Welcome to the theocratic military democracy of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

We have mullahs in our parliaments, in our armies, in our courts and on our TVs. We have an Islamic Ideology Council that can rule out DNA as primary evidence in rape cases in the 21st century, because 1400 years ago people could only prove a claim if there had been witnesses. Politicians, self-styled educationists, send back textbooks and reject curricula that do not include enough Islam. Censors trawl the Internet, looking for blasphemous material or content that endangers [Islamic] public morality, and ban entire websites but militant Islamists keep operating social media with impunity…possibly still doing less damage than the non-militant Islamists’ pages that prepare the public conscience to accept the former’s ideology. Blasphemy is a crime that leads to a death sentence even if no conclusive proof has been presented, even if your crime is to speak out against legislation susceptible to such rampant misuse that it essentially becomes a state-sanctioned assassination program–because questioning blasphemy laws is blasphemy itself–and vigilante ‘executioners’ that carry out the sentence are lauded as heroes. No law can be made unless a man well-versed in scripture, but not Philosophy or Political/Social Science or humanity, deems it appropriate for a Muslim nation and all existing laws may be challenged on the basis of his understanding. Women cannot get married on their own through the courts without submitting to a virginity test, and domestic violence bills cannot be passed till it is ascertained they do not conflict with Islam–because a human being’s right to not be violated is secondary to a husband’s God-given right to discipline his wife. Memorizing the Quran gets you 20 extra points in a highly competitive, ‘merit-based’ education system and there’s one teacher whose subject cannot legally be skipped at any grade level–but it’s not the one who teaches you how to read, write or do long division. (Because the most important skill for an engineer is the ability to pray his or her constructions don’t fall apart.) Islamic banking is big business and shampoos “specially formulated for hijabis’ hair” show up on department store shelves. Religion is everywhere and there is only one true religion Islam as preached by the last prophet Muhammad–and if you cannot repeat these words verbatim, you are not a Muslim and you probably won’t be anything much longer because it is generally, albeit unofficially, believed the blood of a non-believer is fifty percent more water than human. And not even holy Ab-e-Zam-Zam water.

Yaqeenan hamaaray tamaam masail ki bunyaad Islam se doori hai aur Shariat ki roshni isska hal.*

*“Undoubtedly the root cause of all our problems is deviation from Islam and enlightenment through Shariah its solution.”

Note on the title: It comes from the license plate of a fancy car I saw in a middle-class neighborhood–the owner had paid extra to state the car came from Punjab in “Al-Bakistan” which is the Arabized pronunciation of “Pakistan” in a language that has fewer alphabet than both Urdu and English (the official languages of Pakistan) and no sound for “P”, thus rendering the name invalid yet somehow legal. A status symbol amongst the Arab-infatuated Pakistani Muslims, a country name that can ‘exist’ only in the Middle East.