Yes, of course, Jinnah’s Pakistan was “a famous victory”. And yet, to quote Robert Southey, “What good came of it at last?” Six decades later, senator Javed Jabbar, former Pakistan minister, and his mentor, distinguished national professor Sharif-al-Mujahid (both of Tamil origin), describe Pakistan’s present condition—mired in “the slough of despondency”, “morale-eroding depression”, “cumulative frustration” and a “daunting lack of sheer faith in our future”.
To rectify this pathetic state of affairs, Jabbar has undertaken the task of addressing the next generation of Pakistanis and Indians about Pakistan’s “unique origins” and, therefore, her “unique destiny”. He takes the precaution, however, of placing a question mark after “unique destiny” in the Pakistani edition, a precaution dropped from the subtitle of the Indian edition of the same book.
Jabbar’s basic point is that, notwithstanding the division of the subcontinent into three states, the Two-Nation Theory holds good because, he says, a state can contain more than one nation—and so the Muslims of India continue to be a nation within the Indian state. I know of no Indian Muslim who regards his fellow Muslims as constituting a separate nation, but the moot point is: do the Muslims of Pakistan constitute a nation?
For if Pakistan is not a failed state, it shows signs of being a failed nation. Jabbar himself notes that the secular Pakistan of the Qaid-e-Azam’s conception—spelt out in his vision of Pakistan’s nationhood in his famous inaugural address to the constituent assembly, his appointment of a Hindu as Pakistan’s first interim head of state, his commissioning a Hindu to write Pakistan’s first national anthem, and his visiting a Karachi cathedral on August 17, 1947, to show Christians that their home remained in Pakistan—dissolved within weeks of Pakistan coming into existence.
The disintegration of the Qaid’s vision, as Jabbar underlines, was initiated by the Qaid himself. Although he had told Gandhi in 1944 that Gurmukhi could be a national language of Pakistan “if the Sikhs wanted it”, in March 1948 he announced in Dhaka that Urdu and Urdu alone could be Pakistan’s national language. This, as Farzana Shaikh points out in her brilliant Making Sense of Pakistan, in a newly-born country where only about four per cent of the population spoke Urdu as their mother tongue.
It opened the door to the hijacking of Pakistan by religious fanatics who want to break the pluralist South Asian mould of Pakistan’s national character to recast it as a monolithic Islamist state in the West Asian mould. This is what is wrecking Pakistan’s nationhood—for if it is Islam that unites Pakistan, it is Islamisation that divides it. Not until the plurality of Islam—let alone the plurality of all religions—becomes the leitmotif of Pakistan’s contemporary nationhood will Pakistan’s nationhood get consolidated.
In consequence, among the 40 “weaknesses” of contemporary Pakistan which Jabbar details are “feudalism” and “primitivism”; “religious political parties, extremists and fanatics...foster(ing) extremism and violence”; “bigotry inhibit(ing) robust ijtehad”; “pesh imams... whose sermons express a narrow, prejudiced view of the non-Muslim world”, based on “inflexible interpretations of the holy Quran and unreliable versions of the Hadith”; “persecution of non-Muslims by fanatics”; and “schisms of mistrust and alienation”. Phew!
Yet, there is hope, which lies Pakistan’s 60 “strengths”. One senses that even if Pakistan’s problems persist, Pakistanis are indeed a “hardy, resilient, practical, pragmatic, intelligent people...the majority that prefers to vote for a progressive, forward-looking, non-sectarian approach to politics”; “a society that respects and practices democracy”; “vast treasures (of) untapped minerals and natural resources”; “inventive entepreneurship...refreshingly open-minded and globalised in their outlook”; “a vibrant, flourishing mass media”; a “proficient technocratic elite”, able “civil services” and disciplined “armed forces”; and a host of distinguished scientists, artistes, sportspersons and civil society activists.
Above all, it is Jabbar’s 14 dimensions of Pakistaniyat—the evolution of a Pakistani identity “capable of containing within itself other identities” (as in India)—that holds the greatest promise. One only wishes there really was “respect for all religions and for cultural pluralism”, as Jabbar claims exists, for if multifaceted pluralism is accepted as the sine qua non of Pakistan’s nationhood, Pakistan will survive, indeed flourish, as a modern nation-state. Short of that, descent into atavism is inevitable.
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
Brilliant message, from another forum:
"PRC is not goonda, he is a wannabe zamindar. He is cultivating his own set of rowdies like NoKo and Iraq. He has influence over the local drunkard/rowdy pak. Intrestingly the pak plays both the present zamindar(US) and the wannabe(PRC) and milks them both.
India is the big bro of the paki. Paki seperated from him and bears lot of malice towards the big bro, India. Now, the paki is addicted to alcohol(islamism) and does not do a single day's hardwork. But, he still wants to be on par with his big bro who is hard working and honest. This paki has been adopted by zamindar and wannabe zamindar by giving him trinkets.
The paki does not care for his wife or children(masses). So, the zamindar has to bear that burden. Wannabe also chips in.
India, the honest guy, has the potential to carve out his own future without having to depend on zamindar or wannabe. He can even prove to be a potential competitor to both.
Lousy Paki's jealousy against his elder bro is used to make him a thorn in India's path to pre-empt his rise.
One of the thorns is a property dispute called kashmir. Some of it is under big bro's custody and some of it is occupied by the paki.
However, paki's addiction is growing out of bounds. Zamindar tried to get him to give up the alcohol(islamism). He failed. Wannabe realised that paki will die soon, so he must quickly use him before its too late. Wannabe is trying to make himself party to the property dispute. As a first step, he is now 'renting' the paki occupied part of kashmir.
Meanwhile, India is steadly growing rich. Supporting the paki is giving diminishing returns for the zamindar. Also, the zamindar is growing through a financial crisis. But the paki is frustrated that zamindar is not meeting his increasing needs and threatens to jump into wannabe's camp. Also, zamindar's attempts to make paki reduce his addiction have only enraged him(paki) further.
Paki seems to be headed for a certain death due to his addiction. Zamindar is also realising that paki is a hopeless case. The ruthless wannabe is only intrested in making the most out of paki before he expires. The wannabe does not even try to make him give up the addiction.
Intrestingly, India is trying to keep the paki alive. Because, it fears that if paki dies, he will have to take care of paki's wife and kids(masses). India hopes that someday paki will give up his addiction.
Will the paki live? Can he give up his addiction?
Will the zamindar continue in his position? Or will he be replaced by wannabe?
What will be the fate of India?
Dekheye break ke baad..."
>> What then, should be said?
Every time you get an urge to say something spiteful, say "Om shanti" ten times.
What then, should be said? That the Moslems of the subcontinent in 1947, under the secular, humanist, progressive Moslem League leadership, behaved in a very gentle, humane, honourable way? You can say that, but it would be mendacity and falsehood in excelsis.
>> the Moslems of the subcontinent, under Moslem League opportunist instigation, behaved like howling wolfpacks in their attacks on the Hindus.
What an obnoxious piece of hatemongering! And to try to piggyback ride Suresh's hate-free post is only further proof of your venomousness.
Well said, Suresh. All these defenses of Jinnah and Pakistan, are very shaky and shifty at best, preposterous at worst. Fact is, the Moslems of the subcontinent, under Moslem League opportunist instigation, behaved like howling wolfpacks in their attacks on the Hindus. It is *totally* indefensible! The least that can be done now is to admit to it( by both Moslem and Hindu apologists for Jinnah and the League) and ensure it doesn't happen again. No matter what the excuse given- Gujarat, Ayodhya, Kashmir, or some Hindu denouncing Moslem invasion and rule. Absolutely ridiculous.
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