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Governance - Pakistan Ought To Establiish

Updated on March 14, 2013

Separation of State and Religion

Since its creation Pakistan had gone through various kind of governing systems but none has satisfied the common concerns of the people, failing & flip flopping repeatedly between varying civilian and military dictatorship with no successive end.

Under current extenuating circumstances the governing system in Pakistan, seems to be an opaque mixture of parliamentarian, presidential, marshal or Sharia laws that prevail in the country, running in parallel.

Pakistan in general has failed to conclude collectively about the type of governing system that needs to be established in order to satisfy the desire and inspirations of the masses, keeping in pace with the governance being practiced in modern progressive countries around us.

Overwhelming majority of Pakistani people are Muslims (95-97%) and as such, may desire to see Pakistan as an Islamic state where Islamic laws could prevail. Consequently, religious parties & masses have tried hard to get Pakistan declared as a sovereignty of God (1949 objective resolution) and named it as Islamic Republic of Pakistan; hoping to run and establish Sharia Laws in the country.

Irrespective of the reason for which Pakistan was created, a secular or theocratic state; religious groups had never been able to gain power to run the country in accordance with their will or in compliance with the sacred text and prophetic hadiths, making it a true Islamic state that does not exist anywhere on this planet.

During early phase of its establishment, Pakistan was governed either by civilian or military dictatorship established in 1958, by military coup of General Ayub Khan. Though he tried to bring about basic democracy system that did not last long and vanished with the passage of time. In 1971 we saw disintegration of Pakistan merely on the basis of who will run the country and Bangladesh came into being.

During Bhutto era, PPP government also budged under religious demand and alcohol and drugs were banned (symbolically) and weekend was changed from Sunday to Friday to satisfy the religious demand but these changes were cosmetic and could not be sustained. Zia-ul-Haq initiated Islamization program putting in place new measures based on Islamic principles of justice, amalgamating civilian, marshal and Sharia laws together, all running in parallel confusing the masses. This had set a bad precedence for the public as well as for the judiciary in dealing with cases in civilian or Sharia courts simultaneously with not rational outcome.

Welfare and taxation system based on Zakat in addition to the democratic taxation system and profit-loss sharing banking system were introduced just to satisfy the curiosities of the people in the name of religion. Forced Zakat collection system could have made Pakistan a welfare state but there is no such thing appreciable that exists in that part of the world.

Muslims are divided in various sects who are fighting to establish their perception of the faith and the resulting struggle for promoting extremism which is deeply rooted in society with killings of each others in the name of religion. The polarized religiosity has gone to the extent where apart from minorities like Christian and Qadianie;, Shia who are about 18% of the population are being declared non-Muslims and are being persecuted & treated unreasonably. Sectarian violence has increased significantly in frequency during last few years due to the conflictual engagement of the Islamic militant organizations and failure of federal and provincial administrations, law enforcing and intelligence agencies. Muslims in general are being perceived as very intolerant, barbaric, anti-modernist & prone to violence through out the world and Islam is being labelled as the most miss-understood & misguided faith.

The religious inquisition to convert Pakistan into a theocratic state will continue until the mind set persists for theocracy objectives. In recent years, northwest of Pakistan was run by religious parties who suppressed the basic fundamental rights of women, closing schools and universities and banning women from attending schools and colleges, in pursuit of higher education. Gender segregation and social inequalities were promoted to punish minorities and followers of other faith groups.

This predicament of depriving women from social sector, could not be eradicated with the help of masses due to their conservative mind set. These conditions and perceptions are not compatible with the requirement of a progressive society that can compete in the world under the influence of on going scientific and technological advancements.

Ambitions to turn Pakistan into a theocratic state may not materialise in the foreseeable future, for being non-compatible due to varying reasons. Even if Pakistan is turned into a theocratic state it will not work for the betterment of the masses. Hence struggling on those line will not be fruitful as those who had been day dreaming to achieve that goal were not successful during the last 66 years of independent existence. This alienates theocracy for not being a viable solution for Pakistan. Pakistanis should come to senses and grip the reality of life, rather than being hypocritically engaged in pursuit of their desire for the Islamic theocracy. Religious groups have tried that in Afghanistan with utter failure and the consequences are in front of us.

Pakistan inherited Parliamentary System from the outgoing British Ruler but the initial constitution was amended many times by generals, politicians, bureaucrats & civilian power holders to suit their vested interest in gaining power and retaining it by changing the system to Presidential System.

Pakistani people have to decide collectively whether they want to maintain European Parliamentary or American Presidential system to run the country and avoid flip flopping between the two. It is preferable to have Parliamentary System for governance and have the President as a symbolic neutral head of state.

More than half of its life Pakistan had been ruled by armed forces and this trend should cease to exist. Constitution be amended by majority to alienate armed forces to avoid their indulgence into the civilian domain of administration. Any takeover of power by military generals, either solely based on greediness or collective support of the public under extenuating circumstances be condemned by all walks of life. Trends set by military take over of 1958, 77 and 1999 did not bring anticipated prosperity in Pakistan except some regulation in maintaining law and orders and often the perpetrators proclaimed to be the savoir of the nation.

First and far most requirement at this juncture of time is to declare Pakistan as a secular state and separate religion and state, making the two as separate entities; where religion should deal solely with the religiosity & spiritual guidance only with no indulgence into the administration of the state. This segregation of state and faith seems to be a pre-requisite for a secular state to work and be successful at this day and time. Pragmatism of a true Islamic state may be a parochial or wishful thinking at this juncture to time as it does not exist anywhere in the world in its entirety. Religious intolerance that we face today in the world is product of hatred that our clerics have cultivated in our minds due to their narrow version of the faith. Compared to this, tolerance would be an integral\ part of political culture is a democratic system.

Contrary to above, if Pakistanis continue to bluff on this subject and live like hypocrites, promoting western life style and striving for Islamization; it will further deteriorate our moral and governing system, legging us behind the world communities hampering our progress. Mixing and melding of the two are counter productive and be avoided to bring stability in the country.

Let the governance be led by the notion, government of people, by the people, for the people whereas religious issues be guided by the clergy. However, democracy be declared wither parliamentary or of presidential type with no frequent transition from one to the other type.

Mohammad Ashraf

Winnipeg. Canada


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