Falling back on ideological moorings

The national aspirations must be fulfilled

The coming into being of Pakistan on the basis of Islamic Ideology was probably an unprecedented event of the 20th century. The Father of the Nation in a broadcast talk on Pakistan to the people of the USA on 26 February 1948 had said “The constitution of Pakistan has yet to be framed by the Pakistan Constituent Assembly. I do not know what the ultimate shape of this constitution is going to be, but I am sure that it will be of a democratic type, embodying the essential principles of Islam. Today, they are as applicable in actual life as they were 1,300 years ago. Islam and its idealism have taught us democracy. It has taught equality of men, justice and fair play to everybody. We are the inheritors of these glorious traditions and are fully alive to our responsibilities and obligations as framers of the future constitution of Pakistan. In any case Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic state— to be ruled by priests with a divine mission. We have many non-Muslims— Hindus, Christian and Parsis— but they are all Pakistanis. They will enjoy the same rights and privileges as any other citizens and will play their rightful part in the affairs of Pakistan···”

Since Pakistan was created in the name of Islam, it logically followed that the state of Pakistan had to be structured and run as a democratic entity  in conformity with essential principles of Islam; a religion whose edifice rested on justice and equality. But it is regrettable to note that Pakistan today is neither a democracy in the true sense nor its system of governance is based on justice and equality. This detour from the vision of the Quaid and the basic principles of Islam undoubtedly is responsible for the mess that the country finds itself in at the moment.

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In the backdrop of the foregoing reality, it was indeed encouraging to listen to Prime Minister Imran Khan saying, ”I have decided that Pakistan will have to change course, go back to principles.” What he meant was that the country will have to be run in consonance with the principles of Islam. He also announced the establishment of Rehmat-lil-Alameen Authority while inaugurating a 10-day celebration porgramme on October 10 with respect to the birth anniversary of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and explained that the authority was being set up with the objective of making people of the country, particularly the children and the world aware of Islam and the life of the Holy Prophet (PBUH).

Impliedly referring to the evil effects of the onslaught of Western culture facilitated and promoted by the development of media-related technologies, he was right on money to observe that since it was not possible to stop the deluge, there were alternatives available in the form of promoting Islamic teachings to mitigate the impact of those influences. Nobody in his right mind can take issue with what he said. For imparting that knowledge to the children, the best way is to change the curriculum for the schools and harmonize it with the teaching of Islam and the examples from the life of the Holy Prophet (PBUH).

While one cannot doubt the honesty and passion of the Prime Minister, he needs to be reminded that it was not the task of a lone ranger.  In a democratic set-up it is simply not possible to do it without the cooperation and consensus of the leaders of the opposition parties, no matter how corrupt they may be or are regarded by him.  Nevertheless he deserves the credit for standing up, calling the spade a spade and expressing determination to go back to the drawing board.

The plan also includes teaching other religions at school which upholds the right of the minorities as enshrined in the Constitution and guaranteed in an Islamic polity. The role assigned to the proposed authority to monitor the curriculum being taught at schools, organize research in the universities and keep an eye on any blasphemous content shared on the media, is a step in the right direction. So is the step to give international dimension to the authority by having an advisory board on it all over the world charged with the responsibility to make global contacts. The establishment of this advisory board can contribute to deal with the phenomenon of Islamophobia and contribute towards inter-faith harmony.

The Prime Minister also spoke about rampant corruption by successive rulers benefitting from the inbuilt avenues of corruption in the system of governance and the prevalent injustice in the society, particularly lack of equality before law which presently was tilted to serve the interest of the elite. He also dwelt at length on other social evils afflicting the society and rightly concluded that the solution to cope with all those issues was following the footsteps of the prophet and the principles of Islam. His emphasis on reverting to the ideological moorings of Pakistan is beyond reproach.

No nation can make progress and earn a respectable place in the comity of nations without remaining wedded to the basic objectives and national aspirations envisaged by its founding fathers and architects of the formation of the state. For a country which owes it creation to a religion like Islam, it is even more imperative to stick to the teachings of the religion to build a society and state premised on justice and equality.

Conceptually it is hard to differ with what the Prime Minister has said and envisaged to undertake. But transforming a corruption-riddled society and reforming the system of governance require national unity and a broad political consensus on the envisaged measures. It is even more arduous and cumbersome when there are beneficiaries of the corrupt system on both sides of the aisle who are likely to resist any change that undermines their vested interests.

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While one cannot doubt the honesty and passion of the Prime Minister, he needs to be reminded that it was not the task of a lone ranger.  In a democratic set-up it is simply not possible to do it without the cooperation and consensus of the leaders of the opposition parties, no matter how corrupt they may be or are regarded by him.  Nevertheless he deserves the credit for standing up, calling the spade a spade and expressing determination to go back to the drawing board.

Malik Muhammad Ashraf
Malik Muhammad Ashraf is an academic. He can be contacted at: [email protected]

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