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"The first duty of a government is to maintain law and order so that the life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects are fully protected by the State." Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah
The armies of the night
By Irfan Husain
( An excerpt from Mazdak's column, Dawn, 12 Feb, 2000 )
NATIONS do not normally have to strive consciously for a consensus on the kind of country they wish to be. Social and economic pressures and the consequent political decisions shape them over a period of centuries.
But a relatively new state like Pakistan does need to conduct an internal debate over the path it wishes to take. Although the founding father of the nation, Mr Jinnah, pointed us in an unambiguously secular, progressive direction, he died too early to transform this vision into reality. His successors were too weak to pursue it effectively, and allowed this concept to be subverted to
the point where it is but a distant memory. Whereas Mr Jinnah saw Pakistan as a homeland for the Muslims of the subcontinent where the minorities would be equal citizens, obscurantist and self-serving politicians hijacked this vision and transfigured our country into a cockpit of warring religious militias and a haven for terrorists.
Indeed, what we are seeing today is a victory for a revolution by stealth. there has been no call to man the barricades, no stirring appeal to fight to the last man. And yet the political topography has been transformed beyond recognition over the last quarter century. Now if foreigners think of Pakistan at all, it is in the context of religious fanaticism, military juntas, heroin smugglers and illegal immigrants. From being a respected developing country that was making excellent progress, we have slipped into a sickly state which has brought it on the brink of bankruptcy.
The irony is that this metamorphosis has taken place without a debate over the kind of country we wish to be. The previous issue of Newsweek ran a long story about Pakistan and the jehadi organizations operating on our soil. According to this report (which quotes active members of these militias as well as unnamed military and civil sources), militants are getting training here and conducting operations in Indian-held Kashmir. The report goes on to conclude that if this government were to crack down on these groups, most Pakistanis would rise in protest.
Fortunately, this ominous conclusion is not justified by any objective yardstick. As we survey the political wreckage around us, the one positive element we see is the continuing and consistent refusal of the Pakistani electorate to vote for religious parties. For instance, all these parties put together only managed to gain a meagre six seats in the National Assembly out of a total of
210. While the majority of Pakistanis are practising Muslims, they are clearly not convinced that their many problems can be solved by leaders who want to drag the country back to the seventh century.
Given the good sense displayed by Pakistani voters in election after election, the extremist tilt in our politics becomes harder to explain. Clearly, unlike the Iranian revolution, religious parties command no huge following of the faithful marching in the streets, calling for the imposition of a theocratic order. The reality is that a number of sects and leaders are vying to impose their versions of Islam on the national polity, and this multiplicity erodes their appeal and credibility.
So while there has been no dramatic revolutionary movement to bring in the Shariat, what we have witnessed is the gradual, piece-meal reduction in the space for secularism. General Zia-ul- Haq, undisputed military dictator of Pakistan for eleven years, did more than anyone else to push us backwards. Edward Gibbon, the 18th century English historian, observed in his Decline and Fall of
the Roman Empire: "All that is human must retrograde [this is the word used in the quotation] if it does not advance." When Zia and his many toadies blocked the path of social and intellectual progress in the name of religion, we began our long slide into chaos.
By Ardeshir Cowasjee
The Dawn, August 9, 2001
What has to be said again and again for as long as what remains of Jinnah's Pakistan exists, and what must bear repetition ad infinitum, is one well known sentence from Mohammad Ali Jinnah's momentous speech delivered on August 11, 1947: "The first duty of a government is to maintain law and order so that the life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects are fully protected by
Lesser known is what he told the people of Australia in his broadcast of February 19, 1948: "The great majority of us are Muslims. We follow the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him, we are members of the brotherhood of Islam in which all are equal in rights, dignity and self-respect. Consequently we have a special and very deep sense of unity. But make no mistake, Pakistan is not a theocracy, or anything like it. Islam demands from us the tolerance of other creeds and we welcome in closest association with us all those who, of whatever creed, are themselves willing and ready to play their part as true and loyal citizens of Pakistan."
That month he also spoke on the radio to the people of the United States when he told them much the same thing: "Islam and its idealism have taught us democracy. It has taught equality of man, justice and fair play to everybody. We are the inheritors of these glorious traditions and are fully alive to our responsibilities and obligations as framers of the future constitution of Pakistan. In any case, Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic state - to be ruled by priests with a divine mission. We have non-Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Parsis - but they are all Pakistanis. They will enjoy the same rights and privileges as any other citizen and play their rightful part in the affairs of Pakistan."
By Ardeshir Cowasjee, The Dawn, August 9, 2001
MOHAMMAD Ali Jinnah learnt his politics at Dadabhai Naoroji's feet, and he spent most of his life in Bombay - which the Indians have since renamed as Mumbai - with his peers Sir Phirozshah Mehta, Sir Dinshaw Watcha, Sir Dinshaw Mulla (the framer of Mohammedan Law), Sir Jamshedjee Kanga.
He lived in the fashion and style in which he wished to live; his personal life, likes, dislikes, dressing and eating habits were not dictated by expediency or hypocrisy. He spent not one day in jail, he had no truck with street demonstrators or street fighters. He rarely compromised his strict code of honour. He went on to carve out and build a homeland for his compatriots, and having done so, eleven months later he died.
Sarojini Naidu, the great Indian congresswoman and poet, in 1906 wrote of Mohammad Ali Jinnah: "Never was there a nature whose outer qualities provided so complete an antithesis of its inner worth. Tall and stately, but thin to the point of emaciation, languid and luxurious of habit, Mohammed Ali Jinnah's attenuated form is the deceptive sheath of a spirit of exceptional vitality and endurance.
"Somewhat formal and fastidious, and a little aloof and imperious of manner, the calm hauteur of his accustomed reserve but masks for those who know him a naive and eager humanity, an intuition quick and tender as a woman's, a humor gay and winning as a child's. Pre-eminently rational and practical, discreet and dispassionate in his estimate and acceptance of life, the obvious sanity and serenity of his worldly wisdom effectually disguise a shy and splendid idealism which is of the very essence of the man."
In 1946, addressing members of the Muslim League, Jinnah told them: "I am an old man. God has given me enough to live comfortably at this age. Why would I turn my blood into water and take so much trouble? Not for the capitalists, surely. But for you, the poor people."
And on he pressed. His ambition was achieved in August 1947. Three days prior to the birth of his country, on the 11th of that month, he declared to the members of Pakistan's constituent assembly his credo: "The first and foremost thing that I would like to emphasize is this - remember that you are now a sovereign legislative body and you have got all the powers. It, therefore, places on you the gravest responsibility as to how you should take your decisions. The first observation that I would like to make is this: You will no doubt agree with me that the first duty of a government is to maintain law and order so that the life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects are fully protected by the state.
"The second thing that occurs to me is this: One of the biggest curses from which India is suffering - I do not say that other countries are free from it but I think our condition is much worse - is bribery and corruption. That really is a poison. We must put that down with an iron hand and I hope that you will take adequate measures as soon as it is possible for this assembly to do so. Blackmarketing is another curse. Well, I know that blackmarketeers are frequently caught and punished. Judicial sentences are passed or sometimes fines only are imposed. Now you have to tackle this monster which today is a colossal crime against society, in our distressed conditions when we constantly face shortage of food and other essential commodities of life."
The third thing emphasized by Jinnah that day was nepotism and jobbery which, he said, "must be crushed relentlessly. I want to make it quite clear that I shall never tolerate any kind of jobbery, nepotism or any influence directly or indirectly brought to bear upon me."
He continued: " If you change your past and work together, and in a spirit that every one of you, no matter to which community he belongs, no matter what relations he had with you in the past, no matter what is his color, cast or creed, is first, second and last a citizen of this state with equal rights, privileges and obligations, there will be no end to the progress you will make ...... 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."
On February 19, 1948, he recorded a broadcast to the people of Australia. He told them: "The great majority of us are Muslims. We follow the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him, we are members of the brotherhood of Islam in which all are equal in rights, dignity and self-respect. Consequently we have a special and very deep sense of unity. But make no mistake, Pakistan is not a theocracy, or anything like it. Islam demands from us the tolerance of other creeds and we welcome in closest association with us all those who, of whatever creed, are themselves willing and ready to play their part as true and loyal citizens of Pakistan."
Again that month he spoke on the radio to the people of the United States and told them much the same thing: "Islam and its idealism have taught us democracy. It has taught equality of man, justice and fair play to everybody. We are the inheritors of these glorious traditions and are fully alive to our responsibilities and obligations as framers of the future constitution of Pakistan. In any case, Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic state - to be ruled by priests with a divine mission. We have non-Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Parsis - but they are all Pakistanis. They will enjoy the same rights and privileges as any other citizen and play their rightful part in the affairs of Pakistan."
The truly democratic secular statesman, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, more by the sheer weight of his dominating will than by any other factor established the forward-looking and modern state of Pakistan. For as long as he lived and for eight years thereafter Pakistan remained a dominion of the British Empire. In 1956 it became a republic and its constitution, promulgated the same year, proclaimed it to be 'The Islamic Republic of Pakistan'. Ayub Khan, the first Ataturk of Pakistan until attacked by dry rot, in his constitution of 1962 again looked forward and changed the country's appellation to the simple unambiguous 'The Republic of Pakistan'. One year later, he surrendered to sycophants and supporters, spurred by the overriding cause of self-perpetuation. He was persuaded to backtrack and by an amendment the country reverted to being 'The Islamic
Republic of Pakistan'.
In 1973, again in contradiction to Jinnah's intent and promise, desire and declaration, religion was made "the business of the state." Article 2 of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's constitution proclaimed that "Islam will be the religion of the state."
As it happened, ignorance was the cause of the loss of half the country. Now two-thirds of the remainder is barren, a desert. For each and every purpose Karachi has lost to the thriving and vibrant Dubai its geographical advantage. That little state, a brotherly Muslim country, with no black gold under its ground, flourishes and looks to the future. Why? Because it is not beset by
taboos - religious or cultural or any other. It has adopted Islam's tolerance, Islam's intent to march with the times. Its citizens and its visitors and its foreign residents are free to live as they choose provided they remain within the law.
However, weeping and wailing will get us nowhere. There are still six inches of water under the keel. We can still refloat.
courtesy: Dawn International
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