The Caliph Syndrome

CJP-Mian-Saqib-Nisar-PakistanToday-1 - e

Source: Pakistan Today

Cheif Justice Saqib Nisar is determined to make an important contribution to world history. He knows he will not get this chance ever again.

When he was appointed as the Chief Justice of Pakistan, by none other than the very Prime Minister whose demise has been caused by the infamous Panama Papers verdict, he knew that he had to leave a mark on the world. But more than that, he was motivated by a philosophy of governance deeply ingrained by the traditional Islamic upbringing. I call it the Caliph Syndrome in the case of Pakistan but actually it is nothing more than Messiah Complex. This mindset, if not megalomania and delusional narcissism, has led to judicial activism the likes of which were not even reached during the term of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary, the first one to go into this territory, euphoric after his restoration after a dismissal by dictator President Pervez Musharraf.

This Messiah Complex is further fed by the notion of expecting a savior, which has been In Islamic tradition, there is a ridiculously puritanical and idealistically exaggerated concept of governance in the pattern of Caliph Umer II. Some people attribute that style of governance to Umer I which holds that the Caliph or the emperor is supposed to be answerable for the death of even a lamb in a remote corner of the domain. While this sounds all good, the person who is supposed to be infatuated with this idea is the governor of the land, not the ombudsman who is supposed to ensure that law and order are kept. However, what if this zealotry actually leads to the ombudsman violating the lines set by the law and general ethics?

The Chief Justice has not only been consistently interfering in the operations of the administrative branch but has been on a rampage in terms of making ridiculous statements. This does not mean that his intentions are not good even though politically speaking he is being dubbed as the stooge of the military and bureaucratic establishment. To push this theory even further, you would find the media taking all opportunities to highlight his heroics on national TV and encouraging him to indulge further in judicial activism, with the exception of a few responsible journalists. This Chief Justice, like Iftikhar Chaudhary, has particularly been concerned with the way he is portrayed in the media.

It is perhaps the Caliph Syndrome, which so easily persuades otherwise responsible civil servants to take up the role of the Messiah, and it is perhaps the same factor that makes people so attracted to such figures. There is no surprise that the Messiah Chief Justice is the hero of many who cannot help but admire his visits to the local hospitals to inspect their operation. Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif doing that was so 2010s.

He talks about a lot of things that the people want to hear, such as the delivery of speedy trials, public servants making the most of their time for official duties, and respecting the law and the constitution. However, his good words are undermined by the fact that he is a loudmouth with a broken filter and even that is understating the chaos that his words are causing. A person who loves to hear his own voice and who loves flaunting his old school literary chauvinism, he attracted flak with the use of his sexist analogies.

Sometimes, the lack of filter on his speech can even take darker turns, which show a glimpse of bigotry in this custodian of the Constitution and the Rights of the People. His hate for the Hindu community is evident from his Urdu language comment cited in the following clip from a Pakistani talk show.

However, there is a reason you see no other judge around the world inspecting school and hospitals.

The very fact that he lectures and his role of fatherly advice that is a problem in terms of law and order. His use of the bully pulpit is precisely what is wrong with his understanding of his role. And going out of his way for skirmishes with the leaders of a certain political party make his apolitical role controversial and partisan.

What makes the entire “Baba Rehmatey” phenomenon so ironical and hilarious is that fact that the preacher himself is violating the principles he is preaching others to follow. The most responsible person in the society is performing his job, as hardworking and sincere he may be, with utter irresponsibility.

But if Saqib Nisar thinks he is unique in this contribution, he is not the first person who considers himself Caliph Umer I in Pakistani society and he most certainly will not be the last.

 

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What is Common Between Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman and Aamir Liaquat Hussain

Source: Dawn/aamerliaquat.wordpress.com

Source: Dawn/aamirliaquat.wordpress.com

What is common between Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman and Aamir Liaquat Hussain?

Both of them divide the public opinion drastically about themselves, with half of the population loathing them, while the others adoring them. But the popularity factor is rather true for Aamir Liaquat Hussain, as most people dislike the Maulana for his devious and Machiavellian politics. At least on this side of the Indus river.

But seriously, what is common between them is religion. Well not really. Who in Pakistan is free of a connection to religion?

What they actually have in common is the religious background and how it has held them back from achieving their ambitions, while offering them success at the same time. But this success is largely due to their personal modified talents, instead of any genuine religiosity.

Both Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman and Aamir Liaquat Hussain are sons of clerics, alright, religious scholars is the more politically correct job title. This fact immediately sanctioned both of them with the duty to follow the footsteps of their respective fathers. Both were laden with the heavy responsibility to continue propagating the holy faith.

While many would deem religious background an advantage, for these two gentlemen, it has been nothing more than a handicap apparently. Not only has it prevented both these individuals from achieving a lot more, but it has also kept them bound in a cage, especially Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman. Being condemned to live with a beard for all their lives.

Even though Aamir Liaquat still is an actor and an entertainer and probably nothing more, he cannot openly pursue a career in acting and dramatics because of his religious background and career. He only started wearing that beard on the insistence of his adoring audiences. While most people, secular and religious, would consider his pursuit of acting inappropriate any way, I actually find it tragic.

This gets even more tragic for Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman who is condemned for life to live like a cleric. While I believe that he is actually secretly not religious, there is little doubt that he would be tempted by the lifestyle of his peers and must be greatly conscious of his handicap. Furthermore, I get the impression that his beard and religious leaning are the greatest hurdles to his becoming the Head of State of Pakistan.

So what if Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman is referred to as the father of the Taliban? Was Zbig Brzezinski also not involved in collaborating with Pakistani forces in arming and preparing them for Afghan Jihad? So what if he could possibly be accused of the deaths of thousands. Is that not true for Henry Kissinger as well? Statecraft demands a little sacrifice every now and then.

Getting back to Aamir Liaquat, his religious rhetoric is drenched with melodramatic theatricals, and it moves people doubly because it concerns faith. His love of theatrics is all but obvious and his religious show is a living testament to that. Most of the people attack him for his personal morality and feeding lies to the public, but they cannot deny that his innovation in religious broadcasting has become a popular trend.

He is a brilliant showman and perhaps even a megalomaniac, which is evident from the elaborate sets that his wife helps him set up. What he is actually doing is telling the world that he is capable of building his own theatre, with its own million rupee stage and with him alone enjoying all the spotlight. And that he can buy crews and even audiences. And that it’s all about money and that there is nothing wrong with it.

Source: New York Times

Source: New York Times

Most of the people were mad at Aamir Liaquat Hussain for his Geo TV leaked video. I actually developed some respect for him after watching it, except for the infamous misogynistic rape joke. It showed his human side and probably that is how a reckless drunk actor would be behaving in between scenes, no matter how immoral it looks. At least it was far less profane, lethal and immoral than his on-screen religious preaching.

I would have had more respect for him had he manned up and admitted that it was indeed him saying all that. But since he is in the business of lying hypocritically, that is religious preaching and TV evangelism, he had to attribute the clip to certain “camera tricks and advanced dubbing techniques”. His sheepish, embarrassed, insincere apology almost gave out that he actually believed people knew he was lying. But then again, only the prophets are incapable of committing sins.

With Chaudhary Shujaat – Source: Express Tribune

Speaking of sins, Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman may get all those votes for promoting a militaristic Deobandi Islam under the white-black striped Jihadi flag, but that largely undermines his personal skill and talent. Like the MQM, he always is at the forefront of negotiations for government formation.

As a matter of fact, he mostly wants to be at the forefront of negotiation of any sort. He has this longing to be a diplomat and a statesman. He has this megalomaniac urge to have his name written down in history books for something great. He wants to go beyond being a politician.

It can be estimated conservatively that Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman and Aamir Liaquat Hussain are probably both psychopaths. That’s alright, most interesting people who have something to offer to the world are. And let us, the highly-judging moralist audiences be not such hypocrites ourselves. We all have that morality on-off switch.

But it is indeed an interesting study, and the beauty of the high drama of life that such powerful individuals can become so helpless when bound by the unchallengeable walls of the fortress of Islam that they swear so passionately by.

It’s as ironic as the lives they lead. As the lives we lead.

Boycotting the Presidential Elections

Source: Express Tribune

Source: Express Tribune

The decision of the Supreme Court of rescheduling the Presidential Elections from August 6 to July 30 due to the coincidence with Ramadan 27 has been widely criticized by liberal commentators and rightly so. Pakistan Peoples Party and its candidate Mr. Raza Rabbani were the most offended. Again rightly so. According to the latter, the PPP were not heard by the court before the “one-sided” verdict.

But does their getting offended justify boycotting the Presidential elections? Many would say, yes. But I would like to disagree.

I think when MPs do that, they are not doing their jobs. In other words, they are not representing the vote of the ones who elected them their representatives. I don’t mind an abstain vote, but not disregarding the elections. Or else they should legislate to hand over the privilege of electing the President to the people of Pakistan. And I speak as a person who rather leaned in favor of Rabbani as the right man, but not any more.

There is perhaps only one form of peaceful protest that I do not agree with and that is boycotting a responsibility entrusted to you by the people of Pakistan.

Such behavior only affirms my belief of voting for candidates instead of political parties. Because time and again these parties prove that they are autocracies institutionalizing nonsense with no room for dissent. Such decisions are not only an insult to the mandate of the people, but it also is a clear sign that these ladies and gentlemen certainly do not deserve their paychecks from the treasury.

But let me deconstruct this Presidential election boycott. It is nothing more than what the PPP loves to do the best in times of trouble. Cheap political point scoring and emotional blackmailing to avoid competing in a Presidential election that the boycotting parties are likely to lose anyway. Why the hell not. It’s a great sour grapes strategy.

But let’s speak in the politically correct tongue of these builders of democracy. What kind of an example are they setting? Should we expect Presidential election boycotts for all the future terms, given the fact that the provisions of the amended constitution almost confirm the result even before even a single ballot is cast? Alright, let us not get carried away.

Since the PPP claimed that an early election harmed their campaigning, does that mean that the political party actually believed that it was worth running for the superfluous and ceremonial office? And as per Mr. Sharjeel Memon’s statements that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif wants a puppet President installed, would the party not offer any serious resistance to the PML-N to prevent them from achieving that. I mean, just to put up a fake show for the general public?

Besides, what does a President do? Why do we need a President anyway?

Let’s boycott every Presidential election that is ever held in Pakistan in the future.

Serving the Servants

It is often said that Pakistan was created for Muslims. This statement should be amended to replace the word Muslims with Muslim government servants.

And for a good reason. Because government servants, especially the ones in the military and some particular departments of the civil bureaucracy (of course, some government servants are more equal than others), get the facilities from the state that even most millionaires in the country cannot dream of.

I know Pakistan is not the only country in the world in which such practice is prevalent. As a matter of fact, there would be very few countries in which government servants are not being offered special treatment of some sort. But then again, in many of those countries, the people are offered as good facilities as the ones the government servants are availing.

We, the people of Pakistan, have been taught since childhood, most probably by the same government servants, that Pakistan was meant to be an Islamic welfare state. So what exactly does a welfare state do? It provides for the welfare of the general public. Very few signs of that in Pakistan.

The military and certain civil bureaucrats get guaranteed free medical and healthcare insurance and facilities, almost-free, if not free, housing from the state and many many more perks.

Then there is this perception of government servants being superior to common people or civilians. Though not politically correct, you can hardly consider this perception false, as in every way, power, authority, security protocol, preferred treatment and luxury, these government servants, and their friends among civilians, seem way superior to other ordinary people.

This is why middle class children like me are strictly instructed to become a government servant. So that I can be granted entry into the echelons of power, luxury and authority, and not to forget, money, that the rich and lucrative powerhouses of government service offer. Doesn’t everyone want to live an exclusivist dream? Sour grapes for someone who would try and fail, but even if I got there, I would have only become guilty of doing the same which I criticize. But then again, is there something to feel guilty about at all?

Perhaps not. Perhaps there is nothing wrong with enjoying the perks that come with a certain professional position. But what indeed is wrong is being neglectful of the responsibilities towards the people that those offices sanction. What indeed seems inappropriate to me is the way these personnel are trained to treat “common people”, who they are actually supposed to answer to and serve, and who are actually paying for their lifestyle.

Not only have I been in contact with such people at one time in my life or another, but I have even seen the world from their viewpoint. They are welcomed into their training academies with the realization that they are the best among the people they have been chosen from, and certainly have a reason to be proud of themselves. Or at least have a right to consider themselves superior to their former equals.

Of course, there is no doubt that these personnel work very hard for their country and deserve all the care they get. My point is not really to deny them of their pleasures, but to at least provide just a fraction of that to the general public, who like it or not, are paying for their housing authorities, medical facilities, education, foreign tours and even their salaries.

It certainly does become frightening when people start making a distinction between the state and the people. Because after all, there is a distinction. Through very elementary observations, you would find that there is hardly anything in common between the state and the people, in which the former plays the captor, while the latter, the enslaved.

I am not even morally pissed off at the rightful arrogance of these able and qualified professionals. First of all, it’s meaningless to object to it, and secondly, a third person could possibly extract little to no pleasure to take their special attention away. All I am asking for is free health and education for the general public of Pakistan.

If a little girl living in Lodhran or Badin needs a surgery for a transplant, why cannot the state pay for that, if it can pay for the surgery of an army officer’s child?

Why is that the domain of the corrupt and incompetent politicians?

I Wish the Adults Never Grew Up

Just stumbled on this youtube video of Severn Suzuki, a 12 year old, speaking at the 1992 UN Earth Summit and destroys whatever sense of responsibility adults around the world are proud of.

I thought that it belonged here somehow with my respects to the speaker.

I hope this video will help you redefine your view of the concept of civilization.

I wish the adults never grew up.

Putting a Price on Food

Source: shc.edu

Maybe we are missing something as humans. What we are really missing is realizing that we actually are animals and that we started out in the wild. Agriculture was not always there and neither were sophisticated cooking techniques. No doubt that resorting to the wild survival instincts would be frowned upon in the civilization. But why in the world would anyone do that when you have no other choice? After all, you need to survive.

Maybe it is a little audacious to declare that it is something humans are missing. Well, not all of them are. Maybe it is taken for granted in the civilized world, where food is abundant.  But it doesn’t matter as you could always get the food in the wild, unless you are living in a desert, or worse, a drought-stricken land. Hey, people have been surviving in the deserts for centuries. All you have to hope is that life exists there in one form or the other, because that is all you can eat. You eat life.

After all, animals eat and survive too and why expect that humans would be any different? No one is supplying them food, or even caring about how they get them. They survive, or they die.

Why do people get to the point of starving to death anyway? Why do they let themselves get to that point of no return? The point when someone from the civilized world has to come to them and feed them and photograph them and to publish the pictures around to collect funds for paying for their food? Why don’t they simply go hunting in the wild like their ancestors and eat anything that moves.

I think food is the most basic necessity that you could think of. It is the most basic of the basic human rights. Wait, not just human rights. Food is the right of any living entity, even bacteria. Nature, that is anything that is beyond the control of humans, provides for that right. It is just that humans have enough power to take that right away from their fellow creatures.

Yes, human beings are the only creatures who put a price on food.

Alright, I am not implying that those who grow and produce food must not get their share . Certainly, I don’t mean that the farmers who grow their food and the traders who sell it should be deprived of their rightful share of money, no doubt about it. But that does not take away the responsibility of those who have willing created a system that deprives millions of humans of enough food.

Just imagine that for a second. People starving to death. What good is a government if it cannot feed its people? To my mind any government that is not able to feed its people or offer them peace, freedom, medicine and security, has no reason for its existence. What other justification do we have for a government?

Humans are certainly not the only creatures to hoard food. We are just the only ones who hoard to deprive others of it and to store much more than the needs of a particular group of people responsible for it.

What we must remember are the most fundamental things and stop confusing ourselves with the completely unnecessary complex concepts that we are bombarded with everyday. Every human being is important, no matter where they live and every human being deserves food.

Food is more important than ideology.

Food is more important than politics.

If you are not feeding people, do not expect them to behave in a civilized manner. Because behind every civilized being is a wild creature who would do anything to survive.

But feeding people, like the ones starving in Somalia, is just not a priority of our species. Our priority is to pay for filthy, unnecessary and completely avoidable luxuries, but not feeding the starving. Imagine that, as a species, we do not have spare money to feed those who are dying of hunger and would surely fall prey to dangerous epidemic if no action is taken.

Source: bellirosa.com

We could fund to send man to Mars. Yes, we have money for that. We also have the funds for building a supersonic jet that travels from London to Sydney within an hour. Yes, we have money for that. We even have money to build the most useless and the most ostentatious, tallest building in the world. You know where it is. It is like an erect penis, but sterile. Yes, a lot of money for that. Alright, I would not even mention wars. it is more or less a justifiable expenditure, wouldn’t you think. At least it relieves a lot of people of their misery.

Without any difficulty, the entire population of the world can be comfortably fed for a sum making up a very tiny fragment of the entire wealth of the world and only just a little more can be dedicated to agricultural research to boost productivity. If a unified global effort is made in this direction, not a soul in the world will go hungry, ever. You don’t even need to go and check any statistics to verify this fact. However, what you should go and verify is whether the leaders of the world have any intention to put this matter on their priority list.

It just simply isn’t there.

This means that we actually want people around the world to be hungry. To starve to death. There are initiatives like the World Food Program from the United Nations which is doing an excellent job but yet not doing enough. But then again, who runs the WFP? We do and it is anything but one of our top priorities. That is just one way. There are several others and providing food is just one little dimension. But at the end of the day, it is food that matters.

Then there are naïve questions such as why people live in barren lands where there is no hope. Actually the question makes sense but not a single answer to it would. The questioner should be told that relocating costs money, that no one likes to leave their home even if it is barren, and if they do, who would accept those people? Which country in the world would accept a migrating population of starving people? If even a single country actually does that, I would be pleasantly surprised.

Also, they don’t figure out that conditions have deliberately been created to cause the hunger in the first place. They would rather choose to die in their homes with dignity and peace by avoiding insult to injury. Furthermore, it is a myth that hunger is the problem of countries going through drought in Africa only. The problem is actually worldwide and even seemingly prosperous countries have considerable starving populations.  The severity, however, varies.

But it seems that it is in our interest to create conditions that lead to the starvation of certain populations in the world. Politics remain the greatest hurdle and it will continue to be in the future. Not that anything can be done about it. We cannot even agree on simple objective facts, let alone solving any complicated and difficult problems. Maybe we should try eliminating the starving population once and for all by creating a great war instead. But wait. We are actually doing that, but it is a slow and painful death.

The face of war has changed, or maybe it has not. Maybe people never realized the kind of war that has been waged on them for centuries. It is the war of inequality, deprivation and injustice. Not that there is any justice, or ever will be, but at least people can be provided with their fundamental rights, which fellow beings, just like them, with no other superior evolutionary characteristics except for money and power, enjoy for no other apparent reason.

We all share responsibility for the fact that populations are undernourished.

                                                                                – Pope John XXIII (May 3, 1960)

We are responsible for it. We have created it. Not some God, unless humans are one.

So it seems.

It is just another ugly fact which we may choose to overlook, and we will.

It is genocide. It is ethnic cleansing. And of not just one race.

A Holocaust that has been going on for centuries.

It is mass murder. It is a crime against humanity.

We commit it every day.

We are putting a price on food.

We are putting a price on life.