Sunday, May 19, 2013

Musharraf's escape route

Soruce: The Telegraph

One man in Pakistan would have watched last Saturday's election results come rolling with more alarm than anyone else. Pervez Musharraf was the general who cut short Nawaz Sharif's second term in office by seizing control of the country and arresting the prime minister.

How the tables have turned. Now Mr Musharraf is under house arrest, confined to two rooms of his smart villa just outside Islamabad, and his old foe Mr Sharif is preparing to move back into Prime Minister's House for a third term. Things could not have turned out much worse for the former military ruler.

But quietly, behind the scenes, it looks as if the stage is being set for Mr Musharraf to make a rapid departure. Informed commentators whisper that his old pals in the military are reaching out to the courts – where the 69-year-old faces a slew of cases – preparing the ground so he can leave before Mr Sharif is sworn in.

That would be handy for Mr Sharif. He has enough problems with a powerful military establishment without also being handed responsibility for dealing with their former chief of staff.
On Friday night, one piece in the jigsaw was slotted into place. A lawyer, who had initiated one of the cases against Mr Musharraf – the one with the most chance of success, alleging that he had arrested and imprisoned lawyers as he desperately tried to hold on to office in 2007 – announced he had withdrawn his complaint.
Talking to Dawn on Friday, Advocate Ghumman said he had withdrawn the complaint in the larger national interest. “I think that the trial of Gen Musharraf in such a state of affairs is not in the national interest and, therefore, I have decided to withdraw my complaint,” he said.
It will be up to the courts to decide whether to halt proceedings. But isn't it curious? Not only have the courts toned down their anti-Musharraf rhetoric in recent weeks but now one of the cases is on shaky foundations.
This has always been the issue. Ever since Mr Musharraf made his ill-conceived return, the question has been how to get him out of the country while allowing everyone involved to save face. The courts won't want to back down, given the way he treated the lawyers. Nor will Mr Sharif. Bringing both into conflict with an army that won't give up its man. Hardly the route to a stable Pakistan.
Musharraf's escape has become something of an Islamabad parlour game, constructing ever more complex ruses to get Mr Musharraf to Dubai or London. Some suggestions:
  1. He is taken ill and must go to Dubai for specialist treatment – never to return
  2. His 95-year-old mother is taken ill and Mr Musharraf is given special compassionate grounds to travel to her bedside in Dubai – never to return
  3. He receives a presidential pardon from President Asif Ali Zardari, who in exchange is given a nod and a wink that corruption cases against him be shelved, all lubricated with Saudi cash for Nawaz Sharif's government
Whatever eventually happens you can be sure of two things. The solution will be very Pakistani. And Mr Musharraf will be gone before anyone realises quite what is happening.

Most likely this is a likely outcome (what this article has described). And again, my question to everybody who thinks "elections are the way to change and betterment" ---> What change?

If this is one of the first things to be happening in this country after the "historic turnout" ... What change are you talking about?

My posts have become increasingly pessimistic (or so it seems). I'm only trying to point out that the flaw is in the very system - the system we hold sacred with no basis! That's the only purpose behind these posts.

The solution is simple (if not easy to implement). Bring back Islam on the political level in the country. It has been done before (in the Age of Ignorance in Makkah, nobody could imagine that an Islamic state could be set up in neighboring Medina which would spread far and wide within a few years).

Pakistan is still predominantly Muslim - and has awareness etc. :)


Tauqeer said...

So how to bring Islam in politics, if not democracy?

MAK said...

I disagree with you. In Pakistan's constitution Islam is the at the center. What lacks is the implementation of it.

Shuaib said...

Religion is going to make it more confusing. I vote for secular Pakistan. :)

Uni said...

The Prophet(saw) had a specific methodology which he used to establish the first Islamic state in Medina. He sent teachers there to preach the message and obtain the public support but along with that, he sent letters/emissaries to tribal heads and obtained their support. This ensured that when the Prophet (saw) traveled to Medina, there was no violence and without any major opposition, he was declared head of state. I'm just using these terms for better understanding.

So now, when you take a look at Muslim democracies, none of them operate on this model. Democracy ensures only public support, by which "Islamic parties" like Morsi's come into power. So then what happens? Well, even if he tries to put a tax on alcohol sales, there is a huge outcry that he's being an Islamist. When Erdogan reverts the ban on headscarfs, there is a huge outcry that he's being an Islamist. There are forces to keep in check any person who shows any inclination towards Islamic governance.

So nobody dares.

The alternative?

A party should obtain public support through preaching, and at the same time, obtain support of powerful factions of state, like the army, the courts, and THEN come into power and try to implement Islam. So JUST democracy, doesn't seem to work. And we can see that with our own eyes. Look at what's happening in Turkey these days. It's a disaster. He's being criticized on his policies on alcohol.

So that's the alternative.

Uni said...

I thought the same. Till I figured that the constitution is basically borrowed from British Laws. And there is this objectives resolution which states that sovereignty belongs to Allah and no law shall be passed repugnant to Islam.

These things hold NO meaning, when you don't have in your constitution either of two things:
1. These clauses will be held superior over any other part of the constitution.

2. All laws will be derived from Quran and Sunnah [not .."no law shall be derived repugnant to Quran/Sunnah"]. See the difference here?

This is the mistake here. Do you know that there is a band of scholars appointed as Shoorah. And they have no role in any law of the land? So basically, if a bank gets established in Pakistan, and works on riba, these scholars have no say in this system?

This is not "constitution not being implemented correctly." This is simply "constitution designed not to work Islamically"

Allah Knows Best.

Uni said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. However, as a Muslim, I feel that Islam doesn't simply belong to our masjids and homes, it is a system/way of life and should penetrate all parts of our life.

Politics is one heck of an important part of life. Hence, my opinion.

MAK said...

I thought it was the same thing. Any ways you might have a point there. As far as I know, we can challenge any law based on this clause and riba is an example of this.

Someone contested in the court that riba(interest) is against Islamic principal and using this clause he won the case. Ideally there should had been no riba(interest) in Pakistan but we all know it exist.

I will still emphasize, its the will to implement that is lacking in our society not the law.

In case you or anyone else didn't know about the case i mentioned earlier, they can find its summary here.

Uni said...

Well.. unfortunately. I really don't want to sound pessimistic. But the declaring of riba as haraam is potentially the same as Yousuf Raza Gillani declaring that "Pakistan objects to drone strikes".

May be a powerful statement. But essentially, does nothing.

While our former PM may be acting out of his own interest, these scholars may have good intentions, and may Allah Reward them for them.

Having said that, constitutionally, they did have a right to SAY it and write a document etc. But they don't have any real power (constitutionally) or any right to an opinion which takes precedence over the financial goings-on in this country.

Jazakallah for the share though.

Shuaib said...

When a religion is new, it begins as a tool to unify. With passage of time, it becomes a tool to divide.

Islam isn't an absolute religion anymore. There isn't one version on which everyone agrees. And when such is the case, the best way to progress is to rely on reason and rationality, while taking wisdom from where ever one can, be it religion, history, science...

Uni said...

Islam may have different opinions and from those opinions, various schools of thought, but do tell me, is there any disagreement in the following factors?

1. Belief in One God, Allah.
2. Belief in last Prophet, Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)
3. Concept of salah (namaz)
4. Concept of zakah
5. Concept of fasting in the month of Ramadan
6. Pilgrimage to Mecca/Medina
7. Prohibition of interest
8. Rule by the laws set by Allah.

These are all unanimously agreed upon by the various schools of thoughts and their head scholars.

Do you think that the different schools of thought didn't exist at the time of Islamic caliphate?

Secondly, when you talk about reason/rationality, it seems as if you don't think Islam is reasonable or rational. I'm afraid, that's where we again differ in opinion.

Thanks for dropping by.

Shuaib said...

I am sure no. 2 isn't agreed upon. Ahmadis believe otherwise and call themselves muslims.

Out of the rest, only two are pertinent to running state affairs, 4, and 7. And if a secular state wants to adopt these based on a belief that they lead to better affairs, they can easily do so.

No. 8 isn't well defined. Can't comment on it. What are those rules? Where are they written? Only word we have from Allah (taken on faith) is Quran, and Quran is open to interpretation and difference of opinion.

Difference of opinion always did, and always will exist. Only a secular state can make sure this difference doesn't lead to mass injustice.

By definition, no religion is rational. There is no space for blind faith in rationality.

kino said...

This whole idea of a secular state preventing mass injustice is flawed and outdated. Just visit any country impoverished during the soviet "secular" era in eastern europe (including germany) and you will get ample stories of mass injustice to forget what goes on in our Islamic republic of the Pure. Kindly note that I am not necessarily incriminating communism/marxism here which is besides the issue.

Then again, in the context of Pakistan, this whole argument about which school/interpretation of Islam never ceases to amuse me. For one, an overwhelming majority of muslims (Barelvis+Deobandis) living in Pakistan are Hanafites in jurisprudential matters. On democratic grounds, they can easily get their way in legal and political matters. Then come Shia and after that we have the rest. The issue here is not about whose interpretation, but how shall we let live the segment not subscribing to the majority ideals. But this shall remain a problem even in a secular state which only to a naive could mean disappearance of differences in opinion. Take the case of Zakat. Sunnis, all of them, believe it has to be taken by the government. But shias disagree. When the law was introduced during Zia's rule, no less, Shias were conceded exemption to the requirement of Zakat deduction. In principle, I don't see why we can't work it through on other matters as much as practically possible, like it was in Zakat.

And let us not confuse the topic with irrelevant issues like how faith is blind. Confounding a problem with everything under the sun is hardly an appreciable talent these days. It is not smart to forget that what is blind, reasonable and rational to you might not be the same for other.

kino said...


I believe you are being too harsh in your assessments of the going-ons in Egypt and Turkey. First of all, let us be clear that prophet only sought to acquire support of the people. Tribal heads that you talk about were representatives of their people in the politcal structure of the tribalistic society of that time. Getting consent of a leader meant getting all the people of the tribe by your side on political level. In our socio-political structure, judiciary and military do not represent the masses whatsoever. They are denounced by everyone on ethical level whenever they transgress. Although they should be recipients of any message for change but only in the capacity of being members of the society like anyone else. If they cannot learn to function within the limits of their jurisdiction, I suggest let us rather blow them up if that is the only way to fix them. Of course, I wish it doesn't go like that but hope you get the idea :)

Nevertheless, coming into power is one thing and enacting laws that can be swallowed by the majority, even if it consent to follow the government, is still another. Take the favorite example of Riba. It was always considered an injustice and muslims were told to stay away on a personal level right from the days of Mecca. But the state was able to proscribe it much later in Medina. If the prophet needed that much time to carry people on board, then Tom and Harry surely deserve more. In my humble opinion, the major problem is the indescent haste in which these parties are trying to act. Why be in a rush? First fulfill those responsibilities that are agreed by everyone to be incumbent on a political administration. That means safeguarding the life, honor and property of the citizens and providing justice in the event of criminal offence irrespective of the social class and religious creed of the parties involved. This is quite an undertaking in its own right in our lawless lands and should provide enough time to teach and winning over the society for further reformation to come in law. If the failure of late Dr. Mehmood Ahmed Ghazi is anything to go by, we don't have any practical alternative, even a flawed one, worked out to the interest-based economic model for running a state. If we suspend it today, we will see chaos and mayhem unparallelled even in the chequered history of our country.

Shuaib said...

Kino, you replied to my last sentence, and half of my second last. So I will respond to you keeping those in mind.

How was the idea of a secular state preventing mass injustice proven flawed, and when did it get outdated?

Issue of faith IS irrelevant in state affairs. That's the reason I am saying a secular society is better. I agree with you there.

Lastly, blind faith is never rational for some, and not for others. Blind faith is by definition not rational. And to give you something here to respond to; I claim 100% believers in God (both muslims and non), believe so blindly, not because they have a proof. Correct me if I am wrong.

P.S. I too believe in God. I also believe I do so in faith. I have never had a proof.

kino said...

It is a flawed and outdated idea that a secular state is an infallible promise to mass justice. The case in hand was of soviet republic of not many decades ago, which was as secular as any in existence now. That, however, also doesn't mean that a secular state is inherently incapable of delivering mass justice. But this is as true for a religious state. I don't find it wise to make sweeping statements about either of the two. A secular state can get as bad as a religiously guided one, if not more. That is all I wanted to say in response to the foregoing.

Your second statement about faith being irrelevant to state is yet another sweeping generalization. I would rather say that a state will/should reflect the ethical outlook of the citizenry running her affairs. If it is inspired by religion then it will be manifested in conduct of the state. If not, so be it.

Lastly, I don't think you read me right. I didn't say blind faith is rational. I said what appears to be blind, unreasonable and irrational to you might very well be an enlightened, reasoned and rational idea for others. You are confusing conclusion with the method. And I don't have to respond to your claim about how 100% of the believers believe what they do. Since you are the one making the claim here, the burden of proof lies on you. So how do we get to learn about 100% of the believers? Just curious.

But whatever that is, it is not inseparably related to the idea of having a religiously inspired state, the topic at hand. Our ethical ideals can as much be a product of blind and unthoughtful allegiance to certain notions. Many people I work with everyday do not believe in religion but they cannot give me any explanation on why there should be democracy, republic, egalitarianism, or even god etc.

Shuaib said...

Kino: In practice, any system might fail to deliver justice case to case. In theory, secular state is more tolerant to difference of opinion. That was the context of my argument. Don't go strawman on it.

100% believers claim; well to prove it incorrect, we will need a counter example. I know of not one believer who has proof for God. If you do, let me know. Without a counter example, it stays correct.

If a state choose to live by no laws at all. Even that is their right. But you can't tell me that I can't think they could do better to have laws, and laws that aren't favorable to some parties only because they were born to parents of certain religion.

kino said...

Strawman? I thought you were saying secularism is a way out of the confusion surrounding divisive religion which had lost its absoluteness (whatever that means). If that was it, I tried to show you secular states to be capable of getting as intolerant and divisive, if not more. In fact, for all its shortcomings, we are fortunate not to be able to see in our land of the Pure the kind of destruction and misery that visited people during the reign of some of the famous secular states of very recent past. And the last I checked, our friend next door didn't have a fantastic record either despite being secular. In case you are wondering, I am refering to China here. Not that India is a beacon of tolerance.

I will need to prove a claim false only when an argument is presented for it. Your personal interactions are as valuable as mine, and they aren't that abysmal. Nothing surprising either. I have seen enough people changing sect, leaving faith, coming back to it and switching on to another. You and I might disagree with their reasons but it is mediocrity of sorts to label millions of people that we never met to be blindly following.

Your last point is practically irrelevant. It is bad to subject someone to unfavorable laws because he wasn't born in my faith/sect. But it suddenly becomes good to subject someone to unfavorable laws because this time the difference of opinion happened on secular grounds? Whatever form of governance we have, there will always be people in favor of and opposed to legislations brought on state level. If the mere existence of difference of opinion is what makes you cringe, then I am afraid you will find the spectre of it in a secular state too. Because until now, there is no agreed upon so-called rational framework for ethical decision making either that can make difference of opinions vanish. But I disagree with that line of thinking. It is not the difference of opinion that necessarily divides, but the way we carry on with it that determines the impact on social cohesion. If I can live peacefully in a secular non-muslim state, I will be more than happy to work my way in a state that legislates under Hanafi interpretation despite not subscribing to it. That is always the lesser of the two evil, although I don't consider it as such. And I assure you that those who cannot see it this way would be even more destructively averse to any idea of a secular solution that you fancy.

Let us get over this multitude of opnions fallacy, the problem lies elsewhere. As long as we have a consensus as huge as ours (85~90%) over a single framework, it is in any case nonsense to highlight oh-so-many-opinions to have existed. They have been there through out Islamic history which is not that infamous for judicial chaos. The question is whether we can produce statesmen with practical political wisdom to implement the majority aspirations. If yes, I am positive there will be leeway for minorities as far as possible.

Shuaib said...

Kino: Interesting.