Kashmir: a new strategy
THE Saturday issue of the Financial Times usually carries an interview with a celebrity over lunch paid for by the newspaper. On June 25, Jo Johnson, the newspaper’s new correspondent for South Asia, wrote about his conversation with Imran Khan in Islamabad’s Serena Hotel. The current effort by the leadership of India and Pakistan to find a solution to the problem of Kashmir was one of the several subjects covered by the cricketer-turned-politician.
His views on the way Islamabad under President Pervez Musharraf is approaching the issue of Kashmir are based on a serious misunderstanding of the reasons why Pakistan should look for a way out of the Kashmir conundrum.
“Lamenting a recent Washington Times cartoon that portrayed Pakistan as a dog being patted by an approving US soldier, Imran says there is despair at Pakistan’s enslavement to the US; like other hardliners, he sees Pakistan’s recent flexibility in the search for a solution to the Kashmir problem, which would bring peace with India, as a self-administered thrashing supervised by the US, a humiliating ‘capitulation’”, wrote Johnson. “Imran, in other words, is tapping into anti-US sentiment at its most inflammatory.”
It is not helpful for a well informed politician to see the search for a solution to the problem of Kashmir in terms of self-humiliation being inflicted by Islamabad in response to Washington’s pressure. It is no doubt in the interest of the United States to cool the long-enduring passions between India and Pakistan and to remove one of the many reasons for the growing power of Islamists in a country such as Pakistan. It is even more important to appreciate that a solution to the Kashmir problem secured on terms different from those Pakistan has sought for a long time is in Pakistan’s own interests.
We have already paid a very heavy price for continuing with this struggle the end result of which is the failure to develop the country economically and socially at a pace which could bring economic relief to the suffering masses. It is this trade-off between the struggle for Kashmir and improving Pakistan’s economy and providing an opportunity for the country’s citizens that I am exploring in this series of articles.
In the article last week, I suggested that Pakistan has incurred a heavy price for the continuing conflict over Kashmir. The cost to it of keeping the dispute alive is much greater than that incurred by India. Some of the costs associated with this dispute are not readily apparent; one of these is the resurgence of extremist Islam. That was the subject of last week’s article.
That Pakistan became an important centre for the activities of the groups that advocated a radical and fundamentalist Islam would have happened even without the Kashmir problem. This form of Islam gained ground in Pakistan over several decades and for a variety of reasons that included opportunism on the part of leaders such as Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and opportunism combined with zealotry on the part of General Ziaul-Haq.
Nonetheless, Kashmir provided an opportunity for the Islamists to continue to gain strength in the country. It became the raison d’etre not only for their existence but for their increasing popularity.
The economic cost of the Kashmir conflict to Pakistan, the smaller economy compared to that of India, was also considerably higher. It is useful to develop some appreciation of this cost — no matter how rough such an estimate may be — in order to inform the Pakistani people and its political establishment whether it was prudent to pay such a heavy price for this conflict. I will undertake that exercise next week. However, before estimating the overall economic costs of the Kashmir conflict, it would be useful to briefly review how military doctrine and preparedness has evolved in India and Pakistan.
According to the World Bank’s estimates military expenditure in Pakistan in 2002 was equivalent to 4.5 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product, somewhat higher than the estimates provide by the government in the ‘Economic Survey, 2003-04’ and the budget speech for 2005-06. For India, the proportion was much lower, at 2.6 per cent. Over the last 10 years — from 1992 to 2002 — the proportion of GDP committed to military expenditures by the two countries moved in the opposite direction. In the case of India, the expenditure increased from 2.3 per cent to 2.6 per cent. In Pakistan’s case the expenditure was brought down quite significantly, from 6.1 per cent to 4.5 per cent.
These changes not only reflected economic reality but also different roles the countries wished to play in world affairs. India now had developed global ambitions and wished to project itself not only as regional power but a near superpower. As such it decided to spend on weapon systems that were not strictly relevant for its conflict with Pakistan but met the imperatives of a near-global power. Pakistan, on the other hand, continued to focus on the rivalry with India in the context of the Kashmir problem. At the same time it had to contend with a progressively weakening economy.
In 1992, India spent $6.49 billion on its military. The corresponding amount for Pakistan was $2.8 billion. At that time, the Indian expenditure was 2.3 times that of Pakistan while the size of its economy was 6.6 times as large. This situation changed quite dramatically in the next 10 years. The ratio between economic size and military expenditure for Pakistan was 2.87. While the Indian military expenditure nearly doubled, increasing to $12.87 billion by 2002, expenditure by Pakistan declined to $2.5 billion.
By that time, the gap between the Indian and Pakistani economies widened as a result of the much higher rate of growth in India. Between 1992 and 2002, the Indian GDP increased at the average annual rate of 5.8 per cent while that of Pakistan grew by only 3.6 per cent a year.
Consequently, in 2002, the Indian economy was 8.1 times larger than that of Pakistan’s. At the same time, India’s military expenditure was 5.1 times the size of Pakistan’s. The ratio was now 2.2 times as large in favour of India. Pakistan no longer had the economic means to keep pace with India’s military build-up. Parity in capability was once the cornerstone of Pakistan’s military strategy. This was no longer feasible.
Another set of numbers underscores the different defence strategies that were being pursued by the two countries as they entered the 21st century. By 2002, the Indians had a military force estimated at 1.3 million personnel compared to Pakistan’s 594,000, a ratio of only 2.2 compared to a ratio of 5.1 in total military expenditures. The size of the Indian military force was now increasing at only 0.3 per cent a year. While Pakistan was also increasing the number of people in uniform — by an estimated 0.2 per cent a year — the total amount of military expenditure had declined by a significant amount. The Indians were now relying on the capital-intensive approach to defence by equipping their military with heavy equipment.
This was more in line with the approaches followed by such other major military powers as the United States and China. In 2002, the Indians spent $9.8 million per person in uniform. Pakistan’s approach, on the other hand, was much more “labour intensive”. By 2002, it was spending only $4.3 million per person in uniform, or less than 43 per cent of the Indian outlay.
These numbers tell a clear story. New Delhi had decided to use its greater economic muscle acquired in the decade of economic reforms to develop a larger military capability and to do it by spending more on equipment. There was a qualitative change in the Indian military strategy. It no longer saw itself as a country with one major threat — from Pakistan, its northern neighbour — but in terms of a major global power that needed to project its growing military presence way beyond its borders.
For Pakistan, however, defence strategy remained focused on what it perceived as the Indian threat. That notwithstanding, it was becoming clear to the defence planners of Islamabad that given the serious weakening of the economy it was no longer feasible to engage in a full throttle arms race with its neighbour that was now making impressive economic advances.
Now that the rate of economic growth has picked up in Pakistan — in 2004-2005, it was estimated at 8.4 per cent increase in GDP over the estimate for 2003-04. This was higher rate of growth than that of India. With this palpable improvement in the economic situation there will be some temptation to spend an increasing amount on defence. This has begun to happen. The budget for 2005-06 has increased the outlay on the military by 15 per cent in nominal terms, from Rs.194 billion ($3.25 billion) budgeted for 2004-05 to Rs. 223.5 billion ($3.75 billion).
There will also be a sharp increase on equipment as the country begins to re-equip its air force with the coveted F 16s fighter planes. In March 2005, the administration of President George W. Bush reversed the stance of previous White House administrations and announced that it would no longer embargo the sale of these aircraft to Pakistan. There are also indications that Pakistan is entering into various arrangements with China to build sophisticated weapons, including fighter planes, in the country. The recent easing of economic constraints may result in reversing the strategy the military adopted during periods of economic stress to gain strength by relying on the jihadis.
During that time the Pakistani military evolved a two pronged military strategy. First, it chose to rely on the jihadi groups to counter the growing disparity between its military strength and that of India. As a consequence, a new theory of military preparedness began to evolve in Pakistan, supported in part by the extraordinary success of the Afghan resistance in the 1980s fighting the Soviet occupation of their country. Since Pakistan — in particular its main intelligence service, the Inter-Intelligence Service, the ISI — was deeply engaged in that enterprise, the country’s military strategists drew the conclusion that they could use the same tactics against the Indian threat. The jihadi groups, therefore, became an essential part of Pakistan’s military doctrine.
Second, the military invested heavily in equipping itself with a nuclear arsenal and a delivery system that could carry atomic weapons to some of the population and economic centres of India. While the concept of nuclear deterrence against India was authored by Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1974, right after India tested its first nuclear device, it was readily bought by the Rawalpindi military establishment once it became clear that it was no longer feasible to balance India’s rapidly growing and improving conventional capability.
Pakistan today stands at another cross-road in its turbulent history. Should it jeopardize its economic revival by re-engaging itself once again in Kashmir as it did in the mid-1960s, or spend its resources and the energy of its government on economic growth and poverty alleviation? Before answering this question it would be useful to estimate the economic cost that has already been incurred by pursuing the type of approach that politicians such as Imran Khan would have Islamabad follow. I will cover the subject of the economic cost of the Kashmir problem next week.
No need to back India’s bid
AN article has appeared advocating that Pakistan should support India’s bid as a permanent member of the Security Council and that Pakistan should also play the role of a satellite to India in international affairs. This view smacks of cynicism and lack of knowledge on the working of the United Nations and Pakistan’s historical role in it.
The UN is a complex mechanism with labyrinthine procedures for promoting peace, security and prosperity in the world.It has 191 members and a large number of specialized agencies in every conceivable field, from environment to women’s right. For Patrick Moynihan, “It is the theatre of the absurd.” For the developing countries its resolutions reflect international moral imperative and global conscience. For example, resolutions criticizing Israel have been vetoed by the US umpteen times but the General Assembly has always approved them with an overwhelming majority with only four countries supporting the US stands out of 191. The UN may not be very effective but its role has never been negative and oppressive like the colonial powers till 1945 and of the superpowers thereafter. The UN need to be strengthened and its institutions made more effective.
The secretary-general of United Nations had appointed a panel off eminent experts from about a dozen countries to suggest the reform of the UN system. They suggested an expansion of the Security Council with two options. At present the Security Council has five permanent members — the USA, Russia, the UK, France and China and ten non-permanent members who are elected by the regional blocs for a term of two years. The first option was to have six permanent members without veto and four more members for a two-year term. The second option was to have eight new long-term members for three to four-year terms from four regional blocks — Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe.
An expansion of the Security Council can only be implemented by an amendment of the UN Charter, which requires concurrence of all five permanent members and a vote by two-thirds of the members of the General Assembly.
Pakistan has played a very active and prominent role in the UN system starting with the outstanding contribution made by Zafarullah Khan, A.S. Bokhari, Aga Shahi and currently Ambassador Munir Akram. Pakistan has been elected to the Security Council five times since 1947. India has also been elected five times. The selection for the Security Council is made by the Asian group of more than fifty countries. The parity of Pakistan’s election to the Security Council with India is because of its effective performance. Otherwise India should have been elected more often. Therefore, Pakistan has a lot of goodwill and reputation in the UN system. India’s B.N. Rao was a poor addition in comparison with Zafarullah Khan. The UN system has not seen a more impressive writer and speaker of English than Bokhari.
India has been defying Security Council resolutions on Kashmir for more than fifty years. Pakistan has no such stigma. Moreover, Pakistan has been more active than India in international peace keeping efforts. Its soldiers have earned a good name in UN operations around the world.
Of the five permanent members China has already stated that it does not favour an expansion of the Security Council because it would not like its rival to the east — Japan — and its rival to the south — India — become permanent members simultaneously. Similarly, President Bush has stated in very clear terms that the US does not support any expansion of the Security Council. Hence, with two of the five permanent members opposing any expansion of the Security Council, there is no likelihood of any of the two options being adopted.
Japan, Germany, Brazil and India have tabled a resolution in the General Assembly for giving them permanent membership without veto power. Japan and Germany are the second and the third biggest economies of the world and make handsome contribution to the UN budget. India has put forward its claim on the basis of its population being more than a billion. Brazil is the most important country in Latin America.
Africa’s candidates have not been decided upon but the coming meeting of the African Union will indicate its preference for first or second options and also the countries which should represent it.
The meeting of the Islamic foreign ministers held at Sana the other day has pleaded that the OIC should have a permanent member in the Security Council to represent 1.3 billion Muslims who constitute one fifth of the world population.
With this background, Pakistan has rightly been opposing the joint resolution of Brazil, India, Japan and Germany and supporting the second option of eight new long-term members drawn from four regional blocks. Along with Italy, Pakistan has formed a group of Uniting for a General Consensus and if 62 other General Assembly members support Pakistan’s preference for the second option, the Indian bid will be nipped in the bud.
India and its three partners are canvassing for twothirds majority of the General Assembly, knowing fully well that two permanent members of the Security Council are opposed to it, in order to create pressure on them to support the will of the two-thirds membership of the General Assembly. Secondly, there is great disparity in the size, population, military and economic strengths of India and Pakistan. These hard realities do not however imply that we should become India’s satellite in international affairs. We have a common cause with the Islamic countries which is not shared by India and our interests do not converge on every issue.
No Pakistani political leader has tried more earnestly than President Musharraf to improve bilateral relations. He has waxed eloquence on simultaneous movement on solving the core Kashmir issue and confidence-building measures. Unfortunately, Indian response is not heartening at all. Not only has the ice on the Siachen glacier not melted, there has been no visible movement on barrages in Indian held Kashmir, Sir Creek and other issues.
The tragedy of India’s smaller neighbours is that, instead of behaving like an eastern elder brother, it is acting like Orwellian “Big Brother”. Our obsequious posture towards India will not improve latter’s attitude towards us. In this age of mass media Pakistan needs to be seen as very keen on improving relations with that country. President Musharraf and our foreign office have done it well.
Who are the pro-Americans?
SO familiar are the numbers, and so often have we heard them analyzed, that last week’s release of a new poll on international anti-Americanism caused barely a ripple. Once again the Pew Global Attitudes Project showed that most Frenchmen have a highly unfavourable view of the United States, that the Spanish prefer China to America, and that Canadian opinion of the United States has sunk dramatically. And once again the polls told only half of the story. Even the most damning polls always show that some percentage of even the most anti-American countries remains pro-American. According to the new poll, some 43 per cent of the French, 41 per cent of Germans, 42 per cent of the Chinese and 42 per cent of Lebanese say they like us. Maybe it’s time to ask: Who are they?
When pro- and anti-American sentiments are broken down by age, income and education — I did so recently using polling data from the Programme on International Policy Attitudes, supplied by Foreign Policy magazine — patterns do emerge. It turns out, for example, that in Poland, which is generally pro-American, people ages 30 to 44 are even more likely to support America than their compatriots.
This is the group whose lives would have been most directly affected by the experience of the Solidarity movement and martial law — events that occurred when they were in their teens and twenties — and who have the clearest memories of American support for the Polish underground.
In some more anti-American countries, such as Canada, Britain, Italy and Australia, people older than 60 have far more positive feelings about the United States than their children and grandchildren. This generation, of course, had positive experiences of US cooperation or occupation during World War II. Surely there’s a lesson here: Although anti-Americanism is often described as if it were a mere fashion, or some sort of contagious virus, America’s behaviour overseas, whether support for anticommunist movements or allied cooperation, does matter. People feel more positive about the United States when their personal experience is positive.
But the polls also make clear that direct political experience isn’t the only factor that shapes foreigners’ perceptions of the United States. Advertising executives understand ordinary women who read magazines filled with photographs of clothes they could never afford: They call such women “aspirational.” Clearly there are classes of people who might also be called aspirational. They are upwardly mobile, or would like to be. They tend to be pro-American, too.
In Britain, for example, 57.6 per cent of those whose incomes are low believe the United States has a mainly positive influence in the world, while only 37.1 per cent of those with high incomes believe the same. Breaking down the answers by education, a similar pattern emerges.
In South Korea, 69.2 per cent of those with low education think the United States is a positive influence, while only 45.8 per cent of those with a high education agree. That trend repeats itself across Europe and in many other developed countries. Those on their way up are pro-American. Those who have arrived, and perhaps feel threatened by those eager to do the same, are much less so.
In developing countries, the pattern is sometimes reversed. Indians are much more likely to be pro-American if they are not only younger but also wealthier and better educated: Because India has only recently been open to foreign investment, younger Indians have had the experience of working with Americans, whereas their parents have not.
The poor in India are still untouched by globalization, but the middle and upper-middle classes — those who see for themselves a role in the English-speaking, American-dominated international economy — are aspirational, and therefore pro-American. Some 69 per cent of Indians with high incomes think the United States is a mainly positive influence in the world, and only 29 per cent of those with low incomes agree.
This same phenomenon may also account for the persistence of a surprising degree of popular pro-Americanism in such places as Vietnam, Indonesia, Brazil and the Philippines. They’re getting wealthier - like Americans - but aren’t yet so rich as to feel directly competitive.
These pro-Americans may not be a majority, either in the world or in their own countries. But neither are they insignificant. Pro-Americans will vote for pro-American politicians, who sometimes win, even in Europe. They will also purchase American products, make deals with American companies, and vacation in the United States if we give them visas. They’re worth cultivating, with presidential speeches or diplomatic visits, because their numbers may even grow if their economies expand, if their markets grow freer, if they begin to see the global economy as a promise and not a threat.
Before Americans brush off the opinion of the “foreigners” as unworthy of attention, they should remember that whole chunks of the world have a natural affinity for them and, if they are diligent, always will. Happy Fourth of July. —Dawn/Washington Post Service
Blair versus Chirac
ACRIMONIOUS finger-pointing is the order of the day across the Atlantic, following French and Dutch voters’ rejection of the European Union constitution. Personal relations between French President Jacques Chirac and British Prime Minister Tony Blair are so frayed that tongue-in-cheek allusions to Waterloo are commonplace. It’s in Europe’s interest that Britain prevail in this cross-channel showdown too, given the issues involved.
Britain, along with some other allies, has for years pressed the EU to adopt more flexible business regulations that would encourage more risk-taking and create more jobs. Despite their high unemployment rates and sclerotic economic performance, France and Germany have dragged their heels, accusing London of not understanding or supporting Europe’s benevolent social model. Unfortunately for the accusers, Britain, despite its superior economic performance, is not the heartless capitalist nation with no social safety net depicted by officials in Paris and Berlin.
Blair shows every sign of taking on Chirac as Britain assumes the rotating presidency of the EU. In an important speech to the European Parliament last week, Blair said: “Some have suggested I want to abandon Europe’s social model. But tell me: What type of social model is it that has 20 million unemployed in Europe, productivity rates falling behind those of the USA; that is allowing more science graduates to be produced by India than by Europe; and that, on any relative index of a modern economy — skills, R&D, patents, IT — is going down not up?”
Blair is justifiably adamant that the EU must roll back its lavish agricultural subsidy programme, which mainly helps French farmers. As Blair told his own parliament last week: “It simply does not make sense in this new world for Europe to spend over 40 per cent of its budget on the common agricultural policy, representing five per cent of the EU population producing less than two per cent of the EU’s output.”
The rest of the world — not just Europe’s consumers — has a stake in the confrontation between Blair and Chirac. Europe’s direct payments to its farmers and other forms of agricultural protectionism hurt farmers in the developing world and undermine the basic fairness of the global trading system. But don’t expect Chirac, a former agriculture minister who calls the inefficient subsidies a “dynamic” policy, to care much.
Germany’s support of France in recent intra-European squabbling, dating back to the Gerhard Schroeder-Chirac partnership against the Iraqi war, is both disappointing and shortsighted. Germany should be alongside the British, pounding the table for economic reforms. —-Los Angeles Times
Was Pakistan meant to be a secular state?
ONE of the positive aspects of Mr Lal Krisna Advani’s visit to Pakistan was his appreciation of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s secular vision which has generated a lively debate in both Pakistan and India.
A perusal of the Quaid’s speeches and statements leaves no doubt that he wanted Pakistan to be a secular state. The secular character, system and spirit as envisaged by Mr Jinnah is evident from his speeches and statements on three vital constitutional and political issues: (i) his views against mixing religion with Politics; (ii) condemnation of theocracy; and (iii) equal rights and status for the minorities. Some quotations (in brief) from credible books on all the three issues follow:-
Religion and politics:
“Jinnah left the Home Rule League and the Congress after Gandhi took them over because he strongly disapproved of the introduction of religion into politics by Gandhi, and because he disapproved equally strongly of unconstitutional means to secure swaraj.” — H.M. Seervai, Legend and Reality, p.169.
“Jinnah had told him that he (Gandhi) had ruined politics in India by dragging up a lot of unwholesome elements in Indian life and giving them political prominence, that it was a crime to mix up politics and religion the way he (Gandhi) had done.” — Transfer of Power Documents, Vol.VI, p. 617.
“Jinnah, however, warned Gandhiji not to encourage fanaticism of Muslim religious leaders and their followers. Indeed he was not the only person who foresaw danger in the Khilafat Movement.” — K.M. Munshi, Pilgrimage to Freedom, p. 22.
“Jinnah made it clear, however, that he had no intention of playing the role of an Islamic Khalifah. As Pakistan’s governor-general, he intended to see to it that all its citizens, irrespective of religious or cultural orientation, were, politically and before the law, similar and equal.” — Pakistan in the Twentieth Century — A Political History by Lawrence Ziring, pp. 66 & 67.
“Jinnah’s insistence on balance and fairness to all, irrespective of religious persuasion or cultural identity, projected a secular approach that was now obscured in the Muslim League’s struggle to achieve parity with the Congress.” — Pakistan in the Twentieth Century — A Political History by Lawrence Ziring, p. 39.
“Jinnah, the ‘ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity’, had worked hard to get the Congress and the League to co-operate and deplored the opportunistic alliance between the Mahatma and the Khilafat Muslims.” — The Sole Spokesman: Jinnah, The Muslim League and The Demand for Pakistan by Ayesha Jalal, pp. 8 & 9.
It should be noted that the Quaid-i-Azam never named, called, referred to or branded Pakistan as an “Islamic Republic”. It must be remembered that while referring to Pakistan he only used the words, “State of Pakistan” or “Sovereign State of Pakistan” or “Dominion of Pakistan” or “Federal Republic of Pakistan”. This fact can be easily verified from the many statements, messages, interviews and speeches of the Quaid, as published in Jinnah’s Papers (10 volumes) and by the Oxford University Press, Karachi, Rizwan Ahmed, Pakistan Movement Centre, Karachi (single volume) and (d) by Khurshid Ahmed Yousufi, Bazm-i-Iqbal, Lahore (four volumes).
Pakistan not to be a theocratic state:
“Will Pakistan be a secular or theocratic state? You are asking me a question that is absurd. I do not know what a theocratic state means.” — Jinnah’s press conference in New Delhi on July 14, 1947, Jinnah Speeches & Statements, published by OUP, p.15.
“But make no mistake: Pakistan is not a theocracy or anything like it....”. Jinnah’s address to the people of Australia on February 19, 1948 — Jinnah Speeches & Statements p.118.
“In any case Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic state — to be ruled by priests with a divine mission.” Jinnah’s address to the people of the United States in February, 1948, Jinnah Speeches & Statements, p.125.
Equal status, rights And protection for the minorities:
“Minorities to whichever community they may belong, will be safeguarded. Their religion or faith or belief will be secure. There will be no interference of any kind with their freedom of worship. They will have their protection with regard to their religion, faith, their life, their culture. They will be, in all respects, the citizens of Pakistan without any distinction of caste or creed”. — Jinnah’s press conference in New Delhi on July 14, 1947, Jinnah Speeches & Statements p. 13.
“You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed — that has nothing to do with the business of the state”. — Jinnah’s presidential address to the Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947, Jinnah Speeches & Statements, p. 28.
“Now, I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State.” — Jinnah’s presidential address to the Constituent Assembly, August 11, 1947, Jinnah Speeches & Statements, p. 29.
“We have many non-Muslims — Hindus, Christians, and Parsis — but they are all Pakistanis. They will enjoy the same rights and privileges as any other citizens and will play their rightful part in the affairs of Pakistan.” — Jinnah’s address to the people of the United States in February, 1948, Jinnah Speeches & Statements, p.125.
The aforesaid are just a few of Mr Jinnah’s observations. There is no dearth of such statements by the Quaid on numerous occasions that highlight his secular views, vision and objectives.
Almost all authors of books on the Quaid, including Stanley Wolpert, Lawrence Ziring, Ayesha Jalal, H.M. Seervai and K.M. Munshi, substantiate and support the view in unambiguous terms that the Quaid was himself a secular person and wanted Pakistan to be a secular state.
Much to our misfortune, the same orthodox religious parties that had openly criticized and ridiculed the Quaid as ‘kafir-e-azam’ and Pakistan as “Napak-istan” and opposed the
very creation of the country became the custodians of its ideology and started imposing obscurantist, illogical concepts and ideas in the name of religion. They launched a campaign with mala fide motives against secularism or secular thinking.
They misled the people and poisoned their minds against secularism by alleging that a secularist is an atheist and anti-religion. The fact is that only secularism and a secular society guarantee freedom to all citizens to adopt, follow and practice any religion or ideology without any fear or discrimination.
It is ostensibly religious states, by virtue of their basic character and existence, that promote bigotry, sectarianism and prejudice not only among different religions but among Muslims themselves. This in turn inevitably results in brutalization and lawlessness in society, which is the main impediment to economic development and progress.
The prefix of “Islamic Republic” with the name of Pakistan was added for the first time in 1956 as a result of the unholy nexus between the unelected civil and military bureaucracy.
It is ironic and unfortunate that Pakistan thus became only the second country after Israel to have a religious identity attached to its name in its constitution.
It should be relevant to point out that our brother Muslim country Bangladesh, which was part of Pakistan until 1971 and has as many, if not more, committed Muslims, chose to drop the religious identity prefix from its name in the constitution adopted by it at independence.
Similarly, with the exception of Pakistan and a couple of other countries, the 57 countries with a majority of Muslims — from east Asia to the Middle East and Africa — have not adopted Islam as their state religion or attached the prefix of “Islamic” with their names. Its only in Pakistan that we have at least 133 known religious parties and not less than 104 known ‘jihadi’ groups.
A vast majority of Muslim countries do not have man-made hudood and blasphamy laws or define Muslims in their constitutions. But we don’t hear of sectarian riots or killing of Muslims by Muslims in the name of Islam or attacks on mosques and imambargahs. Why should Pakistan be different and adopt militant practices and discriminatory laws in the name of religion? Are we in any manner better Muslims? Or are Muslims in other countries in any way inferior to Pakistanis?
The writer is a former federal minister for law and now secretary-general of the HRCP. Email: email@example.com