IN THE NAME OF ALLAH, THE BENEFICENT, THE MERCIFUL
ROLE OF ISLAMIC PARTIES IN POST-ELECTION ERA
[Shamim A Siddiqi, New York]
Pakistan was carved out of the subcontinent of India to serve as a laboratory for Islam. More than fifty years have passed but that dream still stands unrealized. Jamaate- Islami and the Ulama of Pakistan tried their best from their different platforms but failed to attain their cherished goal fulfilled. The paramount reason was that they were divided, fighting mostly amongst themselves and had different political agenda to struggle for. The secular, anti-Islam and the vested interests of Pakistan exploited this situation for their nefarious ends and brought Pakistan to the verge of ruination. Out of political expediencies and timidity, these factions have given an open opportunity to the USA to infiltrate in Pakistan and sabotage its land, sea and air jurisdiction. Pakistan has now been literally “occupied” by the US and is totally involved in fighting against Muslims in the name of terrorism beyond its national aspirations. This is the reality on the ground in which Pakistan is enveloped all around. It needs the Iman of a Mumin, his wisdom and sagacity to get out of this self-created mess.
Thanks to Allah (SWT), through the elections held in Pakistan on October 10, 2002, the united front of the Islamic parties known as MMA [Muttaheda Majlis-e-Amal] has emerged as the third national group or party after PML (Q) and PPPP. Simultaneously, it had secured majority seats in the Frontier Province and leading all other parties in the province of Balochistan. It is in an absolute position to form its own provincial government in the Frontier and a coalition in the Balochistan. The significant point that cannot and should not be ignored is this that Afghanistan, the hot bed of Taliban and the “quagmire” of the USA lay across the border of these two provinces of Pakistan. A government of Islamic forces in these provinces needs to be projected and introduced to the world not as anti-American or anti-West or pro-Taliban but standing for justice to all, friendly to Afghanistan people, strengthening the ties of brotherhood in between two brotherly Muslims states across the borders. It is a very delicate situation to handle. It tantamount to walking on tight rope. I am sure the Islamic leadership will deal with this precarious situation efficiently and energetically. It will have to play a role of balance in between the commitment that had already been made by Mr. Musharraf to the USA and take Pakistan out of that mess with dignity and foresightedness, making it again a free and independent country.
At the national level, the role of MMA should rather be more radical, imaginative, constructive and ideologically motivated. The success of MMA in this election was mostly due to the fact that all were united and the pro-Islamic votes were cast to its candidates solidly whereas in all the previous elections, they used to be divided among themselves with the result that the candidates of the secular parties were elected with marginal votes. The Jamaat-Islami and Jamiate-Ulma-e-Islam [both the groups] and Mohtram Noorani Sahib have enormous influence in Sarhad and Balochistan provinces in the chain of Madrassas that are spread over in both the provinces. These religious institutions and their students have worked relentlessly for the candidates in both the provinces, enabling the MMA to reap the harvest with grand success. But MMA has done very poorly in the majority Provinces of Punjab and Sind.
Jamaate Islami could only get a few seats in the urban area of Karachi, two in Lahore and one in Islamabad. The rest of the country is “dry” as if the Islamic forces have no say in the affairs of these majority provinces. MMA could muster only 3% votes in Punjab and 11% in Sind in National Assembly and in Provincial Assemblies only 2% in Punjab and 10% in Sind with a total of 19% votes that were cast in its favor throughout the country. This lopsided situation is very alarming from ideological point of view. MMA should at all not be overwhelmed by its landslide victory in Frontier and leading position in Balochistan, as the causes of its success in these two provinces are different as elaborated above.
The failure of MMA in Punjab and Sind are numerous and each of them is to be addressed meticulously. Briefly they can be listed as under:
1. Both Punjab and Sind are in the total grip of big zamindars [landlords], Jagirdars, Vederas. Their hegemonies against Islamic and democratic forces must be broken once and for all. If it is not done, as soon as possible, Pakistan’s dream to become an Islamic State will never be materialized.
2. Punjab is especially infested with the predominant evils of clan-family-tribal system wherein the clan-men and women do not vote to people other than their own community. It needs their orientation on Islamic lines that it is the character and human qualities that should be the points of consideration not tribal affinity while casting vote.
3. The Islamic parties, especially Jamaate-Islami, so far, could not reach out to the majority of the people of Punjab and Sind that reside in villages and outside their urban “Halqas”. They do realize this shortcoming of their working strategy but do not try to abridge the gap and if they do it all, they do it uppishly. In December 1999, I had the chance to talk to the Amir Punjab, Br. Hafiz Muhammad Idrees, in Lahore and suggested that why can’t they work in villages as Jamaat-e-Tabligh is doing by sending Dawah groups to villages on frequent visits and get them organized at village level. At that time, he could arrange at least one thousand such groups on monthly basis out of the team of workers available to him. He agreed to do that but perhaps could not make it effective. The results are before us. Without organizing Dawah at the grass root level in our villages, no change is possible in the political firmament of Pakistan.
4. Islam cannot be imposed on the people from the upside down or from the position of power whether in the provinces or in the center. The people of the big provinces, the majority of Pakistan, have supported overwhelmingly to secular parties in the past and they have voted the same way in this election. There should not be any surprise about their behavior in election voting process. The urge for the Islamic state and the system must come from within the masses and for that the MMA, especially JI, has to work hard, educate the people, and convince them that their welfare and future lies only in Islam. If they are, thus, convinced, they will vote in multitude to Islamic parties as they are currently voting for PPP, Muslim Leagues and other secular parties. There is no short cut method in Islam to bring an Islamic revolution. This must be cleared to the parties constituting MMA. It is against the process laid down by the Prophet of Allah through his long struggle for the first Islamic State. The same must be followed meticulously by the Islamic parties of our time.
With the above in view, the MMA must not try to form a coalition government at present at the center save and except, there is a call for a “national government” with a clear cut two items agenda to abolish the Zamindari system in its totality and remodeling the education system on Islamic lines. If the situation is otherwise, it must prefer to sit in apposition with a declared policy to cooperate in ‘Bir” [good] and appose “ sin and oppression” [ism and udwan]. Pakistan at present needs a strong apposition both inside the government and outside. Inside, it must try to remove the obstacles that are the impediments in establishing the Islamic order in the country. From outside, the entire platform of MMA must try to change the people’s mind, habits and psychology towards Islamic order of life. If they work for the next five years on this pattern, I am more than sure, they will reap the harvest both in Punjab and Sind as they have done today in Frontier and Balochistan. The period of five years is not a long time to wait for the emergence of Islam as a political entity in Pakistan. It appears now to be the destiny of Pakistan and Allah’s help and Nusrah will come in its wake. MMA has to accept this challenge and work in the post-election era as a united team to transform Pakistan into a welfare-progressive-Islamic state of 21st century.
Shamim A Siddiqi
Dated October 13, 2002