It All Started With…

Obaidullah Khan

Some of us might have heard the story of the young apprentice who was sent to a renowned healer of that time in a far away village to master the art of healing and could become a source of blessing for his village where no healer was available.

The first patient they attended together was suffering from abdominal problem. The healer checked the pulse and while observing the surroundings he saw some grains of chickpeas under the patient’s bed. He asked the patients whether he ate chickpeas last time. His speculation got confirmed and the healer suggested the medicine and the patient became healthy again. While returning the apprentice told him that he had learned a lot during that visit and had already mastered the art of healing enough and wanted to go back to his village to serve his fellow villagers. The healer, quite surprised, tried his best to convey that he was not ready at all and would play havoc with his patients but all his efforts were futile and the newly self claimed healer went back to his village. The villagers were astonished and delighted at the same time to hear that he became a healer in such a short time. The first patient he faced was having stomach ache too. He very carefully checked under the bed and found a horse saddle there. He immediately declared that the patient ate the saddle last time and that was the reason behind his stomach ache. He was not able to call himself a healer ever after.

This is just a funny story. But this also highlights that to cure a disease the cause behind its initiation is quite relevant. Today Pakistan is going through some testing times and its survival is at stake. Our truthful journalists like Raza Rumi are under attack to silence the voice of truth that could confront with the fallacy and ignorance. The latest incident in which the life of the renowned human rights activist from Multan Rashid Rehman was taken by the same mindset who is attacking the core of the state and its institutions to shun truth and enlightenment. But the poignant question is whether we are ready yet to learn the lesson or not. But first things first, we must know the source of all this evil and how it started to infiltrate our once peaceful and tolerant society. To fathom this we have to dig the past and rummage through the history to find out what was the wrong turn we took that led us to the present state of affairs. This turn is not the era of 80s and its dictatorship but the decade of 70s and 80s were just a downfall that was the first milestone came after the wrong turn. Yes this was the year 1974 when our state interfered in the faith matters of her subjects by none other than our national, political and democratic icon Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto through democratic means via parliament and amended e constitution to declare who is a muslim and who is an infidel. Just for the sake of political gains it was all to appease a certain group of clergymen who had nothing but mere nuisance value in the name of religion. In return only nuisance value got promoted and no political gains could be earned. Many would call it chance but I certainly do not see it as a mere chance, that after all of these, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the constitution, parliament and democracy soon perished. Even today the constitution, the parliament and the democracy could not find their due place and standing in Pakistan. Today only nuisance value counts in this country and nothing else. The main problem is that this is not just “A” nuisance value but branded with the label of religion that is the worst kind of nuisance to play havoc with.

There are some certain limits to keep a state intact and strong. There are some red zones that belong to the state machinery and some belong to the citizens. For the state, the most important is her writ. No citizen, individually or collectively should cross this red line. But on the other hand religion of the citizens is equally important red zone where a state must not interfere or cross this limit. Both of these norms must be respected otherwise the state loses its authority and chaos and lawlessness follow as a natural consequence.

In 1974 our state did cross this red line and not only interfered in the faith matters of its citizens but also attempted to decide the religion of the citizens by enforcing a divine phenomenon through its writ and officially snatched away the fundamental right of the freedom of religion from a faction of the society. Indeed this faction was deemed to be an insignificant one. It was thought that a minor injustice and restriction on a limited people, who had no political significance or nuisance value, would do no harm to the majority or the state. Miserably the target proved to be not that faction only but the rule of law and justice as well. Consequently nuisance values got encouraged but justice and rule of law got curbed.

As the famous quote of Martin Luther King Jr. “a threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere;” the very same political leader became the first victim of the upcoming injustice. Now even after 40 years, not only the citizens but now our prime institutions are seeking justice but all they find is just a mirage. Then the constitution that has become the concubine for every tom, dick and harry who wants to rule this country by hook or by crook. The same media who remained silent over that injustice has now become target of the very same plague that broke out in 1974. And now, with the murder of Rashid Rehman the remaining system of justice is now on its death bed. While our state is on the verge of annihilation our political leaders are still fighting for their reigns and power game in the name of the same constitution that is the source of all the discrimination in the name of religion. But what good could be expected from these political zombies who are walking as the living do but are dead inside. The only way forward is left to us, is to leave the path of discrimination in the name of religion at all levels and pull the state from the red zone of the faith of its citizens by cleansing our constitution. This will certainly prove to be a panacea through which our state could earn its writ, justice, rule of law etc. otherwise infidel societies can survive but unjust cannot.

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