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Decoding versions of Pakistan’s ideology

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Recently, the head of the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), a component of the Khyber Pkhtunkhwa (KP) Government, congratulated his Government for expunging “secular content” from textbooks being used in the Province's schools. The KP Government's two main component parties are the populist Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and the conservative JI. A page from the previous textbook and one from its altered version are being circulated on social media. The unaltered page explains Muhammad Ali Jinnah, as a “secular liberal barrister” (before his plunge into the movement that created Pakistan). On the same page, Jinnah's famous August 11, 1947 speech is summed up as him advocating the separation of state and religion. In the PTI-JI version of the page, the words “secular liberal barrister” are replaced with “competent barrister” and the sentence summing up Jinnah's advice of separating faith and politics is replaced with the sentence, “He also seemed to advocate the ideology of Pakistan.” One must point out that the term “Ideology of Pakistan” as mentioned in the altered version of the book was not coined till well after the founder's demise in September 1948. Yet, this term [also called Nazariya-i-Pakistan] used in textbooks has been echoeing in Parliaments, political rallies and in the media for decades now, as though it were first coined and conceived by Jinnah, 70 years ago.

In his 2002 book, Pakistan: Economy, Politics & Religion, KM Azam wrote that the term “Pakistan Ideology” was never once used by the founders of the country. Historians such as Jalal and Georgetown University's M Reza Pirbhai are of the view that Jinnah saw Pakistan as a Muslim-majority country which was to be driven by democracy and the egalitarian notions of Islam. In his recent book, Fatima Jinnah: Mother of the Nation, Pirbhai suggests that the conflict between those who explain Jinnah as a modernist Muslim and those who see him as a Muslim ideologue does not constitute a secularism vs theology tussle. Instead, Pirbhai writes, it is one between the different ideas of an Islamic Republic held by the two camps. Pirbhai extensively quotes Fatima Jinnah explaining her brother's version of an Islamic Republic as being a country engineered by popular democracy, human rights and a state that had “no room for retrogressive clerics.” This is often referred to as the “modernist” version. This version is critical of the manner in which the other camp has allegedly added stark theological notions in its meaning of an Islamic Republic, and then expressed it as the “Pakistan Ideology.” Truth is, over decades, the term has had various meanings.

It was nowhere to be found between 1947 and 1960. It is only briefly alluded to in a 1957 book Pakistan Way of Life by historian IH Qureshi. But Qureshi too largely explains it the way Pirbhai quotes Fatima Jinnah as explaining it: ie a ‘Two-Nation Theory’ which saw Jinnah describing the Muslims of India as a separate polity desiring a break from “Hindu hegemony” and formulating their own enclave fuelled by “Muslim democracy”, egalitarianism and equal status for all Pakistani citizens irrespective of their religion, sect or sub-sect. It was during the Ayub Khan regime (1958-69) that the term “Pakistan Ideology” first began to circulate. A Pande in his book Explaining Pakistan quotes Field Marshal Ayub Khan as saying [in 1958], “Every human being needs an ideology for which he should be able to lay down his life.” Justice Javed Iqbal [the son of Muhammad Iqbal] wrote in his memoir that in 1959, Ayub sent a questionnaire to some intellectuals asking them to define the ideology of Pakistan. However, by then the Ayub regime had somewhat already formulated its own definition.

In a 1960 speech, Ayub claimed: “Pakistan was not achieved to create a priest-ridden culture but instead, it was created to evolve an enlightened society. It is injustice to both life and religion to impose on 20th century man the condition that he must go back several centuries in order to prove his credentials as a true Muslim.” Ayub claimed to have been following the “modernist” ideals of Islam held by the likes of Iqbal and Jinnah. Three years later, when Ayub's party, the Muslim League-Convention, was debating the contents of the 1962 Constitution with the Opposition, the phrase Pakistan Ideology was heard for the first time in a Pakistani Parliament. The JI rejected Ayub's idea of Pakistan Ideology for being “Westernised” and “secular.” In 1967, founder of JI, Abul Ala Maududi, formulated his party's own idea of Pakistan Ideology to mean an Islamic Republic which was to evolve into becoming an “Islamic State” run on Sharia laws. On the other end, intellectuals such as Hanif Ramay and Safdar Mir, who were associated with the Left-leaning PPP, saw Pakistan Ideology to mean a country driven by popular democracy and a socialist interpretation of Islam. The phrase, however, never made its way into any school textbook.

This changed after the 1971 East Pakistan debacle. Just before the tragedy, Justice Javed Iqbal had published The Pakistan Ideology which was critical of Ayub's as well as JI's version of the ideology. Justice Iqbal lamented that both the versions were self-serving and did not take into account the more complex ideas of faith and statehood held by Iqbal and Jinnah. Mubarak Ali in Pakistan: In Search of Identity writes that the first time the term “Pakistan Ideology” appeared in textbooks was in 1972. According to Ali this was done to reinforce the Two-Nation Theory which some believed had been shattered by East Pakistan's departure. This alone seems to be the purpose because the term was never fully explained. In her book Judging the State Paula Newberg wrote that in 1975, the ZA Bhutto regime got the courts to ban the National Awami Party “for going against the Pakistan Ideology.” By this the regime meant a party which was against the Two-Nation Theory. It was during the Gen Zia dictatorship (1977-1988) that the whole idea of Pakistan Ideology was turned into a detailed doctrine. However, due to the reactionary disposition of the regime, the “modernist” dimensions of the idea were eschewed in favour of a narrower and more theological dimension. It is this version of the ideology that has stuck. One which was constructed from the late 1970s onward. Many have criticised it for being isolationist and non-inclusive, and hence not in tune with Pakistan's ethnic, religious and sectarian diversity. They have also described it as being a departure from Jinnah's idea of Islam and statehood. But its defenders claim that it is a natural and evolutionary culmination of the idea of the “Islamic Republic” which Jinnah created. The jury is still out on this.

(Courtesy: The Dawn)




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