CIVIC SENSE

What is civic sense? Do Pakistanis have/lack civil sense? Why do Pakistanis lack civic sense? What is needed for promoting civic sense?

By Tahir Ali

The writer is an academic who blogs at www.tahirkatlang.wordpress.com and can be reached at tahir_katlang@yahoo.com

 

While being interviewed by a panel at the Federal Public Service Commission, I was, inter alia, asked these questions, “What do you understand by the term civic-sense? What are the causes of lack of civic sense in Pakistan and what are your suggestions for ensuring widespread civic sense in Pakistan?

I answered the questions and the subsequent counter questions put by the interviewers in detail.  I had then resolved to write a comprehensive article on the issue but the idea could not materialise for my pressing engagements. It might have delayed it further but an interaction with one of my friends last week pushed me to go for it.

Last week, the friend Islam Ghani visited me and in the course of our discussion, he told me. “Every day when I leave home for my office, I see the drainage system blocked by polythene bags/garbage because one of my neighbours is in the habit of sweeping out all his garbage into the drain. I often clean the drain myself. The person and his children usually see me doing that. I request them to be sensitive to the neighbours but to no effect. And last week, the person had this to tell me: “I have done that. Do what you want/can. Do you think my garbage was to lie in my house? Why don’t you approach the municipal workers to come and clean the mess instead of becoming sweeper yourself or asking me to?” says Islam Ghani.

Throwing out your garbage this way and the subsequent response by the guilty speaks a lot of our public morality and an acute lack of civic sense in our society, he adds.

WHAT IS CIVIC SENSE?

The word ‘Civic’ means of or related to a city or people who live there or the duties and responsibilities of citizens, and the word ‘Sense’ means sound practical judgement or awareness about something. The term, therefore, literally means an understanding of the way how people should live and behave in a society.

Civic sense is a consideration for the norms of society. It includes respect for the law and for the ease and feelings of others and maintaining etiquettes while dealing and interacting with others. For example, if we visit someone’s house, ethics demand that we knock at the door, ask for permission to go inside or that we avoid visiting someone at the time of meals or at bed/rest time.

It means we respect and help others, avoid spitting on roads, streets and public places, avoid listening to loud music, refrain from blowing pressure horns, adhere to traffic rules, obey laws, park vehicles at nominated places, avoid wall chalking, ensure economical use of the natural resources and public facilities, help reduce leakage/wastage/misuse of gas/water/electricity, pay taxes and utility bills, wait for our turn, be tolerant towards opposing views, respect minorities and ensure religious harmony and devote ourselves to welfare/community services.

One is considered to have Civic Sense if he is caring and sensitive towards the elderly, women, children, disabled persons, the poor, the needy, neighbours, companions, subordinates, officers, public and private property, the environment, the animals, natural resources, or in short is behaving better with everyone and everything everywhere. It is about keeping lane while driving, desisting from rash driving or from driving while not in senses, throwing garbage but in a dustbin or designated places and avoiding smoking at public transport/places.

DO PAKISTANIS HAVE or LACK CIVIC SENSE?

Pakistan has been abundantly bestowed with natural resources. It has a highly fertile land. It has plenty of water. Its people are very intelligent and hard-working who have proved their worth and competence in every corner of the world. But the lack of civic sense is tarnishing our image as a respectable nation in the comity of nations and making the country an inhospitable place for both humans and animals. Instead of utilising the abundant natural and physical resources with care, these are being destroyed/wasted with impunity.

Good manners are exceptionally important in life and at the workplace. Unfortunately, most Pakistanis lack civil sense. They generally spit here and there, throw litters on and dirty the roads/public parks/platforms, disturb others by playing high-pitched music; we don’t care for others; we freely tease and harm others if we can escape getting caught/punished; we want to please our Lord by doing Naat-Khaani on loudspeakers even if it does adds to the woes of the neighbours or the sick; we waste natural resources with impunity and do not pay the utility bills; we violate laws, especially the traffic rules; we drive recklessly–one-wheeling on motorbikes is frequently seen; we write advertisements/graffiti on walls especially those of the toilets; we give bribes; we smoke in public places/vehicles; we ridicule the poor; we are intolerant towards others; and suspect and abuse others for nothing; hardly a few amongst us have the courtesy to offer their seat to a woman or an old person in public transport; the heaps of garbage in public parks, sea views, lakes and gardens, waste of food in functions and profuse use of polythene bags in our society display how acutely we lack civic sense. The polythene bags are not only creating health hazards but have the potential to disturb life in cities and destroy agriculture by blocking the sewerage and irrigation systems.

The scourges of extremism and terrorism are extreme manifestations of this lack of civic sense. Extremism has been resulted by the lack of due regard and tolerance for opponents and opposing ideologies. And terrorism is the result of a callous and ruthless mindset which divides the world between “us and them” and where there right of security of life and property is available only to ‘us’ while death is reserved for ‘them’, the opponents. Obviously, a man having civic sense –or regard for the life, honour, peace, happiness and ease of others- can neither be an extremist nor terrorism.

We often see people parking their vehicles in front of ‘No Parking’ signboards and at the footpaths. Materialism, terrorism, sectarianism, extremism, intolerance, racism, mud- slinging and quarrelling on petty issues, a mad race to excel others in money and prestige and disregard for the rule of law are both causes and manifestations of this lack of civic sense. Instead of listening carefully and respectfully to what others say, most of us resort to taunting and vandalism. As a nation, it seems, we are ruled more by our emotions than mind.

We claim having a strong culture of discipline and decency but then our people forget everything when it comes to eating and swarm the food in festivals and programmes.

WHY DO PAKISTANIS LACK CIVIC SENSE?

The familiar stereotyped perception is that the illiterate and the poor have no civic sense but it is erroneous to associate the lack of civic sense to wealth or poverty as the rich and the mighty also display lack of civic sense. For example, they delay flights with complete disregard for other passengers.

Lack of civic sense could be either due to lack of education and awareness. It could also be resulted by the lack of sensitivity and disregard for one’s obligations either for sheer arrogance or for the fact that there is monitoring/accountability structure in a given society that is required for forcing compliance to law. It is rightly said that people who have no sense of duties also have no civic sense and they usually violate not only laws but ethical obligations as well.

Then, we Pakistanis are always in a hurry so lining up and waiting for one’s turn is rarely seen. Again, materialism is fuelling the mad race for self-aggrandisement and account for the vices of corruption, nepotism, favouritism and other malpractices in government departments and private/public dealings.

Many dream of bringing change in Pakistan. But hardly a few are ready to change themselves. We want to bring change but only by criticising/correcting others. We are least prepared for introspection and self-reformation. The basic principle –that we cannot bring change unless we change ourselves, our attitudes and our mindsets –is generally forgotten

There is a memorable quote that best describes our style of religiosity. It read: “Pakistan is facing problems because everyone here wants a hearty share from the temporal bounties for himself/herself but is worried for the life-hereafter of others”.

The media, the intelligentsia and the education curricula could have been more helpful in bringing home the importance of civic sense. It has, unfortunately, been neglected thus far.

WHAT IS NEEDED FOR PROMOTING CIVIC SENSE?

NOT GOVERNMENT ALONE?

All responsibilities and tasks should not be left to government. Citizens need to perform their due role in each walk of life. We will have to shun the mentality that we have the right to throw garbage and spit anywhere and that it is the government’s duty to clean it.

INTROSPECTION AND SELF-IMPROVEMENT

For things to change, we must change. For things to get better, we must get better. We need to change ourselves first if we want change, reform and improved services. Setting a good example is better than teaching/preaching others what to do and what not to do. The Quran also declares: “Do you ask others to do the right things and forget about yourself?”

EMPATHY

We must be empathic. Empathy is trying to feel what somebody else is feeling or look at something through someone else’s eyes so as to understand, help and console him/her if needed. We should always have capacity and penchant to put ourselves in other place and think what would I have felt if this and that had been done to me. We need to be more civilized and caring for others. He/she must respect and facilitate others at home, schools, offices, hospitals, parks, transport and thoroughfares and in dealings, interactions, engagements and functions.

RIGHTS IMPLY DUTIES

It must never be forgotten that rights imply duties. Our rights are duties for others and others’ rights are duties for us. If we have a right to good, clean and peaceful environment, resources, security of life and property, and to be treated respectfully, these rights also imply duties on our part towards others. We must remember that every citizen has the right to enjoy civic amenities like drinking water, electricity, transport facilities etc. It is the duty of every citizen to use these civic amenities properly/carefully and pay the bills and other taxes imposed by the government so that welfare –development and repair/maintenance expenditures of public facilities –could be financed.

CONCERTED EFFORTS BY DIFFERENT STAKEHOLDERS

Different stakeholders –government, law enforcement agencies, media, religious scholars, civil society, professionals, the intelligentsia, and all others –should be involved and need to play their roles in promoting civic sense among the people.

ADVOCACY/ AWARENESS CAMPAIGNS

There is a great need to educate/motivate people, organize training sessions, and run advocacy campaigns. There print and electronic media, the ulema, the civil society and the intelligentsia should spread more awareness on the demands of urbanisation, social ethics and conservation of natural resources and our duties as predecessors to our successors –the next generations.

INCORPORATING CIVIC SENSE IN TEXTBOOKS

Government should include reading material regarding civic sense in textbooks. By educating the youngsters in schools through textbooks, pictures and videos on civic sense, we will not only be making him a better human being but also help rebuilding the country.

PICTURES AND VIDEOS ON CIVIC SENSE

Media could promote civic sense by telecasting/broadcasting short clips about positive and negative behaviours. There are quite a lot of useful and impressive videos already available on the internet on civic sense. In one of them, a person spit in front of neighbour’s door. The neighbour cleans it daily and smiles back whenever the guilty one passes by. At last, the guilty person repents and gives up the bad habit. In another, four youngsters dirty a wall. Usually, passersby warn and try to beat the boys and they disappear but reappear soon to start dirtying the wall again. This practice goes on until a boy with civic sense appears. He brings water and duster to cleanse the wall dirtied by the boys. He is soon joined by many passersby in his effort. At last, the trouble-makers too come and help wash/cleanse the wall.

COMPETITIONS ON CIVIC SENSE BETWEEN PERSONS, TOWNS, CITIES

The government and civil society should announce competitions on different aspects of civic sense like cleanliness, courtesy, humility, cooperation, following the law, paying taxes, helping the needy, caring for others, respecting others, tolerance, awareness and sensitivity to others’ rights, sense of duty and service to humanity etc. These competitions could be used to ascertain and reward the person with the best civic sense in offices, departments, institutions, localities. Similarly, this competition could be used to determine the best cities, villages, wards, Union councils, tehsils and districts on any of the above aspects.

BAN ON POLYTHENE BAGS

As regards the abundant use of polythene bags, the government should prohibit the carrying of daily items in plastic bags. The ban is already there but it needs to be implemented.

BAN ON ONE-WHEELING

One-wheeling has resulted in countless tragedies but it, nevertheless, continues. It is not only insensitivity for one’s own but also for others’ lives. Merry-making at the cost of human lives cannot be tolerated.

ACCOUNTABILITY MECHANISM

Government should announce that the shopkeepers and residents of a particular locality would have to dump their garbage at identified points only. It must also ensure that if someone is not throwing garbage in its proper place, he/she will have to pay a specific fine. The administration should bring to book the culprits destroying the natural resources and playing havoc with the lives and peace in society.

 

 

Having A Kindness Revolution

We need to have a kindness Revolution in Pakistan and the world.

It will make the world a pleasant place to live in.

And it will make our lives replete with love, tolerance, spirit of sacrifice, respect and peace -things needed more than any thing else.

Let´s begin with our selves and our home, then expanding our area to our relatives, locality,workplace and all.

 

 

PM, children stats contradictory:SC

وزیراعظم اور بچوں کے بیانات میں تضاد ہے : سپریم کورٹ

پاناما لیکس کیس میں سپریم کورٹ کے لارجر بنچ کے سربراہ جسٹس آصف سعید کھوسہ نے کہا ہے کہ معاملہ استثنیٰ کا نہیں بیانات میں تضاد کا ہے ، جدہ فیکٹری کی ملکیت پر باپ اور بیٹے نے الگ الگ بات کی ، والد سچا ہے یا بیٹا۔ وزیر اعظم نے اسمبلی میں کرپشن کے الزامات کا جواب دیا ، پارلیمنٹ کی کارروائی کو شواہد بنانے کے عدالتی حوالے موجود ہیں۔ اسمبلی میں تقریر پر وزیراعظم کو استثنیٰ حاصل ہے۔ نواز شریف کے وکیل کا مسلسل دوسرے روز اصرار ، عدالت کی جانب سے معاملہ استثنیٰ کے بجائے بیانات میں تضاد کا قرار دے دیا گیا۔ باپ اور بیٹے میں سے کون سچا ہے ؟جسٹس آصف سعید کھوسہ کا وکیل سے استفسار ، عدالت نے ویلتھ ٹیکس کی عدم ادائیگی کو ماضی کا حصہ قرار دیدیا۔ وزیر اعظم کے وکیل مخدوم علی خان نے وزیراعظم کو آرٹیکل 66 کے تحت استثنیٰ پر دلائل دوبارہ شروع کئے تو جسٹس آصف سعید کھوسہ نے ریمارکس دیئے کہ نیوزی لینڈ کی عدالت کا فیصلہ موجود ہے کہ پارلیمنٹ میں بحث کو بطور شواہد استعمال کیا جا سکتا ہے۔ جسٹس عظمت سعید نے کہا آرٹیکل 66 کا استحقاق انفرادی نہیں اجتماعی ہے۔ جسٹس عظمت سعید نے کہا دوسرے فریق کا مو¿قف ہے کہ دوسری پارٹی کا موقف ہے کہ وزیر اعظم کی تقاریر میں تضاد ہے ، وزیر اعظم اور ان کے بچوں کا موقف بھی مختلف ہے۔ جسٹس آصف سعید کھوسہ کا کہنا تھا کہ حسین نواز نے انٹرویو میں کہا کہ جدہ میں انہوں نے فیکٹری لگائی ، والد اور بیٹے نے انٹرویو میں الگ الگ بات کی ، والد سچا ہے یا بیٹا۔ اس پر وزیراعظم کے وکیل نے کہا بیٹے یا باپ میں سے کسی ایک کا سچ ثابت کرنا ہو تو وزیر اعظم کو فارغ نہیں کیا جا سکتا۔

Lessons from Quaid´s Life

Lessons from Quaid´s Life

By Tahir Ali

The nation celebrates the Birth anniversary of Quaide Azam (May Allah grant him the highest of paradises) today. We need to learn from his life.

The Quaid´s life, character and mindset can be summarized as follows.

1. He was a man of great honesty. integrity, intellect and sagacity.

2. He could neither be deceived nor intimidated nor bribed.

3. He was sincere and strongly committed to his nation and cause and did all he could to win Pakistan.

4. He was a great believer in a constitutional, legal and peaceful democratic political struggle. He believed in democracy, freedom, respect of other´s rights and rule of law. He always followed laws and never violated them.

5. He neither believed nor ever resorted to militancy, underground struggle and extremism. He was above narrow religious sectarianism, regional or linguistic tendencies. That´s why all sections of society rallied behind him.

6. He never indulged himself in corruption. Rather, he dedicated all his personal wealth to schools and colleges.

7. He worked with a great passion but with patience. He never abused his political opponents. he was strong and firm but very polite and respectful.

8. He believed in hardwork. He would think before speaking and taking a decision. And once he reached at a decision after careful deliberation, none and nothing could move him from his chosen path.

9. He always took decisions in the light of ground realities and opted for the best possible path open to the nation. He never opted for emotionalism and populism.

10. So, the nation, our leaders and rulers need to learn the ideals of democracy, integrity, honesty, constitutional and peaceful political struggle, respect of rule of law, passion and patience, unity, faith, discipline, hardwork, sincerity, respect for others, tolerance and moderation from his life.

Reflections and Lessons

Reflections and Lessons
PTI Chief Imran Khan’s decision to postpone the lockdown of federal capital Islamabad on November 2 is a welcome step. The Supreme Court of Pakistan earlier gave PTI the much needed face-saving and the government a respite today after it asked the councils of the two parties to submit TORs for the formation of the commission before November 3 or else it will decide on them itself. The nation at large will also find itself at ease at last as the final outcome of PTI’s stubbornness to hold and the government’s strong resolve to stop the Dharna could be devastating for economy and democracy in the country.
Now that tension has subsided for the time being and the law is likely to take its course, there should be a reflection on what was being, and what needs to be, done for the last few weeks. That the Panama Leaks issue and corruption needed to have been addressed earnestly, quickly and comprehensively, no one could deny. A wayout between the opposing viewpoints of the government and opposition on the TORs and modalities of the investigation for the purpose would have been possible if there had been a genuine desire to do that. Unfortunately, the government opted for delaying tactics while the opposition wanted to make it PM-specific which was both immoral and unjust. The important issue of fighting, investigating and eradicating corruption justly and fairly was thus forgotten and made into an issue to settle scores against one’s political opponent (s).
And while the PM and his government could have enacted legislation and sent its own TORs for the commission or written again to the CJP to expedite the process for the formation of the commission, it played its own part in vitiating the political atmosphere by unleashing its media tigers on the equally resolute PTI leadership which had decided to hold a dharna in Islamabad neglecting the security threats facing the country as well as the norms of genuine democratic political struggle
The political leadership of the country will do extreme good to the country’s stability, prosperity and future if it decides to take care of a few principles. One, democracy demands more restraint, respect and sobriety when it comes to human rights. Two, there should be no more repetition of any unsubstantiated accusations. Three, no person can be punished or condemned unless proven guilty. Fourth, no one can be allowed to become an accuser and judge himself. Fifth, in a polity and democracy, it is the judiciary and not street power that is the ultimate third umpire between a plaintiff and an accused. Sixth, decisions of the judiciary must be respected even if it is against one’s expectations. Seventh, democratic forces need to talk in parliament and media and never take to dharnas for a few years to come.
TAHIR ALI

Qital in Pakistan?

Genesis of the Jamaat
Tahir Ali November 30, 2014

http://tns.thenews.com.pk/genesis-of-jamaat-e-islami/#.VaDmAomxVK0 Nov 30,2014

Is Jamaat-e-Islami switching over from its peaceful democratic struggle to violent means to achieve its objectives?

Genesis of the Jamaat
Does Munawar Hasan know the implications of his views?Tahir-Ali2

Addressing last week’s Jamaat-e-Islami’s (JI) annual gathering in Lahore, former JI Ameer Munawar Hasan said that it was beyond the system based on elections to overcome the challenges being faced by Pakistan. “The problems of the society… can only be resolved through adopting and promoting the culture of jihad and qataal in the country. We need to wage jihad in the way of Almighty Allah along with democratic struggle to eliminate oppression and injustice from society.”
Does Munawar Hasan know the implications of his views? Will this qataal be against Pakistani security forces, political and religious leadership, parties or the entire system? Is the state on the wrong side and Taliban on the right or vice versa? Does JI support al-Qaeda?
It is ironical that he was the Ameer of JI and a successor of Maulana Maududi. Did Maududi write his famous book Aljehad Fil Islam on the strategy of qataal in a Muslim society? Munawar Hasan himself has never visited the battlefield himself or allowed his family members to go to the frontline. His assertion is likely to be misconstrued as an invitation/permission for violent reformation struggle.
Munawar Hasan represents a narrative in Pakistan that has many buyers. This narrative looks at democracy and electoral system as a hurdle in change. He dreams of an Islamic revolution, favours use of force to coerce compliance to Shariah, doesn’t accept the state boundaries and believes in Ummah as a political concept, sympathises with militants and considers them Mujahideen, thinks suicide attacks and terrorism are planned and executed by local agencies or Raw, CIA, Blackwater and attributed to Muslims to malign Islam, opposes military operations against militants and urges talks with them and so on.
Also read: The ameer and his party
He is not alone in these views. And there are many reasons — our dysfunctional system of justice and social services delivery system has disillusioned the masses. Private TV channels, intellectuals, religious class and state institutions have played their role to perpetuate and expand this disillusionment. Anti-democracy sentiments have spread especially in religious parties which have traditionally received negligible electoral success. The JUI F talks of democracy, for it has enjoyed sufficient electoral benefits.
JI at a crossroads
Earlier, Munawar Hasan had said that JI shared the same ideology with TTP and that the difference was in the tactics that JI employed. But how could JI, a political party that believes in democracy and constitutional rule within Pakistan, and al Qaeda and TTP, militant violent outfits that work for global khilafat, have same ideology.
Munawar Hasan represents a narrative in Pakistan that has many buyers. This narrative looks at democracy and electoral system as a hurdle in change. He dreams of an Islamic revolution.
There is no room for violent means in the JI strategy. Article 5 of the JI Constitution spells out that for the desired reform and revolution, the Jamaat shall use democratic and constitutional means, i.e., the use of advice and propagation of thought for reforming the mind and character, and preparing public opinion for accepting the desired changes and that this struggle for the realisation of its objectives shall be open and public, and not on the pattern of secret movements.
JI has several advantages vis-à-vis its rivals — discipline, countrywide support, internal democracy and simplicity. Even though Sirajul Haq, Ameer JI, says ballot paper is the only source of power and reformation, JI is at a crossroads. It has to decide whether it prefers the successful peaceful democratic Turkish model or the failed reactionary/violent Algerian and Egyptian models.
It has to decide whether it has to maintain status quo in its targets, ideology, structure and strategy. Or it has to become an ultra right militant group like al-Qaeda and TTP, or it reviews its plans and performances in the light of careful analyses of failure of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and Turkey’s Justice and Development Party, to shape anew its political vision and mission and become a modern party.
Private jihad not allowed
Jihad is not synonymous with terrorism but opinions differ on what constitutes true jihad. For example, al-Qaeda and TTP assert that they fight for Islam; what is jihad for them is terrorism for others. There is no concept of war without state permission. War has only to be declared and managed by the state and government.
Similarly, administration of justice and execution of punishment is also the sole authority of the state. Women, sick people, children, animals, crops and non-combatants cannot be targeted. And desecration of bodies and targeting of religious places is not allowed.
All big religious schools of thought agree over this. There is no exemption for anyone.
Maulana Maududi never approved of jihad by private outfits. He had even outlawed jihad in Kashmir in 1948 for Pakistan had infiltrated private fighters there without any formal declaration of war. Had he been alive, he certainly would not have liked JI’s militant leanings.
Covert war against state(s) having diplomatic relations with Pakistan?
Maulana Maududi refers to Surah Anfaal 8:72, which says that Muslims are not allowed to indulge in secret subversive activities against infidels. He explains: “If we get into a dispute with a nation we are associated in a treaty with, and we realise that dialogue or international arbitration is not helpful in resolving the conflict or that it is bent on using force, it is legitimate for us to use force for its resolution. But this verse makes us morally bound that this use of force should come after clear and open declaration. To undertake covert armed activities, which we are not ready to admit openly, is an immorality which is not taught by Islam.”
Muslim states responsible only for their own citizens
In this verse, it has also been mandated that Islamic state is in no way responsible for the Muslims living outside its border. Maududi explains: “The responsibility of the Islamic states, as per this verse, is restricted to those living inside its borders….thus Islam has uprooted the very dispute that often originates from international complexities because when a country takes it upon itself to support some minorities living in other countries, it creates such anomalies that cannot be even solved by recurrent wars.”
What is Ummah?
Ummah is a spiritual concept but it is unfeasible as a political ideology. Unity is witnessed in Hajj which is a religious gathering. However, when Muslims come together in UN, OPEC, OIC, ECO etc which are political or economic entities, each country tries to safeguard its own interests for the ruler of each is the guardian of his nation who is accountable to/for his subjects. And when religious sects/parties cannot tolerate their rivals in other sects and in political struggle/fields and don’t unite into one, how could they argue for global Muslim Ummah neglecting state boundaries.
Muslims live in different countries and though they have sympathies with Muslims, every state pursues its own national interests first.
Sirajul Haq as a political leader prefers his party interests. As KP Finance Minister, he is not ready to share KP benefits with other provinces. At individual level, a Muslim doesn’t let stranger “Muslim brothers” enter his house or let them construct house on his land. Can he travel to another country without a valid visa issued by the other state from the Muslim ummah? Where is ummah in this equation?
Confusion?
Religious parties are confused over the genesis of terrorism. Terrorism can either be the work of foreigners/non Muslims or of extremists who are unhappy with the foreign policy. It cannot be two things at the same time. If it is the work of the former, there should be no reason to attribute the rise of terrorism to our alliance with the West and to suggest withdrawal from the coalition or talks with them as the prerequisite for peace in the region. And if it is committed by extremists, foreign agencies get automatically absolved of the blame.
Even if, as they say, Pakistan’s alliance with the West is the only reason for terrorism in Pakistan, does this justify the violence perpetrated by the extremists? They are yet to openly declare the TTP’s strategy unjust and un-Islamic.

Tahir Ali
tahir ali
The author is an academic and a freelance columnist. He blogs at tahirkatlang.wordpress.com and can be reached at tahir_katlang@yahoo.com.

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ORIGINAL TEXT OF THE ARTICLE

Jihad and Qital and democracy

By Tahir Ali

Addressing last week’s Jamaate Islami’s (JI) annual gathering in Lahore, Munawar Hasan, Ex Amir JI, ruled that it was beyond the system based on elections to overcome the challenges being faced by Pakistan. “I won’t mince my words in declaring that the problems of the society in which we live can only be resolved through adopting and promoting the culture of Jihad and Qital (war) in the country. “We need to wage Jihad in the way of Almighty Allah along with democratic struggle to eliminate oppression and injustice from society.”

When MH says Jihad and Qital is needed to support democratic dispensation which alone doesn’t suffice to solve problems, does he know what could be the implications of his views? Will this Qital be against Pakistani security forces, political and religious leadership, parties or the entire system? Is the state on the wrong and Taliban on the right or vice versa? Does JI support Alqaeda? Is it legitimate to wage war against Pakistan and its citizens? The nation awaits clarification.

It is ironical he was the Amir of JI and a successor of Maulana Madoodi who was famous for his constitutional mind. Did Maulana Maudoodi write his famous book Aljehad Fil Islam on the strategy of Qital in a Muslim society? And then MH has passed almost his entire life in the peaceful democratic political struggle. He doesn’t seem ever to have visited battlefield himself or allowed his family members to go to the frontline of Qital. Then why this assertion which could be misunderstood by Pakistani youth as an invitation/permission for violent reformation struggle.

By persisting with intermittent statements that often trigger controversies, Munawar Hasan has shown that the leftwing activist in him who joined the National Students Federation – a student body with a communist ideology- and was elected its President in 1959 is very much still there. In NSF, he seems to have contracted an extreme hatred for the ‘US Imperialism’ that still overwhelmingly shapes his thoughts. Whosoever that fights or claims to fight with the US becomes his hero. An acute hatred of this kind often leads one to deviate from the path of justice and fair-play.

Munawar Hasan represents a narrative in Pakistan that has, nevertheless, many buyers here. This narrative looks at democracy and electoral system as a hurdle in change’; dreams of an Islamic revolution; favours use of force to coerce compliance to Shariah; doesn’t accept the state boundaries and believes in Ummah as a political concept; sympathises with  militants and considers them Mujahideen in Allah’s path; thinks suicide attacks and terrorism are planned and executed by local agencies or Raw, CIA, Blackwater and attributed to Muslims to malign Islam; opposes military operations against militants and urges talks with them and so on.

He is not alone in these views. Many do so. Reasons thereof are many. Our dysfunctional system of justice and social services delivery system has disillusioned the masses. Private TV channels, intellectuals, religious class and state institutions played their role to perpetuate and expand this disillusionment. Anti-democracy sentiments have spread enormously especially in religious parties which have traditionally received negligible electoral success. JUI F talks of democracy for it has enjoyed sufficient benefits from its democratic manoeuvres so far.

JI at a crossroads

Earlier, Munawar Hasan had said that JI shared the same ideology with TTP and that the difference was in the tactics that JI employed. But how could JI, a political party that believes in democracy and constitutional rule within Pakistan, and Alqaeda and TTP, militant violent outfits that work for global khilafat, have same ideology, one fails to understand.

There is no room for violent means in JI strategy. Article 5 of the JI Constitution spells out that for the desired reform and revolution, the Jamaat shall use democratic and constitutional means, i.e., the use of advice and propagation of thought for reforming the mind and character and preparing public opinion for accepting the desired changes and that this struggle for the realisation of its objectives shall be open and public, and not on the pattern of secret movements.

JI has several advantages vis-à-vis its rivals like discipline, countrywide support, internal democracy and simplicity. Even though Sirajul Haq, Amir JI, says ballot paper is the only source of power and reformation, JI is at a crossroads. It has to decide whether it prefers the successful peaceful democratic Turkish model or the failed reactionary/violent Algerian and Egyptian models.

It has to decide whether it has to maintain status quo in its targets, ideology, structure and strategy. Or it has to become an ultra right militant group like Alqaeda and TTP, or it reviews its plans and performances in the light of careful analysis of failure of Egypt’s Muslim brotherhood and turkey’s  Justice and Development Party, to shape anew its political vision and mission and become a modern party.

Muslims should obey their rulers

Religion doesn’t prescribe a particular political system but it gives broad principles that the government of the Muslims be formed and run through consultations, that it should be obeyed in all matters except vices, that disobedience to it is a sin and revolt against it is not allowed unless a kufre bawah (open heresy like denouncing Quran or prayer or Haj for example) is witnessed, that baaghi (mutineers) and fasadi (mischief-mongers) will be with dealt severely etc.

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “If someone ever hears some disgusting things from his ruler, he should observe patience because if anyone went out even a hand sized distance from the obedience of his government and died thus, he died in a state of jahiliant (ignorance) [Bukhari 7053]. But if he is ordered to commit a sin, he will neither listen to him nor obey him [Muslim 4763].

 

Private Jihad not allowed

Jihad is not synonymous with terrorism but opinions differ on what constitute true Jihad. For example, Alqaeda and TTP assert that they fight for Islam. What is Jihad for them is terrorism to others. There is no concept of war without state permission. War has only to be declared and managed by the state and government. Similarly administration of justice and execution of punishment is also the sole authority of the state. Women, the sick, the children, animals, crops and Non-combatants cannot be targeted which are. And desecration of bodies and targeting of religious places is not allowed. All big religious schools of thought agree over this. There is no exemption in this principle for anyone. When Allah didn’t even confer on His prophets the right to declare war without first gaining state/sovereign power, how can it be given to the Mujahideen of today?

Maulana Maudoodi never approved of Jihad by private outfits. He had even outlawed Jihad in Kashmir in 1948 for Pakistan had infiltrated private fighters there without any formal declaration of war. Had he been alive, he certainly would not have liked JI militant leanings. It is incomprehensible that MH learnt from his 40plus years of association with Maulana Maudoodi and JI that a culture of Qital needs to be spread in Pakistan. It deserves a better future than being subjected to and degenerated to be like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Labya by recourse to militancy?

Covert war against state(s) having diplomatic relations with Pakistan?

Muslims, in Anfaal 8:72, are not allowed to indulge in secret subversive activities against infidels, what to talk of Muslim governments. Maulana Maudoodi explains: “If we get into a dispute with a nation we are associated in a treaty with, and we realise that dialogue or international arbitration is not helpful in resolving the conflict or that it is bent on using force, it is legitimate for us to use force for its resolution. But this verse makes us morally bound that this use of force should come after clear and open declaration. To undertake covert armed activities, which we are not ready to admit openly, is an immorality which is not taught by Islam.”

Suicide attacks are also wrong and illegitimate from Islamic perspective for in a suicide attack, the attacker kills himself first with his own hands which is prohibited in Islam.

Muslim states responsible only for their own citizens

In this verse, it has also been mandated that Islamic state is in no way responsible for the Muslims living outside its border. Maudoodi explains: “the responsibility of the Islamic states, as per this verse, is restricted to those living inside its borders….thus Islam has uprooted the very dispute that often originates international complexities because when a country takes it upon itself to support some minorities living in other countries, it creates such anomalies that cannot be even solved by recurrent wars.”

Democratic and peaceful struggle

The situation is Pakistan is that to the extent of statute book, all laws (except the interest based bank transactions) are in consonance with traditional Islamic jurisprudence. If our system has failed to deliver it is because the laws are not being rightly followed, plaintiff and defendant lie in courts, witnesses either decline to give testimony or give wrong one, the police is corrupt, the lawyers use delaying tactics and the court officials seek bribes. There is room for improvement but the only way to remove the shortcomings and bring improvement in the government and individuals is the peaceful non-violent way comprising strategies of education, incitement, persuasion, encouragement, giving good tidings and informing/cautioning on vices. The violent strategy for that purpose leads only to disunity, injustices, anarchy and destruction.

Democracy may have its shortcomings but its benefits outnumber its drawbacks. It provides opportunity for gradual improvement. When peaceful change is possible (MMA, PTI mandate) why resort to illegal violent means?

Is coercion allowed?

 

Extremists advocate Jihad increases compliance with Islamic laws. But Muslims are not bound or entitled to force people or governments to come to the right path. Even the prophets of Allah were bound to preach and not to be dictators and force compliance. How could others be? Preaching should be done slowly, gradually, peacefully, affectionately and patiently. All the great Scholars of all Islam- Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Malik, Imam Ahmad, Imam Shafi, Imam Bukhari etc never resorted to armed struggle against Muslim rulers who were more vicious and sinful than the rulers of today.

What is Ummah? Where is Ummah

Ummah is a spiritual concept but it is unfeasible as a political ideology. Unity is witnessed in Hajj which is a religious gathering. However when Muslims come together in UN, OPEC, OIC, ECO etc which are political or economic entities, each tries to safeguard its own interests for the ruler of each is the guardian of his nation who is accountable to/for his subjects. And when religious sects/parties cannot tolerate their rivals in other sects and in political struggle/fields and don’t unite into one, how could they argue for global Muslim ummah neglecting state boundaries. Muslims live in different countries and though they have sympathies with Muslims, every state pursues its own national interests first. Sirajul Haq as a political leader prefers his party interests and as KP finance minister is not ready to share KP benefits with other provinces. At individual level, a Muslim doesn’t let stranger “Muslim brothers” enter his house or let them construct house on his land. Can he travel to another country without a valid visa issued by the other state from the Muslim ummah? Where is ummah in this equation?
Gradual reformation?

Many Islamists who are eager and impatient to bring revolution are confusing two things: first, to desire and work for reformation; two, to be able to realise the dream. While Muslims are asked to work for bringing reformation, they are not bound to ensure it at any cost. They have to work for that and if they fail, they still will be rewarded for their sincere efforts. Forgetting this difference leads one to resort to hasty violent means for achieving objectives.

A collective system and its continuous reformation is the prerequisite for a civilised life but there is disagreement over whether reformation of society should precede that of the political system or follow it. One viewpoint argues when society and its people are reformed, governmental system will improve. The other says a competent and honest government automatically entails a transformed and honest society.

Confusion?

 

Religious parties are confused over genesis of terrorism. Terrorism can either be the work of foreigners/non Muslims or of extremists who are unhappy with the foreign policy. It cannot be two things at the same time. If it is the work of the former, there should be no reason to attribute rise of terrorism to our alliance with the west and to suggest withdrawal from the coalition or talks with them as the pre-requisite for peace in the region. And if it is committed by the extremists, foreign agencies get automatically absolved of the blame.

Even if, as they say, Pakistan’s alliance with the west is the only reason for terrorism in Pakistan, does this justify the violence perpetrated by the extremists? They are yet to openly declare the TTP’s strategy unjust and un-Islamic.

Tahir Ali

The author is an academic and a freelance columnist. He blogs at tahirkatlang.wordpress.com and can be reached at tahir_katlang@yahoo.com

Party versus Jamaat

Party versus Jamaat
Tahir Ali September 28, 2014
http://tns.thenews.com.pk/party-versus-jamaat/#.VCw2s6zOXp8

The job of mediation has brought Sirajul Haq to the centre of mainstream politics, shown his worldview as distinct from the previous amir and exposed the fissures within the party

In the current political stalemate triggered by the Inqilab and Azadi dharnas, Jamaat-e-Islami’s Sirajul Haq, the newly elected agile amir, has taken up the role of a mediator and fire-fighter reminding of the political elder Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan. Facilitating a dialogue between the seemingly uncompromising Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri and the government is a commendable effort has earned him goodwill among the masses. But his efforts are unlikely to succeed for several reasons.

He says he has the solution wherein every stakeholder in the conflict will get something without compromising on their demands. But there are problems here. He has not been authorised by any party in the conflict for he has no stance on certain important aspects of the crisis or hasn’t made it public even if he has.

Does Haq believe the elections were massively rigged as Imran Khan alleges? What is his position on the PM’s resignation? Does he support Khan’s strategy of removing the Khan government through street power or his call for civil disobedience? Does he accept the current crisis is a tussle between forces of status quo or change, or a fight between two viewpoints?

Without having any stand on these and other issues is tantamount to adopting a strategy and a line of action without first having formed a viewpoint on the issue. Unless one has a clear agenda and terms of references for the dialogue and has the courage to shun unwarranted humility and courtesy and neglect party interests that bar you from displeasing or taking sides with or against someone, one cannot be a successful mediator.

Haq, it seems, is in favour of accepting some demands of Khan but is convinced his strategy is wrong. While Haq has made the resignation of PM conditional with the findings of the judicial commission, he hasn’t made his stance public.

JI eyes a coalition with the PML-N in near future. It could even be an ally of the PPP. The current Jamaat is not interested in dharna politics, boycott or resignations from assemblies.

JI eyes a coalition with the PML-N in near future. It could even be an ally of the PPP in future. Khan’s calling the two big parties as corrupt and hands in glove with each other, his being soft on militancy and hard on military operation, and strategy of dharna/mob agitation has similarities with the Jamaat under the late Qazi Husain Ahmad, the former amir of JI. But the current Jamaat is not interested in dharna politics, boycott or resignations from assemblies. Yet it is not opposing Imran Khan.

Some believe JI and PTI are polls apart as far as their objectives, strategies, style and preferences are concerned and dub their coalition as a marriage of convenience. JI workers oppose Khan for his style and strategy privately, though they are reluctant to say it on record for they don’t want to forego their alliance and assembly seats and ministries for that matter.

“Jamaat’s efforts for compromise are laudable but it needs to part ways with the PTI especially after the revelations of Javed Hashmi because JI is for constitutionalism and democracy while PTI is indulging in anarchic politics. Besides, PTI is a liberal party arranging music nights in dharnas while JI is a religious party that observes Hijab day. It doesn’t want, and rightly so, to lose its ministries and assembly seats,” says a political worker wishing anonymity.

Haq, it seems, may also push the Jamaat away from its jihadi paradigm of the 1990s and the radical tendencies of its previous Amir Munawar Hasan to its original preaching, democratic, constitutional paradigm of Syed Abul Ala Maududi era. Maududi never approved of jihad by private outfits without a formal declaration of war by the state.

Even though Haq was embarrassed by Khan when his suggestion to the prime minister of recounting in ten constituencies was disowned by Khan, he can still try to save both Khan and PTI from committing political suicide and the country from economic, social and political threats and losses.

Sirajul Haq also has to decide whether JI is an Islamic movement or a political party. The demands, preferences and strategies of the two are invariably distinct and often conflicting. As an Islamic movement, the entire nation is its audience, so it cannot be a party in a political tussle. As a political party, others are its rivals and it has to take sides and compete with them for its political survival.

Though JI has failed to become a popular political/electoral force, it has had a huge influence on the society, politics and national priorities. In its endeavours to become a popular force, it lost its identity as an ideological religious movement and could not become a big party either. It is because even though Pakistanis respect its social services — JI’s Al Khidmat Foundation is doing commendable work for the temporarily displaced persons in KP — they are not ready to support it as a political party.

Tahir Ali
The author is an academic and a freelance columnist. He blogs at tahirkatlang.wordpress.com and can be reached at tahir_katlang@yahoo.com.
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ORIGINAL TEXT OF THE ARTICLE SENT TO THE NEWS

Mediators in plenty but Confusion galore
Or Appeasement galore

By Tahir Ali

The current political stalemate triggered by the Inqilab and Azadi Dharnas would have long been solved by now had the parties/politicians, including Jamat-e-Islami (JI) and its Amir Sirajul Haq, who are mediating between the federal government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri, preferred national interests over their political concerns and united the nation against the wrongdoers.

Politics is a game of possibilities and an endeavour to gain power. An ally in politics today could be a rival tomorrow. It is not clear who will be the ultimate beneficiary or loser of the crisis but every party/leader hopes of filling the vacuum created by the failure of one party in the conflict or the other. JI too, like other political parties, is entitled thus to hope for the best. When all –government, political-religious parties, media and other stakeholders- are only doing what is beneficial to them, JI current stance seems ambiguous but realistic.

It is tragic there is no fair/bold mediator in the country these days who could call a spade a spade. Mr Haq, the newly elected agile Amir, has taken up the role of mediator and fire-fighter like Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan. Facilitating a dialogue between the seemingly uncompromising Imran Khan (IK) and Tahirul Qadri and the government is a commendable effort which has earned him goodwill among the masses but his effort are unlikely to succeed for several reasons.

He says he has the solution wherein every stakeholder in the conflict will be given a face-saving without compromising on his demands. But there are problems here. He has not been authorised by any party in the conflict for he has no stance on certain important aspects of the crisis or hasn’t made it public if he has any.

In its present shape IK and Pakistan Tehreek-e -Insaf (PTI) both represent a viewpoint and a strategy. The nation needs guidance and clear-cut stand on some issues. Is IK correct in both stand and strategy? If no, he must be opposed and the government supported. If yes, he must be supported and the government opposed. Certain politicians, including Mr Haq, are ambiguous in their stances for they don’t want to annoy one or the other player in the conflict. But though it is bad to have a wrong stand, it is worse to have none either.

Mr Haq hasn’t given his viewpoint on the issue and extent of rigging in election. Does he believe the elections were massively rigged as IK alleges or vice versa? Were the election commission, caretaker governments, returning officers and higher judiciary, Nawaz Sharif, media houses etc involved in rigging or is IK wrong? What is his position on PM resignation? Is IK’s policy/strategy of removing the NS government through street power or his call for civil disobedience, asking for non-payment of taxes and services’ bills correct or wrong or right? Does he accept the current crisis is a tussle between forces of statusquo or change, as IK says, or a fight between two viewpoints: one represented by earlier Taliban and now IK and Qadri –that state institutions are incapable/corrupt so they need to be changed with might (gun in Taliban’s strategy and mob agitation in IK and Qadri strategy) – and two, that this strategy is flawed, will entail chaos and that change should/can be brought only through constitutional and democratic means? He says dialogue is the only solution but what if one side doesn’t believe in it (IK says I won’t wrap up the dharna unless PM Nawaz resigns)? Is it right to equate and treat at par the state and non-state actors both during talks with Taliban and now in Dharna imbroglio as was done by JI? Is it right to remain silent when non-state actors violate law and their commitments and criticise the government when it arrests the violators of law and attackers on parliament? Is it just to say that arrests by government harm the dialogue process but the dialogue is never threatened when the other side attacks the state installations and security personnel? Can a man be an accuser and judge simultaneously? Can someone be condemned or removed merely on an allegation? Does he accept IK’s take on total collapse of state institutions? Does he accept or doubt the London plan or that local/ foreign hands are behind the dharnas? Also, how will change and reform occur –through constitutional means of votes and parliament legislation or by extra-constitutional methods of mob power or the ‘third umpire’? What is to be done if talks and dialogue fail? Shouldn’t the parties collectively oppose the side which is bent on an anti-democratic/extra constitutional agenda and strategy? Is it right to use religion for politics? Do good ends justify bad means or means must also be fair?

Without having any stands on these and other issues is tantamount to adopting a strategy and a line of action without first having formed a viewpoint on an issue or putting the cart ahead of a bullock. Unless one has a clear agenda on, and terms of references for, the dialogue and has the courage to shun unwarranted humility and courtesy and neglect party interests that bar you from displeasing or taking sides with or against someone, one cannot be a successful mediator.
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At present, political expediency is being preferred over demands of national solidarity and constitutionalism. The nation just cannot endure the anarchy, political instability and the constitutional depravity which is at hand if the confrontation lingers on. Those who believe in mob justice and invite towards hatred, lawlessness and violation of laws, even if for good purposes, are promoting chaos. They need to be exposed and opposed.

Mr Haq, it seems, is for accepting some demands of IK but thinks, prima facie, his strategy is wrong. He is against his demand of resignation of PM Nawaz Sharif this is why he has conditioned the resignation of PM with findings of the judicial commission. He however hasn’t made his stance public.

JI eyes a coalition with the PML-N in near future. It could be even partner of PPP in future if one goes by his intimacy with Rehman Malik. Hence

IK’s opinion (of dubbing the two big parties as corrupt and hands in glue with each other and being soft on militancy and hard on military operation) and strategy (of Dharna/mob agitation) has similarities with the JI, especially with that of the Late Qazi Husain Ahmad -ex Amir of JI but JI is not with him for JI seems no more interested in dharna politics, boycott or resignations from elections and assemblies but it is opposing him neither. Some believe JI and PTI are polls apart on their objectives, strategies, style and preferences and dub their coalition as a marriage of convenience. JI workers oppose IK for his style and strategy privately though they are reluctant to say it on record for it doesn’t want to forego its alliance and assembly seats and ministries for that matter.

“JI efforts for compromise are laudable but it needs to part ways with PTI especially after the revelations of Javed Hashmi because JI is for constitutionalism and democracy while PTI is indulging in anarchic politics. Besides, PTI is a liberal party arranging music nights in dharnas while JI is a religious party that observe Hejab day. But perhaps it doesn’t want, and rightly so, to lose its ministries and assembly seats and wants status quo to continue” says a political worker wishing anonymity.

Mr Haq, it seems, may also push JI away from its Jihadi paradigm of the 1990s and the radical tendencies of its previous Amir Munawar Hasan to its original preaching/democratic/constitutional paradigm of Syed Abul Ala Maudoodi era who never approved of Jihad by private outfits without formal declaration of war by the state.

Even though Mr Haq was embarrassed by IK when his suggestion to NS of recounting in ten constituencies was disowned by IK, he can still be effective vis-à-vis IK and he should try to save IK and PTI from committing political suicide and the country from economic, social and political threats and losses. But for this a jirga of all opposition parties, religious scholars, retired judges, generals, journalists, civil society etc should be formed. It should immediately listen to both parties and contemplate over solution in its confidential sessions. Then it should take neutral and rightful decisions. It should ask the parties to behave and if any side continues with its intransigence, it should unite the entire nation against it.

Mr Haq also has to decide whether JI is an Islamic movement or a political party. The demands, preferences and strategies of the two are invariably distinct and often conflicting. As an Islamic movement, the entire nation is its audience, so it cannot be a party in a political tussle. As a political party, others are its rivals and it has to take sides and compete with them its political survival.

Though JI has failed to become a popular political/electoral force, it has had influenced our society, politics and national priorities. In its endeavours to become to a popular force, it lost its identity as an ideological religious movement but couldn’t become a big party either. It is because even though Pakistanis respect its social services -JI’s Alkhidmat Foundation is doing commendable work for the temporarily displaced persons in KP- but aren’t ready to support it as a political party. It is because there is no room for politics based on religion especially after the enactment and enforcement of the 1973 constitution.