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An Open Letter to the Chief Executive of Pakistan
Political Issues
Muzaffar K Awan


(The author can be contacted at

There are of course many key issues that come to one’s mind as one thinks about the survival and well being of Pakistan: the real purpose of Pakistan’s creation in 1947, the sociopolitical chaos for over 50 years and revolutionary grass-root changes that are required to institute a system of governance in order to succeed in the 21st century. Some orientalists in the West are of the opinion that Pakistan as a country made no geographic or demographic sense being founded as a homeland for the Muslims of the subcontinent when there are more subcontinent Muslims outside Pakistan than within it. They correctly believe that Pakistan has been reduced to a patchwork of many ethnic groups and sects increasingly in violent conflict with one another. It is being considered as a failed State and the Western political pundits predict that it is bound to fall apart sooner or later. The secular and sham democratic governments in Pakistan have had less and less legitimacy as well as less ability to manage ethnic and sectarian groups and resources of the country.

When all else has failed we have only the great Quaid to fall back on as our savior. He was and remains the only unblemished leader around whom we can rally even today and re-build our unity and our country in the darkest of days in our history. Simply quoting the Quaid and talking about building a Quad’s Pakistan is not enough. We must propagate and fulfill the Quad’s vision, ideology, hopes and aspirations for Pakistan and its people by sincere and consistent acts and deeds.

For understanding these and other issues and their implications, we will need a think tank with a great deal of diversity and perspective on sociopolitical and economical problems facing Pakistan and the underlying and ongoing causes of those problems. The ideas of our Quaid remain as important today for Pakistan’s survival and its future as they were at the time of its inception. I do not believe, short of a revolution, it is possible to bring about a grass root and lasting change in a failed state that has reached its lowest ebb over 50 years.

Pakistan has, since its creation, suffered four military coups. The 4th coup in October 1999 was probably a temporary solution given the circumstances. The degeneration had been ongoing over many decades. It could have been a coup by some form of sectarianism and an extremist religious group that could have led to further chaos throughout the country. Or it could have seen a less able lower level military officer’s takeover. We already know very well that an extended involvement of the military in politics and civilian administration leads to corruption and undermines the military’s professionalism, discipline and moral standards. Hamood ur Rehman commission report has revealed disastrous consequences of past military interventions and loss of a half of our country.

Since your becoming the chief executive, there has been a great deal of talk about return to democracy in Pakistan. What democracy are we talking about? It is apparent that corrupt politicians wish to return to the same ‘sham’ democracy that did not work for the masses. To me ‘sham’ democracy means a democracy where parliamentary practices are officially and superficially adhered to, while behind the scenes the military and security services play the controlling and dominant role. That has been indeed the case in Pakistan when ever military was not in direct control. How long since Pakistan’s birth has the military stayed away from Pakistani politics? The answer is first 13 months only until the unfortunate and early demise of our Quaid.

Many Westoxicated Pakistani intellectuals may want Western type of democratic model for Pakistan. Western democracy is not necessarily applicable for every country on this planet and is definitely not suitable for Pakistan in its western forms. You have talked about returning Pakistan to ‘real democracy’. What do you mean by ‘real’ democracy? Repeated trials of ‘sham’ democracy and military dictatorships in Pakistan have already brought about a total degeneration of our country and all its institutions. Pakistan’s military has been the most powerful political party in Pakistan ever since Ayub Khan involved the military into the politics. Our masses are illiterate and poor but overly trusting and they have suffered enough. The masses are undoubtedly politically immature and they have been lied to over the decades by the civilian as well as military dictators. Why should they believe in your scheme of devolution of power plan that you believe would change that dream of the Quaid into reality? Why don’t you explain to the masses what dream of the Quaid were you talking about? Our masses need to be educated and prepared about the real purpose and the dreams the founding fathers had for Pakistan. A great many of our intellectuals even do not really understand what really the Quaids’s Pakistan meant and what Allama Iqbal was all about? Our founding fathers had a very unique form of democracy in their mind and that was an Islamic pluralistic model of democracy. They never meant a theocracy or sectarian system for Pakistan. They also never meant dictatorship by the military or by the politicians.

Your determination and objective to return Pakistan to ‘real’ democracy by October 2002 is rather overly ambitious and impossible to achieve in a short time that is available to you. You stated that the Government would hold elections for the national and provincial assemblies by October 2002 under the Supreme Court verdict of May 12, 2000. These elections, as stated by you, have been preceded by local bodies polls in December 2000 as the first phase of the devolution plan.

I personally do not believe that Pakistan’s problems are fixable in a period of three years. Our not well informed masses and even our intellectuals need educating and preparing about the Islamic democratic process and that will require a longer time to accomplish. We must however start somewhere and somehow. However, we must be sure that you and your comrades have the integrity, sincerity and the ability to accomplish this very tall order in a manner Iqbal and the Quaid would have liked you to accomplish for the masses.

The corruption in Pakistan has deeply penetrated from top to bottom and remains an integral part of our national character. How will you change that in a short 3-year time frame? How will you control the bigots and thieves at all levels of the Pakistani society? Sectarianism continues to distort our true Islamic teachings. How are you going to correct that? Even if you possess an ability of a great leader and a correct vision, it will still take a large team of dedicated Mujahids for many years  to bring about a true grass root and revolutionary change and to help keep Pakistan on the right path.

Being simply a soldier by training and experience, do you and your military comrades really understand Pakistan’s founding fathers’ vision and aspirations? You now have the best of opportunity and an obligation to genuinely reforming the country, and although the media has reported very little on this, you have the reputation of being a Turkophile. You have lived in Turkey and you speak fluent Turkish. As a military man with interests in military history, you are known to be influenced by Kamal Attaturk. He Introduced ‘sham’ democracy in Turkey and that is why the Turkish military and security forces still play the most dominant role behind the scenes of Turkish quasi-democracy. I hope you will not try to re-impose Kamalist model in Pakistan ignoring the vision of Pakistan’s founding fathers. Given Pakistan’s unique purpose and circumstance, Turkophile ideas are detrimental for Pakistan and its people. You could surely succeed by creating a role model of your own based on the aspirations of our own founding fathers and our masses .You have the best and unique opportunity to achieve the true objectives of Pakistan’s creation.

Doctrines of Fascism, totalitarianism that came out of Western democratic circumstance and communism that supposedly came out as a reaction to contemplated failures of western political democracy have all been discredited. We continue to live in a disorderly and fragmented world with numerous eruptions in the Islamic and other countries and widening disparity between the rich and poor within each country and globally between countries. The Western industrialized nations, though economically still affluent, lead the world in the control of material desires and sensual gratification that are leading rapidly to the moral and social decay of western societies, culture and even regression of their own democracies. This decay and regression is progressively and adversely impacting the western sociopolitical system and is infectious to all countries of the world. We must draw lessons from the failed and failing systems of the 20th century in which over 200 million people were slaughtered in the name of insane but organized politics and ruthless dictators. Having said that, we should also never hesitate to pick whatever best and constructive ideas come out of the positive experiences of the west in political thought, science and technology. The West too has benefited tremendously in the past from the positive experiences and contributions of the golden era of Islamic civilization in developing its own civilization and culture.

Western world has made tremendous contributions to the betterment of mankind and continues to lead the world in all spheres of human endeavor today. However, Western intellectuals and political scientist are facing serious questions, as the 20th century western democracy has indirectly brought about the diseases of Nazism and Fascism and even communism. Western styled democracy may still bring in this postindustrial epoch other and new forms of diseases if applied inappropriately and blindly in countries where it can not fit.

Of-course, Western democracy, apparently at the end of the 20th century, seems to be the ideal system when compared with those cataclysmic failed systems of the past and the dictatorships that are still prevalent in many countries of the world. The western democracy is not suitable and necessarily good for every country and even the West must undergo an ongoing overhauling and evolution for the better if it is to survive in the long run. Third world countries are attracted by the comparatively better life of the people in the West, which is due only to their scientific achievements and their being a melting pot for young and highly educated people from the world over to come and settle in this vast and beautiful country with ever present human and material resources for a long time in the future.

Among approximately 60 Muslim nations of the world, Pakistan is unique because the sole purpose of its creation was Islam. It was meant to be a starting point for the reawakening and revival of the decaying Islamic civilization over the past several centuries. It was Allama lqbal, an Islamic thinker and philosopher of the 20th century who after an in-depth study of the Qur’ān realized that the true Islam has got buried under the debris of the artificial sectarian Islam. He called upon the Ummah to revive the true Islam in the light of Qur’ān. He actually converted the Quaid from being a staunch Indian Nationalist to an Islamic ideologue of Pakistan through their mutual and personal meetings and exchange of ideas in numerous letters spanning over a period of about 10 years. It is evident from Quad’s numerous speeches and statements that Pakistan was to be governed in accordance with an alternative democracy (Islamic Democracy).

It is my observation by living in the West for over 30 years that Western Democracy has worked best for the West since no alternative system in recent history has won over this system. However, it is not a perfect system and has its own flaws and needs a great deal of improvements.

The Quaid by helping create Pakistan gave us the opportunity to institute a model pluralistic Islamic democracy as an improvement over all forms of democracies but we unfortunately failed miserably over the past 50 years to accomplish what our founding fathers had hoped. The founding fathers by Islamic democracy did not ever mean theocratic sectarianism system to be run by Mullāhs.

Islam is an all-encompassing universal system of life. In an Islamic State, sovereignty belongs to God and Islam integrates the spiritual and the secular. The Qur’ān repeatedly talks about this total system of life called Dīn. The word ‘religion’ in the English vocabulary means ‘private relationship between man and God’. The equivalent word for ‘religion’ is Madhhab that has not once been mentioned in the Qur’ān. Islam is a collective belief system that enjoins the community (Ummah) to behave in an integrated and disciplined manner not only individually but more importantly in a collective manner. Thus an overlap exists in Islam between the domains of public life and private life. Islam includes both spiritual and secular and achievement of balance (Mīzān) between these two aspects of life is indeed the essence of Islam.

The Sunnah and path of the Prophet (sws) constitute an evidence of the necessity for establishing an Islamic government. He himself established a government, as history testifies. He engaged in the implementation of Islamic laws, the establishment of the ordinances of the Sharī‘ah, and administration of the society. According to one of the verses of the Qur’ān, the ordinances of Islam are not limited with respect to time and place; they are permanent and must be enacted until the end of time. Thus the formation of Islamic government and establishment of its executive, legislative and judicial organs are all necessary. The ratio of Qur’ānic verses concerned with the affairs of society to those concerned with the ritual aspect is greater than hundred to one. Of the approximately fifty sections of the corpus of Hadīth concerning all ordinances of Islam, no more than three or four sections relate to matters of ritual worship and the duties of man towards his Creator. A few more are concerned with ethics, and all the rest are concerned with social, economic, and political aspects.

The extreme secular camp in Pakistan believes that the Quaid’s August 11, 1947, speech supported their position. This speech must be understood in the light of all of his previous and subsequent speeches and statements that pertain to the 1937-1947 period. He had clearly promised an Islamic political idea for Pakistan. In this particular speech of August 11, 1947, he had said: ‘You are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed -- that has nothing to do with the business of the state.’

This, in my view, is exactly in accordance with the teachings of Islam that promises liberty of religious beliefs, rituals, customs as well as personal laws to the followers of all faiths. That is what the Mīthāq-i-Madīnah meant. In this context, the people of faiths other than Islam would be equal citizens of an Islamic State as long as they enjoy their own liberty and do not interfere with the ideology and the authority of an Islamic State. If Pakistan had instituted real Islam over the past 50 yeas, the members of our non-Muslim minorities would have been appreciative of Islam’s positive role in guaranteeing equal citizenship for non-Muslims in an Islamic State.

Some Pakistani intellectuals who are in the habit of negating Islam’s historical role in the genesis of Pakistan are lost between real and artificial Islam. They have formed misguided and incorrect notions of Islam. The open discussion of this subject should be welcomed for all of us to clarify and settle once and for all the ideological issues of Islam as well as a complete understanding of the purpose of Pakistan’s creation.

The Quaid in a Broadcast talk to the people of the United States of America on Pakistan, recorded in February, 1948, in his capacity as Governor General of Pakistan, said: ‘The Constitution of Pakistan has yet to be framed by the Pakistan Constituent Assembly. I do not know what the ultimate shape of this constitution is going to be, but I am sure that it will be of a democratic type, embodying the essential principles of Islam. Today, they are as applicable in actual life as they were 1,300 years ago. Islam and its idealism have taught us democracy. It has taught equality of man, justice and fair play to everybody. We are the inheritors of these glorious traditions and are fully alive to our responsibilities and obligations as framers of the future constitution of Pakistan. In any case, Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic State to be ruled by priests with a divine mission’.

By this, the Quaid clearly meant Islamic democracy: ‘democracy embodying the essential principles of Islam’ in practice meaning the ways and means for the implementation of the Qur’ānic laws and the principles to be framed by the masses by mutual consultation, within the permanent boundary lines determined by the Qur’ān. That is what an Islamic State is permitted to do; beyond this it has no authority. The Qur’ānic permanent laws are not that many and therefore, the most law making in the Islamic State would fall outside the boundary lines prescribed by the Qur’ān and thus will be framed in a democratic manner according to the will of the people. The whole idea was for Pakistan to be an Islamic democratic state embodying essential principles and idealism of Islam worked out by Iqbal and the Quaid over the decades.

There would thus be no unrestricted capitalism and no landlords in an Islamic State. The Quaid made this abundantly clear during his struggle for the achievement of Pakistan. In his presidential address delivered at the annual session of the All-India Muslim League, Delhi, on April 24, 1943, he said: ‘Here, I should like to give a warning to the landlords and capitalists who have flourished at our expense by a system which is so vicious, which is so wicked and which makes them so selfish that it is difficult to reason with them. The exploitation of the masses has gone into their blood. They have forgotten the lessons of Islam. Greed and selfishness have made these people subordinate to the interests of others in order to fatten themselves. It is true we are not in power today. You go anywhere to the countryside. I have visited villages. There are millions and millions of our people who hardly get one meal a day. Is this the aim of Pakistan? Do you visualize that millions have been exploited and cannot get one meal a day? If that was the idea of Pakistan, I would not have it. If they are wise they will have to adjust themselves to the new modern conditions of life. If they won’t, God help them: we shall not help them.’

For over half a century, the bigots and thieves have continuously subjected the innocent people of Pakistan to the exploitation. All of them have had vested interests of their own and have been closely linked with the status quo and the present critical plight of Pakistan. Revolutionary change is required for the survival and salvation of Pakistan at this critical juncture in our history. All obstacles in the path of pluralistic Islamic Pakistan have to be effectively and permanently removed. You Mr Chief Executive have an obligation to cleanse Pakistan of all the impediments, the realm of decades of status quo and putting Pakistan on the right course and making it stay on the right path for years to come. It is a tall order that will require a large cadre of Mujāhids and a cohesive team of experts with genuine integrity to help keep Pakistan on the right course for a long time and to correct the wrongs done to it over half a century. Organizing governance based on true Islamic democratic system is the only definition and nature of a long awaited change in Pakistan. Our Quaid actually had suffered from an early demise as his health kept deteriorating under the progressive stress he underwent in a struggle for Pakistan's creation.

As a Chief Executive, you now have an ultimate obligation to the Pakistani people, and the Ummah for recreating a true Islamic identity, allegiance and a model pluralistic Islamic democracy. You must also help recreate a sociopolitical and Islamic economic system based on common Islamic belief and culture -- the Ummah of Islam, a distinct civilization form others. Iqbal through his life long dedicated works and an in-depth study of Qur’ān developed insights into the real Islam and its revival. His reinterpretation of the Qur’ān -- reawakens the sociopolitical thought and the Islamic ideology. Islam cuts across continents, nationalities and ethnic groups and indeed is a global system with tremendous future possibilities for the solution of serious problems faced by the mankind and for peace and tranquillity of the entire human family. If you  prove to be a genuine agent of change (by sincerely understanding the real purpose of Pakistan’s coming into being), you will surely succeed. You have a tremendous and real opportunity of fortune and fame to recreate the history of Islam in the 21st century. Let us wait and see if you indeed have the vision to be a hero or you too turn out to be a villain in Pakistan’s history like many of your predecessors at the helm of Pakistan’s affairs over a period of half a century. May Allah guide you in the right direction. (Amen)


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