The CZ50 torture
Although engaged in a fierce battle, competitors Mullah Fazlullah and the government of Pakistan offer the same kind of people-unfriendly packages. Both assume the divine role of declaring who is a Muslim and who is not. One does it through the FM radio and the other through a constitutional bill. Both hate children going to school. One uses bombs and the other invites ‘ghosts’ to destroy these institutions. Both wish to enforce their own brand of ‘Sharia’ and both wish to torture the ordinary citizens by all possible means. Selective deduction of ‘zakat’ by the banks is one such instrument by which the government pushes its favourite two point agenda. Dividing its citizens on the basis of their sect / ‘fiqah’ and simultaneously adding to their misery by the use of CZ50 technique of torture. Here is how it works.
Compulsory deduction of ‘zakat’ was a programme launched by Saint ZiaulHaq, after he realized that the people of Pakistan were in urgent need of conversion to Islam. The ‘Shia’ community was quick to detect this fraud and correctly assumed this to be the first step in imposing a particular brand of ‘Sharia’. The government backed down and made a face saving compromise. Any one who could give a duly signed affidavit (written on a judicial paper of Rs 40 and signed by two witnesses) stating that he belonged to the Shia sect was exempted from zakat deduction. Needless to say that millions of ‘Sunnis’, wary of government’s corrupt distribution system and wishing to meet this obligation in their own way, overnight converted themselves into ‘financial Shias’ by making false declaration of sect. Yet Others simply decide to take out their money (which amounts to billions of rupees every year), one day before the 1st of Ramazan, and put it back a day later.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan, on March 9, 1999, gave an interesting judgment. It opened the possibility of exemption from Zakat deduction for any one who could go through the ordeal of producing a judicial affidavit (on a rupees 40 stamp paper) called CZ-50 duly signed by a notary public. This complex sounding torture certificate requires an individual to declare that he belongs to a recognized brand of ‘Fiqah’ and thus is exempted from ‘zakat’ deduction. What is a ‘recognised brand of fiqah’ was left for the state to decide. A state that has little clue on simple issues that are visible even to a child, ( such as the amount of sewage being sent out to rivers and sea and the hundreds of unregistered Prados going around on the roads) has now assumed the additional responsibility of a certification body for Fiqah 9001. Should no one raise the issue that if the Holy prophet of Islam did not belong to any sect or Fiqah, why must his followers be forced by the state to invent one for themselves. The people of Pakistan continue to suffer heavily from daily sectarian militancy and do not need another divisive policy to add fuel to the fire. No one wishes Pakistan to be a state whose transactions with its citizens are based on their sects and ‘fiqahs’. Only a misdirected state, ignorant of its basic function, will choose to regulate and exploit the personal belief and practices of its citizens.
Forcing people to declare their sects and ‘Fiqah’ is a violation of their fundamental rights. Today in banks, tomorrow in schools, and day after while issuing a PIA ticket. There could be no end to this madness. Are there any other banks in the world that require any CZ-50 type affidavits to be signed that force people to declare their religion, sect or Fiqah. Banks must limit their role to the management of money and not the ‘Fiqah’ of their clients. Only if a customer wishes to make a voluntary contribution (Zakat or any other charity), he may authorize the bank to do so in writing. Already burdened by bureaucracy, the people of Pakistan deserve lesser misery in their day to day transactions. The Supreme Court has already acknowledged the right of all Muslims to be exempt from ‘zakat’ deduction by banks. Could the Chief Justice please take one more suo moto notice to further simplify the earlier judgment by declaring the CZ-50 requirement of sect / fiqah declaration as a violation of fundamental right of citizens. The CZ-50 torture machine needs to be dismantled and replaced by simple, non-interfering, and equal-for-all transactions between the state and its ordinary citizens.
July 3, 2009