…Every community will be treated as citizens of Pakistan with equal rights and privileges and obligations and that the minorities will be safeguarded and protected. (Quaid-i-Azam, March 22, 1948).
British colonial India was divided on the basis of Muslim and non-Muslim majority areas in August 1947 but not in the name of a particular religion. Muslim League took recognition for the making of Pakistan under the vision of a separate identity. In fact Pakistan’s ideology was ‘Muslim’ not ‘Islam’. So by birth Pakistan is not an Islamic State but a Muslim State. Later on March 23, 1956, after 9 years it was titled as the ‘Islamic Republic of Pakistan’.
Awkwardly, the Objective Resolution of 1949, and the first Constitution of Pakistan in 1956, truly divided the Pakistanis into Muslims and non-Muslims which fortified the notion of individualism in the Country. While before, on December 28, 1947 Mr. Jinnah said that “… we must sink individualism and petty jealousies and make up our minds to serve the people with honesty and faithfulness. We are passing through a period of fear, danger and menace. We must have faith, unity and discipline”. But these words proved to be nothing but a decorating for books, speeches and memories.
Currently, we are not Pakistanis; we are Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Punjabis, Sindhis, Balochs and Pashtuns etc. Furthermore; 96 percent Muslim majority of Pakistan is divided in 73 sects, sufficient to incite sectarianism and extremism. Religious leaders, politicians and so-called intellectuals played their exceptional part to split the Pakistani society.
Unfortunately, in all three constitutions we are labelled as the 4 percent non-Muslim Pakistanis the ‘minorities’ being 2.11 percent Hindus, 1.60 percent Christians and 0.29 percent others. Non-Muslims and the tiny communities have a detestable status and exploitation in an independent country in the very name of ‘Islam’ which is destructive for the integration. The column to declare one’s religion in application forms and other government documents, religious quota system, reserve seats and biased electoral process are hurdles in the way of progress for non-Muslims in Pakistan. In fact non-Muslims are primarily Pakistanis and religion is their personal matter.
27 Ahmadiyya mosques have been demolished, 34 sealed by authorities, 22 fired or damaged and 17 forcibly occupied. These discriminations are open violation of the articles 2, 3 and 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 signed by Pakistan
The believers of Jesus, Guru, Ram and others are the responsibilities of the followers of Muhammad (SAW) in Pakistan, so Non-Muslims cannot be second class citizens of a Muslim State. Regrettably, small communities and the non-Muslims practically cannot preach and practise their religious beliefs, while articles 20 and 22 of the Constitution 1973 safeguard that right. However, non-Muslims dare not to invoke the article to save further persecution, violent attacks and socio-political discrimination. The issues of Gurdwaras lands (oqaf), Katas Raj temple, Ahmadiyya worship places, Joseph colony Lahore, Hazara community, etc. are the worst examples. The extremist religious strata use the religion card behind targeted issues. Hindu community of Sindh is gradually migrating to India because of extensive social and religious humiliation and exploitation which is insults the foundation of the ‘Islamic Republic’.
From 1984, to November 2018, 265 Ahmadis have been killed, 368 assaulted, 765 have been booked for displaying Kalima, 38 booked for calling Azan, 447 Ahmadis booked for posing as Muslims, 161 booked for using Islamic epithets and 816 for preaching. Moreover, 27 Ahmadiyya mosques have been demolished, 34 sealed by authorities, 22 fired or damaged and 17 forcibly occupied. These discriminations are open violation of the articles 2, 3 and 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 signed by Pakistan.
Almost every Pakistani habitually observes social matters through eyes of religious bias. The majority stronghold and the legislative support equip the majority member to overcome non-Muslims. The blasphemy laws, anti-Ahmadiyya laws by Zia regime support religious extremists and the illiterate masses to push the respective communities in otiose. This practise continuously gives the non-Muslims a sense of insecurity, fear and uncertainty. In this situation they cannot play a vital or productive role in the prosperity of Pakistan.
Moreover, Govt. schools’ syllabuses are extremely injurious to positive and neutral growth of the common primary and high school students. The non-Muslim students suffer discrimination, helplessness and hate in their classrooms by their classmates and teachers. Many incidents have been reported in this regard. In some cases, they are forced to study Islamic studies rather alternate subjects like ethics.
Muslim majority and non-Muslim communities have equal right on the privileges provided by the country. Non-Muslims have ever remained faithful and have served to their best ability, but in the Constitution of 1973, no non-Muslim can be the Head of the Govt. or Head of the State. They are Pakistanis and every Pakistani has the social and political right to serve their country in elite positions, this reflects the undermining of the capabilities and faithfulness of the non-Muslim communities which is against the norms of modern democracy. Justice Alvin Robert Cornelius, Justice Bhagwan Das, Captain Cecil Chaudhry, etc. had the same potential and the ability to serve and lead the nation as well as a Muslim Pakistani. Why then are non-Muslims and eligible personalities barred from serving as PM or the President of Pakistan?
In 1992, when extremist Hindus demolished the Babri Mosque at Ayodhya, in response the Muslims of Pakistan ruined many Hindu temples in several parts of Pakistan. Because of the Holy Prophet’s (SAW) regretful sketches and controversies in the West, the Christian community in Pakistan faced charges and hate. Even the Muslims sects of the country are not ready to say prayers behind each other but curiously all Muslim sects are willing collectively to say their prayers under one Imam during Haj. Unfortunately the majority community is not willing to accept the dominance of any other sect in Pakistan, which is the major cause of sectarian violence. While Quaid-i-Azam clarified that “Islam is not only a set of rituals, traditions and spiritual doctrines. Islam is also a code for every Muslim which regulates his life and his conduct in even politics and economics and the like. It is based on the highest principles of honour, integrity, fairly and justice for all…” (January 25, 1948). This is strange that in our own homeland we are divided in Shia Sunni or Wahabi sects and because of extremist ideologies. But outside the country on different occasions we forget and ignore all differences. ‘Islamic Republic of Pakistan’ is the world’s second largest Muslim populated State after Indonesia but Islam and other religions are suffering because of radicalization and the state’s intervention in religion and the citizens’ beliefs in Pakistan.
Pakistan is no doubt a Muslim State but not an Islamic State. The theory of official religion is not practical in modern democracies. States represent the nation but not a particular religion because religion belongs to individuals. Unfortunately, in Pakistan, the followers of Hazrat Muhammad (SAW), Guru, Jesus and Ram etc. are concerned with their prior issues and still are in search of a homeland and a peaceful nation.
The writer can be reached at email@example.com
Published in Daily Times, February 21st 2019.