• Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Politics and religion: YLH

Discussion in 'Pakistani Siasat' started by SoulSpokesman, Jun 17, 2019.

  1. SoulSpokesman

    SoulSpokesman FULL MEMBER

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    https://dailytimes.com.pk/413207/politics-and-religion/

    In priest-ridden societies like those that exist in the subcontinent it becomes next to impossible to engage in politics without appeal to religion. Mahatma Gandhi was the foremost practitioner of religious appeal in politics, introducing the idea of India’s ancient culture, Hindu idioms and appealing to Ram Rajya as the ideal rule of man. His lieutenant Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was an agnostic who in his English books and other writings carefully cultivated the image of a secular progressive but nonetheless made it a point of using the appellation Pandit and wearing the native dress over European dress. There are pictures of him with a janoi, the sacred Brahmin thread, and taking dips in Ganges like a good Hindu. When the debate on the Indian Constitution happened two views were expressed. The first view was that India should have a rigid separation of religion and the state as advocated by KT Shah. The second view was that Hindus are a people with deep religious moorings and that while India should not have a state religion, it should nonetheless not have a rigid separation between religion and state of the kind in practice in the United States. This view was advocated by KM Munshi. Agnostic and yet a janoi-wearing Brahmin Pandit that he was, Nehru came out in favour of the latter. Regrettably, even Dr Ambedkar sided with KM Munshi. The word secular was not added to the Indian Constitution until the 1970s. Interestingly it must be added the US Constitution never used the word. It is the First Amendment that has most clearly and notably become the very definition of secularism.

    On our side, Jinnah had admirably opposed tooth and nail the introduction of religion into politics, dismissing Gandhi’s appeals to religion and his supporting cast of Muslim Maulanas as false religious frenzy. In the legislature he was a proponent of the idea that the legislature could and should override religious injunction where religion clashes with modern civilized government. As late as 1935 Jinnah insisted that religion was a matter merely between man and God but by 1938, he, too, was proclaiming that the Muslims were proud of introducing religion into politics. Perhaps he felt that this was the only way to counter Gandhi and his mass appeal. While he attempted to walk a thin line, the older Jinnah did manage to keep religion out of any constitutive documents of the Muslim League and later vetoed religious resolutions in Pakistan. Nevertheless in some public speeches Jinnah referred to principles of Islam and tried to argue that modern democracy was compatible with the idealism of Islam and that Muslims had learnt democracy 13 centuries earlier. He kept insisting that Pakistan would not be a theocracy but rather an inclusive modern democratic state that would embody the essential democratic principles of Islam. Somewhat paradoxically, he had also given the August 11 speech which had argued for religion being the personal faith of an individual and not the business of the state. Confusion reigns vis a vis these apparently contradictory stances, though logically the August 11 speech must take precedence. In any event, Jinnah’s secularism was inspired by the British model, which was quite different from the wall of separation that exists in the US. The British model is more secularization rather than cut and dried secularism. In a strict constitutional sense, Britain is still an Anglican Monarchy where the head of the state has to be an Anglican Protestant in order to also lead the Church of England. However, the elected prime minister can be of any faith and there is otherwise no intrusion of religion into state affairs.

    In India, the idea of Ram Rajya has taken a life of its own coupled with Hindu Rashtra. While Gandhi may have taken Ram Rajya to mean ideal and just rule of man and Gandhi apologists often refer to Gandhi’s invocation of Caliphs Abu Bakr and Umar (with whom God was plesed) while advising Congress ministers in 1937 as example of his secularism without missing the irony, Ram Rajya means something entirely different to the masses now supporting Modi. With the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty having lost legitimacy the fine balance kept by the agnostic Pandit Nehru is now good as gone. On the Pakistani side, the members of the Constituent Assembly tried to reconcile Islamic ideals with modern inclusive democracy through the Objectives’ Resolution. The aborted draft constitution, shelved in 1954, and the short-lived Constitution of 1956 were two attempts to build on those principles. Neither constitution had a state religion. However the 1973 Constitution made Islam the state religion. Gen Zia’s 11 years of Islamisation made Pakistan a full-blown theocracy which we are today. Perhaps all we can hope for now is a gentler and kinder theocracy which incorporates human rights principles along with a degree of consociationalism that can ensure some justice for minorities. Meanwhile our erstwhile eastern wing, now sovereign and independent Bangladesh, is a self proclaimed secular state which again paradoxically has Islam as its state religion. Things are just not as clear-cut as we would want them to be.

    Then there is Prime Minister Imran Khan with his riyasat-i-Madina rhetoric. What Imran Khan means is an ideal progressive society run on the timeless principles of honesty, integrity and rule of law. However to certain sections within the orthodox religious opinion, the term means something quite different. They interpret it as a signal that they would be put in charge of the government. Perhaps the dangers of this rhetoric became most obvious when Imran Khan decided to lecture the people on the battles of Badr, Uhud and Khandaq during his famous midnight address last week. A great number of the ulema are up in arms, accusing him of blasphemy. The result of the chaos is that at a time when the country is going through one of its worst economic crises – entirely a result of this government’s inept handling – the National Assembly is being held hostage to a debate over whether the prime minister committed blasphemy or not. This is not the first time pointless religious controversy has stalled progress in Pakistan.

    One is forced to reiterate therefore the timeless wisdom of the US Supreme Court which said that mixing religion and government degrades religion and destroys government. Almost every day we see evidence of this in Pakistan. The people of the US were no less committed to their religion than Pakistanis or Indians. Yet they made the choice of keeping religion out of government. That is why they are where they are today. Pakistan needs to hark back to the younger Jinnah who repeatedly warned against bringing religion into politics.

    Regards
     
  2. RIWWIR

    RIWWIR SENIOR MEMBER

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    Dangerous thread. Would inadvertently go into discussion on religion.
     
  3. Riyaz Syed

    Riyaz Syed BANNED

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    People in developing countries are not aware how democracy evolved in the west. There was economic progress then political progress followed. For instance in early western democracies, Suffrage right was not universal. Only white property owning males could vote. After economic progress they brought in political reforms.

    In poor countries the process is reversed. Political reforms precede economic progress. Hence the mess.

    Western democracy is not suited for poor countries. As the Chinese rightly say if we were democratic, we would be as poor as the Indians.

    Pakistan is trying to find a balance between western ideals and Islamic ideals. Hence the mess.

    I believe if Pakistan were to go 100% Islamic, it would succeed. But I guess the present elite don't want that as they would lose power.

    Blindly following the west is pretty stupid. Unfortunately in south asia, western worship is still prevalent.
     
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