Lord Nazir Ahmed of Rotherham and Lord Khalid Hameed jointly hosted a lively discussion on Javed Jabbar’s book ‘Pakistan – Unique Origins; Unique Destiny’ on Tuesday in the House of Lords in London.
Prominent British Pakistanis, Indians and Bangladeshis, along with bureaucrats, journalists, scholars, social activists attended the event.
Javed Jabbar, while presenting the theme of the book, said that the core concern was the extraordinary evolution of Pakistani nationalism after the birth of Pakistan in 1947.
“Pakistan is an ailing state, not a failing state,” Jabbar said, adding that despite Pakistan’s enormous problems, people were demonstrating an exceptional capacity to survive.
He said the identity of Pakistaniyat was emerging towards a singular, broad persona, containing within itself multiple other identities.
He identified sustained democracy, a rational, knowledge-based application of Islam and improved relations with India as potent factors likely to determine a dynamic future for Pakistan.
Ziauddin Sardar, co-editor of the quarterly journal ‘Critical Muslim’, and author of several books, expressed deep concern at how religion was being used in Pakistan to distort the original vision of its founders and the tendency of institutions and organisations to promote hate and violence against non-Muslims and perpetuate tension with India. He said major reforms were needed to make Pakistan’s destiny match the uniqueness of its origins.
Attendees made incisive comments and put searching questions on whether there were any examples of countries that have successfully combined a single religion with nationalistic identity to construct a democratic state respectful of all other religions.
Jabbar responded to each query and reiterated his conviction that the polity and society of Pakistan possessed vitality to strengthen the state and ensure its future progress.
Concluding the discussion, Lord Nazir Ahmed thanked all attendees for their keen interest and participation and hoped that the book will soon be available for readers in the UK and Europe.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2013.