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Pakistan: Country without Destination
Nov 2015

The last hundred years of  Indian history (1906-2006) can be neatly divided into two periods. The first forty years, between the formation of the Muslim League in 1906 and the emergence of Pakistan in 1947, saw the struggle between the Indian National Congress demanding a free and a united India and the Muslim League's insistence on the division of India.  Eventually, M.A. Jinnah won and Pakistan came into being in August 1947.  The second period, that is between 1947-2006 was marked by Congress party rule headed by Nehru-Gandhi family. In this period, the Indian leadership saw to it that no one wrote or talked about the vivisection of India. It was a taboo to write about Hindu-Muslim relations.  

In Pakistan, on the other hand the creation of a separate homeland for the Indian Muslims was a subject of every day discussion for more than one reason:  Firstly, Muslim … had ruled large parts of India for centuries.  Secondly, while Hindu India got freedom from the British rule, Muslims not only achieved freedom but also a separate homeland by vivisecting India, Thirdly, Indian leaders (Gandhi and Nehru) also allowed the Muslims to stay on in India as if India was a personal fiefdom of Gandhi and Nehru. 
Pakistani scholars wrote volumes on the issue and even today not a year passes when a book does not appear on the subject of the Islamic State of Pakistan. The latest attempt is by the wellknown scholar Ayesha Jalal entitled The Struggle For Pakistan (Harvard University Press, 2014). Miss Jalal aptly sums up the present problem of Pakistan in the following words: Pakistan is a visibly perturbed and divided nation. Its people are struggling to find an answer to the mother of all questions: What sort of Pakistan do they want along a spectrum of choices, ranging from an orthodox, religious state to a modern, enlightened one?

The Muslim League demand for Pakistan was based on the hypothesis that Hindus and Muslims constitute two separate nations, each entitled to a separate and exclusive homeland where they would be free to develop their cultures, traditions, religions and policies. On any other premise, the division of India would have been indefensible. On the question where exactly the boundaries would be drawn between the two, M.A. Jinnah was evasive. He dodged the issue by promising protection and rights of citizenship to the minorities but the nature of his demand for a separate homeland for the sub-continental Muslims was wholly inconsistent with this kind of promise.  How could millions of foreigners (Hindus in Pakistan) acquire rights of citizenship and equal status with the nationals of Pakistan; and if they could, why divide India? Why not let Muslims continue as nationals of India? Mr. Jinnah could find no answer to these questions and he was finally compelled to suggest an exchange of population observes Justice G.D Khosla.

The creation of Pakistan is 1947 was the twentieth-century actualization of Islam as a social ideal. It is a monumental development of contemporary Islamic history. An Islamic State is not a form of a state so much as a form of Islam. Islam, as a living force in world history, is carried by the Muslims; their art is its art, their theology is its theology. The Muslims of India, by their struggle through the Muslim League, in 1947 gave the political power.  In short, the whole raison detre of the state was Islam; it was Islam that first brought it into being, and that continues to give it meaning. The purpose of setting up the state was to enable Muslims to take up once again the task of implementing their faith also in the political realm. Those who complain about the Islamisation of Pakistan particularly with the advent of military rule under General Zia-ul-Haq forget that the Objective Resolution adopted by the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on March 12,1949.  While introducing it Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, said: The state is not to play the part of a neutral observer, wherein the Muslims may be merely free to profess and practice their religion, because such an attitude on the part of the state would be the very negation of the ideals which prompted the demand of Pakistan, and it is these ideals which should be the cornerstone of the state which we want to build. The state will create such conditions as are conducive to the building up of a truly Islamic society, which means that the state will have to play a positive part in this effort. It is the intention here involved that is decisive. It is a state through which the Muslim's purpose is to live or rule as a Muslim. It there is an ideal Islamic state, then an actual Islamic state is one that tends towards- In sum, a state is Islamic in actuality if it aims at becoming Islamic ideally.  
Muslim history has given perfect intellectual expression to the faith. Islamic history is a record of Muslims who have been utterly influenced by Islam as an ideal.  To set up an Islamic state was the beginning and not the end. Medina State established by the Holy Prophet was an ideal to follow.
Pakistan was an actual Islamic state when it was established in 1947, by virtue of the intention to make an ideal Islamic state. An actual Islamic state is a state that its people are trying to make ideally Islamic.  A Muslim's conviction is that God determines what is good and what is evil.  A Muslim is one who submits not to Islam but to Allah. This ultimately is what is meant by the much discussed opening remark of the Objective Resolution, 1949, retained as the opening sentence of the 1956 Constitution:  Sovereignty over the entire universe belongs to Allah Almighty alone.  In Urdu language it would translate to : Allah al-hakim al - mutlaq.
Professor Wilfred Cantwell Smith, visited Pakistan in early 1950's and came out with his volume Islam in Modern History (Princeton University Press, 1957) writes: the crucial question that Pakistan faces, therefore, is not simply whether or not it is to be Islamic. The fundamental question of immediate consequence is rather, within the framework of Islam, what its actual human judgments are to be. That Pakistan is Islamic is given; its interpretation of Islam is the responses of persons who are free.
Formally, the 1956 Constitution laid down justiciable Fundamental Rights for all citizens. In a democracy, the requisite treatment of minority is not merely a defined justice but what that minority will freely regard as justice.  The challenge to the Pakistani Muslims on this score was a real one. It has not become at all clear whether they can meet one. This is what was observed by Professor Cantwell Smith 60 years ago. The present position is expressed by Miss Jalal in the following words: Once Pakistan came into being, the place of religion in state ideology was a question that had to be faced squarely. In early 1948, M. A. Jinnah while addressing the people of the United States of America had observed: Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic state to be ruled by priests with a divine mission.  We have many non-Muslims- Hindus, Christians and Parsis-but they are all Pakistanis. They will enjoy the same rights and privileges as any other citizens and will play their rightful part in the affairs of Pakistan. Pakistani rulers after the death of Jinnah have not shown any respect or regard for non-Muslim minorities. Their population has been going down from year to year. Most of them have been persecuted on religious grounds. But it should be recognized that Islam divides humanity into momins and kafirs. The treatment meted to non-Muslims is therefore in consonance with the tenets of Islam. The question of according equal treatment to non-Muslims therefore does not arise. Thus what General Zia-ul Haq did was in line with tenets of the Holy Books of Islam.
The imposition of martial rule was pioneered by General Ayub Khan. It was fine-tuned by Generals Yahya Khan and Zia-ul-Haq and Musharraf Nawaz Sharif, who was the Prime Minister was dismissed in 1999. No street demonstrations were held to protest the fourth bloodless coup by the army that had ruled the country for twenty-five years during the fifty-two years since Independence.  In this context, Miss Jalal quotes the New York Times editorial: Dangerous coup in Pakistan-cause for alarm in South Asia and the rest of the world. The editorial went on to observe that a newly armed nuclear power with a history of wars and internal upheavals, Pakistan into  military rule under General Musharraf, who had earlier shown an initiative to be confrontational with India, had again made the subcontinent one of the most dangerous places in the world. 
Come 1979, and Pakistan went under military rule for the third time under General Zia-ul-Haq. Earlier Ayub Khan had ruled for over II years and Zia-ul-Haq regime also lasted about the same period. Taking the first step at Islamization, General Zia introduced a constitutional amendment whereby High Courts were asked to establish Shariat Benches to determine whether a law was repugnant to Islam.  He introduced interest-free banking, gave differential weights to the testimony of Muslims, non-Muslims and Muslim women.  Discrimination on the basis of religion and gender made a mockery of justice.
The self-styled vice-regent of Allah was undeterred by these awkward truths. The production, distribution, and consumption of alcohol and narcotics were banned and made punishable by lashing and imprisonment. The requirement of two credible male witnesses made enforcement of the full punishment difficult, and so lighter sentences were permitted. Those charged with theft or robbery risked amputation of the right hand up to the wrist for the first offence and the left foot up to the ankle in case of a second offence. Here again the strict standards of evidence necessitated the award of lighter punishment of a jail sentence. By far the most egregious of Zia's initial volley of Islamic laws were the Hudood (literally limit or restriction) ordinances introduced on February,10,1979 specifically targeting women. The Zina ordinance obscured the distinction between adultery and rape.  Anyone accused of adultery (zina), even in the case of rape, was liable to be stoned to death. An act of fornication was punishable by one hundred whips in a public place.  These acts had to be attested by four male witnesses, an absurd requirement that provided plenty of scope for the privileged to avoid punishment.  Downtrodden women bore the brunt of this injudicious and inhuman law.
They were the other victims of the state of martial rule's turn to piety. The representation of the People's Act of 1976 was amended, stripping minorities of the right to vote in general constituencies. Paradoxically, none of the minorities had ever demanded separate electorates.  Using retrograde and implausible methods to keep the lid from boiling over was to become the leitmotif of Zia's regime.  
"Islamization" aimed at perpetuating the junta by manipulating Islamic sentiments. It was also a convenient way to appease the religio-political parties, eager to make the most of the regime's ideological predilections.  Although personally inclined toward Mawdudi's idea of the Islamic state, Zia had to strike a delicate balance between the imperatives of office and his own institutional support base on the one hand and the conflicting demands of the Islamist parties on the other.  While applauding Zia's "Islamization" policies, the Islamist parties were insistent on elections.  An early reference to the electorate, the removal of all constraints on political activity, and the introduction of an Islamic system.

Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee was the only Indian leader who had told the Indian Prime Minister in early 1950s that the Hindus had no future in Pakistan. In November, 1952 he said the following in the Lok Sabha: What are the basic factors of this movement from one country to another? First of all, as we all realize, there is the very conception of the Pakistan State. Pakistan was born out of hatred of Hindus and of India. Although it was thought that the makers of Pakistan would be able to settle down and think in terms of the development of their country keeping an atmosphere of goodwill with India, those expectations have been belied. The creation of a homogeneous Islamic State was the principal aim of the founder of Pakistan and those who have succeeded him have carried that ideal into execution. Hindus have been deprived of their rights in every sphere, social, cultural, economic, religious and political. They are treated as zimmis. I remember I saw a number of Congress leaders and especially Gandhiji, and some of us begged of him to appreciate the real point of view. Whether it would be possible for the minorities to live in Pakistan, in view of the circumstances under which that new country was taking its birth.  And we suggested a planned exchange of population at governmental level as part of the partition scheme. He (Gandhi) was not willing to accept it. The other Congress leaders were not willing to accept it because their viewpoint was that what they were agreeing to was, not communal division of India but, a territorial division of India.
It was once said, that I was a warmonger, and am I going to take charge of East Bengal?  That was not indeed my remedy. I always quote bigger names in support of the remedies. That was a remedy which Gandhiji suggested. Raj Kumari Amrit Kaur would remember that.  She and I saw him a few weeks before his death. We were discussing this question. He came out with fire in his eyes. He said: we did not agree to the partition of India for this terrible problem of rehabilitation causing misery to millions of people: it was on a certain fundamental basis: the minorities must be protected: they must live in their won homeland; no question of their being turned out as beggars. What was his remedy? He said: let India play her part; you protect the minorities; let not one man be turned out from here: then turn towards Pakistan and say, we have fulfilled our part, but you have not; it becomes a world problem; it becomes a moral problem.  The words which he uttered are ringing in my ears.  He said: if Pakistan fails to do so, if there is no other remedy, you must take charge of East Bengal; let government take charge and protect the people. He added: I cannot join the war; I do not believe in it; but I will bless you that you have the moral courage for it. This is what Gandhiji had told Dr. Mookerjee and Raj Kumari Amrit Kaur.
Miss Jalal goes on to say: Fears of Afghan and Indian intervention in the NWFP, Balochistan, and, prior to 1971, also in the eastern wing imposed a feverish narrative of security in which defending the national borders justified, ruthless supression of political dissent. Pakistan's willingness to join US sponsored security pacts aimed at staving off India had a decisive bearing on the military's ascent to power. An insecurity complex based on fears of Indian hegemony facilitated  the military's dominance over civilian institutions and has been the main reason for the faltering struggle to constitute a viable fedral system consistent with the democratic aspiration of its different regions.
The paradox of the much wanted homeland for the sub-continent's Muslims becoming a veritable killing field of Islam is attributable in the first instance, to the strategic and economic consequences of India's antipathy against Pakistan. The primary lesson to emerge from Pakistan's history is that democratic traditions after a period of military rule are inherently messy and reversible. A constitutional change from the civilian government to another is a necessary but insufficient condition to bring about a decisive shift in the civil-military equations. The army continues to shape foreign and defense policies and has the ultimate say in internal security matters… It will take decades of an unbroken process of democratic politics in which governments are voted in and voted out of power before civilians can match the clout of their military counter parts.
Cantwell Smith concludes his study of Pakistan thus: Pakistan will flourish as a secular state only if its Muslims are able to persuade themselves that the truly Islamic state is a secular one. For the secularists dilemma is not only that Pakistanis do not have a set of religious ideas by which they can run their nation. They also do not have a set of religious ideas that would approve of their running it on some other basis.


April 2017


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