It is owing to the prevailing extremism that we have started seeing a clear line drawn between those who are with the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and those who are not.  The ones who want to go by the book and the ones who want ambiguity to prevail so they can bring the kind of change they want.  The ones who ‘understand’ what was promised to them in the constitution of 1973 and the ones who have started questioning the state of affairs the way they were interpreted at the time of signing this constitution. 

In case the reader wants to name both these groups then I, with my humble opinion, would categorize the earlier mentioned individuals as right or far right wingers whereas the questioning the non-conforming lot. And that ironically trumpets and calls for most to live within the lawful and constitution limits.

These are the ones who actually do not agree to most of the articles that have been written in the basic document relating to the naming, functioning and narrating the ideological boundaries of Pakistan.   It might sound a bit confusing but the constitution itself should be consulted that clearly says it as follows in the Article 2 of the introduction:

Islam shall be the state religion of Pakistan

It further says in its Article 41 about the federation of Pakistan:

(1)

There shall be a President of Pakistan who shall be the Head of State and shall represent the unity of the Republic.

(2)

A person shall not be qualified for election as President unless he is a Muslim 

 

It promises in Article 31 clause 2 and its sub-clauses :

(2)

The state shall endeavor, as respects the Muslims of Pakistan:

(a)

to make the teaching of the Holy Quran and Islamiat compulsory, to encourage and facilitate the learning of Arabic language and to secure correct and exact printing and publishing of the Holy Quran;

(b)

to promote unity and the observance of the Islamic moral standards

 

If we look at only three of these articles, it starts becoming obvious that the state has accepted itself a religion which obviously is Islam.  When the left leaning or secular groups demand that there should be an equal opportunity for an individual irrespective of his or her religious background they are asking for something that cannot be provided. It is unfortunately an unconstitutional demand.  A person hailing from a minority religious community is expected to be loyal to the state and its interest when she/he is not allowed even to dream of running for the highest level job in the country. The state assures the Pakistani Muslims that Islamic teachings would be facilitated and encouraged. It even goes a step further on how the Islamic moral standards would be observed.   

And here the absence of direct voting for the minorities has not being pointed as it is another issue that is not only counterproductive towards establishing a democratic system, it is adding to the problems of already struggling minority religious groups in the country.

In part nine relating to the Islamic Provision , Article 227 states that:

All existing laws shall be brought in conformity with the Injunctions of Islam as laid down in the Holy Quran and Sunnah, in this Part referred to as the Injunctions of Islam, and no law shall be enacted which is repugnant to such Injunctions.

So when a human right activist group comes out with placards in hand condemning the capital punishment they must bear in mind the meaning of their demand and possible repercussions.  Ask any mufti-e-deen and the answer would be crystal clear if this amendment is possible in the law or not.  I guess the answer is pretty obvious.

And before I write about the favourite task of all our religious groups enlightening the countrymen on how to conduct our lives in the moral way, we cannot ignore the Council of Islamic Ideology.  The constitution says that such council be formed for understanding of the economic, political, legal or administrative problems of Pakistan.’ (Article 228; Clause 2)

So when the learned men explain how the DNA cannot be accepted as the prime evidence in cases falling the category of hudood, there shall be no more questioning on it. Neither should woman question why the legislation ensuring more rights to women and children never saw the light of the day. 

A small faction trying hard to go against the tide won’t help bringing sense to the ever increasing chaos in the society.  The constitutional way is the right way. The reservations can be personal but there has to be a collective wisdom and effort behind bringing about real change in the existing system.   The first step is to step out of the denial that all is fine with our basic code of conducting state business.

Geti Ara is a story-teller, journalist and a documentary maker