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Have the Objectives of Creation of Pakistan been achieved?

two men's shadow

Pakistan, on 14.08.2022 celebrated the 75th Anniversary of its coming into existence as an independent, sovereign political entity. Ever since its birth, Pakistan has been struggling for stability as a nation, probably because of certain contradictions inherent in its conception and ultimate violent birth in August 1947. Jinnah wanted a British-style Parliamentary system to rule Pakistan but democracy, as we understand it in India, was never allowed to take root there, since its inception. Pakistan was ruled by Military dictators for almost 4 decades - Ayub Khan (1958 -1969), Yahya Khan (1969-71), Zia-ul-Haq (1977-88), and Pervez Musharraf (1999 – 2008); besides, there were at least 3 unsuccessful coup attempts by the army (1951, 1980 and 1995). Since 1947, Pakistan has had 23 Prime Ministers, starting with Liaqat Ali Khan 1947 to the current, Shahbaz Sharif; not a single PM has been able to complete a 5-year term in Pakistan since independence! Compare this to Nehru’s almost 17 years as PM, Indira Gandhi for almost 16 years, Manmohan Singh for 10 years, Narendra Modi for almost 9 years, and Vajpayee Ji for over 6 years! The lack of political stability becomes more apparent when one considers that East Pakistan seceded from West Pakistan in 1971, giving birth to an independent country – Bangladesh. The glue of Islam and the concept of ‘Muslim Ummah’ obviously did not work to keep the country together.

I was recently listening to political discussions on YouTube by four intellectuals of Pakistani origin – Dr. Ishtiaq Ahmed, Stockholm-based political analyst and teacher, Barrister Hamid Bashani, Toronto-based political commentator from Rawlakot (POJK), Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy, the well-known Pakistani Physicist and Syed Muzzamil, a mature political analyst. Muzzamil listed Identity Crisis as one of the basic problems affecting Pakistan. Pakistanis are unable to decide from which point their history starts – the 7000 yrs old Indus Valley Civilization or Conquest of Sindh by Mohd Bin Qasim in 712 CE (Zia-ul-Haq called him the first Pakistani) or 1947, the year in which Pakistan appeared on the world map. Tribal identities proved stronger than religious identities. Pashtun leader Khan Abdul Wali Khan once remarked,” I have been a Pashtun for 5000 years, a Muslim for 1400 years, and a Pakistani for 30 years”. There was no cultural and social homogeneity between the various sects that constituted Pakistan. Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy holds that the imprecise definition of ‘Nazariya-e-Pakistan’ or the Theory of Pakistan is leading to flawed interpretations. “Pakistan Ka Matlab Kya – La Illahe illah” might be a good slogan but it can’t define a nation.

Mr. Hamid Bashani was asked a very pertinent question – Have the objectives of the establishment of Pakistan been achieved in the 75 years of its existence? All four speakers, in different debates, univocally agreed that the aims and objectives of establishing Pakistan have not been achieved. The aims and objectives, as taught in Pakistan are:

  1. The creation of Pakistan on August 14, 1947, was the culmination of a struggle that began in 1857, to overthrow British Rule over the subcontinent.
  2. After the War of Independence (1857), Muslims of the subcontinent were greatly oppressed by the British as well as Hindus.
  3. The social, political, and economic conditions of Muslims were totally changed which emphasized the need for a separate homeland for Muslims of the subcontinent.
  4. The New Land of Hope was to be for ALL Muslims of the Indian Subcontinent, not just of certain provinces where Muslims are in Majority (Jinnah, Lahore Address, 1940)
  5. Setting up of a Free Islamic Society
  6. Social and Political Development of Muslims
  7. Protection of ‘Muslim’ Language – read Urdu since Jinnah refused to accept any other language, including Bengali.
  8. Protection of the Two Nation Theory
  9. To get rid of repeated social humiliation
  10. To emerge as an economically sound Muslim Country.

Have the objectives been achieved?

  • Not all Muslims were welcomed into the Land of the Pure: More Muslims continued to live in India than in Pakistan. Thus, the basic purpose of the creation of Pakistan was sacrificed in the 1946-47 period. Incidentally, neither people in West Punjab nor Frontier Province voted for Muslim League in the 1946 elections. In Punjab, Unionist Party, under Khazir Tiwana came to power with support from Congress and Akalis. Tiwana resigned on March 2, 1947, in protest against Partition. In NWFP, Congress, with the support of Gaffar Khan and his Kudai Khidmatgars won 30 seats against 17 by Muslim League.
  • The Two Nation Theory was laid to rest in 1971 with the creation of Bangladesh. East Bengal, West Punjab, Sind, Baluchistan, and NWFP constituted Pakistan in 1947. East and West Pakistan were physically separated by over 1000 km of Indian territory but the country was supposed to be held together by the thread of common religion. That did not happen, as language, culture, regional aspirations, and Bengali nationalism overpowered the glue of theology and defeated the concept of a common faith in December 1971.
  • Pakistan turned towards Puritanic Wahabi Islam in 1977(Zia’s putsch); Hudood Ordinances, passed in 1979 gave further thrust as Sharia punishments for certain crimes became law. The Federal Shariat Court (1980) is a unique institution in the entire Muslim world!
  • Pakistani got sucked into the quagmire of Afghanistan in 1979, leading to the development of Kalanishkov culture, drug trade, and Warlordism in Pakistan; it has brutalized Pakistani society beyond recognition, since. In 1994, Pakistan’s ISI established Taliban, purportedly ‘Madrasa Students’ who were indoctrinated, armed, and trained for Jihad. Minhaz Masani, the well-known commentator has remarked,” Normal countries have tech start-ups. Pakistan has Terror start-ups with at least 12 known terror outfits based there,”. Today, the roosters have come home to roost with various ‘Lashkars’ and ‘tanzims’ operating as laws unto themselves! Pakistani media conveniently calls them” Non-State Operatives”!
  • Sharia Law and Decimated Minorities: The stand enunciated by Jinnah on August 11, 1947, stands forgotten as Islamic law has enveloped society. The process of Islamization started on March 23, 1956, with the declaration of Pakistan as the Islamic Republic under its First Constitution but State did not declare Islam as its official religion till a new constitution was adopted under Bhutto in 1973. Ironically, Bhutto was considered a socialist, secular person till he started using religion as state policy. Religion, as interpreted by the state, plays a significant role in politics and governance. An example of its harmful role can be seen in the deterioration of the rights of Ahmadis (declared non-Muslims in 1974) and Shias. All religious minorities face discrimination, with Christians, Sikha, and Hindus subject to particularly harsh treatment.
  • Fractured Nation State: The State of Pakistan has now turned on the heat against Hazaras and other ethnic minorities - Baloch, Sindhis, Gilgit- Baltistan. This again negates the ‘Islam as glue’ theory. Ideology and religion are divisive forces in Pakistan today – from sectarian violence against Shia Muslims to the state’s blasphemy laws that authorize a death sentence for anyone who ‘insults Islam or its prophet’. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has emerged as the bulwark of the Anti-Shia campaign, causing frequent blasts in Shia mosques.
  • The Free Islamic Society that aspired to ensure social and political development never happened. Like an inward-growing toenail, Pakistani society turned regressive, particularly after the Zia tenure (1977-88). Thinkers like Hasan Nisar and Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy consider Zia-ul-Haq’s tenure as the turning point in the history of Pakistan as it turned regressive, trying to outdo the Arabs in their zeal for following tenets of Wahabi Islam. Pakistanis were asked to disown their own cultural roots of over 5000 years (Indian heritage); instead, they were asked to link their past to the invaders - Arabs, Afghans, Turks, and Mongols. Pakistan considers warlords like Ahmed Shah Abdali, Mohd Ghori, Mehmud of Ghazni, Babur, and Aurangzeb as their heroes, displaying a disdain for the ancient civilization that made Taxila (original name Takshashila) one of the most important seats of leaning in ancient India – because it is non-Islamic! Mr. Hasan Nisar once derisively pointed out in a TV discussion that some fools in Pakistan think that Sikandar (Alexander, the Greek conqueror) was a Muslim! Zia-ul-Haq held that Mohd Bin Qasim (708 CE) was the First Pakistani in the world! During Imran Khan’s rule, Ertrugul Ghazi (a Turkish serial) became a runaway hit in Pakistan.

  • Education in Pakistan has been one of the victims of Islamization. The official literacy rate in Pakistan is 58% (against 77% in India) but the real issue remains - poor quality of education! As per Dr. Parvez Hoodbhoy, education in Pakistan has been handed over to Mullahs! The basic concept of Earth’s rotation and the revolution goes against the theology of Wahabi Islam so young kids in Pakistan’s Madrasas are asked to follow the Quran, rather than Galileo and Copernicus. The worst impact has been on the study of sciences and higher education. Children are being raised to become cannon fodder for future Jihads! Pakistani universities are churning out plagiarism in the name of ‘research’!

  • Financially, Pakistan is in a mess because of ‘economic loot’ by its ‘elite’. Pakistan, for several years, has been living on financial doles from the US, Saudi, and Emiratis. Economically, Pakistan has lagged behind other developing countries, with debt as high as 71.3% of its GDP. Inequality is high, with the top 10% of households owning 60% of the national wealth, and the bottom 60% owning just 10%. Society is feudal in character and land reforms never happened! As I write this, the Pakistani economy is desperately seeking an IMF bailout and doles from KSA, Emirates, and China to avoid Sri Lanka's type of default.

The contradiction -The Ideologue vs The Architect of Partition
The concept giver of Pakistan, Dr. Mohammed Iqbal wanted Pakistan to become a ‘land of the pure’ with Sharia Laws at its heart. The idea of a separate homeland for Muslims was first enunciated by Dr. Mohammad Iqbal, the poet-ideologue, at Allahabad on December 29, 1930, during the 21st Annual Session of the All India Muslim League. The name Pakistan, though was used for the first time by a student at Cambridge, Chaudhary Rehmat Ali in 1933 in his pamphlet titled” Now or Never – Are We to Live or Perish Forever”. Rehmat Ali identified himself as the Founder of the Pakistan Nation Movement.

As per Iqbal, unlike Christianity, Islam came with "legal concepts" with "civic significance," with its "religious ideals" considered inseparable from social order; therefore, the construction of a policy on national lines, if it means a displacement of the Islamic principle of solidarity, is simply unthinkable to a Muslim." In his letter of May 28, 1937, to Jinnah, Iqbal clearly enunciates: “After a long and careful study of Islamic Law, I have come to the conclusion that if this system of Law is properly understood and applied, at last, the right to subsistence is secured to everybody. But the enforcement and development of the Shariat of Islam are impossible in this country without a free Muslim state or states.” To get his Pakistan, Iqbal was prepared to ignore the existence of Muslims in Hindu majority states. In his letter to Jinnah dt June 21, 1937, He clearly writes,” “Why should not the Muslims of North-West India and Bengal be considered as nations entitled to self-determination just as other nations in India and outside India are? Personally, I think that the Muslims of North-West India and Bengal ought at present to ignore Muslim ’minority’ provinces. This is the best course to adopt in the interests of both Muslim majority and minority provinces.” 

Jinnah was the architect who turned Iqbal’s dreams into reality. He was certainly responsible, more than most, for the division of India. He turned the Muslim League’s original brief “to protect Muslim interests where they were most vulnerable”, namely in the Muslim minority provinces, on its head by advocating that the Muslim majority areas should be separated from the rest of India. Jinnah, no doubt, was a good lawyer and won the case for Pakistan but, typically like a lawyer, he was indifferent to the consequences of his victory! Jinnah was full of ideological contradictions and quite capable of taking intellectual U-turns! He hailed from the Ismaili Khoja (Shia) community which does not follow several tenants of Islam. Jinnah was a pork-eating – liquor-loving, liberal constitutionalist who became uncomfortable with Congress’s turn toward agitational politics under Gandhi. He played the Muslim card more as a bargaining chip but was not very sure whether he would get much out of it.

The contradictions between Iqbal’s concept and Jinnah’s actions came to the fore in Jinnah’s address to Pakistan’s Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947. Jinnah declared,” “You are free. You are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques, or to any other place of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion, caste, or creed, that has nothing to do with the business of the state.” In unequivocal terms, Jinnah defined his idea of Pakistan as a secular, liberal democracy, guaranteeing freedom of religion. However, this stand ran in the face of the State of Pakistan as conceived by Iqbal or, Jinnah’s own speeches in Lahore (1940), Delhi, Aligarh, etc. When he was asked in Lahore (1940) about the type of Constitution Pakistan was Likely to have, his reply was classic,” That was framed 1400 years ago,” referring to the Caliphates. However, Jinnah stayed true to the shortcut suggested by Iqbal by sacrificing the interests of Muslims living in various parts of India to gain a foothold in Sind, West Punjab, NWFP, and Bengal. His quest for power and authority got satiated with the formation of Pakistan on August 14, 1947!

Recent books by two Pakistani thinkers, Yasir Latif Hamdani (Jinnah: A Life) and Dr. Ishtiaq Ahmed (Jinnah: His Successes, Failures, and Role in History) provide a complex and richer narrative about Jinnah. Whether Jinnah was genuinely committed to creating Pakistan or was using it primarily as a bargaining tool may be a debatable matter, but he certainly had no clue what Pakistan would look like once it was established. When this question was asked of Jinnah at Aligarh Muslim University, he got irritated, remarking,” Let us first get there, then we shall see!”

Given his secular lifestyle and scant knowledge of Islam (or of any other religion, for that matter), he failed to understand that a state defined on the basis of religion, would inevitably come to be dominated ideologically by the most fundamentalist segments of society. He had never thought through this issue possibly because he believed that in the final analysis, the division of India was improbable. Hamdani mentions that on his deathbed Jinnah told his doctor that he regretted dividing India and creating Pakistan. So convinced had he been of the futility of his own mission that he chose not to sell his property in Mumbai before moving to Karachi in 1947 because he thought he would use the house for spending his summer holidays!

As per Dr. Ishtiaq Ahmed, Jinnah won the 1946 elections by promising different things about the future shape of Pakistan to different pressure groups within the Muslim community – Ahmedi, Bareilvies, Deobandis, Shias, Sunnis, etc. Once he won the elections, he could not put out a plan to satisfy every faction. Jinnah never put his thoughts on paper in the form of a book or articles in newspapers. All we have are his speeches delivered at different fora from time to time – and the content would change with context! Nature did not give Jinnah time to give shape to the State of Pakistan – he died in September 1948, leaving the country to fend for itself in the hands of landlords of Sindh & Punjab and warlords of NWFP. Muslims of East Bengal soon realized that they were held in contempt by their fellow Muslims of West Pakistan. Hasan Nissar has admitted that even as students in Punjab University, they would look down upon Bengali students in their hostel as if they had nothing in common, culturally! Former senior bureaucrat Reodad Khan claims that Gen Yahya Khan on December 17, after the fall of Dhaka, refused to get the handsome Punjabis and Pathans killed for dark-skinned Bengalis!

So, Pakistan, born in strife, never went on to become a Nation. Jinnah refused to grant Bengali the status of National language – on March 21, 1948, and March 24, in two different events, he emphasized that Urdu and Urdu alone would be the language of Pakistan. This hard stance, in the words of Dr. Syed Jaffar, Director, Pakistan Study Circle, was a big mistake committed by a big leader and led to the ultimate disintegration of Pakistan in 1971. Contrast this with India where Hindi and English have been given the status of Official Languages and a total of 22 languages as Scheduled Languages. Every state can have its own language for statecraft and judicial procedures. Thus, Assam has Assamese as the State Language, Bengal has Bengali, Punjab has Punjabi, Kerala has Malayalam, Tamil Nadu has Tamil and Maharashtra has Marathi.

As Syed Muzzamil has put it so succulently, the failure of Institutions in Pakistan has been the principal reason for its existential crisis. The Constitution of India came into force on January 26, 1950, within 3 years of Independence. In contrast with Pakistan – the constitution could not be finalized till 1973(1956, 1962, and 1973 versions). Likewise, free and fair elections, based on adult franchise, were held for the first time in 1970, ironically, under a Military dictator. Muzzamil attributes the Mulla -Military combination to the current woes of Pakistan! We Indians often lose sight of our blessings. Our systems may have flaws but India, a country with 130 Crore people, in 28 States and 8 UTs, having 22 Scheduled Languages, 179 languages and 544 dialects, 7 major religions, and hundreds of sub cults has stayed together as one Nation for 75 years and grown into a strong country! That by itself is a miracle!



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