Monday, April 24, 2017


A circus of religious terminology and manipulation
Sadiq (the truthful) and Ameen (the trustworthy) were the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)’s attributes, because he was eminently truthful and trustworthy. They became some of the names he was known by, in a society in which people were customarily called ‘Father of so-and-so’, or ‘Keeper of this or that’.
In Pakistan, although originally the constitution called for no such thing, amendments to Articles 62 and 63 in 1973 made being ‘Sadiq’ and ‘Ameen’ requirements for holding legislative office, which effectively disqualifies almost everyone.
Sadiq and Ameen referred to the man who was the Messenger of God. If anyone were to inherit the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)’s job as Messenger of God, a requirement to live up to the same titles would make sense. But inheriting that job is out of the question. So although one might aspire to the Prophet (PBUH)’s values, it makes little sense to make his attributes a legal condition, now, for other public office, for other people. In any case, what is the litmus test, and who is to administer it? Therefore let’s give the circus a rest. This bandying of religion and so called religious terminology is sickening and nothing but deliberate manipulation of public sentiment since we have a public that is happy to accept that manipulation and is all too often unable to detect it. Although in fact, most publics everywhere are not too different.
This government has been attempting to purge those amendments from Articles 62 and 63, since once these requirements are removed those Articles can no longer be used as a tool to prosecute legislators for not coming up to scratch, in the sense of Sadiq and Ameen. A committee headed by Zahid Hamid has been deliberating the matter. It is another matter that the sudden desire for such a purge is like Richard Nixon trying to change the rules concerning obstruction of justice after Watergate became public. You wonder if that committee headed by Mr. Hamid will carry on its deliberations now that we have been informed that the PM is neither Sadiq nor Ameen.
Raise your hands, all those who ever thought he was.
No one?
Aww, that’s just too bad.
Politicians are good at manipulating public sentiment using words the public is comfortable with, which explains Donald Trump’s limited vocabulary, his willingness to honour the ‘dumb’ Australian deal, and his pronouncement that “It’s a very, very terrible thing that is going on in the world today.” Such language is one of the factors that led to his election, but not for the reasons that most people think.
Sarah Sloat mentions an article by Philip Roth in The New Yorker, where Roth equated Donald Trump’s limited vocabulary with ignorance, since vocabulary has traditionally been an indicator of intellectual acumen, or its absence. “But”, Sloat says, “It has become increasingly apparent to researchers that a non-expansive vocabulary isn’t necessarily the sign of a failing mind; rather, it might be the hallmark of a person sly enough to hook his listeners and persuade them using only a few words.” She says “An analysis by The New York Times found that Trump frequently repeats the same divisive words — like “stupid,” “horrible”, and “weak.” By means of this repetition she says, the “speaker guarantees that his audience walks away with his most important points in mind.” She also says that by using few words liberally sprinkled with cuss words, Trump wants the audience “to feel like he’s one of them. And that level of manipulation is anything but dumb.”
Well we’ve known this for years. Here, words or phrases that smack of Arabic will have the greatest impact. They need make little or no sense. We’ve had the ‘Tauheen e Risalat’ laws which no one dares touch because people kill to protect them, no matter how much our beloved Rasool (PBUH) condemned killing. There are the precious Sharia laws, although no word is more loosely defined than ‘Sharia’: what that is, whose Sharia it refers to, and how that applies to present times is yet nebulously understood.
Since it seems to be sufficient to give something an Arabic name to make it inviolate it can’t be long before all – rather than just the optional few – car number plates will be required to carry the words ‘Al-Bakistan’ along with the registration number, and it will be against the law to scrap old plates because it would be Tauheen e Risalat, and the constitution will be amended to say so. Unless of course the Ruet e Hilal committee says it’s okay, and then we can go ahead and chuck them, but only before the first session of the Majlis e Uzma, and after the Adalat e Aalia has been convened.

Saturday, April 15, 2017


When talk is cheap and action non-existent

Because what can you say in the face of Mardan?
Sometimes things are bleak beyond tears. The brutal, horrific murder of young Mashal, a student at Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan, is one such. What do you say when young people upon whom your hopes were pinned as – perhaps – the bearers of change for the better, turn out to be more bestial and bigoted than their elders? If any of the many young men who beat Mashal their fellow student to death, read this, I hope they will think of what they and their mobster friends have done, just think. They not only turned upon their own, rejected the teachings of peace, compassion and tolerance contained within the creed they claim to subscribe to, but they inflicted immeasurable agony upon another human being and his loved ones, surely the thing condemned above all in Islam. They also presumed to tread upon the territory of God…whom they pretend to worship…by pronouncing judgement in a sphere that belongs to God alone. Did you see, they actually forced Mashal to recite the Quran before torturing and killing him? Did they see, do we see, that almost every verse of the Holy Quran begins with the words ‘In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful’? Does anyone understand what that means? My God, this has to stop, this spouting of the ‘b’ word. My heart goes out to Mashal who is now beyond fear and pain, and to his family who has a lifetime to live through it. And to this country whose men made up that vicious, murdering mob of…surely it is too kind to call them men.
Where is this country headed when such things can happen? What is behind this?
Young people need something to do. They need to keep not just their hands but their minds busy. It is in the natural order of things. And when they do not find these things they drag a project out from under a stone to involve themselves in, whatever that project may be. And this is what allows them to play right into the hands of people who need ‘martyrs’, or a mob to carry out their distorted mission whatever that is. It is this instinct that is used to gain support both for wonderful projects and for utterly devastating ones, such as this event in Mardan.
Imran Khan tweeted: “Am in touch with KP IG since last night on condemnable lynching of student in Mardan. Firm action necessary. Law of the jungle can’t prevail.”
No it shouldn’t prevail, but it does. Nor should this mindset prevail, but it does. Nor should young persons be so readily available to do the dirty work for murderers. Please condemn the mindset as well as the breaking of the law, the law of man and of God. Humanity has also been killed here.
We need an organised effort to harness this energy among the young and direct it towards something constructive, failing which they will expend it in acts of vandalism and violence, in anything that makes them feel part of a group, participating in what they are taught is the grander, larger scheme of things. We really need remedial action.
Clubs. I know that sounds gratingly out of context in the current context, as would be the mention of Jacuzzis following a death by drowning, but it is not. The word gets a rise out of people because they associate it with something frivolous and bad. Well, like everything else clubs can be relaxing, or they can run on a scale from pointless to outright debauched. But others can be constructive and productive, and useful and one should possess the understanding to perceive the difference. Clubs can and do exist for young people as places where they can read, meet each other and gain information, take part in activities and sports, and achieve something. They are in short a way of bringing young people together and harnessing the younger generation’s boundless energy and new ideas, which can seldom be harnessed at home, except where the family is unusually active and enlightened.
Education is crucial, but it is as important to provide avenues for using it, along with better attitudes and values, otherwise education is like painting your front door and leaving the rest of the house knee deep in muck.
There are clubs that help young people participate in social work. They aim to motivate young people to educating society and fostering literacy. Communities need and can use young people, to construct buildings, paint walls, teach school, dig drains, run radio stations, television shows, to cook and distribute food for the needy and run fund raising drives. Instead of allowing them to do little beyond pose for selfies and dress up. Not using this huge source of power is like a senseless reliance on nothing but WAPDA in the presence of boundless solar energy, like using solar energy for nothing but bombs.
Mr. Khan I appreciate your twitterings. But if you can expend as much energy into keeping young minds constructively occupied as you did with your hospital then you will have succeeded as a politician and a visionary, something that is not happening at present.