We often hear our confused youth cry about the absence of real democratic values in the society. According to them, democracy is impossible to achieve the widespread corruption and oligarchical influences.
They are very right. But not only do they forget this fundamental problem preventing democracy to flourish in Pakistan, they insist on denying it and vehemently defend it.
That problem remains to be theocratic influence on Pakistani law and constitution.
But then again, they would denounce democracy in the very next breath, because then they declare that their goal is not democracy, because its values are impossible to achieve under a democratic setup. Only free and fair elections under a dictatorship can resolve the dilemma.
Sadly, the problem is far more serious than they think.
The danger of religious influence on the law is so grave that no one is safe from it.
The latest evidence of that is that some folks have filed a petition of blasphemy against the Leader of the Opposition from PPP, Khurshid Ahmed Shah.
If a blasphemy case can be filed against one of the most powerful people in Pakistani politics, who is safe?
Is it safe to assume that MQM is behind it? Hope not. But if true, this would be coming from what is supposed to be one of the more liberal parties of Pakistan, who should ideally work to suspend these laws. Just for saying that the word “muhajir” or “immigrant” is derogatory. But of course, that easily qualifies to abuse the Prophet and his companions who migrated to Medina from Mecca.
Now obviously, it is a different matter altogether whether Khurshid Shah would actually be charged with the allegation. Because that depends on his position and the sort of people he offended.
However, it is important to emphasize the theocratic influences on the law and the constitution as the biggest hurdle to democracy, because tools such as the blasphemy law are used to shut anyone up, from a common citizen to the most powerful cable networks and politicians.
And all you need is just a figment of doubt in the mind of the petitioner that a blasphemy has been committed.
Should not that be a part of the status quo that we should be struggling to change?
It’s rather ridiculous that you have to explain it so explicitly to some people, but here goes.
Democracy will not work until freedom of speech is ensured.
There will be no free speech as long as blasphemy law is in the books.
Filed under: Commentary | Tagged: blasphemy, blasphemy law, Constitution, democracy, dictatorship, freedom of speech, Islam, Khurshid Ahmed Shah, Leader of Opposition, MQM, muhajir, Pakistan, PPP, religious freedom, status quo | Leave a comment »