Though it was always there in one form or another since the partition, recently our national identity crisis is experiencing new elevations though it is still far from the pinnacle. It is very hard to point a single incident which opened this Pandora box as all the related issues were enshrouded somehow under the cloaks of ideologies not backed by actions and promises that were never kept.
We grew up equating Hindus with Shylock and a perception was built intentionally that they are a race which hates all the Muslims of the world per se. The false percepts also require historical foundations so that strong walls of beliefs can be raised up. As a result we had hammered and negatively excogitated prints of history on our minds. At least it never occurred to my mind while studying Two-Nation Theory in my 10th grade text book that its cornerstones are grounded on very loose soil. The realization came like lightening when I first observed that actions on ground do not match the text book ideology. Indian movies are not allowed to be run in Pakistani cinemas yet every single rent shop in the street is lending cassettes, CDs and DVDs. Shops are full of Indian items and this year Pakistan is importing wheat and sugar from India. At the same time both have had a very long hate-relationship – three major and one minor war plus constant border skirmishes. As a child it was very confusing. Even if one is told that there is something direly wrong with history and historical figures, it is impossible to let go of the holy-image of national heroes. I continued cherishing that image and at the same time I resorted to independent analysis of ‘facts’ that were told.Keeping up with recent development of last four years has helped me conclude that the continued state of ambivalence is about to reach its peak and it is apt to move on a downward course from here. I try here to touch all the milestones quickly.
In the time of Ayyub Khan and Bhutto, Pakistan was the forerunner of Muslim cause – a learner can see making of a constitution admitting superiority of Allah’s law over all the man made laws, hosting Islamic Summit in 1974 and shibboleths like ‘islamic socialism’ and ‘towards islamisation’. Zia’s regime brought ‘Nizam-e-Mustafa’, majlis-e-shura’a, salat, zakat and Usher committees, PLS accounts in banks to Islamize the economy and an Islamic Ideological Council to monitor whether any law is being repugnant to directives of Quran and Sunnah. The syllabus in schools was also Islamised so that children can learn about Hindu wickedness so that they can easily love their country which is the savior of the hypothetical Ummah. Coming governments mainly maintained the status quo except projecting an image of a modern state by Benazir and a radical Islamic state holding an ‘Islamic Bomb’ by Nawaz Sharif. Musharaf started with a forced reversal of policies and projected a cant of ‘Pakistan First’. The state’s influence on media was removed and a modern secular image was projected in the West. Then came the proposed school curriculum reforms by Sustainable Development Policy Institute, partnership in ‘war on terror’ and recent drive of ‘ enlightened moderation’ to modernize madrassas. It would be naive if I don’t mention latest Pakistan-Israel talks among very recent developments.
It would be an otiose exercise if Pakistanis keeping on blaming each other after reading the plethora of ideological variations and policies and plans to project those. It has been 58 years – might not be that much in historical context of national development – but it is certainly enough to get out of indecisiveness about the actual ideological course of a nation.The divisions in society which were in hibernation since long are finally bringing their necks out. The divisions are multi facet and on different levels. Civilian vs Military, Moderates vs Extremists, Radicals vs Forward looking and Religious vs Secular are just to mention a few. What is done however, cannot be undone and those who grew up as blind patriots believing in an Islamic Ideology which was never there in true sense are hard to be put on a cerebrating course. Similarly the ones on other extreme are sure that true Islamic reformation is impractical in modern world hence they resort to pick and choose out of scripture and religious rhetoric; cannot bringing themselves to a course of understanding the real Islam.
Things are really complex as the intellect who was worthy of realizing this mistake is itself bifurcated into two opposite extremes. Both are consistent in promoting their respective ideologies. A modest chunk of Pakistani brain has become convinced that the very creation of a ‘Muslim’ land was a political mileage of Muslim League or may be the result of ‘divide and conquer’ policy of British. It was interesting to read comments like:
Pakistan is not an Islamic State; it is simply a state with Muslim majority
On the other side, Islamic political players are consistent in disagreeing over a viable reformation plan. Unless they put a workable plan on table covering all aspects of society, they cannot claim to be on driving seat of Islamic re-birth. Simply stating that Islamic directives must shape the affairs of state is not enough. One has to have an attractive alternate plan to stir a reasonable debate.
It is obvious that the prevailing ideological impasse, due to political and historical interpretive forgery, is pregnant with two possibilities since 58 years now. Let us wait and see that how many more years it will take to deliver and relieve us of this quandary.