Hindu Vivek Kendra
«« Back
Moth-eaten Pakistan ruled by mullahs

Moth-eaten Pakistan ruled by mullahsMoth-eaten Pakistan ruled by mullahs

Author: Kanchan Gupta
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: January 9, 2011
URL: http://www.dailypioneer.com/309189/Moth-eaten-Pakistan-ruled-by-mullahs.html

Mohammed Ali Jinnah may have seen himself as the 'sole spokesman' of Muslims in pre-partition India and the arbiter of their destiny in 'the land of the pure' after he was gifted a 'moth-eaten Pakistan' by the departing British rulers, but if truth be told, those who anointed him Quaid-e-Azam had little time and even lesser patience for his vision, such as it was or is made out to be by latter day interpreters of Islamic separatism in the sub-continent. True, Jinnah had famously declared that "Pakistan will not be a country ruled by mullahs with a divine mission"; it's only natural that someone who enjoyed ham sandwiches with his afternoon coffee, had a taste for fine whisky, was fussy about the spats he wore and the cigarettes he smoked, and held the unwashed masses in utter contempt would find both faith and its extremities abhorrent, more so in shaping the affairs of state or determining the public and private conduct of individuals.

It is equally true that to get his Pakistan, Jinnah had shown little or no qualms in letting the Muslim League mobilise support using both faith and its extremities. The Great Calcutta Killing of 1946 and the subsequent riots like those at Noakhali bear testimony to this fact, as much as Jinnah's endorsement of the 'two-nation theory' which was based on the presumed incompatibility between Muslims and Hindus: The two could not live together in either peace or harmony. There was nothing secular about this assertion, nor was it fuelled by issues of social compatibility or political empowerment of Muslims; it was entirely communal and premised on the need to preserve the Mussalman's separate religious identity. The scorn with which Jinnah held Maulana Abul A'ala Maududi reflected his elitist bias; nothing more, nothing less.

Those who tirelessly flaunt Jinnah's 'secular' credentials are given to quoting from his August 11, 1947 speech in the Pakistan Constituent Assembly whose members he assured 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". Less than a year later Jinnah imposed Urdu, a language in which he never spoke, leave alone read or write, as the national language of Pakistan not because he thought it would unite a geographically and culturally split country but because it was as much a part of the Muslim identity as the achkan he took to wearing in his new role. He no longer saw Islam as a matter of an individual's personal faith but as the identity of his Pakistan.

Jinnah died without bequeathing his country with a stable system of democratic governance or a republican Constitution whose basic principles were inviolable. The constitutionalist-turned-rabble rouser-turned Quaid-e-Azam left his Pakistan to the likes of Maududi for whom the supremacy of Allah and the Quran in both private lives and public affairs was non-negotiable; the Generals of Rawalpindi who believed the Army alone was fit to rule Pakistan; and America which was looking for a client state to further its strategic interest in South Asia. Maududi, who believed "everything in the universe is 'Muslim' for it obeys god by submission to his laws", wanted Islam to become the cornerstone of Pakistan as a 'theo-democracy' which, as one of his critics explained, would be an "ideological state in which legislators do not legislate, citizens only vote to reaffirm the permanent applicability of god's laws, women rarely venture outside their homes lest social discipline be disrupted and non-Muslims are tolerated as foreign elements required to express their loyalty by means of paying a levy (jizya)".

In the six decades since its bloody (some would say cursed) birth, Pakistan, or what remains of Jinnah's 'moth-eaten' country, has moved closer to Maududi's 'theo-democracy' and steered clear of the Quaid-e-Azam's hocus-pocus of separating the church from the state and keeping the mullahs at bay which, he hoped, would leave the elite's role in leading the country unchallenged and undiminished. The Jamaat-e-Islami may not rule Pakistan, but its twisted vision of a brutal state and a cruel society that together harshly enforce the "permanent applicability of god's laws" is beginning to take shape and form. It's easy to blame Gen Zia-ul-Haq for the Islamisation of Pakistan, but that would be tantamount to suggesting that prior to his interpretation of Islam as a penal code and Islamic Republic as a floggers' and executioners' paradise, Pakistan was a secular state where religion was restrained to the zenana and faith practised purdah. The socialism that Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto preached was as fraudulent as the liberalism of Clifton. Through spells of military dictatorship and civilian rule, Pakistan has evolved as a 'theo-democracy'. To deny that would be to refuse to acknowledge a simple truth. We could couch it in language that would distract us from the reality, but it would not change the reality in any manner. That it is an imploding 'theo-democracy' is only matter of detail, of greater consequence to the world than the practitioners of Maududi's prescription.

Last Tuesday's murder of Punjab's flamboyant Governor Salman Taseer, in a sense, demonstrates this point. More people outside Pakistan are shocked by the killing than those in Pakistan: At home, the killer, Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, is being feted as a hero, a true keeper of the faith. Salman Taseer was killed by his bodyguard, a member of Pakistan's elite commando force, for demanding the scrapping of his country's hideous blasphemy law - an amendment Bill has been introduced in the National Assembly but is bound to be defeated. Worse, he declared his support for Asia Bibi, a poor, illiterate Christian woman who has been sentenced to death for blasphemy - Salman Taseer visited her in jail and posed for photographs. Qadri says he found this intolerable and did what a true Muslim should do in such circumstances; he is neither contrite nor repentant. Ironically, there has been little support for Salman Taseer and even lesser criticism of Qadri's misdeed among those who are held up as shining examples of 'liberal' Pakistanis in an increasingly illiberal Pakistan. It is no less an irony that many of Qadri's supporters are women.

This is not to suggest that the last of the stray voices have been drowned in the tidal wave of Islamism sweeping through Pakistan. Individuals who are horrified by the idea of living in a Pakistan ruled by mullahs are outraged and have been giving vent to their feelings. But as one commentator wrote, the battle against Islamism has been lost and that's the grim reality. We could, of course, quibble over when exactly was the battle lost. Was it the day Pakistan was born? Or was it when the first pogrom, led by Maududi, against Ahmadiyas went unpunished? Was it lost when Pakistanis acquiesced to Zia's Islamisation programme? Or when Pakistanis justified their Government's trans-border jihad against India by not raising their voice against the slaughter of innocents? We reap as we sow.

Back                          Top

«« Back
  Search Articles
  Special Annoucements