By Umer Ali
Ever since Pakistan came into being, it has faced different challenges of various magnitudes. Right after its creation, Pakistan lost its father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. With his body, the hope for a better, progressive Pakistan was gone as well. After the death of Jinnah, a campaign started which led Pakistan to where it is now – radicalized, intolerant and on the verge of destruction.
Pakistanis are living through lies and myths presented to them. I, like an average Pakistani am confused over what is right and what is wrong. People like me fail to understand, even after 68 years of independence that what was the purpose of creating Pakistan? The answer comes immediately from our textbooks, constitution and the religious right: Pakistan was created so that Muslims were able to practice their religion freely and live peacefully. In simple words, it was created on the model of an ideal Islamic state, where Islam was the supreme binding force.
Doubtful, I went through the history to find out an entirely different answer.
The Jinnah’s speech of 11th August 1947 gave an idea of how he wanted Pakistan to be. He clearly envisaged a state where everyone would be able to practice his/her religion freely, where Muslims would cease to be Muslims and Hindus would cease to be Hindus when it came to the matters of state.
Pakistan consists of various ethnicities, cultures and religions. The first problem Jinnah faced was to choose a national language. Urdu was chosen because the perception was that since Urdu didn’t belong to any particular ethnicity, province or religion, it would be accepted unanimously. Contrary to what was expected, the issue turned out to be divisive as Bengalis started protesting against it. The issue became so grave that it sowed the seeds of Bengali separatism.
After Jinnah died, the constituent assembly decided to play the religion card to curb the increasing ethnic tensions. The Objectives Resolution was passed against the wishes of minorities, terming Islam to be the ruling force. Criticizing its terms, Sris Chandra Chattopadhyaya, the leader of the opposition, said on March 12, 1949:
“In my conception of state where people of different religion live there is no place for religion in the state. Its position must be neutral: no bias for any religion. If necessary, it should help all the religions equally. No question of concession or tolerance to any religion.”
One of the biggest opponents of Pakistan movement, Mudoodi migrated to Pakistan with his extremist ideology and a radical party, Jamat-e-Islami, the Mudoodi who termed Pakistan to be “a fool’s paradise” and “an infidel state of Muslims”. Along with him, the likes of Ataullah Shah Bukhari, who used to call Pakistan “Palidistan” (the land of impure) also shifted to Pakistan. The Objectives resolution provided them with a cover to popularize their radical agendas and only 6 years after its creation, a nationwide, violent movement, incited by these radical parties started with the demand of declaring the Ahmaddiya community as non-Muslims. The riots resulted in 3 months of martial law and deaths of hundreds of people.
In 1974, when Ahmedis were officially declared a non-Muslim minority, Bhutto, a known socialist, who was a liberal in his personal space, was the prime minister. Even in 1977, when “Tehreek-nizam-Mustafa”, the movement for the implementation of prophetic system was at its peak, Bhutto began Islamizing the country even more. Zia, a notorious military dictator took this process to another level by enforcing a strict version of Islam under the supervision of Saudi scholars, which led to the rise of extremist groups like Sipah-e-sahabah.
Today, Pakistan has been radicalized to such an extent that not a day passes when someone is killed due to his faith, when a fatwa is decreed to declare someone a non-Muslim or a mob lynches someone to death over suspected blasphemy. We need to determine what went wrong?
Until 1946, it was not certain that Pakistan would come into being. Until then, Jinnah had accepted the proposal of forming a Muslim majority group under the central government of Delhi. After its creation, Pakistan was faced with an identity crisis. An identity for the newly born country was needed to distinguish itself from India. People on both sides have been living together since centuries and it was difficult to part them off. An effort to rewrite the history was sponsored by the state, to identify Pakistan as a totally different nation from India.
To do so, history was manipulated to an unbelievable extent.
While there were extremists on both sides, who agitated every now and then, Hindus and Muslims, had been living together for more than a thousand years. In the textbooks and official history of Pakistan, the impression was made that both communities were at war with each other. For that purpose, the invaders like Muhammad bin Qasim, Mahmood Ghaznavi and Muhammad Ghauri were glorified as heroes who attacked the subcontinent to propagate Islam. Akbar was presented as a villain because he married a Hindu woman and tried to include them in his ruling circle. On the other hand, Aurangzeb was referred to as a hero for his extremist views and his “services” to Islam, completely ignoring the fact that he murdered his brothers and put his father in jail to empower his rule. Hindus were identified to be our eternal enemies. Likes of Sheikh Ahmed Sirhindi and Shah Waliullah were taught as great scholars due to their anti-Hindu stance, again forgetting their views regarding the Shia sect of Islam, thus increasing the sectarian tensions in the society.
Since the start, India has been identified as our eternal enemy and our foreign policy has always revolved around the anti-Indian stance. The wars we fought with India have been glorified as Jihad and a dangerous misconception has been developed in our children that Pakistan won those wars. The blame for the separation of East Pakistan has been entirely put on India that it was due to their conspiracies that we lost a part of Pakistan. Our young generation has been criminally kept devoid of the knowledge on mistakes we committed in Bengal and why they revolted against us.
The governments have systematically manipulated our history to cover their mistakes and flaws and in a desperate attempt of distinguishing ourselves from India, they have kept our young breed away from the true facts, resulting in confusion among my generation of who we were, who we are and what our future would be.
Umer Ali is a student of journalism.