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Progress in Pakistan

09 October, 2006

By Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd)


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We have been independent for nearly six decades now and in spite of being blessed with a mass of vast land comprising fertile plains, jungles and glaciated high mountains, big rivers, a vast coast line, immense natural resources and an industrious huge manpower have not progressed as much as the other Asian countries have with much lesser resources and comparatively in the same or even lesser time.

What is keeping us behind the others? Apart from certain obvious important factors, such as lack of; education, good and forward looking leadership (though somewhat compensated lately), enormous defence expenditure (an evil necessity), rampant corruption and wastage/non-utilization of resources, etc. the most important reason to my mind is the lack of awareness in the masses themselves to progress.  Somehow they seem to be either resigned to their lot and think it to be ordained so by the Lord  or do not have the will to advance in life. Unfortunately, their later thought is also being strengthened by a great misperception by our so called clergy that keeps hammering in them that this is a temporary world and that they should not build castles and palaces here and instead try to earn a place for themselves in Jannat. Firstly, not all can or have the means to build castles and palaces and secondly the path shown to them for a rewarded life hereafter is just the observance of a few religious rituals only.

No concrete steps are suggested to them for their own betterment or that of the humanity at large. They are never reminded of conquering what all is contained in the Samawat wal Ard and the deep seas.  Never lectured on “Allah will reward you but in accordance with your effort”. Never explained to them to “make use of the bounties of Allah which have been created for them”.  With the result every one seems to be whiling away the time on this planet earth in the hope (or fear) of the life hereafter...

If we look back in history, don’t we find the Europe and the West in exactly the same state of mind not too long ago?  As a matter of fact it was so till the clergy held the sway over their life and hearth.  Till the church and the state were not separated and the Renaissance resulted.  Once rid of the shackles and taboos they embarked upon the maximum utilization of the God’s given resources. They started new discoveries in every field of life inventing new ideas and concepts hither-to-fore forbidden. It was as if the doors to modern thinking were blown open to them. It was a revolution of the mind. They set upon discovering new lands in search of improved economics, invented new machines and brought about the industrial revolution. Religion became one’s private affair but happily did not make them any less religious. The results are obvious for all to see. Progress all around and all encompassing. 

One is, therefore, compelled to think that is it not time for us also to tell the semi literate mullah and the so called ulema who are trying to control our daily life to please stop repressing us in the retrogression. All they can think of is to push us back fourteen centuries or more  in ordering our life and our life style. Use of the modern scientific knowledge is not acceptable to them. A westerner would be aghast to find an ostentatious gathering of ulema with thick glasses trying to find the moon with the naked eye from the rooftop of 23 story Habib Bank building in the 21st century.

We see the Hajj being performed live on our TV sets but cannot observe the same as no mullah will be ready to lead the Eid ul Azha prayers, which will be held two days later!  A Hajj is a Hajj and can not be performed any where else in the world except Mecca. We see it being performed there but are told by the clergy that it will occur two days later in Pakistan.  How can Hajj be performed in Pakistan?  It is not that one can perform it by circumambulation around Data Darbar or Barri Imam.  It has to be Kaaba and that’s in Mecca only. Can there be any thing more illogical than this? 

Anyway, no doubt the life hereafter is the ultimate, but the way leading to it not through some Bahishti Darwaza or some such other thing which our ulema and mushaikh would want us to believe. If not, then why an edict is not issued by ANY one of them against such a practice.  It is sheer exploitation of the naïve and ignorant by the clergy. Unfortunately, the clergy’s hold is so authoritative that no one dare say anything against them for the simple fear of being dubbed as heretic, which could lead to very serious consequences. Any one suggesting moderation or modern scientific approach is branded as Anti Islamic and yielding to the sinful culture of obscenity and fahashi of the west. A mullah is obsessed with seeing sex and sensuality in every thing west.

Time has come to tell him that it is not always so. Also that the  life in this world is no less important either and for that we will have to request them to please leave us alone and mind their own business and not try to shove the retrogression in the name of religion down our throats. Islam is a very dynamic and progressive religion. We are all good Muslims and responsible citizens of Pakistan.  We would like to progress the way other nations much smaller than us and liberated after us have done. They are euphemistically called Tigers of Asia, whereas we have not risen above the level of being underdogs of Asia. Please understand, we can do without you, in fact would do much better without you, if you don’t mind please.  We appreciate your concern for us but in the process due to your wrong priorities and emphasis you are taking us back to the medieval ages.  The world is progressing and progressing very fast in the other direction. The sooner we catch up with them the better it would be for all of us.

End.

Reader Comments:

Excellent but ........

Excellent article. But if Pakistan is going nowehere then the mullahs will take over and elite will flee to the UK, Canada or US. And the rest will fight among themselves. This is what that seems to be written on the wall.

Shishir Pande, Hungary - 09 October, 2006

Well said !

Well said Col. Jafri ! Fundamentalism (be it hinduism, sikhism, or Islam) is a hurdle for progress. Every religion insists a progressive, loving, and peaceful living. Fundamentalists and fanatics do forget that 'force never wins hearts'.

Being a good human being is more important than being religious. Society and religion must adapt to the dynamisms of the world, and hence make joint progression.

Understanding the message, not just the words of every religious books, is important.

I have a few pakisthani friends who think like you. But unfortunately they are away from home, and they dont like to be home for the simple reason of 'religious pressure'.

Cheers !

Abhilash, Hungary - 10 October, 2006

Sex and the West

Thank you, Col. Jafri, so much for the excellent and courageous article "Progress in Pakistan."

Regarding what you wrote, i.e.,"A mullah is obsessed with seeing sex and sensuality
in everything west," perhaps we can turn to the media and the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, for at least a partial answer to that - as far as America is concerned, that is.

Appearances can be deceiving. Even though Americans treasure their freedom of speech, it can be a double edged sword...

Many of us are ashamed of the portrait our media presents to the world of the supposed immorality of the West. Even though the society is far from innocent, things are not all they seem. However, to block our media would be to deny some citizens their rightful place in a free society.

As I'm sure you know, the first Amendment must allow speech, movies, etc. that many of us hate.

Therefore, along with blocking in our homes with our own remotes what we personally feel inappropriate for our children, we have the freedom to simply change the channel or turn off the television. After all, if we allowed the government to block once how much further will it go?

Still, we do pay a price. Anyone is perfectly free to take a smorgasbord of facts written by the American media, true or untrue, and write what they will and consider their piece to be the truth and nothing but, when it could merely be someone's fanatical ideology they are reading. After all the U.S. is an extremely polarized country at the moment...

As much as many Americans dislike the image of the west presented to the world by our media, we fear repression so much more.

Ayasha, United Kingdom - 12 October, 2006

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