Of closed minds

Council of Islamic Ideology that Mr Sherani lords over is a dinosaur way past its extinction life


Fahd Husain May 28, 2016
CII chairman Maulana Sherani. PHOTO: FILE

While we wish Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif a successful and swift recovery from his open heart surgery, we also wish fellow Pakistanis like Maulana Muhammad Khan Sherani could benefit themselves — and us — from an open mind surgery.

In fact, were an open mind surgery procedure to be invented by modern medical science to cleanse people’s thinking of noxious ideas and warped mentality, the line of candidates from our homeland would run into tens of miles. The events of the week that was would vouchsafe for this sad reality.

Nothing but an open mind surgery could cure the likes of Maulana Sherani of the fear of women. The good Maulana’s latest droppings of wisdom elicit a strange mixture of laughter and loathing, derision and depression, mirth and misery. The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) that Mr Sherani lords over is a dinosaur way past its extinction life. A parliamentary meteor can do the needful and cure us of this ailment, but that meteor is yet to find its rightful orbit — or trajectory. In fact by a strange and rather unfortunate twist of events, the meteor which could have rid us of this particular dinosaur has completely veered of the path. The dinosaur is safe. It’s actually quite simple: Sherani is Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s nominee, and the chairmanship of the CII was gifted to him by the prime ninister as a political bribe in return for Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s support in the early days of the government. That was then.

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But events moved on. Operation Zarb-e-Azb happened, then APS happened, then the National Action Plan happened and suddenly Maulana Fazlur Rehman and other assorted clerics were no longer the political flavour of the month. As public opinion changed against the terror outfits, so did it against their sympathisers and closet supporters donning religious robes. Madrassa reform suddenly become a serious issue and for a while it seemed even the government was ignoring the feeble protestations of men like Maulana Fazlur Rehman. Could it be a matter of time before the good Maulana was relegated to a position more suited to his parliamentary strength, and could the CII be cured of Mr Sherani?

Right. As it turned out, Panama Leaks happened. Then the prime minister’s political isolation happened. Then serious political and moral pressure happened. And Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s good luck happened. At a time of extreme distress for the prime minister, Maulana Fazlur Rehman came to his unequivocal aid — except there’s no such thing as equivocal aid. And so while the lrime minister and his colleagues are in debt of the Maulana for throwing his considerable weight behind the government, they also know this: madrassa reform is as good as thrown out of the window. Maulana Sherani is here.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

And not just of more mischief that the good maulana could do. The severe intelligence-deficit and compassion-deficit that is on display among many on the social media in response to the announcement of the prime minister’s surgery is truly frightening. The mega-crisis of our educational system manifests itself in the shape of such Einsteins vomiting their idiocy all over Twitter and Facebook. Open mind surgery would be a true gift for them.

As would it be for those whose political loathings trump their self-declared sense of political maturity. Panama Leaks is supposed to lead to a system of accountability that nabs white collar criminals and plugs in loopholes within our financial pipeline. It’s not supposed to wreck the delicate democratic set-up by trying to throw out the prime minister any which way possible. But that’s exactly what many in the opposition are aiming to achieve through the ‘Get Sharif’ campaign underway. Their blind ambition betrays a myopia that fails to disguise a truly alarming realisation: a shocking inability to shoulder the burden of legitimacy.

A fantastic fear of women

Yes this burden of legitimacy is a heavy one; yes it demands the near impossible task of living up to the expectations of an impatient electorate while working within the institutional constraints of democracy; yes it requires the tightrope walking between tough decisions and prospects of re-election; and yes it absolutely necessitates indulging in patronage politics while attempting to serve people without discrimination — but what is also true is that when the balance is skewed towards self-aggrandisement, this burden of legitimacy can crush the moral authority of electoral legitimacy.

Every scandal adds another mountain of tonnage to this weight. Panama Leaks has painted everyone in dark shades of muck. The list of those who have offshore accounts, who have evaded and avoided taxes, who have not repaid loans, who have whitened un-white money, who have benefited from SROs and insider information and who have influenced state policy to line their own deep pockets is indeed a long list of all those who have or do shoulder the burden of electoral legitimacy. Repeated military takeovers have not cured their political thought process, and neither has a rising tide of public expectation and demands for a better life in return for their vote. And yet, the ailment persists. Is open mind surgery the only option?

For why else would the prime minister not make his financial records public? Why else would his attack men go after the Shaukat Khanum hospital instead of answering questions that need to be answered about their boss’s finances? Why else would the PPP pretend to be a crusader against corruption when it has set new standards for corruption? Why else would the PTI prefer to wreck anything and everything in order to bring the prime minister down? Why else would Imran Khan continue to pin his hopes on the third umpire? Why else would politicians of every shade jump into the Panama Leaks fray without realising that it is petty personal political vendettas that are defining the scandal instead of a genuine desire to reform the system?

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An open mind surgery might enable the politicians to see the forest for the trees. An open mind surgery, similarly would enable our Establishment to realise that Mullah Akhtar Mansoors of the world are not what this country needs at this point — and it may enable the high command to realise the absolute folly of pursuing a policy premised on duplicity, deceit and double standards. There’s really no point in trying to be clever when the whole world knows you’re trying to be clever and not being able to. If repeated policy failures, repeated blowbacks on our society and repeated damages to our ties with friends and neighbours have not convinced our high command of the futility of such an approach, then perhaps only an open mind surgery can.

Social science has clearly failed us. Can medical science help?

Published in The Express Tribune, May 29th, 2016.

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COMMENTS (8)

Motiwala | 5 years ago | Reply Look at it any which way. Master Sharif and his people need to go. They have made $ Millions [US].of dollars. Time to leave. Their loot will last their generations. Time to pack up their bags. They have been looting for 35 years.
Azzy | 5 years ago | Reply @Bunny Rabbit: They are already lobotomized by the madressah they went to.
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