If I were a rational person I would not be writing this blog. In the past I have lamented the proliferation of garbage, lauded junkies and soothsayers at a sufi saint’s shrine, delved into nostalgia about rail travel, and written about other harmless subjects. These blogs and features received mostly bouquets and some brickbats from the readers. But today I want to talk about a very difficult subject. No, I am not confessing that I am a serial killer or a closet drag queen; sorry, nothing juicy like that. This particular subject has been like a thorn in my heart for many years but good judgment and sane counsels from friends has stopped me from pulling it out of my heart and speak out what I really think about it. Pakistan’s poet laureate Faiz Ahmed Faiz perfectly expressed this feeling thus:
Harf-e-haq dil mein khatakta hey jo kantey ki tarha Aaj izhar karein aur khalish mi tjaey
(The truth that lives in the heart like a thorn) (Speak it out, now, and banish the pain)
You see, I have a serious problem with the question, “What is the ideology of Pakistan?” I can see you, dear reader, sniggering and saying, “Every man, woman, transvestite, child, the 25 per cent literate or the 75 per cent illiterate, and even some intelligent well brought up parrots know that there is a single word answer to this question, and it is Islam. Even the country’s full name is “The Islamic Republic of Pakistan” and according to the constitution, “only a Muslim can become the head of the state”.
So case closed; get back to writing about garbage dumps because that is where you rightly belong.
I think dear reader, you are right and I should stop here. But, what to do about the thorny medical condition that Faiz Ahmad Faiz has talked about in his verse? No, I cannot stop; I belong to the Faiz tribe and must banish this pain, now.
You see, all manner of thinkers, whether liberal (simple, leftist or Islamist flavour), or radical (again of the three flavours) or secular, and any valid combination thereof have me totally confused.
The simple liberals say: Pakistan was created for the Muslims who could not possibly thrive in a Hindu dominated India. Hindus and Muslims are two different nations. Thus, the ideology of Pakistan is Islam. They quote Quaid-i-Azam’s speeches to support their point of view.
I humbly submit the following questions and opinions to this august group:
1. What about the large number of Muslims that were left behind in India? If the larger Muslim populace could not survive under the domination of the powerful Hindus what chances did the much-diminished population of Muslims have? Imagine, if today all the Muslims were in an undivided India they would have constituted nearly 40 per cent of the total population! That would have given them serious political clout to fight for their rights.
2. Consider that by creating a new state based on distrust and hatred, it actually created two warring states on day one of their creation. This intense animosity between the two countries has remained the single most important factor in the formulation of Pakistan’s foreign policy. Internally, every leader in Pakistan has cynically invoked the specter of the fear of India and milked the cow of national security whenever faced with domestic unrest and disaffection. The distrust of India gives immense clout to the army that gets a free hand to spend the poor country’s money on defense. What has that expenditure given in return? Half the country was lost and the remaining is living under very insecure conditions. Soon there may be nothing left to defend!
3. What happened as early as 1971 to that great common bond of religion that was the basis of creating a new nation? Just 24 years after the creation of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan more than half the population decided they had enough of being part of the great Republic?
4. Following the partition of India in 1947, Mohammad Rushdi’s lovely voice sang to us on the radio;
Hum laayen hein toofan sey kashti nikal key Iss mulk ko rakhna meray bachoo sumbhal key
(We have steered this boat through stormy waters) (My children, take care of your precious country)
And stormy waters they were; millions killed, maimed, raped and displaced on both sides. A human tragedy occurred on a colossal scale that was not anticipated by any of the great leaders of the Hindus, Muslims or British. Who should history hold responsible for these massacres?
The same saga was repeated in 1971. Once again, thousands killed, raped or maimed. Only this time it was the blood of Muslims mingling with the blood of other Muslims and the semen of Muslim Pakistani soldiers entering bodies of Muslim Bengali women. No Sir, this does not fit well at all in your raison d’être for Pakistan, the famous “Two Nation Theory”. Where was the mother of all bonding, “Islam”? Unless, of course, you say that East Pakistan and West Pakistan were two nations in this case! More likely, years of exploitation by the West Wing gave the Bengalis a broken heart that no bond could keep together and no balm could heal.
“To hell with the short, dark, cowardly Bengalis, they were a burden on our economy anyway. Good riddance!”
Sir, I cannot argue with this impeccable logic based on sound military and economic theory.
5. But the thorn is still residing in my heart and it is asking you, “Do you realise that the Bengalis are doing far better now in Bangladesh than they were in Pakistan? And the good Muslims, the Biharis (labeled Bhikaris or beggars by our great erstwhile Amir-ul-Momineen, Gen. Zia-ul-Haq) who supported a united Pakistan are still rotting away in the infamous “Geneva Camp”, homeless and stateless. And I guess it is relevant to remind you that you left a lot of Muslims back in India in 1947 too! Who is next on the list of your “Jamaican Farewell”?