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JI in the Crosshair: Stuck in Existential Limbo

saeed wazir1Democracy and political parties go hand in hand. They educate public opinion, provide political stability, formulate public policies, makes the working of parliamentary government possible, and recruit political leaders.In Pakistan,however,the scenario is abysmally different.The scope of my topic here is focused on Jamat Islami’s political-cum-militant chekered, turbulent evolution,and its comparison with its sister ideological Turkish Justice and Development Party(AKP).

Interestingly, both Islamist parties strive for enforcing Shari’a, but their modus operandi differs to greater extent. JI espouses that change thru peaceful democratic movement is not possible; the only way to establish Islamic system is thru violent means of jihad rather violence. To utmost dismay,the short sighted,unifocal policies of Morsi and Al-Qaeda’s militant narratives met with disaster in this regard. The AKP has transformed itself into genuine, democratic political force despite a plethora of mounting challenges,incorporated Islam with technology, entrepreneurship and globalism.

Pragmatically,it thwarted two political dynamics that have haunted the region:ineffectual democracy,ended long series of weak,conflict-ridden coalition govts;and,repressive military rule which overthrew three elected govts between 1960 and 1980.Also,it passed a parliamentary constitution which was drafted after military coup in 1980.It  has overseen a near tripling per capita income in trade ,declared that Islam ,democracy, and capitalism were compatible, and granted rights to women and minority transforming Turkey into  ‘the thick man of Europe ‘having 40m strong middle class youth bulge comprising 60% of total population and 7th largest economy bigger than all but six of the 27 states in European Union.

On the grave contrary,JI and other religio-political parties’ collective psyche has been devoid of interpretative and formulative culture of progressivism and openness in the wake of changing religious and temporal realities. Nature is more revengeful and replaces everything which remains stagnant and stuck in regression and quagmire of ignorance. The same could be applied on JI’s long,though unsavoury,journey towards its aim of achieving the so-called Islamization in Pakistan.

Had militant,violent application of Islam was a means towards establishing khilafat,the debacle of East Pakistan would not  have happened .Likewise,if Pakistan came in the name of Islam,why did not Muslims migrate en mess to Pakistan. The idea of best ummah doed not imply a kind of divine election,not,however,on the basis of ethnic decent,or even religious affiliation, but rather on the basis of faith and right conduct.

To begin with, the Jamaat-e-Islami has objected to the KP government’s proposal to introduce shirts and trousers for boys in government schools, terming it ‘Americanisation of education’. Meanwhile the JI-sponsored Dar-e-Arqam School has made the shirt-trouser dress code mandatory on its students. This speaks volumes about the JI’s aberration. There is nothing religious in that.

It says that sketches,skeletons,diagrams,paintings and other structures in public education textbooks are unislamic and contrary to our culutural values.This is sheer stupidity in today’s world of science.According to Latuheru (1988), pictures have several functions in the teaching and learning process. First, picture can translate abstract ideas into more realistic forms. these are very important in helping students to retell experiences or understand something since they can represent place, object, people, etc,.Second, they help the students understand a more general context, which may be made of pictures, the teacher’s actions, the student’s action, sound effect and words.How can students become as doctors and engineers without having practically observed the intricacies and technicalities of science? Consequently,this will result in regurgitation of basic facts and figures instead of critical learning and inquisitive mindedness.

JI’s unfounded,flawed opposition to Pushto language and the pushtoon legendary pacifist nationalist leader,Bacha Khan,is totally at variance with both theologically and culturally.As Nelson Mendala says,” If you talk to [someone] in a language [he or she] understands, that goes to [the person’s] head. If you talk to [somebody] in [his or her] language, that goes to [the] heart.”  Language is the road map of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going, said Rita Mae.The PTI-led coalition govt ,on the behest of JI,has put a ban on the Pashto paper for Class V from this year onwards.This speaks volumes of aberration and intellectual stagnation.Interestingly, Advantages of a Mother tongue based education include:expand the reach of education; improved learning outcomes during primary school;and, protecting and preserving local languages.

According to Syed M.Ali,The Global Education Campaign has put out a policy brief, “Mother-tongue education: Policy lessons for quality and inclusion”, which estimated that 221 million children across the developing world are enrolled in schools where they are unable to understand the language being used to teach them. An ill-suited language of instruction thus places such children in the undesirable position of struggling to understand the very language being used to educate them about different subjects. Using an inadequate language of instruction discourages many children from enrolling in schools, increases drop-out rates and undermines student learning. All the developed countries have made their native languages as medium of insrution.Hamza Baba says:

{Hamza safar ka de hijaz wee nu hum
Za de pakhtoon de qafilo sara zam
Waee aghyar che de dozakh jaba da
Za ba janat tha de pakhto sara zam}

Bacha Khan was an architect of Khudai Khedmatgar(servants of God) which pursued Policy  Non-violence for furthering its democratic,social and cultural objectives. It included such diverse cultures, ethnicities, nationalities and religions as Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Parsees, Sikhs, and Buddhists. They came together for the cause of peace, social justice, religious tolerance, freedom and human dignity for all. It is clear that he believed in integration and plurality.JI’s misplaced antagonism crystal clearly indicate that its very foundation is based on narrow sectarianism,social segregation,and cultural westland.

Last but not least,it has developed a soft corner for extremist forces which is nothing short of ignorance and unprofessionalism in politics.

As a matter of fact,its policy and posture  of siding with pseudo devout dictators, undemocratic forces,and,  above all,taking dictations from regional sectarian and militant outfits will  not serve its true purpose of serving Islam rather seems a total distraction.Zia ul Haq,the pseudo Ameer ul Momeneen,assigned Ministery of Education to JI which proved very detrimental to the very texture of our pluralistic and moderate society.Glorification of war ,distortion of historical facts and figures,sectarian untercuttings,narrow,parochial interpretation of islam ,and militarization and radicalization were incorporated which,in grim prodression of events,turned out to be a Frankenstein monster taking on both state and society.

It is high time for JI to  rejuvenate itself in the larger scheme of political and cultural configuration by resorting to dialogue and negotiation, plurality of culture,spirit of peaceful coexistence, religious diversity ,and democratic and political philosophy of Islam. If the other way, it will lose it relevance and standing very dangerously. It had better try to understand that it has lost it electoral base to PTI and other parties owing to its anachronistic, antediluvian policies of the past. Saner elements must steer the party out of this existential threat.All-inclusive education, good governance ,democracy, trade and traffic ,spirit of coexistence,integration,policy of non-intervention, to name just a few, must be its binding, inalienable principles in a bid to serve the state and people of Pakistan.

Writer: Saeed Ullah Khan Wazir

The writer is a CSS aspirant,  social democrat and human rights activist. He can be reached at



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