Pakistan: A land of contradictions

Pakistan is famous for all the wrong reasons

Since its independence, there have been unending debates regarding the kind of state Pakistan should have been or should be. Both conservatives and liberals accuse each other of causing the sorry state of the country. They say that since the country is not based on their ideals, the current quagmire comes as no surprise to them. Indeed, on one thing, everyone agrees and that is the fact that Pakistan is increasingly becoming inhospitable or rather uinhabitable for the ocean of the poor. While coming up with one fat idea seems an easy way to do away with the intricacies and nuances, the devil is, in fact, in the details.

In the early 1940s, when the idea of Pakistan was still nascent, there was profound disbelief regarding the type of state or states, Pakistan would be. the Quaid-e-Azam, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, had no idea whether the division of India was inevitable or not because he later accepted the Cabinet Mission Plan— which was meant to make India a confederation. In a sense, there came profound haste, partly due to Mountbatten and partly the political situation in the subcontinent. Worse, the Quaid who was the only one with statecraft, brilliance and fortitude to run Pakistan, passed away within a year. Pakistan literally became an orphan and the rest, they say, is history.

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No sooner did people come to know about the departure of the founder, than the whole Muslim League fell down. PM after PM was brought, but to effect. Then came the Ahmedi Riots in 1953, which put an end to the writ of the government. To allay the situation, the army took control of Lahore, and as a result, the necessity became a responsibility in no time— which gave birth to the original sin committed in Pakistan.

The religious group that had gone against the very creation of Pakistan won the supreme position owing to the ideology of the country. With the Objective Resolution coupled with the Ahmedi Riots, they penetrated deep into society. Religion started becoming a dominant power not only in the political domain but social, cultural and economic matters were deeply influenced too. It gave birth to the use of Islam for different vested interests both by secular and religious parties. Consequently, there has been an ocean of sects, making Pakistan a huge repository of conflicting religious beliefs which are ready to slaughter each other on creedal grounds.

There have been some interesting gallup surveys. One of them shows that 71 percent of Pakistanis want Shariah law much more like Afghanistan. It depicts some pure contradictions or hypocrisies. First, while Pakistanis are elated to have their country on Islamic lines, they have huge problems when India moves towards Hinduism. They become profoundly concerned with the decline of secularism in India especially these days as Mr Modi tries to imitate Pakistan.

Although human beings do not find logical thinking easy, there has to be a way to take the middle way. Unless we do not address our basic issues, there can be no way forward. There is no gain in praising what was in place before the advent of the modern system. Like Christians and other denominations, Muslim societies should adopt new ways of life rather than focus on the glories of the past.

Second, when Pakistanis move abroad for better opportunities, they teach their adopted countries how to live better lives. Each year, thousands of Pakistanis apply for European or American visas—  not for those countries where Shariah Laws are implemented. Of course, they leave their country because they are uninhabitable, do not cater to their needs etc, nevertheless, they do not want to make their birthplace better.

Worse so, when the host country demands them to adopt its culture or at least try to amalgamate with them, some Muslims protest on grounds that secularism gives them all freedoms. In France, some Muslim women took the matter to the street when the French government banned taking veils in public. Indeed, those people highlighted secularism in their host country as a defence for their rights. It is funny that what they liked for others, might not like for their home countries. Anjem Choudary, who is a radical Pakistani-British Islamist, advocates Shariah Law in England. What if a Hindu or Christian does the same in Pakistan? Indeed, that will be the last day for him.

Third, out of 57-odd Muslim-majority countries, there are hardly any countries which truly follow democracy. A lot of Muslims believe that democracy has no room in Islam, and the caliphate should be there like Anjem Choudary. It is astonishing to see when the Taliban forced the western power to move out of their country, they got a remarkable opportunity to exercise the divine law; nevertheless, these terrorists are begging the western democracies to make them part of the system— the same system they have long considered illegitimate and against the true spirit of Islam. It is a circus that is on full display in Afghanistan because sober and educated people are leaving the country owing to barbarism. It seems for common Afghanis Shariah seems unacceptable, but we will not call a spade a spade.

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Fourth, as Islam encompasses all spheres of human endeavours, it gives an economic system. Despite a plethora of countries and a massive population, bringing the economic system of Islam is still a dream. Of course, the biggest issue the Islamic economic system has with the modern economic system is that of interest, which is strictly prohibited in Islam, but there is no country that has brought this system into practice for it is unsustainable. Everybody knows that without interest, the modern banking system cannot survive, but today’s scholars who have no clue of economics write book after book on an interest-free system despite its impossibility.

Fifth, while certain scholars state that Islam embodies democratic principles, a great number of scholars do not agree with the marriage between Islam and democracy— let alone modern democracy. The most surprising part of it is neither those scholars have any other alternative because the global order doesn’t accept the caliphate, nor do they accept what is practised across the globe. Pakistan encapsulates this very contradiction in its very name: Islamic Republic.

Although human beings do not find logical thinking easy, there has to be a way to take the middle way. Unless we do not address our basic issues, there can be no way forward. There is no gain in praising what was in place before the advent of the modern system. Like Christians and other denominations, Muslim societies should adopt new ways of life rather than focus on the glories of the past.

Today, Pakistan is famous across the globe for all wrong reasons, like. terrorism, corruption, burning people on blasphemy charges and harbouring terrorists. We should behave like a normal country for our own sake and put paid to the contradictions which are destroying our future.

Nazim Uddin
The writer is a freelance columnist

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