Friday, August 24, 2018

Prime Minister Imran Khan and The State of Medina

August 23, 2018

By Saeed Qureshi

Imran Khan the 22nd elected Prime Minister of Pakistan with an overwhelming mandate offers a great hope for a prosperous and modern Pakistan. He wants to erect and build a new Pakistan on the pattern of the State of Medina that the Prophet of Islam, Hazrat Muhammad founded after migrating from Mecca to Madina in 622 A.D., along with his closest companion and the first Caliph Hazrat Abu Bakr who later also had the honor of being his father-in-law.

On August 19th in his inaugural victory speech, he spelled out his vision and mandate to restructure Pakistan and bring it in the comity of developed nations and earn international support, respect and dignity for Pakistan. It would be fruitful for the people of Pakistan to go through his charter of reforms and ponder how groundbreaking and revolutionary these are.

His agenda for a new Pakistan consists mainly 27programs or reforms that are essentially far-reaching and innovative.  Even if a part of this agenda is implemented, a new prosperous, truly democratic and stable Pakistan is believed to emerge that may earn respect in the comity of nations and have peaceful and friendly relations with neighbors mainly India, Iran and Afghanistan.

While Prime Minister Imran’s mission and mandate are noble and essential for the uplift of Pakistan, one may wonder as to how in a short space of time, he would be able to fashion Pakistan on the pattern of the Islamic State of Medina or Khilafat-e-Rashida. How the State of Medina could be worth emulation when three out of four Caliphs were assassinated. How then it could be rated peaceful and glorious era for the Muslims and to be assessed as ideal for emulation?

The life and mission of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) were threatened in Mecca from his opponents.)  Therefore in 622 A.D., he migrated to Medina clandestinely along with his close companion Hazrat Abu Bakr, later the first Caliph of Islam and Prophet’s father in law.  

During his life of 10 years (622-632 AD) spent in Madina, the holy Prophet laid down the fundamental structure of Islam and the contours of the newly emerging Islamic fraternity and the nation under the divine inspiration. The fundamental guidelines of Islam are preserved in the holy Quran and read and imbibed by all of us day in and day out.

The state of Medina originally was confined to a few miles and later expanded by the Islamic victories to as far as Iraq, Syria, Persia, Jerusalem and the entire Arab Peninsula came under the sway of the Muslims.

As pointed out earlier that the Medina State was founded by the Prophet when he migrated secretly from Mecca to Medina in 622 AD and headed it until his demise in 632 AD. It means that he headed the state of Medina for ten years. He created unity and fraternity among the hostile tribes and established brotherhood during his life time. It was a nascent small state confined to a small city of Yasreb or Medina but it was a truly Islamic state in the making.

Would a new modern state fit into the pattern of a small state of the past or vice-verse?  Spiritually and religiously the state of Medina was glorious but materially it was not a kind of modern developed state that came into being after the industrial revolution.

The modern comforts, learning and knowledge, democratic institutions, educational patterns and fast modes of transportation were not available in earlier times including Saudi Arabia, although both Mecca and Medina, and even Jerusalem were spiritually and morally on the highest level and still are. In the modern times the discovery of electricity by itself is the main vehicle of all the scientific inventions and the discoveries are the boons that we witness all over the world today. Education, health, fast transportation agriculture, housing and so on, are the boons of the modern times. Now every small and big city has masques and Islamic educational and learning institutions imparting latest knowledge to the people including Islam. There are mosques in every town and country where Muslims pray and perform their religious obligations much faster under a galore of comforts that were not available in earlier times. The whole world has become a village where the human beings can move and travel.

If Imran Khan means by state of Medina by law and order, unity welfare, equality, brotherhood and the unity then these fundamental obligations are taken care of in an absolutely perfect and safer manner by the courts and laws of the land and the relevant institutions. In the present societies, there is absolute freedom to follow one’s religion in every society more than the past. The number of the Muslim faithful is increasing by leaps and bounds all over the world. The State of Medina was morally high but by way of material comforts is no match to the modern nation states.   

There are four principle Imams who reinterpreted some of the confusing or complex Jurisprudence clauses and rules in Islam. The division of Islam into Shia and Sunnis needs two Islamic systems of jurisprudence and payers in Islam. But during the incipient state of Medina these differences were not there. Either you throw way all the Shias and other fringe sects out of the pale of Islam or reinterpret or redefine the injunction prevalent during the State of Medina headed by the Prophet himself (622-632 and Khilafat Rashida of four Caliphs which lasted for 39 years (632-661.The Khilafat-e- Rashida was succeeded by the Ummyad dynasty. Amir Muawiyah the founder of the Ummayad dynasty declared himself a Caliph while Caliph Ali had been an elected Caliph already with capital in Medina. Through a ruse of arbitration, Amir Muawiyah the founder of the Ommyad dynasty (680-743 AD).  also assumed the title of the Caliph. As such for quite some time there were two Caliphs in the Islamic empire. Their mutual fighting between the forces of Ali and Muawiyya for almost six years led to the   killings and death of thousands of Muslims from both the sides.

Ommyad dynasty came to an end in 750 AD and was replaced by the establishment of the Abbasid Caliphate (followers of Caliph Ali) or empire consisting of Persian, Syrian and Arabs. Banu Abbas killed each and every member of the ruling Umayyad clan except one youthful Abd-al-Rahman Ibne Muawiyya, the grandson of the tenth Ommyad Caliph Hisham. Abd-al-Rahman fled to Spain where he founded a new Islamic empire.

It is a part of the early Islamic history that most of the consolidation and extension of Arab domain in the Middle East and North Africa took place during the Ummayad Caliphate and Abbasid dynasty (750-861 AD). The Abbasids have the credit of setting up an international empire of the Persian, Syrians and Abbasid Caliphate.

The fundamental difference between what the founder of Islam achieved was to not only inculcate a set of divine rulers for a better conduct and sinless life style among the ill-informed and hostile people and tribes but to bring them together as brethren and members of the same faith. Hazrat Muhammad had to undergo extremely hard conditions and oppositions both in Mecca and Madina.

However, Prophet Muhammad received the guidelines from Allah the creator of the universe who conveyed his commands to him through the Angel Gabriele, besides creating those injunctions in his mind. As a result, a society of dedicated and the devoted Muslims came into being who spread the message of Islam far and wide though after a long trail of sufferings and difficulties. Prophet Muhammad’s companions had also to undergo extreme hardships and impediments in carrying forward the teachings of Islam among the community. That was a miracle as earlier Prophets couldn’t achieve these pristine and virtuous objectives.

Finally, the State of Medina and Khilafat Rashida was an ideal example of an Islamic state, yet it was not free of contentious issues and ideological conflicts. Immediately after the death of the Prophet and when still his body was to be buried, three incidents happened. One was the claim of three groups for the position of the successor. One such group favored Hazrat Ali the son in law of the Prophet who pressed their claim emphatically. The other claimant were from the Ommyad branch of the Qureshi tribe to regain their former position and status through the new religion. The third group emphasized the tradition prevalent among the tribes that the oldest and the wisest should be chosen as the successor of Prophet or Caliph after the demise of Prophet Muhammad.

Since Abu Bakr met these conditions he was chosen as the first Caliph of the state of Madina. Several Arab tribes revolted to get free from the new religion but were suppressed and subdued by the first Caliph Abu Bakr. Nevertheless, the family of the Prophet namely Banu Hashim including Ali and Fatima, the daughter of the Prophet claimed that it was their right to lead the Caliphate. Ali and their family members isolated themselves from the state affairs under the new Caliph for quite some time. Successor of Abu Bakr namely Umar bin Khattab and Usman were not from the Banu Hashim or Prophet’s family. Hazrat Ali became the fourth Caliph after the assassination of Hazrat Osman in 656 AD. Hazar Umar the second Caliph was the father in law of the Prophet and the third Caliph Usman was the son in law of the Prophet Muhammad.  There had been a division between the Muslims after the demise of the Prophet Muhammad which till this day is existing between the Sunnis and Shias or between Saud Arabia and Iran. Islam therefore has remained divided since the establishment of the State of Medina.    

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Now When the General Elections are Over in Pakistan

August 1, 2018

By Saeed Qureshi

General elections were held in Pakistan on 25 July 2018 to elect the members of the 15th National Assembly and the four Provincial Assemblies of Pakistan. These elections would go down into the national and political history of Pakistan as game changers. The PTI (Pakistan Tehrik- Insaf) led by inimitable Imran Khan, has defeated the traditional contenders in these elections by a wide and impressive lead of 118/272 to 59 seats of the Pakistan Muslim League (PMLN) headed by Main Nawaz Sharif.

The former prime minister is now serving a ten-years jail term in Rawalpindi jail along with his daughter Mariam Nawaz. In a verdict on the “Avenfield reference” filed by the National Accountability Bureau(NAB) on 6 July 2018, the Federal Judicial Complex of Pakistan sentenced Sharif to ten years in prison. His daughter Maryam Nawaz and her husband Safdar Awan were sentenced to seven years and one year in prison, respectively.

This historic and game changing victory by a relatively new political party is like a whiff of fresh breeze in the stale corridors of power for such a long time. The PMNL headed by Mian Nawaz Sharif as the prime minister had three terms in the government: the first 6 November 1990 – 18 July 1993, the second from 17 February 1997 – 12 October 1999 and the third term from 5 June 2013 – 28 July 2017.

In the backdrop of allegations of pre-poll rigging to sway the elections’ results in favor of the PTI and against the PML (N), Imran Khan has offered to fully cooperate with the opposition parties over investigation into the alleged rigging in polls. The PTI is considering to form governments at the center and in Punjab, the largest province of Pakistan. The top brass of PTI has decided to contact the other political parties namely MQM-P, GDA, PMNL-Q and independent candidates to join government at the center, and presumably in three provinces namely Punjab, Sindh and KPK (Khyber Pakhtun Khawa). 

Unlike his pre-elections lethal rhetoric, the post elections victory speech of Imran Khan exuded a sentiment of reconciliation and sobriety. He has asked the rival parties to forget the pre-election heat and bitterness particularly between the two parties PTI and the PMLN. It could be condoned as the adage goes that “all is fair and justified in love and war”. Imran Khan’s reconciliation offer should also be relevant to the ladies with whom Imran Khan is reported to have been associated in the past. It is rather a sign of healthy political culture that the opposition refrained from drumming up the right or wrong sexual scandals of Imran Khan as claimed and revealed by his erstwhile wife Reham Khan is her book in which she castigated Imran Khan for sexual perversions.

Imran Khan’s post-election speech was a charter and package of reforms that he intends to implement and enforce in Pakistan. His claims and reforms make a long list that would take pretty good amount of time for implementation all the more in a politically divided arena of Pakistan. Yet there is no doubt he proved to be not only a valiant fighter in the cricket field but also lately proved that he has the same motivation and dogged determination which had been demonstrated in the cricket arena and brought victory to Pakistan.

Now the fiery and emotional speech that looked extempore is replete with commitments to clean and straighten the political, social, cultural, economic and foreign affairs turfs of Pakistan.  One can only wonder that while at the federal level, he might move forward and implement partial or entire agenda and package of reforms, at provincial levels there could be bottlenecks where the opposition parties would be able to form the governments. If he moves ahead with the perceived and targeted progress and success, he would not only make history as the architect of a new modern Pakistan but establish his personal credentials as a leader true to his mission and conscience.

Let us see what far-reaching reforms and fruitful changes which the 19th prime minister of Pakistan would bring and inject into the smeared politico-social culture of Pakistan. The number one emergent issue that he outlined for his government is to eliminate corruption (fiscal) from the lengths and breadth of Pakistan. As to what strategy he evolves and adopts is yet to be seen. His second priority is good and efficient governance that includes institutional overhaul whose range is wide and tricky.

But his top priority is to mold Pakistan in a pattern of the state of Medina by which he means a welfare state in which no one is denied justice and no one dies of hunger. In this regard, he particularly mentioned the lower and weaker sections of the society deprived of fair and equal privileges, rights and justice by the upper and powerful classes.

His second priority is to open more educational institutions, schools and colleges so that 25 million deprived boys and girls could be accommodated for education. Simultaneously his administration would focus on the medical facilities particularly for the females who die during the pregnancy for want of timely attention.

Then he talked of human development on a countrywide scale one of which would be the provision of clean and abundant water to the entire country particularly in water-scarce area.

He emphasized that if China, a friendly country to Pakistan can bring out 70 crore people out of poverty why cannot we do that in Pakistan as well. He intends to enforce the supremacy of law at any cost by committing that henceforth justice would be for all the people high or low, poor or rich and there wouldn’t be discrimination on the basis of privileged and non-privileged.

He emphatically mentioned about the economy of Pakistan which he described as extremely fragile and in bad shape. His good governance plan aims at simplicity by the rulers. His emphasis was to drastically reform the prevailing taxation regime and culture because the rich and affluent classes and businessmen avoid paying taxes partially or fully. Imran Khan talked of abandoning the palatial edifice of the prime minister’s house and instead moving his office to a relatively simple, accessible and modest office.

Accountability seems to be watchword of his agenda that he promised would start from him and go down. That indeed is an historic pledge which if truly implemented would refine the society and may throw up a Pakistan with least corruption and wrong doings both in government echelons as well as institutionally and privately.

His plans and manifestoes include providing jobs particularly to the youth of Pakistan. Yet the most distinctive hallmark of his envisaged policies, and outlook is to normalize relations with the neighbors of Pakistan. In this regard he mentioned all the three neighboring countries viz India, Iran and Afghnistan and his resolve to sot out the mutual issues through dialogue and in an amicable manner. He would prefer to have open borders as well a productive dialogue to eliminate the cross-border tension, bitterness, terrorism and promote trade.

In a rare display of fairness and integrity, he has offered and agreed to open and investigate all those election seats that the opposition and rival candidates claim and allege to be rigged. He is ready to go along with any procedure to find the truth. That indeed a very generous and principled offer that looks positive as compared to the past elections held in Pakistan.


Imran Khan’s Clean Sweep and Opposition Parties’ Reaction

July 28, 2018

By Saeed Qureshi

A segment of the people in Pakistan and elsewhere who watched general elections in Pakistan on July 25, are dumbfounded over the inordinate delay of the results. It is being speculated that the polling stations sent their results first somewhere else where the results were manipulated and then forwarded to the media or made public.

Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)has emerged as the largest party winning 115 National Assembly seats. The runner up party PMNL could grab only 64 seats. The PTI is also capable of forming coalition governments in the provinces. It means it is a clean sweep for PTI. In response, all other major parties including PMLN, PPP, MMA have alleged rigging in the general elections.

The most glaring lacuna that was evident to all the television viewers was the inordinate and unjustified delay in compiling the results at various polling stations and sending those to the Election Commission Center for releasing to the media.

I heard such allegations and apprehensions being expressed by a group of analysts and observes at GEO and other TV channels who seemed to be flabbergasted over the lists of results coming in after log spells of time. They looked cynic and amused over the delay and the lead by the majority of winners from the PTI.

There was an eerie and impatient wait for quite a few hours at the TV stations. The program anchors and the teams of interlocutors had no clue as to why the results were not being finalized and announced and made public through the Media. Such a situation has seldom come to the fore during the past elections although the malpractices did take place here and there.

Finally, that spell of waiting and uncalled for suspense started breaking and the announcement began appearing on the media and the television screens. Amazingly all the three mainstream political parties lagged behind in capturing their traditional or expected seats. Could it be possible that the MQM lose several seats in their home constituencies existing in the sprawling city of Karachi?

Was it possible that the PPP would get merely a handful of seats in all the provinces of Pakistan, particularly in its home turf of Sindh province. But the most astonishing setback accrued to the PMNL that it lost majority and even a sizable number of votes in all the provinces of Pakistan even in Punjab which is also their home province.

Of late, the Election Commission of Pakistan has rejected and denied most of the appeals for recounting of the votes. If there is a caveat in the law for recounting of votes in case of a doubt and apprehension by the contesting candidates then granting approval for such requests is legal and in order. But thus far except one or two cases, no other appeals for recounting of the votes in respective constituencies has been granted.

The fundamental question being debated is as to why the results of the votes were not announced by the concerned operatives immediately. Why there was a long spell of time before these results reached the media including Television stations.

The overall number of winners not only were mostly from the PTI but their winning margin was shown much higher than their opponent candidates. It looks as if all the numbers of votes were hastily or casually announced even without counting. Even it was not the case then why the appeals for recounting are not being entertained.

Now army is not going to pressure the staffers of the polling stations or the Election Commission because they would not ask the risk of seeing the PMNL candidates winning. Nor would judiciary and the Election Commission would agree to the counting the votes again as in case of wrong doings their own workers and staff could be exposed. It is indeed a dilemma.

In the meantime, and during the course of this fiasco the main political parties which indeed are the PPP, the PMNL Fazal-Rehman’s President of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, Jamaat-Islami, MQM and others have rejected the results of the 2018 general elections. They have planned to launch a movement for holding fresh elections.

Rejecting July 25 election results, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has demanded Chief Election Commissioner to step down as he has failed to conduct free and fair elections. All Parties Conference (APC) convened jointly by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) has rejected July 25 general election results.

Briefing the media about the conference, Mauala Fazl-ul-Rehman said. “We will launch a movement for re-elections as all parties have developed consensus over it,” Maulana Fazl went on to say that they will organize protest demonstrations across the country till elections were held again. The PMLN President Shahbaz Sharif, Jamaat-e-Islami Chief Siraj ul Haq and others were also present.

Finally, after all it was not a kind of French Revolution that a colossal change of opinion took place by giving ascendency to one party and its boss over all other contenders whose roots were much deeper in the masses than a later-day born party with a limited appeal basically confined to KPK province.

In the first instance the opposition parties may concede to the victory of PTI. Alternately they may take recourse to legal option by approaching the courts. But to launch a countryside agitation is going to be ruinous for the political system to continue and disruption of the normal life in Pakistan. That situation of disturbance and countrywide upheaval may invite the army to step in and may impose martial law.