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Dr Sarfraz Ansari

Dr Sarfraz Hussain Ansari received his BA and MA degrees in Public Administration from the American University of Beirut. He did his Ph.D. from Quaid-i-Azam University with a thesis titled “Political Thought of Inayatullah Khan Mashriqi”. He is currently teaching Government and Public Policy at National Defence University, Islamabad.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Assalam O Alaikum

My worthy predecessors and speakers have both detailed major operational measures relating to the topic. My paper is slightly more philosophical, but nevertheless implementable. I think there are some misunderstandings – I will for now call them ‘misunderstandings’, otherwise in the exact methodology, this is up for discussion and there can be other terms used – both at the intellectual level and at the popular level, that contribute to extremism in Pakistan. What then are these misunderstandings?

Intellectual Misunderstandings

At the intellectual level, a major misunderstanding is about the view of man. In social science in Pakistan and elsewhere, scholars both from Pakistan and outside Pakistan have adopted Western social science views which see man as a determined being. Determined psychologically, determined sociologically, determined economically. I think a more fitting notion for man is that of a human being, a moral being, who makes his or her choices marking their behavior. Any choice that a person makes, will involve certain consequences, and through these both individual and collective situations, men have to face such consequences. This means that human beings are moral beings and are responsible for the consequences of their actions.

Another related misunderstanding which needs to be dispelled is why human beings are autonomous in their choices and in their actions. This should not be taken to mean that they are omnipotent. There is a difference in being autonomous and omnipotent. Moral beings, when they are exercising their choice, they cannot get the results they want. For one thing, autonomous decisions are made by several, and such decisions may clash, and consequently, there will be resistance.

For another, a vast portion of mankind still believes that mysterious are the ways of God. Man as a moral being chooses, and choice always involves values. In this way, what is fundamental to humankind, is values. Values are the basis to the constitution of human society. Whether this takes the form of written constitutions or unwritten constitutions, values determine the notions of right and wrong, good and bad.

Where do such Values come from? Historically, there can be said to be two sources; the first is mankind itself, which builds its values upon human experience, and the second, what are believed to have been revealed from a Supreme Being. Now historically it can be said that revelation has long been a source for values, through such revelatory traditions as Christianity, Judaism and Islam, as well as many Asian religions including Buddhism, Hinduism, Taosim, etc. Human reason alone ruling human experience can create durable societies. The idea of Enlightenment arose in European history against the background of.

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