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False Obstacles Put in the Path of the Establishment of Khilafah in Pakistan

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    False Obstacles Put in the Path of the Establishment of Khilafah in Pakistan

    False Obstacles Put in the Path of the Establishment of Khilafah in Pakistan

    The call for the resumption of the Islamic way of life by establishing the Khilafah State has reached all the Islamic lands. The discussion amongst the Ummah has moved on from, ‘what is this Khilafah’ and ‘Khilafah is a dream,’ to discussing more of the practical details of the Khilafah such as its ruling and economic systems. However, in the minds of some people, obstacles to the re-establishment of the Khilafah still remain. This article will examine two of the most common arguments put forward as obstacles in the way of establishing the Khilafah.

    A characteristic of many Islamic lands, Pakistan included, is the high level of corruption that occurs in day-to-day life. Principally, the main exponents of this corruption are the secular elites, rulers and their entourage that rule the Islamic lands on behalf of their masters in the West. This corruption takes the form of nepotism and patronage in appointing state officials and judges by awarding government contracts to certain friends and companies. It is also manifest in the vast amounts of wealth squandered by our leaders in using the Ummah’s money for personal use. The Bhutto and Sharif dynasties, which amassed millions of rupees when in power, spring to mind. It has been reported that during the rule of Bhutto and Sharif, the annual cost to run the Prime Minister and President’s residences exceeded $40 million. Some people argue that the corruption in Pakistan is not restricted to the rulers and elites, but that corruption, bribery and cheating are such a normal part of life that corruption is endemic and inherent amongst the people of Pakistan. They continue to argue that with the level of corruption so high, there is no hope of establishing Khilafah in Pakistan.

    A deeper look at the ‘corruption’ that exists in Pakistan will put this subject into context and offer a more plausible explanation than that the people of Pakistan are inherently corrupt. Typically, a common form of corruption faced by people will be experienced when arriving at the airport. The airport or customs official may demand 100 rupees or a £10 note to let you through, or a larger sum of money will be asked, on the basis that you are carrying some ‘illegal’ goods. An oft-quoted incident is people’s dealing with the infamous telephone exchanges in the major cities. A telephone bill will arrive at your door asking for an amount to be payable within a certain time period. The person pays his telephone bill well within the prescribed limit. However, the telephone is still cut off and the only option is to visit the main telephone exchange in the city. Even though you have proof of payment, such as a bank transfer and stamp, the officer will demand a bribe to reconnect your line. Similar examples can be seen in other services whereby you may be sent an exorbitant bill, well beyond reason, and you are forced to engage with the officials to reduce the bill or have your service cut off.

    It is well known that the elites in Pakistan, who have links with the government or political parties, do not pay bills. Indeed, of Pakistan’s 135 million people only 100,000 are registered taxpayers. The ruling classes are able to get out of paying bills via their connections, and the poorer strata of society do not have access to electricity, gas or telephones. Thus, the burden falls upon the middle-classes to pay the majority of bills. This creates a climate where people feel unable to meet their bills and expenditures and resort to ‘fiddling’ with the electricity meter in their house or bribe the official who comes to read the meter with a certain amount of money.

    It must be clear that corruption and bribery are not justified under any circumstances. The Prophet Muhammad (saw) said, “Whosoever cheats is not one of us.” Essentially, the root cause of the corruption stems from the system, which burdens the people with excessive financial demands and people’s genuine inability to pay for goods and services. The corruption that is witnessed should not be disconnected from the political system that does not cater for the interests of the Ummah, but is rather the fundamental cause of it.

    The average salary of a policeman or teacher is no more than 3,000-4,000 rupees a month. An average family of five in the city during the summer would require at least 2 or 3 fans and 1 air conditioner to keep them cool. The monthly electricity bill in a major city like Lahore would be 3,000-5,000 rupees, either in excess of the monthly salary or a very high proportion of it. A labourer would earn about 100 rupees a day, no more than 4000 rupees a month. The cost of a kilogram of meat would be between 100-120 rupees, and chicken about 70-100 rupees. A 5 kg bag of atta (flour), the staple diet for millions, costs about 97 rupees and would not last a family the whole month. So, it can be seen from these examples that for many people, the basic necessities of life cost more than their income. If someone does not have a large family network to rely upon, is it any wonder then that large numbers of the Ummah are effectively forced into taking and accepting bribes and involving themselves in corrupt practices?

    The effect of the political system and its quest for exploiting increasing revenue from the Ummah, in line with IMF conditions, goes unabated. Over the past two years the price of electricity for consumers has risen dramatically. In August 1999 a tariff increase of 21-34% was levied; this was raised by a further 15% last year resulting in a 36-50% rise over this period. Recently, the Musharraf regime has introduced a new ‘Power sector development surcharge’ meaning a 25-50 paisa rise per unit for consumers, a government proposal to increase transport fares every 4-5 months and the introduction of a TV license fee. With the ever-increasing cost of living, and people’s salaries remaining stagnant, the effective cost of living for millions increases and perpetuates a vicious cycle of corruption that originates with the government.

    A crucial point to note when discussing corruption in Pakistan is that far from being endemic in society, it manifests in only certain aspects of society. The bulk of the corruption that exists is evident between the people’s transactions with government and state industries. The Ummah knows that it is the government and state industries that exploit and loot the people by charging and imposing exorbitant prices and providing poor service. Alternatively, state officials, like the policeman or telephone exchange operative on a very poor salary, are forced into bribing the people they come across in order to make ends meet and feed their families. If one is to observe the relationships amongst people in the shops, bazaars and market places, these are largely free of corrupt practices, and the normal conduct of buying, selling and haggling takes place.

    It should be clear that the forces of corruption emanate from the same source as the political system that does not look after the people’s affairs. The Ummah is neither corrupt nor inherently bad, but elements of the Ummah have to resort to corruption to provide for themselves and families. Contrast this with the ruling elites and their entourages who having made millions out of corruption, built their houses and palaces with fleets of cars and servants, go abroad and then continually return to Pakistan to exploit further resources from the land and people.

    The second major argument put forward by many, regarding the unsuitability of Khilafah in Pakistan, is the issue of sectarianism and sectarian conflict. Mainly, this pertains to the Shi’a and Sunni tensions that, people argue, prevent the Ummah from ever unifying prior to the establishment of Khilafah. A number of factors must be discussed to put this into the correct context.

    Firstly, the disputes between Sunni and Shi’a are widely reported in the media and other forums. The Shi’a constitute only about 20% of the population of Pakistan. The obvious questions that arise are: ‘who benefits?’ and ‘who gains?’ from so-called sectarian Sunni-Shi’a conflicts. In recent months, the Musharraf regime has been highlighting the issue of internal security, law and order issues and sectarian strife and has vowed to clamp down on “sectarian related terrorism.” The government has made a great issue of jihadi organisations, who fought valiantly in Afghanistan against the Russians, now causing internal strife within Pakistan and being involved in sectarian clashes particularly against the Shi’a. It is apparent that the government, in order to shape public opinion, introduced wide-ranging legislation and tight security measures to deliberately raise the climate of Sunni-Shi’a tensions. By indicating and escalating these tensions, the regime has been able to justify its actions.

    Many shrewd commentators have questioned the established wisdom that Shi’a and Sunni ‘extremists’ have been involved in tit-for-tat killings. A leading politician from a prominent Sunni group was recently murdered. This killing was significant in that there was no apparent tension leading up to the incident or after it. It is no secret that governments and their agencies do cause explosions and bombings in order to highlight an issue or use as a pretext for some actions. The Russian authorities notoriously planted bombs in order to blame the Chechen Muslims, and the Algerian regime was known to hire mercenaries to kill people and then blame it on Islamic movements. Therefore, apparent Sunni-Shi’a tensions could be used as a tool of political manipulation in Pakistan and be exaggerated to greater proportions than are warranted.

    On a different level, the Sunni-Shi’a issue has been an area of great debate, since the death of Muhammed (saw). As the Sahabah (ra) were gathering in the courtyard of saqifa Banu Sa’idah, the Shi’a Ali (followers of Ali [ra]) were in mourning. The followers of Imam Ali (ra) believed Imam Ali (ra) should have been the successor to the Prophet (saw), yet it did not prevent Ali’s (ra) supporters, such Abdullah ibn Abbas (ra) and Salman al Farsi (ra), from giving the bayah of obedience to Abu Bakr (ra) as the first Khalifah of Islam. Throughout Islamic history, the Shi’a have been present in the lands of the Khilafah, but this did not prevent the expansion of Islamic rule to new territories, or cause disunity and strife within the Khilafah. Where fragmentation and disunity did affect the Islamic State, it was due to the political weaknesses of the State in some areas and the pseudo-independence of some of the walis (governors). Thus, the Sunni-Shi’a issue is not something new or unique to Pakistan, and it should not be viewed as an insurmountable problem.

    This can be further seen in light of the reality of day-to-day life in Pakistan. We do not find large ‘Sunni’ or ‘Shi’a’ ghettos without interaction amongst the people such as in Northern Ireland between Protestants and Catholics, or isolated communities like black people and Jews in America. On the contrary, we find Sunni and Shi’a alike praying in each other’s mosques, studying, working and living together. Moreover, when it comes to Pakistan’s rulers and politicians, we do not find the ummah asking whether a politician is Sunni or Shi’a, even though large elements of the political establishment are Sunni and Shi’a.

    The primary cause for instability and disorder in Pakistan is not sectarian conflicts, but the secular government’s inability to provide for the people, look after their interests or even build any social cohesion. Secular, Kufr politics that the leaders in Pakistan are so keen to emulate actually highlight the division on the basis of colour, language, geography and nationality. In contrast, the exalted Khilafah State will strongly instil the concept of citizenship amongst all people, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, so that they leave any sectarian or nationalistic attachments behind and have certain inalienable rights guaranteed to them by the law of Allah (swt) which the system upholds.

    Zubair Hussein

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