I gather from the media that, in dismissing the petition seeking Nawaz Sharif’s indictment for contempt, the Supreme Court (SC) Bench commented that individuals had the right to comment on judgments so long as they were not ‘disrespectful’. I hope my comments also fall in that category, since I subscribe to the view that there can be no governance without justice and the rule of law. And, I am publicly seeking to learn what justice and the rule of law consists of. I was happy to see this daily carry an editorial, titled Unfortunate and Worrying on the IHC judgement which said that government employees, civilian and military should only be Muslims; and only those who certify that they subscribe to the finality of the Prophethood of Muhammed PBUH. But, I am afraid, it’s very far from being enough. We as a people, are speedily succumbing to forces of bigotry and obscurantism. But how did things come to be this way? Does, or even should, a nation consist of only one religion and, within that one religion, only one perspective of it? Many other religions have tried this and, repeatedly, failed, Catholics, Protestants, Huguenots, and Jews. Our Hindu neighbours next door haven’t been successful either. Only Israelis seem to have succeeded, and that too partially.Isn’t this exactly what that unashamed MNA, Captain Safdar said on the floor of the house, after which the house clapped? The honourable Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, Chief Justice (CJ) of the Islamabad High Court (IHC), is the same individual who had been summoned to appear before the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) for his conduct. The Justice, very surprisingly and most unusually, sought a hearing in open court, with the media present. Equally surprising and unusual is the fact that, since Justice Shaukat sought that, the matter of his hearing seems to have got lost. Just as the evidence against Dr Asim Hussain did. Are our Aalims and judiciary determined to take us back to medieval times? If so, history can testify that clerics of all religions have walked the same path before and the people have suffered Could it be that, in the ‘open hearing’ the defence that the accused judge was likely to present might be based on distortions of religion? And, that might have made him another hero of the Mumtaz Qadri ilk? Could that have saved him from the scheduled appearance? Most certainly not; such rumours are scurrilous; since that would not be justice and surely, our courts could not be guilty of such fears. As far as I know, Judaism is the only exclusivist religion, because it claims the Promised Land is only for the Promised People. And, even among them, only Zionists actually practice exclusivity; like in Israel. Some Theologians are of the view that while Judaism is exclusive, Christianity is pacifist and Islam is inclusive; a humanitarian religion. History testifies to the fact that followers of all religions were encouraged to thrive as equal citizens in Muslim civilizations throughout most of Islam’s history. The sole discrimination was in the imposition of Jizya, the tax imposed on non-Muslims under Muslim rule and this tax was intended to pay for the defence of non-Muslims by Muslim soldiers. Consequently, those non-Muslims who fought alongside Muslims to defend the state were excused this tax as well. Will our judiciary impose Zionist practices on the Muslims of this country? Members of civil society protested against this judgment. But these are but a handful and, of little consequence, compared to the numbers that throng to the support of obscurants and bigots. But that too has been the way of people throughout history. But, it has been the history of only those people among whom injustice prevails. Only thence can bigots and obscurantists thrive and gain followers. We are almost there, it seems. First the parliament; and horrifyingly, now, even the judiciary wants all non-Muslims out of this wretched country. Where do we stand now? We, worship Mumtaz Qadri, we are held hostage by a handful of members of Tehreek-Labbaik-Ya-Rasulallah (TLYR), we have failed to stop ‘honour’ killings and treat women atrociously, we can kill anyone accused of blasphemy, whether falsely or not, with impunity. Our religious leanings are stamped on our National Identity Cards, our passports and even our voter lists. Why? The only two concerns for which an individual’s religion should be relevant is for tax collection — that too if Jizya is imposed; which it isn’t in Pakistan, precisely for the reason that non-Muslims have numbered among our bravest soldiers. And secondly, for court appearances where witnesses take oaths according to their religions and cases are adjudicated according to different laws in deference, and the word deference is significant, to other religions. Punjab government has banned not only the study of comparative religions but, also dancing. Why ban the study of other religions? If Islam is the best religion, studying other religions can only strengthen our beliefs. Is the call of Islam that weak among our clerics, Maulanas, and Ulema that they are afraid of what other religions can offer? Let other religions ban the study of Islam; lest their followers convert to Islam. And why ban dancing and frolic in schools and colleges? Is fun a sin now? The Holy Quran teaches how to live happily, and enjoy all the non-sinful pleasures that life has to offer. I recall reading of the purists among some Christian sects who forbade laughter and fun, but only on holy days. Is that where we are headed? Friday, is our weekly holy day and again, Theologians hold the view that, unlike other religions, even that is not a holiday in Islam. Are our Aalims and judiciary determined to take us back to medieval times? If so, history can testify that clerics of all religions have walked the same path before and the people have suffered. Leave Islam alone please, let it be inclusive, humane, and humanitarian as it was supposed to be. The writer is a retired brigadier. He is also former vice president and founder of the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) Published in Daily Times, March 18th 2018.