Fundamentalism and Human Rights
The concept of Human
Rights is a democratic one. It is based on the principle of the essential
freedom of the human being and respect for his person. It is a concept
in which it is believed that man has certain inalienable rights that are
universal. Can a state such as Pakistan that does not believe in the equality
of man and woman, where a woman's testimony is only treated as half that
of a man, talk about self-determination and human rights?
In Pakistan, women who constitute about 52 per
cent of the population are legally treated as second class citizens. The
minorities are legally treated as second c1ass citizens. Even the Shia
community among the Muslims who constitute about 20 per cent of the population
is not treated at par with other citizens. To cap it all, the denial of
equal rights to each and every citizen is justified under the cover of
The Islamic fundamentalists are, however not satisfied
with denial of equal rights to a sizeable section. They want that:
1. The Sharia (Koran and Sunnah) should
be the basic law of the land.
Obviously, such a system is the anti-thesis of democracy.
In a system that does not permit opposition, how would the human rights
of the opposition be treated? The passage of the Shariat Act, the 'huddood'
and 'zina' ordinances in Pakistan are the pointers towards the direction
in which Pakistan is heading. Under such circumstances, can Pakistan afford
to talk about human rights ? Would not the Kashmiris meet the same fate,
if accession of the Kashmir valley with it is forced?
2. The state should be ruled by a single man
(Amir) whose tenure of office and power is limited only by his adherence
to the ideology of Islam.
3. The Amir is to be assisted by a 'shura' (Advisory
Council), consisting of men with the qualifications to make valid applications
of the 'sharia'.
4. There should be no political parties and no
provision for an opposition.