Monday, 18 June 2007

The Debate Club

The lower house of parliament in Pakistan once again covered itself in glory by passing a resolution condemning the knighthood of Salman Rushdie. In the National Assembly the Minister for Religious Affairs, Ejaz-ul-Haq, the son of the former American-backed military dictator, Zia-ul-Haq, and a stalwart of the Musharraf government, said that if someone blew up Rushdie in a suicide bombing, they would be justified.

After this caused an uproar amongst the opposition, he once again took the floor to say that he did not condone terrorism and hadn't meant to justify it.

One shakes one's head in wonder at the sheer stupidity of it all. Lets first take a look at Ejaz-ul-Haq. The man is an imbecile, whose personal contacts with the ISI and Jihadist establishments are questionable to say the least. In his position as Minister of Religious Affairs he has received millions of dollars of funding from the U.S. and Britain to "reform" Madressahs. These reforms consisted of convincing Madressahs to register with the government in return for being recognized as universities. A Madressah "degree" is now on a par with a degree from Karachi University as far as employment opportunities go. He proudly appeared on TV to proclaim that he was the man responsible for having terrorism charges dropped against Maulana Abdul Rashid Ghazi (of Lal Masjid fame) and having him released from custody two years ago. (One of the participants in a plot to assasinate Musharraf had used one of Rashid's cars to move about.)

The funny thing is that this isn't the first time Ejaz-ul-Haq's big mouth and love for suicide bombing have come out into the open. Here's a quote from Pervez Hoodbhoy's article 'Waiting for Enlightenment':
The federal minister for religious affairs, Ijaz ul Haq, speaking at the launch of a book authored by a leading Islamic extremist leader on “Christian Terrorism and The Muslim World,” argued that anyone who did not believe in jihad was neither a Muslim nor a Pakistani. He then declared that given the situation facing Muslims today, he was prepared to be a suicide bomber.

Now perhaps we shouldn't expect anything better from a buffoon like Haq, but what about the Assembly as a whole? What possible business is it of the parliament of Pakistan who the British government confers a knighthood on? Does Ghana pass judgement on who receives the sitara-i-imtiaz in Pakistan?

Partially this kind of stupidity is the result of Musharraf's rape of the constitution over the last 7 years. The Parliament, which is meant to be a legislative body, has been stripped of its legislative functions and has become little more than a pulpit where people rant and rave about whatever might get them on to the news. This is why it spends its time routinely condemning, amongst other things, plays, wedding feasts, Indian missile tests, renovation works in Jerusalem, American air strikes in Afghanistan, newspaper cartoons and people who destroy mosques in Iraq even though they don't know who they are. When minority representatives complained about government apathy over the vandalisation of the Sikh Gurudwara Nankana Sahib temple in September 2004, the National Assembly manfully swung into action and condemned the desecration.

What else could they do?


Edit: This article has been significantly edited from its original.

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