Saturday, May 23, 2009

Only Taliban can do it

By Saeed Qureshi

If by a miracle, the Taliban extend their sway from Swat to other parts or the whole of Pakistan, then perceivably a very astounding development can take place. They could uproot the centuries’ old and deeply entrenched loathsome institutions of Feudalism and fiefdom from the land of pure as they have already done in Swat and Malakand. Pakistan, unlike India has thus far remained polluted and sullied by feudalism that exists in a way as if this was a state within the federal state of Pakistan. Since the inception of Pakistan, no meaningful efforts have been mounted to disband these classes of local lords, nobles and barons that cover and cripple the society like a parasite and scuttle, through intrigues and oppression, the establishment of a democratic polity that of the people, by the people and for the people.

In Pakistan, the feudal and bourgeoisie classes have their roots in politics, in the army, in parliament and even in business. It is one fraternity that survives and acts in unison against the state and the people. If the state does not oppose their possessions of the hug land holdings and their vast fiefdoms then they would remain in good humor and out of making trouble. The feudals and tribal chiefs, lord over their population as if they were their personal slaves and servants. Any move that was aimed at quashing feudalism in Pakistan was fiercely resisted by these local potentates.

It was first Ayub Khan and later Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who in 1977 introduced land reforms. But these reforms otherwise a landmark event, were done half hearted and were left half way due to the absence of sound mechanism for their strict compliance. The land ceilings fixed in those land reforms were realistic but were thwarted and breached variously by the feudal and big landlords via conceit, deceit ,fraudulent transfer of the land to fake names, to servants and family members. When the heat of the land reforms cooled down, the huge land holdings were still in the possession of the same persons and their families.

It is ironical that while we profess Islam and wish for an egalitarian society, we adhere to a much maligned system of feudalism that is reminiscent of medieval monarchies and autocracies. Islam believes in equality and discards anything including wealth or land that is beyond one’s needs. Islam rejects ostentation and profligacy and instead exhorts austerity and self denial. We quote the simple model of the life of our holy prophet and his pious companions and refer to their simple food, barest minimum clothing and patched shoes. We recount the episode of Omar Bin Abdul Aziz the ascetic monarch of the Umayyad dynasty for a very austere life and strict denial of anything that was extravagant in Islamic.

Barring those strict standards and parameters of self abnegation and temperance and with the exception of few chaste individuals, the lives of Muslims on the whole now and even in the past cannot be termed as Islamic. We wallow in wealth and make every fair and foul bid to accumulate as much wealth as we can. The life of the aristocrats, plutocrats, and the ruling elites apart, even a common man wants to be overly resourceful and rich and therefore, remains in pursuit of luxury. Either we should discard the Islamic code of renouncing and relinquishing of what was in excess of our needs or else we should accept that comforts and luxuries were essential needs of the daily life in the modern times. It is true that to be an absolute ascetic or recluse is difficult. But to voraciously possess and gobble up what was more than our needs even in the modern times was conceptually un-islamic.

With unimaginably huge land holdings covering thousands of villages and towns is certainly not Islamic. So is the possession of palatial mansions and keeping bank balances to the tune of millions and billions of these privileged individuals. On the hand a vast majority does not even have a small shelter to live in and an ensured daily meal to eat. The gulf between the rich and the poor in Pakistan is staggeringly wide. Again we have to choose between two views: whether this astronomical affluence is against the Islamic injunctions or else this should be taken as inevitable for the modern living and therefore should be condoned. But still flagrant and yawning inequality between citizens of our society is against the spirit and norm of a civilized society let alone an ideal Islamic polity. In non Islamic capitalist countries where there are no barriers on enriching oneself, the common man at least gets the basic benefits that enable him to live a reasonably comfortable life. As for law in those societies, there is strict accountability and even the wealthiest and the most influential have to justify the possession of wealth and ensure the payment of taxes to the government.

Interestingly, after becoming the local Islamic sovereign in Swat and Malakand, the first thing that Taliban did was to enforce the Islamic as well as the basic principle of socialism. They took over the lands and mansions of the land lords and distributed these among the local poor inhabitants. The ruthless local lords, aristocrats, plutocrats and filthy rich religious and spiritual healers, shamans and sooth Sayers have been dislodged from their lands. The fake and phony spiritual clout of the relgious lot which brings them soci-political power, pelf and a self crafted ecclesiastic license to reign as lieutenants of God on earth has been thoroughly exploded. A judicial system have been put in place in Swat and Malakand that is prompt, quick, punitive, least expensive and deterring. Now some one should tell us if these measures in any way are un-islamic?

By default or ignorance, the ferocious Taliban with rudimentary knowledge of Islam have in fact imposed a socialist system in Swat and Malakand. The communists profess equality and justice. They believe in capturing the power of the state by revolution, crush the capitalism and exploitative classes, establish economic democracy and realize the goal of classless society based upon common means of production and .distribution. Communism stipulates dictatorship of the proletariat and for this they believe in resorting to violence and oppressive means. This is what the Taliban are doing.

In Pakistan, practically run and governed by the privileged elite and feudals, it is inevitable that an equally ruthless and cutthroat organisation should come up that can disarm and dislodge them from their powerful status and grandeur built upon the deprivation and miseries of the common man. That force cannot be army, or the elected representatives or the government or even judiciary. The judiciary even if it is fair has to rely on the support of the administration that is infested by members of nobility and exploitative classes.

If the federal and the ANP’s provincial governments consented to the Taliban’s judicial system to be good for Swat then by logic it should also be beneficial for the rest of Pakistan. So if Taliban want this Islamic law to be extended to other territories, they are simply exploiting the rank opportunism, stark capitulation and folly of the federal and the NWFP provincial governments to acquiesce to that in the first instance. The PPP government is caught in a dilemma because they cannot play with the Islamic tenets: deeming them good for one part of the country and not good for the others.

The matter of the fact is that by declaring the parliament, judiciary, democratic system in Pakistan as un-islamic, the Taliban’s supreme leader, Sufi Jan Muhammad stood by his own creed and dogma with utmost sincerity and unflinching resoluteness. He has, in fact, exposed the hypocrisy and cant of the rulers in Pakistan who subjugated before the will and dictates of a breed of ignorant and uncultured Islamists for short gains. The government has to pay for it very dearly. If the federal government does not further give in to the dictation and demands of the Taliban under Maulvi Fazlullah and Sufi Jan Muhammad and remotely controlled by Baitullah Mahsud, Pakistan is destined to face a renewed spate of the bomb blasts, suicide bombing and bloodshed that was rampant in Swat. So the federal government and that of ANP should be ready to face a new onslaught of the Islamic barbarians who have neither compunctions nor any hesitation to further their mission to the entire length and breadth of Pakistan. The PPP government has to harvest the crop it has foolishly and under pressure sown.

So let Taliban eliminate feudalism, destroy the fortress of the spiritual healers, decimate the self appointed divine solicitors and fake contenders of godly powers and pillage their citadels of exploitation tombs etc where Shirk ( belief in entities other than god) is practiced and where superstitious people are beguiled and misguided. It is foregone that Taliban would not succeed in Pakistan. But in the meantime they would dent or destroy an abominable institution that is nothing short of a scourge. The Taliban, in the longer run, will have to face the combined resistance from the civil society, the people in general and more specifically from the army. Therefore, a relgious and social upheaval will overtake the country that no one knows how long would last. Nevertheless, in order to forestall such a chaotic eventuality, Pakistan’s rulers should speedily move, on their own, to bury and abolish the abominations of feudalism and peerage.

No comments:

Post a Comment