We liberals/Seculars love to profess that the extremism in Pakistan roots in Zia’s regime. In this scathing write up I shall dare to “gladly” disappoint my fraternity and present facts which will prove that it was actually Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who created and to be frank, exploited Islamic ethos in the Land of Pure.
Pakistan’s first “elected” Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto couldn’t win a single seat in East Pakistan in the 1970 national elections. His hunger for power led him to dishonor the mandate of the people of East Pakistan, which resulted in a civil war and subsequently Bangladesh secession. It was then that Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto traded in the unity in the name of Islam for his ridiculous fiasco. With the chants “Islam is our religion, Democracy our policy, and Socialism our economy”, “Courage is in our blood, we are the children of a rich heritage. We shall succeed in our dream of an Islamic association since destiny demands it, political reality justifies it, posterity awaits it” etc, Bhutto gave a “new” “politicized” identity to the despondent nation. As a result of his political short sightedness, Bhutto had to be in accord with the demand of religious parties, which were kept at bay till then, to declare Islam as the official religion of Pakistan and Pakistan to be named The Federal Islamic Republic of Pakistan, in the Constitution of Pakistan. To add, Bhutto, through a constitutional amendment in 1974, declared Ahmedis to be non-muslims, after Ahemdia riots erupted, and radicals got their first triumph card.
Bhutto went further, to indemnify for his flunking economic policies which were ironically based on socialism, by nationalizing the educational sector but not nationalizing the Madrasas. In fact, Bhutto granted the Madrasas equivalence of public sector certificates, diplomas and even Master’s Degrees. Also, the religious content and Islamic Literature was increased by reforming the country’s educational curriculum. It should be noted that, it was his regime when the pace of setting up Madrasas started to pick up and 852 added then (highest of that period) which were funded by Arab royalty. And so the street power of Madrasas was on the rise.
To please the Shah-s, Arabic was made mandatory in primary and secondary level and Madrasas’ graduates were hired as teachers. And you have got to hand it to Bhutto, all his policies failed but this one worked. Yeah, Bhutto Sahib, with the sponsorship of King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, succeed in projecting himself one of the magnificent leaders of the Islamic World by hosting the Second Islamic Summit Conference in 1974, held in Lahore.
Bhutto, in his attempt to strengthen his Islamic credentials, gave shelter to radical Afghan Islamist dissidents like Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Burhannudin Rabbani and Ahmad Shah Massoud against the President of their country, Daud Khan. The young Afghans, under the supervision of Lt. General Naseerullah Babar, were being trained by religious teachers in Pakistan to resist against Kabul. And so the nexus between the militancy and Madrasas was established. And if I, in my very humble blog, take the liberty to state that the seeds of Talibinization were sown.
However, Bhutto’s political designs which were based on religious extremism to remain stay in power, back fired. The religious lobby joined hands against his socio liberal policies and formed a united front called, Pakistan National Alliance (PNA). PNA asserted the call for “Nizam-I-Mustafa” which meant that the implementation of Shariah (Islamic laws). Bhutto tried to control the damage by enunciating to Islaminise Pakistan, declaring Friday (which is deemed to be the holyday for Muslims) and banning gambling, wine, floorshows and the like. But his endeavors were perceived to be his impuissance to maintain the law and order in the country. The movement of Naizam-I-Mustafa was gaining momentum with each passing day, which resulted in economic stability, political and social unrest and ineffectiveness in governance. Hence, military intervened, ousted Bhutto and basically, “inherited” his fatal radical Islamic policies.
So my liberal/Secular friends kindly spare Zia for a moment and curse in every language of the world you know, for inducting the religious intolerance in Pakistan. Bhutto Sahib was just like a common hypocrite Muslim of today. Who, in his right hand had a draft to Islamize Pakistan and in his left hand, document to construct a Casino at Clifton Beach. A lethal combination, always results in “blows” (and YEAH, pun INTENDED).