Transition of Domocracy in Pakistan

Transition to Democracy in Pakistan (By A. R. Mughal) The road back to democracy in Pakistan may be paved with good intentions but it is also strewn with obstacles which make the journey both difficult and painful. The obstacles consist mainly of legislation passed by the military regime and a large number of amendments which had basically altered the spirit and concept of the 1973 Constitution. The rationale for passing such legislation was the belief that this would prevent recurrence of the political anarchy that had existed prior to the military take-over. We are not really concerned with the political problems of Pakistan. The present regime was confronted with choices which it would have preferred not to have to make for the time-being. The harvest of speculation and fables is richer than ever in Pakistan and nobody knows when the political winds may suddenly change into the whirlwinds of unrest and uncertainty. The Parliament is more or less a ritual of irrelevance and is engaged most of the time in ridiculously trivial matters while the country is bleeding from unsolved economic and social evils. In spite of the concerted put-down of any leadership challenge, it was admitted that the Administration looked pretty untidy and its supporters were nervous and the fanatical multitudes were visibly unsettled. There were also some diversions in the President’s response to the spate of speeches and statements in the Parliament. It was obvious that the regime had loosened its hold on the dissidents — of course not voluntarily. There were many in the fanatical hierarchy who preferred to believe that there were no radical changes in the offing and that the apparent restlessness among the masses was only short-lived. The dust has almost settled since the Government’s last intervention in religious affairs of the nation. It has now assumed an attitude of politeness towards its earlier initiatives. This perhaps is a shrewd response which might have commended itself earlier to the small Ahmadiyya Community. Even if the Government had not pandered to those who convened regularly the anti-Ahmadiyya days as the hand-out days, it would certainly have continued to exist as it exists today. The official Islam everywhere had proved a TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY IN PAKISTAN 5 failure in the past. Its Pakistani brand of intolerance, perfidy and fanaticism is even more repugnant to common morality and decent theology. The inevitable gap between theory and practice is much narrower in Islam than in other faiths. But it is wider and more comprehensive in the theocratic set-up of Islam in Pakistan than anywhere else. True Islam, however, lessens superstition, falsehood and cruelty and lifts the lowly to dignity and pride and produces among Muslims a degree of sobriety and temperance unknown and unequaled elsewhere in the world. The Zia regime wanted to put some gloss over its Islamic image in the blind eyes of the public. The actual position was that it was damned if it did so and damned if it didn’t do so. For the masses were less than pleased with its President’s religious zealotry and all his efforts in this direction seemed to have run into the sands. For nine long years, the President could find sufficient time for theology and accepted the fanatics’ dualism as a satisfactory explanation of a creed so indifferently compounded of good and evil. He flirted for a pretty long period with the scepticism of the fundamentalists. He was an enlightened person who would normally be too emotional to remain long in suspended judgement. The Ordinance of April 1984 was and would always remain an immoral and filthy intrusion into the field of human living. Its immediate explanation defied all types of rationality. Claiming purity of heart and love of Islam when you are becoming like those you most loath, is as difficult as declaring that you didn’t know what the Mullahs and their hirelings were up to. However, this is past history and cannot be undone unless the top echelons in Pakistan inculcate credibility in moral behaviour in their dealings with all sections of the population. The events which happened subsequent to imposition of the black law of April 1984, were disturbingly reminiscent of the dark ages and the extremely primitive levels of the Meccans’ Confrontation against the early Muslims. Nobody regarded the inhuman atrocities against innocent Ahmadis as immoral, criminal or even unusual. Especially the media, which tried conveniently to forget all about it until the next time. We cannot put the lid on •what had already happened but we can forgive and forget. Or perhaps leave it to the nemesis of history. Democracy or no democracy, there is one thing a true patriot should never forget. We should not negate all cultures C both secular and religious C outside the Islam of the Mullahs. There are certainly movements approaching in various degrees the Quranic understanding of God and the howness of the universe. This is because the world after all is still under God and not the ‘devil’s’ occupied territory. Pakistan is a poor country, full of illiteracy and ignorance. The poor deserve justice and pity no doubt. But poverty is no virtue unless voluntary and it does not necessarily bring with it wisdom. It is, therefore, the duty of the intelligentsia to lead the people to the right path and not be swayed by sentiments or fear to tell the truth to their conceited rulers.