It is not about size, scope or ideology. Rather, it is about getting things done.
Indian scholarship is doubly bereaved, for it has lost a fine teacher and a good man.
Bipan Chandra’s life celebrated the virtues of revisionism.
Chandra was a passionate historian, but he never let political affiliation get in the way of personal and professional ties.
In Pakistan, the Council of Islamic Ideology has been in overdrive. It could be a portent.
Pakistan is getting ready for “real” Islam after a Taliban takeover. Islamabad is promising Islamic banking and no “usury” in state schemes. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan says the March 3 murder of a “liberal” additional sessions judge in Islamabad was in fact the work of his own security guard gone trigger-happy “in panic”, and not the Taliban assailants who had broken into his court. The Taliban denied they killed the judge.
Soon enough, the reader of the court of the slain judge, Rafaqat Ahmed Khan Awan, accused the police of coercing him into backing Interior Minister Khan’s claim that the judge had been killed by his own guard. As icing on the cake, the guard too has denied before a special judge of the anti-terrorism court that he killed the judge.
This is not the only act of sucking up to the killers. The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), which “advises” the state on how to implement true Islam, has dropped a new “anticipatory” bombshell on March 10, declaring Section 6 of the Muslim Family Law Ordinance (1961) as violative of the Sharia. It decreed that a husband did not require permission from the first wife for his second marriage.
As the law stands, if you marry again without the permission of your first wife, you go to jail for a year after paying Rs 5,000 as fine. But was the law ever enforced? People marry again and again with the consent of the clergy, who insist that Islam doesn’t stand in the way of the right to polygamy. The same is true of marrying underage girls. The law stands aside in bemusement. But now the CII says child marriage is Islamic. Facilitating rapists, it says DNA evidence is not permissible as decisive in Islam. The message for raped women: bring four male eyewitnesses or be whipped for qazf (wrongful accusation).
The CII has become aggressive with Talibanisation and the capacity of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to target-kill people supporting modern or “liberal” views that most Pakistanis despise anyway. Now it says more laws must be enacted to allow child marriage. The CII has become toxic after the induction, done by the outgoing “liberal” PPP government and extended by Nawaz Sharif, of Maulana Muhammad Khan Sherani from the hardline Taliban-friendly Deobandi religious party, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam.
The women’s rights NGO, Aurat Foundation, led by Justice (Retd) Nasira Javid Iqbal, daughter-in-law of the national poet Muhammad Iqbal — who cares? — demanded in Lahore that the order appointing the JUI’s Maulana Sherani as chairman of the CII should be revoked. Women were already continued…