Apprehensions shroud Pakistan’s future

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By Wajid Shamsul Hasan

WE all observed the death anniversary of its founder Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah on Thursday (September 11) in a solemnised way and paid tribute to fatherly figure.  All sorts of fears and apprehensions shroud Pakistan’s future on this occasion. As we move on from one phase to another, it seems all the same-an on going tug-of-war between military establishment backing its selected puppet and democratic forces. With the revival of electoral democracy in 2008 following the supreme sacrifice in blood given by martyred Benazir Bhutto, one hoped that there would not be any turning back. However, eleven years down the road, it seems that we are moving back to square one-even worse.

Society is totally polarised, a tug-of-war continues in its various manifestations in every walk of life. With the sword of Democles hanging on the head-although the selected government has the apparent backing of the powers that be, its horrendous performance as a government seems to have disenchanted its puppet master and the Knight Templar would sooner than later either hide his face or make his puppet pack up lock, stock and barrel. It is being openly questioned whether the selected government would complete its tenure or not. No doubt Army chief General QamarJavedBajwa keeps reiterating categorically that no harm would come to democracy from the army, there is wisdom in the advice that democracy is not only game of getting elected but also dispensation of good governance within the parameters of the Constitution, rule of law and exercise of sovereignty through Parliament.

It is regretfully noted that whatever its founding father MAJ wanted Pakistan to be-it has been further waylaid. Instead of moving on the agenda of establishing egalitarian, liberal, progressive and secular Pakistan, there seems to be a deliberate design to unleash myopic forces of bigotry as manifested in the freedom enjoyed by the bigoted mullas. Main streaming of terrorists is yet another sinister name of the game–a multi-faceted exercise in deception.

This article in its entirety should have been confined to remembering the Quaid on his death anniversary and in showering on him routine of ritualistic tributes overloaded with rhetoric sans substance. However, the situation is more alarmist and threat to MAJ’s stature is expanding in a very dangerous magnitude. In India there seems to be change of heart among academics who now feel convinced that MAJ was a secular leader-a real ambassador of Hindu-Muslim Unity as he was once popularly called, it was Indian National Congress’ communal politics that led to the partition of India. Indeed, today when ones looks at the deplorable plight of Kashmiri Muslims, one wonders what would have been fate of the rest had MAJ not decided to establish Pakistan.

However, in the face of IK a reincarnated MAJ as he claims, his limited vision and his confused state of mind, he seems to have let lose a conspiracy to baptise a secular, liberal and progressive Jinnah’s secular Pakistan into a theocrat state that IK calls Riyassat-e-Madina. A Punjabi bureaucrat turned academic rewriting history claims that in his last days Jinnah Sahib had become Deobandi short of calling MAJ alleged founding father of Jamaat-e-Islami, its current leadership and the Ahraris mischievously do not hesitate to brand him as a fellow band-wagoner on their gravy train. Due to confusion created by the religious parties about the national identity, MAJ’s categorical assertion that religion would be a private affair of its citizens and that Pakistan shall never be a theocratic state-whatever he stood for is now being target of an ongoing process of demolition.

I remember having read a comment by a retired bureaucrat who claims to have done doctorate and masquerades himself as the champion of Punjabi-brand of Nazaria-e-Pakistan that the Quaid originally a Shia Khoja-became Deobandi later in his life. On the other handMaulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi, a Deobandi religious scholar of unparalleled repute had advised the Quaid not to let religion creep in politics. He had rightly said it would be more divisive than a unifier of people. What has added religious over tones to Pakistan’s post partition politics is the guilt complex of the Punjabi elite who are aware of the despicable role of their pro-British forefathers in helping the British with troops to quash Revolt of 1857 and to oppose creation of Pakistan until the last minute. The heirs to this mindset have been doing their utmost to establish that Jinnah was not what he actually was. They are trying to implant in our history MAJ as a Niseem Hijazi created swashbuckling general on a white horse in an Arab headgear swinging a sword instead of a Saville Row suited Barrister.

Two-nation theory-what it was and what it meant for us, would need a profound discussion later, what is the need of the hour is to save the enormous democratic gains nurtured and nourished by the noble blood of Benazir Bhutto. It must be noted that the struggle is becoming intense between democratic forces that want to save Quaid’s Pakistan and those powers/elements who have their own agendas such as main streaming of terrorists in order to strengthen its continued existence as a security state.

The conspiracy to subvert Quaid’s Pakistan started as early as 11th of August 1947. In his inaugural address as President to the mother Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, he had laid bare his ideals of Pakistan in these words: It shall be a liberal democratic state; In it religion shall have nothing to do with the business of the state; All its citizens-irrespective of their caste, creed, colour or gender-shall be equal; Hindus would cease to be Hindus, and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is a personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State.

No soon the Quaid left the Assembly Chambers for the Governor General’s House, the conspiracy to subvert his dream was put in action. His historic speech was subjected to first ever censorship in Pakistan at the behest of Choudhry Muhammad Ali, the Principal Secretary to the Government who secretly issued instructions to the Chief PRO of the government, Col. Majeed Malik to ensure that the fundamentals of his speech as stated above were deleted from the text.

(The writer is the former High Commissioner of Pakistan to UK and a veteran journalist.)