Pakistan - between Democratisation and Talibanisation

Since its independence in 1947, Pakistan has lived under firm control of military and civil burocracy. People have no say in its matters and even MPs openly condemned the parliament as a rubber stamp institution. Pakistan came into being in 1947 but it only managed a constitution developed in 1973 by its Parliament after the secession of Bangladesh in 1971. The constitution adopted after 26 years of independence remained in jeopardy from its conception onwards.

Pakistan remained under direct rule of the Army from 1957 until 1972, when it was defeated by the Bangladeshi movement for independence and the Indian Army. Government was handed over to Parliament under the rule of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto – father of Benazir. Bhutto had come to power with a progressive programme and had the overal support of the impoverished population. As soon as he came to power, he gave in to more reactionary pressure and failed to deliver on his promises. Meanwhile, the Army had maintained a powerful position and, profiting from his waning popularity, as soon as 1977 unseated Bhutto.

Under the military head of state, Zia ul-Haq, Bhutto was hanged. The Syllabi of Schools, colleges and University changed and were Islamised by entering preaching of Jihad and hatred towards other religions. Islamic Teaching was compulsory from primary to the post graduation level (and it still is). Professors and Teachers with liberal and democratic thoughts were fired from services, arrested and even murdered.

The Islamic Extremists Students Groups were supported by the State agencies and they were imparted militant training and provided with weapons like Kalashnikovs. This resulted in violent clashes at campuses, leaving several liberal and democratic students dead.

Going further than influencing education, Zia ul-Haq introduced Islamic Laws. We are still living under these laws, although they have been slightly moderated under the rule of General Musharraf.

The major changes concerned:

  1. Hudood laws, laws about adultery, very discriminatory against women
  2. Criminal Laws /Law of Evidence
  3. Blasphemy Laws, discriminatory agasint religious Minorities
  4. Separate voting and representation for different religions (Now this law has been repealed).
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