Wednesday, March 2, 2011



At a time when winds of change have been sweeping across many Islamic countries with calls for greater freedom and democracy, winds of hatred continue to sweep across Pakistan.

2. Pakistan, which has become over the years a breeding ground of Islamic beliefs of the most irrational and extreme kind, is helpless in the face of these winds of hatred. These winds have distorted Islam beyond recognition and provided a breeding ground for Islamic extremism and jihadi terrorism of various hues.More murders and more crimes of various kinds are committed in Pakistan in the name of and for the sake of Islam than in any other Islamic country of the world.

3. Unless and until the breeding grounds of hatred from where these winds rise are eliminated, extremism and terrorism will continue to find nourishment in the soil of Pakistan. No amount of change in the other Islamic countries through which the winds of change have been sweeping would provide relief to the rest of the world from the scourge of Islamic extremism and jihadi terrorism. It is a plague over which the state of Pakistan has no control.

4. This plague claimed one more fatal victim on March 2,2011, when Shabaz Bhatti, a Christian belonging to President Asif Ali Zardari's Pakistan People's Party (PPP), who was holding the Minorities Affairs portfolio, was shot dead by a group of unidentified assassins as he was being driven to work in Islamabad. Reports from Islamabad indicate that he was travelling in his official car without being escorted by a security team despite the fact that he was one of the most threatened members of the Council of Ministers because of his criticism of the blasphemy law which provides for a mandatory death penalty to anyone insulting the Holy Prophet. The law has come in for strong criticism from liberal elements in the rest of the world because the rules of evidence governing trials under it are so flimsy that anyone can accuse anyone of insulting the Holy Prophet and get that person convicted without satisfactory corroborative evidence.

5. Previously, only insulting the Holy Prophet was considered an act of blasphemy, now, even criticising the law is treated an act of blasphemy by extremist elements which do not hesitate to kill anyone criticising the law. This was the second high-profile assassination this year of persons criticising the law. In January, Salman Taseer, a liberal Muslim, who was the Governor of Punjab, was assassinated by one of his own security guards because he dared to criticise the law and visited in jail a Christian who had been convicted under the law. Death threats have reportedly been held out against Mrs.Sherry Rehman, a Member of Parliament belonging to the PPP, for allegedly suggesting a re-look at the law.

6. How can one save Pakistan from the clutches of Islam of the most extreme kind when the assassin of Taseer was not condemned as a murderer, but was hailed as a saviour of Islam by some sections of the population, including lawyers? Organisations such as the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which has claimed responsibility for the assassination of the Christian Minister, and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ), the extremist Sunni organisation, look upon it as a God-ordained duty to eliminate anyone who is seen by them as insulting Islam even for criticising the obnoxious features of it in Pakistan.

7. One cannot hope for any salvation for Pakistan from these winds of hatred unless there is a mass uprising to break the stranglehold of these elements over the society and the State. Pakistan is a State governed by fear---not the fear of despots, but the fear of the irrational clergy and even more irrational extremist organisations. Unless the people are able to rid themselves of this fear and come out in the streets against these organisations, the winds of hatred will continue to blow across the country.

8. Unfortunately, Pakistan is a country where liberalism is merely a talking point in the drawing rooms of the elite and not a rallying cry for protests in the streets against the irrational and extremist elements. It is a gloomy situation from which no exit is in sight. ( 2-3-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: )


Guru Sarma said...

Thank God!
There is someone ready to call a spade, a spade! Continue your service. It makes better reading than the so called media who have all got their own axes to grind! We can have a good sleep under the shameful circumstances, only on the idea that 'this is also God's making'. He has promised that he will come forward as and when required, whenever 'yada yada hi dharmasya glaanir bhavathi bhaaratha abhyuththaanam adharmasya tad aatmaanam srujaamyaham!' What this country needs today is a honest, capable, knowledgeable Leader with a capital L; who cannot be corrupted. I am a retired Army Officer who is ready to fight for a cause again!

Guru Sarma said...

That comment was by me, Lt Col KTSV Sarma, (Retd). Guru Sarma is my younger brother's son's name.

Ashok said...

I don't think this is a new type of phenomena - it is predictable phenomena. Jinnah didn't flinch when direct action day took place, neither did he flinch when he authorized Mehsud tribals to plunder their way across Gilgit Baltistan. The minority population of what constitutes "Pakistan" today is negligible as a percentage of what it used to be in 1946-47. The same can be said about Kashmir over the past one thousand years. Even if Pakistan declared itself to be secular tomorrow and removed the blasphemy law, that won't stop killings (which are intended to intimidate and harass the religious minority population into silence) and one has to be forthright enough to ask if there is a sizable population of nonmuslims such that the removing the law is even relevant when examining the course of the country through the lens of history. I think so long as the religious minority population in Pakistan is less than 5%, the majority community has a feeling of satisfaction, or a sense of "mission accomplished".

One has to ask important, though difficult questions - why did partition of India (Bharat) take place? In the history of humanity, there are always those who seek power, fortune or a combination of those two. Jinnah was one of those individuals. What allowed him to access power? It was an underlying phenomena among at least half of the Indian-Muslim population (who now either refer to themselves as Pakistanis or Bangladeshis or in some cases Kashmiris - emphasizing the state where they are in the majority rather than the larger country they belong to where they are a minority) that wherever they are, they have a "human right" to resort to violence if necessary to impose Sharia law. This is not at all shocking when examining the message of many televangelists from that community who insist that they are "scholars". One of the popular phrases one comes across is "ya shariat, ya shahadat" trans. "sharia or sacrifice by death to achieve sharia"

Who are the heroes in Pakistan looked up to by the majority?

1. Jinnah
2. Mohammad
3. Aurangazeb
4. Babur
5. Tipu Sultan
6. Bin Qasim

All of these were military commanders of some sort or had authority over military command. Neither is this group composed purely of indigenous origin individuals fighting against a temporarily occupying outside force.

What enables a military to be an effective force? Weapons. What are weapons designed to do? Kill.

So those who say that Pakistan is peaceful or seeks peace needs to understand that the country was born of violence, and is a country that does not seek a status quo, but seeks purpose in using violence against others in order to expand its territory and ideology (currently in Kashmir).

Hence, one is not shocked at all by the sequence of events coming to fruition in that country. It is the near completion of a process that aims at asymptotic convergence of first religious ideology, and later, expansionist ideology, which aims to repeat the former in order to repeat the latter until the whole world follows a central religious ideology based command system. This won't happen throughout the world, but it has already happened in the Indian territory now called "Pakistan".