Wednesday, October 17, 2007

More on the return of Bhutto...

The issue of major concern confronting Pakistan today is the pitching of forces of moderation versus extremism. The resolution of this issue will affect the world, particularly South Asia, Central Asia and all the Muslim countries. Bhutto believes that extremism and obscurantism can flourish only in an environment where basic governmental social responsibility for the welfare of the people is neglected. Dictatorship that denies basic rights to the people creates social hopelessness and ignites desperation that fuels religious extremism.

Pakistan's 60-year history is a sprawling mosaic with huge dark patches of dictatorship punctuated with dotted hues of democracy. Never before in the Pakistani polity has religious fundamentalism ever been a significant part of nation's political awareness as it is now. Inherently a liberal, centrist and moderate nation, Pakistani people -- by and large -- have remained glued to the democratic ideals of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah who stoutly believed that Pakistan would not be a theocratic state and that religion would not have anything to do with the business of the state.

Historically, the religious parties have not received more than 11 per cent of the total votes in the national elections. It is interesting to note that in the general elections held in 1997, the leader of one of the main religious parties, Qazi Hussain Ahmad, preferred keeping back from the polls to losing his seat to his opponent. Likewise, the leader of the Jamiat Ulema Pakistan, Maulana Fazlur Rahman, got fewer votes than a female film star who also lost the poll. On the other hand, despite persistent state persecution since its inception, the Pakistan Peoples Party has remained the largest political party of Pakistan.

More at the link.