I am 45 years old. The journey of my consciousness began the same year General Ziaul Haq deposed then prime minster Bhutto in 1977. By the time my mother allowed me to fetch milk from the bazaar after the sunset in my little hometown, Malakwal, Punjab), Haq hanged Bhutto in 1979. The same year, Soviet troops entered Afghanistan, apparently on the invitation of then Afghan government and Pakistan, under Haq, suddenly discovered a jihad that was hardly the one that Islam originally talks about. Prior to that, the idea of jihad had existed in the same religion that a majority of my country practices, but hardly ever my people chose violence as a means to achieve their social objectives. There were only a few mainstream religio-political leaders who would request the media to cover them in the print. They loved seeing their photos printed in those dull looking, but much more serious newspapers than what we have now. These religious leaders presented gifts to the media, who happily accepted. Neither considered it bribe, and both sides worked together happily ever after. Those were happy pre-and-early-Haq days, as I discovered much later in life after having gone through my own journey as an obscurantist young man wanting to destroy the opponents of Islam and Pakistan, so that my religion and country could achieve the promised glory. At least I learnt that there cannot be any glory out of hatred and destruction of the other. There were people in their 50s, 60s and 70s who sat for over three weeks at Faizabad, Rawalpindi, and believed that some form of glory could be achieved by eating greasy food. Comparatively at 45, I find myself having performed slightly better than otherwise. Soon after taking over, Ziaul Haq became the frightening scientist-in-chief who started testing Islam in all spheres of lives of the Pakistani individual There’s a deep and direct connection to what Haq did, and those who kept excreting for 21 days in open spaces for a cause that 97 per cent population of Pakistan is already converted to. While, the remaining 3 per cent cannot think of doing anything against out of local respect and fear: finality of the prophethood. Soon after taking, over Haq became the frightening scientist-in-chief who started testing Islam in all spheres of the lives of the Pakistani individual. I, as a young student, was issued a small journal to mark my attendance at a local mosque that I had prayed five times a day. My daily pocket money in those days was 50-paisas, of which I had to squander half to the local Nazim-e-Salaat (in-charge of the prayers), as a bribe since I routinely missed my Fajr (morning) prayer. As the system of making people pray five times daily flourished on the surface, I realised that I could do business with Muhammad Riaz, my community’s Nazim, if I bribed him a rupee per week. That I did. My prayers’ journal was always marked present and my teachers proudly showed those to the head master. Riaz died nearly 28 years ago in Mohalla Kotli, Malakwal, and I hope there is no punishment in the Pakistani law if I bribed a-rupee-a-week for around six months in 1982. As the initial fever to make all Pakistanis as Nimazis dissipated, life of my fellow citizens moved on from one experiment of interpretive Islam to another, until the crates of mangoes burst and Pakistan started struggling back to normalcy that it once had, but has not been able to achieve thus far. I only have a dream that it might be a normal country in my lifetime, but my rational fear is that it probably wouldn’t be. The strange case of exploding Barelvi extremism under the leadership of Khadim Rizvi is only one indication. Most Pakistani troublemakers in the name of religion in 2017 are the classic products of what Haq had intended to produce: sham, exhibitive and hypocritical piety with hardly any local or rational religious wisdom coupled with a deep desire of political and social control in the name of religion as it discourages and culls the inquiry. Haq sold the vanity of piousness, and a humongous majority of Pakistanis happily bought it as their religion. This evening while sitting with friends, one remarked that what Khadim Rizvi and his followers are doing is “not real Islam and a good Muslim cannot do what they did.” “Where are the good Muslims in his own sect to stop him from doing what he is doing?” I retorted. There was chomp chomp of eating Pakistanis’ national hobby: chicken karahi, and silence of a good Muslim. The writer is a social entrepreneur and a student of Pakistan’s social and political challenges. He tweets at @mkw72 Published in Daily Times, November 28th 2017.