Pakistan's moderate Muslims must question constitutional amendments that encourage extremism, intolerance

Pakistan

Submitted by alvin on Sat, 2016-06-25 09:57 London: Moderate Muslims in Pakistan and else where in the world must have the courage to question the establishment and the existing legal framework on how encouragement has been given to those who support both extremism and intolerance across the country. In an article for The Diplomat, Zoha Waseem, a doctoral candidate at King's College London, has strongly questioned Pakistan's decision to declare the minority Ahmaddiya community as "non-Muslim" in violation of the principles of Islam, and called on all citizens of the country to abandon extremism and intolerance and promote inter-faith harmony and peaceful co-existence. "The non-violent, non-extremist, 'silent moderate minority' of Muslims in Pakistan and elsewhere must turn to the proverbial pen. and question how our legal frameworks (such as the constitutional amendments in Pakistan) have only encouraged extremism and intolerance in our societies," Waseem writes in The Diplomat. He adds, "The citizens of Pakistan, with respect to the spirits of all religions, must set examples of inter-faith harmony, peaceful co-existence." Elaborating on the issue of the Ahmaddiya community being declared as non Muslims, and on them repeatedly being attacked and massacred by the Sunni-dominant militia and terrorists, Waseem claims that this discrimination and genocidal persecution of minority sects and minority religions in Pakistan can be attributed to a pre-partition political trajectory that espoused Islamic separatism centered around Sunni majoritarianism in the subcontinent. He writes that despite the Ahmadis playing a key role in Pakistan's independence from India and backing the nation's founding father Muhammad Ali Jinnah's political party All India Muslim League, the ruling dispensations between 1947 and 2016 have consistently compromised the minority community's identity and security as citizens. He recalls that the second constitutional amendment introduced and passed by the martial law regime of General Zia-ul-Haq, was done to appease religious opponents. He declares that despite over four decades of ongoing persecution, the Ahmaddiyas have given Pakistan stalwarts such as former foreign minister Sir Muhammad Zafarullah Khan and theoretical physicist and Pakistan's first Nobel Prize winner in physics Dr. Abdus Salam. "Unfortunately, the seeds of extremism have penetrated too deep into the fabric of the Pakistani state and society for them to be countered by haphazardly written counter-terrorism plans. It will take no less than a generational effort to root out extremism and regain Islam's true message of peace, tolerance and respect for all faiths," Waseem states, adding that of the several products of religious extremism that plague Pakistan, sectarianism will remain the most dangerous one for the foreseeable future. He says in his article that, "it is disheartening to see that the "jihad of the pen" (the ink of the scholar) lags far behind the "jihad of the sword" (the blood of the martyr), with the latter simply drowning out the voices of the former." Declaring that the Muslim community has failed at large to promote, implement and empower Sufi codes of love and compassion, Waseem says that for countering the extremism narrative, a huge effort would need to take place at the "familial, societal and communal levels," adding that a bottom-up approach is required. He concludes that the debate needs to taken at the local level, where knowledge must be shared and exchanged; where value, tolerance and acceptance of ethnic and religious diversity need to be actively encouraged and where forgiveness should be budded. (ANI)