Federated democracy and constitutional rule is the only way out that needs to be strengthened which could dwindle army’s hegemonistic influence in state that in the result will weaken the alternate power sphere of these forces
How far does an ideological inclination affect and transform conduct of an individual is a question riddled with intricacies, unquantifiable and mind boggling. An individual’s tenderness in quotidian regards towards a particular ideology, religion or a prototype is nugatory and of routine matter if it remains incarcerated to one’s personal life and private involvements but if a state pursues an ambiguous, ambivalent and second thought policy of instrumental religiosity then polarization of the polity, bifurcation at large and likelihood of conflict become inevitable.
Pakistan is a confounding study of interplay of religion and politics. The nexus of religion with politics in a country with secular framework of rule is surprising in many ways. Though constitutional engineering had been attempted time and again to make this nexus congenial, viable and adaptable, yet a rift and identity conflict still prevails and Pakistan seems locked on the horns of dilemma, between a wave of orthodoxy and escalating voices of modernity. The most astonishing fact in this regard is the long term countenance of dissidents upon these orthodox outfits and a tacit alliance which hangs on always which has rendered a tremendous acceptance and legitimacy to these non political state actors in the statecraft where negotiations and bargaining are always underway.
These two processes simultaneously work, though seem independent but depending and complementing each other on many occasions. This befuddling enigma cannot be comprehended without cogitating over its historical roots. Three broad factors have resulted in the emergence of this strange and tacit alliance which are policy of militarization, failure of centralized democracy and lack of circumspect leadership.
The conundrum lies it genesis at the time of inception and before to that during liberation struggle for Pakistan. The slogan of religion was raised by the educated elite of the freedom movement that in reality had nothing to do with the religion. It was the political maneuvering to get the maximum support of the masses for the cause of a separate state. Having achieved this objective the slogan of Islamic sharia and system turned nugatory for the leadership. Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan always stirs wrangle altercation. A school of thought is of firm belief that he had a vision of Islamic state while other disputes it with an argument that he had a dream of modern day republic. What was Jinnah’s original disposition over here is good for nothing but one thing for sure that it was out and out instrumental use of the religion that predominated the discourse before and even after the partition. In post-independent period the migrated elite from India was standing with no constituencies in newly independent Pakistan. Sloganeering was done at the name of religion during the freedom movement, so naturally state was under pressure to accommodate Islam and placate the masses. Though the movement for separate homeland at the name of religion was bitterly opposed by the religious clergy of that time but many of them migrated to Pakistan later on.
Here appeared a trio of predicaments that included reluctance of incumbent government in drafting constitution, escalating voices of imposition of Sharia and a political unrest at large after the death of Jinnah. The objective resolution of 1949 was nothing but a political move at the part of the leadership to console the masses that the government is up for the imposition of Islamic system. In fact it was the confused leadership of that time who was western educated, ready to go ahead with western style of governance but was caught within its own pledges which it made to the masses to motivate them during the freedom movement. Having achieved the independence now they were reluctant of any religious based legislation. Delaying tactics were made to divert the attention of the masses. Constitution draft was still in the pipe. Anti Ahmedi riots broke out in 1954. This was the first successful show of the non-elected qualified Islamic militancy in Pakistan [i] which also gave a way out to the political elite that started channelizing these politically motivated vociferous religious forces to pursue them as raison d’tre.
The policy of militarization that was followed from very early days made military a giant in state’s polity, stints of Army rule were the continuation of the policy of militarization in weakly institutionalized country which made it a mammoth actor that subsided and constringed the democratic rule and norms in Pakistan. Illegitimate way of entering into power corridors and intention of seeking popular acceptability made religious forces indispensible for military rulers and resulted in the emergence of a symbiotic relationship between this duo. To further sustain and consolidate its position the Army projected animosity with arch rival, here religious forces also came to rescue it as strategic asset. This eventually carved an alternate spectrum of power, acceptance and legitimacy for these forces and made them preponderant actor in state’s sphere where they always enjoy power of influence.
The lack of federated democracy in Pakistan has endowed a protean ability to these state sponsored political actors of getting adjusted with any form of rule and subsequently carrying out their obscure agenda of Islamization with pressure escalating tactics and through militancy as well. This policy was aided by praetorian rule and was fueled by Ziaism which has not only pulverized the societal basis but wedded it with intolerance, extremism, pseudo-Islamic legislations which not only degenerated the state but placed it on tenterhooks.
The clouds of gusty radicalization are darting a bleak proposition of future. How can this manipulation in the name of religion be called off where these actors do have support base, popular acceptance and a discourse which is grounded into the basis of state’s polity? Refuting their acceptance and worth would be imprudent and inane because they have a very forceful presence with their demagogy style of politics and agitative fracas. The argument of bringing them into contours of national politics is also inconsequential where these forces always contest for elections and have their vote banks.
Federated democracy and constitutional rule is the only way out that needs to be strengthened which could dwindle army’s hegemonistic influence in state that in the result will weaken the alternate power sphere of these forces where these actors assert themselves apart from constitution. State must abandon the policy of tacit backing for these forces. They must be welcomed in the national political spectrum if they can get the support of the masses which is a true spirit of representative democracy. The deliverance of federated democracy will shrink the power base for these actors from where they maneuver and manipulate for their real interests, and could fix the perplexing issue of religio-politico nexus that lies at the helm of Pakistan’s quandaries since its provenance.
[i] Raja Qaiser Ahmed. “Democratic Development in India: Lessons for Pakistan”. Paper submitted to HEC for the partial fulfillment of the course requirements of “Research Methodology” at School of Politics & IR.