‘What’s wrong with Pakistan?: New book lauded for its journey into uncharted waters

Published: August 23, 2013
Babar Ayaz praised for rekindling debate about religion’s role in Pakistan’s creation.

Babar Ayaz praised for rekindling debate about religion’s role in Pakistan’s creation.


Religion was exploited during the creation of Pakistan by the ruling elite to strengthen their economic and political rights. This was general consensus of speakers at the launching ceremony of the book, “What is wrong with Pakistan?” at the South Asian Free Media Association on Thursday.

Authored by veteran journalist Babar Ayaz, the book investigates key points wherein Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s idea of a secular and liberal Pakistan became obscured by a wave of religious fanaticism.

In his book, Ayaz has explored why Muslims came together to demand a separate country and has raised questions no one else has ever dared to ask before.

A panelist and renowned journalist Nusrat Javeed lauded the research that went into writing the book, calling the effort a product of patience, time and devotion. “To me the most important part was the extra effort in academic pursuits in the way the Indian Muslim middle classes started a separatist movement,” he said.

He cited the examples of other Muslim countries, namely Egypt and Turkey and the conflict on the basis of religious factions therein.

“This is a very brave and bold book because as on one hand we say that freedom of expression is increasing while on the other hand, journalists are restricted from speaking their minds, said Jinnah Institute Director Raza Rumi.  “The book is very direct and unapologetic where we are afraid to make any statements on matters of religion.”

He cited the example of the author Qurratulain Hyder, who was forced to leave the country for writing a controversial novel that the then authorities did not agree with.

Another journalist, Zahid Hussain, said the book could spark a controversial public debate. He spoke about the polarisation of political parties and progressive forces highlighted in the book.

On the other hand, senior journalist Ayaz Amir countered the argument by saying that the creation of Pakistan was not possible religion at its centre, which gave way to the two-nation theory. Religion, he said, was a logical necessity which led to the demand for a separate state and partition. Whether that was a good decision or not, he argued, is a separate matter.

Furthermore, Awami Workers Party Punjab General Secretary Aasim Sajjad Akhtar commented that ideology can be a part of the democratic process but not the determinant.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 23rd, 2013.


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Reader Comments (13)

  • Syed Ahmed
    Aug 23, 2013 - 10:40AM

    Jinnah never wanted a secular and or a liberal Pakistan. This is only one statement liberal fascists of Pakistan take out of context. The sole purpose of creation of Pakistan was to attain an ideological state which was based on the principles of Islam and which would be a platform for Muslims to practice their deen (which is a complete code of life including politics) in every walk of life.
    It is only our failure that we aren’t able to achieve our goal that Quaid set for us. Don’t distort historical facts which by the way are documented on YouTube videos too


  • Ahmed
    Aug 23, 2013 - 10:51AM

    The secular motto ” Religion is what’s wrong with the world”. Funny to see people like these talking about religion. Why does everyone think that they understand it without studying it?

    Anyway , it’s like a broken record. Nothing new here people.


  • Prabhjyot Singh Madan
    Aug 23, 2013 - 11:51AM

    Pakistan has been achieved for muslims, forget the white colour in its flag. A honest suggestion from us indians would be to declare yourself as a secular country and keep religion out of politics and public sphere and strictly within ones personal domain in private. Religion makes a person emotional in his decision making process. I want the same in india and I stick to it. Lots of Indian don’t like the use of religion in public, especially the educated class with some sense in them. I am not saying religion is bad but too much dose of it is like a opium for the masses and it should be avoided just like too many drinks of alcohol and tobacco. Rab rakha


  • Khalid Pathan
    Aug 23, 2013 - 12:34PM

    @ Syed Ahmed

    Muslims of the subcontinent were never prevented to practice their religion, they had full freedom as far as this aspect is concerned. It was in the interest of Muslim Ashrafia, to demand a separate country so as to protect their vested interests, which was a difficult job as the congress had voiced against big land holdings. As far as Muslim masses are concerned they belonged to Ajlaf, they had no secular education. It was the propaganda of Ashrafia that made the Ajlaf feel insecure and unprotected in an undivided India. Jinnah had a clear vision, he wanted protection of rights of Muslim through constitutional means, to which Congress didn’t agree and in the end they enforced Pakistan on Jinnah with no choice.


  • Naveen
    Aug 23, 2013 - 12:47PM

    @Syed Ahmed:
    You’re correct about Jinnah’s vision for Pakistan. He never ever used the word ‘Secular’ before or after formation of Pakistan. Rather He was quite clear about taking everybody 1300 years back.


  • Naveen
    Aug 23, 2013 - 1:36PM

    @Prabhjyot Singh Madan:
    Your recommendation is all good and fine from Pakistani perspective, except that Why should we Indians want secularism in Pakistan? Will Secularism in Pakistan end the Kashmir Conflict by shifting Jhelum’s origin from Verinag to Muzaffarabad? Has a secular (tending to be atheist) China been very kind to India?

    For starters, India has not taken the contract of spreading secularism anywhere else in the world, least in Pakistan. People should live as they choose to. Pakistan was founded in the name of Islam and it must remain Islamic as that is what its citizenry wants. What India can do and should do (but has not done) is develop good relations with all major representatives of Pakistani Clergy. That is what realism demands.


  • Riaz Khan
    Aug 23, 2013 - 2:26PM

    No use talking to a brain dead people! They are very happy in their own make believe world of conspiracies by blaming all their problems on others. No hope whatsoever!


  • Manal
    Aug 23, 2013 - 2:31PM

    Unfortunately, in the light of finding the ‘Utopia’ in Islam our politicians and dictators have brought us in this vulnerable position that we are ready to shoot another human being for expressing his opinion about it. Religion has always been an excuse. The common cultural understanding of this nation has become that if a girl wears hijab and announces five times a day “its Namaz time, I need to pray” she is the most practicing Muslim and the purest of all humans, regardless of all the bad she does. In this country; Why do people flaunt religion like a designer bag? Why is religion so important in judgments in this country? Why can’t religion be personal? Why do people need to express their opinions on every matter in the light of religion: and why can’t people tolerate each other when they do?


  • Prabhjyot Singh Madan
    Aug 23, 2013 - 8:01PM

    I am not talking about shifting borders. We keep what we have and pakistan keeps what it has. Pakistan can and is free to choose any kind of government but religious clergy influence in our background is not good at all. We can advise about the benefits but it is up to them. China is nobody’s friend, they are simply using pakistan as a satellite to pull india down. Clergy in all religions should be relegated to mosques and temples and gurudwaras and synagogues …fire temple etc. A rational person talking to a cleric, pandit or Baba is like banging his head against the wall with hammeoraging consequences. Rab rakha. Our guidance is our constitution and judiciary. Rab rakha


  • Naveen
    Aug 23, 2013 - 8:50PM

    @Prabhjyot Singh Madan:
    I do not question benefits of such a reform. Secularism – a normative doctrine that calls for keeping clergy and religious diktats out of state’s business and making efforts to eliminate any inter-religious and intra-religious domination – in its various varieties, is indeed a very useful tool for rational organisation of Human Resources and development of Science in a society.

    But my point is why should we recommend it for Pakistan when several surveys have shown that an overwhelming majority of Pakistanis don’t want it? Isn’t this ‘Begaani Shaadi mei Abdulla deewana’ kind of stuff? Besides don’t you think that by trying to recommend something counter to majority narrative in Pakistan, we in their world view are projecting ourselves as a major threat to their fortress of Islam and hence compromising our own national interest. It is not as if we do not deal with religious States in the entire world. We do act perfectly rationally with Clergy cum Monarchies of many Gulf States.

    My whole point is that a Secular India should not even pretend to be a propagator of its values to the other countries. Respect must be shown to anything that majority in Pakistan chooses, instead of passing judgement.


  • saleem
    Aug 23, 2013 - 8:56PM

    Everybody seem to forget the historical fact Quaid e Azam and the Muslim league were in agreement to keep the United India till 1946 and accepted the Cabinet mission plan for greater autonomy to the provinces. It was the Indian Congress and Jawaharlal Nehru who declined. Therefore the Quiad had no choice.


  • NotSoCommon
    Aug 24, 2013 - 1:50AM


    What you need to understand is that their demand of “greater autonomy to the provinces” was not justifiable or fair to the rest of the Indian population/province. In a country with with almost all religions of the world, demanding a special treatment for a small segment on religious ground would have never been accepted. I am, and am sure every Indian, is glad Congress did not agree to those terms


  • Greek Tragedy
    Aug 25, 2013 - 9:28PM

    A well thought out strategy was adopted by Pakistani secular elite to co-opt Jinnah, separate him from Iqbal and present Pakistan as mundane economic struggle. Such rubbish find currency is amazing and an insult tot the intelligence, butt then the secularists can propagandize anything they want in Pakistan, They hold the reins of power.

    Sri Madan should know Islam is not Hinduism. Islam has a robust pedigree of politics , where power is subject to ethics and morality. Islam is a modern Idea breaking the bonds of family, tribe, race, language and geography and uniting humans to the worship of one true God. The broken relationships are then reassembled under ethical ideas an rights enjoined by the Divine.
    None such thing in Indian political thought.


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