The Council of Islamic Ideology is at it again. After suggesting that men should gently beat their wives, it now wants jihad verses to be recited in schools all over Pakistan. According to Maulana Sheerani, this is being done at the behest of the Americans who need mercenaries to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan. We all know what happened the last time when we did something like this. The Soviet Union withdrew its forces from Afghanistan and the Americans abandoned the Mujahideen who hung like a millstone around the neck of the Pakistan establishment.
I have no idea what the views of Nawaz Sharif and General Raheel Sharif are on both pronouncements. But, I certainly know what the PPP and the MQM think about both recommendations, which all sensible people regard as arcane and medieval and which have no other purpose than to incite Muslims to wage a holy war. It is an edge-of-seat irritation for the Foreign Office, which is desperately trying to play down the image of Pakistanis always applying a generous lather of aggression. The Council has plumbed the depths of self-deprecation and has displayed an insouciant conceit in the way it issues edicts with effortless ease without a care for the consequences. Some people have fallen without a trace. The Council has risen without a trace.
I have read a number of editorials and articles in the liberal press on gentle wife-beating. I don’t think the Americans advocated that. In our country it so often happens with people who issue sermons, they hardly ever give details and leave the public to come up with their own interpretations. Of course, the CII recommendation was quite ridiculous, especially in view of the fact that the government is in the process of declaring honour killings murder and passing the Women Protection Bill. I don’t know if the ministries of education in the provinces will follow the instructions of the Council on the jihad bit. K-P and Punjab might, but my province might not. Sindh and to some extent Balochistan have pockets of people who believe in secularism, and I don’t think they would relish the idea of turning students into potential jihadists who might end up as militants.
In an email, a writer pointed out that the members of the Council should set an example by first posting on Facebook pictures of their members gently beating their spouses. And then they should set another example by leading a jihad against the infidel in America who insulted the mother of a Muslim soldier who gave his life for his country — the US. That would give them a real sense of fulfilment. Critics have been asking whether the Council is above the law or if it is acting purely in an advisory capacity. If it is the latter, I don’t think Murad Ali Shah would like another problem on his hands.
Coming back to the US which, unlike Russia, has an unenviable record of deserting its friends, was grossly disliked by the former chief of army staff General (retd) Pervez Kayani. I hold no brief for Kayani, who allowed militants to infest the country and break into splinter groups that operated with calculated mendacity. When a disaster took place, like a truck full of explosives ramming into a five-star hotel in Islamabad which housed some important foreign dignitaries, the public wondered who was going to take responsibility — as if it really mattered. So it was time the Council made some useful suggestions instead of plunging the country back to the 13th century. Besides, has the government taken the only ally it has into confidence? I don’t think the Chinese would be too thrilled with either diktat.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 7th, 2016.
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