Articles of the year 2007

Rescuing Islam
Published on April 20th, 2007

The huge turnout of the Bunder road march brought together people from all walks of Karachi's life. It was peaceful, well organized, and above all voluntary. The chattering classes, and the drawing room divas were all there. They were Muslims of all intensities, some five times-a-day some not at all. Some in hijab, some in the full burka, many full face. All had one common goal, driven by one fear, that their Islam was indeed under threat.The Lal Masjid Mullahs have invited the wrath of the Moderate Majority, suitably spelt out by Altaf at his angriest. He accused, then threatened them with the consequences of their behaviour, not in the hereafter, but right now. Indicative of the million marchers, the Mullahs must now know the heavy odds against them, once the Majority has come upon the streets. For these are also Muslims, and showing that they are protecting our Islam and not the twisted version being propagated by the evil twisted obscurantist black- mailers, who make a living off peddling superstition, and bigotry.

Altaf has, seized the moment , and all the other Politicos have just been marginalized in the space of one week. Benazir dithering, trying desperately to wring a few concessions out of the Americans has just been sidelined. Can she produce the numbers that appeared on Sunday? Definitely not. What then would she bring to the table other than a theoretical vote bank, which could give her just a handful of seats which may not be enough to protect her from her many many enemies?The most important effect of the Rally has been to show the rest of Pakistan—including the Chaudries, and the Ijazul Haqs, that the Pakistani will not be browbeaten, by the mullahs or anyone else. These two should also beware that we the majority donot subscribe to our Ministers negotiating with kidnappers, blackmailers, and qabza groups, whose activities have already been declared unislamic by the MMA clerics. While the Government continues dithering, eating Gulab Jamuns with the same criminal Mullahs.

We the people have a mind of our own, and need the leadership to bring us forward, as indeed Altaf has done. Karachi has thrown down the gauntlet, and I understand on Monday there was rush at the Barber shops of men getting beards removed. Karachiites are followers of the herd, and the mobile virus has just transferred to beards. There may just be a lesson in all this, which should not be lost on the Mullahs. Also to the Government, that the Mullah must be removed from Islamabad immediately, or the MQM may do it for them. If a handful of Mullahs can hold the Republic to ransom, then, it could make the Mullahs an endangered species in the rest of the country, targeted everywhere.For the time being, I hope Altaf will now exercise the mandate given him by not just the citizens of Karachi, but the like minded folk every where in Pakistan. Rescuing Pakistan, not just from the Mullahs, but also from the rapacious political leadership waiting for another chance to misrule and plunder. Pakistan does not need them, for in the last seven years we have done well without them. We the Sunday marchers should get ready to give Benazir a taste of this when she arrives. Unless she unlocks the Swiss billions, she would have to be content with a handful of residents from Larkana—if that.

We have been given an opportunity on Sunday to show our worth, and we delivered, for we have had rulers from all parts of Pakistan, exploiting us in the name of democracy, and Islam, now we must ask for our due. The MQM has graduated from a street Party, to one of responsibility, and good governance. There is in Karachi a good team, which is producing development on the scale of the Chief Ministers of the Punjab, and will continue, bringing Karachi into the regional players. After all if Sialkot can emerge as the best run city of Pakistan, then Karachi can certainly do it. We needed leadership, and now Altaf has assumed that mantle, and has appeared on the world radar as someone who can stand up to the Mullah threat.

Rescuing Islam was a first step. Now the extremists should be given the option to join the mainstream here, or continue their way of life in Afghanistan, where they would be welcomed by their like-minded brethren.Sunday has shown that there is no room here for them.