It’s quite a news that voting in Pakistan is now a religious right. I don’t much know about the nuances of Shariah, hence I would refrain from commenting over it. However, I’d still like express my vantage view as a regular Pakistani citizen.
Late last month, the Pakistan Scholars Council issued an edict urging citizens of the pure land to vote- a move that granted the democratic process of voting a religious stamp of approval and was somehow celebrated in the country’s few remaining left-leaning, cautiously liberal drawing rooms and dialogue to the tune of “Ulema have unwitting audiences on Fridays so it might help the cause of elections but must we really call it an Islamic injunction?” ensued.
Most others, however, accepted the fatwa as a gimmick to garner support by feeding our starved population yet another yaprak dolma, poisonous grape leaves, laced with a self-serving sauce and stuffed with spicy religious right.
Needless to say, it caused bad indigestion in the house of Ehsanullah Ehsan, but as luck would have it, the religious decree surfaced again, evidenced by today’s voting rights developments. Samiul Haq, the fearless and knowledgeable leader of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-S), has come down with a verdict, not a sermon, that again urges Pakistanis to vote as a matter of religious right as well as a defense against the havoc being wreaked. When rationale fails, religion appeals to the most jaded of minds. How fortunate are Pakistanis to live in such an inspired
For a struggling democracy that is in a habit of falling prey to bonafide military rule and thus giving up all rights in the form of suspended or overthrown constitutions, these new or perhaps previously latent, ‘entitlements’ are fascinating. A nation that has been systematically desensitized to the government’s expansive abuse of its civil and constitutional rights is now being offered a new type of right from the right-wing.
Let it never be said that our religious leaders metamorphosed into politicians don’t know how or when to play the odds. A sermon need not be handed down from the House of Religious Lords before Pakistanis realize the urgency to vote in the May 11, 2013 elections.
In urging you to vote I will not attempt to validate the request by constitution or religion, although as I have recently become aware, I would be well within the law to do either of the aforementioned. Instead, I think it would be more fruitful to vote in the name of good citizenship. The future is unpredictable and the only thing we know for certain is that a transition is on the table for now till it is replaced by old winds of stale change, read PML-N.
Voting differently now, may lead to a democratic state of affairs where the rights of individuals would not arise of desperate political moves but be known to all three hundred and sixty five days a year and then some.