matter, stick around, otherwise shove off.

    bciv (mod)]

  15. @Fellow-Pakistani

    Does the term agent provocateur mean anything to you? Personally or professionally?

    Could you please stop derailing the discussion?

  16. Bin Ismail


    Two consecutive comments this time. You’ve come down from three to two.

    @Second Hand Tyre

    We are dealing with someone who is less of a “provocateur”, and more of a “slanderous distractor”. His problem#1 is that any discussion pointing in the direction of a “Secular Pakistan” is a topic, he for some reason, cannot tolerate. The extent to which he becomes jittery, at the mere mention of Pakistan’s possible progress, speaks volumes about his affiliations. His problem#2 is that he has absolutely no inhibition in telling lies. His problem#3 is that he will resort to all and any means available to create a decoy for distracting the attention of participants of the discussion, away from Pakistan. His problem#4 is that he just cannot conceal his rancour for Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (1889-1965).

  17. Bin Ismail

    Now coming back to YLH’s brilliant and lively article, I would like to say that Pakistan has to realize is that it is not sovereignty alone that imparts an image of honour to a nation-state, it’s sovereignty coupled with fulfillment of international responsibilities. We happen to exist on earth, not on Mars. The state of Pakistan has a responsibility towards its citizens – all its citizens. We have a responsibility towards our sub-region, our neighbours and the entire international community. It’s not a question of whether the world wants us to take care of the menace of terrorism whose nurseries we may happen to harbour, or not. It’s a question of our being cognizant of all our rightful responsibilities. Even if the world were to come begging and pleading to us to nurture religious fanaticism on our soil, so that the theater of “militant Islam” could be kept alive, we would be obliged to do only what is right.

    Our national sovereignty and international responsibilities both are relevant.

  18. bciv

    “we would be obliged to do only what is right.”

    …instead of telling our people that we are doing the right thing only under the threat of being ‘bombed back to the stone age’. it is difficult, if not impossible, to right a wrong without admitting that we committed a wrong. no wonder people have difficulties owning this war against the terrorists. no surprise that they look to blame others and find themselves attracted to all and any conspiracy theory. if you can’t face your own past like a man, you are unlikely to be able to fight what it has wrought like a man and right it. to be able to own up to one’s mistakes is a sign of strength and health, not weakness.

  19. Bin Ismail

    @bciv (October 15, 2010 at 2:54 pm)

    True. We, as a nation need to take a look into the mirror – a close look.