Sunday, September 12, 2010


The Lessons of Ramzan 2010

This has been an extraordinary month, like no other I can recall. The Floods, of course, stand out high above everything else but there has been much else going on.

The Floods

The floods brought out the best and the worst in our nation. There have been numerous instances of extraordinary heroism where people have put their lives on the line to save others from drowning, where people have shown extraordinary generosity to help the flood victims with hospitality and by making large contributions out of proportion to their financial circumstances. While the actions of these ordinary people have made us glow with pride, their has also been revealed the ugly face of our nation: robbers and thieves relieving the unfortunate victims of what little they had managed to save of their possessions; the sight of Pakistan’s nominal “president” roaming the world and showing off the obscene wealth he has amassed through his unscrupulous wheeling and dealing; the virtually dead inner state of Pakistan’s privileged class: the so-called “feudals” and rich industrialists who dominate Pakistani political life – no wonder people, and foreign donors, are loath to contribute to any “funds” that these corrupt and callous people set up under the camouflage of helping the victims of floods.

The mysterious "sectarian" killings

Then, no sooner had the ferocity of the floods abated a bit when the notorious “sectarian killings” hit the country again. I have written at length about this phenomenon before – see, for example, Terrorising Pakistan - and I say it again: the USA brought the cancer of sectarian killings to Iraq in order to achieve its political aims and it is repeating that experiment in Pakistan. Only this time it is being aided and abetted, not just by the Israelis but by the wholehearted participation of the Indian government and its agencies. Pakistan’s government, controlled by a gang of disreputable people put in place by the scheming foreign powers, is powerless to stop the descent of Pakistan into apparent anarchy.

The cricket circus and the abuse of Ramzan

There was also the sorry spectacle of the Pakistani cricket team, accused of all kinds of shady practices. In my view the spotlight has fallen on the wrong people. I see the cricketers primarily as victims, some of whom have progressed into hardened criminals, now indistinguishable from those who had planted in them the seed of corruption. There is something evil about the environment in which cricket is administered in Pakistan. The real culprits, in my view, are the administrators who deliberately expose a kid like Aamer to the evil operators in the world of gambling. The PCB chairman, and others who owe their appointments to political patronage need to be investigated but won’t be because they are the ones who control the reins of power and make all the decisions. Since the president of Pakistan is the patron of PCB and he appoints its chairman, the rot may well go all the way up to the presidency. In other words, you cannot expect a fair investigation! The PCB’s link with the president must be severed and this so-called sporting body must be depoliticised.  The ICC is utterly useless : by talking of lifelong bans on kids like Aamer it is merely deceiving the world about the evil that underpins Pakistan cricket. 

The corrupt PCB sees nothing wrong in arranging matches during Ramzan. This is a brazen abuse of Ramzan about which little is ever said. You see Pakistani fielders on a cricket ground abroad openly gulping down liquids during Ramzan. At the very least, the PCB is guilty of encouraging the young men to disregard a fundamental practice that Al-Qur’an says all Muslims should follow. I imagine that some of the cricketers continue with their saum/roza right through a cricket match but that implies they are being dishonest towards their own selves and towards the spectators who come to see them. The saum is an act of worship towards Allah, sport has nothing to do with it. Someone who chooses to go hungry and thirsty cannot do justice to his talents as a sportsman, which means a team composed of fasting sportsmen cannot provide the sort of challenge that the spectators have a right to expect in a genuine match contested by two fully fit teams at the peak of their game.

Worshippers of the five pillars

The sad fact is that to most Muslims today Islam has become a pliable tool to be manipulated according to their whims. It has stopped being a Code of Conduct – as Jinnah, the Quaid-e-Azam, put it – and has become a distorted jumble of rites and rituals which can be easily moulded into any shape and form! We are supposed to submit to the Divine Will and follow the Guidance we have been given but we have actually become more like pagans, worshipping the five pillars that the mullahs tell us constitute Islam. Our lack of principles has lost us the respect of other nations and we have moved far away from closeness to the Power of Allah that we ostensibly crave.

Na Khuda hii mila, na visaal-e-sanam
Na idher ke rahay, na udher ke rahay!

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