Sunday, December 5, 2021
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Afghan scenario in terms of history

K N Pandita

China and Pakistan have joined hands to uproot the semblance of Westminster type of democracy from the Asian continent. That is what has happened in Afghanistan.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has re-emerged after fighting the invading forces --- first the Soviet and then American --- for more than three decades. Now we have three Islamic republics in the region namely Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. All of them express their allegiance to sharia law meaning the law that has been derived from two sources, the holy book (Qur’an) and the tradition (hadith). The Quran has been variously interpreted; hardly two interpretations (tafsir) agree. The Sunni Hanafi sect of the Muslims in India largely goes by the tafsir of Allama Mauwdoodi. This interpretation has many takers not only in India but in Pakistan, Afghanistan, West Asia and some Islamic states in the African continent.

Similarly, the Qur'an is also variously interpreted by Muslim scholars. Many among them say that Islam is a religion of peace while others assert that Islam is a religion of protest. There surfaced protests, opposition and differences among the Muslims right from the day the Prophet departed from this world and a fierce struggle for succession ensued among his followers carrying the feud to the House of the Prophet (Ahl-i bait) for many years. Those who sided with the House of the Prophet formed a new faction which came to be called the Shi’a.

The story of animus between the Sunni and the Shia is most depressing. Since the Shias are in a minority except in Iran, they have been subjected to persecution in more than one way by the Sunnis in every epoch. The Shia has his interpretation of the al- Quran. They are reluctant to accept the hadith or tradition of Sunni jurisprudents howsoever scholarly these may be.

Now in Afghanistan, there are Shia pockets in the northwest and the north. (Hazarajat and Mazar-i-Sharif etc.). Their contribution to Afghanistan’s freedom is in no way inferior to others. Now that Pakistan is the virtual power-holder in Afghanistan, and Pakistan is home to formidable anti-Shia armed organizations like Lashkar-i- Jhangvi, Sipah-i-Sahaba, Jundullah etc. has been responsible for carnage after the carnage of Shias, how is the interim government in Kabul going to maintain factional harmony under sharia dispensation? This is a big question. And now that the Taliban regime has announced that the Emirate will go strictly by the sharia code, is the code acceptable to the Shia population of Afghanistan?

The other day Pakistan radio announced that the dress code for females in Pakistan has been determined to be strictly by the stipulation of Sharia law. Pakistani women have had a good deal of freedom in dress code and movement because it has a semblance of a liberalised community. Now that the sharia law is to be enforced piecemeal, the question is will the liberalised and emancipated segments of Pakistani Muslims, males and females, agree to put the clock back to the early days of Islam?

Then there is the issue of bank interest which is prohibited under sharia law. Though Pakistan has been culling out pretexts one or the other to dilute the interest issue, the fact is that a huge segment of Pakistani society has not accepted the option of doing away with the bank interest without prejudice to the zakat etc. which a Musulman is expected to pay.

Now that the Pakistan government has taken the lid off the dress code obviously to keep the diehard fanatics of the Taliban ideology in good humour, other sharia laws will gradually have to be adopted. For instance, the President, the PM and the entire cabinet will have to observe the dress code; maintain a two-fist beard, wear shalwar reaching not below the ankles and wear a skull cap as does Lashkar chief Maulana Hafiz Saeed wear as a symbol of true Musalmman. How come that the Taliban have, overnight, discarded their baggy shalwars, tatters and rough-shod slippers and adopted the American soldiers’ battle dress, bulletproof vests, night vision binoculars, ultra-modern machine guns and rifles, missiles and Humvees all left behind by the fleeing Americans. Where have sharia and Islamic simplicity evaporated in thin air?

Anyway, whatever, the Americans are gone, never to return to Afghanistan. We must all be pragmatic and recognise that the rule of sharia that the Taliban and their mentors in Islamabad want to impose is a reality. The rule of sharia has begun in Pakistan and by implication; it should spread out to Kashmir also where the Kashmir valley Muslims are more than ready to adopt it on the behest of Pakistan. It appears that the Kashmir Muslim thinkers will very soon depute a delegation to Islamabad and Kabul to request the ecclesiastics there to issue instructions of what and how the sharia law should be implemented in Kashmir to replace the remnants of infidelity still visible in one or the other manner. Foremost of all activities, the first onslaught has to come down heavily on the Sufi shrines and waqf properties as Sufism is a big aberration because it comes close to the teachings of the Rishis strictly disallowed by puritanical Islam.

The structures like Tagore cultural hall, JK State Museum, cinema halls, Institute of Music and Art etc. all have to be shut down and converted into Juma Masjid where prayer congregations will be held on Fridays. Girls clad in veils in Women Colleges will have to be accompanied by a male blood relative till the gate of the college if they want to continue their education. All musical instruments in the colleges will have to be destroyed. An inquiry committee will be appointed to go into the secrets of higher strata of society having amassed wealth enjoying super luxurious life while the neighbour remains an underdog. This class distinction shall have to be done away with under the sharia law.

In all probability, the Taliban mullahs will volunteer to travel to Kashmir via Pakistan along with their American weapons to propagate the rule of sharia in Kashmir. They will deliver sermons on true Islamic teachings and their audience will comprise the top personalities of Kashmir like the ex-Chief Ministers, Ministers, lawmakers, judicial luminaries, educationists and bureaucrats. Indian democracy gives them freedom of expression and action as does the sharia give them the freedom of eradicating all traces of damned western secular democratic concepts which Indians have been brandishing shamelessly for the last seven decades and more and which have now been consigned to dust by the sharia abiding Taliban.

This is the profile of dreamed azaadi for which Kashmiris agreed to become the instrument of Pakistan sponsored jihad in 1989-90 to kill and extirpate their compatriots lock, stock and barrel and, in the process, to sign the warrant their own destruction as well. The circle is coming to full.

(K.N. Pandita is the former Director of the Centre for Central Asian Studies, University of Kashmir)

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