Secular or theocratic: State needs to deliver

Would you call those who form the Pakistani state "true Muslims"? I wouldn't.

Umair Rasheed December 16, 2010
The discourse on the secular versus religious state in Pakistan is almost always based on the personal alignments of the debaters. Routinely missed out though are the hard facts about the actual actors – people and institutions.

If the average citizen is asked to describe in one word those who form this state, one can rest be assured that it wouldn’t be pious, modest, honest or trustworthy – the presumable attributes of momins and true Muslims.

The state structure has its roots in the Delhi sultanate and then the Mughal Empire, which was established by Muslims from Central Asia. The true foundation, however, was laid by the British crown. Except for a few statutes introduced after partition to give it a semblance of Islamic character, most of what forms the constitution of the Islamic republic is derived from the Government of India Act of 1935.

Be it the armed forces, parliament, bureaucracy or judiciary, all institutions of this so-called Islamic state are knee-deep in corruption allegations - from French submarines to missing persons and from Hajj scams to judicial murders.

Then, there is a Council of Islamic Ideology, a ministry of religious affairs and the Federal Shariat Court (FSC), with their bread-and-butter linked to the theocratic project. I have yet to come across a single service these institutions have rendered towards Islam or for Muslims. For example, the FSC ruling which declared land reforms un-Islamic disregards the fact that the biggest impediment to overcoming rural poverty is landlessness.

Because religion has always been portrayed as the overriding influence in state affairs, the custodians of the Islamic-republic trademark owe us an explanation for this "un-Islamic" conduct of the people and institutions that make up the Islamic state. Be it secular or theocratic, the state cannot continue to be unrepresentative, totalitarian and oppressive.

Umair Rasheed Works at the Lahore desk of The Express Tribune and tweets @umairrasheed1
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


zaigham | 13 years ago | Reply @Awais Farid Khan: you are right. we have to first prepare the people and then carry from their on. as for Quaid i din't mean that since his stance was secular we should forget it. The problem is liberals tend to portray QUaid as secular minded while conservatives portray him as opposite. My point was that, it doesn't matter now what his dream was 60 years ago. His priorities as not really relevant as we have new problems and need a solution that can solve them.
Awais Farid Khan | 13 years ago | Reply @ Zaigham Do you know what institutions are made of? I read the blog and my point is that instead of focusing on the laws and policies of institutions, our government should focus on the education. We already have enough laws. When i say educated people it does'nt mean the people like you and me. We do have the degree of medicine or engineering or business but we donot know our rights. We donot know our own direction. Our mind is corrupted by western propoganda and our actions are resstricted by our elites. Institutions will become strong when the people become educated and they know their rights.Corruption does'nt grow overnight. But corruption goes unpunished only when people only do what they are told. How many of us stood against the tyrany of previous governments? I did not raise my voice in the streets but only wore black ribon on my arm. Institutions are made of people. I am really frustrated by my people. We were ready to stand together for iraq war but when came a time to stand for the institutions our minds were being corrupted by media & govt. Our caliphs were religious leaders as well as generals of the arm forces. However i thing i agree with you. Quaid's job was to create a piece of land where we can live under the protection of islamic laws. Now its our duty, the future leaders of Pakistan, to make our people to realise this. @ umair we have to know one thing ie there is no such thing as secularism. Those who say that their state is secular they are wrong. All the current laws used by different states were influenced by the religion in the first place. Even in America, their one dollar bill has a quotation "In god we Trust". Reliogion was, is and will remain an important tool of ruling class. what we need to do is to create a balance of the use of religion. The middle path is the right path. You and me disagree with the mulahs because of their interpretation of the religion not the religion itself. The real question is why do we need to follow their interpretation in the first place? Becasue to confirm the truthfulness of an idea or a philosophy or a history is not the part of my people's nature. We donot research. We need to break the pyramid cycle and create an inverted social pyramid.
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