Taliban balkanize Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan
Noted Pakistani humorist Ibn-e-Insha once wrote about his encounter with a Pakistani troubled by his countrymen’s overwhelming ethnic and sub-nationalist sensitivities.“Aajkal Pakistan mein koyi apney aap ko Sindhi kehta hai to koyi Baluchi, Punjabi ya Pathan. Agar yahi sab karna tha tou Pakistan bananey ki kya zaroorat thi?” he asked.
“Maaf kijiyega, galti ho gayi, agey sey nahin banayenge,” responded Insha in a telling acceptance of contradictions that bedevil Pakistan as a nation State. That happened some years ago as the Leftist thinker died way back in 1978.
In the years thereafter, sharpened ethnic, regional, linguistic and sub-nationalist identities have put under greater strain the State’s cohesiveness. The Punjabi imperialism, Pakhtoon and Baloch alienation, Shia-Sunni divide and the Mohajir versus Sindhi sentiments have only lent greater meaning to Insha’s apology.
The recent wanton killings of members of the minority Ahmadiyya community were a chilling reminder of their persecution even before the Taliban, suspected of the massacre in two places of worship in Lahore, arrived on the scene. It would be pertinent to recall here the religio-political Jamaat-e-Islami’s Maulana Maududi-led revivalist campaign of the 1950s. It’s objective was to unify Pakistani Muslims against the Ahmadiyyas – who were variously painted as non-Muslims, pro-India and a threat to Islam through the sixties and seventies.
It might sound ironic. But it was Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who gave in finally to fundamentalist forces seeking the Ahmadiyyas excommunication from Islam in 1974. Zia-ul-Haq picked up actually the threads from where Bhutto left to create a separate electoral system for non-Muslims including the Ahmadiyyas. It was the much-maligned Pervez Musharraf who undid the pernicious regime towards creation of a joint electorate system.
However, that hasn’t ended the rampant discrimination of the excommunicated Ahamdiyyas in all walks of life. Their properties and businesses are perennially under threat. They cannot read the kalma or call their places of worship as mosques. And its common for the mullah lobby to prevent their elevation to key governmental positions or run campaigns for their removal.
The Pakistan of today bears no resemblance to what Jinnah willed in his 1947 speech as president of its Constituent Assembly: “To my mind, this problem of religious differences has been the greatest hindrance in the progress of India. Therefore, we must learn a lesson from this. You are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed — that has nothing to do with the business of the State.”
Jinnah quite obviously understood that while it was possible to create a country on a divisive agenda, it wasn’t possible to run it on that basis. His legacy was destroyed early in the life of Pakistan. The Talibani offensive is about the balkanization of his idea of a Muslim homeland.