Sunday, May 10, 2015

Pakistan was Created for Indian Muslims and not for Islam

May 10, 2015
By Saeed Qureshi

The founder of Pakistan, Quaid-e- Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s fundamental principal of religious tolerance in the new state of Pakistan was set aside by the opportunists and anarchist politicians who could not make a constitution for a pretty long time. 

The Pakistan's nomenclature emphasizes Islamic Republic which even the Saudi Arabia as the bastion and birth place of Islam does not use. It is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and not the Islamic Republic or the state of Medina which the fundamentalist Muslims and radical religious parties want to create in Pakistan.

Quaid-e-Azam did not want an orthodox religious state and that is why on August 11, 1947 in his inaugural address to the first Constituent Assembly he categorically elucidated that, “You may belong to any religion or caste or creed—that has nothing to do with the business of the State. You will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State”.

During the struggle for an independent state for the Muslims in the Indian sub-continent, Jamaat-e-Islami opposed its emergence tooth and nail under the leadership of its founder Maulana  Maudoodi who disdainfully dubbed Pakistan as “Na- Pakistan”. But after the establishment of Pakistan on August 14, 1947, the JI and its arch protagonists hastened to move the party’s headquarters lock stock and barrel, from India to Pakistan. Their plan was to launch a vigorous and unstinted campaign for an Islamic government in a country they never wanted to come into being. 
The Jamaat-Islami raised the slogan “Pakistan Ka Matlib Kia, La Ilaha Allallah” or “The purpose of Pakistan is that there is no other ruler than God”. Later in 1977 during the PNA's anti- Bhutto movement spearheaded mainly by the Islamic parties, another motto “Nizam-e Mustafa” was coined that meant that the “implementation of the “Governance system of Prophet Muhammad in Pakistan”. The religious right groups have all along wanted to turn Pakistan into a theocratic state under Sunni Shariah.

They systemically resorted to strikes, sloganeering, pamphleteering, and public and corner meetings and thus created the unremitting turmoil, chaos and unrest in the society. With an army of committed youth from the educational institutions, JI launched a movement to Islamize Pakistan. The nationalists or the secularists were pushed back.

With the onslaught of JI, the other religious outfits jumped into the fray for the establishment of an orthodox caliphate in line with their peculiar Islamic system. All these conservative religious outfits plunged Pakistan into a turmoil and religious war that continues until now and that culminated in the victory of the fundamentalist Islamic forces.

A secular leader Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had to backtrack from his agenda of secularism and a mandate to craft Pakistan as a modern state. When in dire straits and in a bid to come out of that , he submitted to the dictates of the religious groups by banning use of liquor, ban of night clubs and horse racing the hallmarks of a free and modern society etc.

That was a shameful volte-face of a leader who was looked upon as the architect of a tolerant, egalitarian, democratic, modern state and proponent of a civil society. Still he was not forgiven by the opposition and later had to pay the price with his life at the hands of a fanatic dictator Ziaul-Haq who submerged Pakistan into a sea of draconian Shariah laws which could be enforced only in a society of the Middle Ages.

With this background, I would raise and analyze the moot question. The question is: was Pakistan fought for to protect Islam or to safeguards the political identity of the Muslims of the subcontinent as a nation? If it were the question of protecting and preserving Islam then should we imply that Islam was in danger to be obliterated in the new state of Pakistan? If it was not in danger during the British colonial rule, why it was perceived to be in jeopardy in a Muslim majority state?

Unfortunately, Islam has been painted by the religious preachers to be always in danger and suppressed or wiped off by the religious adversaries? Islam as a religion is not confined to Pakistan nor it ought to be exclusively Pakistan’s responsibility to protect it. It has been there for 15 centuries and is practiced in more than fifty Islamic and non- Islamic countries.

Has Pakistan after the promulgation of Islamic Shariah, been cast in the mold of an ideal and peaceful Islamic state? The answer to this question is emphatically in negative.  How long the Mullas and religious demagogues keep be-fooling the people and crusading for enforcement of Islamic Shariah which is already in place but has proven to be futile and out of sync with the imperatives of the modern civil societies. 

Pragmatically, is it not prudent to separate religion and state? It would be rather rational to keep the religious obligations confined to the individual practices? Pakistan can have mosques, religious seminaries, an agreed religious code but no coercion or sectarian strife.
The Islamization of Pakistan led to the unhindered proliferation of militant groups, religious seminaries, thousands of more mosques and millions of Mullas rampaging and frightening the people in the name of wrath of God. In the aftermath of involvement of Pakistan in Western prompted anti-Soviet Union war, the element of religious militancy is now assailing Pakistan through a crusade aimed at Islamizing this country.

The religious sects in Islam have never converged on religious armistice or consensus on one brand of Islam. As such the mayhem continues by such extremist militants and various bands of Taliban as Al-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and other assortment of myopic religious marauders.

Now we watch in Pakistan religious factions spawning a culture of organized crime through serial killers, suicide bombers, mass murderers, and heartless barbarians. They fearlessly resort to bashing of women, minority sects, bank robberies, extortion of money and similar crimes against humanity and their own countrymen. They have unleashed a reign of terror to force people to toe their narrow religious ideologies factually far from the real Islam.

 The religious and sectarian discords in the Islamic state of Pakistan have been destroying the unity of Muslims and debilitating Pakistan in all manners. In India, primarily a Hindu majority state, the Sunnis and Shias and other sects don’t indulge in sectarian feuds and killings of each other.

The sectarian strife has not only divided the Pakistani society but also has blocked its emergence as a modern egalitarian democratic state. As such the enforcement of Islamic code destroyed the peace and harmony and undermined the steady progress and prosperity of Pakistan.

The faith is fundamentally safeguarded by the individuals and not by states. Countless Islamic dynasties have perished in history but the faith was still carried on by the faithful. It means the system of government hardly matters in promoting a religion unless it is a rigid fanatic religious state. Had Pakistan pursued a secular pattern with freedom of religion as we see in the United States and other contemporary states; it would have flowered into religious pluralism and peaceful sectarian coexistence.

The oppression from the majority sects leads to anarchy and is negation of the cosmopolitan articles of faith practiced by prophet of Islam and enshrined in the Islamic teachings. Islam can be declared as a state religion but it should not imply that others have to convert to Islam or live as lesser equals. The example is that in India, the West Europe and America, the faith or sectarian based clashes have seldom been witnessed. There may be Christians in majority but they would not force others to convert to their religion.

Barring a few countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, Tunisia, Morocco, Jordan, otherwise in many Islamic societies, one of which is Pakistan, the religious fanatics kill and brutalize the believers of other religions and denominations. In the Middle East, particularly in Iraq and Syria, there has been a constant antagonism between the two major Islamic sects namely Sunnis and Shias for centuries. Have all the Shias perished or else Sunnis turned into minority?

The regional conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran has torn the Muslims apart into Arab and Ajam. Then which Muslim unity are we Muslims dreaming about? There has never been religious tolerance in Islamic society barring 700 years secular rule in Spain where Muslims, Jews and Christians lived together in peace and mutual harmony.

Pakistan can emerge as a vibrant modern state with a robust civil society if any government can suppress the sectarian animosity and hatred; fetter the sway of hordes of ignorant inciters from the pulpit. Additionally, the cults promoting false sainthood, shamanism, grave worship, deities, spirits, astrologists, psychic readers, fortune tellers, soothsayers, witch doctors, mediums, and talisman and so on. I t might be tall order but it is indispensable for the survival and solidarity of Pakistan and for the emergence of a peaceful, progressive and enlightened civil society.
The writer is a senior journalist, former editor of Diplomatic Times and a former diplomat.This and other articles by the writer can also be read at his blog

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