Pakistan was made for all the right reasons and religious extremism was not one of them!
The discussion regarding the object of the creation of Pakistan, stirred by Mr Yaqoob Khan Bangash and Mr Yasser Latif Hamdani in the recent weeks resulted in very useful and illuminating arguments.
Both sides have given solid grounds to prove their point of view. I would like to give my understanding of the issue based on my study of history and analysis of different intellectuals including Mr Bangash and Mr Hamdani.
To understand the object of Pakistan and the vision of our founding fathers, we need to keep in view the circumstances which forced the demand of Pakistan and the people who struggled for it.
As regard the circumstances, there is no denying the fact that prejudices based on cast and creed were deeply rooted in religious Hindus and were at their extreme manifestations against Muslims during the Congress ministries, formed in 1937 until they resigned in 1939.
It is pertinent to note that the Muslim League performed dismally, receiving very nominal votes in those elections and was not able to form a government in any province. However, in the two year stint of the Congress ministries, the Muslims were oppressed to such an extent that they became completely disillusioned with the secular character of Congress.
Consequently, the tables turned in the 1946 elections in favour of the Muslim League. The Muslim minority was instilled with so much fear and insecurity that they swallowed the bitter pill of partition suffering the worst kind of atrocities and hardships.
Whilst the Muslim minority of India was oppressed and discriminated against by extremist Hindu elements on the basis of creed, the moderate Hindus failed to check the oppression. Though the Muslims were divided in different sects holding various beliefs, they were all treated with hate and discrimination by Hindus equally; to them they were all just Muslims.
Accordingly, Congress ministries, dominated by extremist Hindus, paved the way for the partition of India as the harsh and discriminatory treatment meted out to the Muslims on the basis of their religious faith left them with no option but to demand a new country.
Therefore, the reason for the creation of Pakistan was not to promote religious extremism but to defend the people’s right to freedom of belief and to save them from oppression and discrimination on that count.
Furthermore, it is said that Pakistan was demanded to enable Muslims to lead their lives in accordance with the principles of Islam. These much quoted words have been repeated many times but rarely understood in the real sense of the purpose.
In the days when this slogan was made, the world that the Muslims and Islam represented to the minorities of India, who were being persecuted and oppressed because of their faith, was that of a separate state where such persecution would not be possible.
To put it simply, the slogan meant that Pakistan would be a state where minorities would be free to lead their lives in accordance with the principles of their religion without the fear of any persecution. No other interpretation is possible, as the Muslims in those days were comprised of so many different sects whose principles of Islam were different on many points and in some cases contradictory.
Additionally, no minorities except Hindus and Sikhs emigrated from Pakistan. Had Pakistan been created only for Muslims then all the minorities would have tried to immigrate to India.
Moreover, Pakistan cannot be a country created to promote a way of life different from those who created it. It is pertinent to note that the people who faced the worst of oppression and discrimination were not the Muslim scholars, but the common man whom these religious leaders considered as non-practicing or secular Muslims.
These moderate Muslims faced Hindu employers, traders, ministers or bureaucrats in their vocations and tasted the worst of discrimination and oppression. The religious leaders were generally spared from oppression because they mostly dealt with their own community in performing their duties and earning their livelihood.
Most importantly, more than 90 per cent of the Muslim League leaders and workers were beardless moderate Muslims. Some of them were even addicted to alcohol, but they strived hard for the creation of Pakistan. These moderate Muslims bore the brunt of oppression and discrimination and stood up to get out of it.
Hence, Pakistan was created for the common, oppressed man, and not an extremist Muslim scholar.
Quaid-e-Azam, the founder of this nation, was a non-practicing Muslim himself and it was a task to establish his school of thought in Muslim sects after his death, in order to determine inheritance issues. The main reason for this uncertainty was that he rarely performed any religious rites or prayers witnessed by the people.
So how can such a man struggle for the creation of a religious state?
How can he be accepted as a leader if the purpose of the Muslims was to create a religious state?
How come most of the extremely religious personalities opposed the idea of Pakistan?
The only answer to the above questions, in my view, is that the rationale and object for the creation of Pakistan was to create a country to save the persecuted Muslim minority of India from persecution by the Hindu majority.
Islamisation was resorted to only after the government failed to provide any substantial progress for the welfare of the masses. It required doing so to justify death, pain and misery involved in the grand partition.
To cut it short, Pakistan was created to protect people against oppression and discrimination on the basis of cast and creed -- only.
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