“Those who never retract their
opinions love themselves more
than they love truth.”
–Joubert

“No one is exempt from talking
nonsense; the misfortune is to do
it solemnly.”
–Montaigne

The entire country has been enveloped in a useless debate about who is a martyr and who is not. The ameer jamat-e-Islami, Mr Munawar Hassan, should have known better the definition of a shaheed because there are no two opinions about being a martyr in Islam. Nonetheless, his contention that Mr Hakeem ullah Mehsud was a martyr and that the soldiers of the Pakistan army who died in the cause of their country were not martyrs has ignited a fierce debate in the country. First it seemed that Molvi Munawar was carried away by emotion and sentiment and that as soon as he realized his mistake his party will show grace by retracting or dubbing it as a personal opinion of the Chief of the Jamaat-e-Islami. However, when the senior leadership of Jamaat-e-Islami met to evaluate the fallout they decided to support Mr Munawar Hassan instead of trying to control damage. However, the jamaat added a new dimension to this useless controversy by claiming that the Pakistan army had no right to do politics and they would take up the issue with the federal government.
Everyone in this country is aware of the fact that the Jamaat has a checkered past at best and they are in the habit of contradicting their earlier statements and principles that they issue so vehemently from time to time. In the absence of Hafiz Salman Butt, a moderate leader of JI, it was expected that Mr Fareed Piracha would raise a voice of sanity but he was overwhelmed by other hardliners who were present in the meeting held at Mansura, the headquarters of the Jamaat. If it had been Qazi Hussein Ahmed, no such baloney statement could have ever come out from the Jamaat-e-Islami which forced the Pakistan army to issue a strong rebuttal and demand an outright apology from the Jamaat Chief.
Here one would like to remind Mr Munawar Hassan, who is now crying hoarse about the interference of the Pakistan army in politics. It was not long ago when the entire leadership of Jamat-e-Islami clung to Zia ul Haq and became willing accessories in the imposition of martial law in the country in 1977. Even the founder, the respected cleric of Jamaat-e-Islami, Maulana Maudoodi had to say that some of his party’s stalwarts were impatient persons who wanted to grab power at any cost and therefore by supporting Zia ul Haq, they damaged the Tehreek of JI.
The country is also aware of the fact that the so called operation fair play initiated by Zia ul Haq began at 1:45 am in the morning and the first telegram congratulating Zia ul Haq was registered in the telegraph office of Rawalpindi at 1 47am sent by an office bearer of Jamaat-e-Islami from Karachi. This established the Jamaat and Zia connection without much doubt. There are several other examples that will establish the military and jamaat axis in the past. Again the role played by Mian Tufail Muhammad, another ameer of Jamaat-e-Islami during the farcical trial of Mr Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, an elected Prime Minister of this country is crystal clear and the families of those officials working in FSF curse the role played by Mian Tufail Muhammad even today. Mian Tufail made them to confess to murder so that Bhutto could be implicated. This role was played by the Jamaat that acted as an extension of Mr Zia ul Haq’s political ambitions. But sensing the growing menace of Jamaat-e-Islami in Karachi, the military dictator of that time Zia decided to cut them to size and nurtured an ethnic political party which ultimately wiped out the political clout of JI from Karachi.
Similarly playing in the hands of Zia ul Haq, the JI and some other religious elements became willing tools for the perpetuation of military dictatorship in this country. Once again there is a democratically elected government in the country and by dragging the army into politics could be a mischievous game to derail democracy. Even Pakistan’s interior Minister had to issue a caution to those who were trying to target the Pakistan army under the garb of this useless debate of who is a martyr and who is not. It is expected that the religious scholars would preach and practice sanity show maturity and understand their responsibility at this critical juncture and failure on their part or on the part of the federal government could mean disaster.
Everyone must understand the implication and repercussion of American forces withdrawal from Afghanistan and the international game plan in which several countries were involved who do not want to see Gawadar port becoming operational quickly because that would mean a prosperous Pakistan which could then play a leading role not only in the Islamic bloc but on the world stage as well. Therefore foolish statements, mudslinging and useless debates must be avoided at all costs.

The writer has been associated with various newspapers as editor and columnist.

zarnatta@hotmail.com