Showing posts from January, 2007

Political manoeuvring

Nawaz Sharif, it seems, has finally given in to the demands of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) about the ‘hosting’ of the proposed All Parties’ Conference (APC). If according to the original plans, Nawaz had been the host of such a conference, it would have given him a popularity boost among national and international political circles. This was not easily digestible for Benazir Bhutto, who refused to accept Nawaz’s personal invitation to the APC. Benazir’s unwillingness to accept an independent initiative of PML-N is of course understandable as both these parties, while portraying themselves as allies under the umbrella of the Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy (ARD), are both unwilling to give any sort of political mileage to the other. It was clearly a pressure tactic used by Ms. Bhutto, which has worked to perfection. A conference of all political parties sans the leadership of one of the strongest opposition forces in Pakistan, the PPP, would have made the platform look …

Pakistan’s political dilemma

“Nip the shoots of arbitrary power in the bud, is the only maxim which can ever preserve the liberties of any people” — John Adams.

Pakistan got independence in 1947, yet the people of Pakistan have been far from free. We might not be under the British Raj any more, but the military establishment’s shackles are no less oppressive. For more than 30 years of Pakistan’s 59 years of so-called ‘independence’, the country has been ruled by military dictators. It is a tragedy that the country’s two most powerful institutions – the military and the bureaucracy – joined hands to seize political power after the assassination of Liaquat Ali Khan. The generals and the bureaucrats have since then not let any civilian government rule in peace.

When President General Pervez Musharraf seized power through a military coup in October 1999, many people believed he was the best thing that could have happened to Pakistan at that point in time. Even now, many educated people are of the view that since the ci…

Whither progressive Islam?

Islam came at a time when the Arab nomadic tribal system was prevalent in Saudi Arabia, where people were judged on the basis of their lineage, colour, wealth, gender, etc. But Islam taught otherwise. It was the most progressive religion of its time and instituted a system where everyone was equal regardless of race, caste, colour, creed, gender, wealth, etc. Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) gave an enlightened message to the world 1,400 years ago; yet most of today’s Islamic scholars preach an unenlightened version of Islam to Muslims and to the world. Human rights, women’s rights, animal rights were all part and parcel of Islam in an era where such notions were unheard of among the Arabs: it asked people to treat even their slaves with respect and dignity apart from treating everyone that way, look after their livestock properly and give women their rights. The last sermon of the Prophet (PBUH) at Hajj in the 10th hijra advocated justice and equality for all. He condemned cheating and other …