While the clergy in Pakistan enjoy uninterrupted power and hegemony over the State and religion, a constitutionally sanctioned body of clerics, the Council Islamic Ideology (CII), has a responsibility of ensuring that no legislation or policy contradicts the Islamic Scripture.
The CII endorses domestic violence and child marriage and the Pakistani Constitution itself upholds Islamist supremacism and grants sovereignty to Islamic scriptures.
People opposing usage of scriptures for any form of bigotry have been silenced by the penal code upholding capital punishment for blasphemy, journalist Kunwar Khuldune Shahid writes in The Spectator.
Clerics are bigger than the law in Pakistan. It is evident by the example that Pakistan’s well-known cleric, Tariq Jameel, in April, passed an inflammatory remark against women in the presence of Prime Minister Imran Khan on live television, claiming that COVID-19 has been unleashed on humanity because of the ‘wrongdoing of women.’
The incident took place during the Ehsaas Telethon fundraising event on Thursday. Prime Minister Imran Khan did not stop or question Maulana Tariq Jameel for making such statements.
The day after the telethon, Khan decided to speak at length on the “vulgarity” spreading in Pakistan owing to inspirations from “Bollywood and the West”, as exemplified by the growing divorce rate in the UK.
Women in Pakistan face systemic discrimination and violence. No law and no government have so far come to their rescue.
“As a result, in addition to the scriptures, the clergy is further emboldened by the constitution to a point that Islamist mobs take it upon themselves to regularly dish out vigilante justice,” Shahid wrote.
Shahid is of the view that to undo the clergy’s hegemony, Pakistan needs to follow through with its democratic billing and secularise its constitution.
“That requires subordinating religious theology to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that it adheres to. In any conflict between egalitarianism and Islam, regardless of authenticity of interpretations, the former should triumph,” he concluded.