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Two-nation theory
March 19, 2012
By Tanvir Ahmad Khan

In the beginning was the word –– in the lower case –– that created myths of compelling power and legends that provided the woof and warp of the culture of human communities. The world got industrialised and became modern but this substratum of civilisation was not discarded; only reinterpreted. Man did not live by bread alone.

In Pakistan the situation is different. Every element of its ancient heritage, and more recently, its history since Muhammad bin Qasim led an Arab army to Sindh and Multan, is under attack. The orthodox bigot does not want to know much about the 5,000 years before the fateful Arab expedition. On their part, some highly educated Pakistani liberals blithely sidestep causality and context and want to shake every pillar on which the state of Pakistan has rested during the last 65 years. Much too sophisticated to need a vision, they want millions of fellow Pakistanis to do so as well.

I do not intend to locate the article published in this newspaper on March 14, under the title “Founding Stories” by Feisal H Naqvi in the domain of this arrogant ‘liberalism’. But it did occur to me that it might have paid insufficient attention to the context of events between 1857 and 1947. Approaching the two-nation theory merely from the stand-point of western notions of nationhood is, at best, an abstract exercise.

South Asia’s struggle against alien rule is not without aspects that rile a modern mind. India was a not a nation state, but fragments of a collapsing empire when the wily British conquered it. Paradoxically, Great Britain’s triumph triggered off a renovation of existing belief systems. Hinduism went through an extraordinary renaissance, particularly in Bengal. Muslims were systematically weakened in the aftermath of 1857 as a religious community most likely to challenge the new empire. Once their initial shock of the retribution was contained, they began an internally contested search for salvation and rehabilitation. There was the spiritually fortified inward-looking Islamic seminary (madrassa) with a hallowed tradition of religious learning and the opposing, somewhat anglicised, open space of Aligarh.

Religious revivalism amongst Hindus and Muslims of India deeply affected Indian politics that had become possible as the paramount power developed a particular version of the western mission civilisatrice aiming at an eventual grant of limited ‘home rule’ to its Indian subjects. Mahatama Gandhi effectively sidelined secularists like Subash Chandra Bose; Nehru kept his brand of secularism alive through sheer tact in handling the ‘Bapu’; Abul Kalam Azad, a far-sighted political leader, foresaw the danger posed by the deepening of the communal divide by various contenders for power in a postcolonial era but was unable to do much even in the Congress. Documents now compiled by Lionel Carter reveal that in the first post-independence winter even Gandhi-ji, strongly supported punitive military action against Pakistan. Apparently, India considered invading Pakistan in October, as well as, in December 1947.

Amongst the Muslims, there was no clear concept of a nation as defined in western treatises; only a painful consciousness of a dispossessed and defeated ‘millat’. Iqbal was the bard par-excellence of its revival and also one of the principal exponents of a renaissance in the Arab-Islamic world. Jinnah came under his influence but retained his distinctive place as a workman-like constitutionalist who would, realistically, protect Muslim rights under an inevitable future majoritarian dispensation. A long and tortuous road wound its way through the Congress sessions, Jinnah’s Fourteen Points, the Nehru Report and the 1937 provincial governments to the articulation of the two-nation theory. It was more an attempt to create an imagined identity than a theory per se; it marked a shift to mass mobilisation of the Muslims. The last general election in undivided India gave this identity a form and substance that few had foreseen.

Jinnah understood the need to re-establish viable parameters for the two-nation theory in the postcolonial context of nation-building. He sought to do so as early as August 11, in his celebrated speech in Karachi. Public statements made by him as the first governor general of Pakistan have invited commentaries about a certain inherent ambivalence, but we also know from independent sources that he came down hard on those who demanded a theocratic state or, for that matter, talked –– like some hawkish political leaders in India –– of a complete exchange of population on communal basis. He easily remains the most eloquent defender of equal rights of religious minorities in Pakistan’s history. Jinnah’s characterisation of Hindus and Muslims as two ‘nations’ cannot be fully understood without mapping the dialectics of the politics that the Raj sanctioned and that snowballed as all stakeholders failed to build safeguards into it.

The Express Tribune
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Pakistan Day – Strange March 23 Celebrations: View the Mirror
March 22, 2012
Mahboob A. Khawaja, Ph.D.
Exclusive Article

Pakistan and its moral, political and intellectual culture is being ruined and destroyed by those rulers who share nothing in-common with the masses. The princely rulers and the ordinary folks live far part in conflicting time zones, unable to find a meeting ground, and people paying for their own pains and anguish under the false pretext of democracy. Obsessed with foreign-thinking and control, morally and intellectually incompetent and money-making Generals support and co-exist with the corrupt and prostitution-run PPP Zardari regime and the bogus assemblies, all demonstrate cruelty and perpetuated indifference and insanity to the interests and priorities of the Muslim people of Pakistan. Come to the present and see the mirror – how Pakistan is being governed by the wrong people, with wrong thinking and doing the wrong things. Its existence and freedom are under fire. The THINKING people of the nation must initiate planned steps and organize revulsionary collective ideas and ideals to deter threats to the national freedom, integrity and future of Pakistan. The priorities must be focused on developing a new system of economic and political governance by disconnecting the interdependence on foreign aid, debts and dictates. The nation has been dehumanized to its critical and painful juncture of very survival. Under the circumstances, what is there to celebrate? The symbolic Pakistan Day celebrations will remain devoid of much needed change and reformation aim of the institutionalized corrupt system of governance. Pakistan is in desperate need of a New Political System befitting to its people and values to ensure a sustainable future.

With continued planned scrutiny, the Western intelligencia framed Pakistan as a “failed state” surviving on foreign loans and unpayable IMF debts of some 65 billions. Most Western politicians view Pakistani rulers as beggars flourishing by trading their national interests. In recent years, the Foreign Policy magazine ran focused coverage on “Pakistan as the most dangerous place on earth.” These vindictive claims were outcome of planned scheme of things to question the integrity of Pakistan as an independent Muslim nation. The embodying scenarios and contentions explain how internal conflicts, denial of services to the common citizens, legitimacy of the government, measures against corruption, poor management of the nation’s resources and affairs are counted as dysfunction factors to assert the conclusion. Conscientious Pakistanis should have taken serious notice of these challenging indicators and how they will affect the governance and futuristic development of a nation; certainly, the military regime of General Musharaf at the time and now the PPP Zardari in power would reject these claims. Undoubtedly, the deprived masses appear tense and uncertain of a promising future. The US policy has articulated the “Islamic terrorism” phenomenon originating from Pakistani soil and has enlarged its scope to make unchallenged drone attacks on the Pakistani civilians in the tribal belts killing almost eight -nine thousands civilians so far. If this would have happened in the US, American president would have launched many retaliatory wars against the intruders. Pakistani politicians are complacent in killing their own masses to maintain the politics of power and foreign influence.

General Musharaf, the then self-styled president was bribed and bought to make common Pakistanis look like as “terrorist” , the image America and Britain wanted to carve out for the Muslim nation. His Masters rewarded him for his prolonged cruelty and treachery to the Nation of Pakistan and lives comfortably in $1.4 million mansion in London under 24 hours British security protection. The Pakistani masses bleeding hearts and neglected talents could only hold demonstrations and strikes against the present Zaradri regime that does not represent the will of the people. If you want to analyze the progress and history under broader perspectives, most pages will go blank for the chapter on Pakistan. Intellectual and moral data ceases to exist because there was no moral or intellectual leadership to generate such vital information. Comparatively, India could gather data and considerable insights to illustrate its own contemporary progress and ancient history-though mostly developed by Muslim rulers and Islamic civilization. What freedom meant to India, is not the same to Pakistan. India enjoyed continued political leadership, whereas, Pakistanis with Jinnah’s death, lost what could have been their ideological foundation and viable political values. Secular India developed parliamentary system of government, short and long range planning models for public institutions, sustainable economic and industrial infrastructures, educational development and strong armed forces. It can celebrate what it has achieved so far. Painful as is to find rational space to have celebration for the Pakistan Day-March 23. After more than six decades of freedom from the British colonial rule, almost 50 years were stolen by the military Generals, who could not think right nor act as Muslim Generals in the interest of the Pakistani nation. The ordinary folks are still looking for recognition of basic human rights, survival needs of foods and shelters, equality, security and justice. There are full time high life privileges for the affluent class but nothing for the ordinary citizens except demonstrations, social and intellectual deprivation and lost sense of identity. How would the nation reconnect itself to the forgotten purpose and meaning of the Lahore Resolution of March 1940 for an independent Pakistan?

The Lahore Resolution (March 23, 1940) of the Muslim League unanimously demanded a separate homeland for the Muslim majority living in the Indian sub-continent, democratic rights, and freedom to establish and practice Islam as a system of life and to be progressive country in a global community of independent nations. None of it reflects from the half leftover Pakistan after India invaded the eastern part in 1970, and carved up Bangladesh, out of what was called East Pakistan. Defeated Generals should have learned a lesson to be shameful and accountable to the nation. Not so, they became the rulers of the militarily weak nation for long time to come. While this historical drama was in progress in concert with the then military dictators and accomplice politicians, the friendly US diplomats were describing Pakistan as “ drowning dog.” They knew well what was happening, not the common Pakistanis. After almost forty years, what has changed, if any? Nothing at all. Few years back, the Washington Post displayed its own freewill journalistic caricature- depicting General Musharaf as “dog” – a friend of America and active collaborator in its “War on Terrorism” – in reality, a new form of crusade against Islam and practicing Muslims across the globe. President Bush and General Musharaf worked hard to convince the humanity that the war on terrorism is real. Muslims opposing the war are called “foreigners”, “terrorists” and “insurgents”, while Americans are described as advisors. Deception is known to be the art of diplomacy and war. Most Western intellectuals with living conscious, would tell forthright,” it is a lie”, and “this war is a fraud.” Not to the Pakistani Generals and Mr. Zardari, it is a means of survival, and a reason to afloat their combined powerhouse. The masses and the national ideology have no role to play in this paradigm. Zardari gang and the Generals appear immune from any accountability. Those daring to challenge the absurdity of the military sponsored governance, often become ‘insurgents’ and undesirable ‘foreigners’ in their own homeland. No wonder, who is truly Pakistani, the colonial based institution of the Generals, the known thugs like Zardari or the freedom loving masses who demanded, strived and created the free homeland?

America and British policy planners are happy, their plans and strategies are effectively in place to break up the integrity of Pakistan. Conflict-making and conflict keeping is the order in Baluchistan and the Northwest Frontier Pakhutoon provinces and the adjacent tribal areas. The foreign strategic planners contend that the Baluchis and Pakhtoons are minorities in Pakistan. India will be keen to see more dismemberment of Pakistan. In recent months, the BBC broadcast several bogus interviews with political activists and so called specialists on Pakistan. These planned efforts are aimed at to fuel the provincial insurgency and conflicts and disintegration of the Muslim nation. American drone attacks and the war in Afghanistan have made things worst for the security of Pakistan. After Ms Bhutto, Sharif, General Musharaf, and now Zaradri is the best hope for futuristic hegemonic rule both of the US and India. Therefore, to appease the friendly nations, the ruling elite must celebrate Pakistan Day to forge relationship with the ideology of Muslim homeland. They are stranger to the essence of the Pakistan Day. To an educated Pakistani, it may be an insult to watch the military parade on Pakistan Day while the nation experiences daily bloodbaths and terrorism. What good the military has done for the common citizens? History tells us, there was no military factor involved, and it was the help of God and will of the people contributing to the emergence of Pakistan Movement and the birth of a free Islamic nation.

What has been destroyed systematically by the stupid Generals and the wicked politicians, cannot be recovered on its own. Educated Pakistanis used to describe the fertile lands of Sind and the Five Rivers-Punjab, “our culture is agriculture.” Not any more, once home grown foods like sugar, wheat and other commodities are now imported from abroad. What went wrong with the fertile lands of Pakistan? The Al-Qura’an (Surah Al-Furqhan), mentions, how the deeds of the people affect the environmental growth and natural productivity of human development. Ignorance to the Divine message and man-made corruption spoils the fertility of land and creative energies of humanity. A fact most often unknown to agricultural scientists. Recently, an American scholar remarked on President Bush led bogus war on Iraq: “we know the enemy, he is in us”, so do most Pakistanis. The military rule has stolen more than forty years of lifetime of the country. The nation’s agriculture lifeline has been endangered by the official neglect and corrupt practices of urbanization. Economy makes no headways under the continued IMF debts of $64 billion dollars, being unable to pay the annual interest without additional borrowing. No national productivity except on bureaucratic papers, political institutions dismantled, only dummy Parliament and the Senate are in session to float the PPP thieves and deceive the masses. To rationalize the irrational, Zardari makes references to the dead Bhuttos. How could dead people be a hope for the future of Pakistan? Would the Pakistani history offer any honorable reference to thugs and criminals?

India and China are the emerging new superpowers, acknowledged and considered by the Western strategic policy interests and economic development agendas. Nobody wants to invest in a society governed by the military dictators and criminals like Zardari, as they have neither relevance nor value in the contemporary global affairs. India with the blessing of the Western powers, have plans for “dissecting” Pakistan, and ‘slicing’ it into half in its preparation of the war games. Ironically, most will agree, this is not the time and age for the secular military Generals to run a culturally sensitive, Islamic value-based nation of Pakistan. Those fellow Pakistanis with living conscience and Thinking Power, must contemplate, how the corrupt politicians and their accomplice military Generals, devoid of reason and intellectual foresights, could possibly help to reform and rebuild the nation? If agreeable, what are the practical solutions and a way out of the accumulated insecurity and instability? Another military coup? Not so. Obviously, that is going to create more problems than resolve any peacefully. With political institutions dismantled by the Generals, the nation does not seem to have the intellectual capacity to come out of the problematic box and see beyond and the above for its sustainable future and protective measures for its integrity. Understandably, when people are governed and victimized by ignorant and insane politicians, they lose sense of rational thinking about the self and the environment and become void of productivity. This appears to be a clear burden on human conscience prevalent throughout the Pakistani culture.

Leaders create leaders. The Generals, Bhuttos, Sharifs and Zardari are not the leaders but bootlickers of the Western Masters and by-products of the neo-colonial military rule. There is nothing to celebrate except a time to see the MIRROR and reflect on our own wrong thinking and incapacitated state of the national affairs, so helpless that instead of being active reformers, most have succumbed to be pacifist spectators. Pakistan needs change but there is no systematic mechanism to foresee or visualize a democratic plan for political change and future-building. Some 30 years earlier, I asked late General Zia ul-Haq, what would our history say, why the succeeding generations of Muslims failed to produce leaders like Salahuddin, Allama Iqbal, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Qutb, Al-Mushraqi, and Mowdoodi? He replied to me without attempting to answer the focal question. Contemporary history finds no respectable place for the oppressive military rulers and wicked politicians in nation building.

Ruined agriculture cannot be restored nor lands ploughed by tanks and guns and criminal leaders. Educated people educate others, and build public institutions, not the army. Traders and private investors run economic markets; nobody invests where military dictators and political thieves control the country. Whether you like it or not, look at today’s Pakistan where the ruling elite and the masses seem to be living in two different time zones, without meeting of minds, necessities for survival and priorities for security. American led war on terrorism is killing Pakistanis and large scale daily civilian blood baths speak their own language of the political cruelty of the so called leaders. Tanks, guns and bullets produce nothing, they destroy all living things. With Zardari, Pakistan is losing its respect and integrity. Shame to their common sense if India will talk on Kashmir. Shame to Pakistani Generals and their level of professional morality and intelligence if they expect politically strong Indian leadership to have a genuine dialogue on the settlement of Kashmir. Pakistan under Zardari is operating from a position of extreme weakness, not of strength to search for a peaceful resolution of Kashmir. There is an overwhelming sense of political insecurity. Will you celebrate the Pakistan’s 72 years of democratic demand for an independent homeland? It will be reasonable and responsible to ask for the legal trial and accountability of General Musharaf, Sharif, Zardari, Malik, Gilani and so many other thugs and indicted criminals in the PPP governance who have stolen the future of the besieged Nation. The educated and visionary Pakistanis particularly those living abroad and non-partisan would need to THINK of a Navigational Change and take initiatives for planed change and reformation of the corrupt political governance. If they hope that Zardari or Sharif or the Generals will change, it is mere a hope without a hope as criminals and insane people never learn nor admit their mistakes and cruelty.

If Allama Iqbal, Chaudry Rehmat Ali, Quaid-e- Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Liaquat Ali were alive today, most likely they would have refused to be identified as people of Pakistan or part of the Pakistani political culture. The major paradoxes of Pakistan’s history illustrate that its time for change, opportunities for development and resources for progress were stolen by its own egomaniac and insane rulers. To undo the darkened past and reshape the present, Pakistan urgently NEEDS educated, visionary and proactive leadership and public institutions to rebuild its essential capacity to safeguard its integrity, survival and future as a Muslim Nation moving forward to pursue change and social and economic development infrastructures for the deprived people. The Generals, Bhuttos, Sharif, and Zardari are part of the problem, not a remedy for the future. The solution must come from the THINKING people of the new generation of educated, honest and proactive Pakistanis to facilitate HOPE and PROMISE for a sustainable future. The essence of time would demand prompt collective thinking and action for change and reformation process of the corrupt political governance, not a space for neutrality, confrontational argument, unthinking and inaction. This should be the agenda and resolve of the Pakistan Day.

(Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja specializes in global security, peace and conflict resolution, and comparative Islamic-Western cultures and civilizations, and author of many publications in international affairs. Comments are welcome at: kmahboob@yahoo.com).

The article is contributed to pkarticleshub.com
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Meaningless celebration?
March 25, 2012
By Farhan Bokhari

Pakistan’s annual Resolution Day on March 23 was hardly a moment of celebration for the South Asian country. Remembered in the memory of a landmark resolution passed by the Muslim leaders of India in 1940 to carve out a separate country for themselves, the event was followed by the creation of Pakistan in 1947.

While Pakistan was born in adversity as a country, and saw one of the largest movements of migrants in modern history, its ultimate fate as a nation could not have been visualised by its founding fathers.

Accounts of millions of migrants sacrificing most of their worldly belongings, all for the journey towards a new country and a new nation, remain central features of the story of Pakistan’s birth.

Yet the many ironies surrounding Pakistan’s story today stand in sharp contrast to the dream of Pakistan when it was born. On Friday — the commemoration of the 1940 resolution saw Pakistan observe a public holiday though with many glaring ironies.

In a country which is starved of electricity, prominent buildings were well lit, while the top leaders hosted lavish meals to mark the day, at least a third of Pakistan’s population went to bed underfed. Meanwhile, in sharp contrast to the unity which surrounded Mohammad Ali Jinnah, a credible and well-respected leader of the Pakistan movement, the country he created remains divided politically, ethnically and geographically.

On Friday, the mediocrity of those in charge of Pakistan was evident at the event held to give out civil awards by Asif Ali Zardari, the president. Barring the well-deserving illustrious few such as Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, the Oscar-winning Pakistani filmmaker, the event was devoted to the services of political cronies from the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party.

This followed a year in which Zardari, Prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and other notable figures of the ruling party have only wrapped themselves with new controversies. Defying the Supreme Court and thereby the rule of law has become the norm in today’s Pakistan — a country, whose founding father, Jinnah, an illustrious barrister, would never have compromised on his principles.

Nepotism

The collapse of Pakistan’s political and economic institutions in the past four years since Zardari, Gilani and the PPP came to power, is a glaring example of how the dream of Pakistan has gone sour.

And the writing on the wall for the foreseeable future will likely be no different. As the leaders seek to consolidate their hold on a country which is surrounded by widespread accounts of corruption and nepotism tied to the top tiers of the ruling structure, Pakistan remains poised to see further aggravation.

In a year which is likely to witness the next parliamentary elections, Pakistan’s story of everything that will be in contrast to Jinnah’s vision will increasingly become the norm. Some of the PPP’s leaders recognised through awards on Friday have a history of blind loyalty to the party. Their examples are now set to be emulated by others among their compatriots, for such blind loyalty to a partisan cause has in fact become the route to success in today’s Pakistan.

As for the fate of Pakistan itself, more of the same will hardly make things better. The state of affairs is a complete departure from its founding vision.

Ultimately, Pakistanis must decide if they want to return to the vision of the country’s founding fathers or simply accept a fact of life that surrounds the country’s ruling structure today.

March 23 could well work as a powerful reminder of the need to rescue Pakistan from those in charge of the country, as they neither have the means nor the apparent desire to take the country towards its founding principles. A failure by the people of Pakistan to change the status quo will sadly continue to make anniversaries, such as the one on Friday, no more than a moment of rejoicing without meaning.

Farhan Bokhari is a Pakistan-based commentator who writes on political and economic matters.
Source:Gulf News
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A new ‘two-nation’ theory
March 27, 2012
By Yaqoob Khan Bangash

Just a few days ago we observed the anniversary of the passing of the ‘Lahore Resolution’ of 1940 by the All India Muslim League which asked for ‘independent states’ to be carved out of the north-west and north-east of India which had Muslim majorities. By the end of British rule, however, just one ‘Muslim’ state was carved out of the Raj, Pakistan, with two wings, separated by a thousand miles of Indian territory.

The Lahore Resolution was based on the ‘Two-nation theory’ which claimed that India was inhabited by two nations — Hindus and Muslims — and that both these ‘nations’ required a separate homeland for themselves. This theory, as time as shown, was very simplistic in its outlook. While religion is certainly a strong marker of identity, this theory assumed that religion was the sole basis of identity and that people with the same religion naturally formed one nation.

This theory showed problems even before the partition of India when the Khudai Khidmatgar movement, a nationalist yet very religious movement, led by Abdul Ghaffar Khan in the Frontier province disagreed with the ‘fear of Hindus’ concept and aligned his party with the Indian National Congress. Abdul Ghaffar Khan’s movement was based in the Pakhtun concept of ‘Pakhtunwali’ whereby anyone, Muslim, Hindu or Sikh, observing its principles was part of the Pakhtun community and treated as an equal. Ghaffar Khan was a very conservative Muslim, but his personal faith did not deter him from making common cause with Gandhi in promoting non-violence and toleration — with both inspired by their own respective faiths. Similarly, the Unionist party, a composite party of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs, was the best example of political cooperation between people who were supposed to be so different. People like Sir Fazl-e-Hussain were pioneers of the idea that Hindus and Muslims can indeed work together and showed cooperation, in fact, in the Punjab.

Fate had it that the proponents of the ‘two-nation’ theory won the day and established Pakistan. However, the theory did not stop being significant after the creation of Pakistan. The concept of a two-nation theory negated the existence of differences amongst the Muslims of Pakistan. So the Baloch could not argue for autonomy, the Bengalis could not get their language recognised as an official language and the making of Sindhi an official language in the Sindh was termed an act of secession by some quarters in Pakistan. The persistence of this two-nation theory has not only thwarted the creation of a multicultural identity in Pakistan, but also adversely affected the Muslims living in India. Not only did the 140 million Muslims in India had to grapple with the fact that their upper and educated class had mostly moved to Pakistan, they had to, and in some cases still have to, convince their fellow Indians that they are not fifth columnists for Pakistan. After all, a legitimate argument could be made that since Pakistan had been created for the ‘Muslim nation,’ there was no place for them in what was supposed to be a ‘Hindu’ nation.

On the 72nd anniversary of the Lahore Resolution, however, let me posit another ‘two-nation’ theory. This new theory is based on India and Pakistan as two distinct nations which work together on topics of mutual concern and benefit. I recently visited Delhi and was rather surprised to note that even when I spoke very good Urdu, people recognised that I was from Pakistan, and even the most Muslim of neighbourhoods in old Delhi seemed ‘foreign’ to me. I know this is a generalisation but the separation of nearly 65 years has created significant distinctions between the polities of Pakistan and India.

Therefore, the time has come to refashion the old two-nation theory into one which takes citizens of India and Pakistan as basic members. After all, except for the extreme right there is no constituency in India which wants to annul the partition and most Indians would actually like a strong and prosperous Pakistan with which they can trade and visit. The Muslims in India, too, want to develop independent of a reference to Pakistan — after all, they are as Indian as anyone else. Similarly, there are at least five million non-Muslims in Pakistan, who want to be recognised as full citizens of the country and not live like an uneasy appendage to the Muslim majority. Such a two-nation theory I would like to believe in.

The Express Tribune
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Nation states do not need ideologies to exist

It is time to get rid of the excess baggage of a distorted history

Opinion By Yasser Latif Hamdani


Scientific thinking has an inbuilt mechanism with which it corrects errors of a previous generation. What Karl Popper called the doctrine of falsifiability helps uncover anomalies and inconsistencies in an established paradigm. Since science has its eyes on precision, the focus is on devilish details.

Ultimately, through observation, facts that are inconsistent with the reigning paradigm emerge. Slowly, one of the alternate paradigms triumphs over the competing paradigms for several possible reasons: its solution to the crisis is more elegant, and holds promise of future inquiry. Soon enough, a new crisis emerges and alternate paradigms are proposed. As science experiences a paradigm shift, presumptions are reset.

One of the greatest examples of this phenomenon is the Copernican Revolution, which changed the Earth's status as the center of universe. Before the Copernican Revolution, the Earth's status as the center of the universe was considered fundamental to everything from explanation of why the clouds move to why water pumps work. Faced with the new idea that it is in fact the Earth that revolves around the Sun, all fields of science had to gradually adapt to this new idea. Since then, Copernican Revolution has become a metaphor used in various fields, including Philosophy where Kant used it in his "Critique of Pure Reason".

Politics is also a science. Political science deals with political ideas and theories of statehood and nationalisms with its own established paradigms. One such paradigm is the ideology of Pakistan. It is the view of this author that Pakistan's ideology needs a Copernican Revolution.

The two standard established myths on which our ideology stands are the following:

1) Pakistan was created in the name of Islam to establish an Islamic state.

2) Hindus and Muslims are two nations and therefore cannot live together.

The facts do not fall quite in line with these myths. For example, if Pakistan was created in the name of Islam, why were Jinnah and the Muslim League ready to abandon the idea of Pakistan for the federal scheme proposed by the Cabinet Mission Plan? Contrary to the claims made by ideologues of Pakistani ideology, the Cabinet Mission Plan had no reference or guarantee for a future Pakistan, though it is true that Jinnah's selling point to his own people for the Cabinet Mission Plan was that Muslims never expected the British and the Congress to give them Pakistan on a platter. This selling point, interestingly, was suggested by Woodrow Wyatt who was a confidante of Jinnah. When first suggested, Jinnah is reported to have responded excitedly "there you've got it".

Secondly, had the idea of Pakistan irrevocably committed the League to an Islamic state, why is it not mentioned in the Lahore Resolution? Indeed the words "Islam" or "Islamic state" do not emerge once. Then we have the testimony of Raja of Mahmudabad who claims that he was told by Jinnah not to forward the idea of an Islamic state from the Muslim League's platform. In fact Muslim League all throughout the Pakistan Movement did not pass a single resolution calling for an Islamic state.

The issue of the two nation theory is also not as clear cut as our textbooks make it out to be. Two nation theory was a purely constitutional argument changing the status of Muslims from a community to a nation. It did not at any place say that Muslims and Hindus could not co-exist. What it did say was that the constitution of India had to recognize this fundamental reality so that a large community - no less than 90 million - was not disadvantaged in India. This is what was later coined as consociationalism which is a standard mechanism to bring deeply divided communities with competing aspirations together under one constitutional scheme. In order to establish the status of Muslims as a nation, an argument had to made in terms of established parameters of nationalism ie culture, common history, dietary habits, personal law etc. The argument forwarded by Jinnah rested entirely on these four points - none of which were directly linked to theology per se. Piercing the veil one sees that this Muslim nationalism was exclusively Indian, ie Indian Muslims constituted a nation, and not that all Muslims everywhere constituted a nation. To put it mildly, it was a skilled lawyer's argument which was neither ideological nor irrevocable.

That the two nation theory was revocable - at least to the mind of its greatest and most successful proponent - is patently obvious in the famous 11th August speech. When he says "in due course of time Hindus will cease to be Hindus and Muslims will cease to be Muslims, not in a religious sense because that is the personal faith of an individual but in a political sense," Jinnah is not just talking about fair and generous treatment of minorities - something which he did many times - but is actually speaking of gradual elimination of religious identity in favour of a single Pakistani nationality. Before 1940, by and large his attempt had been to bring Hindus and Muslims together in one yoke as Indians. After Pakistan was formed, his goal became a single Pakistani nationality without any discrimination of religion. It was for this reason that Jinnah had appointed a Hindu as the first law minister of Pakistan and asked a Hindu to write Pakistan's first national anthem.

It might be added of course that Jinnah's own life does not conform to the two nation theory as it is taught to the children of Pakistan. Most of Jinnah's professional adult life was spent amongst Hindus and Parsis and it was in these communities he had his closest friends and colleagues such as Gokhale, Tilak, Sir Ferozeshah Mehta, Kanji Dwarkadas, Durga Das, Diwan Chaman Lal, Dalmiya etc. The unkindest cut he was to receive at the hands of his great rival Gandhi was that Gandhi called him "Jinnah the representative of the Mohammaden community". He was a shareholder in most of the leading Hindu owned business concerns such as Tata and Birla and owned securities in Air India right till the end. He might not have entirely approved of his daughter's marriage - as the story goes - but it did not stop him from sending her flowers. Contrary to myth fed to us, Jinnah never disowned his daughter. As a Khoja Shia Muslim, the inheritance law applicable to Jinnah's estate is Hindu personal law. How ironic for a man who our textbooks say created a state based on irreconcilable religious differences between Muslims and Hindus.

Finally it may be said that Jinnah was at his finest as a luminary of the freedom struggle, as a lawyer-parliamentarian and as a statesman when he spoke out in the defence of Bhagat Singh, the great Lahori freedom fighter that our state - the state that is said owe its existence to Jinnah - refuses to honour. Here is an excerpt:

"The man who goes on hunger-strike has a soul. He is moved by the soul and he believes in the justice of his cause; he is not an ordinary criminal who is guilty of cold-blooded, sordid, wicked crime.

"What was he driving at? It is the system, this damnable system of Government, which is resented by the people.

"And the last words I wish to address the Government are, try and concentrate your mind on the root cause and the more you concentrate on the root cause, the less difficulties and inconveniences there will be for you to face, and thank Heaven that the money of the taxpayer will not be wasted in prosecuting men, nay citizens, who are fighting and struggling for the freedom of their country."

Nation states do not need ideologies to exist. Nor can all generations to come be held to ideas of a previous generation. Pakistan's ideology - distorted as it is - is responsible for many of the ills that plague Pakistan today. Let us jettison this ideology as outdated and face the fundamental fact that it is not sine qua non to Pakistan's survival as a state. It is time to get rid of the excess baggage of a distorted history.

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Why Ziaul Haq should not be forgotten
April 8, 2012
By Saroop Ijaz

Reportedly, when the relationship between China and the USSR was at its most tense and just before the Sino-Soviet split, the top leaders of both countries, Zhou Enlai and Nikita Khrushchev, met to see if the situation was still salvageable. After reaching a stalemate, the Russian premier Khrushchev said to his Chinese counterpart that he now understood what the problem was: “I am the son of coal miners,” he said. “You are the descendant of big feudal mandarins. We have nothing in common.” “Perhaps we do,” replied the great Zhou Enlai, “we are both traitors to our class.” I cannot hear or read about this story without thinking about how that could so easily be the conversation between Ziaul Haq and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Zia were both traitors to their respective classes. The son of Sir Shahnawaz Bhutto and the scion of one of the largest landowners of the country is now revered mostly by the most downtrodden of the masses. Whereas Ziaul Haq, the common man who climbed to the top, remains so alien and so painful to remember that ironically only a very small particular segment of the urban middle class can reluctantly associate with him.

I feel compelled to shed any pretense of theoretical, objective analysis and at the outset put forth my belief that Bhutto was the greatest and ablest leader that this country has witnessed. My purpose here is not to write an obituary for Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, I feel myself thoroughly ill-equipped for that task. The death anniversary of Bhutto was commemorated a few days ago, and a considerable bit has been said about his life, works and death, although not enough attention has been given to the implications of his death on the trajectory of our state. It would be an understatement and probably a misstatement to say that we have not quite recovered from Bhutto’s murder, since ‘recovery’ would imply that the infliction of damage has ceased.

There is a lot of easy, room-temperature analysis at offer these days about the decline of our state. An example of juvenile analysis is that why do people keep on electing the same corrupt politicians over and over and, perhaps, we deserve these leaders etc., and this is laced with reminiscence of the better times gone by. This often pretends as if it was some process of natural erosion or atrophy which has gradually led us to this point. Pakistani society and politics did not fade away or go giggling into the sea. They were destroyed very deliberately by the use of repression by the theocratic, tyrannical and maniacal dictatorship of Ziaul Haq. One need not be an admirer of Bhutto to see how the ghastly murder of Bhutto destroyed our moral fabric and integrity.

Coming back to the class treason bit, the 1970 election allowed the highest number of common people to be elected to the assemblies, with more feudal lords and industrial barons swept aside, than in any other election in our history. Bhutto did lose the plot slightly in 1977. However, compare this with the shamefully poorly-conducted farce of the non-party election in 1985, which returned to the assemblies the worst bit of our politics and more. Student politics was destroyed, it became a sin to be woman and the list goes on. Ziaul Haq was indeed pathological with visions about him guiding him, it was a shame that medical research could not benefit from him. Yet he did not and could not have done it alone. While Bhutto was being killed and people publicly flogged and executed, there was no meaningful opposition from the common man and that was the real damage. Weakness of this sort is regressive, as we have seen many times after that.

Due emphasis is being placed on the corruption of our leaders these days. Amongst other politicians, the Zia era produced some very brilliant army children, including his sons, who were to become very wealthy in a matter of few years. It is a shame that Pakistan has not benefitted more from the business acumen of Ijazul Haq and Humayun Akhtar Khan etc. It is indeed surprising that nobody has asked them to render accounts of how they moved from army salary allowances to the tycoons that they are today.

I could go on about Ziaul Haq, but it would be unnecessary. His political progeny have disowned him; association with Zia is now a stigma. His death anniversary passes almost unnoticed every year. Even his son does not seem entirely keen or comfortable relying on the works and wisdom of his father. The opening batsmen of his team would not like to be caught praying at his tomb. Yet, it is very important that we never forget Ziaul Haq and what he did and stood for. Actually, merely opposing what he represented is a fairly decent model of good political conscience and responsibility. The reluctance to bring up Zia cannot be solely attributed to the tedium of recollection of pain inflicted on the Pakistani people in general but also because Zia remains the most horrifying and shameful skeleton in many important closets. To use a term, unironically, a thorough post-mortem of Ziaul Haq and his legacy is essential, if for nothing else, then for closure. It is also necessary, perhaps, because we are still not completely immune to the lure of that demagoguery.

Ziaul Haq should remind us of the evil, mediocre and I stake everything and say; common men are capable of. In the comparison between Bhutto and Zia to mention the verdicts of history etc., will be a cliché. Admittedly, some Bhutto supporters go a tad too far in their devotion, yet he certainly was a man worth admiring. Even his political opponents feel compelled to praise him before attacking other members of his party; I suspect this is not merely genteel courtesy dictating that one not speak ill of the dead, but the feeling of guilt, of blood on their hands and their complicity in his murder.

The Express Tribune
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Unseemly tirade against Sharif
April 8, 2012
By Farhan Bokhari

President Asif Ali Zardari’s brief visit to India today may have counted for more but for his failure to unite the country that he leads.

Ahead of the trip during which Pakistan’s head of state is expected to meet with India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as well as visit the famous Muslim shrine in Ajmer, Zardari has launched a new political battle with his main foe.

Speaking to an audience in Lahore, Zardari chose to target Nawaz Sharif, the former prime minister and leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) with what could not be characterised as anything less than a tirade.

Ranging from a personal attack targeting Sharif for a lacklustre turnout at his late father’s funeral some years ago, Zardari went on to claim that Sharif’s political rise was possible only with Zardari’s generosity. Zardari claimed that his ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) is widely popular in the Punjab province of which Lahore is the capital.
Though Zardari’s comments may be evidence of Pakistan having entered the season prior to the country’s national elections which must be held by March 2013, his choice of words is clearly unacceptable. Coming ahead of his trip to India today, the first such journey by a Pakistani head of state in years, Zardari has clearly further vitiated an already tense atmosphere across his native country.

Expecting key members of Pakistan’s present day ruling structure to be scrupulous in politics is hoping for the unlikely. The PPP-led ruling structure which came to power in 2008, just months after the tragic assassination of its former leader, Benazir Bhutto, has been dogged by more controversy than Pakistan’s previous governments.

Ordinary Pakistanis just do not recall another regime which similarly became infamous for its failure to address popular concerns. In the 1970s during the high days of the PPP under its founding father, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the party’s slogans of roti (bread), kapda (clothing) and makaan (housing) stood at the centre of its ideological message.

Today, an apt message like bijli (electricity), gas (gas for cooking) and paani (water) could well be at the centre of the present day PPP’s ideology, for these are in short supply and therefore at the centre of widespread popular lament. Under Zardari’s watch alongside Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and the rest of the PPP, there has been nothing but a glaring failure in successfully addressing such challenges.

Though late in the day, the ruling structure appears to be angling to seek a victory in Pakistan’s next elections. Plans for the future between now and election time reportedly range from handing out cash grants to giving rickshaws to unemployed youth, all supposedly to win favour at the popular level.

No credible reforms

Yet, these gimmicks and they are indeed nothing but gimmicks, will not change the fundamental gaps which surround Pakistan. The country’s troubled economy and the major gaps in managing the public sector deficit, speak volumes about the inability of the ruling structure to begin reforming Pakistan in a credible way.

While in India, Zardari will likely portray himself as a peacemaker, seeking to end a chronic dispute which has run for more than six decades. While such overtures are clearly welcome in the India-Pakistan context, Zardari’s main dilemma lies at home.

With widespread evidence of failure all around, he must first get down to addressing some of the key challenges faced by Pakistanis in their daily lives. But his tirade against Sharif ahead of his departure to India, only illustrates a deeply alarming trend. Left without much to show in terms of the ruling structure’s performance over the past four years, the government and the top leaders now appear determined to raise Pakistan’s political temperature.

By doing so, their hope is probably to vitiate the country’s atmosphere further and slide to the next elections by portraying themselves as the best hope to consolidate Pakistan’s democracy.

For the opposition too, Zardari’s recent remarks present a dilemma. Sharif has time and again gone through opportunities to step up pressure on the government by choosing to agitate on the streets of Pakistan. But each such occasion has seen him back away from confrontation in the apparent hope of protecting and promoting Pakistan’s young democracy.

But the circumstances which follow Zardari’s latest comments may well prompt Sharif to action on the streets, snowballing into episodes of violence. For Pakistan, following the controversies of the past four years, stability may not be in sight for the foreseeable future.

Farhan Bokhari is a Pakistan-based commentator who writes on political and economic matters.
Source: Gulf News
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Blood on the tracks of history
April 18, 2012
Mahir Ali

“PEOPLE from both sides behaved like beasts,” says Sarjit Singh Chowdhary, a retired brigadier, offering an indisputable overview of the events in Punjab during the year that India was partitioned.

His testimony is among the innumerable first-person accounts that comprise the core of Ishtiaq Ahmed’s meticulously researched thesis on the direst events of 1947, The Punjab Bloodied, Partitioned and Cleansed (Oxford University Press).

Essentially an invaluable oral history of events in the Punjab during that decisive year, it serves as an overarching cautionary tale.

A number of themes emerge from its pages as the circumstances of 65 years ago are graphically resurrected in the words of those who experienced them firsthand. Among the crucial incidents that preceded the bloodbath was Master Tara Singh’s provocative waving of the kirpan outside the Punjab Assembly in Lahore following the resignation of the Unionist-led Khizr ministry, in the wake of a Muslim League agitation.

Here, one of the numerous counterfactuals of that period rears its head. The League, hitherto not particularly influential in provincial affairs, won the largest number of seats in the 1946 elections but fell short of a majority. A coalition with the Congress was within the realm of possibility, but the largest nationalist party’s hierarchy decided against it. On the one hand, its demurral is perfectly understandable. On the other, it is hard not to wonder whether such an arrangement might not have saved lives.

Some of the initial instances of communal strife involved attacks by Muslim mobs on Sikhs in villages near Rawalpindi in March 1947, as well as clashes in the garrison town itself. There was turmoil in Lahore during the same period. It was still unclear at that point whether a Muslim-majority state called Pakistan would emerge — and the question of the shape it might take was even murkier.

Many Sikhs and Hindus believed, for instance, that if a divide occurred, Lahore would be a part of India; after all, much of the city’s property belonged to non-Muslims, and it hosted crucial Sikh shrines. At the same time, quite a few Muslims in Amritsar and Jalandhar expected those cities to be assigned to a putative Pakistan, notwithstanding their non-Muslim majorities. These seemingly unrealistic notions were prodded in some cases by political leaders.

It’s useful to remember, though, that in those days reality was a rapidly morphing construct. As Ishtiaq Ahmed points out time and again, the Radcliffe boundaries — delineated by an Englishman who had arrived in India for the first time just a few weeks earlier — were officially announced a couple of days after partition. The mid-August cut-off point wasn’t public knowledge until Lord Mountbatten’s June 3 announcement.

The haste with which the British colonial power withdrew from the subcontinent has often been cited as a leading cause of the gory disarray that followed. After all, the initial deadline for the transfer of power was June 1948. Whether the Punjab situation would have been ameliorated to some extent by a longer deadline and an earlier demarcation of the new international boundary is a moot point, although it’s certainly possible that a more orderly transition would have facilitated a less rancorous divide. It might have helped, too, had Mountbatten been able to fulfil his ambition of serving as governor-general of both countries in the immediate aftermath of independence.

Another question that the book raises is whether a division of Punjab was an inevitable consequence of the subcontinent’s partition along communal lines. The Muslim League was keen to claim the province as a whole, and entered into comprehensive negotiations with the Sikh leadership as a means of facilitating this outcome. The Sikhs were understandably wary of Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s assurances of virtual autonomy, given the focus on Islam as a determining factor for the forthcoming divide.

The vast majority of witnesses, including many of those who lost most of their families in the Punjabi holocaust, testify to a broad communal harmony in the run-up to 1947. Some Muslims resented the deplorable Hindu tradition of excluding them from kitchens, but many others accepted the prohibitions on breaking bread together as a cultural norm. The extent to which class resentment might have contributed to the conflict is insufficiently explored in the testimonies, possibly because it was largely a subliminal factor.

It is universally accepted that innocents were subjected to the vilest atrocities, but it’s vital to remember that they were perpetrated by Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus alike — with reports or experiences of incredible cruelty elsewhere commonly cited as a provocation. It is perhaps even more important to note the innumerable instances of folks from all backgrounds keeping their heads when all about them were losing theirs, and not letting the vitriol that was seeping through the land of the five rivers poison their hearts. An incredible number of survivors acknowledge that they owe their lives to awe-inspiring acts of kindness by friends, neighbours and sometimes even strangers belonging to supposedly rival communities.

In some cases, political affiliations clearly played a role: for instance, nationalist Muslims resistant to the clarion call for a separate homeland and communists on both sides of the deepening divide often did what they could to ameliorate the consequences of the communal frenzy that climaxed in the weeks following freedom at midnight. The appearances of the resolutely secular Jawaharlal Nehru are often cited as a crucial factor in quelling or pre-empting outbreaks of violence. By the same token, the instigative acts and rhetoric of the Muslim League National Guard, the RSS and the Akalis frequently figure as retrograde influences.

Could anything short of a renunciation of the partition project have prevented the bloodbath? Eventually, well-armed military escorts protected many a refugee convoy. It should, of course, never have come to that. Although the tragedy lies 65 years in the past, it has vitiated relations between India and Pakistan ever since and continues to undermine the powerful logic of harmonious coexistence. Ishtiaq Ahmed’s probingly piteous account of how the Punjab suddenly went pear-shaped in 1947 ought to serve as prescribed reading particularly for those who continue to pursue the pathetic notion that the carnage was either inevitable or necessary.

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Justification of Partition in Books & Educational Syllabi Breeds Hatred and Terrorism
May 2, 2012
By Nasim Yousaf

“The last remedy under the present circumstances is that one and all rise against this conspiracy [partition of India] as one man. Let there be a common Hindu-Muslim Revolution…it is time that we should sacrifice…in order to uphold Truth, Honour and Justice.” ? AllamaMashriqi, 1947

Repeated justification and endorsementof the partition of the Indian sub-continent within the Pakistani and Indian educational syllabi and general books arein fact breeding hatred and terrorism. This is not only damaging peace in South Asia but has obvious implications for the rest of the world.

The way history has been currently written, it endorses partition and highlights those who ratified it. This is because in August 1947, power was handed over by the British to the All-India Muslim League and Indian National Congress for Pakistan and India respectively. Therefore, the educational syllabi and books have been written from their perspective, glorifying their leaders’ roles and eliminating key facts from history.

What most people do not know or comprehendis that partition was avoidable and that the confrontational politics of the Muslim League and the Congress leaders in the 1930s and 1940s not only delayed freedom, but served to spread hatred between Muslims and Hindus, as the two parties and their leaders could not resolve their differences. This hatred led to deadly riots in August 1946 and thereafter these riots spread into other parts of India.

AllamaMashriqi watched the political events and developments very closely. He could foresee India breaking up and hostility taking hold in the region forever. In an effort to free the nation from the British and to keep the nation from breaking up, he took steps to bring about unity and a revolution.

In his statements, he warned the public, calling for a revolution, and said:

“after the advent of Lord Mountbatten India will be a heap of slaughter and tyranny henceforth…the only way to get out of this calamity was that the Hindus and the Musalmans should unite for a common revolution against the dirty politics of the present day.”
?AllamaMashriqi, May 10, 1947

“The last remedy under the present circumstances is that one and all rise against this conspiracy [partition of India] as one man. Let there be a common Hindu-Muslim Revolution in which not hundreds but millions will lose their lives by the bullets of Birla and the British. Millions will die, no doubt, in this way but hundreds of millions will be saved forever. If man has decided to kill man for sheer lust of power and with nothing to show to the world except tyranny and loot, it is time that we should sacrifice men in millions now in order to uphold Truth, Honour and Justice.”? AllamaMashriqi, May 14, 1947

In addition, under his direction, his KhaksarTehrik movement (a private army of the masses) undertook intense activities, such as publishing of revolt material, mock wars, parades and meetings with defense personnel; he also presented “The Constitution of Free India 1946 AC”, which sought the freedom and protected the interests of all communities, and called 300,000 Khaksars to Delhi on June 30, 1947. He also alerted Khaksar leaders to get ready for the dawn of freedom. All of these actions speak loudly that a well-planned coup by Mashriqi was forthcoming.

Mashriqi’s actions did not go unnoticed; brisk activity and an unusual rush within the circles of the Viceroy of India and non-Khaksar leaders became visible. As a result, within an unusually short time (when there was no other compelling reason), the partition plan was announced. Jinnah and Gandhi accepted the plan instantly and then pleaded to their respective parties, i.e. the All India Muslim League and the Indian National Congress, to endorse it, which they did. This approval was given prior to the assembly of the Khaksars in Delhi. It is to be noted that when the Muslim League was holding a meeting (on June 09, 1947 at Imperial Hotel) to approve this plan, fires were shot on Khaksars and many who came to the hotel were seriously injured. To ensure that Mashriqi did not stand in the way, a fatal attack was made on Mashriqi’s life on the same day and he was arrested. Announcement and acceptance of the partition plan in this unusual hurry, especially prior to the assembly of Khaksars on June 30, confirms that these steps were taken in fear of Mashriqi taking over India, which was neither in the interest of the British (as they did not want to leave behind a united India which could become a superpower and for other reasons) nor the other parties’ leaders (who had obvious vested interests).

Thus, in August 1947, power was handed over to Muslim League and Congress and the region was divided into Pakistan and India. From there onwards, the educational syllabi and general writers began re-writing history from these parties’ perspectives only, glorifying their leaders’ roles and eliminating Mashriqi’s pivotal role in bringing about freedom. Instead, he was portrayed as a villain, as were other nationalists who had sought to maintain unity of the sub-continent.

In fact partition was avertable, had the leaders not played in the hands of the rulers and come to agreement for the sake of the region’s long term future. The general people would have followed suit and focused on commonalities rather than differences. Time and ground realities have also proven that partition has only produced harsh suffering and dangerous animosities including the proliferation of deadly weapons.

Today, the reality is that the countries are divided. But what is shocking is that there seems to be no realization (by educationists, speakers, writers, media etc.) that by distorting history and by justifying partition, hatred is being taught to children in their most prime and impressionable ages. There is no realization of the obvious that under these circumstances – in which partition is explained, justified, and internalized by the countries’ youth – peace between the two countries cannot be achieved and Aman Ki Ashacannot be successful.

Justifying and endorsing partition goes beyond unsuccessful talks to broader consequences of automatically breeding hate and terrorism. For the sake of peace in South Asia and for subsequent implications for the world, the history of the region needs to be corrected and the ongoing brainwashing since 1947 needs to come to an end. To this end, the hidden facts surrounding partition and why and how India was divided need to be unburied and made public, the idea that partition was inevitable must rectified in both countries, and personalities when highlighted should also be held accountable for their mistakes. The human devastation at the time of partition, a rare episode in human history, and its consequences should provide a lesson for the world to learn from. Going forward, the educational syllabineed to be over-hauled and books must be written from the perspective of the future of South Asia.

NasimYousaf is a scholar and historian who has presented papers at U.S. conferences and written many articles and books. He has also contributed articles to the “Harvard Asia Quarterly”, “Pakistaniaat” and the “World History Encyclopedia (USA).” His forthcoming book entitled “Mahatma Gandhi & My Grandfather, AllamaMashriqi” uncovers many hidden realities behind the freedom of British India.

Copyright © NasimYousaf 2012
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Our sad history
May 3, 2012
By Rasul Bakhsh Rais

The decision of the apex court of Pakistan to convict an incumbent prime minister on charges of contempt of court and sentencing him ‘till the rising of the court’ is more than symbolic. It should be regarded among those decisions in our history, which generated great political consequences rather than resolve them. The modern court system is based on the philosophy of resolving social conflicts, maintaining order and disciplining society by interpreting established laws. The role of the Supreme Court, however, is much larger on two counts. It is the Court of final resort, as well as the final interpreter of what established law entails.

In any democratic system, the courts must have the highest regard, respect, and support of the government and that of society at large. What earns them societal respect is their degree of fairness, independence, courage and the ability to stay above social and political divides. Courts and societies give energy to each other, progress together and complement each other — one provides support and the other justice.

Sadly, this is not how things have worked in our history. The courts and the society in Pakistan’s crisis-ridden political history have not worked out that relationship. They found each other on opposite sides when the Supreme Court threw its weighty justice on the side of political adventurers, usurpers and violators of the Constitution. The law of necessity and the law of popular sovereignty, which assigns power to the people, have been in natural conflict. In the past, courts have sanctified the law of necessity, giving legitimacy to usurpers and on the opposite side, the people of Pakistan have put faith in their representatives and parliament.

Being on opposite sides, the courts and society could not build a congenial relationship that could benefit both, and ultimately could have provided better safeguards for democracy, fundamental rights and civil liberties. The courts would have then equipped themselves, not only with raw legal power, but also with social power and political respect.

This did not happen until Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry stood up to General (retd) Pervez Musharraf. His conversion, from conferring legitimacy upon Musharraf by taking oath under the Provisional Constitutional Order more than six years earlier, to an independent chief justice, surprised and shocked the military ruler. Musharraf humiliated him, locked him and his family up and went on to recreate a pliant Supreme Court to support him. Look at the magical and dramatic effect of saying no to a military ruler on the public — the chief justice became a national hero, all political parties, except those sharing power with Musharraf, launched a national movement and never rested until the old judiciary was restored.

That is the only time when we saw the judiciary and the society in Pakistan united, and that raised hopes for democracy and constitutionalism. I do not wish to comment on the merit of the contempt of court case. That is the job of legal experts. The point I am trying to make is that when a court makes an unprecedented decision of convicting a prime minister for not implementing one of its orders — writing a letter to Swiss courts to open cases against President Asif Ali Zardari — which the prime minister thought was not politically possible for him to implement, it will produce political consequences for the Court and the political order.

Had we not had the history of the Court and the people having conflicting positions, perhaps the effects of the judgment against Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani would not have gone beyond inflicting personal pain and a political setback for him. Now, however, we may see the political community divided along partisan lines, and the PPP mobilising its constituency on the victimhood card. This may not augur well for the Court-society relationship.

The Express Tribune
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