Pakistan: The moral collapse of a nation

The Guardian today has a very hard-hitting editorial about the assassination of the Pakistani governor of the Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, and the continuing demands from many (not just some religious extremist groups) who want a Christian lady, Asia Bibi, to be killed for alleged blasphemy. The Guardian quotes Pakistan’s second largest Urdu newspaper as actively endorsing the killing of Asia Bibi.

Pakistan’s blasphemy laws must rank amongst the most unjust  laws in the world. They are notoriously prone to abuse by all manner of unscrupulous people with grudges to settle, particularly against members of vulnerable minority groups.

The very visible and sad moral collapse of Pakistan that we are witnessing – the seemingly endless suicide bombers, tit-for-tat sectarian killings, corruption levels rivalling Nigeria etc, should be a huge cause of concern to all Muslims. At the very least, Pakistan has buried the idea that an ‘Islamic State’ can be a workable solution in today’s world. The truth is that Muslims in power are every bit as prone to abusing that power as non-Muslims. Only, most ‘Islamic states’ or ‘Islamic republics’ do not have anywhere near the same legal safeguards and restrictions on power that most modern secular states do. 

RIP Pakistan. RIP the ‘Islamic state’.

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14 Responses to Pakistan: The moral collapse of a nation

  1. Fareed says:

    Oh Inayat, you have been praying for the downfall off Pakistan for many years, ever since you were in YM when the Pakistani dominated leadership would mock you for your ties to Hindustan.

    PAKISTAN KA MATLAB KYA, LAA ILLAHA ILLALAH!

  2. Fareed: ‘you have been praying for the downfall off Pakistan for many years’

    Liar.

  3. Tony Lloyd says:

    Good post, I entirely agree about the dangerous nature of an “Islamic state”. Of course much the same problems can arise with a “Christian”, “Hindu”, or “Atheist” state.

    The “state” should be a mechanism for living together, not for securing an ideology.

    This murder re-enforces the argument for secularism.

    • JohnEdwardStrange says:

      @Tony Lloyd.

      You know, it never gets less tedious reading an otherwise excellent post, only to have it spoiled by someone who equates atheism with religious doctrine. It’s easy to peel off the standard, left-wing ‘atheism is militant and just like religion’ comment, perhaps just a case of ‘visit guardian webpage, ctrl-c / ctrl-v, job done’. Perhaps it would be worth investigating the issue, rather than just going down the ‘Dawkins is as bad as any mullah or fundamentalist’ route. Atheism is not an ideology. It is the rejection of the existence of God. An ideology is generally something separate from atheism. E.g. you could be an atheist marxist, an atheist neo-con, an atheist feminist… and so on.

      Tony, there is nothing about atheism that lends itself to dogmatic thought or action, or murder, or violence, as your comment appears to suggest. No atheist, acting solely on their lack of belief in God, would ever seek to force, for example, an xtian to renounce their faith. Contrast this with the monumental body of evidence for religious dogma leading to repression.

      • Pilton Miah says:

        No atheist, acting solely on their lack of belief in God, would ever seek to force, for example, an xtian to renounce their faith.

        Atheist states definitely oppress. Look at China with the minority Uyghur — they don’t allow them to carry out basic Islamic practices and disrupt prayer rituals. I can certainly imagine fully certified atheist states in the 3rd world that would result in repression of some religious minority or other.

        The point the earlier poster was making; true democracy requires that the state be completely impartial on the topic of faith, subject to the specific legal code of the nation.

        You can’t have democracy by banning some ideology or opinion that you dislike.

  4. Tarek Fatah says:

    I never imagined that I would ever be saying this, but here it is:

    Inayat’s assessment of Pakistan is 100% correct. Perhaps, now he can suggest to his friends to give up on the concept of an Islamic State and work for a state of Islam inside a secular democracy by maintaining a struct separation between religion and politics.

  5. armaros says:

    Tarek

    You are again right.

    Inayat

    I respect you for saying this you have taken risks for doing so

  6. I disagree that an “Islamic state” is not a viable option. Any assertion that there is one that exists today is far from true.

    Pakistan is led by a ruling elite and a leader as corrupt as anything. This is not an Islamic state in any shape or form. Extremism is driven by the routine murders of its own people by US drones, and it is the country’s state army that represents no one else but the ruling elite and the corrupt top hierarchy that remains subservient to the Western powers. This is the root of the problem.

    (See Imran Khan article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jan/09/pakistan-implode-america-leave-afghanistan)

    I agree that religious extremisms and notable MISINTERPRETATIONS of the Qu’ran and Hadith is commonplace in Pakistan and Afghanistan (note, there is NO reference to capital punishment in the Qu’ran for blasphemy). Often, the words of the Qu’ran are gloriously misconstrued and interpreted wrongly directly as a result of the Wahaabist influence that has spread so effectively in the last 20-30 years. Ironically, although Wahaabism is meant to be borne from a literal understanding of the Qu’ran, there are notable variations of how the words are noticeably misinterpreted to suit the puritanical and ultra-conservative requirements of the people enforcing their own brand of laws in areas such as North West Pakistan or Afghanistan. This has snow-balled into a greater level of ignorance and madness secondary to a developing hatred of US influence in that region (murder of civilians north and south of the Afghan border). Also, due to the Saudi economic influence and of course with the US support of the Wahaabist regime in Saudi, “religious extremism” that originates from literature that comes straight out of Saudi is easily able to manifest in this type of madness that we see today in Pakistan. Islam, after all, is a religion that deals with practicalities in a sensible fashion and accommodates for any different circumstances at a given time and for any periods of change.

    None of these issues we see today in that region should detract from enabling a true “Islamic state” from being viable if such a state was to exist in the way Islam would advocate given the circumstances in our current times. The examples of the current regimes in Pakistan and Saudi are diametrically opposed to one that would represent an “Islamic State”. There is no basis to bringing up the pros and cons of an Islamic State by citing an example such as Pakistan.

    • JohnEdwardStrange says:

      Do you not think there’s a disturbingly recurrent tendency for the Bible, Torah, Hadith/Qu’ran to be (ahem) ‘misinterpreted’?

      I would argue that if you don’t want your Holy Text to be ‘misinterpreted’, perhaps don’t write passages about the evils of homosexuality, or God advocating genocide and mass murder, and so on. I would also argue that if you look at these texts, a literal interpretation is actually the logical conclusion. The texts call for obedience, threaten to ‘cut off’ those that change the meaning etc.

      I wouldn’t write instructions for my son on what to do around the house on a Saturday afternoon, include a section telling him to convince his sister to stick her fingers in the plug socket, then later in the hospital claim that it was meant to be a metaphor…

  7. Thoughtshuffler: Pakistan is a self-proclaimed ‘Islamic republic’. And although you seem to regard the dreaded ‘wahhabis’ as being behind all the extremism in Pakistan, it was the Jamaat-e-Ahl-e-Sunnat (the main ‘brelvi’ grouping in Pakistan) that disgracefully called on its supporters not to offer funeral prayers for the assassinated governor.

    I do agree that the drone attacks have fuelled extremism in Pakistan.

    However, I don’t agree that an ‘Islamic state’ is a viable option in today’s world. How would an ‘Islamic State’ uphold universal human rights for minorities for example? All modern attempts at setting such a state up in Iran, Sudan, Saudi Arabia etc have led to massive human rights violations and the abuse of power by a tiny clique. AbdulWahab el-Affendi has documented this convincingly in his book ‘Who Needs an Islamic State?’.

    • Nas says:

      Inayat: “However, I don’t agree that an ‘Islamic state’ is a viable option in today’s world. How would an ‘Islamic State’ uphold universal human rights for minorities for example?”

      I would be interested in learning about your ideal alternative option. If you have one that is (for countries with majority Muslim populations)?

  8. Abdullah says:

    What can stop Pakistan’s descent into ‘failed state’ status? It’s not Somalia, but it is heading in that direction. We can only pray that Pakistanis with influence use it!

  9. Pilton Miah says:

    Pakistan is an “Islamic State” based on what Pakistan[is] describe the nation as. It can hardly be called a true representation of an Islamic State.

    Someone will no doubt try and argue that there is wiggle room for interpretation in Islam, in which case I would ask them to explain how baacha-baazi, fortune-telling and Heera Mandi are in keeping with Islamic custom and tradition, referring to the correct texts and citations.

    Pakistan is not an Islamic State — Pakistan is simply a country full of self-professed Muslims.

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