Why Zaid Hamid is a success in Pakistani Society?

This post is imported from an anonymous blogger and is originally published here, I want to invite this blogger to post anonymously on this blog, just contact me through the contact page.

The religious beliefs (related to Islam) mentioned below are not necessarily writers personal religious beliefs.

Why Zaid Hamid is popular among the youth of Pakistan and what is actually deriving his success? Is he giving a different message that is unprecedented in nature or is he using a different strategy to communicate the same old conspiracy theories?

The analysis below will help us figure out the reasons why his theories are successful amongst the Pakistani population and whether if there is any difference between his propositions and those of the religious traditionalists i.e. the Maulvis. An illustration given below will demonstrate this:

Let’s take a look at the hypothetical scenarios and analyse these examples:

Imran is an elite middle class boy who, having completed his A levels from a posh private English medium school in Pakistan, now studies in a top notch university in Lahore. He regularly parties with his mates and goes to watch Indian and Hollywood movies with fervour, driving fancy cars (he has a collection, including a new Honda Civic). His parents are religiously and culturally inclined and encourage him to pay more attention towards religion and traditions. They are inwardly extremely proud of their child and fulfil all his whims and fancies. Imran, an obedient child, is forced to reconsider his lifestyle and finds he faces two choices…

In another scenario, Mariam, a girl from the same background loves to partake in night time entertainment with her friends, including eating out and watching movies, and her favourite past time is getting clothes tailored in the latest fashion, and applying an assortment of makeup. Her parents are worried about Mariam finding a suitable suitor and wish her to become more eastern in her manners and more religious. As the age for marriage approaches, Mariam is forced to reconsider her way of life. She finds she faces two choices s well…

The first choice for both these youngsters is to join a Zaid Hamid group, which is ostensibly silent on various religious aspects (such as ban on music, or wearing a headscarf) or to join the old school traditionalists such as Farhat Hashmi (in Mariam’s case), or Maulana Tariq Jameel, Israr Ahmed, or other such religious preachers. The Traditionalist path requires strict adherence to the principles of Islam such as complete and strict pardah (Hijab) for women, Music is absolutely haram (forbidden), gender segregated gatherings, prayers 5 times a day and excessive love of jihad.

Mariam considers these options carefully… she thinks about it… if she were to follow the traditional path, she would have to first of all change her dressing style. That would mean shrouding herself in a burqa and forgetting about the juicy designer wear she so loves. Secondly, she thinks, if she were to cover her face as required by these preachers, it would be useless to apply any makeup as everything would be hidden behind her headscarf and veil! What about all the compliments she always received on being the best dressed of all, and having the nicest hairdo and following the latest makeup trends? In addition she is also required to strictly pray 5 times a day and have no interactions with men- be they cousins or any other friends.

She next considers joining Zaid Hamid… hmmm…what would she have to give up? She muses over her checklist: clothes- no compromise (she doesn’t need to hide behind some veil), parties- no compromise, music- also no compromise, makeup- definitely no compromise. What is she required to do then?

She discovers much to a pleasant surprise that she just has to excessively love Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Allama Iqbal -which most of the Pakistanis already do anyway since this has been taught to us from the day we started going to school- and to carry some beliefs in her heart – to hate India, Israel and America and hold only them responsible for the disastrous state of our country and to firmly believe that our army is sacred and that the Prophet (PBUH) has prophesised for it to eventually conquer and rule India (Ghazwa-e-hind).

Similarly for Imran, the thought of giving up fun parties at his friend’s places, supporting a beard, praying five times daily, and excluding women from his social life (even social events are segregated), and to give up listening to his favourite singer, Bryan Adams, was too much of a sacrifice…

So he too ponders over the alternative- the easier option: though this Zaid Hamid group also glorifies Jihad and propagates immense hatred against Jews, Indians and Americans, it does not ostensibly share the orthodox views of the traditionalists (such as hijab, Music ban, sex segregation).

In other words, by joining Zaid’s group both Imran and Mariam do not have to compromise on their sophisticated pleasures

Let’s take a look at some of these images which reveal to us the appeal for youth today that each of these groups carry, which will in turn reveal to us why Zaid Hamid’s group would have precedence in the mind of a youngster:

This picture of Junaid Jamshed gives a glimpse of the changes that he adapted to, having followed the footsteps of traditionalist Tariq JameeL (head of TJ).

Junaid before joining Tableeghi Jamaat


Junaid After Tableeghi Jamaat


Another picture of a cricketer (Mohammad Yousef) who went through a dramatic change in appearance after converting to Islam from Christianity…

Yousef before Islam


Yousef After Islam


Now look at these alternative images of people who adhered to Zaid Hamid’s ideologies:

A picture of Musician Ali Azmat reveals no change after he started supporting Zaid Hamid’s group…

Ali Azmat before joining Zaid Hamid


Ali Azmat after


The same goes for Fashion Designer Maria B., another major supporter of Zaid Hamid’s “cause”…

Maria Before Zaid Hamid


Maria After Zaid Hamid


These pictures give us a clear idea of the changes that a person has to make to oneself in order to adhere to either one of these groups.

Hence Imran and Mariam are much more likely to follow the latter two celebrities’ footsteps. Here’s why:

The first two images make plain that a striking and sudden change is immediately observable in a disciple of the traditional classical school, whereas no such change is detectable on the surface of the latter two. Thus it can be safely concluded that adherence to Zaid Hamid’s group is the easier option of the two, as it requires minimum of change to oneself.

The adherents are easily labelled ‘good Ummatis’ (good muslim destined for paradise), patriotic, and religious good muslims, without the efforts required by the classical religious school (such as compromising on sophisticated pleasures). Thus personal satisfaction equalling that of a classical religious follower is obtained without the same hardships of personal sacrifices.

In addition, it goes without saying that when youngsters see particular celebrities making a choice (as we also see in advertisements- that’s what brand ambassadors are for) the fans are likely to follow the same path. Thus Imran and Mariam are likely to follow Ali Azmat and Maria B. This is because their upbringing was in a non-restrictive environment and they would like to continue living the way they do- but also have the added benefits mentioned above (being called good ummatis, patriots etc.)

Below are a few images of social events or gatherings of the traditional school of thought:

Males only (Sex – Segregation)


Females only


As can be seen above, the traditional schools have strict modes of sex segregation in their gatherings and there is nothing alluring about them. Our hypothetical characters Imran and Mariam will not be impressed.

Now lets see how Zaid Hamid conducts his events:

Zaid Hamid (No Sex Segregation)


A mixed gathering of men and women sitting together without any kinds of barriers between them.

Unprecedented in Islamic Khilafat


Here again, men and women are standing together as one group in a promotional video for an event organised by Zaid Hamid’s proponents. Here is the source http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVUfzkL9h4c

Lighting Candles


This picture depicts Zaid Hamid standing amongst his supporters who have lighted candles for hope – a traditional Jewish and pagan culture-one that was never recognised by any khilafat (A Muslim totalitarian rule) which Zaid Hamid may follow (the Caliphs never observed such a ceremony involving lighting candles nor did they ever direct others to it). Nevertheless it is an appealing activity which is used as a gimmick to attract fan following. Traditional religious sects explicitly disapprove these tactics to entice the public their way.

This is also in contradiction with Zaid’s mission statement on his website where he claims: “Restore a sense of honor and dignity in the nation by reintroducing our people to their glorious Islamic heritage and pristine cultural and moral values”.

Not only this, Zaid further resorts to use of music (also forbidden under Islam) to publicise his cause. The most common back drop of music he uses for his promotional videos is the dramatic theme of Requiem for a Dream by Clint Mansell. This is a powerful piece of music which has the effect of making the young generation very emotionally excited.

Please refer to the short promotional and propaganda video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Es4gKwlbrYU

You may have noticed that in general music is capable of touching the human soul in a way in which simple words can not. Music is used in restaurants to give a relaxed environment, in weddings to create a happy and exciting atmosphere, in sad scenes in a movie to depict sadness. Compare this music to the naats without the aid of instruments (used for tableeghi jamaat’s marketing purpose) which Junaid Jamshed has produced after becoming an orthodox Muslim, and you realise that the former is much more powerful in invoking the requisite emotions in it’s audience.

Again Unprecedented in Islamic khilafat.


Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVUfzkL9h4c

This picture in particular, I think, epitomises the essence of Zaid Hamid’s strategies to allure the youth towards him. It is clearly visible to the reader that men and women are holding hands without any qualms about the inappropriateness of this according to religion. What is so ironic about this situation is that Zaid Hamid’s ideology is based on (so called) Islamic precepts. Yet he resorts to propagate his ideologies by going against the very basic principles of Islam. Is this not a serpentine attempt to reduce religion to mere whims and fancies?

These pictures clearly illustrate that there is no requirement of emotional self-control as that required in the traditional Islamic sects.

However, this does not mean that Zaid Hamid discourages Hijab, sex segregation etc. He is in fact purposely silent on religious topics such as those of music and pardah. He does not tell us whether music is forbidden or not, neither does he hint at whether it will be allowed or not in the Caliphate society which will rule after his prophecy of the Pakistan’s Army’s victory over India comes true.

Instead, he is more focused on Jihad as his core ideology. This is why the Ghazwa-e-Hind ideology is asserted by him repeatedly even though this so called prophecy is not mentioned in any of the 6 recognised books of hadiths that Muslims follow today. While he is asserting this vague unauthenticated hadis so assertively, why does he not also assert other ahadis in the same manner?- Those which forbid all the worldly pleasures on muslims such as listening to music, men and women freely intermingling in gatherings, and following the proper dress code for muslims.

The truth is that the common interest of the traditional religious sects of Pakistan and Zaid Hamid’s sect i.e. the hatred for Jews, Americans and Indians and glorification of their twisted versions of Jihad, is so important and over-powering that it overshadows and hence blinds them to other aspects of religion. The traditional sects therefore accept Zaid’s version as something valid and recognisable (even if temporarily and tactically), so long as the common purpose is served.

His followers are under the false impression that they are the best nation and the most righteous of people.

To summarize this at the end, Imran after following Zaid Hamid can call him himself both, an Ummati and a true Pakistani. Thus Zaid Hamid is fulfilling both his religious and nationalist requirements as compared to the traditionalists who are more focused on curbing sophisticated pleasures.

After following Zaid Hamid, Both Mariam and Imran can still:

  • Listen to music
  • Watch Amir khan’s movie ‘3-Idiots’ or Sharukh Khan’s ‘Kabhi khushi kabhi gham’
  • Fantasize about Megan Fox, Kareena Kapoor or Jonny Depp
  • Imran can keep a French beard, goatee style, or remain as clean shaved
  • Mariam can still wear tight Jeans

All they have to do is hate Jews, glorify past Islamic imperialist rulers, avoid criticizing Pakistan army, legitimize all the army’s actions in supporting militants such as Mullah Omer or Hekmatyar and believe in Ghazw e Hind (Prophesised capture of India by Pakistan army).

This is a clever strategy that Zaid Hamid is adopting here which is to deliberately stay silent on issues like hijab and simultaneously preach the same jihad and khilafat doctrine that is common among militant organizations such as Lashkar e Taiba

Keeping all these facts in mind, it can be said with surety that Zaid Hamid would never propagate the restrictive commandments of traditionalist Islam, because the day he sets restrictions on these worldly pleasures, his adherent ratings would take a plunge. This is because the elite and the upper middle class youth of Pakistan would never easily sacrifice their comfort and pleasure.

Despite all this, however, there are still many unanswered questions left.

Presuming Zaid Hamid’s assertions that we will eventually have a caliphate society and be ruled by a caliph under Shariah law is true:

1. What about the role of women in society? Will we live in a patriarchal society? If yes, then will Maria B. be able to continue making the western line of clothing which she so loves to design and market or will she then design hijabs only?

2. Will women be forced to wear a burqa like in Saudi Arabia (Zaid Hamid’s favourite country)

3. Will non-muslims be able to proselytize their religion like Muslims do today? (Note that no Muslim country allows this today)

4. Will there be complete freedom of speech? Or would the rules be like those of Saudi Arabia or China where people are jailed for voicing their opinions against the government policy?

If I were the reader of this article, I would have raised a question to the author:

The question is that why do you expect Zaid Hamid to talk about hijab, music and such other Islamic directives when that is not his job in the first place? Zaid Hamid can not be criticised for the lack of these assertions since he describes his job as that of a Security Analyst.

The answer to this is given in the questions raised below:

One might ask oneself, that if he really is a security analyst alone, then why does he talk about religious prophecies coming true?

If he really is just a Security Analyst, why does he talk about the history of banking and claiming that US Federal Reserve is actually a private institution?

If he really is a Security Analyst then why does he advocate the enforcement of Shariah Law and Khilafat?

if he really is a mere Security Analyst and nothing more, why does he suddenly assume the role of a historian and claim to know the true history such as the truth of the Chanakya Ideology, the truth of Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Allama Iqbal- hailing the latter two as Islamic warriors?

And lastly, what about his mission statement of “restoring Islamic culture and pristine values and promoting legal and constitutional reforms to reflect the true spirit of the Quran and Sunnah”

Is this a job of a “Security Analyst?”

References:

Zaid Hamid mission statement

http://www.brasstacks.pk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=115&Itemid=92

Muhammad Yusuf! The captain of Islam

tablighi-1 The story is a bit old, i did not want to post it before the end of second test. But here you go as we have all seen the result of the test match.

Reproduced from The News(International).

Yousuf heads to Sydney mosque on New Year’s Eve

Friday, January 01, 2010
From our correspondent


SYDNEY: Most of Pakistan’s cricketers chose to stay at their hotel right next to the Sydney Harbour on New Year’s Eve waiting to see ane explosion of colour that marked the start of 2010 here.

But their captain Mohammad Yousuf had different plans. Yousuf spent his New Year’s Eve at the grand mosque in West Sydney where hundreds of people, mostly Pakistanis, turned up to meet him.

Yousuf had accepted an invitation to go to the Rootey Hill Mosque and told its management that he will also try to bring along some of his other teammates.

But in the end, he was the only one to turn up at the mosque.

Yousuf told people there that he tries to preach Islam on his cricket tours abroad, saying that he invited top cricketers like West Indian great Brian Lara and New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori in a bid to provide them with a better understanding of Islam.

“We had a session with Brian Lara when he came to Pakistan and told him things about Islam he didn’t know,” said the Pakistan captain, who began his cicketing career as a Christian but converted to Islam in 2005 changing his name from Yousuf Youhana to Mohammad Yousuf.

“When we were in New Zealand last month, I invited Vettori for a similar session,” he said.

While Yousuf was in the West Sydney suburb talking about Islam, his teammates were waiting for the world-famous fireworks at the Sydney Harbour where more than 1.5 million turned up to watch bright blue fireworks lit up the city at midnight.

How much do your life weigh?

Just finished watching the brilliant “Up in the air.” George Clooney as always was brilliant. It’s no wonder the film was nominated for six Golden Globes. For those of you unfamiliar with the film, it is a romantic comedy / drama written and directed by Jason Reitman. In the film, Ryan Bingham, played by George Clooney, is constantly on the road.

I am reproducing below a dialogue he delivers during the movie. Enjoy.

How much does your life weigh?

Imagine for a second that you’re carrying a backpack.

I want you to pack it with all the stuff that you have in your life… you start with the little things.

The shelves, the drawers, the knickknacks, then you start adding larger stuff. Clothes, tabletop appliances, lamps, your TV… the backpack should be getting pretty heavy now.

You go bigger. Your couch, your car, your home… I want you to stuff it all into that backpack.

Now I want you to fill it with people. Start with casual acquaintances, friends of friends, folks around the office… and then you move into the people you trust with your most intimate secrets. Your brothers, your sisters, your children, your parents and finally your husband, your wife, your boyfriend, your girlfriend.

You get them into that backpack, feel the weight of that bag. Make no mistake your relationships are the heaviest components in your life. All those negotiations and arguments and secrets, the compromises. The slower we move the faster we die. Make no mistake, moving is living. Some animals were meant to carry each other to live symbiotically over a lifetime. Star crossed lovers, monogamous swans. We are not swans. We are sharks.

Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.

Clipboard01 * The title of this post is a quote by Samuel Johnson.

There are many scoundrels around, but the question is who takes the cake? Is it Zaid Hamid? No he is so 2009! This is the year of Ahmed Quraishi. His family has a military background and according to some he is on ISI’s paycheck. If 2009 was the year of Zaid Hamid(un-arguably), then 2010 will belong to AQ, and you can quote me on this.

“You are not getting it. This page is not about debating PakNationalism. Pakistani Nationalism is here to stay. Learn to live with it.

I don’t claim to be a democrat when it comes to this point. We’ve had half a century of people like you teaching us everything except how to be proud in ourselves, in our fascinating history, in Pakistan’s right to have its own interests nad pursue them.

We’ve had enough of apologists. Now it’s time for PakNationalists. This is not up for discussion. On this page, we’re simply brainstorming about how to influence the country’s politics and its future. Your argument is an unnecessary distraction and will not be allowed.

You have the choice of not being here. 1,200 people here are not bound by your view.” Ahmed Quraishi in reply to a letter on his facebook page.

This man has “wasted” the last 10 days of mine, i have been reading his columns, watching his videos and i can assure you he never ceases to amaze me. What separates him from Zaid Hamid is his “impeccable” English and a personality which is unmatched by any liberal stereotypes this country has ever produced. He is a darling, the best way to describe him would be to call him “A Pakistani Gay icon.” I think he will agree with my assessment here, but you never know.

He hates the word “intellectual.” More then hate he seems paranoid about those intellectual types like Pervez Hoodbuoy and Ahmed Rashid, according to one quote on his facebook page he has a “team” which is working day and night to uncover links between these intellectuals and CIA. Like many of his predecessors on the coveted scoundrel list he finds American hand in everything! I wonder what America was doing when he was conceived, maybe Mossad or CIA had something to do with that too? Indians and Hindus are another of his favorite pastimes.

All in all he sees Pakistan as a focal point around which the world revolves. He defines PakNationalism in three words Allah, Pakistan & Jinnah. He believes strongly in indoctrination which is how he sees he will change the face of Pakistan. According to one message which is deleted from his facebook page, He wants a nationalistic government in the center which will then indoctrinate nationalism into the youth through music and media. He repeats his messages on social media sites and then deletes some of the controversial ones inside 24 hours so that they do not become a part of the web history.

His definition of PakNationalism does not include the word “Army”, but army is the pillar around which he wants to build this government. The type of government he foresees in Pakistan is a fascist religious grouping of individuals controlling the thinking and actions of this whole nation. His favorite style of government is Chinese.

“All great achievements in governance and statehood have been done by strong, compassionate, committed leaders and not democratic leaders. These include Napoleon Bonaparte, George Washington (elected later as a democratic leader but initially established himself as a dictator), Cromwell and Bismarck.” – Ahmed Quraishi

So my prediction for 2010 is that it will be the year of Ahmed Quraishi. To sum up I will post a video of his program so that you can enjoy his kind of journalism.

Why not Karachi!

karachi Damn Karachi, it seems that the suicide bombers do not know that a big, violent and volatile city exists in the pure land of Pakistan named Karachi. It does not seem to matter to them that the city is overflowing with people and a genocide here could go a long way in restoring the environmental balance.

Many people have been dumbfounded by the mysterious phenomena, including me. Everybody has a theory about it. People of Karachi also have many theories ranging from downright ridiculous(they seem to find American hand in this too) to the ones promoted by MQM fans. NFP wrote a piece on it on in Dawn News. He postulated the following reasons for the chaotic sense of calm in recent months in Karachi.

•    The acceptance by the state of Pakistan of MQM’s mainstream status as a political organ with a strong electoral influence that cannot be deterred through any form of Machiavellian maneuvers.
•    A delicate but promising compromise struck between the secular political expressions of Karachi’s mohajir, Punjabi, Pushtun, Baloch, and Sindhi populations, namely the MQM, the ANP, and the PPP.
•    The diverse population’s reflective understanding of the importance of social and political plurality and tolerance as a means to experiencing a strife-free and economically benefiting survival in the metropolis.
•    The withering away of the political support that politico-religious parties such as the JI and the JUP once enjoyed and whose recent politics (especially the JI’s), encourages a myopic and isolationist world view that can be detrimental to the people of a cosmopolitan, diverse and economically vibrant city like Karachi.
•    The relative lack of support (compared to the NWFP and the Punjab), that the city provided to various militant groups. Thanks to Karachi’s staggeringly ethnic and sectarian diversity, it was always tough for puritanical sectarian and Islamist groups to find much sympathy from the bulk of the city’s population.
•    The overriding consensus against the Taliban, reached long before such a consensus was struck by Pakistan as a whole.
•    A popular and prominent city government, supported across the board and among distinct ethnicities.
•    The Sindh and city governments’ firm stands on the issue of Taliban cells in the city.

Do you consider that the above will stop a lone suicide bomber from attacking a soft target inside the city of Karachi? This theory  has established itself into the minds of many Karachiites. It has its basis in the 90’s violence that had engulfed Karachi and the growing intelligence network which was born out of it. According to Karachiites this intelligence network is not restricted to security agencies! But MQM has its own deep network of informers which are working day and night to thwart any act of terrorism.

Another reason that is being cited is the remoteness of Karachi from the militant bases in Waziristan, any attack inside Karachi will involve logistical support which has to extend over 1000 km’s. The theory is that militants in this time of stress would not involve themselves in long range operations which are more prone to failure then targets near them such as Peshawar.

Now lets turn our attention to something very peculiar, which relates to some arrests made in Karachi in recent months.

Dec 17th 2009 Nooran Gul Mehsud alias Rocket, a close aide of TTP ‘chief’ Hakeemullah Mehsud from Ramzan Goth in Karachi.

Dec 14th 2009 The TTP ‘commander’ for the Naugolai area in Swat of NWFP was arrested during a raid at a hideout in Ittehad Town, Karachi.

Dec 13th 2009 Four militants of the TTP, including their ‘commander’, were arrested in the Quaidabad area of Karachi.

Nov 12th 2009 Seven TTP militants arrested after a shootout in Gulistan-e-Jauhar, Karachi.

Nov 11th 2009 The Special Investigation Unit of the Karachi Police claimed to have arrested two members of the TTP in separate raids.

Nov 5th 2009 Sindh Police claimed to have arrested a most wanted militant belonging to the TTP, from a petrol station in the Sohrab Goth, Karachi.

In almost all of these arrests arms and ammunitions or suicide jackets were seized. Which means they had no problem in getting to Karachi with these materials. Is this trend pointing to the efficiency of the intelligence network that i discussed above or something more sinister or maybe both? Could it be that Taliban leadership and leaders of extremist organizations are now in Karachi and militants are trying to avoid collateral damage?

Mullah Mohammed Omar, the one-eyed leader of the Afghan Taliban, has fled a Pakistani city on the border with Afghanistan and found refuge from potential U.S. attacks in the teeming Pakistani port city of Karachi with the assistance of Pakistan’s intelligence service, three current and former U.S. intelligence officials said. – Washington Post, Nov 20, 2009

There could be multiple reasons including the presence of Taliban leadership in Karachi which are at work here. Militants are sparing Karachi for a reason and the point that it is because of security agencies or MQM really does not hold. The following admission by a member of Sind government speaks volumes about this theory.

‘although we have been successful in thwarting militants from targeting people and key installations here in recent times, the truth of the matter is that it is not because we are so much better than authorities elsewhere in the country. It is due to the fact that the terrorists themselves didn’t want to strike Karachi and that’s why we saw a period of relative calm here. The day the militants get frustrated in the northern areas, Islamabad, and Lahore and decide to target Karachi, it will be next to impossible to stop them.’ – A senior member of Sind Government

So is Karachi a safe heaven for the extremists and the Taliban leadership? Are the militants hiding among the millions of faces in Karachi?

UPDATE: Within one hour of writing this post a bomb/car blast was reported in Karachi. What are the odds of that?

UPDATE2: The bomb blast that happened in Karachi today was most probably related to Shia-Sunni tensions in Pakistan(It was a road side bomb) and was not related to TTP or Taliban as far as I can see.

The Façade of Nationalism & Religiosity

The author is a Fulbright Ph.D. Scholar at Askew School of Public Administration and Policy , Florida State University.

“What the Athenians seemed to need most in these years of bitter discomfiture (is) not a siren to flatter and soothe them with sham promises of a speedy return of prosperity and grandeur, but a gadfly to sting them to unflinching self-examination, to see where in the past they had been wrong-headed and mistaken and how with patience and hard thinking they might yet build better lives for themselves and for their city.”

(Paraphrased from Socrates response to the jury).

The preamble of this article has been an abridged version of Socrates’ epical reply to the jury of the city of Athens; where he explicate reasons for the downfall of the Athens and suggests a path for its revival. This reference to Socrates is made to draw a parallel between the populace of our country to that of the Athens at the culmination of Peloponnesian war. This juxtaposition is made for the purpose of analysis and does not imply that we ever existed as grandiose a state as that of Athens or that we are trying to rebuild from as devastating a war as that of the Peloponnesian. However, the variables that are common in both the cases are the prevalence of utmost Religiosity and Nationalism; resulting in a blinding effect that entails irrational methods to solve some very serious problems. The irony is that the phantom nationalism drags societies into a realm where the definition of a patriot boils down to the one who can eulogize the past and paint a rosy future; the social critics are either categorized as heretics or traitors. This thought process gives rise to a culture of intolerance and intellectual deterioration. By this, these patriots, blinded by a façade of nationalism and with a hallucination of being the best humans walking on the face of the earth, does a great harm to the country that they claim to adore.

The “heretics” and “traitors” who, like Socrates, shows mirror to the society for the purpose of rectification of existing social evils and intellectual degeneration are either subjected to severe abomination or are compelled to leave the country. Consequently, an intellectual void is created that is filled by opportunists’ whose rhetoric’s and eloquent eulogy has all the required ingredients that a battered and scorned nation wants to hear. Whoever tells the emperor that he is not wearing any cloth is not only the enemy of the country but of the entire Muslim umma and thus “naturally” an agent of the America, Israel, India nexus. Thus, critical thinking is considered something contrary to nationalism and the criticism of military makes you no less than a loathsome traitor. This elevates the concept of nationalism and military institutions to the status of the sacred cow: a society, where every institution and person can be projected as corrupt or having self interested motives but the men in uniform. Furthermore, every other country that is projected as foe by these patriots is considered the enemy of Islam and having the ultimate desire of capturing the most prized jewel of the nation i.e. the nuclear weapons.

The dilemma is that these “intellectuals” and “leaders” guiding our youth let no stone unturned in reminding us of the past glory of Muslims. But what they fail to comprehend and thus propagate is the social and political milieu of that era of prosperity. Referring to the 10th century Baghdad at the peak of its intellectual and scientific bloom; they narrate the stories of how Muslims were once at the pinnacle of literary and scientific achievements. What they intentionally or unintentionally omit from the details is the peculiar political, social and cultural atmosphere of that epoch that facilitated the kind of growth of knowledge in those times. What these intellectuals does not tell our youth is the fact that in those days, if on one side there were scientists who in addition to science, considered religion as an important aspect of human life; there were others who were debating and doubting even the existence of God, without being labeled as infidel, anti Muslim or the dissidents of society. However, this environment of tolerance, religious freedom, and prevalence of free thought processes was made possible by the acknowledgement of individual dignity and importance by the people of that time. Society didn’t use to categorize the populace as infidels or true Muslims, loyal or traitor on the basis of their religious, political or social believes. The product of such an environment, where the skepticism and doubt was considered to be an appreciable trait, was a society that provided the breeding ground for the growth and accumulation of knowledge.

What we have to realize is that every nation faces critical times during its existence where people of that country have to make critical decisions on the type of society and institutions that they need to leave for their future generations. History tells us that those who comes out of these critical times, on the shoulders of intellectuals; having democracy, freedom, justice and equality as their ideals achieve the glory. A few examples from the modern history are the United States after civil war, Europe and Japan after WWII and Iran after Iran-Iraq War. On the other hand, those who take refuge in the shadows of demagogues, bigots and apologists of criminals can go deeper into the dark and blind abyss of self destruction. Their self fulfilling prophecies not only results into their own demise but endanger humans all over the world.

The good news is that history also tells us that these pseudo-intellectuals existed even amongst wisest of men. I hope and pray that wise men in our country overcome and outnumber these pseudo intellectuals. In the end I must tell these champions of nationalism that by branding those who dissent with their ideals, as traitors or agents i.e. to “confuse dissent with disloyalty”, will not dampen the will of those who sincerely love their country. “We will not walk in fear, one of another, we will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason. And remember that we are not descendents from fearful men; not from men who fear to write, to speak to associate and to defend the causes that are for the moment unpopular” (Edward R Murrow). We should work together to turn our country the way the founding father wanted it to be: the country where the state should only facilitate an environment of tolerance, free thinking and growth of knowledge, based on equality, justice and freedom. In the words of Jinnah “You may belong to any religion or caste or creed- that has nothing to do with the business of the State.”

Born Again Pakistani

ahmed-quraishi“Patriotism is proud of a country’s virtues and eager to correct its deficiencies; it also acknowledges the legitimate patriotism of other countries, with their own specific virtues. The pride of nationalism, however, trumpets its country’s virtues and denies its deficiencies, while it is contemptuous toward the virtues of other countries. It wants to be, and proclaims itself to be, “the greatest,” but greatness is not required of a country; only goodness is.” — Sydney J. Harris

I think this new trend started with Pervez Musharraf and is being sustained by the new-found freedom that Pakistani media now enjoys.

The term born-again was originally confined to the context of evangelical Christianity, to mean “converted,” hence a born-again believer. Because of the recent popularization of that term in society at large stemming from its Christian roots, it is now often used generally to refer to a conversion to any cause or belief, particularly when accompanied by extreme enthusiasm or fervour, such as a born-again conservationist, born-again post offices with refurbished premises – Wikipedia

This new brand of nationalism professed by these young and educated Pakistanis knows no bounds. There is a broad range of people falling into this crowd which can be differentiated on the basis of extremism they profess. But generally these are the people who blame almost everything on the west or India and are reluctant to accept responsibility for the actions of Pakistani’s in general and Pakistan Army in particular. They love conspiracy theories specially if they are coming from a western “scholar.”

The problem with these people and i will here particularly refer to Ahmed Quraishi crowd, is that they fan religious and nationalistic hatred. They twist the facts and report them as news. For those who do not believe me please refer to Ahmed Quraishi’s various programs on Mumbai Attacks and his inability to accept the fact that the attackers could be Pakistanis(Which was later accepted by GOP.)

Their fans follow them religiously on TV and blogosphere. They do not like their heroes to be attacked, for example on facebook i recently saw people posting personal information of individuals who were attacking Zaid Hamid – so that others could arrange a “gang attack” on their offices or homes. This kind of behavior can only be described as a nationalistic cult.

There are also some of them who are on the marginal side of extremism, many of them are found on the Pakistani blogosphere. Although they look innocuous, but their innocuous should not fool you. The depth of their hatred means that they leave objectivity at the door when writing their articles and opinion pieces, they inject the same hatred into their followers. They are shrouded in conspiracy theories which have no factual basis and are drugging Pakistanis into the deep sleep of nationalism.

I will end my opinion piece with a quote which describes nationalism in its proper context.

“Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.” – Albert Einstein.

Living in the lala land

naveen-naqvi1 It is depressing to see seemingly educated and liberal Pakistanis writing articles such as this one. Naveen Naqvi who is this author of this article is an anchor on dawn news and also writes for Huffington post, where in her last article she was arguing that Pakistan Army is not going to attack Taliban in S. Waziristan anytime soon.

What surprises me in her article is the lack of realization that Taliban are our creation. She does not seem to appreciate our responsibility in creating an evil(Taliban) and supporting it for our own geo-political needs. When you create an evil it becomes your responsibility, specially if that evil is threatening other nations. She also does not seem to see that Pakistan army is still reluctant to take this evil head on and is trying to save some of its branches for future adventures inside Afghanistan and India.

This thinking is becoming predominant in the so called liberal circles in Pakistan. The “do more” mantra coming from USA is not being understood in the proper context which is mentioned in the previous paragraph. We are already fighting in Waziristan! What do you want us to do? This is the common question in the minds of these people. They are oblivious to the reactionist approach followed by our army. Pakistan army is only engaging with this evil when it becomes impossible to sustain any form of civility in these areas. The old hawks and thinking is still predominant in Pakistan army, they are not engaging with Taliban in places where they have not become a problem for us. They still think that these Taliban can be used when USA leaves Afghanistan.

“If there is one thing we have learned from history, the cloak and dagger approach does not work. The Pakistani government should devise a strategy to reassure people instead of making half-hearted protests to the United States. As for the US, rather than reverting to putting boots on the ground, perhaps the Americans should consider putting their ear to the ground, and for a moment listening to what the Pakistani people might have to say.” Naveen Naqvi

You can clearly see how she is missing the context of the “Obama approach” and how the Pakistani army is tackling this issue. We have to understand that if Pakistan Army does not change its approach anytime soon, US has the right to escalate its war inside the borders of Pakistan, no matter what disillusioned Pakistanis are thinking.

Defamation of Religion! Is Islam in Danger?

pic_islam As the Pakistani Government with the help of other OIC countries is pushing for declaring ‘defamation of religion’ as a human rights violation, it is time for us to fight back.

This idea is being touted as the solution to the real problem of religious persecution and discrimination, this is only a farce. In reality it is being proposed to provide justification for governments to restrict religious freedom and free expression. It will also be used to provide international legitimacy for existing national draconian laws that punish blasphemy or otherwise ban criticism of religions. These national laws have already provided us with various cases of human rights violations. As international criticism has increased against these laws – these Muslim countries are trying to internationalize their laws to save face.

By pushing these laws these countries are also trying to create a new norm, they are trying to protect religious institutions and interpretations, rather then individuals. Amazingly these resolutions are trying to seek protection of religions in general but the only religion mentioned in them is Islam and its adherents. They do not explain how people of other religions will be protected and how this will be applied to them. They also do not describe the authority which will decide which statement is derogatory to religions? Will the question be decided by OIC? On its part OIC appears to consider any speech that the organization, or even a cleric or individual, deems critical of or offensive to Islam or Muslims to automatically constitute religiously defamatory speech.

For example, the March 2008 First OIC Observatory Report on Islamophobia cites as religiously defamatory speech the publication of cartoons depicting the Mohammed or Allah in newspapers in several European countries and South Africa, Pope Benedict’s quotation of a fourteenth-century Byzantine emperor’s allegation that Mohammed was “bad and inhuman” for commanding his followers to spread Islam by the sword, and comments critical of Islam or Muslims by Dutch, Austrian, Norwegian, Italian, and Swiss politicians, mostly from far-right parties. Also mentioned is right-wing Dutch MP Geert Wilders’ production of a then-unreleased film that the OIC believed would “vilify” the Koran, and an article by a British columnist that called Islam “an uncompromising seventh-century ideology.”

This view goes far beyond the existing domestic legal concept of defamation, which protects individuals against false statements of fact that damage their reputation and livelihood. Implementing this approach would violate provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and various human rights treaties that protect, with only narrow exceptions, every individual’s right to receive and impart information and speak out.

This kind of export of blasphemy laws should be criticized at every level. We have many examples in countries like Pakistan and Egypt of how these laws have been abused. These laws have not stopped religious persecution and discrimination instead these laws have helped in religious persecution.

It should be emphasized to these nations that criticism of a religion or philosophy is a fundamental human right. This is the same right which was used by the prophets of these religions to further their own cause. By using force to silence religious criticism is not only a human rights violation its also a grave injustice to human intellect and the evolution in human thought.

References:

a. Full Text of the “defamation of religion” proposal with comments from unwatch.org

b. OIC Letter to UN defending “defamation of religion” proposal

c. 1st OIC Observatory report on Islamophobia

d. 2nd OIC Observatory report on Islamophobia