Democracy and rule of law, not moral absolutism, are what’s required in Pakistan
Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) leader and ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif claimed on March 26 that he had “gone ideological” and heretofore would remain ideological. What did he mean by ideological? Ideology is not new in Pakistan, it being an “ideological state” to which you have to swear loyalty. Perhaps he meant “principled” but found the word empty of meaning.
Or perhaps he was following the example of his rival Imran Khan, who has described himself thus many times. According to Article 228 of the Constitution: “There shall be, constituted…a Council of Islamic ideology.” The Urdu word used by Sharif and other leaders to describe their philosophy is “nazriati”—meaning ideological. It was never used during the Pakistan Movement before 1947. Today we often refer to Nazria-e-Pakistan, the ideology of Pakistan.
Why did we choose “ideological” for Pakistan? The word was used during the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution. Coined by Antoine Destutt de Tracy in 1796, while he was in prison pending trial during the Terror, it was borrowed by Lenin together with “terror” as a legitimate tool of the people. Muslims were inspired by communism as a “collectivizing” creed and called it Islam without God. Pakistan was supposed to be “ideological” with Allah presiding over it. Like the Soviet Union, the clerical intellectual thought an Islamic state should have no constitutional opposition. In that sense, Iran is ideological, Pakistan is not.
It is the word “nazriati” that puts you off because it negates democracy and implies regimentation of thought through coercion. It belongs in the vocabulary of absolutism and has brought nothing but bad luck for the minorities of Pakistan and women. Had Al Qaeda succeeded in conquering Pakistan its leader Aiman Al-Zawahiri would have abolished the opposition to make the state truly Islamic, which he propositioned in his treatise on the Constitution of Pakistan. That treatise, The Morning and the Lamp, was distributed widely by madrasas in Pakistan as Pakistan’s “true” Constitution.