Saturday, January 23, 2016

The predominance of clergy in Pakistan

It’s always been argued that there is no clergy among the Muslims. Is it so? Not the least! In fact, there is all the ‘required’ evidence available to defy this claim. Regardless of the positions and interpretations the Muslim scholars advocate in this respect, there always existed and still exists such a body of religiously ordained persons who use their authority in worldly as well as other-worldly affairs of the Muslims. Even if there is no Muslim Church like the Christian Church, the Principle of Clergy for all the practical purposes is the same in Muslims. It may also be added that unlike the Christian Church, where a uniformly organized clergy or popery exists, in Muslims though the same institution does not exist in the same manner, the principle of clergy does exist religiously in an un-organized and politically in an organized manner. Hence, what’s important is not the institution, but the principle of clergy that’s predominant in Pakistan!

In Europe especially, the clergy used to exert unflinching influence on political as well as public life. It’s the same sway which gave rise to the historically well-know tussle between the state and the church. As the institution of the state could not make any headway under the burden of the clergy which had its own axe to grind, it tried to extend its writ by freeing itself from the clutches of the clergy. In fact, it was gradually that the clergy ceded its control to the state represented by kings. To see how fierce the struggle was and how the kings brought things under their control, one may look into the details of the murder of Thomas Beckett, Archbishop of Canterbury.

As Ian Jarvie, a philosopher, dubs Reason as a jealous God, which tolerates no other authority questioning its authority, in the same manner in political philosophy, state is termed as the association of associations, which tolerates no other association up and above its position. Actually it’s in the nature of the concept of the state that it allows for no other authority, whatsoever it is, to question its writ. In that sense, and logically too, it represents the ultimate authority, and if it’s an ultimate authority, by implication no other authority can override its control. In other words, it means the state monopolizes the process of law-making and its implementation which indispensably involves violence. That’s the essence of the conflict between the state and the church which Europe witnessed during the middle ages. It was only after it got freedom from the clergy’s clout that the state started moving towards evolving just rules and laws.

Let me venture to say that the same conflict is being waged in Pakistan (and in other Muslim countries also). In this case, it’s a conflict between the principle of (Pakistani) state and the principle of (Muslim) clergy. Even during the days of Sultanate and Mughal Empire, Muslim clergy tried to direct the state represented by kings. Under the British, its influence waned, and it went into a state of recoil. With time, it reacted, resented, and then exhorted Muslims to wage Jehad against the British. More to it, it was as frantic in snubbing the individuals and groups whose efforts focused on liberalizing the rigid regime of clergy and weakening its clout. When the prospects of one constitution to be agreed upon between the Muslim League and Congress dwindled, the Muslim clergy found sufficient room to exercise its influence upon Muslim political and public life once again. That’s how what’s known as the Movement for the attainment of Pakistan got baptized; the clergy tried hard to sort of hijack it. However, the real act of hijacking the state ensued when the real state of Pakistan emerged in 1947.

It’s this background that eclipsed the process of the making of the constitution in early Pakistan. The two crucial issues which constantly proved to be a stumbling block were the political and religious character of the constitution. The former manifested the pre-partition dynamics of Muslim League’s politics in Sindh, Punjab, and NWFP, i.e. how it got them to support its cause. Now in Pakistan, the Muslim League failed in offering them a viable political bonding. The latter issue, the religious character of the constitution reflects the clout of the Muslim clergy immeasurably exercised by it though it had no matching representation in the legislative body. See the details of the debates both inside and outside the various legislative organs regarding the religious character of the constitution: Whether it was a ploy of the politicians and political parties that they made use of the clergy to secure their interests and appeased it or the clergy was so potent and enjoyed so popular a base in Pakistan that in the end it succeeded in obtaining a place for the principle of clergy in the constitution; and thus it defied the principle of the state.

So far as the 1973 constitution is concerned, nothing changed with it either. The principle of clergy in Pakistan remained as forcefully effective as it was earlier. In contrast, and consequently, the principle of state proved as ineffective as it had always been. With time, instead of weakening, the principle of clergy became stronger, and resultantly the state went weaker and weaker so that what we have today is a limping state creaking under the burden of the Muslim clergy’s agenda. It’s no place to visit how the principle of clergy strengthened in Pakistan; and as for who is responsible (politicians or military) for its rise by way of, for instance, unduly appeasing it. Two things stand un-denied. In spite of deriving its support from a devoutly religious Muslim population, the Muslim clergy completely failed in converting its religious following into its political following, i.e. its politics failed it miserably. That means it’s politicians and political parties which allowed it to have a field day in Pakistan.

In the end, it may be concluded that for the state of Pakistan the fateful moment will come only when it decides to free itself from the ravages of the principle of clergy, and set itself to evolve just rules and laws in order to protect life, property, and freedoms of its each and every citizen!

Note: This article was completed on January 26, 2015.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

No. 1 enemy of the people of Pakistan

پاکستن کے سیاست دانوں نے، خواہ وہ جمہوریت کا لبادہ اوڑھے ہوئے ہیں یا مذہب کا، قریباً ستر برس سے یہاں کے شہریوں کو ٹرک کی بتی کے پیچھے لگایا ہوا ہے۔

This Urdu saying means: Paki politicians, whether they are clad in the garb of Democracy or Religion, have got the citizens running after the back-lights of a Truck! In other words, the citizens of Pakistan have been made to run after a mirage so that they are never going to reach any destination.

Recently, there was a book-launching in Lahore. The book’s title is: NauAbaadiyati Taaleemi Dhaancahy Ka Tasalsul (The Continuation of Neo-Colonial Educational Structure) and it’s written by a Marxist. All the talk there focused on castigating the British for their doing everything in their own interest. Two or three sane voices, speaking common-sense, tried to make other commentators realize not all that is bad had been done by the British; we did a lot of bad things ourselves.

It’s simple arithmetic: the Indian Sub-Continent was taken over by the British Crown after the revolt of 1857; they left us with two states of India and Pakistan to be shaped by our own genius in 1947. That makes about 90 years. Last August, Pakistan attained the age of 67 years. So what did we achieve in quite more than half a century needs to be compared what the British achieved for us in less than a century! But we are still obsessed with our own pseudo-identity, sort of puritan spirit, which we believe and claim the British distorted and admixed; otherwise, probably we were the Shining Star of the World!

In effect, most of the Far Left in Pakistan is still beating the Anti-British drum. They have other Drums too to beat. They are Anti-America; Anti-Imperialism; Anti-West; Anti-Globalization; Anti-Trans-National-Corporations; Anti-Multi-National-Corporations; Anti-Corporatism; Anti-WTO; Anti-WB; Anti-IMF; Anti-ADB; so on. That’s the international side of their ideology and politics. They have certain local indigenous enemies also. Thus, at home, they are: Anti-Feudalism; Anti-Capitalism; Anti-Big-Business; Anti-Bourgeoisie, i.e. Anti-Ultra-Rich; and in a Marxian sense, they are Anti-State also, i.e. they want to make the state wither away by annihilating the classes which is in their view an instrument of exploitation of the poor at the hands of capitalists; so on.

Presently, there are a good many number of Leftist, Marxist, Socialist groups working in Pakistan. In 2012, three parties, Workers Party Pakistan, Labor Party Pakistan, and Awami Party Pakistan, merged to form a ‘united party of the Left’: it’s Awami Workers Party. That above-mentioned list is as true for this Party as it is for almost all the other Leftist groups.

As far as the Far Right is concerned, its enemies are no different from those of the Far Left. To this day, most of the Rightist parties and groups denounce the British for their disservice to the Muslims of the Sub-Continent, especially Lord Macaulay for “modernizing” the Muslim education. For the Rightists, there is another eternal enemy, the West. The USA fulfills all the criteria to act as a perfect enemy, so it is. In its Imperialistic role, it becomes more of a complex enemy, which dictates everything which happens in Pakistan; it makes use of UN, The World Bank, ADB, IMF, etc, to the extent of fixing prices of commodities and various utilities in Pakistan. One thing that distinguishes the Far Right from the Far Left is the way they present these enemies of the people of Pakistan: the Right dubs them as the enemy of Pakistan and Islam; whereas the Left hates them as the enemy of the poor!

The mainstream political parties in Pakistan differentiated as falling on the Right or Left have got the same list of enemies; though they make use of it mostly only when needed, or when they are in the opposition. For instance, PPP-P is understood to be a party on the Left; PML-N on the Right; both are open to opt for such uses. More often, they make use of these enemies in a circumlocutory way: they promise to break the Begging Bowl!

Never ever anyone questioned this wisdom of the Right and the Left which declares the West, Colonialism, Neo-Colonialism, Europe, America, and Imperialism on the one hand, and Feudalism and Capitalism on the other as the enemy of the people. Either they mislead the people deliberately; Or they do not know the Pakistani social and economic reality! In the second case, they or their thinking is totally Ashraafist. Whoever lives through the social and economic reality of Pakistan cannot help realizing that the number one enemy of the people of Pakistan is the State of Pakistan!

Mainly it is on two counts that the state proves to be an enemy: First, it completely neglects its foremost function of ensuring protection of life and property to each and every citizen. Contrary to that, it lets various groups form and flourish and dictate the citizens what to believe and how to live and then kill them if they don’t do their bidding. The state doesn’t protect and does not provide justice requires no proof; it’s in the air. That means the state completely breached the trust of the people they put in it; rather it turned criminal.

Second, the state misuses the money taken from the citizens as taxes. Not only does it allow other groups extort from the citizens, the state itself robs the citizens also on this or that pretext. As far as electricity, gas and petroleum products’ supply is concerned, it is exacting billions of rupees from the citizens’ pockets. Add to it, the corruption-money in trillions of rupees. It’s the state’s machinery that sucks citizens’ blood in this or that government department regardless of its nature, whether it is a service or a collector. The writer has demonstrated in his Pakistan Mein Riyasati Ashraify Ka Urooj how Riyasati Ashrafiya has captured both the state and the market and lives off the resources that the state accrues. In a nutshell, it’s the state which exploits the citizens it is supposed to serve; not the feudals and capitalists, who can never in case the state decides so! That makes the state of Pakistan a Robber-Criminal state!

Note: This article was completed on January 17, 2015.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

A Story of Complicity

A Story of Complicity: Statistical Relationship between a Newspaper and a Politician

* The writer supports freedom of thought, freedom of expression and freedom of press as sort of absolute values.

* This analysis by him is in good faith and may not be construed as intrusion in anyone’s privacy and freedom.

* Since newspapers are public entities (though they are privately owned), and politicians public personalities, the writer as a reader and as a citizen may use his freedom to question and criticize both.

* The writer is a keen reader of the newspapers. In the month of May 2014 he noticed unusual news coverage given to one politician “P” in the newspaper “N.”

* When the month of May completed, the writer took a stock of that coverage.

* Here is the table that shows the detail of the news coverage which emerged out of this exercise:

Serial no.
Page no.
Photo / Sketch
Brief statement
Detailed statement



* Here are the results that this table generates:

1. The number of days in the month of May 2014 on which the Newspaper “N” was published = 31

2. The number of days on which news coverage was given to the Politician “P” = 10

3. The number of times Photo / Sketch of the Politician “P” was published = 10

4. The number of times Brief Statement of the Politician “P” was published = 10

5. The number of times Detailed Statement of the Politician “P” was published = 3

6. The number of times Photo / Sketch, Brief Statement, and Detailed Statement of the Politician “P” 
was published = 10 + 10 + 3 = 23

* In sum, out of 31 days of the month of May 2014, the number of times 3 type of coverage was given to the Politician “P” in the Newspaper “N” Lahore Edition = 23.

* Here is the news coverage in terms of percentages:

* As mentioned above, in case all 3 types of coverage the Politician “P” was given is added together, it turns out to be 23 times out of 31 days.

* Thus, out of 31 days of the month of May, the percentage of coverage given by the Newspaper “N” Lahore Edition to the Politician “P” reaches to 74.19 %.

* How come that a politician of the stature of P, who may not be considered a national level political leader, is given coverage for 10 days and 23 times in a month by one of the top national English dailies, i.e. the Newspaper “N”!

* No doubt, the newspaper under consideration, in exercise of its freedom of press, has all the right to give any type of coverage to any type of politician or otherwise. No questioning on that!

* However, as a reader and as a citizen, the writer has the right to object why such an enormous coverage was given to the Politician “P”!

* He may criticize such coverage as noticeable and abnormal!

* He may ask: Doesn’t coverage of such abnormality raise questions which may bear on the nature of transparency the newspaper observes? And, he may ask: What’s the deal? Or what’s the package?

* Also, the writer is curious to know how the decision to give such enormous coverage to anyone is reached and put into effect.

* In short, what the writer as a reader and as a citizen would like to know is: Does the newspaper under consideration (the Newspaper “N”) operate on the basis of a transparent policy and an open criteria which it follows in deciding what and how much coverage this or that public personality deserves, and which it shares with its readers especially and Pakistani citizens generally? Or it just operates arbitrarily?

* As a matter of principle, this question applies to all the newspapers, magazines, and TV and Radio channels, and raises the issue of accountability in the eyes of the citizenry.

* Hence the issue this piece really wants to bring to the fore is: Do Pakistani print and electronic media operate arbitrarily? Or, does it believe it is accountable to the citizens of Pakistan, and in line with that belief, it operates in accordance with a transparent policy and open criterion which it shares both with its readers and the citizens?

* In the end, it needs to be admitted that this piece tries to exhort Pakistani media to be transparent and accountable to the public it claims it is there to serve!

* So finally the issue is: Has Pakistani media any internal code of conduct to follow in its operations? Has it a transparent policy and an open criterion to share with its readers? And, lastly, do Pakistani media behave morally? Or not?

Note: This article was completed on August 3, 2014.