Role of Ulama in Govt-TLP standoff

By: Prof. Abdul Shakoor Shah 

Islamic parties in Pakistan have been a powerful force to surmise with and can be counted among the privileged groups that sway political progression and decision-making in Pakistan. These parties have the backup from other political parties and the establishment. These parties have a marvelous sum of street power rather than vote power. The rationale for the substantial political weight manipulated by these Islamic parties is lopsided with their electoral support. They have set up an unambiguous situation for themselves among the diverse privileged cluster that verify political processes and decision-making in Pakistan comprise the military, bureaucratic, sectarian wings and trade cream of the crop. They exercised sway not only in Afghan affairs but also in present national politics. Despite meager electoral support, these parties are at the vanguard on issues like the establishment of Shariat Courts and legislation on subjects like ‘Ushr’, ‘Zakat’, or blasphemy. The masses follow their heels, in campaigns on assorted issues. TLP is a newly emerged political party but it has towered itself to the top among the rest.

TLP and PTM are twins in their emergence but both are quite opposite in their agendas. TLP got fame in the Mumtaz Qadri case and later on it kept flourishing and now it is one of the mainstream national political parties. Even in AJK elections, TLP outnumbered JI in vote banks. Ulema being the torch-bearers of the message of love and peace should exhibit elasticity to initiate the dialogue process to put an end to the State-TLP standoff. protestors and the forces both should step back from their stubborn stance so that the dialogue process should move on an optimistic track. The state must abide by the agreements signed with TLP and avoid the use of brutal force to curb the agitators. Every Muslim is the custodian and protector of Namoos-e-Risalat-e- Muhammad (SAW) and the faith in the finality of the Prophethood. Now it is the responsibility of the Ulama to step forward to resolve the national crisis to appease the masses and pull them out of the agony of uncertainty. The Ulamas are on intimate terms with both sides.

All the Ulamas should step in unanimously to play their pivotal role of mediator in solving this puzzle.  Both sides are trying to cash the situation in their favor which may result in drastic consequences. The economical, psychological, political, strategic and stain to national image on international fronts cannot be compensated. Layman is already in agony due to Mr. Khan’s change of miseries. Such agitations, protests and marches grind the man in the street to unspeakable plight. The daily wagers, private employees, students and patients are the worst sufferers of all. We have been applying religious parties for political purposes in the past and it seems that the high up decided to get rid of the traditional religious wings to create new groups for their vested interest. Now these newly manufactured Islamic wings seem to be out bounding from their reach.  Loss of any sort either is physical or monetarily, it is the loss of Pakistan. The government seems half willing to meet the demands of TLP or she just wants to jump out of the present dilemma. Ulema and scholars of Ahl-i-Sunnat Wal Jamaat have already offered their collaboration in the government-TLP standoff and recommended both sides to settle the issue through dialogue. The government must nominate Ulamas as mediators and negotiators for the settlement of the problem. The government has tried to engage the TLP chief for negotiation but there is no ice break yet. TLP’s main stipulate seems to be the closure of the French embassy in Pakistan as a result of the publication of blasphemous caricatures that caused anger in the Muslim world in general and Pakistan in particular. Islam stresses affinity and harmony among mankind and Ulema must play their constructive role in neutralizing the continuing uptight circumstances in the country.

The consultative gatherings with religious wings are the need of the hour. It is also of urgent need as the religious brains don’t seem to be relying on government ministers. In this case Ulama have a key role of bridging the existing gulf of mistrust and surety. Since the inception of Pakistan, Ulema have always played a momentous role in providing moral and religious guidance to people besides standing with the State in difficult times. The present government has raised its voice against Islamophobia and for the sanctity of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) at all international fronts and advocated the stance in an effective manner. But the irony of the situation is that state machinery has completely cut a sorry figure in convincing or satisfying the religions wings about their stance and actions. The existing breach between the state and the religious wings is not a good omen for the government and the country. Certainly, the government has also set up the Rehmatul Lil Alameen Authority, which would promote the glowing teachings of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and guide the nation to follow his footsteps for success in this life and hereafter. But the helm of the matter is we have done it solely on a state or official level while it should be done mutually and collectively. The state must incorporate all religious wings to avoid agitations and protests. Islam is a religion of peace and urged mankind to practice brotherhood and tolerance. But unfortunately, our religious wings misuse masses for their vested political interests in the name of religion. The fanaticism of any kind is intolerable and harmful both for the country and religion.  

The Writer is Prof. in English and Freelance Columnist, based in Lahore, Pakistan. He can be reached at [email protected]