Tag Archives: Reform

Post-floods: Pakistan must embrace a comprehensive reform agenda

Raza Rumi

Pakistan’s recent disaster has exposed the long standing crisis of statehood. It would be a cliché to state that even the best prepared country would have been swamped by the scale of the floods. However, the flood also exposed our failing state and never before have we witnessed such radical damage wreaked on the governance institutions in the country.

Beyond the early recovery phase: The enormity of the humanitarian crisis requires concerted planning and a seamless transition into the rehabilitation and reconstruction phase. A key reason for the skepticism of citizens and the international community relates to the obvious challenges of governing Pakistan and ensuring that the state delivers on its inherent mandates. Humanitarian assistance has been forthcoming and the pundits’ credibility-deficit argument has been trashed by the world as it made pledges of over 600 million dollars. However, resources for the post-relief phase are uncertain. The usual recipe of the international economic order through IFI loans seems to be the only solution in sight unless the world wakes up to the potential long term consequences of this disaster and finds other ways than to increase its debt.

Financing challenges: A bigger challenge that faces Pakistan’s crumbling governance is related to financing the disaster-management. Already, competition between the Pakistani state agencies and the United Nations system seems to be apparent. The intentions of the UN notwithstanding, its inefficiencies (such as high administration costs) are all too well known. Similarly, the funding tensions between the federal and provincial governments will also come to light as and when assistance arrives. The criteria are unclear – Punjab wants it according to the damage while the smaller provinces are already talking about the state of ‘relative devastation’ and losses. This is something that the national council of common interest will have to resolve, lest it creates more fissures and becomes another pretext for an extra constitutional upheaval. Continue reading

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Do Muslim Women Get a Fair Deal?

This is an incisive article sent by Ms Taji M which raises several intelligent and debatable points. Right now we are witnessing a debate on need for reform in religion. This article provides a woman’s perspective and argues that due to orthodox and literal interpretation of religion women in our society are not getting a fair deal. We expect healthy debate on this article.

By Taji M

I have a friend, university educated, upper class, stylish and religious but not an extremist way. She is a on the whole a very sensible person. Over the years we have debated religion extensively; I have more reformist thoughts and she is more mainstream. She is of the firm belief that present orthodox version of Islam offers the best position for Muslim women; in one of our debates she said something like this “Look at me, I am much better off than the western women slaving away in offices and then scouting for boyfriends and eventual husbands. Before marriage my father took care of me, he treated me and my brothers equally. During his lifetime he divided the property between me and brothers and I ended up getting a larger share as I got a lot of gold in my jahez also. I got married without going through the humiliating boyfriend search, and now have a loving husband and two cute kids. I am a stay-at-home mom out of choice not due to my husband’s insistence. And the nice house we live in is in my name. I am protected under the safety of Islam which offers the best to all good women”.

She is not alone in coming to that conclusion, a large number of educated class Muslim women share this attitude. They have been convinced that they have gotten best deal possible. I have a problem with this belief though. And I have told her and other similar women, that their experience is not out of the fruits of orthodox version of religion, but of the good luck of being associated with decent men. In case of my friend, her father bypassed the law and divided his estate in his life time so that she won’t get half share later on. Her husband, a really nice guy, ensured her financial security by keeping the house in her name. Otherwise in case of widowhood, the wife gets one of the smallest shares, and if there is a divorce she gets nothing from the family wealth. Of course she gets the Meher, but how many women can survive for long on that amount. Continue reading

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Filed under human rights, Islam, Pakistan, Religion, Women

Pakistani reform: the task ahead

Raza Rumi

Pakistan has crossed a major milestone last week by achieving a historic consensus on the 18th Amendment with 105 clauses, additions and deletions to the Constitution. The distortions inserted by the military rule have been done away with. Political elites this time, however, have gone a step further and improved the state of provincial autonomy. Perhaps this is where a civilian negotiation and democratic politics of compromise has been most effective. Who would have thought a few years ago that this was achievable? There were many skeptics who thought that the amendments might not be approved. However, the ‘corrupt’ and ‘incompetent’ politicians have proved everyone wrong.

Leaving aside the discourse of corruption, the NRO, and a vociferous media campaign against the President, the achievements in the last one-year by all political parties have been tremendous. The Awami National Party, after its initial truce with the militants, has stayed the course and resisted Talibanisation by giving full support to the army operations against the militants. The PPP and PML-N, despite their rhetoric and political point-scoring, have worked together on the national finance commission award (NFC) and now on the implementation of the Charter of Democracy (CoD) that has become the basis for the amendments to become a reality.

The nay-sayers of democracy and the political process forget one fundamental fact: a federal structure cannot work without a robust political process. A start has been made through the recent successes after a decade of ‘controlled democracy’. However, despite the march towards the democratic ideal, there are clear and present dangers that democracy is as fragile as ever. Continue reading

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Filed under Constitution, Democracy, Liberal Democratic Pakistan, North-West Frontier Province, Pakistan, Politics, public policy, state

Reform or Perish

By Raza Rumi

On the face of it, the Pakistani state with the clear endorsement of political parties and the majority of its citizenry is fighting a battle against militant Islamism. However, it is not as simple a formulation as it appears to be. The state is also cracking under extreme pressure for having lost its capacities and effectiveness a long time ago. The central tenet of state policy and implementation is adhocism that keeps a mammoth, oversized, under-paid and snail-paced elephant going. With Mughal and pre-industrial social structures reflecting in a colonial organisation, the Pakistani state is an unattended patient lying on an Elliotesque table, waiting for a surgery. Continue reading

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A new Islamic revolution? Ayotallah Montazeri raises the banner of revolt

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful:

[To the] Noble and Oppressed Iranian Nation,

Greetings and salutations. In recent days, I witnessed the exuberant and devoted endeavor and presence of you dear and honorable brothers and sisters -old and young, men and women – from all strata of society, on the scene of the 10th presidential campaign. During this period, the youth came out, full of hope to pursue their rights, and counted the days to Election Day. That was a perfect and suitable opportunity for the officials of the system to take the best advantage of to establish the best religious, affectionate, and national bond with the massive stratum of youth and all the other strata of society. Continue reading

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DEATH PENALTY-PAKISTAN: Reason For Hope on World Day

http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=44207

Zofeen Ebrahim

KARACHI, Oct 10 (IPS) – As rights groups mark the Sixth World Day
Against the Death Penalty with an appeal for an end to executions in
Asia, Pakistan pulled one man back from the gallows and hinted that
it will soon honour pledges to commute the sentences of over 7,000
death row inmates. Continue reading

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The System of Training in Madrasas: Some Aspects in Need of Reform

By Dr. Muhammad Amin (Senior Editor, Dairat ul-Maarif al-Islamiya, University of Punjab, Lahore)*

(Abridged and Translated by Yoginder Sikand)

Today, advocates of madrasa reforms can be divided into broadly two groups. Firstly, external elements and forces and their local agents. Secondly, some people within the madrasa system who genuinely want to improve it and, accordingly, suggest certain measures for reform. The positions of these two groups need to be clearly distinguished from each other. External forces call for changes in the madrasa system in accordance with their anti-religious agenda, while we who call for change in the system do so to make it better serve its religious purposes. Thus, if critics like us may not agree with some aspects of the present madrasa system it is certainly not because we want to harm or undermine it. Rather, the intention is to make the madrasa system more effective in meeting its goals and also so that madrasas can produce ulema who can play a more effective religious role in society.

The Meaning and Importance of Tarbiyat (Training)

What is termed ‘training’ in educational terminology can be equated with the shariah term tazkiya. In Arabic, the root of the term tazkiya has two meanings: firstly, to purify something, and, secondly, to burnish something and make it prosper or develop. The aim of education must be to purify one’s self (nafs) of all impure beliefs, deeds and blemishes of character, and to develop those good qualities that the shariah upholds. In the Quran God says that He has sent all His prophets for precisely this purpose of tazkiya of human beings. Education is not simply the acquisition of knowledge, because that cannot be an end in itself. Rather, the aim of education is righteous actions based on knowledge. This means that education aims at purification of the self. Thus, God says in the Quran, ‘Truly, he succeeds that purifies it, And he fails that corrupts it’  (Surah Ash-Shams, 9-10).  In other words, our welfare depends on tazkiya. The concept of welfare in Islam is a comprehensive one. It includes both religious as well as worldly success. By this is meant gaining felicity in the Hereafter and also leading one’s life in this world in obedience to God. Thus, tazkiya denotes the training of one’s self in such a manner that one obeys God easily and willingly and abides by His laws.

God has sent the Quran as a means for the tazkiya of human beings, and it also serves as a source of knowledge. The human personality that the Quran desires can be developed if one’s knowledge and moral training are based on the Quran and if this is done with wisdom. It is the path to the attainment of excellence (ahsan) by abiding, in the best way, by God’s laws. Continue reading

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