We Are All Ahmadi VII: Democratic Discourses

Posted by sepoy on June 04, 2010 · 3 mins read

There is some confusion among the twitterati about the "tangent" in regards to the column by Mosharraf Zaidi which anchors the second part of my post on Ahmadi legal history.

So allow me to be frank here. Zaidi writes:

Most Pakistanis, however, far and widely disconnected from what has come to represent "liberal" in Pakistan, would rather stay silent. There is surely a degree of shame and guilt for living in a country that has, even if it is by some degrees of separation, essentially participated in ghettoising an entire community. For most Pakistanis, however, there's something more important than this shame. There is a fierce commitment to Islam.

This narrative of overarching religious devotion needs to be understood for what it is. Most Pakistanis are not particularly religious, but are very, very particularly devoted to the symbols of their religion. There is scarcely a symbol more central to Pakistani Muslims than the life, times and person of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may Allah's peace and blessings be upon him. The flat and comprehensive finality of the Holy Prophet is non-negotiable.

To reconstruct: the majority of Pakistanis are fiercely committed to Islam; their fierceness coalesces around the finality of the Prophet and this fact is "non-negotiable". Over the history of Pakistan, there has emerged a "democratic discourse" which has concluded that Ahmadis are not Muslim; which is reflected in the Constitution.

This is an illiberal statement, and I called it "absurd" on historical grounds. I cited 80 years of case work (with the final determination as late as 1969) which concludes on evidences both internal and external to the religious debates that Ahmadis are Muslim and they do believe in the finality of the Prophet. In the earlier post, I attempted to show that the anti-Ahmadi movement, since the 1880s, was patently political and manufactured by religious elites. That does not scream "democratic discourse" to me. Lastly, that the very labeling of Ahmadis as non-Muslim was a political (and later, judicial) coup which went against both communal practices and legal precedence.

To casually assert, in a column ostensibly against Ahmadi exceptionalism, that these are "uncomfortable religious conversations" is to cede both the moral and the legal ground to those who terrorize and de-humanize citizens of Pakistan.

I happen to like Zaidi's work. This post was in the works before I read his column but it crystallized for me the need to engage directly in this narrative because I would rather convince him: Ahmadis are Muslim; they are citizens; the processes through which they were declared non-Muslim, non-citizen were un-democratic, tyrannical processes; we either stand with them against the terrorists or we all suffer their fate.


Mosharraf Zaidi | June 04, 2010

I don't declare that Ahmedis are non-Muslims. As a Muslim, I cede the determination of people's faith to the Arbiter of All Things. So convincing me of people's faith (or Twitteristanis, or the blogosphere, or even the readership of The News) is largely irrelevant. The baseline position from which this kind of argument works is that we all should just get along. I don't mean to caricature anything, but really, that's the idea. That everyone should accept everyone else. This is a normative position that has no counter argument, normatively. But in the real world? In the real world, politics is highly influenced by people's perception of their value system, their moral code and what they feel it requires of them. The semantic debate about whether this is political or religious is really academic. It exists. We have to deal with it. One way to deal with it, is to try to win a moral argument. But can we can win a moral argument against a divinely inspired fanatic? Certainly not without an inter-generational effort. And in my column, I've endorsed, nay advocated for that effort: "A transformed political landscape is a long-term project. Without substantially more grounded and active participation of Pakistani liberals in mainstream politics, it has no chance of fruition." In the short-term, if we want to win the Ahmedis are Muslims arguments, we better bring at least a knife to a gunfight. Do Pakistani liberals have to have a social organization that can hold a candle to the entire Tableeghi Jamaat, the JUI (all acronyms included), the Jamaat and their appetite for getting young, impressionable kids killed in the line of protest fire? I am afraid not. And I don't see that kind of a coalition emerging from cyberdiscourse or English-language discourse. The other approach is to leave this larger, more controversial issue aside, and to even accept the current legal and constitutional discrimination for what it is: existent. It is the law as we know it, just like for example, other laws we don't like. God knows there's no shortage of morally outrageous laws. Doing so, enables us to get away from a conversation that we are designed to lose, and take us to a conversation that every Pakistani can win (and if we lead that conversation, it adds a notch to the win column for liberals, too). Formulate a smart and coherent strategy that wins protections, not just for Ahmedis, but for all minorities, and in a larger and more powerful (politically) way, for all non-elite Pakistanis. That umbrella counter-terrorism strategy would, for example, institute anti-terror courts, finance an uber-prosecution service, criminalize hate speech, and pass, through parliament, incitement laws that award the death penalty for wrongful blasphemy accusations. What serious person will challenge that every accusation of blasphemy in Pakistan is a land dispute gone fundo? The overwhelming majority, nay, every one of them, is a wrongful claim, because, if Muslim symbols are so central to our collective national integrity, then who in their right mind would try to Salman Rushdie-it-up, especially in villages in Faisalabad, in Narowal and in Gojra? No one. And that's what the legal process has demonstrated over, and over, and over again. We have a ready and primed argument for the taking. Even the mullahs I've argued with on TV accept that all minorities should be protected. I'd like to see them walk away from incitement legislation. They won't. They can't. They are cowards. The only caveat is that if you make it about Muslimizing Ahmedis, no matter how morally outraged this makes us, you will lose the argument, and lose the legislation. Sherry's brilliant parliamentary maneuver yesterday is something to learn from. As I said in the article itself, "I'm not interested in the guilty pleasures of trying to figure out if they were Muslim or not. I'm interested in catching the murderous criminals that did this, and making sure they don't do it again." I really mean it.

omar | June 04, 2010

Manan, you and Zaidi sahib are operating in different worlds. You are concerned with truth and justice, he is concerned with realpolitik. The two sometimes intersect, but only rarely. Your work will one day change the context in which realpolitik is being practiced, then Zaidi sahib will agree with y0u. Till then, you have to stick to your guns and leave him to his job.....

Saadia | June 05, 2010

Omar, that distinction is spot on. I was completely caught off guard when I read MZ's piece because I thought the statements that Manan quotes from it were meant ironically and maybe even sardonically. And then it was pointed out that he meant them as straightforward statements of FACT. But even within a framework of realpolitik, it is incredib;y disingenuous and dangerous to claim that the designation of Ahmedis as non-Muslims came about democratically. As Manan shows, that is patently false, and for an influential journalist like MZ to make such a statement is unethical if he's doing it knowingly and horrifying if it is a slip. Also, even if the idea is to 'formulate a smart and coherent strategy that wins protections, not just for Ahmedis, but for all minorities', how can you NOT engage with the toxic laws that render them second class citizens, and, in fact, make them the target of the kind of violence we are witnessing? Is it possible that MZ doesn't understand how citizenship is mediated through laws? How the Blasphemy Law and the various laws criminalizing Ahmedis render the idea of 'protections' absurd? And actually, here is where the issue of Ahmedis deviates from that of non-Muslim minorities. How do you call on the state to protect Ahmedis and prevent violence against them under the current legal regime? How do you even bring a case against media personalities that exhort the majority community to violence against Ahmedis when the state itself allows this by making it a criminal act for them to declare themselves Muslim, or pretty much do ANYTHING that 'offends' the 'sentiments' of the majority population? It would be one thing if all we were facing was the toxic influence of the religious extremists on the state and society - then we might have been able to turn to the 'law of the land' to demand that the state stand up to its principles and accord all people, regardless of religious belief, the rights of equal citizenship. But how can you do that when the state does not recognize that this category of people has equal rights in citizenship? And MZ' should realise that his job, as a journalist, is to CHANGE and DISRUPT the poisonous public discourse that enables these pogroms. He's not a policy-maker or politician whose job is to figure out what is 'politically possible'. And one momre word on democracy: if by that word MZ means simply 'the rule of the majority' then that is a dangerous and (literally) lethal definition - because then what we have is the brutal rule of the majority. And by arguing that we cannot pragmatically go against this majoritarian will MZ is basically ceding all questions of political ethics and morality to the simple will of the majority. If that is the case, then we are well and truly sunk. On what basis will you afford even _Muslim_ women protections, then? Democracies are democratic when there are legal and constitutional curbs put on brute majoritarianism - the protections that he speaks of can only happen when the law and constitution guarantee inaienable rights of citizenship to ALL Pakistanis, regardless of class, caste, cred, gender, etc. Even with those legal changes we may not win, given how toxic and insane the society has become, but without them it is impossible even to be 'pragmatic'.

Qalandar | June 05, 2010

PS-- We must also interrogate what is meant by "democratic." At most, Zaidi's piece can be accepted as saying that a majority acquiesced in a particular course of action, and/or went along with it. But even majority-action by itself is not necessarily democratic (let alone majority passivity/inaction/what-have-you), and it's dangerous to conflate the two (albeit rather common): a 65% vote to killing off the other 35% is majoritarian, not democratic.

Akbar | June 05, 2010

Democracies are democratic when there are legal and constitutional curbs put on brute majoritarianism — the protections that he speaks of can only happen when the law and constitution guarantee inaienable rights of citizenship to ALL Pakistanis, regardless of class, caste, cred, gender, etc. Well siad. I believe now that Supreme court is relatively independent and taking up the 18th amendment, it should also take a suo moto action to review constitutionality of all the Garbage amendments that various assemblies passed to score political points. And on top of the list should be the amendments determining "Muslimness" of fellow citizens.

Hakim Hazik | June 06, 2010

I think Mosharraf Zaidi's argument is that most Pakistani Muslims do not consider Ahmedis to be Muslims and this is reflected in the Pakistani law. The best approach to protect Ahmedis would be to ensure equal civil rights. Sepoy's argument is that Ahmedis are a Muslim sect and should be recognised as such in the law and that the present law does not reflect the majority Muslim opinion. My view is that on a logical or a moral basis, it is impossible to decide who is a Muslim and who is not. Even the learned Maulanas could not come to a consensus on the definition of a Muslim in front of Justice Munir. God only can decide, if He (She/ It) is 1) there and 2) interested. There are as many Islams in the world as there are Muslims. The whole enterprise of defining a Muslim is doomed. In a civilised state, the Government should not be making decisions on the authenticity or otherwise of people's creeds. It is should not be their business. They should be answerable for protecting and providing equal opportunity to all citizens, regardless of creed. To redress the present situation, Mosharraf Zaidi's solution is more likely to succeed: Bypass the authenticity debate, build up pressure for equal civil rights. Agitate to strike down the abhorrent discriminatory laws. Relegate personal creeds to personal spheres, nothing to do with the business of the state.

Saadia | June 06, 2010

Exactly, Qalander - that was the point I was trying to make - that democracy cannot be equated with majoritarianism, and in fact it is dangerous to do so. Which is why all social and liberal democracies have provisions against this kind of majoritarianism, not to mention solid protections (under the law) for minorities. And Hakim Hazik Sb: My point was that it is impossible to by-pass the authenticity debate and still push for equal rights for all, because unless you change (in fact remove) the law with regard to authenticity (this is what your point about the state not having the right to adjudicate on such matters), how can you - through legal channels - press the state for equal rights of a group that it has decided is non-Muslim, and whose members it actively criminalizes for even referring to themselves as Muslim, using the term 'mosque' for their mosques and using the 'Muslim' greeting? Far from working within the existing framework, you need a framework in which all these laws with regard to authenticity (and also blasphemy) are not only removed, but the state criminalizes actions taken AGAINST these minority groups. You cannot do all of this without demanding an end to the venal laws of the land that currently enable violence on the basis of 'inauthenticity'.

Hakim Hazik | June 06, 2010

@Saadia: I am arguing the same case as you. The existing framework is cruel, barbaric and abhorrent. We do need to change it. All the discrimantory laws including the 1974 and 1984 legislations should be struck down. The parliament, judiciary or any state institution should not conduct a debate on who is an authentic Muslim and who is not. It is an impossible question to answer. Legislature is not an apporpriate forum to determine the authenticity of creed. We need a democracy in which the majority can not breach the fundamental human rights of the minority, which includes the freedom to practice a religion, and call it whatever they like to call it. Blasphemy law is an anathema and a blasphemy itself.

omar | June 06, 2010

Within the mainstream Pakistani media, this debate is very difficult even at the level of Zaidi sahib's flexible liberalism (or realism, as he may prefer to call it). Look at liberal columnist Abbas Ather's attempt at injecting some sanity into this ugly business (http://express.com.pk/epaper/PoPupwindow.aspx?newsID=1100961219&Issue=NP_LHE&Date=20100606) . The column is a good example of how a liberal has to operate in mainstream Pakistan today: He starts by complaining about the Ahmedia spokesman and his uppity complaints against "people who are risking life and limb by even giving that spokesman a forum in the mass media". His (the ahmedi spokesman's) ingratitude is strongly condemned. Its even hinted that the Ahmedis are partly responsible for their situation because they took up positions that are antithetical to Islamic belief and that were "bound to cause problems". After taking some illiberal potshots at the Ahmedis, he does make the point that they are our brothers and sisters. Then introduces a few lines about Allama Iqbal's possible Ahmedi period. Paints Mirza Ghulam Ahmed in a better light than his successors. Then a few lines about Javed Ahmed Ghamdi's liberal Islamic position on this issue. This is not systematic argument, its psychological warfare. Its practitioners will tell you they are on the frontlines, not sitting in Western Universities. They have to use cunning. They have to drop well disguised bombs on Allama Iqbal. They have to set little time bombs in people's heads that will explode one day into full fledged doubt about the nazria e Pakistan and other BS. Its a very dirty job, but somebody has to do it......I have some sympathy for Abbas Ather. At least he and Zaidi sahib have not taken the easy way out and decided to shift to the safety of debating American imperialism and Karl Marx and taking the position that the ideology of Pakistan and Islamism are irrelevant distractions from the "real fight" the leftists intellectuals are bravely fighting in their drawing rooms.

Qalandar | June 06, 2010

Omar & Hakim: The problem with Zaidi's "realism" is that it implicitly assumes that "the heretic" and "the unbeliever" occupy the same psychological/symbolic space in the "Muslim/non-Muslim" debate. They do not: the Ahmedi might be classed as a non-muslim, but this does not place him on the same plane as "the Hindu" or "the Christian". Because, unlike those others, the Ahmedi CLAIMS to be a Muslim (criminalizing Ahmedi use of terms like "mosque" and "azaan" does not solve this problem, because it simply legitimizes suspicion of the Ahmedis on these grounds; i.e. there's no need to target Hindus in this way because no one calls a mandir a masjid as far as I know). Thus, in this whole debate, the Ahmedi is not MERELY a non-Muslim -- he begins to function as subversive who might pass as a Muslim, who might surreptitiously call into question the very stability of the orthodox edifice. The Ahmedi, in short, is more disturbing than the Hindu/Sikh/Christian, because the orthodoxy can use the (imagined) complete otherness of the latter to reinforce its own self-image and identity, in a way that it cannot where the Ahmedis are concerned. This is not a drawing room debate among the chatterati: my point is that to ignore this elephant in the room, as I believe Zaidi does, is not very realistic at all. [I might also add that I don't see why Zaidi/sepoy are being mapped onto an either/or configuration. As I read sepoy, he is not advocating Ahmedis-as-Muslims in lieu of greater pressure on the civil rights front, he wants progress on BOTH fronts. Unwillingness to settle for what Zaidi is willing to settle for is not lack of realism -- the most realistic thing is to realize that if even our dreams are impoverished, our realities will never end up rich.]

Hakim Hazik | June 06, 2010

@Qalandar Through a logically coherent, internally consistent, systematic argument, it is not possible to prove that Ahmedis are Muslims, any more than it is possible to prove that they are non Muslims, any more than it is possible to prove that Islam is Deen e Fitrat or that Jesus will come down to slay the swine and kill the Dajjal or to determine the number of angels able to dance on the point of a needle. This is not a rational debate. This is a theological debate and therefore a dead end. God only knows the answer. It is unlikely that you can get God to chair the joint session of the parliament or the Federal Sharia court and decide the matter one way or the other. However you can get make a logical argument that Ahmedis and non Ahmedis alike are humans and citizens and entitled to same legal rights. This is something worth having as an ideal and worth fighting for. And Aamir Liaqat Hussein should be arrested.

Mahavir | June 06, 2010

I have to say I don't know who the audience is for this rational debate and argument about the citizenship and protection of Ahmadis from de jure and systemic discrimination and violence directed against them as it directed against the other minorities in Pakistan. Pakistanis are constrained in the methods and strategies they can use to change the status quo regarding minority rights and protections because last time I checked Pakistan is an ISLAMIC state in every sphere of human activity politically, culturally, socially, etc and all this talk about human rights, minority protections, etc is literally meaningless within the context and framework of Pakistani society; because notwithstanding the absolutely negligible and irrelevant sliver of Pakistanis who think in such terms and ideologies of modern human rights talk, the overwhelming majority of Pakistanis be they elites or low class, peasants or feudal barons, the political ideologies and structures are constituted by religion and the converse. As the political historian Quentin Skinner put in the context of early modern English society summarized in an essay by Francis Robinson: " men in pursuing their interests are limited by the range of concepts available to legitimize their actions, and that this range of concepts is in turn limited by the prevailing morality of the society".

omar | June 06, 2010

Qalandar, I am not defending Zaidi sahib or creating a false dichotomy between his position and Manan's. I was practicing psyops of my own (interestingly, in advanced psyops you can tell everyone you are practicing pysops and the psyops still remain effective). I fully support Manan's efforts here. I am not thrilled with Zaidi sahib and Abbas Ather's attempts at realism. I just pointed out that their illiberal arguments may actually have a liberal motivation behind them (whether their choices are the best way forward is a different matter). They are still fundamentally illiberal arguments. Mahavir, Pakistan is not just an Islamic state. It is also a state that has to live in the real world as it exists. The need to pay lip service to Islam does constrain what people can say in public, but it is not the only determinant of what they actually do. If you want to stick to your formulation who can stop you, but its not a very useful one. Take my word for it. At some level, it (your formulation) is true. But only at some level. There are many many levels at which it is not true enough to matter. We are all global citizens with multiple useless and useful identities. Even Muslims have multiple identities. So do secular Indians. Some states are more confused and less viable than others, but its a relative difference, not an absolute one.

Mahavir | June 06, 2010

Mr. Omar, when I describe Pakistan as an Islamic state, I am just doing that: Description. If you are under the impression that my characterization was polemical, that was not my intent. It seems when Pakistanis utilize Islam, in your view it is only for instrumental purposes masking other goals and interests. Hence "pay lip service". Well color me naive but even though I am aware of the cynical use of Islamic symbols and religious symbols in general in many different societies to further narrow, self-interested ends, the context must be constantly in the foreground. So for instance, in American politics there is no denying that when Christian symbolism is used, mostly by Republicans and conservatives, in most cases the motives are not genuine piety. However, Pakistan and Islamic countries in general are totally different animals. In other words, when Islam is used by the politicians in Pakistan, I dont know why I shouldn't take it as an instance of genuine, substantive belief in the theology and dogma of the Islamic religion. The instrumental paradigm of religious belief is incredibly shallow and un-empirical. Now this all initial conjecture on my part vis-a-vis Pakistan . I have never been to Pakistan and the only basis on which I speak is of reading books and Pakistani English Language media. I would like to be corrected on my views of Pakistani society wherever they are wrong. (They probably are in most cases, honestly.)

omar | June 06, 2010

Mahavir, Different Pakistanis will give you different answers to this question, but my own view is that the use of Islam is indeed highly "instrumental". This does not mean that they do not take their belief seriously. A lot of them do. But you can never tell how many are faking it because everyone knows what the red lines are and almost no one crosses them in public. I suspect we are not that far apart, just that you are judging people by what they vehemently say and I have lived close enough to them to suspect that even the vehemence is faked and that in some societies (some would say all societies?) people are so practiced at hypocrisy, its not even conscious anymore. I do think you are at least partly correct when you say Islamic societies are a different beast. The position of Islam in Islamic societies (in general, the ex-soviet republics may represent an outlier) is not comparable with the position of almost any other religion that I know of. The degree of public consensus on religion in Islamic societies maybe almost unique. This statement is liable to be misunderstood, because obviously there are murderous divisions between Muslims in all muslim societies, but to a stunning degree, they all agree on certain public positions (Allah as creator, Islam as THE true religion, Mohammed as his last prophet and so on)> which is why even a liberal like Abbas Ather can write as if he is genuinely personally offended by the denial of the last prophet status by Ahmedis (whether they really deny it is another matter). But in his political positions (and his personal life, if that is any concern of ours) his choices are frequently "unislamic". And there are entire large popular parties that reflect his position (PPP). I think the picture does not fit with the view that Islam somehow makes everyone in Pakistan commit stupidities above and beyond those that are the norm in more "normal" countries.

Mahavir | June 06, 2010

One of the main determinants on my view of the Islamic character of Pakistani society is the Pew Global Attitudes Survey done a couple of years ago. It asked Muslims in Europe and Islamic countries how do they self-identify, namely as Muslims or as members of their countries. The results: 87 percent of Pakistanis self identify as Muslims qua Muslims rather than as Pakistanis. Now I'm sure I dont need to tease out the implications of this finding but just to be explicit: the raison d'être of Pakistan is obviously Islam/Muslim homeland etc etc and therefore the sole constituent of Pakistani identity is Islam and being a Muslim. To wit: Pakistani and Muslim are not even synonyms but literally unthinkable one without the other. So with Pakistani identity already being an inherently Islamic one, Pakistanis still feel the need to go over and beyond that and proclaim their Muslims first, well that's pretty off the charts. Link to survey: http://pewglobal.org/2006/07/06/muslims-in-europe-economic-worries-top-concerns-about-religious-and-cultural-identity/

Qalandar | June 06, 2010

Re: "I am not thrilled with Zaidi sahib and Abbas Ather's attempts at realism. I just pointed out that their illiberal arguments may actually have a liberal motivation behind them..." Omar: in the same vein, I too was simply pointing out that Zaid's and Ather's realism might be motivated be unrealistic assumptions.

omar | June 06, 2010

Mahavir, My point is that the "attitudes survey" is not a good guide to what choices people make in real life. What is different about Pakistan IS its ideology and the ideology has been hammered into people fairly widely, but very superficially. But all that does to most people is that it tells them what to say in answer to question A or B. The same 87% vote for parties like the PPP (indistinguishable in its family dynastic corrupt social democratic practice from the Indian National Congress, but distinguishable in the fact that all its corrupt leaders know the correct Pakistani-Islamic answer to question A and B). Again, I am not saying it makes NO difference. Obviously there would have been no Pakistan if there was no Islam in India (Aitzaz Ahsan's attempt at inventing Indus man being a good example of how desperate some liberals are to find a non-religious basis for the state, but also of how impossible that task is). But I am saying that when push comes to shove the army always picks Uncle Sam, not its taliban babies and the politicians act in ways indistinguishable from the less than stellar behavior of Indian politicians. In the long term, the ridiculous ideology causes a constant negative undertow, but day to day, its influence is less than you may think.

Akbar | June 07, 2010

The position of Islam in Islamic societies (in general, the ex-soviet republics may represent an outlier) is not comparable with the position of almost any other religion that I know of. The degree of public consensus on religion in Islamic societies maybe almost unique The myths that this decision against Ahmadis, was a democratic discourse or a result of Islamic leaning of Pakistani voters/public, need a close scrutiny as Manan has tried to dispel them. Pakistani general election, 1970 Parties and Candidates Twenty-four political parties ran in the elections. A total of 1,957 candidates filed nomination papers for 300 National Assembly seats. After scrutiny and withdrawals, 1,579 eventually contested the elections. The Awami League ran 170 candidates, of which 162 were for constituencies in East Pakistan. Jamaat-e-Islami had the second-highest number of candidates with 151. The Pakistan Peoples Party ran only 120 candidates, of which 103 were from constituencies in the Punjab and Sindh, and none in East Pakistan. The PML (Convention) ran 124 candidates, the PML (Council) 119 and the PML (Qayyum) 133. The government claimed a high level of public participation and a voter turnout of almost 63%. The total number of registered voters in the country was 56,941,500 out of which 31,211,220 were from the Eastern Wing, while 25,730,280 from the Western Wing. Party Overall % of votes Total seats Awami League 38.3% 160 Pakistan Peoples Party 19.5% 81 PML (Qayyum) 4.5% 9 PML (Convention) 3.3% 7 Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam 4.0% 7 Markazi Jamiat-Ulema-Pakistan 4.0% 7 National Awami Party (Wali) 2.3% 6 Jamaat-e-Islami 6.0% 4 PML (Council) 6.0% 2 PDP 2.9% 1 Independents 7.1% 16 Total 100% 300 Ref; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pakistan_Peoples_Party As Manan mentioned in his post, none of these political parties ,not even religious parties had the Ahmadi/Qadiani issue as an election slogan or on the overt agenda. Total vote won by the religious parties were 14% of the casted votes and total seats won by them were 18 out of 300 seats in play. Peoples party made governement after fall of Dhaka with 81 seats out of remaining 140 seats. In the incident where "unprovoked" NMC students were allegedly attacked by "belligerent Qadianis", the Mullahs reinvigorated their opposition .At this point PPP govt (whose manifesto was,Islam is our religion, Democracy is our politics, Socialism is our economy and Power to the people) and had promised ,Roti, Kapra aur Makan, knew well that they copuld not deliver. They instead try to appease a very vocal and violent minority of Mullah parties. The three things they deliver, what Manan rightly calls begining of (Pseudo)Islamization, were, ban on Alcohol (even though Bhutto, himself kept a flask of Whisky with him, while speaking to election rallies in 1977:Tariq Ali,The Duel, Pakistan on the flight path of American power ),Friday Holiday and Amendment to decalre Ahmadis/Qadianis Non-Muslim. Extreme coercion was used, in the Parliamentary committe it were all Malvis and A H Peerzada9so called secular). It was pure political expediency and oppurunism and general public had nothing to do with it(of course people did not rise against this injustice but such is their lot ,that people seldom protest en mass when their basic rights are trampled by decades of Martial laws). So it was representative of neither democratic nor Islamic aspirations of general Public Now fast forward t 2008 elections and here are the results Results of the Pakistani general election, 2008 Parties Votes % seats Pakistan Peoples Party 10,606,486 30.6% 94 Pakistan Muslim League (N) 6,781,445 19.6% 71 Pakistan Muslim League (Q) 7,989,817 23.0% 42 Muttahida Qaumi Movement 2,507,813 7.4% 19 Awami National Party 700,479 2.0% 10 Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal Pakistan Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (F) Note: Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan, Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan, Tehrik-e-Jafaria Pakistan and Jamiat Ahle Hadith did not participate. 72,798 2.2% 5 Pakistan Muslim League (F) 4 Pakistan Peoples Party (Sherpao) 140,707 0.4% 1 National Peoples Party 1 Balochistan National Party (Awami) 1 Independents 18 Source: Election Commission of Pakistan, Adam Carr's Electoral Archive Again general public did not vote for Mullah or bycot the elections. In short Assembly had no mandate or public blessings to pass the 1974 amendment regarding Ahmadis, people clearly new about various parties ideas about Ahmadis, and none party chose it to be election issue in 1970. As of "Islamic and fundamentalist leanings of general public", in every election people trounce the Mullah. The real debate should be about, how to undo a grave Injustice that was perpetuated in our names.

sepoy | June 07, 2010

Thank you, Akbar for doing the legwork on this. I appreciate it.

Qalandar | June 07, 2010

Apologies for the tangent but: Re: "Obviously there would have been no Pakistan if there was no Islam in India (Aitzaz Ahsan's attempt at inventing Indus man being a good example of how desperate some liberals are to find a non-religious basis for the state, but also of how impossible that task is). " Arguably, there would have been no India or even Hinduism either, at least as we understand those categories. That is, Islam is not an admixture, but is constitutive -- of a lot of popular Hinduism; of Sikhism -- and in the sub-continent has itself been constituted by Hinduism. [i.e. we can usefully pose hypotheticals if we are merely talking about events -- what would have happened if Aurangzeb had lost the war of succession to Dara Shikoh? -- but I am skeptical about such hypotheticals when something so fundamental is involved...]

Mahavir | June 07, 2010

Right because its just so awesome that the greatest rupture in Indian civilization (yes, greater than even the British Raj I would argue), the jihad conquests by Muslims ghazis and the sowing of the seeds of the concomitant mass conversions to Islam of the populations of East Bengal and Western Punjab as documented by Richard Eaton was just so worth it because a couple of peasant Hindus can now encompass Allah and Muhammad into the Hindu pantheon as avatars of Vishnu...

Qalandar | June 07, 2010

Re: "...because a couple of peasant Hindus can now encompass Allah and Muhammad into the Hindu pantheon as avatars of Vishnu…" I have heard of the Hussaini Brahmins who have incorporated Husain into the pantheon, but was not aware of Allah/Muhammad joining him. And for what it's worth (although, doesn't sound like you much care), I was not referring to "syncretism" per se, but to far more "orthodox" manifestations: bhakti, Sikhism, etc. Nor would I be the one to call anything "awesome" (there are women I will call "awesome", but that is a different story) -- my point was it is fundamental, and fundamental in a constitutive way.

Qalandar | June 07, 2010

On a different note, the Aitzaz Ahsan book is joke. These "India is a fiction, but Indus separatism?! Now THERE'S a history!" types crack me up...

Qalandar | June 07, 2010

Akbar: I hadn't recalled the actual percentage breakdowns from the 1970 elections; fascinating to see that the PPP got only ~19% of the votes cast (though presumably that was >40% of West Pakistan), that's a lot lower than I had imagined, and I realize that's because I had under-estimated the dispersion of votes among parties other than the Awami League and the PPP. [Aside on the religious parties: doesn't affect your wider point, but the % breakdown here does give some indication why Bhutto/PPP might have felt the need to pander. The various Jamaats combined have 14% of the vote in the 1970 election, not much more than 25% off the PPP's own vote share. Even assuming that a number of these votes must have come from East Pakistan, that isn't insignificant.]

Mahavir | June 09, 2010

@Qalandar I have read some of your postings on your blog and it seems that the partition of India is of some interest to you and therefore I was wondering what you think of this essay regarding the agitation of Muslim separatism and it being North Indian Muslim in origination and for whom's interests it was a convenient vehicle: http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=0f5Grm_DkCoC&oi=fnd&pg=PA31#v=onepage&q&f=false

Qalandar | June 09, 2010

Not familiar with that book, let me check the essay out over the next few days...

Mahavir | June 09, 2010

@qalandar I have been reading more of your blog postings and in regards to partition you seem to hold the explanation that British were responsible for creating rigid and exclusive self-identities among the Muslims of India through the institutions of Census enumeration, the surrendering to the Muslim League's demand for communal based electoral elections, etc. I have to say that I am deeply uncomfortable with such explanations of the causal factors which practically exclude any agency for these conceptions from the minds of the Muslims themselves independent of any British colonization and authority. In other others words, many scholars of South Asia frankly have conceived the role of the British vis-a-vis exclusive and irreconcilable identity formation as if they were a bunch of magicians. That is undoubtedly empirically untenable and its seems present political activism masquerading as scholarship (post-colonialism, orientalism, etc) has become an obstruction to proper historical reckoning. There are two investigations and analyses of the creation of an exclusivist, separatist Muslim identity that I have read which correct this a-historical paradigm in causal explanations. One is any essay and a monograph by Francis Robinson highlighting the INHERENT separatist tendencies and ideologies among Muslims generally; wherever they are found as a minority with a history of existence among a non-Muslim majority, you will find Muslims agitating for a separate nation or such other arrangement (see Muslims in Southern Thailand, Moros in the Philipines, etc). The other text is a monograph published about a year ago which documents Islamic revivalism and reformation in PRE-COLONIAL India with such figures as Sirhindi, Shah Wali Allah who at the, mind you, height, the zenith of Islamic domination of India were arguing the Muslims have strayed too far in their assimilation to the overwhelmingly shirk environment of Hindu India and a cleansing and purifying process was adamantly required and that process could only be achieved by going back to first principles, namely the Koran and the Hadith. Of course what was unorthodox and novel about this philosophy was the complete jettisoning of the jurisprudential schools and interpretations which had arisen obviously subsequent to their composition, and therefore a textual literalism without the intermediation of such accretions was the only proper path; literally therefore an Islamic Fundamentalism. And of course the North Indian Muslim elite was quite receptive to these new movements and ideological constructions independent once again of the magical powers of the British colonial dispensation. This is a wholly inadequate precis for the analytical richness and paradigm shifting nature of the text so I will stop for now. Francis Robinson "Islam and Muslim Separatism" : http://books.google.com/books?id=NN0m_c8p6fgC&pg=PA912&lpg=PA912&dq=francis+robinson+islam+and+muslim+separatism&source=bl&ots=tJ1yvT5Xpt&sig=f2D8AslQ_pz3dqYJRovLOroywW8&hl=en&ei=z9YLTKWpA8H6lwfAv7itDg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CB8Q6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=francis%20robinson%20islam%20and%20muslim%20separatism&f=false M. Reza Pirbhai "Reconsidering Islam in a South Asian Context" : http://books.google.com/books?id=jEOCeD7ntzUC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_v2_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

Qalandar | June 10, 2010

Mahavir: I think you misconstrue what I say, but more importantly, you misconstrue the work of the historians whose work you say I rely on -- I certainly rely on no-one, and do not myself believe, that the British were some kind of magicians who created identity out of nothing. In fact, as I recall I EXPLICITLY say so. [But yes, the fact that nothing can be gotten from nothing does not mean that certain processes, structures, and forms of polity cannot lead to certain effects. These would not have the same effect irrespective of any previously existing identity, but it is simply ahistorical to believe that the latter is unaffected by the former. See e.g. http://qalandari.blogspot.com/2007/03/book-review-felt-community-2002_25.html]. Aside: I also wouldn't like to hijack these threads, given the urgency and topicality of the Ahmedi situation. I request that if you have follow-ups they be on my blog, or, equally, on a more relevant CM thread...