Wednesday, November 22, 2017
By Saeed Qureshi
The sit-in assemblage (Dharna) by the Muslims and upholders of the Khatam-e-Nabuwat (the belief in the finality of the prophet-hood of Hazrat Muhammad) is still continuing at the Faizabad interchange located between cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. This colossal protest congregation was initiated by the indignant Muslim protesters and religious and spiritual leaders on November 6 and is still continuing. The TLP leaders and activists have been picketing at the interchange since November 6, disrupting the routine life in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
This huge protest was sparked because some individuals in the government recently changed the oath related to Khatam-e-Nabuwat into a simple declaration and repealed Clauses 7B and 7C from the Election Order 2002 that made it obligatory for the government servants and all people serving on coveted positions and jobs to declare the finality of Prophet Muhammad for all times to come.
Apparently, it is a matter of faith and the Muslims particularly, the clerical classes and religious circles cannot accept the removal of those clauses from the oath that are related to the faith that prophet Muhammad is the final prophet of God. As such the colossal reaction to the removal of those controversial clauses recently were resented and hugely protested on the countrywide scale.
Tanzeem Islami (TI) Ameer Hafiz Akif Saeed has demanded “unmasking, punishing, and expelling the ministers and government officials responsible for repealing the clauses of Khatam-e-Nabuwat oath”. He pleaded that “those responsible for the misadventure of altering the Khatam-i-Nabuwat Declaration had committed a crime against entire Muslim Ummah and deserved punishment.”
The situation has become very precarious and problematic for the movement of vehicles of all kinds between these two cities. As we all know huge number of employees, businessmen and students travel between these two cities every day. As such with the Dharna and blockade caused by the demonstrators has caused inexplicable hardships for the employees and bread earners of the families and other commuters.
The students cannot reach their educational institutions easily. The patients cannot be moved from one place to another due to the persistent and stubborn protests and obstruction by the “do and die” protesters who stop the travelling of all kind by raising slogans and physically reprimanding and turning back the ordinary citizens. This is an alarming situation which has immensely disrupted the normal life of the citizenry in these most important cities of Pakistan.
In the meantime, and in response to the extremely delicate law and order situation and disruption of normal life, the government as a remedial measure, has removed the controversial “change of the oath related to Khatam-e-Nabuwat into a simple declaration and repealed Clauses 7B and 7C from the Election Order 2002”
The Pakistan’s Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal has claimed that “not only that those clauses have been restored but “The Khatam-e-Nabuwat law” has been strengthened more than ever before. So much so that Sections 7B and 7C which were made part of the Constitution during the Musharraf government in 2002 for 10 days only and were recently repealed, have been reinstated and made permanent part of the Constitution”.
Nevertheless, the leaders of this unrelenting religious protest must realize that the government will have to take stern action to clear the roads and disperse the crowd of protesters by using force including the deployment of the Frontier Constabulary as ordered by the High Court. That might entail casualties for which the entire responsibility will be leveled on the religious scholars and leaders who refuse to disperse and doggedly continue their protest and hampering the normal life of the citizens including the employees, the students and the general commuters.
In that situation, the prominent religious heads leading the protests will be held responsible for that mayhem, loss of life, damage to the property and vehicles etc. It is therefore, imperative that the religious leaders spearheading Khatam-e- Nabuwat should sit with the government functionaries on the negotiating table and sort out the whole issue in a peaceful manner. That is the best, viable and wiser course than having head-on collision with the government. If the purpose behind this protest is the removal of the incumbent government then it is a different scenario.
In the meantime, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has ordered the government to explain as to why it had failed to clear the Faizabad Interchange of Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) protesters.
"This is a very serious situation that despite a request to the leadership of the sit-in and directions given to the district administration, no material progress has been shown except negotiations, negotiations and negotiations," said Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, who heads the one-member bench.
The court served show-cause notices on Secretary Interior, IGP Islamabad, chief commissioner and deputy commissioner Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) seeking explanation as to why the protesters had not been removed from the interchange despite the November 17 directions.
The protesters are demanding resignation of certain ministers somehow related with that decision that patently hurt the religious sensibilities of the believes of Khatam e Nabuwat or the finality of the prophet-hood of Hazrat Muhammad.
It appears that the protests and their powerful religious guides and leaders have some other motives beyond the restoration of the concerned clauses. If it’s merely a question of resignation by some ministers let the government take that decision as well.
But per say had Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) been alive, he would have certainly advised and commanded the Muslims protesters to call off their strike for the sake of the people. He would have counseled them restraint and patience and not to be rowdy.
It is certainly advisable for the protesters to call off their protest when the basic conditions and demand of the protesters have been accepted and the necessary legal action taken by restoring the original clauses related to finality of the prophet-hood of Hazrat Muhammad (Sallalah-o-Alai - Wassallum) have been reinstated. It is all the more necessary to restore normal life of the citizens.