Enlightened Moderation – The Hasba Bill

_An entry from the ‘drafts’ folder, written back when the MMA was trying to shove the Hasba Bill on the NWFP. Recently, they’ve been trying to pass it again, as they must figure the earthquake victims don’t have enough problems already._

For years, the Musharaf -government- regime has been going on and on about something called ‘Enlightened Moderation’. While this has been very popular in Musharrah’s speeches abroad, on the groud his govt. has been busy hammering nails into the coffin of this long dead ‘enlightened moderation’.

Today, the NWFP passed the -Hasba- Taliban bill. For those of you wondering what the ‘big deal’:http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_13-7-2005_pg3_4 about this is, think Afghanistan under the Taliban. The ‘Hasba Bill’:http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_15-7-2005_pg7_43 implements a religious police force whose aim is the _’propagation of virtue and preventing the vice’_ – and gives them complete power to do that as they please. Decisions made by the religious police cannot be appealed in a court of law – the religious police has more power than the entire provinicial govt. Not only that, the religious police is judge, jury and executioner rolled into one medival package. Ironically, Musharraf has called a conference on ‘law and order’:http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_15-7-2005_pg1_3 today – someone needs to tell him that the NWFP has just replaced the entire judical system, and has no need of his advice any longer.

There are two ways of stopping this Bill: By going to the Supreme Court – which the govt. has already done, or by dissolving the NWFP provinicial govt. That is not going to be so easy – the Daily Times reports that ‘Durrani threatens to wreak havoc if MMA govt ousted’:http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_14-7-2005_pg7_7

bq. NWFP chief minister Akram Durrani said here on Wednesday that if any attempt was made to bring down his democratically elected government, *”we would wreak havoc.”*

In respone, the federal government on Monday asserted that it would not allow the NWFP to be _Talibanised_ and take every constitutional step to stop the Hasba Bill. NWFP governor Commander (Retd) Khalil ur Rehman has said NWFP government will not be allowed to implement Hasba bill at any cost as it is first step towards Talibanisation.

h4. why, why, why

It’s basically a political powergrab by the MMA. They promised much during the elections, and have accomplished nothing. Secondly, they had been sucking up to Musharraf for some time, which had upset much of their votebank – who perceive Musharraf to be an american agent.

The Hasba Bill in one fell swoop distances the MMA from Musharraf, and draws attention away from the MMA’s failures. While the bill will not stand, the upcoming fight with the federal govt. over it will give the MMA much street cred.

Don’t be fooled by the fact that the MMA has been making noise about this bill being passed by a democratically elected govt. The Musharraf govt. played a big part into putting the MMA into power, and it’s now come back to haunt them. Musharraf is the godfather of the MMA’s political success – so he has to take some reponsibility for this latest mess. Before Musharraf came along, the parties comprising the MMA never won anything – just a few seats here and there. Big daddy Musharraf birthed the MMA, who in turn legalized his dictatorship. In the past couple of years, this happy relationship has gone sour as the MMA flexes it muscles. Musharraf is stuck in the middle – he needs the MMA and yet at the same time probably wishes them dead.

The NWFP people are the ultimate victims of this bill – the majority of them are going to be most unhappy about this. Given free and fair elections, the MMA would be booted out. The problem is that we don’t have free and fair elections, especially at the provincial level.

h4. the bill itself

The irony is that the -Taliban- MMA claim that the Hasba bill is Islamic. The various parties comprising the MMA can’t agree themselves on their interpretation of Islam, so travel in the NWFP is going to get difficult, as one will first have to find out what version of Islam is being reinforced in each district.

Some of the attemped aims of the bill are laudable – after all, who doesn’t want to stop corruption? But reading through the whole text of the bill, it’s one big power grab, with a few hypocritical stuff thrown in. For example:

bq. To mediate amongst parties and tribes in matters pertaining to murders, attempts to murder and similar other crimes threatening to law and order situation.

You know, the older generation here keeps muttering about the good old days. (This is before General Zia’s time.) It seems we’ll be muttering about the good old days when there used to be these quaint institutions called courts, with judges presiding.

bq.. (1) No court or authority shall be competent to question the legal status of the proceedings before a Mohtasib.

(2) No court or authority shall have the power to pass any injunction or any interim or a stay order with regard to any matter under consideration of the Mohtasib.

(3) No suit or legal proceeding shall lie against the Mohtasib or his employer fro anything in good faith done or intended to be done.

p. Frightening stuff. An interesting anecdote about the MMA govt. and their thinking. I was visiting a wildlife sanctuary in the NWFP a while ago, and the trees inside the sanctuary seemed really sparse. The wildlife department said that when the current MMA govt. came into power, they went on a fund raising drive – and had the brilliant idea of raising funds by cutting down ‘dead’ trees. So they came inside the sanctuary, and cut down 75% of the trees there – leaving only the thinner ones.

Outside the sanctuary, in many places they have turned a forest into a virtual desert by cutting down ‘dead’ trees. It’s exactly the same thing they’ll end up doing to Pakistan.

If you’ve reached this far – don’t worry. This Hasba bill is not going to be passed. It really boils down to a choice b/w rejecting the Hasba bill, or rejecting Pakistan – there is nothing in between, and Musharraf, despite his long history of appeasing the MMA will finally have to stand and fight.

h4. In the here and now

The Hasba bill was thrown out by the Supreme Court, but the MMA is back at it again, trying to pass it while the rest of the country is busy with earthquake relief. Their reasoning is that the earthquake was caused by sinful people earning the wrath of god, therefore the suvivors need religious police ensuring the survivors modify their ‘lifestyles’ to the approved MMA patterns. Aid is for pansies – the MMA says what we really need is big brother taliban style.

bq. Without a shred of respect for a generation of innocent schoolchildren lost to the disaster, MMA President Qazi Hussain Ahmed attributing the earthquake to a ‘sinful’ nation, declares the earthquake a ‘warning by God’ and sermons on the urgency of modifying lifestyles. His parliamentarian daughter, Rahila Qazi, indicates that a ‘barrage of obscenity unleashed on the media under the government sponsorship’ as the cause for the ‘wrath of God’.

>> “Gods Must be Crazy”:

p. Were it not so sad, this whole mess would be funny.

h4. links

* ‘Daily Times: full text of the Hasba Bill’:http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_15-7-2005_pg7_43

* “Google News: Hasba Bill”:http://news.google.com/news?q=hasba+bill

* ‘The Hasba network �Asma Jahangir’:http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_13-7-2005_pg3_4

* ‘Musharraf : Self Styled Saviour Stuck in a Rut’:http://ko.offroadpakistan.com/pakistan/2003_08/musharraf_self_styled_saviour_stuck_in_a_rut.html

* ‘Full Text of the Hasba Bill’:http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Transwiki:Hasba_bill

1 thought on “Enlightened Moderation – The Hasba Bill”

  1. What if they’ve (MMA) something to offer Mush. Is it possible Hasba will pass, in that case? Mush’s uniform is going to be an issue again…

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