2nd Part Pakistan In Search Of Identity

-- Mubarak Ali –

 Two Nation Theory

 The Two nation theory is regarded as the cause  for the genesis of Pakistan,  and, therefore, is an important aspect of the Pakistan ideology. The demand for Pakistan was based on the theory that the Hindus and Muslims were two separate nations with separate culture and history, therefore, as such they could not live together. On this assumption, the Indian Muslims demanded a separate homeland where they could observe their religious tenets without any fear. These were the political statements by the political leaders such as Iqbal, Jinnah, and Liaqat Ali Khan .s To justify it, the Theory of Two nation is given a solid historical shape. The task is done by several historians among them prominent is I.H. Qureshi, who in his book “ The Muslim Community of the Indo-Pakistan Subcontinent”  traces the history of the Muslims in the subcontinent. He argues that the Muslim Community maintained its separate identity throughout the History.  Islam, according to him, was the strong bond which welded different Muslim communities into one. He writes:

 The Muslims of the subcontinent have always been motivated by an intense love of Islam in their policies and movements….their poets have sung more of Islam than of their heroes and achievements; they have preached the ideals of Muslim unity with great fervour, whereas questions relating to their domestic problems have found a secondary place; they have never thought of themselves as an entity separate from the community of Islam.(Queshi:1977:91)

 He further argues that even those Muslims who came from different Muslim countries lost their ethnic identity and, after integrating in the community, identified themselves only as Muslims. “With the establishment of  Muslim rule the same tendency continued. In Sindh main centres of Muslim strength continued to become more and more Muslim and less and less Arab so that gradually the main division came to be between Muslim and Hindu and not between Arab and native.”(Qureshi:1977:93)

He establishes  it as a historical fact that the Muslim community in India, in spite of speaking different languages and living in different regions and absorbing local cultural values and traditions, remained separate from the Hindus and rejected all  attempts which lured them to abandon their Islamic identity. As in case of Akbar, who after Indianising his Empire and incorporating the Hindus in its fold, made an attempt to build an Indian nation. He failed because his policies were challenged by Ahmad Sirhindi (d.1624), who, in order to prove the Two Nation theory historically, was resurrected from the past and has become the creator and defender of it. Interestingly, as pointed out by S.M.Ikram, it was Maulana Azad, who in his Tazkirah, writes that Ahmad Sirhindi was the lone figure who fought against the atheistic policies of Akbar and thus saved Islam. (Ikram:1991:338,342) He was followed by other important religious personalities who kept Islam pure from the Hindu culture  such as Shah Waliullah (d.1762) who made an attempt not only to create a unity among different sectarian groups but also to revive the Muslim state even with the help of Ahmad Shah Abdali, the ruler of Afghanistan.(d.1772)Then came the Reform movement of Haji Shariat ullah (d.1840) which followed Saiyyid Ahmad’s (d.1831) and Ismail Shaheed’s (d.1831) Jihad  movement to purify Islam from the Hindu practices and failed attempt to set up an Islamic state in the North West Frontier. Up to this stage, the ulema emerged as the  protectors and preservers of religious identity and kept the Muslim community intact from all cultural and social onslaughts of the Hindus.

In the modern period, however, the situation had changed. The ulema  relegated to the background and the modern educated leaders having progressive outlook became the champions of the Two nation theory. On the top is Sayyid Ahmad Khan (d.1898), who after the Hindi-Urdu conflict reached to the conclusion that these two nation could not live together. He was followed by Iqbal (d.1938) and finally Jinnah (d.1948) who reiterated the concept of the two nation theory based on the history and emphasised the separateness of these two communities.The history of Two Nation theory comes to an end after the partition.There is no further development.Therefore, there is a discussion that after the creation of Pakistan two nation theory has lost its relevance. Now, a Pakistani nation should be built on the basis of  nationalism and nation state. This attempt is thwarted by the process of Islamisation which gives emphasis on the religious rather than  secular and national identity. This puts Pakistani people in dilemma to determine their identity: whether they are first Muslim and then Pakistani or first Pakistani and then Muslim.

 Geographical  Separateness

 Like religious and historical identity, Pakistan also needed geographical identity. Before the Partition it was a part of the Indian subcontinent and had no separate identity. In 1947, Pakistan comprised of two wings: West and East. So there was a problem how to create a geographical identity of these two separate wings. But after the separation of  East Pakistan and emergence of Bangladesh, the problem of separate geographical identity of Pakistan became easy. To have a separate identity it was also essential to delink it with India and assert its separateness and uniqueness. Ahmad Ali, the author of “Twilight of Delhi” and one of the Progressives writers, wrote  an article  just after the Partition which was published in Ricard Symonds book “Making of Pakistan” in 1949 as an appendix with the title of “The Culture of Pakistan”. He, on the one hand, claims that real India is the present Pakistan, and on the other hand, tries to delink this part from the subcontinent. He writes:

 The word ‘India’ now adopted as the official name for the new Indian Dominion by the Congress Government, is misleading. If any country, it is Pakistan that could be called by this name. The word ‘India’ is derived from ‘Sind’, …which changed to ‘Hind’ in Iran and the Arab countries and to ‘India’ in Greece. The most ancient culture to flourish in this subcontinent  about four thousand years ago and which, as archaeology proves, was destroyed by the Aryans about 1500 B.C had centered round the river Sind or Indus. It was known akin to Sumerian and Elamite cultures. Even as far back in time as this, it was not ‘Indian’ in the modern sense of the word. It had more in common with the contemporary civilization of the valleys of the Nile, Tigris and Euphrates. (Ali:1966:197)

 He further writes that the Muslims as inheritors of Greek knowledge and ancient Persian culture relinked the old contact between this part and middle East and the West when they conquered it. “The valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates, with which the people of Western Pakistan had intercourse as early as four thousand years ago, again began to exercise their influence from the seven and eight centuries onward.”(Ibid.,193)

R.E.M. Wheeler in his book “Five Thousand years of Pakistan” (1950) also linked the history of the present Pakistan to the ancient Babylonian and Sumerian civilizations rather than Indian. Recently Aitezaz Ahsan in his book “The Indus Saga and the Making of Pakistan” repeats some  of the arguments emphasising  the geographical and historical exclusiveness of Pakistan from the Indian subcontinent:

 Indus (Pakistan) has a rich and glorious cultural heritage of its own. This is a distinct heritage, of a distinct and separate nation. There is, thus, no fear of any other country devouring or destroying the state. During the last six thousand years Indus has, indeed, remained independent of and separate from India for almost five and half thousand years. Only three ‘Universal States’ those of the Mauryans, the Mughals, and the British, welded these two regions together in single empire. (Ahsan:1996:8)

 He looks at the creation of Pakistan only as a reassertion of that reality: “It was the reunion of the various units, the Frontier, the Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, and Kashmir once again in a primordial federation. The mohajirs, who reverted to the Indus in 1947 and thereafter, were the sons and daughters returning to the mother.”(Ibid.)

In 1970s the independence of Bengladesh and war with India created intense hostility against India. Under these circumstances officially attempts were made to delink Pakistan from India and to make it a part of the Muslim World. That was the period when  the Middle East, as a result of the oil wealth, was attracting people from all over the world. Pakistan took advantage of its Muslim identity to have good relations with the oil rich Arab countries and sent her workers and professionals to earn foreign exchange to boost the weak economy. Z.A.Bhutto , in order to bring Pakistan more closer to the Muslim countries, hosted the second Islamic summit at Lahore in 1974.

Zia ul Haq during his tenure of 11 years persistently tried to promote the institution of Muslim Ummah. The close relationship with the oil rich Arab countries especially with Saudia Arabia helped Pakistan to strengthen its Islamic identity and to make Saudia as a model of its Islamic system.

The collapse of Russia and the emergence of Central Asian Republics inspired most of the intellectuals and government circles to revive the cultural links with Central Asia. There are a number of articles published in the newspapers which trace the cultural relationship between Pakistan and C.A. and claim that Pakistani people have more affinity with the C.A. people rather than Indians. It is even proposed to make Persian as an official language in order to have more close cultural and political links with C.A.

 Historical Identity

 Pakistan has been facing problems, from the very beginning, as to how to reshape the history of the new country. There are three different opinions about reshaping the history of Pakistan. One view is that as Pakistan came into being in 1947, the history of Pakistan should be started from this point with the understanding that the pre-partition history would  be regarded as the history of India. In the second approach history of Pakistan should be written from the Arab invasion of Sindh (711) in order to give it an Islamic character. Ancient history prior to the Arab invasion should be ignored as it is not a part of the Islamic history. In the third point of view it is argued that the ancient history cannot be ignored so it should be included in the history of Pakistan. This point of view gives importance to the Indus valley civilization and provides roots of the territorial rather than religious nationalism.

The same contradiction is in the excavation projects: whether pre-Islamic civilization should be given importance or more attention should be fixed on the excavations of the Islamic periods. Historical monuments also came under this discussion: which should d and should not be preserved. The process of Islamisation and the ideology have changed the approaches to history as well as archaeology.

There is another point of view according to which history of the Indian subcontinent should be partitioned and history should be written confining only to the geographical boundaries of the present Pakistan. During Ayub Khan’s period a “History of Pakistan” was written under the General Editorship of I.H.Qureshi , although it was written by the prominent historians of Pakistan, but it failed to make any change in the interpretation of history. 

The difficult point, in writing the history of Pakistan, is how to treat the periods of the Salatin and the Mughals. To deny it means to reject the whole historical period of the medieval Indian history when the Muslim rulers ruled over India and contributed to the culture and civilization of the Indian subcontinent. Keeping in view this problem, this period is given a new name “History of Pak-Hind” or History of Indo-Pak. It is also interpreted in term of Hindu- Muslim conflict. Those rulers who defeated the Hindus are portrayed as heroes and their achievements are glorified and admired such as Muhammad b. Qasim, Mahmud of Ghazna, and Shihabuddin of Ghur. Among the Mughal emperors, Aurangzeb is preferred to Akbar. The emergence of the British as a political power and decline of the Mughal is discussed in a simplistic way: a conspiracy of the Hindus and British against the Muslims.

The modern history of Pakistan which is constructed after the Partition is given the name of “Pakistan Movement”. The whole history of the movement is interpreted as it became successful only because of some great personalities and not because of the  people. As  the movement had started from North India and the Muslim leaders of that area played an important role to make it effective and popular, this would discredit the political leadership of the Punjab and Sindh whose leadership joined the movement only in the end, therefore, it was  not in the interest of the  political leadership to give credit to the Muslims of North India; they are simply ignored. Similarly, the Punjab leadership is also not interested to give the whole credit to Muhammad Ali Jinnah, therefore, Muhammad Iqbal, the poet, is projected as the man who outlined the concept of Pakistan and Jinnah merely gave a practical shape to his idea. It helped the Punjab leadership to claim political domination in Pakistan. Now there is a flush of literature in which every province is highlighting its contribution to the struggle of Pakistan. Following this line there are different social and political groups which are also claiming their contribution to the success of the movement such as students, women, ulema, journalists and minorities.

Most interesting case is of the religious parties, especially Jamait-i-Islami which opposed the Pakistan Movement. Now, they are also trying to readjust their position by rewriting or distorting history. One the books of Maulana Maudoodi “Musalmanun ki siyasi kashmakah (The political struggle of the Muslims) was rewritten and all those passages which were against Pakistan and Muslim League leadership are expunged. Even efforts are made that Maulana Maudoodi is one of the creators of Pakistan. Their interpretation of Pakistan movement is that it was for the establishment of an Islamic state and not for political rights or economic benefits.

 Protection  of  the Ideology

 In any ideological state, efforts are made not only to protect the ideology but also to disseminate it. Therefore, to indoctrinate the mind, state uses media and curriculum The same process is following in Pakistan. Zia ul Haq, during his military dictatorship coined the phrase ‘geographical and ideological boundaries’ and made it the responsibility of his government to defend from external and internal enemies. This declaration made all secular and liberal minded people enemies of the countries. They were warned again and again to face severe punishment in case of violation of the Ideology of Pakistan.

To make the young generation conscious of the Pakistani ideology, the University Grants Commission of Pakistan made Islamic study and Pakistan study compulsory subjects for all level of students even the professional students are required to take the examination of these two subjects beside their professional subjects. Zia ul Haq government  also made the two subjects compulsory for O’ an A’ level students . London and Cambridge Boards made them compulsory for Pakistani students. The subject of Pakistan study has given the  government opportunity to teach the students their version of the  history, especially the Pakistan ideology is described as the “struggle for the establishment of the new Islamic state and for the attainment of independence. It was the outcome of the sincere desire of the Muslims of the subcontinent in which Islam could be accepted as the ideal pattern for the individual’s life and also as the law to bind the Muslims into a single community.” (Sarwar:1989:23)

Needless to say that both subjects are very unpopular because of their repeated and hackneyed ideas and lack of any creative research.

Besides dissemination of the ideology, the next concern is to protect it from any criticism and opposition. Article 123A of Pakistan Penal Code 1860 under the heading ‘Condemnation of the creation of the state and advocacy of abolition of its sovereignty’ which was amended in 1992 says:

In a manner likely to be prejudicial to the safety [ or ideology ] of Pakistan , or to endanger the sovereignty of Pakistan in respect of all or any of the territories lying within its borders, shall by words, spoken or written or by sign or visible representation [abuse Pakistan ] or condemn the creation of Pakistan by virtue of the partition of India …shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.  


 In asserting her identity Pakistan is in a state of dilemma: in case of rejection of the Pakistan ideology, it has to repudiate the very basis of its separation from India; to keep and preserve the ideology means to alienate the non-Muslim minorities to become a part of the Pakistani nationhood. On the other hand, as the ideology has been used by the political and military leadership for their domination by maintaining over centralisation; it disillusioned the small provinces: they saw in the shape of the ideology a tool to snatch their political rights  and deprive them of their regional and cultural identity. The alternative which is suggested by some of the Pakistani scholars is to reconstruct the Pakistani identity on the basis of territorial rather than religious nationalism. Hamza Alavi rightly says that; “By that we will free ourselves from our present day hang-ups about the so-called Pakistan ideology and its confusing appeal to religion, which only has effect of promoting vicious sectarian conflict.” (Alavi: 1997:21)


1.    Alavi, Hamza ( 1997 ) , The Territorial basis of Pakistani Nationhood, Lahore

2.    Ahmad, Manzoor ( 1966 ) , Pakistan: The Emerging Islamic State, Karachi

3.    Ahsan, Aitezaz ( 1966 ), Indus Saga and the making of Pakistan, OUP Karachi

4.    Ali, Ahmad ( 1966 ) The Culture of Pakistan, in: Making of Pakistan by R.Symond, Karachi

5.    Herald, February, 1999

6.    Ikram, S.M. ( 1991 ) Muslim Rule in India and Pakistan, Karachi

7.    Iqbal, Javid (1971 ), Ideology of Pakistan, In: Radio Pakistan Publication

8.    Mohajir,M.O. ( 1971 ) Ideology of Pakistan, Radio Pakistan Publication

9.    Mujahid, al Sharif ( 1981 ) , Jinnah: Studies in Interpretation, Karachi

10.  ( 1976 ) , Ideology of Pakistan, Lahore

11.  Muneer  ( 1954 ), Report of the Court of Inquiry, Lahore

12.  Niazi, Zamir ( 1986 ), Press in Chains, Karachi

13.  Qureshi, I.H. ( 1977 ), Muslim Community of the Indo-Pakistan Subcontinent, Karachi

14.  ( 1971), Ideology of Pakistan, In: Ideology of Pakistan, Radio Pakistan Publication

15.  Sarwar, G.S. ( 1989 ), Pakistan Studies, Karachi

16.  Symond, R. ( 1966 ), Making of Pakistan, Karachi

17.  Wheeler, R.E. ( 1950 ) , Five Thousand years of Pakistan, London