1st Part Pakistan In Search Of Identity

-- Mubarak Ali –

Courtesy to Dr. Mubarak Ali’s book “Pakistan In Search Of Identity”

Since its creation in 1947, Pakistan was in search of its separate identity and legitimacy in order to distinguish itself from India. Compared to India, it was at a disadvantageous position because it adopted a new name which was unfamiliar to most of the people of the World .Since its creation it attached no such glamour and romance to its past civilization and culture as India. Therefore, to get recognition and place, it was required to construct its separate identity different from India. The early leaders of Pakistan fully realised that by remaining under the shadow of India, Pakistan could not carve its niche in the comity of nations, henceforth it was their efforts to make the new country different from its neighbour.

This desire of separateness  led to the construction of the Islamic identity which emphasised on the two nation theory ,the raison d’être of the  creation of Pakistan. At the same time an effort was also made to give exclusive character of the area which comprised Pakistan. To delink this area from the Indian subcontinent, a theory was formulated which propounded that geographically the then West Pakistan historically had been remained a separate  region.  Therefore, its present geography justifies not only its creation but also its independence. There was a problem of adjusting East Pakistan in this theory .It was, however, consequently solved when  in 1971 Bengladesh separated and became an independent country leaving West Pakistan  as ‘Pakistan’.

From 1947 to 1971, Pakistan went through a number of political crises and experienced military dictatorship and martial law which changed the role of different power groups  such as bureaucracy, army, and politicians. In the early phase of Pakistan (1947 to1958), bureaucracy became very powerful in the absence of an effective political leadership and refused to share their power with any group. After the coup of 1958 military joined hands with the bureaucracy and ruled the country with iron hand. However, both institutions, following the colonial heritage, retained some elements of secularism in their out look and kept the ulema out of politics. During Yehya Khan’s period, as a result of political turmoil and unrest in  East Pakistan, an attempt was made to develop and formulate the Ideology of Pakistan . Since then, Pakistan’s Ideology was fully supported by the successive civilian and military governments to fulfil their political ends and to legitimise their political power as the defender of the ideology. In this paper an attempt is made to trace  the development of the Ideology of Pakistan as it is understood today.

 Construction of the Ideology of Pakistan

 The term was popularised  and propagated in a time when Pakistan was facing serious political crises after the end of Ayub Khan’s rule and the East Pakistan’s demand for autonomy and end of the hegemony of West Pakistan. Till then, the term Islamic ideology was used but as it could not appeal the Bengalis who were mobilised on the basis of language nationalism to get their political rights, instead , the new term Pakistan Ideology was used to appeal the people of East and West to keep the country united. In the new term  more emphasis was made on the country (Pakistan) rather than on Islam, because at that time the country and not Islam was in danger. However, the religion remained the basis of the ideology, to be used as a strong bond to keep East and West together. In 1971, Radio Pakistan  broadcasted  the speeches of eleven eminent scholars on the Ideology of Pakistan  with the purpose  to “provide an analysis of the recent happenings in East Pakistan and expose the designs of anti-Pakistan forces, who had been conspiring since long to strike at the very roots of our nationhood.”(Mohajir:1971:ii) All scholars, define the ideology of Pakistan, keeping in view the political situation of East Pakistan, and appeal the people of both wings to remain united on common ideological grounds. Nearly all scholars focus their deliberations within the framework of Muhammd Ali Jinnah’s speeches. I. H Qureshi ,quoting Jinnah, writes:

 The Quaid-i-Azam could have argued that the areas which were to constitute had a different history during significantly long periods of time and had characteristics which distinguished them from the other people of the subcontinent. But these arguments never occurred in his mind. The only argument that he advanced was that the Muslims were different because they were Muslims, not because they were Bengalis or Sindhis,or Punjabis or Pathans ,but simply because they were Muslims. And what in his view made the Muslim different? The basis of the difference was the fact that their entire way of life is founded in the truth, the doctrine and the teachings of Islam.( Qureshi:1971:2 )

 He also stresses that Pakistan needed an ideology  to challenge the crises which it was facing at that time.

 I could say that without ideologies nations can only be dead organism. Nations have to cultivate a sense of mission if they want to be truly alive…Indeed the truth of the fact is that the Ideology of Islam should be the guiding force in the life of the country lies in the fact that to the extent that Islam has weakened, Pakistan has weakened. If we possess or want to evolve  a common culture, we must not forget that culture can be based only in Islam.(Ibid.:5)

 Another writer, Javid Iqbal explaining the ideology of Pakistan justifies the domination of the Muslims in Pakistan: “Since Muslims constitute a large majority, they have the right to demand that constitutionally the head of the state of Pakistan must belong to the majority community….Similarly they have the right to demand that the state must promulgate such laws and implement such educational system for their children which promote the moral and spiritual advancement and welfare of its Muslim citizens.”(Iqbal:1971:17,18)

The tragedy of 1971, when Pakistan was dismembered, brought a shock to the people and also a heavy blow to the ideology of Pakistan. Under these circumstances, the argument which was propounded to save the ideology was that it was misused by the ruling classes and never implemented in its true spirit. According to  Sharif al Mujahid:

 Islam has been misused not only as a  substitutive policy for their low responsive capabilities by various regimes in Pakistan, particularly the Ayub one, but also to justify and sustain status quoism, impose authoritarian or semi authoritarian rule and even protect vested interests.This exploitation of Islam by the various regimes and the vested interests led to a growing disenchantment with the ideology itself… (Mujahid: 1976:23 )

 Thus, after the debacle of East Pakistan, the new term of the Pakistan Ideology , besides Islam, covers other  aspects which the ruling classes emphasised for their political domination and to win over people for the cause of a united Pakistan. Now it means Islamisation of the state and its  institutions, concept of the two nation theory, geographical exclusiveness of the areas of Pakistan, and to link it culturally with Iran and Central Asia .

 Process of Islamisation

 The process of Islamistion is the outcome of the promises and declarations of the Muslim league leadership which reiterated to implement Islamic system in Pakistan. Therefore, after the creation of Pakistan, it was logical to make Pakistan an Islamic state as it was achieved on the basis of religious nationalism. However, just after its creation, Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan,  delivered  his first speech in the Constituent Assembly on 11 August in which he declared that:

 You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed-this has nothing to do with the business of the state (hear hear)…in the 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. (Muneer:1965:202)

 This created problems in the Muslim league leadership as well as in the circle of bureaucracy  because the speech repudiated the very idea of  Pakistan and changed its religious character. Therefore, an attempt was made to censor the speech. Immediately Press Advice was sent to the newspapers not to publish it. Altaf Hussain, the editor of the Dawn, came forward and threatened the information office that if the order was not taken back he would go to Jinnah and tell him the whole truth about it. Only then newspapers were allowed to publish it. (Niazi:1986:34-35) Since then, this speech of Jinnah has become a battleground for the Islamists and secularists. The Islamists and believers of the Pakistan ideology interpret it differently: one of their arguments is that the speech was made just to assure the minorities of Pakistan that they were safe in Pakistan. So, it was a message and not a policy statement. “ Moreover, it is unfair to judge his views from  single political speech. His other speeches also had to be taken into consideration” writes Manzoor Ahmad, after giving number of quotations  from Jinnah’s speeches proving that he favoured Pakistan as an Islamic state. (Ahmad:1966:100) It greatly  creates confusion, especially in a  society where ideas are not judged on their own merits but are accepted on the basis of leading personalities. So, in the speeches of Jinnah we find references  which suit both the Islmists and secularists. However, as the traditionalists and conservatives have been politically powerful, their version of Jinnah is promoted, popularised and widely accepted in the Pakistani society.

After the passing of the Objective Resolution in 1949, it was argued that the Resolution automatically repudiates Jinnah’s speech as it provides the Islamic basis to the new country. However, later on more arguments were given to reject this speech. It is said that the speech was just an ‘aberration’ ; and delivered at a time when Jinnah was very sick. Justice Muneer writing bout this speech says that “it was described before me as an inspiration by the devil.” (Niazi:1986:36)  Z.A. Bhutto, in his statement to the supreme court says that: “under the direction of Information Minister Gen. Sher Ali, attempts were made to have this speech burnt or removed from the records.”(Ibid.) During Zia’s period, Sharif  al Mujahid, the author of Jinnah’s official biography and then the Director of the  Quid-i Azam Academy, gives his interpretation about the speech challenging Jinnah’s knowledge of Islam and his competency to pronounce any judgement regarding Islamic system.

 Though he was fully conversant with the Personal Law in Islam, he was not too acquainted with the Islamic legal system, its ramifications and over all implications. Neither was he well versed in Islamic lore; nor he was consciously aware of the Islamic implications of various political theories and its historical realities in the evolution of Islam, either in the subcontinent or elsewhere….But to expect him to synthesize the Islamic concept of state with that of the modern Western concept, or to resolve the differences and divergences between them was to ask for the impossible. That was the task of an ideologue and certainly Jinnah was not cut out for that role.(Mujahid:1981:255,256)

 However, in spite of all arguments and  his speeches in support of the Islamic character of the state, the 11th August speech is used by secularists in their support which  puts the conservative elements always in a defensive position.

After the death of Jinnah, Liaqat Ali Khan, the prime minister, fully supported the efforts to make the new constitution based on the principles of Islam. The first step towards this goal was taken by passing the Objective Resolution in 1949 by the Constituent Assembly which declares, “Whereas sovereignty over entire universe belongs to God Almighty alone and the authority which He has delegated to the State of Pakistan through its people for being exercised within the limits prescribed by him is a sacred trust.” The Objective Resolution

was opposed by the Hindu members from East Pakistan. B.K Dutt points out the danger of mixing politics with religion and says, “Politics and religion belong to different regions of mind…Politics belongs to the domain of reason, but you mix it with religion.” As a minority member he further says, “You condemned us for ever to an inferior status” S. C. Chattopadhya, the leader of the Congress, was also very bitter and told the C.A “ You are determined to create a Herrenvolk…This resolution in its present form epitomises the spirit of reaction. That spirit will not remain confined to the precincts of this House. It will send its waves to the country sides as well”. To the non Muslim minorities, he termed it “A thick curtain is drawn against all rays of hope, all prospects of an honourable life.” Zafarulla Khan, the foreign minister in Liaqat’s cabinet, not knowing the fate of his Ahmadi community in future Pakistan, defended the Objective Resolution and assured the non-Muslim minorities that they would not be discriminated in the new state. (Symonds: 1966:100-101)

Liaqat’s attempt to make Objective Resolution as the preamble of the Constitution, setting up  the Board of Islamic Teaching (Talimt-i-Islami) in order to advise the Basic Principles Committees on the Islamic aspects of the constitution was the use of Islam to strengthen centralistion and to curb the provincialism. However, at this stage, the bureaucracy  remained in opposition  to the Ulema and resisted to recognise them as the final authority in matters of politics and administration. That is why the proposal to establish the Ministry of Religious Affairs was rejected in order not to give any space to them  to play any role in the sphere  of administration. However, the Ulema, in the C.A. and outside of it, mobilised the public feelings on the issue of Islamistion. Mnzoor Ahmed quotes one of them known as Muffakir, who published the “Draft of Islamic Constitution for Pakistan”(1954) in which he writes:

The only basis of Pakistan’s nationality is faith in Islam, belief in Allah, resolve to obey the Last Prophet’s Shariat and a voluntary contract to associate with the state of Pakistan….Thus Muslims  in Iraq, China, Algeria, may become nationals of Pakistan if they desire so…Pakistan’s theory of state is not based on territory, rather it is related to human factors…The state, may therefore, extend beyond the frontiers of its main bulk. It is extraterritorial. Potentially the whole universe is under its sway.(Ahmad: 1966:97)

 After long efforts, the draft of the Constitution was submitted and passed by the Constituent Assembly on 29 February 1956 and put into force on 23 March. The constitution proclaimed Pakistan as the  “Islamic Republic Pakistan” and the Objective Resolution as preamble of the Constitution. Its significant provisions were that no law  repugnant to the Quran and Sunnah should be enacted and only a Muslim could become head of the state. The constitution lasted only 30 months and on the eve of general election, Ayub Khan, after imposing the martial law, abrogated it.

The new constitution of 1962 which was promulgated by Ayub Khan, in spite of  its secular and modern outlook, contained a number of Islamic provisions which encouraged the process of Islamisation. In the beginning  the name was declared as “ The Republic of Pakistan ” But later on, as a result of pressure, the Islamic was added to it. In the chapter “Principles of Policy” it was declared: “The teaching of the Holy Quran and Islamic ideology to the Muslims of Pakistan should be compulsory.” Further it said that proper organization of Zakat, waqf, and mosques should be ensured. It also introduced the “Advisory Council of Islamic Ideology” to advise on the matters of religion.

The  constitution of 1973 was declared after  the defeat of  Pakistan army in 1971 and the independence of Bangladesh. The new constitution  also incorporated the Islamic provisions in order to win the support of  religious parties and groups. Besides the “sovereignty of God” in the preamble,  and retaining the name of the state, it declares Islam to be state religion of Pakistan. It also announces to strengthen bond with the Muslim world; and that both the President and the Prime Minister should be Muslims. In 1974, according to the second amendment,  Ahmadis were declared non Muslims. To further the process of Islamisation Z.A. Bhutto set up the Ministry of Religious Affairs and to moblise the religious sentiments of the people, the government opened the Hajj policy by terminating the lottery system.The process of Islamisation was further accelerated after the general elections of 1977 in which opposition launched a country wide campaign against Bhutto on the charges that he rigged the election. The combined opposition known as the Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) raised the slogan of Nizam-i- Mustafa in order to appeal the religious emotions of people. Bhutto, to counter the slogan, announced  the implementation of some Islamic laws such as banning drinking and gambling; making Friday as holiday instead of Sunday; and invited Maulana Maudoodi and Maulana Nurani to become members of the Council of Islamic Ideology and cooperate with him in implementation of the Islamic laws. However, his enthusiasm for Islamisation could not keep him in power and in July 1977, Zia ul haq imposed martial law and ousted Bhutto .

Zia, unlike Ayub Khan, did not abrogate the constitution, but made a  number of amendments which changed the whole shape of it. The Objective Resolution which was so far the preamble of the constitution, was incorporated in the constitution and henceforth has become a part of it. As Zia required legitimacy of his government, he created his constituency in the circles of ulema and Mashaikh (elders belonging to the families of sufis) .The steps which were taken by Zia to Islamise the constitution were: separate electorates for non-Muslims, Zakat and Ushr (agriculture tax) laws, Hudood ordinances ((laws of Islamic punishment), setting up Shariat Appeal Bench, interest free banking known as profit and loss system, Ahtram-i-Ramazan ordinance which prohibits to eat or drink openly in public place during the month of fasting,  Pakistan studies and Islamiyat as compulsory subjects on all educational level. Zia’s policy of Islamisation have greatly affected the society of Pakistan. The non Muslim minorities, as a result of separate electorate, are cut of from the main stream and politically sidelined. Women suffered because of the Hudood ordinances and Qanoon -i- shahadat (law of evidence) which downgraded their position and status legally and socially. The Council of Islamic Ideology and the Shariat courts empowered the traditional ulema who have adopted very militant and aggressive attitude in demanding further Islamic laws. The establishment of Majlis-i- Shura instead of elected parliament created a class of opportunists who were ready to serve Zia in order to fulfil their  political ambitions. The attempt to Islamise the education throttled all creativity and research and made educated class incapable to serve the society. It also helped to make them fanatic and reactionary. Not only communalism but sectarianism was the result of some of the Islamic laws such as Zakat which was not accepted by the Shias. Further restrictions on Ahmadis made them disillusioned which resulted in large number of migration to Europe and USA.

The process of Islamisation of the Pakistani society did not stop  after Zia. Benazir in her two tenures kept the situation intact while Nawaz Sharif, as heir to Zia, added more Islamic provisions, especially to the non Muslim minorities the Blasphemy Law has become a draconian weapon to humiliate  or take revenge against them . Nawas Sharif added death penalty to the law which makes the life of the minorities more miserable and insecure.

In his second term, after miserably failing to improve economic or law and order situation , he again resorted to use religion and this time announced to implement the Shariat-i- Muhammadi instead of Nizam-i-Mustafa of Zia. The 15th Amendment Bill, which intends to put the Shariat in practice, was passed by the lower house and was waited to be passed by the Senate where there is strong opposition of the Bill as it would empower the Prime Minister politically, leaving no chance for the opposition to play any effective role. To counter the opposition of the Bill, the P.M. asked the ulema and general public in his speeches to teach a lesson to those who are opposing the Bill.

His concept of the shariat is confined only to the Islamic punishment believing that the Islamic penal codes would eradicate all crimes from the society. Speedy justice and exemplary punishments are viewed by him as the solution to all problems. He is also inspired by the Taliban Islam in Afghanistan and expressed his desire to model it in Pakistan. Recently in January 1999, the provisional government of North West Frontier Province implemented Shariat by announcing the Nizam-i-Adl Regulation in Malakand  division where there is a strong movement of “Tahrik-i-nifaz-i-shariat-i- Muhammadi” which is active  in demanding the Islamic laws. The new law replaced the 1994 Shariat Regulation imposed by the PPP government. However, the TNSM leadership is not happy on the Shariat imposed from the above and opposed mixture of Islamic and Anglo-Saxon laws.(Herald: Febuary:1999)

The whole process of Islamisation of the Pakistani constitutions and the society shows that Islam has been used by the political leadership again and again for  political ends. With the failure of  ruling classes to deliver good to the people, religion is exploited to cover their  corruption and bad governance.

Moreover, the process of Islamisation not only supports but also protects the religious fundamentalists in their attempts to terrorise and harass the society in the name of religion. The growing number of  madressas (religious schools) and their graduated Taliban are becoming a great menace to the society. After graduation from these madressas these people have neither the ability to get any job nor the resources to raise their social status, therefore, finding no place, the best alternative is that they join religious party and, after becoming its member, work for it. The religious zeal which is inducted in them is used to crush all un-Islamic practices which, in their view, are prevailing in the society. In February’s issue the magazine Herald has published the activities of such zealous religious youths in Quetta who launched a campaign to implement their type of shariat: “Armed with batons and moving in large groups, they attacked video  rental shops smashing YV sets and VCRs with impunity.”(Herald:Febuary:64) Similarly there are reports in the newspapers that in Malakand  divisions the religious groups threatened to search every house and smash TVs and VCRs which are considered by them as un-islamic. The process of Islamisation has created a movement against western culture and modernity which are regarded against the faith of Islam .The result is that the Pakistani society, to show its piety,  outwardly has become religious. Religious rituals are performed to show their religious devotion in order to impress the people. Religious writings (Quranic verses or Sayings of the Prophet) are displayed publicly on government buildings as well as on private houses. Nearly all Urdu newspapers have weekly religious page besides publishing religious articles daily. However, inwardly the society has lost its soul: corruption, moral decadence, social and political degeneration have reached to such an extent that every body has lost any hope to regenerate and revive it .It appears that having no vision and alternative the present and also coming ruling classes will continue to rely on the process of Islamisation to preserve their domination. However, in spite of the process, still it is difficult for the religious parties to come to power. The reason is that all major political parties have adopted their agenda and implement it also whenever they come to power. That’s why the religious parties have resorted  to violent methods to capture the state with armed struggle. The conflict between the ruling classes and the religious leaders  is growing day by day. The religious leaders, since the inception of Pakistan, are  arguing  that as an Islamic state, Pakistan should be ruled by them and not by modern educated leaders; because  they, and not political leaders, are the ultimate authority in religious matters. Maulana Maudoodi, the leader of Jamat-i-Islami, in spite of his opposition of Pakistan, decided to come to Pakistan in the hope that he would be chosen to lead the new religious state as the Muslim league leadership was not capable to run it according to the Islamic tenets. As Pakistan has been declared an Islamic state and Islam as the state religion, the ulema no longer want to play a secondary role. The political failure of the ruling classes is giving them hope that the time is coming when they would be on the helm of the affairs like Iran and recently like Afghanistan. Continued.....