The Council and its ideology
Finally the government brings the Council of Islamic Ideology to its minimum mandated strength of nine members with the nomination of Dr Samia Raheel Qazi as the lone female member. And while the long lapse is not readily understandable, the manner and choice of the nomination is, to an extent, self-explanatory. Since Dr Samia is the daughter of the late amir of Jamaat e Islami Qazi Hussain Ahmed, and JI has lent visible support to the N-league (despite being allied with PTI in KP), the political angle is immediately clear.
But there should be more to consider when toggling CII’s membership in times like the present. Some of its recent observations, and recommendations, have struck even the not-so-liberal bunch as a touch too conservative. Matters pertaining to multiple marriages, and use of DNA as evidence in rape cases, are just a few examples that have been needlessly provocative. Apparently, Dr Samia was nominated upon recommendation by minister of state for religious affairs, Pir Amin ul Hasnat, and has little to her credit save her father’s long association with the religious lobby.
The government should not need reminding that we are in the midst of an existential war. And the enemy is not just a ruthless guerilla grouping, it is also a mindset. While the army seems to finally have a handle over the military component – in the form of Zarb-e-Azb – the government has been clearly behind the curve on the narrative. There is no centralised effort to counter the brainwashing of decades that has pushed society as a whole dangerously to the right. At such times the CII’s constitutional mandate, that no law is enacted contrary to Islamic teachings, becomes even more important. The enemy has long used religion to justify its excesses, and the religious right wing lobby has played no small part in validating the insurgency under false names like jihad, etc. Unfortunately, the CII has become just another one of those forums that are dominated by regressive mullah influence. If the government cannot ensure progressive religious guidance at the CII, then perhaps this constitutional advisory body has outlived its utility, especially in the current environment. And since it is amendment season, perhaps the Sharifs should consider a few more.