Stories written by Niaz Murtaza

From foe to friend

Prime Minister Imran Khan recently invoked Franco-German peace to urge old rivals India and Pakistan to make peace too. But like so many of his ideas, this one is naïve given how that peace emerged. Using a noble anti-imperialism cry, Germany often attacked France and others. Fed up with wars in Europe, global powers finally imposed regime change and pacifism on it by occupying it for long.

Genesis of a mess

How do major messes get created? The genesis of some messes reflects the decisions of elites over a small period of time, eg, the Rwanda genocide. But other messes emerge gradually, with various elite groups adding different, mutually reinforcing, layers of the mess over time to produce an intractable situation.

An Islamic system?

Many people say Pakistan`s problems today stem from the wilful failure of rulers to establish an Islamic system. These are not supporters of the militant Islamic State group but well-meaning individuals who abhor IS excesses. For them, this system is like turning on a water tap waiting to deliver unlimited sustenance.

Democratic Protest

Pakistan has had its fair share of street protests, some of them even toppling rulers. Decades before the Arab Spring, Pakistan had its own ‘spring’ in March 1969 when protests toppled Ayub’s regime. Street protests also toppled Bhutto and weakened Zia and Musharraf.

Democracy in Islam

Both Islamists and Islamophobes find Islam and democracy incongruent. Some cite a verse that deprecates majority views. To call Islam anti-democracy by citing a brief verse non-contextually is odd. Even in democracy, small ruling groups usually make decisions. Majority only decides who rules. The mode of this decision is the key contrast between democracy and other rules. We must view Islamic stands on such key democracy traits to gauge congruence.

Middle-Class Ethos

The middle class is viewed as a positive force for progress given its higher education, mobility and wealth. But this view is based on its role in developed states in fostering egalitarian progress, democracy and the rule of law by initiating social movements.