“Actions speak louder than words”. The deeper you delve into what this phrase literally means, the more you understand that words in complete contradiction to “practice” carry little or no meaning at all.
Over the past two weeks, Pakistan has had the misfortune of observing another TLP showdown, which has now become a “yearly spectacle”, where the most prestigious slogan of “Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah” (SAWW) is followed by the most undemocratic protest comprising of severe clashes between Police and stick-wielding mob, leading to chaos and bloodshed – something our Holy Prophet Mohammad (SAWW) in His entire life neither appreciated, nor preached.
How did Islam get prominence in the world?
If we journey back to the pages of history on how Islam became the most popular religion of the world, we will lose count of the examples of how the innumerable amount of people embraced Islam having been inspired by the extraordinarily impressive conduct of our Holy Prophet Mohammad (SAWW). Not a even single individual embraced Islam by the use of force, sticks or batons.
This is the Islam that we grew up reading and learning about. A religion that strictly forbids us to intentionally hurt an ant, a spider, or a crow, how on earth can it allow us to butcher our fellow humans, that too in the name of religion?
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Last two weeks have not only exposed our State’s inability to come up with effective, long-term solutions to restricting the aforementioned “yearly spectacle” under the garb of upholding the honor of our Holy Prophet Mohammad (SAWW), where the police death toll has shot up three times more this time around than that of last year, along with several injured on both sides, but also the fact that irrespective of how sincerely majority of the supporters of TLP marched out of their homes in the quest of their noble cause, the top tier leadership of TLP seemed to have some serious political objectives in the closet.
On Sunday, October 31, the Government of Pakistan entrusted a three-member steering committee with the goal of resolving the intense issue of TLP, owing to which the daily chores and businesses of many major cities of Punjab had been at a halt for over a week now. This committee is being chaired by the State Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Ali Mohammad Khan.
What was the aim of TLP?
The key goals of the committee entailed devising a fine strategy to ensure the release of banned TLP Chief, Saad Rizvi along with other TLP leaders and activists.
The accord signed by the Govt. and TLP, says to have ten points, which have been kept secret so far, but Prime Minister, Imran Khan briefed his Cabinet and the political allies of Government on the agreement yesterday, and on November 5, an upcoming Parliamentary session is expected to be held, where Opposition parties will also be taken into confidence on the matter.
Mufti Muneeb ur Rehman, ex-Chairman Ruet e Hilal Committee, spearheaded the twelve-hour-long dialogue between the Government and TLP. He is said to be on good terms with the TLP leadership. Yesterday, as per Media reports, Mufti Muneeb was heard stating that the demand entailing the expulsion of the French Ambassador didn’t lie in the TLP demand list and all such news being attributed to TLP should be considered as “false rumors”.
So, here is the real question. If the expulsion of the French Ambassador was not even TLP’s demand anymore and as per the available information received by the credible sources on the accord reached between the Government and TLP, the key demands from the banned TLP comprise of releasing their Chief, Saad Rizvi and other leaders of the party, dumping the cases registered against their violent activists and allowing the banned party to participate in the electoral process yet again, why did they keep pitching their case as a “sacred religious cause”, when it was a purely political case hands down?
Why pitch “religion card” to settle “political scores”? What could be a greater “disservice” to Islam than pursuing political agendas under the garb of “religious quest”?
On the other hand, the Government needs to answer some serious questions here:
Why did the Government strike an accord with the proscribed party?
Why did they not make any pre-emptive measures saner than “arresting” Saad Rizvi on April 12, 2021, when, as per their signed accord, they were supposed to present the issue of the expulsion of the French Ambassador before the Parliament on April 20, 2021?
Why did the Government resort to yet another “short-term” strategy, while fully knowing that postponement of the protest was not going to work in the longer run?
Also, labelling TLP, a political party formally registered under Election Act, 2017, as “proscribed” outfit may sound like an achievement to those who wish to hush it away, but mere labelling it as such without going through the legal formality laden procedure, starting from Election Commission’s legal homework to Federal Cabinet’s approval to the legal formalities needed to be undertaken by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, will eventually fail to outlaw the party on legal grounds anyway.
Interior Minister, Sheikh Rasheed, mentioned the banned party to be funded by Indian sources, in his press conference. So, we assume that the Government took that revelation also into account while striking the accord with TLP. Too much contradiction, no?
The strongly embedded sentiment of upholding the honour and prestige of our Holy Prophet Mohammad (SAWW) is so precious to us, that every Muslim would love to chip in their bit for the noble cause. Unless the State devises a strategy to counter this unconstitutional and undemocratic practice of maligning this precious cause, where the use of sticks, bullets and batons on Pakistan’s very own citizens by the violent mob, majorly comprising of equally as good people like the ones being attacked, we are doomed.
Who knows as to how much love for Holy Prophet Mohammad (SAWW) those eleven policemen carried in their hearts, who got martyred in the line of duty, by the angry mob of the “lovers” of the same Prophet Mohammad (SAWW).
The government needs to find a permanent solution
A huge deal of introspection is needed in this regard and the State can’t afford to stand helplessly as a bystander every year, only to see the innocent citizens being shot and the country being held, hostage.
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This yearly practice (in complete contradiction to the teachings of Islam) is not only destroying the image of Islam worldwide, but is also creating a false sense of understanding of the religion in the young, impressionable minds within the country.
Also, if we want to end the menace of “Islamophobia” on a global level, we will have to put our house in order, first. Once we walk past this crucial stage, our State must reach out to all Muslim countries and mutually devise a permanent legally viable and effective solution to get even with anyone and everyone daring to disrespect our religion or Holy Prophet Mohammad (SAWW).
And last but not the least, our conduct should reflect the noble teachings of the Holy Prophet Mohammad (SAWW).
The politics of using religious extremism for settling political scores must end now. Beating the believers of Allah and Holy Prophet Mohammad (SAWW) with sticks and batons, forcing them to chant the slogan “Labbaik” to prove their love for religion is anything but Islam. The gruesome visuals of the aforementioned absurdity only seem to be the unfortunate replication of what Indian RSS is globally despised for. Not in my religion’s name, please!
It is now or never for the State of Pakistan. Let’s hope sense prevails over aggression today and always. Pakistan Zindabad!
Maleeha Hashmey is a broadcast journalist in Pakistan. She hosts her television program on Public News and serves United Nations as a Consultant. This article originally appeared in The Nation and has been republished with the author’s permission. She can be reached on Twitter at @maleehahashmey. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.