When did Pakistan change from being a liberal country to a fundamentalist one?

Pakistan emerged out of a Muslim nationalist movement organised around the group identity of the Muslims of British India

It was led not by cultural relativists in flowing robes, but by modern Muslim men and women, most of whom felt that they could reconcile their faith with modernity

Jinnah’s objectives in any event were to create a united Muslim voting bloc within united India and his demand for a Muslim majority federation was more of a maximum demand he did not expect to be realised

Jinnah had no truck with the millennial ambitions of certain sections of Muslims who imagined Pakistan to be an Islamic utopia

He repeatedly shot those ideas down, asking his comrade and fellow Shia Raja of Mahmudabad if he had taken leave of his senses by advocating an Islamic state from Muslim League’s platform, suggesting that if what Raja was saying would be followed, “Consequences would be a struggle of religious opinion from the very inception of the State leading to its very dissolution

” Jinnah then told him categorically that Pakistan “would not be an Islamic state” but a “liberal democratic Muslim state

” Critics of the Pakistan movement, like Venkat Dhulipala, who want to deliberately ascribe a religious motive for Pakistan often quote Raja of Mahmudabad’s utterances but fail to mention Jinnah’s response, because their entire thesis would fall flat on its face if they would

It is not often appreciated that the realisation of Pakistan in 1947 and partition of Punjab and Bengal came as a shock to Jinnah and his colleagues who had not really expected Congress to ever agree to a division of India

Now came the hard part – laying the foundations of the new state

On August 11th, 1947, Jinnah made his vision plain

It was to be state where religion of an individual would be a private matter between him and God and where, in due course of time, “Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in a religious sense for that is the personal faith of an individual, but in a political sense” As a citizens of the state and where angularities of majority and minority would vanish

It is a searing irony that we celebrate this day as “Minorities Day” when Jinnah envisaged a Pakistan where there would be no distinction between majorities and minorities

Choosing his first cabinet, Jinnah picked Jogindranath Mandal, a scheduled caste Hindu lawyer from Bengal, as Pakistan’s first law minister

 It was the same Mandal he had chosen to represent Muslims in the interim government of India in 1946 and the same Mandal who presided over the inaugural session of Pakistan’s constituent assembly

As far as symbolism goes, this was as clear as it got

A scheduled caste Hindu could represent 90 million Muslims, a scheduled caste Hindu could preside over the inaugural session of the largest Muslim majority state of its time, and a scheduled caste Hindu could be the law minister in that state, because the state that Jinnah envisaged would be a modern and liberal democracy not a theocracy to be run by priests with a divine mission

With these beginnings, how did we go wrong? The truth is that Jinnah was an exception in even the ostensibly secular liberal Muslim elite around him

There was in Jinnah still the erstwhile secular Congressman of the pre-1921 era who believed in Hindu Muslim unity and a secular polity – a veritable civic nationalist who believed in a secular Pakistani identity

Lacking Jinnah’s clarity on Pakistan’s civic nationalism, Liaquat Ali Khan and other Muslim Leaguers, soon after Jinnah’s death, promoted the ‘Objectives Resolution’ which was seen as a compromise between the liberal opinion and the religious opinion

If one analyses the Objectives Resolution, it becomes clear that Pakistan’s rulers were searching to find a reason for why Pakistan was created in the first place

This reason, they lazily concluded, was the establishment of an Islamic order

To be fair to them though, their understanding of this Islamic order was at variance to how Abu Ala Maududi and Shabbir Ahmad Usmani understood it

Liaquat Ali Khan, Abdur Rab Nishtar and Sir Zafrullah Khan imagined that the interpretation of Islam and its doctrine in modern Pakistan would remain in the hands of men like them and not in the hands of priests with a divine mission

This was a major miscalculation, the results of which were not immediately obvious because Pakistan continued for the next two decades as a relatively liberal and modern state mindful of its religious diversity

 Another check on Islamic millennialism was the existence of a large Hindu majority in East Pakistan

In 1971,when for the first time in history the majority of a country seceded, Pakistan was stripped off its Hindu minority almost completely

This is precisely why the 1973 Constitution took on a more religious colour than the 1956 and 1962 Constitutions

For the first time Pakistan had a state religion

 The office of the prime minister was reserved for Muslims

 Then in 1974, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a liberal and secular man, threw open the floodgates by allowing the National Assembly to decide the fate of the Ahmadi community in Pakistan

They were declared non-Muslims by a unanimous vote, including the votes of secular politicians like Wali Khan and his party members

These ostensibly liberal politicians laid the foundations of a fundamentalist state

Promises by Jinnah were jettisoned for the sake of political expediency and sectarianism became state policy

 Dr Ayesha Jalal has hinted in her book, Struggle for Pakistan, that Saudi Arabia might have been behind the decision

 They had apparently conditioned their support for Pakistan’s nuclear program on this decision

 Whatever the case, Saudi influence began raising its tentacles during Bhutto’s government

In 1977 when the elections were called, a nine party alliance of religious and secular parties, including the Awami National Party (ANP), organised themselves around the demand for “Nizam-e-Mustafa” or Islamic order

In a bid to out-manoeuver them, Bhutto instituted his own Islamisation program

 Alcohol and night clubs were banned

Horse racing was banned

Friday became the national holiday instead of Sunday

As election results came out, Bhutto was accused of massive rigging

Enter General Ziaul Haq who sent Bhutto to the gallows in 1979

 General Ziaul Haq now took the “Nizam-e-Mustafa” demand to its logical conclusion – the unveiling of an Islamic order based on narrow interpretations of right wing religious scholars like Maududi

Countless new Islamic laws were added to the statute books

 A Federal Shariat Court was introduced as a super court to determine whether laws conformed to Islam or not

 Religious freedom of groups, like the Ahmadis, was further curtailed and in 1986, 295-C was added to the Pakistan Penal Code which called for death or life imprisonment for any blasphemous comments, intentional or unintentional, about the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)

Women’s testimony was reduced to half in financial matters through the Qanun-e-Shahadat Order which remains the case even today

Simultaneously, General Zia instituted social engineering through syllabus changes prescribed by Jamaat-e-Islami and other religious groups

 General Zia’s regime had the complete support of his American allies who thought that a staunchly fundamentalist Pakistan would be the best guarantee against communism’s spread to South Asia

 The Cold War ended, but it is only now that the children schooled in General Zia’s syllabus have come to the forefront

 Their world view is shaped by three decades of state propaganda about the ideological foundations of Pakistan – more myth than reality

Many of them today reject democracy as kufr

An entire generation has been radicalised into thinking in terms of violent jihad

 It is no wonder that you find extremists in every walk of life in Pakistan

 The liberal democratic state that Jinnah had in mind, for the present, is a thing of the past

Yet, as Jinnah used to say, nothing is permanent in life

The people of the Indus Valley have a glorious past that goes back 8000 years

Extremism has never lasted in this region in its history

The radicalisation that General Zia has brought about will ultimately be a passing phenomenon

I have no doubt that the posterity will undo the harms done to Pakistan in the last 30 years and will hark back to Jinnah’s words on August 11, 1947, as the right and proper vision

Of that there can be no doubt

 Future Pakistanis will revisit, revise and re-order their state according to that vision

Date:15-Aug-2016 Reference:View Original Link