Pakistan’s existential crisis

Published: 10th August 2012 12:41 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st January 2014 03:12 PM   |  A+A-

It is the government’s official website. It celebrates the nation’s civilisational genesis in the ‘yoga’ and ‘meditation’ of Mohanjadaro and Harappa; its ancestral origins in vedic Puru and puranic Takshaka clans; its cultural roots in Takshasila and Gandhara; its historical antiquity in Mahabharata and Arthasastra; its intellectual leadership in Panini and Chanakya; and its historic political masters in Maurya and Kanishka. It glorifies the Gandhara civilisation, Maurya and Kushana rulers. Which government’s website is it? Indian? No. Hold your breath. It is Pakistan government’s official website: http://www.heritage.gov.pk/html_Pages/history_of_pakistan.htm. It glorifies the Gandhara — not any Islamic — culture as ‘the high water-mark of Pakistan’s culture’; and celebrates the Kushana — not any Islamist — rule as ‘the Golden Period of Pakistan’. Pakistan, the harvest of the vicious two-nation theory that tore India apart, is shockingly searching for Pakistan’s pre-Islamic, Aryan-Hindu roots.

Jinnah exploded India by expounding his two-nation theory at the All India Muslim League meet at Lahore on March 22, 1940, claiming that Hindus and Muslims look to ‘different sources of history for inspiration’, to ‘different epics’, and to ‘different heroes’. His theory is now found to be bogus by his very creation, the Pakistan establishment. Its official version of history affirms that Muslims too trace their cultural ‘inspiration’ to Gandhara and Takshasila, their ‘epics’ and literature to Mahabharata and Arthasastra, and their ‘heroes’ to Panini, Chanakya, Chandragupta and Kushana. Islamic Pakistan’s official history claims no other cultural antiquity, no other epic, no other heroes! Why does Pakistan now undo the very theory that created it? That is because Pakistan is imploding by the very theory that exploded India.

Soon after Partition, Pakistani leaders realised that religious and political Islam would not transform into constitutional Islam that could accommodate all faiths and peoples. The Objectives Resolution passed by the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan in 1949, declared that ‘sovereignty belongs to Allah’ (not to the people) and the state should enable the Muslims to order their lives in accordance with Islam. A study by Aparna Pande, a scholar at the well-known Hudson Institute, in the US, says that this very objective “gave rise to a central question that has bedeviled Pakistan ever since its creation: If Islam is to be the basis of the state, whose Islam will be followed and how?” Whose Islam? Are there many, diverse, Islams? Yes. The report of the judicial commission (1954) headed by Pakistan’s Chief Justice Munir to inquire into the large-scale violence against the Ahmedia sect put the issue ‘whose Islam’ pithily thus: no two of the several Ulamas are ‘agreed on’ what is Islam; a person who is a Muslim under the definition given by one Ulama, will be kafir according to every other Ulama; and no new definition is possible as any definition that ‘differs from that given by all others’ will be ‘out of the fold of Islam’. QED: Islam prescribes One God, but there is no One Islam.

Thus, far from uniting, says the Hudson study, Pakistan’s Islamic ideology has operated to divide the Pakistan, pitting Muslims against non-Muslims first, later Muslim against Muslim. All Muslims jointly ethnically cleansed non-Muslims and Ahmedi Muslims. The result: Ahmadis, Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, and Parsis, quarter of Pakistan’s population in 1947, are now just 5 per cent. The jihadis kill Hindus in India as kafirs. But, they kill fellow Muslims in Pakistan as not Islamic enough. In this free for all killing, Sindhi Muslims kill immigrant Indian Muslims; Baluch Muslims kill other Muslims; Pashtoon Muslims kill Punjabi and Sindhi Muslims; Sunni Muslims kill Shia Muslims. Muslims have killed 42,772 fellow Muslims in Pakistan since 2003, till July 29, 2012, including 4,570 securitymen.

Pakistan’s political leadership has been trying to paper over the disunity within Islamic Pakistan by uniting Pakistani Muslims against Hindu India. Professor Sayyed Vali Raza (of Tuft University) says that the anti-Hindu prejudices of Partition days were transformed into ‘Indo-Phobia’. Hussein Haqqani, Pakistan-born scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, writes that ‘unsure of their nation’s future’, Pakistani leaders and army ‘decided to exacerbate’ the antagonism between Hindus and Muslims, that led to Partition, to acquire the distinctive identity for Pakistan as ‘Islamic Pakistan’ resisting ‘Hindu India’, hostility with India being critical to Pakistan’s identity. Christophe Jaffrolet, well-known author, writes that Pakistan’s ‘nationalism is without a nation’ and is, in essence, anti-Indianism. Khaled Ahmed, leading Pakistani writer, wrote (in 2008) that to be ‘Pakistani’ is to be anti-Hindu, opposing ‘Hindu India’ having become the defining feature of Pakistan’s Islamic nationalism.

In their blind anti-Hindu rage, Muslims of undivided India created Islamic Pakistan which, they now find, they cannot keep up nor give up. After Partition, Pakistan’s diverse inhabitants had no ‘common identity that might bind them together’ and Pakistan has ‘struggled with this lack of a common identity and principle ever since’, says the Hudson study. Hans Morgenthau, a leading 20th century scholar on international politics, said prophetically in 1956 itself: “Pakistan is not a nation and hardly a state, with no justification in history, ethnic origin, language, civilisation, or the consciousness of its population...it is hard to see how anything but a miracle...will assure Pakistan’s future.” The dilemma of Pakistan is brilliantly captured by a Pakistani scholar, Waheed-uz-Zaman, in 1973: “If we let go the ideology of Islam, we cannot hold together as a nation by any other means.... If the Arabs, the Turks, the Iranians, god forbid, give up Islam, the Arabs yet remain Arabs, the Turks remain Turks, the Iranians remain Iranians, but what do we remain if we give up Islam?”

Waheed has touched the heart of Pakistan’s identity crisis. The nationalism of Arabia, Turkey or Iran is not Islamic, because there is no Islamic nationalism as such. Islam in Pakistan’s nationalism is an alibi for anti-Indianism. Says the Hudson study, ‘Without an identity that is firmly anti-Indian, Pakistani leaders fear their country will be reabsorbed within a greater Indian identity’. That is the undivided India’s pre-Islamic cultural identity — the danger, Waheed sees, to ‘Islamic Pakistan’. That, however, may well be the life vest for ‘Pakistan’. An anti-India nation, Pakistan is now a failing state. It is helplessly sliding into anarchy. It is tormented, split between Army-ISI-Jihadi combine’s hate for Hindu India and its compulsion to de-Islamise politically, for its survival. If Pakistan has to survive, it has to de-Islamise politically; for that, it has recall its pre-Islamic ancestry, culture and tradition. If that is happening, it may well be the ultimate solution to Indo-Pak hostilities.

S Gurumurthy is a well-known commentator on political and economic issues.

 E-mail: comment@gurumurthy.net

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