By: Tariq Ali
Suicide bombings, death, destruction and carnage on a monumental scale. Murder and mayhem across the length and breadth of the country with no sign of let up or relief. Senior army officers targeted in broad daylight in the heart of the federal capital.The audacity, vicious nature and cruelty of the onslaught increasing with each passing day. Is this the Muslim homeland envisaged by the founding fathers? Certainly not! Jinnah’s vision of his creation was negated and nullified with the adoption of the Objectives Resolution shortly after his death in 1949.
Who can deny the immortal words of our Quaid-i-Azam, when he made it crystal clear on 11th of August 1947 “You may belong to any religion, caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of state” and again in February 1948 when he reiterated “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.” Contrary to all the advice of the Quaid, sixty two years later we are being told that Pakistan is to be a theocracy governed by the madrassa elite on a utopian concept that they call the Nizam-l-Sharia as dictated by the likes of Sufi Mohammed and his numerous supporters and sympathizers in the country. Today we are held in the vicious grip of religious bigotry, and the country has been held hostage by the forces of religious intolerance, fanaticism and obscurantism.
What exactly did the “Sole Spokesman” of the Muslims of the sub-continent want for the country he created after tremendous sacrifice and struggle? An interesting consequence of the deliberate state-organized campaign of misinformation and disinformation was that Our younger generation and ordinary Pakistanis were bombarded with the false propaganda that Jinnah was in fact in favor of a theocracy! Many of Jinnah’s quotations and speeches denouncing the concept of a theocratic state had been very cleverly distorted or concealed from the public during the Zia regime. Vile dictator, that Zia was, even had the audacity to change the famous motto of Jinnah from “Unity, Faith, and Discipline” to “Faith, Unity and Discipline” Any student of our freedom movement cannot deny the fact that Jinnah had envisioned Pakistan as a secular but Muslim majority country.
All the frontline leaders of the freedom movement were British educated secular Muslims. Jinnah, Liaquat, Nazim-ud-Din, Suhrwardy, Bogra, Raja Sahab Mehmudabad, Qazi Isa, Khaliq-uz-zaman and many more who were in the vanguard of the freedom movement never ever mentioned or even hinted that Pakistan is going to be theocracy to be ruled by the Mullahs. Fundamentalist Muslim leaders of the era were staunchly opposed to the concept of Pakistan. Deobandi scholars and leaders of the Jamat-i-Islami went to the extent of giving the title of Kafir-i-Azam to the Quaid-i-Azam. Religious forces opposed Jinnah and his colleagues they fought tooth and nail to prevent the establishment of Pakistan yet today they want to own this country and impose their own brand of Sharia and enslave this country in the cruel grip of a religious dictatorship.
No Muslim can deny the supremacy of the Quran and Sunnah but let us not forget that the people of Pakistan have been fooled and taken for a ride many a times in the past, in the name of religion. Bhutto made use of the slogan of Islamic Socialism and General Zia-ul-Haque hoodwinked the people with his personal brand of Pristine Islam in order to prolong his questionable dictatorship. Now we have the creeping menace of the Taliban tightening their grip on the country with each passing day. Our leaders need to be reminded that the immediate threat to the very existence of our country is from the religious fanatics and all patriotic forces need to unite to combat this approaching horror. Those of our leaders who intentionally or unintentionally are aiding and abetting the Taliban need a refresher course in recent history. They need to be reminded that since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in 1996 (ironically with the blessings of the Pakistani establishment) they became a potent and lethal threat to women, democracy, tolerance, education and human rights. They have now extended their cruel and insidious tentacles into Pakistan. They have mercilessly slaughtered people opposed to their version of Islam. Turned the fair valley of Swat into a living hell. Women and journalists have borne the brunt of their oppressive and brutal rule. Simply announcing the rule of Sharia will not bring about any miracles. Different Islamic sects have their own version of Sharia. What version are these Islamic zealots proposing to impose upon us?
Time is here for all patriotic forces to band together and demand the return of Jinnah’s Pakistan. This country has to be rescued from the insidious conspiracy of trying to turn this state into a land of religious bigotry and fanaticism. Jinnah’s Pakistan is a country full of hope, optimism, and security. It is the land of our dreams. Jinnah’s Pakistan was created to enable all its citizens to live in peace, harmony and religious tolerance. Jinnah struggled to protect and nurture the cultural values of the Muslims of the sub-continent and not for imported values of an archaic and alien Arabic culture. Jinnah’s Pakistan was created to protect the lives, properties and culture of the Muslims. Jinnah dedicated his life for the preservation of equal rights of men and women, so that they could live in a land free of prejudice and discrimination. Jinnah’s Pakistan was not created to be a safe haven for terrorists. Never in his wildest dreams did the father of the nation thought of creating “Strategic assets” that have now became strategic liabilities or rather strategic horrors.
Pakistani society of today is in desperate need of social justice and elimination of corruption. A modern, progressive, vibrant and welfare society is one which allows the individual to breathe, develops its human resources, lays emphasis on morality and ethics, stresses the importance of education and removes the impediments to individual progress and prosperity. This was the dream and objective of the Quaid-i-Azam. He wanted Pakistan to be developed as a modern, progressive, secular democracy adhering to the principles of fairplay and social justice. Unfortunately immediately after the demise of Mohammed Ali Jinnah Pakistan became a victim of intolerant and fundamentalist religious forces who disowned the principles of secular democracy. Our very own religious fanatics misinterpreted secularism as a principle that was opposed to religion. They very conveniently forgot that it defined the separation of the state and religion but fully respected and protected the freedom to practice one’s beliefs. Our National leaders and those in authority need to wake up and realize the gravity of the situation and save this country from becoming another failed state ending up on the dust heap of history.
If Pakistan has to survive it just cannot do without upholding the lofty principles and guidelines provided to us by that giant of an intellectual, a great visionary and our founding father Quaid-i-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah. The need of the hour is that every Pakistani should demand: I want Jinnah’s Pakistan!