And the threat religious bigots pose to the state
As we leave behind apprehensions regarding the possible ides of March, on the 23rd of March in 1940 All-India Muslim League adopted what has come to be known as Lahore Resolution laying pathway to Pakistan, we need to ponder profoundly as to how we have come to a pass that shrouds our future under a shadow of uncertainty despite the fact that we shall be soon completing decade of democracy by vote.
However, scary is the ongoing tug-of-war on the political front between a judicially disqualified prime minister and the establishment. With the dawn of electoral democracy in 2008 following the supreme sacrifice in blood given by martyred Benazir Bhutto, we find ourselves once again at a critical juncture.
Whether one calls it judicial activism or praetorian pragmatism opposed to Punjabi chauvinism led by the former Prime Minister and his fire-brand daughter, a tug-of-war is on in its various manifestations.
Notwithstanding the fact that Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa has repeatedly assured no threat to democracy from him, the latest interpretation of Bajwa Doctrine by select pen pushers makes one itchy of it.
As soon as Jinnah left the Assembly Chambers for the Governor General’s House, the plot to subvert his dream was put in action. His historic speech was subjected to the first ever censorship in Pakistan
One would rather believe in his assertion that no harm would come to democracy from the army it was time to lend a sane ear to his advice that democracy is not only a game of getting elected but also dispensation of good governance within the parameters of the Constitution, rule of law and the exercise of sovereignty through Parliament. In the given vicious atmosphere with volleys being fired at the judiciary by PML-N activists, General Bajwa’s commitment to stand by the judiciary is perhaps a correct institutional stance.
Recalling the 23rd March dream one regretfully notes that whatever its founding fathers wanted Pakistan to be — it has been further waylaid and is under threat of being converted into a theocratic state if the mainstreaming of extremists is allowed.
Instead of moving on the agenda of establishing an egalitarian, liberal, progressive and secular Pakistan, there seems to be a deliberate design to unleash myopic forces of bigotry as clearly reflected in the sinister name of the game — a multi-faceted exercise in deception. First MML and now General Pervez Musharraf’s MMA reborn with Labaik Party providing the steam—run up to elections seem dreary.
I should have confined this article to March 23 Lahore Resolution, however, the situation is more alarming and threats to Quaid’s Pakistan are multiplying in dangerous magnitudes—from sublime to the ridiculous.
Even the Quaid is not being spared of the conversion brush. Short of claiming that he was one of the alleged founding fathers of Jamaat-e-Islami, its current leadership and the Ahraris mischievously do not hesitate to brand him as a fellow traveller on their gravy train.
Religious halfwits crusading against Quaid’s two-nation theory are hell bent on Talibanisation under the cover of the Punjabi-brand of Nazaria-e-Pakistan. The most dangerous development is emergence of so-called academics that question Quaid’s secular politics and claim that he was a sort of Maudoodi’s follower.
Recalling the 23rd March dream one regretfully notes that whatever its founding fathers wanted Pakistan to be — it has been further waylaid and is under threat of being converted into a theocratic state if the mainstreaming of extremists is allowed
What has added religious overtones to Pakistan’s post partition politics is the guilt complex of the Punjabi elite who are aware of the despicable role of their pro-British forefathers in helping the British with troops to quash Revolt of 1857 and to oppose the creation of Pakistan until the last minute. The heirs to this mindset have been doing their utmost to establish that Jinnah was not what he actually was.
Two-nation theory — what it was and what it meant for us, would need a profound discussion, what is the need of the hour is to save the enormous democratic gains. The conspiracy to subvert Quaid’s Pakistan started as early as 11th of August 1947.
In his inaugural address as President to the mother Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, he had laid bare his ideals of Pakistan in these words: It shall be a liberal democratic state; In it religion shall have nothing to do with the business of the state; All its citizens—irrespective of their caste, creed, colour or gender—shall be equal; Hindus would cease to be Hindus, and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is a personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State.
As soon as he left the Assembly Chambers for the Governor General’s House, the plot to subvert his dream was put in action. His historic speech was subjected to the first ever censorship in Pakistan. As per the wishes of the Secretary General of the government, it was officially ensured that the fundamentals of his speech as stated above were deleted from the text.
During General Zia’s martial law when even to report the truth was an offence. If newspapers quoted from August 11, 1947 speech, it would be censored. Not only that, all government publications deleted it from their record. However, thanks to Benazir Bhutto who as prime minister in 1989 ordered its recovery from the archives and assigned Attorney General Yahya Bakhtiar to have a complete book of post-partition speeches of the Quaid printed and have it widely distributed both internally and externally.
If one were to go by the often heard foul language of the religious leaders used in their speeches (as of 24/7 during the Faizabad dharna), the future of Pakistan would no doubt look bleak, unless there is a collective national effort to revive Quaid’s concept of nation-state emphasising tolerance, accommodation and peaceful co-existence leaving religion alone as a private affair. This should reflect in the pluralistic composition of Pakistani society, rather than monolithic visions of religious community that are allied to a concept of a unitary garrison state.