Imran Khan has built his political party largely on the basis of establishing a ‘truly Islamic’ Paksitan. While his party communications are careful to say comforting things like, ‘a truly Islamic society advocates tolerance, moderation and freedom to practice the religion of one’s choice without fear’, when Imran Khan speaks to the people it looks more like this.
But what happens when PTI officers find themselves faced with sharia restrictions? Recently Shireen Mazari was not allowed to renew her ID card because she appeared at the NADRA office in F-8 without a mehram.
Two prominent citizens of Islamabad, Tahira Abdullah, a human right activist, and Dr Shireen Mazari, CEO of Strategic Technology Resource, were both denied fresh ID cards because they did not bring their male members or their ID cards to provide to Nadra.
Obviously this is ridiculous and Shireen Mazari was right to protest. She is no teenage girl and she should be able to get her ID card renewed without being accompanied. But this just proves a larger point which is that when religion gets dragged into politics, it is bound to create problems. After all, if Shireen Mazari is a PTI officer and PTI supports implementing sharia…shouldn’t Mazari have thanked the NADRA workers for denying her?
Imran Khan likes to play the religion card to make up for his lack of political support. But it’s easy to say that you support shariat – when you get into trouble is when it comes time to define what that actually means. Unfortunately, extremists have the upper hand by terming anything they don’t like as bid’ah or shirk and manipulating people’s emotions so they will accept their own interpretations.
Shireen Mazari should not need a mehram to renew her ID card. If a woman wants to take a man to accompany her that should be her right, but if she wants to go by herself to the NADRA office that should be her right also. Let her decide based on her own faith, not the orders of the state.
The vision for Pakistan laid out by Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah was for a Pakistan that exemplified the beauty of Islam found in the names of Allah from the very first words of Qur’an: ar-Rahman (Compassionate), ar-Rahim (Merciful). Jinnah did not want to create an Islamic version of the intolerance that he saw in India, but sought to create a nation where all could be free from religion persecution – both Muslims and non-Muslims alike.