"Religious minorities are equal citizens and an important integeral part of the Islamic State; their responsibility, honour and dignity rests squarely on the State." Raja Mujtaba
By Brig Samson S Sharaf
Happy Independence Day Pakistan!
You have survived 65 eventful years despite numerous odds. There were sceptics like Schuman who gave you less than 50 years and statesmen like Nehru and Patel who were convinced that Pakistan would fall back to the Indian Union within a decade. You survived the unkindest cut of butchers within, who time and again put you on a dissecting table for constitutional and reformative procedures. You also survived the thugs, opportunists and traitors who drained you of blood and decimated every sinew of your body. Most, you survived the crossroads and cross hairs of international intrigues endemic to your geo strategic location endeared by your parasitic elites. You somehow kept your own.
Gleaming through the prism of optimism I see that as twilight gives way to a new dawn, you are destined to shine defiantly like the jaded green encapsulated in the morning dew, each drop adding to the vigour of the Pakistani nationhood. Some may criticise that these shiny droplets would soon fade away before a rising sun; that dreams within will remain dreams. To them I say, yes they will fade away to rise into the sky and fill the oceans with fury and force. The tide will retract and then rise again taking with it the debris and backwash of yester. It is for us to regulate this energy and sea of emotions.
Why do I have such hope, the temperate will and the vigour of emotions? I am also one of your excluded and exploited people. They are awakening from a slumber induced by expediency. You do not need an externally sponsored Arab Spring. The dawn is already within you. You saw it when Jinnah was your leader. Your people like Rip Van Winkle went into a deep sleep. They are now awake and look to a Pied Piper who will lead them to Jinnah’s Pakistan.
Pakistan’s long journey to freedom betrayed its Founding Father Qaid E Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Creation of Pakistan coincided with the Post World War New World Order. Freedom was a mirage and we changed one master for another. Pre 1947 Colonialism morphed into the post 1947 Neo Colonialism and Neo Imperialism. Soon after Jinnah’s demise, these forces unleashed themselves on Pakistan with full fury to create a security state that willingly met the ends of imperialist policies. Like the Mir Jaffers of Bengal, Pakistan was never short on turncoats ready to sell anything for gains. They willingly disrobed the entire mantle of what we romantically and nostalgically call Jinnah’s Pakistan.
As I wrote on Jinnah’s Birthday in 2010, those who ran the last lap for Pakistan ultimately sacrificed the most. The progressive leaguers were called traitors by the new elites, imprisoned, banished and tortured. Foot sloggers of the movement migrated from far afar on carts, trains and foot. They were not just Muslims but also Schedule Caste Hindus and Christians from West Bengal, South India and Delhi. Majority as events proved tragically, left one ghetto, to create another. They still ask, ‘Has Pakistan come’? Yet, Pakistan will come.
Within the construct of the Two Nation Theory and Lahore Resolution, Jinnah’s Pakistan was an inclusive country with a Muslim majority that would ensure equal treatment; a modern nation-state where people from all walks, ethnicities and beliefs were equal citizens. Constitutionalism and socio-religious fabric thus evolved has ignored the precedence set by Jinnah in appointing Jogendra Nath Mandal and ZafarUllah Khan as ministers with S. M. Burke the most trusted diplomat. As time has passed, the domination of the right over the state leaves no space for interpretation. Scholars and social scientists have failed to dissect Jinnah’s politic body with reference to history, his speeches and decisions.
But this trend is not exclusive to non Muslims. Progressive Leaguers like Faiz, M D Taseer and Mian Ifthikhar (the architects of the Kashmir Resistance) also met the same exclusion. Disillusioned, many gradually moved to the pro Soviet left. As Marxism faded away, rather than readapt the ideology of Jinnah, a host of ex-leftists abandoned ‘utopian’ ideas to join the emerging consensus on liberalism and were heavily rewarded for this switch through lucrative NGOs, think tanks, government positions, and talk shows, writes Ammar Jan. In awe of the rising ultra right, they have distanced themselves from the vision of Jinnah’s Pakistan and look forward to a spring through the framework of US global interests. Rather than the people of Pakistan, this is where they hedge their bets.
Theoretically and constitutionally, Pakistan has embraced the Ideological narrative. In reality, this embrace is cosmetic and exploited to meet the end of exclusion. Rather than Jinnah’s Pakistan, it promotes global political and economic interests. Over half a century ago, anticipating lucrative burses, embracing elites of all segments of Pakistan abandoned Jinnah’s Construct in favour of a liberal capitalist world of free market economy, the mock Afghan Jihad and WOT. None has pursued it more fervently than the current purported leftist governments of PPP/ANP and the right defined by JUIF. This political waltz goes to prove that within the ruling agglomerate of Pakistan, there is no left or right. These elites of elastic conscience never made a choice for Pakistan. What remains are people in a very wide space, awakening from a slumber hounded by ultra rightist whose power flows from the barrel of a gun.
Tragically, Pakistani media has also avoided an objective debate on the real issues. Vitriolic political mudslinging and personal allegations are the norm. Good governance and economics means corruption, kickbacks and laundering. Democracy and rule of law is submerged into an otherwise opaque electoral process. Consequently, the media itself often accused of receiving gratifications has failed to stimulate any informed discourse that reaches into the hearts and minds of the people. Intellectualism is conspicuous by absence.
Pakistan’s universities are also complicit. Despite churning out thousands of research papers and theses annually, none has taken pains to research Jinnah’s Vision of Pakistan and how to meet it. The debate has never moved beyond the tailored scripts of the higher secondary school textbooks. Intellectuals and scholars seldom take pains to reach out to the masses and provide the intellectualism and enlightenment crucial to affecting change. Overawed by their own insecurities and fears, they have joined the status quo ignoring their prime responsibility.
If Pakistan has to become free, reliant and credible in the comity of nations, there is only one choice. The cream of its social capital has to move away from the current themes of fear, short sighted expediency and international political economy. In view of the international linkages, this may be a tall but not an impossible order. A realisation that present narratives in no way improve the life of a common Pakistan is the cornerstone on which this new paradigm can be built. The precursor to a modern Pakistan is reformation from within.
As Pakistan moves into the 66th year of its existence, the way forward ought to be true independence. It is the duty of every Pakistani to move in this direction and forge a new and original social contract for Jinnah’s Pakistan. Only then would we succeed in warding external pressures and intrigues and deny space to the extreme right.