VIEW: Post-Osama Pakistan —Nizamuddin Nizamani
The crisis stands as being pathetically mishandled. The ruling elite in Pakistan seems to be busy in the blame game and shifting of responsibility. The civilian government is giving the pretext of being in power for only three years and is blaming the Musharraf regime and its predecessors
A prolonged global, religio-political and strategically mind-boggling suspense drama reached its natural climax a week back but has left a mixed impression in the East and West. People in the US celebrated and took a sigh of relief, while in the Muslim world a mixed reaction was seen. The people of Pakistan seemed shocked at the very presence of Osama bin Laden on their soil on the one hand and the surprisingly sophisticated operation to kill him on the other. Although some people take this as the end of a violent era, the modus operandi of the American operation and either the unwillingness or the incapability of the Pakistani forces inside the heart of the military garrison town, have caused some level of demoralisation, sense of insecurity and disillusionment about the defence of the country. Pakistanis as a whole were very proud of the defence forces for the perpetual claims and heroic stories narrated regarding the three wars with India, credit for the dismemberment of the Soviet Union and the acquiring of the much celebrated Hatf, Ghauri and Shaheen missiles with the epitome of their success being the development of nuclear weapons.
Although the drone attacks were initially criticised in the media, in the end the public was successfully convinced to be silent as they were projected as strategic cooperation with the US. The complacent patriotic public was literally shocked by what happened on May 1, 2011. Some still wishfully take it as a farce based on the lack of evidence, live videos and dead body, and consider it as one face saving strategy by the US to pull out of Afghanistan. But those knowing the gravity of the situation, after the Osama debacle, are not worried about the Abbottabad operation but its aftershocks, resulting in many revelations that have been exposed due to the commando operation.
Mindful people in Pakistan are worried about what is in store for this country and how it is going to affect their lives. They know it does not augur well.
The crisis stands as being pathetically mishandled. The ruling elite in Pakistan seems to be busy in the blame game and shifting of responsibility. The civilian government is giving the pretext of being in power for only three years and is blaming the Musharraf regime and its predecessors. Hussain Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador to the US, has not defended Pakistan. Opportunistic anchors and media channels, that supported jihad and praised Osama bin Laden in his heyday, disowned him after his death and instead presented derogatory remarks to exonerate themselves.
There is no denying the fact that bin Laden could not have taken refuge without the tacit approval of individuals within powerful echelons for either money or spiritual loyalty to Osama’s philosophy. Now the one million dollar question is: what should our future strategy be to compensate for the trust deficit created with the international community?
Primarily, religious education must be transformed. Religion taught civilisation but, unfortunately, religious beliefs ended up as being the single factor of rift and division among mankind. Its misinterpretation has created fanaticism and intolerance, lethal for coexistence. The Muslim youth has been brainwashed to do away with the present life, treat it as worthless and instead prepare for life in the hereafter. The easy shortcut to paradise is jihad and becoming a martyr with a guaranteed passport to heaven. This kind of indoctrination should be banned and the state should ensure modern education to such groups.
Secondly, there seems to be a dire need for ijtihad (religious discourse and debate), on many Quranic ayaat (verses) and ahadith (sayings of the Prophet (PBUH)) prone to misinterpretation. The clergy has been selective while interpreting a few ayaat and ahadith in the background of time and space but ignoring the parameters of others. They allow Muslim males to marry Christian or Jewish females as being ahl-e-kitab (followers of the divine books). Simultaneously, they emphasise that yahood-o-nasara (Jews and Christians) are the archenemies of Islam. They do not consider the time and space of such sayings. They do not press the Prophet’s (PBUH) teachings such as “Lakum deenukum waliya deen” (unto you is your religion and unto me is my religion). A political will can reverse this process, as whenever the state planned and took the clergy onboard, they came out with the required ayaat and ahadith to serve the collective purpose — population and drug controls are good examples.
Third, the electronic media must be regulated to filter out hate speech and indoctrination through provocation. The Hamid Gul brand of think tanks should be advised to retire for good. They should go for perpetual prayers to prepare for the life hereafter. Fourth, the defence forces should be purged of alleged disgruntled individuals, and they should be respectfully retired to civilian life, away from sensitive strategic decision-making. Fifth, those who believe in peace and coexistence should not be blamed as being enemy agents and, instead, should be taken onboard in decision-making. Sixth, the perpetual fallacy that Pakistan is in danger from external enemies must be shunned. We need to repair our home. Dangers lie within, not outside. Prolonged issues and conflicts with religious and ethnic minorities must be addressed with a mindful strategy. Lastly, we need to unlearn our sense of superiority and learn to live and let live in peace with all countries including Afghanistan, Iran, the US, India and even Israel. Otherwise, we are bound to be either isolated and in trouble from vengeful forces or land in the morass of self-pity for good.
The writer holds a master’s degree in social sciences and is a professional trainer, researcher and peace activist. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org