Tag Archives: establishment

Good luck, General Kayani

Raza Rumi

http://tribune.com.pk/story/30713/good-luck-general-kayani/

In a hurried non-speech, the prime minister has confirmed that the incumbent army chief will stay on for three years. Unprecedented as the decision might be, it is perhaps the best option under the current circumstances. Pakistan is battling against domestic and external terrorism. Given how the army works, it is clear that the military establishment wants a continuation of national security policy.

Lack of policy continuity has been the hallmark of Pakistan’s governance.  At least with General Kayani’s extension, the military operations in the northwest and approach to the Afghanistan imbroglio will also remain unchanged. This is good for Pakistan for three reasons. Continue reading

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Filed under Afghanistan, Islamabad, Islamism, Kerry Lugar Bill, Pakistan, Politics, Power, public policy, secular Pakistan, Taliban, Terrorism, USA, violence, war, War On Terror

Appropriation of the progressive ideas

Faiz Ahmed Faiz with friends: Faiz’s poetry is now being used to advertise phones

Habib Jalib: anti-establishment

Opposition to the military regime was marked by a liberal ethos, a value-system that stressed constitutionalism, rule of law, and the independence of judiciary, rather than identifying with the politics of redistribution or attacking Pakistan’s problem uno supremo: poverty

by Raza Rumi

In a confusing sign of the times, corporations and the establishment are arrogating the words of revolutionary poets..

For decades, Pakistan’s poets and writers have defied conventions and the almighty establishment. Rooted in the progressive writers’ movement, the literature of resistance was a pro-people ideology that kept redistribution of power and resources at its core. The great poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz was often jailed and kept on the margins of the literary and cultural establishment and castigated as a “foreign agent” and “anti-Pakistan.” Scores of other writers had to suffer torture and silencing by the state when they challenged its arbitrariness. Habib Jalib faced similar treatment and died a poor man after decades of acting as the poetic conscience of a nation.

It was the lyrical, direct poetry of Habib Jalib that stirred the street for decades, echoing the vision of the world from below. Jalib’s expression was popular and immediate, and could be related to easily by the average listener. During the rule of General Ayub Khan, from 1958 until 1969, Jalib particularly represented the public conscience when he chanted his poem Dastoor (Constitution), which was about Ayub Khan’s tailor-made “constitution.” Later, this work was utilised in support of Fatima Jinnah’s (the Quaid-e-Azam’s younger sister’s) campaign against the general:

Aisay dastoor ko,

Subh-e-baynoor ko,

Mein naheen manta,

Mein naheen janta

(I do not accept/I do not recognise/A constitution that resembles/A morning with no light). Continue reading

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Filed under Activism, lawyers movement, Left, Literature, poetry, Politics, Urdu

Remembering Bhutto: History,Clergy and Pakistan

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

The oddest point in Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s career as a politician and a statesman was when his National Assembly voted to constitutionally
ex-communicate the Ahmaddiya community from the circle of Islam. Odd because, barring Jinnah and some ethnic leaders from small sub-nationalities, Bhutto was till then the most secular politician in
Pakistan. His support base was mostly left and no where during the election campaign had the PPP given voice to the demand for Ahmadis to
be ex-communicated. There are many theories as to why Bhutto would do it, but an investigation into the history of Ahmadi conflict in Pakistan leads to some astonishing conclusions about the role of
Pakistan’s military and civil establishment and their blatant use of
religious clergy in creating the conditions which might have forced a
popular national politician like Bhutto to opt for such a drastic and
draconian measure.

Pakistan was created as a result of the inability of the Congress
Party to recognize the legitimate secular concerns (such economic and
political safeguards) of the Muslim bourgeoisie represented by the
Muslim League. Instead of relying on secular and liberal Muslim
leaders like Jinnah, who had for much of his career been described as
the Ambassador of Hindu Muslim Unity by the Hindu leadership, the
Congress co-opted the Muslim religious clergy to prove its secular
credentials. Soon the Congress found itself out of sync with the
mass of Muslims. Since Muslims themselves were fragmented into
several sects and schools of thought, Jinnah and the Muslim League
kept theological and purely religious issues out of the main political
discourse. This allowed Jinnah to bring Sunnis, Shias, Ismailis,
Khojas and Ahmadis on one table despite major doctrinal differences
between these groups. It was for this reason that after Pakistan was
created, Jinnah extended his policy of keeping religious doctrine out
to state governance. To drive the point home, he included in his
cabinet a Hindu (Jogindranath Mandal) as a law minister and an Ahmadi
Muslim (Ch. Zafrullah Khan) as his foreign minister.
After 1947, the religious clergy that had opposed Jinnah and the
creation of Pakistan found itself like a fish out of a pond. They
would have all but lost political significance had it not been for the
political weakness of the ruling Muslim League. By 1951 the Muslim
League was without both Jinnah and Liaqat Ali Khan, the two leaders
who had recognition and mass appeal. Khawaja Nazimuddin who took
over after Liaqat Ali Khan was known as a good honest man but was not
known as a decisive leader. That he was from East Pakistan was an
additional factor which made him undesirable for the West Pakistani
establishment. By January 1953, the religious parties including
Maulana Maududi’s Jamaat-e-Islami had formed the “Majlis-e-Amal” whose
demands were the removal of Ch. Zafrullah Khan as the foreign minister
and declaration of the Ahmadi community as “Non-muslim”. Khawaja
Nazimuddin refused to entertain this demand and when informed of the
chance of 100 000 crazed Mullahs marching onto the Prime Minister
House, merely ordered the doubling of his guard. Violence broke out
in Lahore and Karachi.
Iskandar Mirza, the then Secretary of Defense, took note and wrote to
the Prime Minister:

“The problems created by your personal enemies including Mullahs, if
not dealt with firmly, will destroy the administration of the country…
is religion to destroy the very foundation of the administration of
the premier Muslim state? In Cairo, Sir Zafrullah Khan is being
received with the utmost honour and respect… while in Karachi he is
being abused in public meetings and his photographs are being spat
upon… what then is the position of Pakistan today internationally… for
god’s sake become a courageous leader and take decisive action. Once
you do this, the whole country, with the exception of the rascals,
will really round you…” Continue reading

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Filed under Democracy, History, Islam, Islamism, Politics, public policy, Religion