Constitutional history: ‘Objectives Resolution basis for extremism’

Rights activists say state deeply biased against non-Muslims.

Ali Usman September 27, 2012
Constitutional history: ‘Objectives Resolution basis for extremism’


Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s August 11 speech before the first Constituent Assembly should have been the preamble to the Constitution of Pakistan rather than the Objectives Resolution, said speakers at a seminar titled Religious Extremism: Impact on Peace  at the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan on Wednesday.

The panel included history professors and human rights and minority rights activists. They said if the Quaid’s speech had been the preamble to the Constitution, Pakistan would have dealt with minorities differently. They said that the speech contained a clear expression of Jinnah’s ideas about what kind of state Pakistan should be.

Professor Hafeez Khumber said when India was declared a secular state after Partition, a group of people shifted from India to Pakistan to promote extremism here. “Why didn’t Pakistan get a Constitution for such a long time? It was because some forces here didn’t want a Constitution. The Objectives Resolution was brought to downplay the Quaid’s speech about a secular state and this document laid the foundation for promoting extremism in this country. The Objectives Resolution was used as an excuse by dictators to come into power and take control of the country,” he said.

Prof Khumber said education policy in Pakistan was based on sectarian and religious prejudice. Those who had initially opposed the creation of Pakistan had, in connivance with military dictators, become the ideological defenders of the country.

“Unfortunately, the assembly passed the Objectives Resolution and made it part of the Constitution … you cannot change this until you make a new Constitution. General Ziaul Haq used education as a tool to promote extremism and to date we haven’t been able to remove the biases from our curriculum,” he said.

Prof Khumber said that he believed most Pakistanis opposed extremism, but “the rulers and their cronies” had done nothing to uproot it. “The state ought to be unbiased, otherwise minorities cannot enjoy full freedom,” he said.

Lahore University of Management Sciences faculty member Dr Rasool Bakhsh Rais said the Quaid’s August 11 speech laid the foundation for his vision of Pakistan’s. “This speech is by the head of the state and before the Constituent Assembly. The words he chose make his message very clear. The impartiality of the state vanished when it went against the vision of the leader. Four generals in this country subverted the Constitution and devised policies that triggered extremism,” he said.

He said the extremists were in a minority. The silence of the majority had made them powerful. “The majority should rise up peacefully to end this extremism,” he said.

Dr Rais said that the rise of extremism in the Middle East over the last two decades had had a great impact on Pakistan. He said that the Syrians were bombing their own people, killing 200 a day in “the worst kind of civil war”. He said that the major rivalry in the Middle East region was between Iran and Saudi Arabia, each representing an Islamic sect. He said that sectarian tensions had resulted in the formation of groups like Sipah-i-Sahaba and Sipah-i-Muhammad in Pakistan.

Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO) Regional Director Salman Abid said the Pakistani state appeared to be veering between a policy of denial and one of justification in dealing with the crisis of extremism.

“Informal media including small magazines, pamphlets and papers are playing a very important role in promoting extremism. We will have to revisit the character of the state to cope with this. Another aspect of extremism is political extremism, which is evident in Karachi. We have to first deal with grey areas in our internal policies. Only then can minorities be safe in this country,” he said.

Centre for Peace and Civil Society Hyderabad Executive Director Jami Chandio said that extremism was more widespread in urban centres than rural areas. “We are suffering from a hate syndrome and our narrative in the school curriculum and in society is based on prejudice and hatred,” he said.

The seminar was organised by the Centre for Human Rights Education in Pakistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 27th, 2012.


Hasan Mehmood | 11 years ago | Reply

{Anything Islamic is extremism for them} Very painful but true. Every dictator / obscurantist / religious extremist starts off by talking about Islam and goes unchallenged because of emotional blackmail of simple minded people. Do you for a second believe that we would have such an unbelievable tolerance level for likes of TTP if they did not profess establishment of Islamic state as their clarion call. Since we cannot challenge such people the only option is to de link Religion and Politics. Do you think the overbearing state sponsorship of Religious thinking and steps in ZIA era made us a better Muslim. Unfortunately in case of Pakistan the more focused you are on Religion the more narrow minded and intolerant you become instead of the other way round, Islam being a religion of peace and tolerance.

De | 11 years ago | Reply

Anything Islamic is extremism for them

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