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Superstition rules in Pakistan

Superstition is generally understood to mean a belief or practice resulting from ignorance or fear of the unknown, that certain things happen without any physical cause. And the happening of such an occurrence is believed to be due to some magic or bad omen, which have no scientific basis.
On the subject of superstition, Stuart A. Vyce has written an interesting treatise in which he investigates our proclivity towards these irrational beliefs, our psychological compulsions and its various types. According to him, one reason for the development of superstition is to give a person a feeling of control in situations where events are often beyond his control. This is especially associated with depressed or highly anxious individuals, and those who are deficient in critical thinking.
Superstition in Pakistan is so endemic that it is nearly universal in illiterate and semi-literate sections of society, but a fairly large number of literate people also suffer from this evil or curse, and attribute such happening to astrology, bad omens, and witchcraft etc. which contradict natural science. In Islam superstition is viewed as ‘shirk’, denying the unity of God and against Sharia. Within Islam, ‘shirk’ is an unforgivable sin. But the superstitious people do not heed these injunctions.
In Pakistan, most mental illnesses and psychological problems are considered by some to be the machinations of Satan or evil jinns or demons who take possession of the body and mind of their victim. It is also assumed that it is caused by the black magic performed by enemies and jealous persons. To fight against such mental illnesses, people, especially children and young girls, wear amulets (Ta’wiz) to ward off evil eye. Spells, incantations and curses are also thought to be the cause of haunting a person. Some homes and places are also believed to be haunted by evil ghosts where no one is prepared to reside for fear that they might also become targets of these supernatural beings.
Some commonly believed superstitions among Pakistanis, include, 1) Black cat crossing one’s path brings bad luck, 2) A crow’s cawing means some guests are on their way,3) Palms itching means money is coming your way,4) Sitting under a tree after dark is likely to attract Jinns,5) Left eye twitching means something bad is about to happen,6) Sneezing means somebody is thinking about you, etc., etc.
The widespread presence of supernatural beliefs has created a whole class of people who have made a big capital out of the ignorance and lack of the knowledge of the people. This class of people consist of fake holy men and Faqirs etc. who claim to be blessed with the knowledge and practices of exorcism which they perform on individuals who are believed to be possessed of evil spirits, for which they also charge their fee in money or in kind.
Some thinkers place superstition on the same footing as religion, which is not true. Religion involves a unifying system of beliefs, which has a definite code of conduct, and aims at the moral uplift of man. Superstitions on the other hand are inherently disparate fallacies, are based on disjointed myths, are unreal and false, and have nothing to do with the moral uplift of man.
One interesting aspect of superstition which is a matter of shame to Pakistanis, and reflects an adverse image of our country to the outside world, is that barring a few leaders, almost all the politicians of Pakistan who ruled this nation were essentially superstitious. Instead of becoming our role models, they believed in bad omens, evil eyes and jinxes.
Our first President Ayub Khan was a staunch disciple of Pir sahib of Deval Sharif in Murree Hills. Since the coming into power of former President Asif Ali Zardari, every day a goat is reportedly sacrificed at his house to ward off evil. It would be no wonder if the goats also took up a common cause against him for a similar right in the hereafter. One Pir Ejaz, had also advised the then president to live near the seashore, in order to ward off ‘evil spirits’ dangling over his head, and for several years Mr.Zardari remained confined to Karachi.
Our present Prime Minister Imran Khan, despite being an Oxford graduate does not lag behind others in his superstitious conduct which is more visible than others. His third marriage was with his spiritual faith healer Bushra Manika alias ‘Pinki Pirni’. His second former wife Reham Khan revealed in her memoir that her marriage with I.K was sabotaged by Bushra Bibi. The dogged insistence by Imran Khan that he should both marry and divorce Reham on 31 October seems to lend credence to this. Some other antics Reham Khan reported in her memoirs cannot be discussed here in the interest of their privacy.
It is generally believed that the appointment of a little-known mediocrity namely Usman Buzdar as Chief Minister Punjab was made on the instruction of his wife who finalized his name through an Istikhara (a religious practice to seek guidance from Allah). By coincidence, Buzdar’s family had links with the elder daughter of Bushra’s ex-husband.
Superstition leads one to obscurantism, and blurs one’s vision to see and face reality. Hence it is the biggest hurdle to good governance, without which we cannot go ahead.



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