By Abdul Nishapuri
According to the vision of the founder of Pakistan, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Pakistan was to be country in which everyone including Muslims and non-Muslims would be free to exercise their beliefs and practices and where the state had nothing to do with any one’s religious beliefs.
In his presidential address to the first constituent assembly of Pakistan on 11 August 1947, Jinnah said:
“I cannot emphasize it too much. We should begin to work in that spirit and in course of time all these angularities of the majority and minority communities, the Hindu community and the Muslim community, because even as regards Muslims you have Pathans, Punjabis, Shias, Sunnis and so on, and among the Hindus you have Brahmins, Vashnavas, Khatris, also Bengalis, Madrasis and so on, will vanish. Indeed if you ask me, this has been the biggest hindrance in the way of India to attain the freedom and independence and but for this we would have been free people long long ago. No power can hold another nation, and specially a nation of 400 million souls in subjection; nobody could have conquered you, and even if it had happened, nobody could have continued its hold on you for any length of time, but for this. Therefore, we must learn a lesson from this. You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State.” Source
The founder of Pakistan, Jinnah and later his successor, Liaqat Ali Khan, were sincere to the cause of a progressive Pakistan free of religious theocratic elements. Thus, they did not resort to exploiting the name of Islam for short-termed political expediency. From 1947 until 1956, the official title of the country was “Pakistan”.
It was only in the era of civil and military dictatorship in Pakistan, when a dictator Major General Iskandar Mirza, helped by General Ayub Khan, proclaimed Pakistan as an Islamic Republic in the 1956 constitution. That was the official proclamation and institutionalization of the Mullah-Military Alliance in Pakistan.
While it is a fact that Pakistan is a Muslim majority country, it is not an Islamic country because it is not governed by Islamic sharia. The reason is quite obvious; there are numerous schools of thought and sects in Islam. In Pakistan, Muslims are divided into Barelvi, Deobandi, Shia, Ahl-e-Hadith and other numerous groups. All of these groups and sub-groups have different interpretations in terms of principles and practices of Islamic sharia. Also, many Pakistanis do not want to be governed by theocracy or Mullahs.
Therefore, it will be well advised that Pakistan should dissociate itself from the Talibanic legacy of the first military dictatorship in Pakistan, and instead of its official title “Islamic Republic of Pakistan”, it must adopt “Pakistan” as its name. This step will be consistent with the vision and the legacy of Jinnah and Liaqat Ali Khan.
From Islamic to Peoples Republic of Pakistan?
ISLAMABAD (The Nation) – Awami National Party (ANP) during the deliberations of Parliamentary Reforms Committee had proposed to change the name of Islamic Republic of Pakistan as Peoples Republic of Pakistan, while Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) supported the move, the sources close to these political parties disclosed to The Nation.
The idea was, however, dropped due to strong opposition from the rest of the members of the committee, the sources added.
MQM Deputy Convener and Federal Minister Dr. Farooq Sattar confirmed it to the media in an informal chat on Wednesday and said that MQM along with PPP members of the committee supported the idea of renaming Islamic Republic of Pakistan as Peoples Republic of Pakistan.
On the other hand, ANP member of the committee Haji Adeel denied having proposed the name of Peoples Republic of Pakistan to replace Islamic Republic of Pakistan. However, some members of the committee on condition of anonymity confirmed it to TheNation that ANP had proposed the said change in the name of the country and MQM and PPP members had supported it.
During chat with media, Dr. Farooq Sattar also proposed making Gilgit-Baltistan as the fifth province of the country and its chief minister should also be included in the National Finance Commission (NFC). The government should take appropriate steps in this regard to remove the constitutional and international hurdles, he added. He said if the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms would finish with its deliberation on provincial autonomy by mid of December, they would be in a position to give the nation a new year’s gift in the shape of constitutional reforms package.