Pirs and Power Politics in Pakistan?

Members of the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan far right Islamist political party shout slogans during a sit-in in Rawalpindi, Pakistan November 10, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz


Pakistan’s march forward as an ideological state based on Islam have resulted in a constitutional set up that discriminates against minorities, an educational system that teaches entire generations to see non-Sunni Pakistani Muslims as ‘others’ and a society that believes it has the right to deliver instant justice to any supposed blasphemer or unbeliever.

It has also provided both political and social power to religious ideologues of all hues, from Hafiz Saeed to Khadim Hussain Rizvi and Pir Hameeduddin Sialvi. In a recent piece noted analyst Khaled Ahmed has referred to this phenomenon as “a mental asylum broken loose.”

As Ahmed notes: “Pakistan has fallen afoul of the Lovers of the Prophet who look funny but who can gather large rural crowds marching into cities hating the luxury of sinful living. Last year, the Barelvi Beast came out as Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (“Here I am O Holy Prophet!”) and paraded an abusive scoundrel, Khadim Hussain Rizvi, as the millennial defender of the Prophet PBUH who would bring the government down, which he didn’t, but got to cause a rift between the all-powerful army and the elected government crippled by the Supreme Court for not being sadiq (truthful) and ameen (honest) like the Prophet PBUH under Article 62 of the Constitution.”

Further: “There are far too many rich religious leaders with nothing to do who hate democracy as an alien system forced on the people to take them away from Islam. They fatten on the shrines that stud Pakistan’s countryside and were once the benign repository of singing-and-dancing fakirs embedded in South Asia’s culture of peaceful coexistence. Imagine if the custodian of the shrine of Nizamuddin Auliya were to gather his disciples and march on New Delhi threatening universal annihilation.”

Ahmed ends his piece by noting: “Everyone wins except Pakistan.”