Jinnah’s speech to the First Legislative Assembly of Pakistan at Karachi on 11th August, 1947 is most famous and also the most disputed one for clarifying the role of the State for promoting interfaith harmony, secularism, religion being a personal matter of the citizens and equality of citizens as members of the state regardless of their faith, colour and creed. But he also talked of elimination of bribery, corruption, and black-marketing, and that the most important duty of the state was to protect the lives, properties and the religious beliefs of its citizens.
The said speech was not made public, never made part of the school syllabus and the philosophy of this speech was never promoted and preached by the state and all the consecutive governments. Jam Saqi, a very senior politician of the left, once told this writer that when this speech was being broadcasted from the Radio, and when the part of the said speech where Jinnah talked about the religion being a personal business of every citizen and that the state had no right to interfere in the religious beliefs of the citizens and that all citizens were equal citizens of the state, the bureaucracy had intentionally told the technicians and operators to turn off the volume at the radio station so that Jinnah’s message of secularism would not reach people of the new state of Pakistan.
This clearly shows that some forces were working on the anti-people agenda and for the protection of the interests of the rightist groups even before the creation of Pakistan.
The present Pakistan is 200 million times opposite to what Jinnah had dreamed and what Jinnah had idealized for the new state. This has happened so because the religious parties that opposed the very creation of Pakistan and had declared Jinnah a Kaffir-e-Azam (The greatest infidel and non-believer) instead of Quaid-e-Azam (The greatest leader), took control of the ideological fronts and claimed that since Pakistan had been created in the name of Islam, so it had to be an Islamic state.
Having a state religion always has had serious negative implications not only for its citizens, but also for the state itself. The most important example that could be quoted is that of Israel, a state created for Jews, is not only persecuting Palestinians, but also has to live in a constant and permanent fear among its Arab neighbours, which have surrounded it from every side.
Second example is of India, which though claims to be the largest secular democracy of the world, but has majority of Hindu population with strong anti-Muslim and anti-Christian feelings, has few but strong extremist groups, which are not ready to forget centuries old attacks by Muslim invaders on Indian civilization and as a result killing of 8 million Hindus by Muslim invaders, have not forgotten partition of India and creation of Pakistan, have never accepted Pakistan with an open heart, continue to desire reunification of Pakistan with India and have plans and dreams of transforming India into a Hindu state and also desirous of promoting and propagating Hinduism all over the whole of South Asia and South East Asia. This attitude is causing suffering of Indian Muslims, Christians and many Hindus as well.
Third example is of Pakistan, which was supposed to be a secular state according to the political philosophy and ideals of Jinnah, but was forcibly turned into almost a theocratic state by the collaboration of rightist groups, religious parties, feudal aristocracy and military and civil bureaucracy. By having Islam as state religion, the religious parties were given a license to carryout goonism and violence in the name of Islam. Islam became a tool in the hands of the ruling elite to justify their regimes and tool for exploitation and persecution of masses.
The major dilemma of this society is that the poets and writers who wrote and talked about the rights of the poor masses were declared infidels, Russian and Indian agents, anti-Pakistan and anti-Islam elements and were thrown into jails, were persecuted, rendered jobless, tortured and killed, but on the other hand, the state created, promoted, funded and financially and morally supported the extremist groups and these groups were given full freedom to play havoc with the lives and properties of the people during their rallies and demonstrations. These very groups and the extremist mindset has become the most dangerous threat for the security and solidarity of Pakistan. The rightist groups first excluded non-Muslims from the national mainstream and promoted hatred against them as kaffirs (infidels, non-believers) and untouchables/unclean. Then the rightist groups began chasing and hunting smaller Muslim Denominations like Shias etc. Shias were declared kaffirs and killing a Shia, an Ahmedi and other non-Muslims became part of faith and a precondition to be a true Muslim and true aashiq-e-rasul (true lover of the Prophet). Major part of this happened during the Islamization of military dictator General Ziaul Haq and Saudi Riyals poured into the country and elimination of Shias began and it was said that only Sunnis were true Muslims and that Pakistan would be a Sunni State.
But in the midst of the elimination of Shias and persecution of non-Muslims and women, the Sunni majority also got affected. Extremist Sunnis groups like Sipah-e-Sahaba and Lashkar-e-Jhangavi attacked worship places of Shias and burnt Christian villages and slums, and Shias reacted with support from Iran. Thus Iran and Saudi Arabia shifted their proxy war to Pakistan. The Afghan Jihad also gave gifts of Kalashnikov, drugs and mushrooming of jihadi groups because by joining or forming your own jihadi group could make you rich overnight. Arab jihadis, after the explosion of Soviet Union from Afghanistan, instead of going back to their mother countries, purchased properties and also purchased women to marry in the tribal areas and began targeting Pakistani people because war had become their lifestyle and livelihood. They received dollars from Pakistan’s enemies and waged a war against Pakistan people.
If you raise a baby cobra, a day will come when it is going to eat you up. Or if you light fire in the jungle to burn huts of your enemies, a day will come when the same jungle fire is going to engulf your hut. Or if you poison the water of a lake, it is going to affect your future generations as well. These jihadis were raised by Pakistan ruling elite as a result of Pakistan’s Kashmir and Afghan policies and we continue to pay a price for those unwise policies.
The Islamization promoted bigotry, extremism, intolerance, sectarianism, hypocrisy, ignorance, obliviousness, and unawareness in the name of Islam. The result was enormous increase in crime, sin, lawlessness and shattering of moral and human values of Pakistani society.
Now Pakistani people are like a shattered and divided family, which are looted by groups of robbers, the political parties, one after the other. These modern day robbers are heavily paid to loot us and keep us poor. Unfortunately many members of this family are supporting the robbers that loot us.
They have corrupted every institution for their petty interests so much so that all the institutions, except Army, are working against Pakistan and its people.
If we do not get united as a nation and continue to be divided on religious, sectarian, ethnic, caste, regional, racial and colour basis then: we will continue to be looted by these robbers; Taliban will continue to give us gifts of dead bodies of our school children; our places of worship and our schools will continue to be insecure; and criminals will continue to blackmail us by showing us videos of our children. (Professor Yunis Khushi Advocate teaches Social Sciences and practices Law in Pakistan. Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org).