COMMENT: Zaid Hamid goes to court — Mohammad Taqi
The petition itself, though littered with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, is poisonous drivel supposedly to terrorise into silence the journalists, media persons and activists associated or thought to be associated with SAFMA
Never a dull moment in the land of the pure, is there? Just as one is about to look past a real or made-up disaster, new tomfooleries appear on the horizon. A certain Syed Zaid Zaman Hamid has now declared war on the Pakistani liberal intelligentsia. More specifically, Sir Zaid — as his followers affectionately and reverently call him — has announced a legal battle against the South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA) though a constitutional petition filed in the Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan. Ordinarily one might have shrugged and moved on but then Sir Zaid is no ordinary human.
In the petition, filed through that champion of constitutional and judicial supremacy, Sahibzada Ahmad Raza Khan Kasuri, Hamid identifies himself as one of the 500 most influential Muslims around the world. His 164-word introduction enumerates Hamid’s accomplishments as a defence analyst, geopolitical strategist, an intellectual and a scholar of international repute who, inter alia, has ‘very actively worked in the Afghan Jehad from 1986-1992’. Studies produced by his think-tank Brass Tacks are “read and acknowledged by friendly countries, national and international media and national security organisations like Pakistan armed forces and Intelligence agencies.” Now who exactly and in what armed forces agency acknowledges whatever is put out by Brass Tacks is for the ISPR to clarify.
Timed to appear along with the petition was the following salvo on Hamid’s blog and Facebook page: “Allahu Akbar!!!! Today, we have filed a Petition in the Supreme Court against SAFMA for High Treason against Pak Sarzameen (land), its sacred ideology, its beloved founding fathers and waging a war against Pak Sarzameen, armed forces and our freedom on behalf of the enemies. We have demanded Death Penalty under article 6 High Treason law for All SAFMA leaders, members and supporters like Imtiaz Alam, Marvi Sermed, Najam Sethi, Hamid Mir, Asma Jahangir, Hasan Nisar, Khaled Ahmed, Beena Sarwar, Nusrat Javed and Ali Chishti!
Now these snakes will be dragged to the court and confronted with their crimes against Pak Sarzameen InshAllah. Thousands of Pakistanis have joined hands alhamdolillah to expose and confront these snakes and now the Petition has been filed in the Supreme Court! By Allah, we will defend our Medina e Sani, its sacred ideology, its geography, its armed forces and our freedom! [Sic].”
The petition itself, though littered with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, is poisonous drivel supposedly to terrorise into silence the journalists, media persons and activists associated or thought to be associated with SAFMA. It takes a convoluted approach to basically posit that the respondents have allegedly been undermining M A Jinnah and Allama Iqbal’s message, the two-nation theory, the ideology of Pakistan and above all the ‘glory of Islam’, at the behest of India, and thus portend an existential risk to Pakistan’s national security. It makes full use of the Ziaul Haq-inducted clauses of the constitution and asks for first restraining these journalists and activists and then trying them for sedition. While not explicitly sought, the implication of invoking Article 6 is that the named and unnamed individuals thus be physically eliminated.
Hamid has specifically asked the court that under Article 19 of the constitution, the free speech of the individuals he has named should be restricted in the “interest of the glory of Islam, integrity, security or defence of Pakistan or any part thereof, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court.” On his blog and in his various media appearances, Hamid has expressly described what he means by the “glory of Islam”. He wrote on his blog: “Our destiny is Ghazwa e Hind NOT aman ki asha! They spread vulgarity, filth, Hinduism, pornography, Hindu culture, dance and music within our youth.” Hamid has based this on a single Hadith, which appears in the only an-Nasai compilation of the Hadith: “A group of you will conquer India, Allah will open for them (India) until they have come with its kings chained — Allah having forgiven their sins. When they return back (from India), they will find ibn Maryam (Jesus) in Syria.”
Interestingly, it is not just the secular elements of SAFMA who differ with Hamid’s concept of the glory of Islam by waging war on India in the purported ‘Ghazwa-e-Hind’. Respected Islamic scholars have a broad range of points of view on this Hadith. Some like Javed Ghamidi consider it a weak narration, which like many other fabricated ones was inducted in the corpus of Hadith to suit the political plans of the Ummayads when they wanted to invade India. The late Dr Israr Ahmed held another view that the Muslim invasion of India prophesied in the narration has already taken place. He had stated in his lectures that the Ghazwa-e-Hind could have been either Mahmud Ghaznavi or Muhammad Bin Qasim’s invasion of India. Allama Dr Tahirul Qadri holds yet another view that the tradition is part of the signs of the end of time and the forecast invasion will actually be by armies originating not in Pakistan but from the Arab lands. Then there is the view of the Ahl-e-Hadith, expressed some time back in the periodical Muhhaddis, which categorically rejects this narration as concocted. The Shia books of Hadith make no mention of such a prophecy at all. I am confident that the seasoned ulema of the various schools of thought would feel duty-bound to appear before the court to present their expert opinion when asked by the court and/or SAFMA.
Zaid Hamid also claims to be an expert on Iqbal’s vision and poetry and has charged SAFMA with undermining Iqbal’s message. I am sure it is not lost on Hamid that four of Iqbal’s books — two each in Persian and Urdu — came out after the word Pakistan was coined in 1932-33. It is interesting that Iqbal has used the word Pakistan not even once in his poetry! Also, Iqbal’s poetry is replete with tributes to non-Muslims and especially many Hindus including Motilal Nehru and Jawaharlal Lal Nehru and, of course, the Lord Rama.
While it is for the august court to accept the petition for hearing or throw it out, it may actually be a great exercise to debate all these alleged ingredients of Pakistan’s ‘national security’ in an open court if Zaid Hamid so desires. Let some issues be settled for posterity’s sake.
PS: Article 19 also recommends censuring incitement to an offence, which Zaid Hamid’s hate speech and not-so-veiled call for vigilantism actually is.
The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He tweets at http://twitter.com/mazdaki