Pakistan mirrors Turkey; draws inspiration on religious-cultural matters

The decision by Pakistan’s Punjab province for passing Tahaffuz-i-Bunyad-i-Islam (protecting the foundation of Islam) Bill 2020 may have drawn ire from various sections of the Pakistani society but the measure bears similarity with moves made in Pak’s close ally Turkey. Pakistan PM Imran Khan in a conscious move is cementing ties with Turkey’s supreme leader and is modelling him.

Khan has been counting on Turkey’s support on Kashmir and his attempts to develop close ties with Turkey that threatened to undermine Saudi Arabia’s leadership of OIC has drawn ire of Riyadh. Imran has been proactive in supporting several of Turkey’s decision including its foreign policy moves and the reopening of Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque after 86 years. Turkish cultural icons are getting popular in Pakistan under Imran Khan. Turkish broadcaster TRT’s globally popular series “Dirilis Ertugrul” (Resurrection: Ertugrul) recorded 58 million views on YouTube after its release on Pakistan state broadcaster PTV. The series has resulted in two statues of Ertugrul erected in Lahore.

Imran’s PTI is in power in Pakistan’s Punjab province. But interestingly Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry tweeted: “An environment has been created in the Parliament, particularly in the Punjab Assembly, where every [other] member comes up with a motion on a daily basis warning that Islam will be in danger if it is not passed. This is a dangerous trend and it will plunge us deep into sectarianism and religious extremism.”

Chaudhry said, “Islam in Pakistan is neither facing any danger from TikTok nor from books. We are facing a danger because of the division on the basis of sectarianism and extremism. Those living in palaces must exercise caution and do not fan the fire that burn themselves.” In a statement, National Party’s Punjab president Ayub Malik said the new law would fan sectarianism besides stoking hatred against minorities in the largest and most populous province of the country that had a history of religious hatred against the marginalised sections of society.

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“Now with this new law, the concept of Jinnah’s Pakistan has been pushed towards the verge of complete destruction, paving the way for more hatred against minorities and other sections of society,” he added. Chief of Tehreek Nifaz Fiqh Jafaria Agha Syed Hamid Ali Shah Moosavi in a statement termed the bill contrary to Quran and Sunnah and an attack on the Constitution. He also announced that peaceful protests would be held across Pakistan on Friday against this law.

The Women Democratic Front (WDF), a civil society organisation working for women’s rights, also expressed deep concerns over, what it called, “the blatant attempt at increased state censorship through the Tahaffuz-i-Bunyad-i-Islam Bill”. The law passed on July 22 makes “desecration” of any prophet, any of the four divine books, family and companions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), as well as abetting or glorification of terrorists, and promoting sectarianism in any book punishable with a maximum of five-year jail terms and up to Rs 500,000 fine. It makes the use of the words “Khatam-un-Nabiyyeen” mandatory whenever the name of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is mentioned.



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