Among the many astonishingly frank admissions in the recently released Pakistani government report on the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden, this one especially stood out to me:
"In the premier intelligence institutions, religiosity replaced accountability at the expense of professional competency."
The commission that issued that 337-page report has uncovered a key problem not only in the government of Pakistan but also a potential problem for any government that seeks to promote a particular religious doctrine or tradition over and above providing competent governance.
It is, of course, no secret that Pakistan's military and intelligence service, to say nothing of much of the rest of its government, is in intentional harmony with the radical and violent version of Islam that bin Laden supported but that flies in the face of traditional Islam.
The report, which was made public recently by Al-Jazeera, is full of criticism of Pakistan's leadership and its culture of corruption and incompetence.
I thought this Christian Science Monitor piece captured its essence pretty well. Here, for a second source, is the Al-Jazeera news story. And three paragraphs above here I've given you a link to the pirated copy on the Al-Jazeera site.
There are, no doubt, various gradations between government that is utterly secular and government that is a theocracy. But people of faith always should be wary of turning over responsibility for promoting and defending the faith to government. I would not call Pakistan a theocracy in the way that Iran is, but the extremist elements of political Islam are so deeply entrenched in the Pakistani government and culture that in some ways Pakistan might well be thought of as theocratically governed.
And the result is what almost always happens in such cases -- "religiosity," in the words of the new report, replaces "accountability at the expense of professional competency." And the people are badly served.
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AN ISLAMIC DILEMMA
If, as now, the sun never sets over far northern Sweden, when do Muslims living there (yes, there are some) fast during Ramadan (now), when they are supposed to fast from sunrise to sunset? This story offers some options. Rules are rules, right?