Issues that had long been settled by Pakistan's founding fathers are being re-opened by the extremist elements to turn the country into the opposite of what the former conceived it i.e. as a modern democracy where Muslims were to practice a moderate version of Islam. Both Allama Iqbal and Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah had stated categorically that the country was not to be a theocracy where matters related to statecraft are decided by the clerics but a democratic country where .the Parliament rather than the clerics were to make laws and devise national policies. Allama Iqbal had rejected the teachings of the nationalist ulema strongly condemning their views in one of his poems. Iqbal also considered the clerics as being narrow minded, unaware of the needs of a modern society and thus incapable of providing political leadership to the Muslims. Similarly the Quaid elucidated at a number of times that Pakistan was going to be a modern parliamentary democracy rather than theocracy. As opposed to Iqbal and Jinnah, voices are now being raised in support of theocracy. The extremist outfits in Pakistan reject democracy calling it an un-Islamic concept and advocating Imarat or khilafat in its place. To quote an organisation now banned, "With the Khilafat and Imarat coming to an end, the world has been consigned to the fasad (upheaval) of democracy and the consequent evil on earth." Further, "The unwise, barbaric and irrational system called democracy has imposed the scum of the earth as leaders on the nation." Another extremist outfit holds similar views about democracy and advances the concept of khilafat as an alternative. This was a concept that All India Congress had also accepted in an attempt to win over the Muslims. The Quaid had however dissociated himself from the Khilafat Movement as being against the interests of the Muslim community. Later as opposed to khilafat he advocated the creation of Pakistan which was to be a Muslim nation state. Both Iqbal and Jinnah supported moderation. This was reflected not only in their general outlook but also in their dress and personal habits. Neither of them grew a beard. The Quaid encouraged Muslim women to take part in politics. The women wing of MSF created by Shaista Suhrawardy brought Muslim girl students into politics. Miss Fatima Jinnah stood shoulder to shoulder to her brother during the struggle for Pakistan. Later she contested elections against Ayub Khan and was accepted as a leader by well known religious leaders that included Maulana Maudoodi. There is a concerted attempt by a small but highly motivated group to turn Pakistan into a backward country rather than a modern society enjoying a respectable place in the comity of nations. Starting from tribal areas the extremists are now trying in adjoining NWFP districts to turn back the wheels of history. Disallowing women to play full role in the development of their country as doctors, lawyers, business executives and government officials, the extremists force them to wear purdah and debar them from taking part in economic activity entailing intermixing with men. As modern education is considered evil, scores of girls schools have been torched. Men are required to grow beards and subjected to a strict dress code. The barbers who agree to trim the beards are threatened and their shop burnt. In a bid to put a ban on entertainment the extremists attack video and music centres. The extremists seek power not through the ballot but through the bullet. They also know that their views are not acceptable to the majority of the population and they cannot win the elections. This convinces them that the only way to enforce their system is through recourse to force and by establishing a theocratic state within the moderate state. As they raise armed bands, set-up their own courts and a rival administration they come into conflict with the state. In case the extremists are not reined in through persuasion, if possible, and by force if no other option remains open Pakistan will cease to exist as a modern democratic country practising moderate Islam. E-mail: azizuddin@nation.com.pk