Posted on: February 27, 2016 Posted by: Muhammad Zain Qasmi Comments: 0

By Hira Iqbal

Dr Anser Aftab Kazi recently held a talk titled “Politics and Islam in Pakistan: The Structure of Public Reasoning”. The topic was essentially one on which he had conducted research and written on. The main gist of the talk was with regards to the convergence of politics and religion in our country’s history and the kinds of reasoning given when incorporating religion into policy. In essence, Dr Kazi says that rather than looking at all the reasons given by people arguing for a certain legal decision in matters of religion, because there are far too many to reconcile, we should look at the types of reasoning people give and whether or not we see a consistency in that. To this end, Dr Kazi, in his work, came to the conclusion that there are three rough categories within which most arguments fall, namely liberal-legal, ideological, and sacred. In other words, when we want to argue a certain decision we wither do so in terms of whether it encroaches upon someone else’s rights as a human, their property, etc. (liberal-legal), in the sense that we want to protect a certain ideology as the US has done in its anticommunist regime (ideological), or we feel that we have the right to do so, granted by some sacred authority (sacred). The main point he made was that whilst arguments can fall within these categories, people cannot, for people use a mixture of arguments from these categories to get their point across, various examples of which he cited from Pakistan’s history. Another point he made was that, in recent years, we have seen that arguments have taken a more liberal-legal tone than any other, because liberalism as he pointed out is universal and courts wish to be more universally appropriate.

The talk itself was enrapturing, as was the speaker. Whilst initially I felt completely lost and in out of my depth when I first arrived (not helped by the fact that it was held in the Faculty Lounge, which looks more like a council chamber) and I felt about 99.99% sure that I definitely didn’t belong there, once I actually started paying attention and understanding things, I was nodding along with the rest of the room. It was enlightening to say the least, and it had to really be something for me to want to switch to a degree in political science afterwards.

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