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Healing our sectarian divide

Published Feb 21, 2015 01:15am

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The writer teaches physics in Lahore and Islamabad.
The writer teaches physics in Lahore and Islamabad.

SHIKARPUR on Jan 30, Peshawar on Feb 13, Rawalpindi on Feb 18. In less than three weeks, suicide bombers have targeted three imambargahs packed with worshippers. Outside of Syria and Iraq, Pakistan is the world’s deadliest country for Shia Muslims. Hazara are fleeing Balochistan, and barricades surround segregated Shia urban neighbourhoods. The government said yesterday it will issue gun licences for imambargah defenders. But even high security often fails: a suicide bomber made it through to Abbas Town in Karachi with a carload of explosives, leaving dozens of broken apartments with flesh and body parts hanging from balconies.

Unsurprisingly, Pakistan’s Shias see themselves as victims of religious persecution. Some speak dramatically of a Shia genocide. This is surely an exaggeration. But the irony should not be lost: Mohammad Ali Jinnah, without whom Pakistan might not have been possible, was a Gujrati Shia Muslim. He mobilised millions stating that Muslims and Hindus could never coexist but Muslims, irrespective of sect, could. He was partly correct. Pakistan’s early years were largely peaceful, except for occasional flare-ups around Ashura time. Intermarriages were fairly common, and Shias had joined orthodox Sunnis into enthusiastically supporting Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s 1974 decision to declare Ahmadis as non-Muslim.

But, in a curious flip of history, a 2012 Pew Global Survey shows that 41pc of respondents in Pakistan believe that Shias are non-Muslim. A popular explanation of this blames Gen Ziaul Haq’s Islamisation. His policies distinguished between different sects and indeed did promote discord. However, the massive ongoing fratricide across the Middle East suggests that religious tensions would have anyway boiled over.


The question of what constitutes the truest form of faith is seen as ever more important.


What changed and why? At the core of a rapidly increasingly globalised conflict is the relatively recent insistence, equally by Shias and Sunnis, that religion must fuse with political power. Shia Muslims were led towards political Islam by Ayatollah Khomeini’s 1979 Islamic Revolution. Sunni Muslims, on the other hand, were inspired by Egypt’s Syed Qutb and Pakistan’s Syed Abul Ala Maudoodi.

Sizeable fractions of today’s Sunnis and Shias demand a political system that goes beyond an individual’s contemplation of God. Both say that true justice is possible only when religious law replaces secular law and religious practices are enforced in society. Both see the secular West as their mortal enemy. But thereafter the agreement grinds to a halt. With irreconcilably different versions of early Islamic history, different choices of exemplars, and different religious rituals, it is only the Holy Quran upon which they can fully agree.

But here comes the rub. The Quran does not prescribe any kind of political system. On matters of state and politics, the Holy Book is silent. In fact, as various scholars have pointed out, the Arabic language had no word for “state”. That which came closest was dawlah. But the word acquired its current meaning only after the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia which led to the emergence of geographically defined nation-states in Europe.

Crucially, the Quran is silent on how a state’s ruler is to be chosen and what might be legitimate grounds for his removal. Revealed for the purpose of separating right from wrong rather than politics, the Book does not specify the limits of the ruler’s power or that of the shura’s (consultative body). Also unmentioned is the manner in which the shura, which could potentially appoint or remove a ruler, is to be chosen. Would there be an executive, judiciary, or government ministries and what should their functions be? Islam’s other source of definitive authority, the Holy Prophet (PBUH), did not outline the process for selecting future leaders of the faithful. Whether he actually specified his immediate successor remains deeply contentious.

Let’s fast forward to the 21st century: the Iranian revolution of 1979, the promotion of jihadism in Afghanistan by the United States, and the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. These have created a brand new reality and an uncertain world. The West must deal with the consequences of its former policies of conquest, and Muslims with ancient animosities that time has failed to bury.

In 2015, the Shias of Pakistan, though better off than Ahmadis of Pakistan, must contend with three principal threats to their physical security. These are similar, but also different, from those faced by most Pakistanis who also feel embattled.

First, as religious faith takes a firmer grip over the lives of ordinary citizens, the question of what constitutes the truest form of faith is seen as ever more important. Since a substantial portion of Pakistan’s population sees Shias deviating from mainstream Islam, sympathy for victims of mass killings, or individual assassinations, is limited. This, in turn, gives licence to the killers.

Second, a plethora of militant organizations flourish across Pakistan. Some remain within the control of the state. Others have turned rogue and violently anti-Shia. Earlier this week, Gen Pervez Musharraf confirmed the widely suspected fact that, with the aim of damaging India in Kashmir, and destabilising Hamid Karzai’s government in Afghanistan, the ISI and military had helped create a variety of extra-state actors. The Sipah-i-Sahaba, an anti-Shia organisation, was tolerated because of its participation in the Kashmir jihad. Having morphed into Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, it now claims credit for attacks on Pakistani Shias. Malik Ishaq, its operational leader, is a man considered too powerful for Pakistan’s courts to touch. His family enjoyed support of the ruling PML-N party while he was in jail.

Third, state policy insists on seeing all its citizens through the prism of religious affiliation. For example, security clearance forms in many government organisations, including PAEC and SPD, require one to state his sect, name of murshid (religious mentor), name of mosque usually prayed in, as well as zat (tribal affiliation). But, as primal identities are reinforced, citizenship is proportionately weakened.

More razor wire, guards, and gun licences cannot assure the safety of Pakistani citizens. Whether Sunni, Shia, Christian, Hindu, or Ahmadi, they all live in fear. Real protection can come only by educating Pakistan’s upcoming generations that all faiths are entitled to equal respect, moving firmly and equally against all militant groups, and giving every Pakistani citizen exactly the same legal rights and privileges as any other.

The writer teaches physics in Lahore and Islamabad.

Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2015

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The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.


Comments (69) Closed



Fiz Feb 21, 2015 02:20am

Well said Hoodbhai but who is going to bell the cat i.e mullahs?

SharifL Feb 21, 2015 02:41am

It is time to admit that religion should be left as a private affair and classiyfing others as this or that is out of date. Shias Sunnis Ahmadis hindus and Christians are all citizen of the same country. They are all human beings and that should be the only criteria cnosidered valid. To achieve that mentality our schools and parents must start teaching tolerance. Same can be said of women; they are equal partners in all affairs.

rashid Feb 21, 2015 04:48am

Everyone including hoodbhoy miss the trigger which started the mess that we are in. It is the Atheist USSR invasion of Afghanistan which started this fire. Now lets talk about the catalysts which are fueling this fire. Sectarianism, current incorrect interpretaion of jihad, Zia ul haq islamisation, political islam and conflict with india. Most of these factors were there before much causing violence.

sensible_indian Feb 21, 2015 06:41am

And this article doesn't sufficiently describe all the horrors. I know a friend here in US who is considering applying for political asylum on the grounds of being a shia in pakistan

Iqbal Feb 21, 2015 07:23am

I am an admirer of Professor Hoodbhoy, but this piece leaves one dissatisfied. That there is merit in Jinnah's assertion that Hindus and muslims could never live together. That may be the historical basis for the formation of this country. But surely, every one knows that it cannot be arational basis? That such an idea cannot coexist with the concept of a functional state? At these moments of deep crisis, it is also the moment to face facts. That religion can never be the basis for a nation. Unless you wish that nation to be run by a powerful oppressive intolerant cabal. pakistan may turn into one such country.

Feb 21, 2015 08:21am

"He( Jinnah) mobilised millions stating that Muslims and Hindus could never coexist but Muslims, irrespective of sect, could. He was partly correct." He was completely incorrect as none of the religions Islam, Christianity and Hinduism are monolithic .They comprise within themselves of different sects, nationalities and sub nationalities with wide differences in culture. It is impossible for anyone to mobilize them under single banner with religious ideology. As long as you do not believe in accepting diversity and approaching religion as a personal matter you are going to stroke fires

shoaib Feb 21, 2015 08:33am

your writings are one of the sanest here that one gets to read about. great job!

Tahir A Feb 21, 2015 09:01am

@rashid

Hi. you are missing the point and conveniently gone off tangent. The religious obsession started as early as the 1950's with persecution of the Ahmadis. Since then, the nation has never looked back in terms of hatred and bigotry.

Hami Feb 21, 2015 09:29am

Mr. Hoodbhoy, this is ONLY possible when religion does not become the business of the state as desired By Quaideazam

Keti Zilgish Feb 21, 2015 09:30am

The Shias of Pakistan are now facing exactly what the Yazidis of Northern Syria are and there could easily be a similarity in solutions as well.

Keti Zilgish Feb 21, 2015 09:31am

But the word acquired its current meaning only after the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia which led to the emergence of geographically defined nation-states in Europe.

Keti Zilgish Feb 21, 2015 09:34am

@author "But the word acquired its current meaning only after the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia which led to the emergence of geographically defined nation-states in Europe." But do you think it is still 'current' after the Maastricht Treaty?

A Khan Feb 21, 2015 10:00am

Very well written article. I would invite the author to read the article in Opinion of 05 Feb by Dr Taqi. The second last paragraph refers to a dialogue between Gen retd Kiani and the head of a banned organisation. After reading that, I don't see any light ahead.

Dinesh Singh Feb 21, 2015 10:07am

@Iqbal I can not agree more with you and I am also a great admirer of Professor Hoodbhoy. When religion is the basis for the formation of a country then it will surely be run by a cabal. I can not forget the disappointment of Faiz with the state of Pakistan and that too in 1950s. So it is wrong to say that Pakistanis were living in harmony during initial days also. But now coming to the difficult question, who will bell the cat and how will he bell the cat. To control sectarian violence you will have to convince the people who are blind due to faith. You have to convince them that the path they are following leads to disaster. I remember a few days back a comment from an erudite person in some blog that in a country based on principles of Islam the Buddhist and Hindu past should not be even mentioned because it is against the feeling of majority populace. Think about the illiterate or semiliterate person in interior of Punjab, what he will be thinking about faith and country. How to bring sanity in this environment.

sta Feb 21, 2015 10:08am

It is more than obvious that there is no unanimity on the interpretation of "Islam", among the various sects of Muslims. In any case, unanimity of opinion cannot be artificially achieved. It is wiser to differ with the other, in your choice of your path to God, than to agree hypocritically. But these are choices that the individual has to make for his own sake. These are not the choices that the State should be making. The individual can be partial in matters of faith, but the State, if it worth the name, must be religiously impartial at any cost. If the State shows preference to one interpretation of "Islam" over the other, it means that the State is not impartial. The only answer is a "Secular State".

shah Feb 21, 2015 10:24am

@sensible_indian yeah I know of Pakistanis in Canada who have applied for political asylum on similar grounds. Pakistanis will do anything for immigration though.

javed Hasrat Feb 21, 2015 10:31am

Hats off Hoodbhoy the outfit & outlawed organization leader should be hand over to military courts

indian Feb 21, 2015 10:55am

Gen Pervez Musharraf confirmed the widely suspected fact that, with the aim of damaging India in Kashmir, and destabilising Hamid Karzai’s government in Afghanistan, the ISI and military had helped create a variety of extra-state actors---- can any one explain this..!! whether pakistani president didn't do anything but oppose india for everything...???

Pakistani Feb 21, 2015 11:06am

Pakistan needs to take the following course, without any further delay:

  1. Call ourselves the "Republic of Pakistan". Let's keep "Islam" out of this.
  2. Redraft a "secular" constitution - even more secular than Bangladesh's.
  3. Shut down all Madrassahs. Shift all the madrassah-going children to regular schools and let the state sponsor their education. Get all the ghost-schools back on their feet, and their teachers of these ghost schools should either teach or be fired.
  4. Political parties with religious agendas and religious slogans must be banned and not allowed to participate in elections.
  5. Accelerate Zarb-e-Azb.
Narahari Feb 21, 2015 11:56am

Who says Hindus and Muslims can't coexist peacefully ? There are more Muslims in India than in Pakistan and their percentage is growing on a decade basis (Census data). There have been 3 Presidents (Dr. Zakir Hussain, Dr. Fakrudin Ahmed and my own college senior Dr. Abdul Kalam) great cricket players in the Indian team : Pataudi, Abid Ali, Azar, Zahir, Irfan and now Shami. Are they all loving happily ? they are as happy or un-happy as everybody else I guess.

Sandeep Feb 21, 2015 12:15pm

This guy is simply brilliant!! His each and every article is insightful. I always eagerly await for it. Get him to India and make him a personal adviser to PM.

ijaz Feb 21, 2015 12:19pm

it is the time that all ulma of pak play his role for pakistan

indian Feb 21, 2015 12:46pm

And in Indiaall sect of muslims r living peacefully with hindus sikh chrtn etc.so where is two nation theory .

Burjor Rustomji Feb 21, 2015 01:00pm

A very incisive, well researched article.

lalai Feb 21, 2015 01:05pm

Great article Mr. Hoodbhoy. Stay blessed and stay safe. We must admit that linking religion with the sate business was the most fundamental flaw in Pakistan. What we are experiencing now is the eventual outcome of this policy.

Waqas Feb 21, 2015 01:30pm

I am very much hopeful with the youth who comprises on 70% of the population. This sizeable no has been entering into mainstream through electoral process and will creat favourable impact on social fabric,hopefully. Open media may enhance tolerance among massess.

Imran Feb 21, 2015 02:10pm

There is no sectarian divide in Pakistan. People of various sects coexist very peacefully. It is the terrorists led by toxic Mullahs who are promoting sectarian hatred by their ffrequent killings.

Jaffer Sheriff Feb 21, 2015 02:29pm

Dear Hoodbhai, I am your fan. You are a correct person in a wrong country.

Syed Ganga Din Feb 21, 2015 03:26pm

Sharia is imminent and unavoidable. Never mind what the Europeans did or did not do.

Kamal Gupta Feb 21, 2015 03:51pm

@rashid By blaming the now dead USSR, aren't you playing victim?

Alvi Feb 21, 2015 04:08pm

To paraphrase a German priest who was executed by the nazis: First they came for the Hindus and Sikhs and no one spoke up, then they came for the Ahmadis, and thereafter the Christians , Shias etc Then they came after the moderrates( eg Mr tasser) and no one spoke up Eventually they came for me and their was never left to speak for me...

Mohammad Abdul Wahab Feb 21, 2015 04:13pm

Fully agreed. Difference of faith, sect or opinion in no way should be a reason for bastardly acts of annihilating others. Such beastly approach at the end doesn't allow the right to survival to one's own children even. State has to accept its responsibility for forging unity and harmony among its citizens irrespective of faith, creed, sect or religion. People must be educated and forced to respect others' faith. Violators must be given exemplary punishments. Opportunities and justice must be made available to everyone without open or hidden discrimination. State and citizens need to work hard to achieve those targets. All outfits projecting terrorism or intolerance must be dealt with iron hand. Every moulvi, khateeb or imam inciting hatred should be given at least 10 years rigorous imprisonment. State must pronounce that it will not tolerate intolerance and hate mongering on any ground. In order to bring Pakistan on right track, we will have to work too hard.

arindam Feb 21, 2015 04:14pm

@Sandeep we have more qualified persons than him to advise our Prime Minister. Please let him take care of his own country.

Ashhad Feb 21, 2015 04:59pm

@Iqbal he said qaid was partially right and that was about the second phrase that sunnis and shias can live with harmony afterwords

Ravi Krishna Feb 21, 2015 05:48pm

@about, I think Dr. Hoodbhoy is merely paraphrasing MAJ's statement, and not endorsing it.

Shafiq khan Feb 21, 2015 05:52pm

@Iqbal Jinnah wanted a muslim of the continent to have autonomy in the majority Muslim areas of the continent. He wanted to relieve the Muslim small farmers from the clutches of the proverbial "banya" . Jinnah never advocated the migration of Muslims from India or the other way round. He wanted the populations to stay where they were and the Muslims of the majority areas to have the government of those areas. Remember the 1940 Muslim League Resolution. Have a look at it it does not suggest any migrations.

Burjor Rustomji Feb 21, 2015 05:52pm

"Muslims and Hindu's could never co-exist" If people wish to coexist they can and have, all over the world, there are Muslims and Hindus "coexisting". There are Millions of Muslims in India, co-existing with Hindus. When Pakistan came into existence, only 20 percent of the Muslims left India for Pakistan, 80 percent remained where they were. This is a simple fact. That Muslims, only on being a Muslim and no other reason form a separate nation is a wrong notion. All thru the Mughul era Muslims and Hindus coexisted in India, all through the British rule Muslims and Hindus coexisted. Bangladesh became an independent nation in 1972, even though they were Muslims. The very notion that being a Muslim forms a nation is a very wrong notion. This simple fact has to be acknowledged. When 80 percent of the Muslims decided overwhelmingly to remain in India, that itself is a very strong proof that this very notion was wrong.

javed Iqbal Feb 21, 2015 06:25pm

Only secular education & separation of religion from state can save lives of our coming generations.

Deepak Talwar Feb 21, 2015 06:40pm

This a good article and I enjoy the author's columns, but I wish he had belled the cat. All religions divide mankind, create wars and strife. Western societies have greatly diluted the importance of religion and churches are empty. We must do the same. It is vital for people in our countries to become less religious. This will truly liberate and unshackle us. Try it.

Shakeel Ahmad Feb 21, 2015 08:27pm

@Deepak Talwar

Well said Deepak and spot on to the point. Many may see empty churches as a sign of weakness, unpopularity and slow extinction of dated Christianity. On the contrary, people have useful things to be involved in to improve life on this planet for mankind and also for lackeys to provide them the benefits of well spent labour.

Syed Ganga Din Feb 21, 2015 08:37pm

@Jaffer Sheriff : Yes he is in the wrong country.

Rex Major Feb 21, 2015 08:45pm

@SharifL "To achieve that mentality our schools and parents must start teaching tolerance."

The teachers and the parents, who themselves have been brought up and indoctrinated with a heavy dosage of intolerance are now now being asked to teach tolerance.

How easily do you think this can be done? What do you think are the chances of success?

Rex Major Feb 21, 2015 08:46pm

@Imran

"There is no sectarian divide in Pakistan. People of various sects coexist very peacefully. It is the terrorists led by toxic Mullahs who are promoting sectarian hatred by their ffrequent killings."

Wakey wakey - smell the coffee.

Kamath Feb 21, 2015 08:46pm

@Sandeep Not a good idea to send him to India! India has plenty of thoughtful people who can advise BJP buffoons.
There quite a few in Pakistan who will listen to Hoodboy's views. Don't deprive Pakistan of a smart man!

Muradabadi Feb 21, 2015 08:48pm

During a dinner in a Pakistani Restaurant in Houston, I met with a 74 year old Pakistani. He said that his family regretted moving to Karachi from Bhopal during partition. He said even though Mr. Jinnah had the right intentions, citizens did not understand it properly.

Guha Feb 21, 2015 08:59pm

@Shafiq khan Jinnah once proposed an exchange of population; Muslims & Hindus. He did not say anything about Sikhs & Christians.

Dr. D. Prihipaul Feb 21, 2015 09:27pm

The last paragraph is revealing. One has to wait for the coming generations to see an improvement in the present prevailing state of internal conflicts.

Hindu Feb 21, 2015 09:48pm

Very well researched and well written article. Salute to Parvez hoodbhoy

Feb 21, 2015 10:03pm

@Shafiq khan "Jinnah wanted a muslim of the continent to have autonomy in the majority Muslim areas of the continent. He wanted to relieve the Muslim small farmers from the clutches of the proverbial "banya" ." Really! Most of the Muslim leaguers came from feudal background who were afraid of proposed land reforms by Congress. Who is better now Muslim small farmers in India compared to Muslim small farmers in Pakistan? Has Pakistan done anything to push for land reforms and break feudal landholdings? Example is socialist Bhutto who has thousands of acres in Sindh

Truth Sayer Feb 21, 2015 10:22pm

When religion is used as a tool by the leaders to control the society, then the results are ugly for everyone to see.

Shak Feb 22, 2015 12:41am

@Imran

Imran, it is always people like you in denial of the actual ground realities in Pakistan. In fact within the Dawn columns one sees lots hate messages from educated people (and also from some TV celebrities) to target some of our own community members for acts of apostasy as a legitimate way of earning sawab. Beat that mate.

Malik Feb 22, 2015 02:01am

@Pakistani One more: Kick out this parliamentary form of government big time, and bury it under deep hole for ever.

hassan Feb 22, 2015 02:05am

@Narahari I wish this were true but it is not. There have been so many hindu-muslim riots since 1947. Some of my own family members, who had stayed in India came to Pakistan after the Moradabad riots : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1980Moradabadriots

The Indians keep on saying that there are no riots and all muslims are treated equally . A random search on the Internet will show that this is not true at all. Here are some examples: http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/in-mumbai-a-no-rent-no-sale-policy/article3613986.ece

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Indian-democracy-unfair-to-Muslims-Shabana-Azmi/articleshow/3371893.cms

Jinnah was an ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity. Why did he change his mind?

Before partition , there were hardly any muslims as teachers in the educational institutes in Pakistan. Now it is a different story.

A few show pieces does not change the reality.

Jinnah must have experienced the tyranny of the majority. That is why he opted for a separate homeland for muslims, where he did not want the minorities to go through the same tyranny.

Jinnah's vision of separating religion from the business of the state is the only way to progress. This means that he must have experienced religion being mixed with politics by his erstwhile colleagues in India.

Kirther Feb 22, 2015 02:13am

The remaining part of Pakistan is located on piece of land which was originally non-Islamic different conquerors including Muslims were attracted to this part of the world because of their political ambitions. Today the political situation in Pakistan is more confusing then what it was under British rule. It is wrong to mix State with Religion both must be handled separately, State in geographic terms cannot offer Namaz or Fast on behalf of those living on it, similarly, State in sense of government cannot offer Namaz on behalf of its subjects because it is not its responsibility. People must understand that their obligations towards their community is equally important as offering Namaz or performing any other religious ritual.

Saleem Feb 22, 2015 02:22am

Feeling more enlightened after reading this article than studying and writing on the issue of terrorism and sectarianism during these past years. Thank you, Dr Saib. Thanks.

Babu Feb 22, 2015 02:54am

@shah "@sensible_indian yeah I know of Pakistanis in Canada who have applied for political asylum on similar grounds. Pakistanis will do anything for immigration though."

Can you blame them given this state of affairs?

Babu Feb 22, 2015 02:55am

@Pakistani "Pakistan needs to take the following course, without any further delay:

Call ourselves the "Republic of Pakistan". Let's keep "Islam" out of this. Redraft a "secular" constitution - even more secular than Bangladesh's. Shut down all Madrassahs. Shift all the madrassah-going children to regular schools and let the state sponsor their education. Get all the ghost-schools back on their feet, and their teachers of these ghost schools should either teach or be fired. Political parties with religious agendas and religious slogans must be banned and not allowed to participate in elections. Accelerate Zarb-e-Azb."

Good points, but goes back to who will bell the cat....and how?

Babu Feb 22, 2015 02:58am

@Narahari "Who says Hindus and Muslims can't coexist peacefully ? There are more Muslims in India than in Pakistan and their percentage is growing on a decade basis (Census data). There have been 3 Presidents (Dr. Zakir Hussain, Dr. Fakrudin Ahmed and my own college senior Dr. Abdul Kalam) great cricket players in the Indian team : Pataudi, Abid Ali, Azar, Zahir, Irfan and now Shami. Are they all loving happily ? they are as happy or un-happy as everybody else I guess."

Jinnah didn't foresee that such a state of co-existence was possible and not wanting to take any chances, led the creation of Pakistan. Sad what has become of his dream.

Harmony Feb 22, 2015 03:11am

@shah - "Pakistanis will do anything for immigration though".

And what did you to get your immigration in Canada? May be different means but same end.

Hassan Shoaib Feb 22, 2015 04:34am

@Sandeep I agree and respect Dr Hoodbhoy's article whenever they come like a breath of fresh air, however, his days in Pakistan will be numbered then.

Ammy Feb 22, 2015 07:38am

I have always admired professor's articles. I somehow beg to differ on Jinnah Saab's thinking that Hindu and Muslims could not co exist. Here Professor in this article says he was partially correct, somehow that means he was Partially wrong. May be because of his Respect to Jinnah Saab he fell short of saying that it was completely wrong. Well I also respect Jinnah saab for his efforts towards freedom struggle till he was fighting together including all Hindus,Muslims , Christians Sikhs and all other uncountable minorities.

I personally beg to differ that Hindu and Muslims could not coexist, they were coexisting from centuries and they are still doing after formation of Pakistan, in India and also staying in other countries where they have migrated for livelihood. They coexisted during Mughals , at the time of Akbar the great and also during Aurangzeb. Even if Aurangzeb is remembered as an oppressors to Hindus, still general mass both Hindus and Muslims were coexisting. After Aurangzeb had gone, they were coexisting all during British rule. British did not leave any effort to break the unity, as a result we saw the formation of Pakistan,but the fact is, they are still coexisting . Religion should be anyone's personal choice, a state should not declare itself on religious lines and impose . What state should do is to build and encourage a social fabric of coexistence across all religions,sects or community.

This is a fact which has been realised by many states and they are slowly taking this approach of encouragement of social coexistence, and going forward the humanity has to fight with global issues like environment,safety of the Planet,fighting with deadly diseases which are threat to mankind,preserving natural resources,providing equal rights to women, ensure food to everyone on planet ......than to fight on sectarian lines and religious lines . The change would come if responsible people in society understand and concentrate towards saving humanity across , crossing over these lines of impediment.

Ammy Feb 22, 2015 07:39am

@Pakistani : whoever you are dear , I am proud of you and your thoughts. World needs more people like you.

SHNP Feb 22, 2015 09:18am

After 67 years of self-battering, Pakistan has finally learned that its Founder was absolutely right when he said: . "Religion should not be allowed to come into Politics…Religion is merely a matter between man and God” [Jinnah, 7 February 1935]

LATIF KHAN Feb 22, 2015 10:16pm

Well done and very well said it. By reading your articles in Dawn, one believes that being a scientist, you have come up with better solutions for the minorities including severely persecuted Shias who always stood along with the Sunnis. I do not know where did we go wrong?

JayDee Feb 23, 2015 09:54pm

@SharifL Herein lies the rub. If religion is private affair, then what was the need to create the state of Pakistan?

JayDee Feb 23, 2015 09:56pm

@rashid It is only matter of academic interest what the tigger is. The point is that the inflammable mess in Pakistani's minds was susceptible to the trigger and continues to provide more fuel for the ever increasing fire.

Goga Nalaik Feb 24, 2015 06:49pm

You wrote "Whether he actually specified his immediate successor remains deeply contentious."... I don't agree with this.

Article in general is excellent. I have great respect for Mr Pervez Hoodbhoy

sajid Feb 25, 2015 06:42am

How surprise a physics teacher now teach us social subject. . How does he justifies his ability to understand history if he is not a historian... ??? He should talk about physics his core subject ... and leave social subjects for sociologist.. I'd suggest if he need any surgery for him or his family he should contact to engineer or plumber rather than a dr.

afroze fatemah Feb 25, 2015 01:47pm

Shia islam believes in political islam thats why they were able to form a political system.

Pakistan has become intolerant for any religious or non religious minority . One can't reach equality if our books won't tell the Truth .