By Tayyba Seema Ahmed
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Nineteenth Century British India
Chapter 3: Jihad - Origins, Concepts and Interpretations
Chapter 4: The Essence of Jihad
Chatper 5: Introduction to the Translation
Chapter 6: Jihad and the British Government
It seems the ‘Islamic’ provisions rammed into the Constitution by the late dictator General Ziaul Haq, to serve his own purposes, can be neither touched nor altered. Like etchings in stone, they may stay with us for a very long time to come. One of the greatest ironies of our time can be found in the sordid saga of how the Constitution, consequently politics and ultimately society at large in Pakistan were put under the bondage of obscurantism disguised as religion by military dictators and civilian opportunists. They certainly knew how to play society’s prejudices and biases to their advantage and cared little for Islam or the people. We call it an irony because the path to constitutional theocracy in Pakistan was laid in blatant contrast to what its founder had envisaged this country to be. It was not for nothing that he had invited the wrath of the theocrats and the orthodox while struggling for a Muslim homeland. The process of diluting his vision with vague references to people being ‘enabled’ to live their lives according to the precepts of state-defined religion and turning the definition of political sovereignty into a metaphysical one began soon after his death. Since then it has been the fate of this country and its constitution(s) to sink deeper and deeper into a swamp of confusion over questions of rights, identity, gender, education and the nature of state and its interaction with citizens. Instead of building the dream that was Pakistan, we dragged whatever good we had inherited into the mire of hypocritical rhetoric that prevented us from solving the most basic questions regarding politics, religion and society. The consequences are there for all to see. Anybody who does not see the role of this hypocrisy, this failure, this betrayal of the original ideal, in the rise of militant obscurantism suffers from voluntary blindness.
Against this backdrop, we see with sadness that the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reform has failed to touch any of the provisions (even those that were the prop of Zia’s rule) introduced in the name of religion. Interestingly even the controversial Article 62, which lays down that all members of parliament must be ‘sagacious, righteous, honest and ‘Ameen’ has not been touched. The fact that few in parliament can lay claim to these values, as fresh cases of corruption never cease to surface, in no way influenced the committee. This should provide food for thought to those who were angry with the judiciary over the references it made to the rulers being ‘Ameen’ in its judgment on the NRO. Perhaps they would have served the cause of enlightenment better by urging parliament to see reason and rid us of such “anomalies” instead of castigating a judiciary which is not responsible for these provisions being there. Having said all that, it is not difficult to imagine the outcry by certain quarters had the committee touched these provisions. We have become a society where religion is used as a means to blackmail. Apparently, the ‘religious’ parties and their patrons have made it impossible to even talk about many issues with any degree of rationality. We are too scared to take up matters of immense significance. A genuine effort is needed to alter the Constitution in a meaningful way and make a move towards transforming Pakistan into a progressive state. Those who wish to see things change should demonstrate courage and conviction. They may find that once they raise their voices there are others ready to join in with them.