The Objectives Resolution lives on

Published: July 10, 2014
The writer is a Master’s student at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. He tweets @uzairyounus

The writer is a Master’s student at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. He tweets @uzairyounus

Pakistan has a long and dark history of missteps, many of which have cut deep wounds and cast a dark shadow over our young nation. Of all these events, none come close to the July 5, 1977 coup by Ziaul Haq. Zia’s reign oversaw the judicial assassination of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the empowerment of fundamentalist and militant groups, the jailing and torture of thousands of activists and a number of constitutional amendments that are, to this day, part of our current constitution. It would be fair to say that Pakistan is still battling the forces unleashed by Zia and is still trying to turn a new corner as a nation. To solely blame Zia and his regime for all these issues, particularly religious extremism, is a mistake. Such an analysis relies on historical cherry-picking.

The process of Islamising Pakistan, based on a narrow interpretation of Islam, began in 1949 when the Objectives Resolution was tabled by then prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan. The resolution laid the foundations of an Islamic State and while its writers might have had the right intentions, the resolution was the crucible of an obscurantist and constricted interpretation of religion. In reaction to this resolution, Hussein S Suhrawardy said, “if Pakistan eliminates non-Muslims from its folds and forms a Muslim state, Islam will be destroyed in Pakistan.” This resolution, while opposed by secular-minded individuals in the Constituent Assembly, was hailed by Islamists led by Maulana Maududi. It should also be noted that Maududi opposed the Muslim League and the independence movement. Despite having no representation in the Constituent Assembly, Maulana Maududi was able to influence politicians in implementing his restrictive vision of religion.

It did not take long for the violent forces of religious extremism to rear their head in Pakistani society. On February 23, 1953, riots targeting Ahmadis in West Pakistan broke out, leading to the dismissal of the government on April 17, 1953. A judicial commission, investigating these events and its causes, released its conclusions in the Munir Commission Report. This was the first of many judicial commissions that would become a sad part of our history, for such reports were filed in the archives and none of the proposed recommendations were ever implemented. The report argued that the Objectives Resolution was ‘nothing but a hoax’ and reasoned that this resolution contains ‘not even a semblance of the embryo of an Islamic State.’

The findings of the report were subsequently ignored and the Objectives Resolution continued to be a fundamental part of all future constitutions. The first constitution was short-lived as Ayub Khan conducted a coup in October 1958, and developed a new constitution in 1962. Such was the power of the religious right that even a dictator had to backtrack on his decision to rename the country ‘The Republic of Pakistan.’ Today, Pakistanis look at Ayub as a rather secular-minded autocrat and view his era as a relative period of growth and prosperity. This perspective ignores the fact that it was during Ayub’s regime that a new Islamic ideology was developed in a bid to unite Pakistani society. His goal was to develop a new narrative based on Islam that would overtake the ethnic and religious diversity of Pakistan.

A decade after the Munir Commission Report, riots once again engulfed Pakistan and this time, minorities in East Pakistan suffered. The January riots of 1964 led to the death of almost 50,000 Hindus and the displacement of over a hundred thousand others, many of whom migrated to India. East Pakistan had been treated as essentially a colony of West Pakistan and while Pakistanis today would like to believe that the formation of Bangladesh was a conspiracy, the fact of the matter is that colonial policies lasting decades were ultimately responsible for the independence of Bangladesh.

Even Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a man who was successful in tapping into the emotions of the Pakistani society, was unable to stem the rise of religious extremism, intolerance, and bigotry. In 1974, under Bhutto’s watch, anti-Ahmadi riots engulfed Pakistan once again. The government was unable to stop the violence for months, and only after Bhutto succumbed to the pressure of the religious right did the rioting stop. On September 7, 1974, Ahmadis were declared non-Muslims in Pakistan, and a secular-minded leader also failed to close the Pandora’s box opened in 1949. A few years later, Zia took over, hanged Bhutto, and the process of Islamisation reached its peak. The school curriculum was changed to reflect a narrow interpretation of faith; Hudood Ordinance, the Blasphemy Laws, and more laws targeting Ahmadis were passed under his watch. Militant groups were given patronage by the state to fight against the Soviets, and while American and Saudi aid gave these groups a shot in the arm, these militant groups were being used by Pakistan long before the arrival of foreign money and weapons.

Today, Pakistan is in the midst of a serious crisis where the very forces once considered assets are causing the disintegration of the country. Minorities are under constant attack and every wave of religious intolerance has become more extreme and more violent. Those that have spoken against religious intolerance, bigotry and discriminatory laws in our constitution have been gunned down or forced into exile. Forced conversions of children and the targeted assassination of minorities has become the norm in Pakistan. This violence has forced minorities to seek asylum abroad.

The current military operation being carried out in North Waziristan has been rightfully supported by society. However, the hope that terrorism and extremism would be defeated as a result of this operation is naïve. The roots of religious intolerance and extremism go deep into the very fabric of Pakistani society. Rather than try to understand how Pakistan ended up here, we like to put the blame of our troubles on certain individuals. Zia is blamed for Islamic extremism, Musharraf for the current wave of terrorism, and now Kayani for being indecisive against terrorists in the tribal areas. Attaching blame to these individuals is akin to diagnosing only the fever caused by an infection. The infection running in our society has permeated the very soul of Pakistan. Introspection and a deep look into our history is a first step in curing Pakistan of this malady.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (31)

  • BlackJack
    Jul 11, 2014 - 12:10AM

    The January riots of 1964 led to the death of almost 50,000 Hindus and the displacement of over a hundred thousand others, many of whom migrated to India. East Pakistan had been treated as essentially a colony of West Pakistan and while Pakistanis today would like to believe that the formation of Bangladesh was a conspiracy, the fact of the matter is that colonial policies lasting decades were ultimately responsible for the independence of Bangladesh.
    The author is unlikely to win popularity contests in Pakistan, but I must salute his courage to state truth in such blunt terms. Pakistan, as a concept, swept in on a tiger called religion. Quoting from John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address “”….and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.” A prediction for the future.


  • Jul 11, 2014 - 12:21AM

    Such OpEd can be written while residing abroad. Fear thy name is extremists.


  • Chacha Jee
    Jul 11, 2014 - 12:45AM

    Thank you Uzair for pinpointing the roots of the rogue. Maulana Maudoodi (who came out of nowhere and had opposed the creation of Pkistan) was the architect of this resolution and he preached it through his Radio Pakistan program. As they say all roads go to Rome. In our case the crux of the problem lies at the doorsteps of Jammat-e- Islami and Tehrik-e-Ahrar. We know how to shoot at our feet, don’t we.


  • Kafir
    Jul 11, 2014 - 12:49AM

    Yes there are shades of truth but then there are eternal truths, unvarnished obvious truths.
    If you are unwilling to examine truths in totality there is never going to be salvation.

    You write “The process of Islamising Pakistan, based on a narrow interpretation of Islam, began in 1949”.
    Should we call this sentence true or false? It is a patently false statement. Islamisation began BEFORE Pakistan was created. For example Punjabi Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims were living relatively harmoniously and much more peacefully till late 1940s than people in many other parts of the then India. People of Sindh, Balochistan and NWFP are worse victims.

    Your external hostility, internal extremism, non development of the state institutions all originate from foundations made of lies.


  • 3rdRockFromTheSun
    Jul 11, 2014 - 1:08AM

    @Author : A honest and no holds barred description of why Pakistan is in its current state. The populace has been so radicalized that it is on the brink of a cliff; and if earnest efforts are not made to reverse this soon; it will be too late. Military operations againts insurgents will only have a temporary effect if it is not followed up with social change!


  • Jawaid
    Jul 11, 2014 - 1:09AM

    I beg to differ with the statement
    “East Pakistan had been treated as essentially a colony of West Pakistan …”
    Essentially it was one institution treating the whole country as a colony, not just East Pakistan. The dictatorship conspired and eliminated both Ms.Fatima Jinnah and Mr Suhrwardy. We must remember that it was a Bengali general, General Iskandar Mirza who put the curse of martial laws on Pakistan. East Pakistan, instead of acting as the big brother and leading the struggle against the establishment, chose to walk away, leaving the smaller provinces to deal with the mess initiated by the bengali general. In the process it was Baluchistan that has and is still suffering the most while East Pakistan is now relatively peaceful and prospering.


  • vinsin
    Jul 11, 2014 - 1:33AM

    Every country makes mistakes, for India
    1) Taking Kashmir to UN and then not resolving it.
    2) Liaquant Nehru pact when the migration was not completed.
    3) Suzerainty of Tibet to China.
    4) Partitioning subcontinent for secularism and then making the constitution but not implementing it saying Indian Muslims are not yet ready.
    5) Indian Muslim appeasement.
    6) Non-Aligned Movement.
    7) No basic population control even after getting overpopulated.
    8) Socialism madness till 1991
    9) 1971 war, nothing to gain for India.
    10) Not allowing to ambedkar to remove caste system.


  • Alan
    Jul 11, 2014 - 3:24AM

    obvious to rest of the world but well presented by the author.


  • American
    Jul 11, 2014 - 4:35AM

    W O W ! !
    Is this guy a Pakistani ?
    Such clear headed thinking and writing !!


  • Aysha M
    Jul 11, 2014 - 6:39AM

    The reason that Pakistan is a sectarian sty today is the legislation of 1974. Religion cannot be brought under public domain. State cannot take the responsibility of identifying faith of its citizens


  • Kuldip Singh Warraich
    Jul 11, 2014 - 7:26AM

    Great article, I salute you for having the courage to write this, and ET for publishing it.


  • Jul 11, 2014 - 8:17AM

    Thanks God someone has taken the courage to correct our short history. Objective Resolution was nothing but a high level intrigue to make our country ideologically bankrupt by Ihrars, jamait islami and Jamait ulema hind and later JUP. Lastly Zia did the final touch and now we stand nowhere in the world community. Unless we remove this farce resolution from the pages of the constitution this country will never move forward.


  • Uzair
    Jul 11, 2014 - 8:20AM

    Thank you Uzair (my namesake and it seems political thought process partner) for this finely argued piece.

    The crux is indeed that until dogmatic thinking is removed as the very core of our national mindset we will not see any progress, terrorists or not.


  • Feroz
    Jul 11, 2014 - 9:16AM

    A lot of water has flowed under the bridge and into the ocean. The past cannot be rewritten, can a new book or chapter be opened please.


  • Asim
    Jul 11, 2014 - 10:05AM

    Thanks for putting it on record, otherwise bengalis have all along been masquerading as helpless victims in pre-1971 Pakistan.


  • Xman
    Jul 11, 2014 - 11:24AM

    We need to have more of such voices exposing the root causes of violence and extremism in Pakistan. Kudos to author for writing and ET for publishing this content.


  • Rex Minor
    Jul 11, 2014 - 2:11PM

    The article is writtetn by the student author who has made full use of his hind sight; but when foresight was needed to speak up against the military carnage which is being committed with more ferocity than was the case in former East Pakistan, which the student now condemns and ignores the fact that the society as he terms it, was equaly supportive whoeheartedly of military actions in todays Bangla Desh. In a decade a student like him will be writing a similar story about KPK which will separate from todays Pakistan. And for this he had to travel to the land of opportunity to learn. Pakistan needs education reforms is the message I as an observer gather from this article.

    Rex Minor


  • Ahsan Abdullah
    Jul 11, 2014 - 2:29PM

    Very right and its high time Pakistanis stop being apologetic and demand an apology from Bangladesh for inflicting us with martial law cancer and then abandoning us.


  • Jul 11, 2014 - 2:32PM

    @Rex Minor: I don’t think so your assessment is based on facts. Yes there was a plan, a game, known as greater game but that was thwarted by the recent elections and PTI won and made the government in kPK. Yes had there been PMLN government then that plan would have materialized by now. As long as Imran khan is there no harm will be done toKPK in particular and Pakistan in general. Thanks.


  • Rex Minor
    Jul 11, 2014 - 3:13PM


    Pakistan is a dysfunctional State made up of separate Nations, using the slogan of the religion as the common denominator, but culturaly and traditionaly wide apart from one another. We have a saying here from a visionary politician, what is together and belongs to one anoths not er can also grow together. This has not been proven in so named Pakistan.t
    Imran Khan is a populist cavalier whereas Nawaz Sharif has a clan of cronies, to whom he does not listen and this is his weakness and as in the past will bring him down as well. Those who keep company of wolves, do not need enemies.

    Rex Minor


  • Lalit
    Jul 11, 2014 - 3:48PM

    @Ahsan Abdullah@Jawaid:
    hats off to your twisted logic…Iskandar Mirza was able to implement Martial law by the virtue of being an Army General and not by being a Bengali,so its the Army as an Institution needs to be blamed for such act of high treason and not the Bengalis.i doubt you are next to blame Muhajirs for Lal Masjid and Kargil fiasco next.
    hint: Musharraf was a Muhajir.


  • Jul 11, 2014 - 4:27PM

    @American: Well Mr American mostly Pakistanis are clear headed and they think right and talk right. I wish you had seen Pakistan of 1970s and met the younger people of that time. Kind courtsey of US that we are termed as narrow minded and people with no modern thoughts. I wish the Americans had not supported Gen Zia and not had conspired against populist Bhutto regimeof course, this country would have been playing some other game altogether. We are very unfortunate that we are the battle ground of so many countries and our leaders having lust and greed for illgotten wealth have been selling us every now and then.


  • Jul 11, 2014 - 4:45PM

    @Rex Minor: Well Mr Rex, you have all the right to form an opinion about any one and the way you think is appropriate. But in my opinion the most dysfunctional state according to your reasoning and logic is the American nation. It’s nothing but amalgamation in bad ratio of different types of people from all over the world. India the nation which has nothing in common between the people of different class and regions. Switzerland another example, UK one more, peoples republic of china is more homogenous then these states I mentioned. But you can only see if you don’t have jaundiced eyes. Culturally and tradionally the people of the region of Pakistan aren’t wide apart, provided the big powers lay off from our backs. Their interest in terms of precious minerals like cadmium, copper, gold, iron and Ofcourse so many other minerals is making them to harp the old tune, Pakistan is a failed state, Pakistan is a dysfunctional state etcetra etcetra.

    Please reconstruct your thoughts, go and read the history once again and we are praying we get rid of uncavelier leaders like Bazat Sharif and his cronies. Thanks


  • Rex Minor
    Jul 11, 2014 - 6:43PM

    You are beginning to understand now what a dysfunctional State is! USA is equaly a dysfunctional country but for very different reasons. India is not a Nation and was never one in its entire history! The Swiss have formed a union of Nations in a federal system and can better be explained with swiss cheese with numerous holes. UK is made up of different anamolies but became a kingdom under the crown. Scotland is on the verge to separate from the United Kingdom and so on…..!! Thhe rest of your narrative is a delusion and there is no reason for the people of Pakistan to blame third parties as the author points out all mistakes are home made one.

    Rex Minor


  • Avtar
    Jul 11, 2014 - 7:24PM

    Excellent analysis. If influence on society and its laws is the main criteria, Maulana Maudidi should be considered as founder of Pakistan. You are right certain individuals can be named as scapegoats but these individuals as ‘pious’ Zia reflected the viewpoint of society and its institutions. Maudidi also espoused anti-West views which continue in the regular discourse of Pakistani society. Ironically, Maudidi died in the West while seeking treatment from a society he despised.


  • nrmr44
    Jul 11, 2014 - 10:36PM

    I have only two points with respect to this article, one minor and the other less so.
    1. The idea that Pakistan is a “young nation” – 67 years are not enough to grow up?
    2. “The infection running in our society has permeated the very soul of Pakistan”. Was this infection due to a pestilence from outside, or was it always there to waken up eventually?
    If religious extremism threatens to be the death of Pakistan today, it was also the origin of its birth. Shall we cut out all the prevarication and just say that Pakistan has finally overdosed?


  • Tariq
    Jul 12, 2014 - 1:36AM


    Just remember one thing. Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. That is why the study of History is so crucial.

    We have to understand how and why we got where we are today. It is the only way to open a new chapter. As long as you regard history as “water under the bridge”, you are going to get more of the same.


  • Gp65
    Jul 12, 2014 - 6:13AM

    So was it not people of the 70s that were okay with Mujib being denied power and Bengalis being raped and massacred?
    Was it not people in70s that demanded and got 2nd amendment of constitution criminalising Ahmadi worship?
    Was it not people of the 70s who without understanding what happened in 1965 war were going around with Crush India stickers?


  • Jul 12, 2014 - 1:25PM

    @Gp65: We are not a war mongering nation. We don’t like war. We always try to aloft banner of peace! Tolerance and fellow ship. Fighting becomes noble profession only when a war is thruster upon us. At the same time we believe in Nietzsche that men should be educated for war. In 1965 the war was thrusted upon us and let us accept the fact that it was a bitter consequence of a problem let unsettled by the leaving Britishers. We are very proud that we fought the war as a nation. We were at war with India, do you expect us to roam around “we love India” instead of “crush India.” Any nation would have done that. It also indicates that Pakistani nation is alive and knows how to strengthen our Defence forces and fight a war as one single unit.

    On passing of second amendment I fully agree with you that it was wrong, a blunder done by Bhutto just to save his government. I would like to say that it was again the bad consequence of objective resolution. That is the topic under disscussion. That was the day day when Pakistan was hijacked by the mullahs.

    As far as giving powers to Mujib was concerned, you will be surprised to know that then the younger generation was of the opinion that power must I repeat must be given to Mujib as he was coming up as a new leader of Pakistan. The nation was alive to the step motherly treatment given by West Pakistani beaurucracy to our Bengali bretherens, and our elders used to continue telling us the sacrifices made by Bengalis for the creation of Pakistan. In fact the nation is still alive to the fact that the foundation of Pakistan was laid in Bengal. We have lots of regrets that the politicians of that time didn’t take right step to hand over power to Bengalis.

  • vinsin
    Jul 12, 2014 - 10:57PM

    Isn’t in 1965 Pakistan broke ceasefire in Kashmir accepted by many generals in pakistan now?
    Isn’t India gave 24% of land for Indian Muslims as per their population when indian muslims demanded it in-spite that only 1.6% of Muslims fought for independence. When the same demands were put up by Bangladesh and some Baluchistan you are denying the same right that Indians gave in 1947 to Indian Muslims?

    Isn’t Jinnah said Pakistan and India relation should be that of canada and america?


  • Ahsan Abdullah
    Jul 12, 2014 - 11:15PM

    What politicians? Please place the blame where it truly lies and don’t strengthen one institution and destroy others. Was it not Yahya and his junta ruling the roost and Mujib and Bhutto were Ayub’s agents planted to supplant Ms. Fatma Jinnah and Mr. Hussein Shaheed Suhrwardy, the real politics was effectively dead when Ms. Jinnah and Mr Suhrwardy were eliminated.


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