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Secularism is the key to peace and security for all in Pakistan and South Asia

by Abida Junejo, Lila Thadani, Marvi Mahesar, 23 April 2009

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From: Sindhi Voices

These are times of bullets, so let’s use them, but peacefully.

  • To fully understand today’s dilemma it is essential to go back to Jinnah’s time.
  • Although a largely principled secularist he had invested too much of himself in the Pakistan project. He was therefore loathe to give it up for the nicety of achieving it without the support of the religious leaders and the landed elite of the Punjab. Without their support, he may indeed have failed.
  • A modern parallel is the lawyers movement that felt it may not achieve its goal without hitching a ride with Nawaz Sharif and his conservative Muslim League.
  • Ideals and goals when so diluted often show cracks later. Jinnah’s project broke up in the 1971, and now is in the process of self-destructing totally.
  • The lawyer’s movement and its hero the CJ have similarly failed to provide moral leadership in the face of blatant rejection of their profession and the laws of the land by the Talibans.
  • The military leadership is complicit in allowing theTalibs to become a menace of the years. The complicity became apparent in how the Red Mosque clerics were allowed to gain strength under the nose of ISI.
  • The military wants to keep the militants fighting-ready and protects them for use against India in Kashmir. It also wants a plaint government in Afghanistan.
  • The military wants to keep the American frightened and involved so that they, the Americans, keep pumping money into the war in Aghanistan, hoping that like old times, the local boys can skim off funds for personal gain as well as divert significant funds for the clandestine jihad in Kashmir.
  • The economic downturn may ensure that the Obama govt demands greater accountability in the spending of aid, which may make this somewhat unpalatable for the locals who have in the past skimmed off money.
  • There is also a lot of military aid coming to support the war in Afghanistan and this provides jobs for American military industrial complex. Don’t expect that to end on moral and ethical grounds.
  • Today Nawaz Sharif has woken up and expressed concern on the pronouncement of the mad Pathan mullahs. Even the idiotic darlings of the media such as Arshad Abbasi, Hamid Mir and Kamran Khan are unwilling recognizing the dangers of the mad mullah taking over Pakistan. Sharif’s party has for long supported the mullahs and have taken a pro-jihad line against the Americans. Sharif and company fool themselves that there are good Talibs (who can be used as canon fodder by the Army in Kashmir) and the nasties who are now attacking Pakistan. Yet he and his party did not have the courage to reject the Nizam e Adal bill in parliament.
  • The fact remains that the injust economic and political system that has evolved over the 60 years, abetted by the greedy military dictators, has made the minority provinces in particular look desperately for alternatives.
  • In the Talib, the largely illiterate Pathan (falsely) sees a group free of hypocrisy, fair and able to deliver Islamic justice.
  • The liberal media has failed miserably to show explicitly how callous and deadly the Taliban ’justice’ can be.
  • Only recently have videos of their deadly craft made the priveleged net-savvy groups aware of the bloody revolution that Pakistan faces if the mullahs are not squashed.
  • To win people over to see the real face of the Talibans, the brutality of their ways need to be shown repeatedly on national TV and broadcast on radio stations. NWFP should be plastered with FM radios that counter the virulent message of Mullah Radio (the depicable Mullah Fazlullah) and his father in law Sufi Muhammad. To clear your ear wax read:
  • Clearly Pakistan’s military will not do this on its own steam yet, and if and when it decides to do so, waking up like Nawaz Sharif has today, it will be too late.
  • The US government must impose this as one of the many conditions (they will be effective, as can be judged by opposition to it by the hugely unimpressive Pir and PM Gilani) for receiving funds. It should also ensure that a systematic psychological war plan is prepared to move the hearts and minds of the people towards a more rational future of Pakistan. This is naturally in their interest and also that of Pakistan.
  • We finally come to the part that Pakistanis in their present mindset will initially find unpalatable. If you take a deep breath and think with an open mind you will see that what we suggest makes a lot of sense for achieving peace and security in the region.
  • We can only survive if we go back to the original secular spirit of Jinnah. We have to move away from the opportunistic mode he adopted, in desperation, to achieve his personal ambition of having a Muslim state regardless of the tactics adopted for gaining success. (Note the parallels with Z.A. Bhutto - he sided with the army against the wishes of the Bengali people - ie was greedy and failed to adopt the right ethical way).
  • To bring about such a change is a major enterprise that will require the deep involvement of the global powers. It will necessitate the formation of the confederation of states in South Asia, with parts of India that are not satisfied with the overaching power of Delhi to gain autonomy.
  • The confederation idea is a neat way of ending the nuclear and conventional arms race in this region helped by an accelerated reduction of the nuclear stockpile in the West.
  • This will also necessitate the tranformation of the military industrial complex in the developed countries to peaceful ends such as environmental remediation and improvement of quality of life in around the globe. The drivers for this will remain self interest nuclear war and global environment damage knows no boundaries.
  • While the fundamentalist Hindu revivalist movement in India that are a threat to minorities need to be urgently quelled, a more urgent project is to encourage reformist movements in the Islamic communities of South Asia and particularly in Pakistan. What is needed is Islam’s Martin Luther to bring about a change that Christianity went through in the 15th and 16th centuries that helped separate the domain of God and governance. The laws that control human societies MUST be made by humans. Without Muslims coming to internalize this, they will not achieve peace within themselves or others.
  • The Sufi movement and several others in Islam allow for such an interpretation of Islam and this critical thought need to become ingrained of the educational system of Muslims throughout South Asia. The internet, radio and TV channels supported by secularist organizations should actively support such ventures. Funds invested in such ventures will bring dividends undreamed of via military interventions.
  • The West should stop exploitation of this poor part of the globe or else it will find itself under attack by mad men from here. Plurality needs to be supported and equitable distribution of weath with the western businesses kept under strict observation to treat the buyer in the South with fairness.
  • Intellectuals in Pakistan and in South Asia need to be encouraged to support secularization through enlightened education. Much is also wrong with Hinduism and the caste system it has encouraged in India. This too ought to be changed in the overall transformation that is desired.
  • We in Sindh will support fellow South Asians in the quest to achieve ideals outlined here.

We wish to be partners in a successful transition to achieving security for all and peace in South Asia.


Lila Thadani
- Sindi Adyoon Tehreek

Dr Abida Junejo
- Sindh Sujaag Sangat

Marvi Mahesar
- UC Berkeley

and many other sisters and brothers of Sindhi Voices.