"Sharia" in Malakand: Another stab in Pakistan's heart

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

Once again the Pakistan People’s Party has disappointed its followers. And once again Awami National Party has made the worst compromise possible. For PPP it a is a throwback to the 1970s when the same configurations had delivered an “Islamic” constitution and ultimately an amendment that turned Ahmadis into Non-Muslims overnight. All this was done in the name of Islam by a party which otherwise prided itself on being liberal. For ANP it harks back to when its forerunner the Indian National Congress  encouraged the Islamic clergy in the name of Khilafat.

This time the scene is NWFP. Sharia has been enforced by the “Secular” ANP in Malakand division. Yet another bunch- the MMA- has hailed this as the fulfillment of the ideology of Pakistan. How ironic that the antecedents of ANP and the MMA had largely opposed the creation of Pakistan and had opposed Jinnah on several grounds inter alia that he was too secular and irreligious. Yet today they are harking back to the ideology of Pakistan to justify their act of ultimate compromise.

The truth is that Jinnah’s approach was secular though he did at times appeal to Islamic principles of equality, fraternity and social justice largely to give the religious multitudes of Pakistan a religious justification for his vision of an egalitarian and pluralistic republic. It is also true that Jinnah had promised Pir of Manki Sharif in a letter that laws of Pakistan would not be in conflict with sharia and that Muslim community’s matters shall be governed by Islamic law. As a lawyer he saw general principles of Islamic jurisprudence working as complementary to Pakistan’s English legal system, especially when it came to personal law. The English legal system had worked harmoniously with communal codes of India at large and Jinnah hoped no doubt that in the Muslim majority state would continue that tradition of English Legal System.  As a liberal and westernized Muslim born in the Aga Khani Ismaili school of minority shiaism,   Jinnah could not imagine Islam being in conflict with modernity and human rights.

The imposition of a selective and retrogressive interpretation of Islam as a parallel system to the constitution and legal system of the country in any part of the country is in contravention to the very idea of Pakistan as an enlightened and modern state that it was envisaged by its founding father. It is a break-away from the liberal Muslim national consciousness that rose up atop twin planks of modernity and women’s empowerment which ultimately led to the creation of Pakistan. The protagonists of this retrogressive system are the same people who opposed the creation of Pakistan tooth and nail. It is also designed to malign the good name of Islam by enacting archaic and backward laws in its name. It is the patriotic duty of every Pakistani and Muslim to oppose this opportunistic implementation of selective laws designed to malign Pakistan and Islam alike.

Comments are closed.