By Muhammad Ilyas Khan.
Enlightened-Moderation is a composite term, presently in currency, especially in Pakistan. Enlightenment and moderation are interrelated terms. Actually moderation to a greater extent is the outcome of enlightenment. We would not be mistaken if we assume that moderation is a bi-product of enlightenment. Who can be a moderate person and how can moderation come? Moderate person is one who does not go to extremes; who does not thoughtlessly and out rightly reject or accept an idea. A person who is rational and uses his reason and his brain to reach viable conclusions and to decide accordingly in the light of analysing facts and figures. Thus to be able to be moderate, one must be able to understand what is right, what is wrong, what is just and what is unjust. Not only this but to be moderate, one needs to know how to make compromises and concessions when the occasion and circumstances demand so. A moderate person does not go for extremes. He does not follow the do or die canon. He weighs, measures, and waits for the proper opportunity to come and changes the course of action if a particular line of action does not produce the desirable results.
The term Enlightened Moderation has got currency in Pakistan recently primarily due to the emphasize it received from the president of Pakistan Gen.Pervaiz Musharraf. In his recent article ‘Enlightened Moderation’, the president of Pakistan once again reiterated and re-emphasised the need for enlightenment and moderation as far as the Muslims societies at large and Pakistan in particular is concerned. The president is of the view that religious extremism and intolerance is one of the root causes of underdevelopment and conflict in the Muslim societies including Pakistan. The president upholds the viewpoint that only liberalism, tolerance, and mutual co-existence can help the Muslims of the world to overcome their manifold miseries and troubles. For Muslims of the world to achieve the cherished dream of progress, development and socio-economic prosperity, the only way forward is compromise with the western world and in the meantime removing their weaknesses in their social, political, educational, and economic institutions.
The president cautions that the world has become increasingly dangerous to live in, primarily due to the fact that ignorance, hostility, mutual hatred and intolerance is the hallmark of the international politics today. As a result of this extremely dangerous trend, the planet earth is at the threshold of destruction and annihilation. President Musharraf Writes, “the world is passing through a tumultuous period ever since the dawn of 90’s, with no sign of relenting. The suffering of the innocent multitudes, particularly my brethren in faith, the Muslims at the hands of the militants, extremists and terrorists has inspired me to contribute towards bringing some order to this disorderly world. It was this very urge which led me to expound on the strategy of ‘ Enlightened moderation’”
President Musharraf further stresses the Muslims of the world to get enlightened and moderate when he says, “ The way forward is to head towards enlightenment and concentrate on human resource development through poverty alleviation, education, health and social justice”. The appeal is realistic and pragmatic, as we all know all these ills are rampantly there in the body politic of the Muslim world. The president further appeals to reason when he says, “ the doctrine of fairness is not always available to us, in the world we live in”. So what should be the more pragmatic course of action for the Muslims? Should they concentrate on combative reactions towards the western powers, despite their continuous and disastrous failures in defeating these powers in the battlefields? Or should they adopt some other, more productive course of action like the Japanese and the Germans did after being defeated in the World War and now can see in the eyes of those who defeated and destroyed them. The saner course of action is of course the second one.
Leaving alone international politics and turning towards our own problems in Pakistan, and finding out how the concept of Enlightened Moderation is achievable in Pakistan. As discussed earlier, extremism, is the outcome of ignorance, injustice, deprivation, socio-political and economic cleavages in the society. So to bring about moderation in our society, we have to pay attention to these problems.
First comes ignorance: if we look at the level of education in our country both in terms of quality and quantity, we come to very disappointing conclusions. With only 2 percent of our GNP allocation for the education, we can have very little hopes for improving the most vital sector of education. The result of the negligence of this vital sector is extremely devastating for us. With one of the lowest literacy rates in the world, very little can be expected of Enlightenment and Moderation. The meagre resources allocated to the education sector, the standard of education is in doldrums. For development in the field of education we have to consider a number of things. We have to radically improve the physical infrastructure, with well-equipped schools, colleges and universities. We have to establish research centres, laboratories and libraries in these educational institutions to make them responsive to our socio-economic needs and to enable them to train our young generation in the best possible way in accordance with the challenges of the 21st century. Another important aspect of the education sector is the educator, i.e. the school, colleges, and university teacher. We have to make efforts to raise the socio-economic status of the builder of the nation. Very little can be expected from teachers, suffering from various socio-economic problems, to apply themselves, wholeheartedly their enormous task of providing quality education to the youth of the nation, and to equipping them with abilities to lead the nation in the highly competitive world. Teaching being one of the lowest ranked professions in terms of economic reward and social status, attract only those, rejected from more lucrative fields of social life. This trend has to be altered by associating more charm with the profession in order to attract more talented people to the profession and consequently to bring quality into the education sector. It is said that the real defence of a nation lies in the hands of the teachers, who take care of the preparation of our youth. So we have to shift our priorities and education should be reformed on wartime basis. It is thought that the problem lies in the religious seminaries, where bigotry and myopic vision is promoted. To some extent that is true but the problem is deeper than that. Actually our public sector education is pre-dominantly retrogressive, with a premium on rot learning and blind follow. Very little independent thinking and freedom is promoted in our public school system. So revolutionary changes are to be brought in this system for bringing about Enlightened Moderation.
Poverty alleviation and eradication of social injustice from the society are of prime importance in promoting the concept of Enlightened Moderation. With more than 40% of the population living below the poverty line, Enlightenment and moderation can only be a wishful dream. People’s sentiments touching the extreme limits, going to suicides and suicide bombings on an increasing momentum is the outcome of economic and social injustices prevalent in our society. A nominal minority affluent with absolutely grabbing each and every financial asset of the state, at the cost of the life of the poor, is adding to the misery and consequently desperation of the poor. The insurmountable economic cleavages between the haves and have-nots lead to disillusionment and extremism. The dilemma of deprivation and suffering of the poor is further supplemented by the fact that the traditional feudal-bureaucratic-elitist culture in the political system promotes and safeguards, the interests of the haves. The common man has no say in the political affairs of the states and not even in the economic policies affecting his life. As a result of the state policy, internal and external, fashioned by the rulers who have been holding the power in the decision making of the state on the basis of heredity, the political culture prevalent in the country does not encourage the masses to participate in the decision-making. In the absence of a genuine democratic order the rulers do not find themselves responsible to the common man. The intermittent process of election through which the so-called representatives of the people reach power corridors has little credibility, leading the traditional lords to assemblies, despite their miserable failure to trim down the miseries and sufferings of the people. Unless people from the middle and lower middle class reach the decision-making positions, no substantial improvement in the life of the common man can be expected. Only a hungry man can feel what hunger means. So bringing down the political process to the common man and making real efforts to make the rulers responsible to the masses, by establishing genuine democratic order in the country would emancipate the people from the abyss of degradation, poverty and deprivation and would pave the way to enlightenment and moderation.