Towards Utopia

There is much talk of establishing a Riyasat-e-Madina in Pakistan
but no concrete steps seem to be taken in this direction.
Gen. Ziaul Haq did try to tread the path.

By Khawaja Amer | July 2020

The very idea of turning Pakistan into Riyasat-e-Madina definitely sounds fascinating but can Prime Minister Imran Khan, with all the powers at his disposal, do it? The answer is a big NO. In the state of Madina the second caliph of Islam Hazrat Umar (RA) was asked to satisfy a complainant who wanted to know what right had the Caliph to get twice the share of an ordinary Muslim, before addressing the Juma congregation. He started his Khutba only after satisfying the complainant. No leader can afford to defeat his ego to that extent and Imran Khan should also accept the fact.

The only leader who had the will to convert Pakistan into Riyasat-e-Madina -- you may agree or you may not – was Gen. Ziaul Haq. He made a concerted effort to develop a society where following the tenets of Islam were appreciated and opposing Islam was disliked. His personal example played an important role in making his efforts successful. He offered prayers regularly five times a day, Ramazan was the month of fasting for him and his speeches always reflected his devotion to Islam.

When I was a government servant, I distinctly remember that arrangements were made for attending the Zuhr prayers for people working in government offices. On every Thursday, Maulana Shamsuddin Shamsi used to lead the Asr prayers and deliver a sermon. All the high government officers used to attend the congregation with punctuality but, with the passage of time, relaxation crept in. On the other hand, to switch over to eastern culture, Zia ordered all high officials to wear shalwar and kameez, which is a part of Pakistan’s national dress. The President and Prime Minister also wore the national dress on important occasions. To promote the national language Urdu, it was said that the President and Finance Minister would make their budget addresses in Urdu. After a few years, all education would be in Urdu, including official correspondence, but no effective steps were taken in this regard.

Those who grew up during the regime of Gen Ziaul Haq, remember Mehtab Rashdi, the TV anchor-turned politician. She preferred to quit presenting news on TV rather than cover her head while appearing on Pakistan Television. In those days, the Ministry of Information had directed PTV’s women newscasters to appear on TV with a dupatta (scarf) covering their heads and without makeup. Zia’s first major step was to reform the media which played an important role in promoting public opinion. A law was enacted to eradicate vulgarity and obscenity on TV. However, with the passage of time, censorship on TV was relaxed and with the setting up of democratic governments, ‘chaddar’ and ‘chardivari’ lost its charm and credibility.

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