A nation in denial

Published: July 5, 2010
The writer is an analyst (yousuf.nazar@tribune.com.pk)

The writer is an analyst (yousuf.nazar@tribune.com.pk)

Pakistan’s failure to evolve as a stable and civilised society with a viable political system relates to some fundamental contradictions with deep roots in its history. It needs to come to terms with and recognise what may be unpleasant facts that have contributed to doubts about national identity, pervasive hypocrisy, misconceptions about the role of religion in the affairs of the state, and failure to generate a climate for honest public discourse perversely dominated by a section of media patronised by the intelligence agencies. The nature of the establishment-media-mullah nexus has never allowed a mature discussion of these issues but grown-ups with troubled childhoods sometimes need to face their difficult past.

Those issues are as follows: Pakistan was founded by a great leader, with the rare historic distinction of creating a new country, who drank scotch and wore modern English suits. He was an exceptionally principled and honest man driven by a desire to secure the interests of Muslims in the post-British India but was not a religious person at all. He married a non-Muslim woman, and selected a distinguished lawyer – an Ahmadi – as Pakistan’s foreign minister. Both he and Iqbal as leaders felt very strongly about the political and economic rights of the Muslim minority in united India but never envisioned Pakistan to be a theocracy or an orthodox society.

After independence, the Muslim League came to be dominated by a feudal aristocracy that contributed little to the Pakistan movement. It was full of opportunists who jumped on the Muslim League bandwagon and had no vision for Pakistan’s future beyond empty rhetoric. In 1945, Sindh was the only Muslim majority province where the Muslim League formed the provincial government.

Pakistan’s founders were responsible for sowing the seeds of a client-state relationship with the US. As head of a newly-born ‘moth-eaten Pakistan’, to use Jinnah’s own words, and with little or no financial resources, he was wrong to seek a military solution to Kashmir with Pakistan completely dependent on Britain for its survival and so desperate that it requested a two-billion dollar loan from America in October 1947, negating the very spirit of independence from colonial rule. The secession of former East Pakistan negated the assumption that religion alone could keep a nation or a country united.

Pakistan’s current constitution does not represent the thinking of its founders. Terms like ‘Islamic Ideology’ and ‘Nazaria-i-Pakistan’ were coined by the Jamaat-i-Islami whose rise was supported by the long standing official policy of the US to encourage religious extremism in the Muslim world to prevent the rise of anti-imperialist nationalist leaders. The Jaamat had close ties with Said Ramadan (de facto head of the Akhwanul Muslimeen or the Muslim Brotherhood and son-in-law of its founder Hassan al Banna) who worked with the CIA as it plotted against Gamal Abdul Nasser.  The Jamaat’s chief Mian Tufail Muhammad’s nephew was Ziaul Haq, and both worked to further US interests in Pakistan and the region. The US supported and financed the so-called fundamentalist groups for decades [refer: The Devil’s Game by Robert Dreyfus] and continues to do so because these groups are considered a buffer against the potential threat of Russia and/or China. Pakistanis must probe deeper into history and inside their souls to face some difficult, perhaps harsh facts and problems dating back to 1947. Pakistanis have never faced and resolved these grave historic contradictions. It is time for some deep soul-searching, collective introspection, and recognition that we need to grow up. Pakistanis have the potential to do just fine only if we can come to terms with what was a troubled childhood.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2010.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (23)

  • faraz
    Jul 6, 2010 - 12:55AM

    Well saidRecommend

  • Fareed Ahmed
    Jul 6, 2010 - 1:07AM

    Zafarulla Khan; when he was appointed by Jinnah as the foreign minister he was a Muslim. However, Zafarulla Khan died in mid-eighties as a non-Muslim as per the law of the land! The second amendment of 1974 dictated Zafarulla’s religion for him. His basic human right to chose his religion was taken away by the legislators! Recommend

  • Jul 6, 2010 - 1:08AM

    If only we could study our history! then again, given what we allocate for education, its not surprising that we are swayed by rhetoric and talking points, and our history remains hidden. Faced with the truth, most people shout “Conspiracy” and thats the end of that. Recommend

  • Meekal Ahmed
    Jul 6, 2010 - 1:31AM


    Great to hear you here.

    A fine point to be sure: two billion dollars in 1947? That is surely a mis-print. That would be equivalent to $10-12 billion today!

    I agree with your call for introspection and soul-searching. A similar thought has been put forth by a former Ambassador whose name escapes me. I hope he will forgive me for my amnesia (which I hope is temporary).

    But if people like you, thoughtful and introspective, have left Pakistan because you see so little hope (I am guilty too but not for the same reasons), then this “failed-state” mantra becomes self-fulfilling. Recommend

  • Meekal Ahmed
    Jul 6, 2010 - 1:57AM

    The Ambassador is Ashraf Kazi. Recommend

  • H Saqib
    Jul 6, 2010 - 11:37AM

    Nazriya-i-Pakistan was a fraud to give political advantage to those (read mullahs) who opposed the concept of Pakistan tooth and nail. If Pakistan was conceived to be an Islamic state then those mullahs, and not a secular lawyer, should have been leading Pakistan movement and offering sacrifices.Recommend

  • Faseeha Arjumand
    Jul 6, 2010 - 12:36PM

    The Jamaat-i-Islami and other religious parties who where with the Indian Congress and against the creation of Pakistan have been instrumental in making religion a business of the state, against the wishes of our founders.Recommend

  • Jul 6, 2010 - 12:37PM

    Well put. Unfortunately, even our educated people are easily swayed by religious rhetoric and fail to see past the obvious (with the exception of ridiculous conspiracy theories).

    We need to put our emotions aside for once and face the facts.Recommend

  • Sana Hameed Baba
    Jul 6, 2010 - 2:10PM

    Well done! This is what I have been contemplating for days. However, majority dictates the laws and silence is taken as acceptance. Would 2/3rd majority in parliament ever side with separation of state and religion; Jinnah is history now?Recommend

  • Yasir Qadeer
    Jul 6, 2010 - 3:10PM

    Excellent article. This point has been discussed many times; I wonder when will it make sense to the general public. The nation must realize that we cannot survive as a theocratic state alone. We must adapt to the changing times.Recommend

  • Sultan Ahmed
    Jul 6, 2010 - 3:59PM

    philosophy and fact are different meanings and ways.
    We should recognize facts attributed to the existing circumstances.
    Reality is being ignored by fabricated philosophy.

    Soil has created many sects,with ideology,wrongly clarifying ,rightly clarifying,ways are different,meaning are not same,unbridgeable distances
    it is a loophole in the way of unity,harmony.

    We are pagan in the eyes of each others, zero tolerance capacity.

    God Bless all of us.Recommend

  • AA
    Jul 6, 2010 - 4:45PM

    Was Mian Tufail really a chacha or mama of Ziaul Haq? This is news for me. Could you, or anyone, please confirm this?Recommend

  • Aristo
    Jul 6, 2010 - 5:03PM

    According to your analysis, looks like we have been living off on the American Taxpayer’s money ever since 1947 and in a period of 63 years only the size of the begging bowl has increased. Recommend

  • Imran Faris
    Jul 6, 2010 - 6:11PM

    I agree with you Mr.Yousuf Nazar.Its sad to say that we have lost boldness and courage as a nation,we are a discriminated and a bios crowed because we don’t have leadership. Thanks for sharing your wonderful article Recommend

  • Ibrar Khan
    Jul 7, 2010 - 12:44PM

    @Saqib what you mean that Pakistan was found by cheating?If you need a secular country ,go back India.You could never make a secular state in India.
    @Fasseha there will be some thing wrong ,which they realized and oppose.The result you can see now a day.Recommend

  • shazia
    Jul 7, 2010 - 3:19PM

    excellent and bold article but Mr. Nazar, what is the way forward if people like you see no hope and have chosen to be just observers?Recommend

  • Ahsan Khan
    Jul 7, 2010 - 4:25PM

    I agree with Shazia. We have a dearth of people who have the capacity to provide guidance and those who do choose not to participate. It is sad we can’t see the writing on the wall. Our intellectuals should also write in Urdu so that these thoughts and knowledge can reach the masses who are fed mis and dis-information. AA, Mian Tufail was Zia’s mama. Recommend

  • Junaid
    Jul 8, 2010 - 7:06AM

    can we ever get out if this denial state?Recommend

  • Farrukh Siddiqui
    Jul 8, 2010 - 4:55PM

    Today, the whole judiciary is packed with Jamaat-e-Islami types who have been supported by the intelligence agencies and the establishment. Jamaat does not represent the majority but dominates the thinking of the establishment. How can we ever clear the mess?Recommend

  • Yousuf Nazar
    Jul 8, 2010 - 11:23PM

    I just want to clarify that Pakistan did request two billion dollars from the United States in 1947. This is as per the archived documents, more specifically the memorandum of conversation between Mir Laik Ali and the State Department officials, 30 October 1947., NO. 845F.51/10-3047. This has been cited in Ayesha Jalal’s book, “The State of Martial Rule”.

    p.s. Web Editor: I spell my name as Yousuf and not as Yousaf as has been published in this articleRecommend

  • shaheryar.popalzai
    Jul 9, 2010 - 12:39AM

    We apologise for the mistake. It has now been corrected.

    Best regards,
    (Web Team)Recommend

  • Zara
    Jul 10, 2010 - 3:23PM

    Jinnah was a modern man but unfortunately he too used Islam’s name to rally the muslim vote in 1946.Recommend

  • Abdullah S. Jafari
    Jul 10, 2010 - 8:32PM

    Yousuf mian, as always, a very good article. Ever since its birth Pakistani people are under the rule of corrupt opportunists. The answer is quality education for all. Where ever in the world you see illiteracy and poverty, religion is dominant. Here is how Jinnah described education, “Education does not merely mean academic education. You have to build the Character of our future generations which means Highest Sense of Honour, Integrity, Selfless Service to the Nation and a Sense of Responsibility”. In Pakistan none of this ever happened.

    In our own way, if we can provide quality education to just one individual along with what Jinnah Sahib said, we can change the mindset of the masses and take away influence of Mullahs.Recommend

More in Pakistan