One of the forms in Pakistan’s “Elections Act 2017″ had the word “Oath” replaced by the word “Declaration,” either by mistake or intentionally.
There was tremendous outcry and the change was immediately reversed. The term oath referred to the Khatm e Nabuwat, or the finality of the prophethood, swearing that Muhammad is the last Prophet. Muslims have to solemnly swear that Muhammad, Prophet of Islam, is the last prophet. (Even Pakistani Muslims applying for a passport have to declare that.)
The religious justification presented for this argument is the Quranic verse 33:40
“Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but (he is) the Messenger of Allah, and the Seal of the Prophets: and Allah has full knowledge of all things.”
(This must be the first and oldest case of “intellectual property rights” where no one else can claim prophethood after Muhammad; he is long gone so his devotees, the Mohammedans, are custodians of IPRs. The way things are, every religion needs a prophet suited to the current times.)
The political reason for this strict enforcement of term is to continue the persecution of the Ahmadi Muslims.
The Ahmadi Muslims see the “Seal of the Prophets” in a different light; they have suffered for that. In the wake of the 1953 violence against them, the then government appointed an inquiry commission which concluded that Ahmadis are Muslims. Their logic was: All the ulema present agreed that Ahmadis are non-Muslims but none of them could agree on what represented a Muslim.
In 1974, atheist Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, under pressure from various Islamic parties, declared Ahmadi Muslims as non-Muslims. The same Islamic parties were back on the streets in 1977 to remove Bhutto. Bhutto was ousted in a military coup and was later hanged.
But the “oath” controversy in the “Elections Act 2017″ was a boon for the Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah TLY (meaning: ready to serve you, O Prophet of Allah), an obscure Islamist political party formed in August 2015 by Khadim Hussain Rizvi, whose main objective is to see Pakistan under Sharia law and to prevent any changes in the draconian blasphemy laws.
His party started protesting on November 5, 2017, on the highway connecting the capital city Islamabad with its twin city Rawalpindi and demanded the resignation of Minister for Law and Justice, Zahid Hamid. The ruling party didn’t act promptly to remove the protestors, who were armed.
The number of protestors kept increasing. After expiry of several government ultimatums to protestors and court orders to take action, the government on November 25th decided to take action. But, after deaths on both sides, and, sensing the suicidal attitude of over 2,000 protestors, the federal government decided to call in the military to take over the operation.
The military refused to intervene. The Chief of Army Staff phoned the Prime Minister. The military spokesperson tweeted:
“COAS telephoned PM. Suggested to handle Isb Dharna [sit-in] peacefully avoiding violence from both sides as it is not in national interest & cohesion.”
Pakistan’s military must be the first pacifist army in the world, otherwise who else would let go of the golden opportunity to indulge in violence, show it’s bravery, and ask for an increase in the military budget.
However, the record of the Pakistan army defies pacifism. It is one of the most terrorist army in the world and has no qualms in killing; it kills Islamist terrorists when it wants to, and protects them when it suits the army’s whim or need. It also creates terrorists.
The army refused to arbitrate, and instead, forced the federal government to give in to the demands of the TLY thugs.
It was the most humiliating day for the government.
Rizvi announced the goodies:
the law minister will resign;
the persons responsible for the change of words will be tried;
all protestors arrested or under house arrests will be released within three days and cases registered against them will be dropped;
an inquiry board will be set up to resolve, within thirty days, actions to be taken against the government and security officials behind the operation conducted against the protestors on November 25;
the federal and provincial governments will decide who will bear the cost of the damage caused to the private and public properties by us, the members of the TLY;
a new holiday will be observed as “Martyrs of Prophet’s honor day” each November 25.
The law minister resigned; the government released the protestors and gave them 1,000 rupees as transportation expenses.
The Military has almost always been the real power holder in Pakistan. In the past, it has overthrown governments several times and subsequently imposed martial law rule in Pakistan. Now it also handles foreign policy and the government, while staying in the background. It wants to weaken the present government which wanted to assert civilian power and keep the military under its control, but it could not.
After this humiliating deal, on the same day, the Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was flew to Saudi Arabia and met King Salman, the Master of the Muslim Sunni leaders. Abbasi was accompanied by COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt-Gen Naveed Mukhtar.
The next day, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman opened a meeting of the Saudi-led coalition of Muslim nations against terrorism whose military commander is Pakistan’s former army chief, General Raheel Sharif. He solemnly declared:
A number of our member countries are under tremendous pressure while fighting well established terrorist organisations due to capacity shortages of their armed forces and law enforcement agencies.
It is ironical that one day prior, Pakistan was brought to its knees by a military-supported group of 2,000 terrorists that humiliated the government, and that, Pakistan’s former army chief rails about wanting to fight the terrorists!
Everyone knows its not the Sunni terrorists they want to fight, its aim is terrorize Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen which are Shia Muslim countries.
B. R. Gowani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org