Dr SHIREEN M MAZARI examines the difference in what we pratice and what we preach.
Living a lie
At the root of most of our real and imagined problems lies the fact that we have been living a lie since the death of Jinnah, thanks to our ruling elite. That has impacted on our perceptions and problems over the years as one lie after another was generated, both on the domestic and external fronts. The impact of living a lie can be felt across the board now, reflecting an insecure and fear-ridden mindset that is unable to take bold, innovative policy measures.
One of the most damaging lies we have been living, especially since the Zia dictatorship is the selective denial of Jinnah’s legacy. In the theocrat’s efforts to make Pakistan into an “Islamic” state – from what, one has never really been clearly told – the vision of Pakistan that the founder of the nation had has gradually all but vanished completely.
At a time when the government is trying to restructure the polity, recalling Jinnah’s vision in its entirety, and not in distorted selectivity, is critical if we are to rise above the malaise of polarisation and sectarianism that has pervaded our civil society today. Because we have allowed ourselves the luxury of oblivion on Jinnah, those with vested interests are now clamouring to get their notion of Pakistan enforced, and are only too ready to call into question the Muslim identity of anyone who opposes them. In the process, these people have managed to create a divisive and polarised society where the minorities are being pushed more and more into a peripheral existence within the state of Pakistan. And from amongst the Muslim majority, sectarianism has successfully divided the polity with the threat of being branded “unIslamic” constantly hanging above everyone’s head.
Yet, Jinnah’s address to the Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947 is as clear an enunciation of the foundation of Pakistan as one can hope to get. As Jinnah told the new nation:
“You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of 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 … We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State.”
In other words, politically there was going to be no distinction or discrimination between any citizen because of his/her caste, creed or colour. Politically, all citizens were equal – a point Jinnah elaborated upon in the same speech:
“… you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State.”
There was no “grey zone” on this count for Jinnah and there must not be one now for the present leadership. Too much hatred has stacked up because of a denial of resoluteness on this count. When the state creates political laws, including electoral laws, where citizens are discriminated against on the basis of their religion then that is a substantive move away from the Quaid’s vision of Pakistan. And the imposition of separate electorates is one such impingement on the rights of the non-Muslims of Pakistan.
So why is the vision of Jinnah so critical even today? Because it is the basis for our nation’s existence. The Muslims of India followed Jinnah to independence and the very foundations of the state must not be allowed to be destroyed. It is time we really examined whether Jinnah’s Pakistan was a state for the Muslims of India – where they would be free to live and practice their way of life – or whether it was intended to be a theocratic state. When Jinnah himself was asked this point, this is how he commented in a press conference in Delhi, on June 13, 1947:
“Q: Will Pakistan be a secular or a theocratic state?
“Mr Jinnah: You are asking me a question that is absurd. I do not know what a theocratic state means.
“A correspondent suggested that a theocratic state meant a state where only people of a particular religion, for example Muslims, could be full citizens and non-Muslims would not be full citizens.
“Mr Jinnah: Then it seems to me that what I have already said is like throwing water on duck’s back. (Laughter) For goodness sake, get out of your head the nonsense that is being talked about. What this theocratic state means I do not understand.
“Another correspondent suggested that the questioner meant a state run by Maulanas.
“Mr Jinnah: What about the Government run by Pundits in Hindustan? (laughter) When you talk of democracy,
Mr Jinnah went on, I am afraid you have not studied Islam. We learned democracy thirteen centuries ago.”
So Jinnah acknowledges the underlying supremacy of Islam within the ideal of Pakistan but not in the distorted form of a theocratic state where non-Muslims are discriminated against and sidelined from the mainstream.
In his introduction to Volume II of the First Series of Jinnah Papers, the editor, Z H Zaidi, states that Jinnah clearly felt that the government of the new state of Pakistan would, as Jinnah put it “function with the will and sanction of the entire body of people in Pakistan, irrespective of caste, creed or colour.”
According to Zaidi, “Jinnah vehemently disclaimed that the future State of Pakistan would be a ‘theocracy’; far from it! He in fact declared that there was no room for theocracy, i.e. rule by religious divines. In his public speeches and statements, Jinnah did not leave a shred of doubt that the new State would not be run by an obscurantist religious leadership.”
For Jinnah modern democracy was, according to Zaidi, “in essence a rediscovery of the old democratic tradition of Islam. …”
One reason why we are able to be selective about Jinnah’s legacy is because we are living another critical lie in the form of constant distortions of our history. Whenever governments change, so does the country’s recorded history. Worse still, we as a nation have been extremely selective about owning up to our pre-1947 historical and cultural heritage. Being unable to come to term with all the varied influences of our past, we have been unable to come to term with the realities of the Pakistani state and its ruling elite over the decades. Every government seeks to rewrite the history books. And national traumas are glossed over – see what you can find on 1971 and the crisis in East Pakistan. And see whether anyone talks of the impact of the 1965 war in nurturing the seeds of Bengali nationalism?
But that was a major historical turning point. Our ruling elite cannot even tolerate the realities relating to past governments and political leaders – so the history books are constantly rewritten and our children grow up on lies. Lies breed an insecure nation – for confidence comes from being able to face the truth, no matter how unpleasant for in that confrontation we learn our lessons. Which is why it is not surprising to find mistakes continuously repeated by us as a nation.
Today we continue to be burdened by the habitual deception and lies that are the endemic to our ruling elite. There is a lack of courage to concede errors – be they historical or present in context. That is why we are easy prey for our enemies who are able to exaggerate our defeats and undermine our victories. Take the case of Bangladesh. One reason the Indians and other antagonists have continued to harp on the demise of the Two-Nation theory post-1971 is because we as a nation have failed to examine what led to the political crisis, which eventually emboldened India to aggress militarily in East Pakistan. Instead, we have tried to obliterate this momentous turning point in our history as far as we can. Our younger generations know nothing of the national trauma we suffered, so they cannot comprehend the tragedy of the Biharis and the unjust manner in which Pakistan‘s ruling elite continues to ignore the plight of these dedicated Pakistani nationalists. Worse still, because we refuse to own up to the crisis and have a national catharsis we are not able to assertively refute Indian claims regarding the demise of the Two-Nation theory. Yet, the reality is that the creation of Bangladesh is a reaffirmation of the Two-Nation theory – otherwise East Pakistan would have become a part of Indian Bengal rather than an independent Muslim state. But this point can only be argued once we have the national confidence to accept our shortcomings that allowed for the loss of East Pakistan.
Shireen Mazari joins PTI
Friday, November 28, 2008
ISLAMABAD: Defence analyst Dr Shireen Mazari on Thursday joined Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI).
PTI Chairman Imran Khan made Mazari the party’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) member and head of its Foreign Committee.
He said in a statement that Mazari had in-depth knowledge, analytical mind and longing for independent policy, which was completely in line with the PTI vision. staff report
Here is a picture of some of our “leaders” who are adding lies and confusion to Jinnah’s Pakistan:
Here is some evidence of how Dr. Shireen Mazari lives her own ‘truths’.