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Reader comment on item: Bush Declares War on Radical Islam
in response to reader comment: Mohammaed Saleem Akhtar's version of Islam

Submitted by Mohammed Saleem Akhtar (United States), Oct 22, 2005 at 18:32

Yes, you are right. And thats why many people in muslim countries are living in a confused state. There is no charismatic leader who can convince them about 'reformed islam'. They are constanly being brain-washed by the hard-core clerics and every bad deed that happens in any muslim nation is immediately branded as a 'God's punishment' by these clerics and people advised to be more religious. Look at what is happening in pakistan... the mullahs (some arab clerics as well) are already crying out loud that the earthquake is a punishment from God because of Musharraf's liberal policies, the liberalization of the media/Tv and musharraf encouranging women's participation in politics, etc and so on. No matter what happens the Mullah has a reason to give to the muslim public. According to a typical pakistani mullah, Poverty, corruprion, lack of invesment.. everything is happening because God is angry with pakistanis and they are on the wrong path.. hilarious/outrageous yet true. And the illeterate or the religious fanatics take their word seriously. Good thing at least for now is that these mullahs, backed by the wahabists, never have won popular support in pakistan. This is because most pakistanis want charismatic, moderate and smart people to lead them. A musharraf looks much better to them than a 1 feet long bearded leader of a right wing party.

You mention looking at secular Turkey as a benchmark... I think that is very much possible in Pakistan. If the army, government and politicians make a concentrated effort in this regard, turkey can be a very good role model for pakistan. Plus Pakistan's relations getting better with India should also be good news for west. I think the western nations can do more by pushing Pakistan closer towards turkey.

You are absolutely right that to reform Islam successfully, you need a person (a statesman, or a diplomat) that has enough charisma and leadership quality to galvanise the muslims. A person that can appeal to all categories of muslims. Practically its too difficult because of the wide variety of races in muslims. Although if Arabs take the lead, I think that might be a good starting point. Since islam originated in arab lands, reformation, one might rationally think, should also start from the arab lands.

Myslef being a pakistani, I think in pakistan, the establishment should make an honest effort to bring the so-called 'moderate' clerics, sufis other religious scholars together and do a thorough review of the islamic procedures. The fallacies and farces of the Zia-ul-haq era should be compltely removed from the law and syllabus. Already pakistan has done some good in last 4-5 years.. eg women have been given a 30% representation in all government, political posts; media has been liberalized... etc. Also pakistan should not shy away from forming full diplomatic relations with Israel because of Arab pressure. There seems to be a very genuine will but the arab influence probably scares the think-tanks. Lets not forget that the arabs have invested heavily into pakistan, many tens of thousands of pakistanis work for arab/middle-eastern organizations. Countries like Turkey, and other western nations should do more to invest in the public sector. Look at india, eg. A soft corner for the west only developed in india in past 10 years after various western companies and corporations started investing there and giving indians jobs. The middle class that developed as a result had a soft spot for the West because of a symbiotic relationship. That symbiotic relationship is lacking in Pakistan.
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