Islamic Voice
Zul-Qada / Zul Hijja 1422
February 2002
Volume 15-02 No:182

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Editorial


For too long, Pakistan has been adrift


For too long, Pakistan has been adrift

It must have taken a lot of courage for Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to have made bold declarations on January 12 setting rules for use of religious institutions. That Pakistan could not have continued with its earlier policy of letting loose militants to go ahead with their militant agenda in Jammu and Kashmir and Afghanistan had become evident with the liquidation of Talibans. The General has also demonstrated sagacity by banning the outfits such as Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and Sipah-e-Sahaba, forces that were fuelling militancy not only across the border, but were also responsible for spreading sectarian disharmony within Pakistan. With Masood Azhar seen prowling all over, it takes only a credulous to believe that such extremist acts as hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane to Kandahar did not involve extremists based in Pakistan.

Pakistan had emerged as a major embarrassment for Muslims all over the world with its frequent massacre of namazis within mosques, sectarian clashes marring peace in its largest city (i.e., Karachi), Shia leaders and Iranian diplomats being killed with sickening regularity, militias being trained and smuggled through borders, security of numerically small Shias being threatened and the country being rendered into the largest conduit for drug running operations. Majority of Islamic countries had looked towards Pakistan for training their students, being the pioneer in space and nuclear technologies that had still not made their foray into majority of the other Islamic nations, providing innovative experiments in Islamic and conventional banking, media, research, human resource development, de-sovietising and re-inducting the Central Asian Muslims into the mainstream, et al. But of late, Pakistan lost the way. It could not get the larger picture correct. Kashmir became its weakness to direct reprisals on India to avenge the loss of its eastern wing in 1971. It chose the macho way to push itself on the top of the pile of Islamic nations. It took upon itself the duty to install a regime in the perpetually unstable Afghanistan and raised the rag-tag army of Taliban who were totally devoid of any shred of vision to run a multi-ethnic country with a fractious history. It did not help. Rather it militarised a section of its own people who became a threat to law and order. Such was not the Pakistan that was visualised by Mohammad Ali Jinnah. And the smaller groups of militants were driven by fanaticism that was seen on the streets of Pakistani cities through those powerful TV images even as the so-called American campaign against terrorism had just begun in Afghanistan. With the fundamentalist Taliban having been liquidated, and the Americans in the process of securing corridors for tapping Central Asian oil and gas, it should not be beyond anyone’s knowledge as to who helped the US in achieving its designs in South and Central Asia.

Though Musharraf’s reform will always lack legitimacy, his own ‘usurper of power’ status coming in the way, Pakistanis will do well to heed his words. Pakistan has to graduate upto that grand vision of being an ideal Muslim state where peace prevails, research in science and technology flourish, corruption is rooted out, elections are not rigged, succession is smooth, relations with neighbour are tension-free and talent does not fly to the West, but reaps its rewards in the native soil.

Pakistan’s test lies in its ability to contain the militants, resolve dispute in Kashmir over the negotiation table, banish the anarchy on its Western fringes, attract the Arab and Muslim students to its universities, eliminate the conduits of drug, enable its exiled and fugitive prime ministers to return to the native soil and cough up the plundered wealth of the country, improve its ties with India and Afghanistan and be an engine of growth in the area.

In this, the religious leadership must cooperate by modernising the madrassa curriculum, avoiding the mosques from becoming centres of sectarian propaganda, but by preaching intra-Islam tolerance and democracy, promoting love between Shias and Sunnis and trying to blend the various fiqh and addressing the modern concerns of the ummah, keeping the pan-Islamic rhetoric aside and initiating measures to popularize the scientific temper among its people. For too long, Pakistan has been adrift. It is now time for it to return to its original moorings.

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