Another Jinnah in the making
25 January 2002
NEW DELHI: Not difficult to so do. His prescription was simple, straight forward. He thought and wrote in easily understandable English. President General Pervez Musharraf is the first leader of Pakistan who has followed Jinnah by going straight to the
core of the prescription. My column provoked an unbelievable number of e-mail messages mostly from Indian Hindus living in India and else-where. The minority objected strongly to my having quoted an old Gujarati saying about bathing in the river Ganga and washing away sins, some saying that there is no such saying and others claiming that bathing in the highly polluted Ganga merely purifies the soul. One practical gentleman told me that far from washing away anything, a bath in the Ganga will endow one with highly infectious skin diseases and if the water is ingested, a lethal stomach infection. The majority were highly incensed by my having suggested that the December 13 incident in New Delhi was staged by the Indians themselves, and in turn expressed their belief that the two recent incidents of fire in government offices in Pakistan which destroyed masses of files and records were deliberate acts of arson in the context of the current Musharraf crackdown on terrorism and sectarian strife. They were all adamant and convinced that December 13 was provoked and organised by our intelligence agencies. My question back to 'them: Who benefits? Anyhow until kingdom come, spooks of all nationalities and breeds will continue to play their games, forever leaving evidence that attempts to throw the blame fairly and squarely on their opponents. Musharraf spoke on January 12. Seldom has any leader of Pakistan been shown to the world addressing his nation simultaneously on a substantial number of international television news channels. To the point and firm, he was in what and how he said. Our people need to be reminded constantly of the following passages from his speech: "As soon as I assumed office, I launched a campaign to rid society of extremism and terrorism and ever since have striven to project Islam in its true perspective. In my first address to the nation on October 17, 1999, I said, and I quote: 'Islam teaches tolerance, not hatred; universal brotherhood, not enmity; peace and not violence...' I urge the Ulema to curb elements which are 'exploiting religion for vested interests and are bringing a bad name to our faith... the campaign against extremism undertaken by us from the very beginning is in our own national interest. It is not being undertaken at the behest of or under the advice of or under pressure from any outside source. "Sectarian terrorism has been with us for years. We are all fed up with it; it has become unbearable. Do we want Pakistan to 'become a theocratic state? Do we believe that religious education alone is enough for governance or do we want Pakistan to emerge as a progressive, dynamic Islamic welfare state? The verdict of the masses is in favour of an Islamic welfare state. "The extremists did nothing ..Other than contributing to bloodshed in Afghanistan. I ask of them whether they know any thing other than sowing the seed. of hatred? Does Islam teach tilts' Look at what the extremist minority is doing here indulging in fratricidal killing. They have no tolerance. It is now Muslim who is killing Muslim. Look at the damage they have done. In the year 2001, some 40 innocent people fell victim to sectarian violence. "Is this the way of life that Islam teaches us? That we should fight amongst ourselves and fear our fellow Muslims, fear visiting our places of worship outside which police have to be posted for our protection? Mosques are being misused for the propagation of haired amongst our different sects and beliefs — and also against the government. "Mosques are sacred places where we seek the blessings of God Almighty. Let them remain sacred. They cannot be used to spread political and sectarian prejudices. We must rid society of sectarian hatred and terrorism. Remember that mindsets cannot be changed through force and coercion, no idea can ever be forcibly thrust upon someone. There is no room for feuds in Islamic teachings. It is imperative that we teach true Islam, that is tolerance, forgiveness, compassion, justice, fair play, amity and harmony. The Kashmiris also expect to see an end to state terrorism and the abuse of human rights. Human rights organisations. Amnesty International, the international media and the United Nations peacekeepers should be allowed to monitor the activities of the Indian occupation forces. "As I have already pointed out, the writ of the government will be established. No individual, organisation or party will be allowed to break the laws of the land. We have to make Pakistan a powerful and strong country. We have resources and potential. We have also capacity to meet external dangers. We have to safeguard against internal dangers. "Have we ever thought of waging jihad against illiteracy, poverty and backwardness? This is the larger jihad." Another event of great significance was the restoration by the Musharraf government of the joint electorate system. This has been done with no fuss, there have been no upheavals, no riots. Such major changes which really are in the much talked about "national interest" can be done when there is the will and the intent, and they can be done with one stroke of a pen. This was the case with the major good done by Nawaz Sharif to keep in step with the world when he restored Sunday as the weekly holiday. Lastly, our former chief justice of Pakistan, the amiable Irshad Hassan Khan, has been appointed chief election commissioner. One must hope that he will be better remembered for his deeds in this office than for those in his last office. If he strictly follows the new ruling as to graduates only being eligible to stand for election, and if he firmly adheres to the constitutional requirements as set forth in Articles 62 and 63 of our Constitution, he will surely find a dozen or so of his compatriots eligible to sit in our assemblies and senate. We are moving ahead — at last.