It is pretty clear that neither Ali Muhammad Khan nor PTI know why Pakistan was created

Published: March 29, 2017
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The party has done nothing but compound the ideological issues.

Recently, I had the opportunity to witness a panel discussion where the firebrand conservative MNA from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Ali Muhammad Khan, delivered his, and for that matter his party’s, “vision” for Pakistan. According to him, Pakistan should be a theocratic state and seculars should either mend their ways or leave Pakistan. Moreover, he also brought in the havoc of the Partition riots, arguing that all the sacrifices were actually for the creation of an Islamic country. 

Unfortunately, his rant was in front of a religious minority member of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, which only amplified its negative message.

There are several points which I need to make after listening to his rather tortuous rant.

Firstly, I think it clearly confirms that his party is a reactionary political outfit which does not want to see a progressive Pakistan. Although both PML-N and PTI are conservative, there is a difference which often eludes many political commentators who tend to ideologically lump them together. PML-N, particularly after 2008, is no longer an ideologically conservative party. It has actually moved to the centre while still retaining economic conservatism. In fact, in recent times, some of the most progressive legislations have come from PML-N, including the Women Protection Bill and the Hindu Marriage Bill. Nawaz Sharif, despite representing a conservative constituency, has reached out to religious minorities such as Hindus and Ahmadis. Furthermore, in a recent landmark speech during a Holi ceremony, Nawaz took a bold step by criticising religious extremists and declaring that Pakistan was not created for Muslim supremacy but for ensuring that no religion would dominate another. This has led to condemnation from some religious elements as well as conservative ideologists, and the PTI MNA’s tirade against the premier and secularism can also be understood in that context.

Whatever its murky past may be, PML-N on the whole has shown progression on key issues. Now this may not mean much to PTI’s impressionable and  abusive troll brigade who are singularly obsessed with Panama leaks, but in Pakistan’s context, where for many decades we have regressed ideologically, these steps constitute a course correction and therefore are extremely important. Yes, PML-N is not as liberal as Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) – a party that I support and which in Pakistan’s context remains relatively the most liberal – and therefore there will always be a limit to what it can do, but there is no doubt that it has progressed.

PTI, on the other hand, has constantly confirmed that it is an ideologically regressive party. Its leader Imran Khan, who unfortunately commands a cult like following, has in the past courted hardliners and has come up with an apologetic defence for them. PTI’s alliance with Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), easily the most reactionary political outfit in the country, bears testimony to its own ideological bent as well. Moreover, the alliance between the two in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) is not merely pragmatic, but also ideological as evidenced by curriculum changes in the textbooks. PTI also strongly opposed the Women’s Protection Bill, tabled in the Punjab Assembly.  In addition, PTI has constantly whipped up hyper nationalism based upon mistrust and fear of the outside world. This latest rant by the PTI MNA does nothing to improve PTI’s standing and merely reinforces the fears that Pakistan would regress if PTI comes into power.

Secondly, it is pretty clear that neither Muhammad Khan nor his party are well-versed in history. To say that Jinnah’s vision was of a theocratic Pakistan is simply not true as Pakistan’s demand was primarily for protection of Muslims’ economic and political interests. It was because of that very reason that Jinnah had also agreed to the Cabinet Mission plan of 1946 which had envisioned a confederation (a confederation is not a theological state) where Muslim interests would be safeguarded. Yes, Jinnah did think Hindus and Muslims were separate nations, but the creation of a theocratic state was not his vision.  Even Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders like Lal Kishan Advani,and Jaswant Singh have acknowledged that Jinnah was a secularist.

In other words, Pakistan was supposed to be a country for protecting Muslims. In fact, Jinnah laid his vision clear in his landmark speech on August 11, 1947 when he declared,

“You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or 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.”

Unfortunately, after his death, the Pakistani leadership started to take the theocratic route by passing the Objective Resolution, but it was not what Jinnah had envisioned.

Thirdly, Muhammad Khan implicitly painted seculars as some kind of enemies of Islam and Pakistan. In our discourse, secularism has unfortunately become amalgamated with atheism which has made any reasonable debate on it impossible. Secularism is not atheism or anti-religion. There is a difference between secularism and secularisation, where the former is the separation of religion from statecraft and the latter is a process whereby religion loses its significance from the society. A secular state does not essentially mean a secularised society.

Secularism vision of separation of religion from statecraft is essential in a religiously diversified society. It should be remembered that although more than 95% of Pakistan’s population is Muslim, substantial sectarian differences, based on different interpretations, exist between them. Implementing religious laws would require, privileging of one interpretation over the other, which would further enhance rifts.  A secular state by being neutral ensures harmony between various sects and also tackles orthodoxy in the legal code by delinking religion and legislation.

Unfortunately, Muhammed Khan’s emotional tirade is another effort to obfuscate the issue and create misunderstandings about secularism.

When PTI had emerged as a strong potential electoral force in 2011, there was hope that it would uphold progressive principles. Supported by the extremely influential educated white collar class of Pakistan, the party was in a position to correct the trajectory. However, unfortunately, the party has done nothing but compound the ideological issues. It is on the wrong side of history, and I sincerely hope that it is defeated soundly in 2018 elections.

raza.habib

Raza Habib Raja

The author is a recent Cornell graduate and currently pursuing his PhD in political science at Maxwell School, Syracuse University. He has also worked for a leading development finance institution in Pakistan. He is a freelance journalist whose works have been published at Huffington Post, Dawn (Pakistan), Express Tribune (Pakistan) and Pak Tea House. He tweets @razaraja (twitter.com/razaraja?lang=en)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • knightridrr

    Isn’t Pakistan theocratic state anyway? Am I missing something?

    Sick and tired of this fake outrage about what someone says ignoring everything actually happening.Recommend

  • Syed Ahmad

    My friend you are absolutely wrong disputing a fact that Pakistan was envisaged by Iqbal to be Islamic Country contrary to what you have put here. It was not the vision of Jinnah but Iqbal. As for the minorities are concerned their rights of worship, marriage are protected in Islamic system.Recommend

  • vinsin

    What Muslim’s economic and political interests Jinnah was trying to protect? Why Jinnah didnt agree with his daughter’s marriage? Why Jinnah supported noakhali riots? Jinnah fourteen points supports Islamic state, and opposes secularism.

    Jinnah was demanding right to loot, kill, rape and force convert non-Muslims – how that is secularism and protection of Muslims economic and political interests.Recommend

  • Vish

    The truth is that except for Jinnah’s August 11 speech, in all other speeches and interviews Jinnah clearly stated that Islam would be the bedrock on which Pakistan would function. Jinnah freely quoted references from Islam’s texts and history explaining that Pakistan’s functioning would be based on them. In no public speech or interview does Jinnah ever clearly state that Pakistan will be a secular state. All his public utterances hinted towards a state with a religious bias if not an outright theocracy. PTI’s Khan knows better why Pakistan was created. The author and his ilk live in denial clutching to just one speech, as there is very little evidence either in Jinnah’s other speeches, meagre writings, interviews and above all in Jinnah’s acts that point to his desiring a secular state.Recommend

  • Tehreke Be Insaaf

    Well written. This says it all:

    Jinnah laid his vision clear in his landmark speech on
    August 11, 1947 when he declared,

    “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you
    are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or 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.”Recommend

  • AA_Southpaw

    “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or 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.”

    This is a part and parcel of an Islamic Republic.

    Please provide some other evidence for your claim.

    The above doesn’t mean he wanted a secular state.Recommend

  • farhan

    got one line for you, everyone knows the slogan” Pakistan ka matlab kya, Lailaha IllAllah’. Shariah should be implemented it dosent means seculars are not allowed to live here..but if they have a problem with shariah move out!!Recommend

  • Rohan

    I think almost all Pakistanis don’t know why their country was created,if they knew then it wouldn’t be a mess todayRecommend

  • I am a Khan

    this blog does not make much sense…the PTI leader was right about the reason of Pakistan’s creation. If we wanted a secular country, there was no need to separate from India…Recommend

  • Kralik

    Most of the people in Pakistan are allergic to the word secularism. Fact. Reason is they are confused between secularism and atheism. And often equate the two without understanding what they mean and what’s the difference. When someone speaks out of ignorance. He/she comes across as an idiot. That is what happened to Ali Muhammad Khan here. Also the author is a PPP supporter.. of course you would defend Nawaz. PM is a thief and Zardari is a dacoit. Two sides of the same coin. PPP and Nawaz league work arm in armRecommend

  • Rex Minor

    You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to
    your mosques or to any other place or 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.”

    This statement does not automaticaly imply the separation of Islam from the newly formed State nor the term known as ‘ secularism’ or ‘Laicite’ practiced in Europe, each having its own history of life and circumstance living under the authority of the Church. Most important factor remains being the identity of the population and the values the country cherishes and represents for its people. The latter has not been developed neither by the founder nor those who followed him in ruling the former colony.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Human

    On the spot. PTI are closet TalibanRecommend

  • Muneer

    what a waste of space.Recommend

  • Osman

    Please mention Jinnah’s other speeches where he discusses the important role religion would play in Pakistan. Please do not be selective in your source.Recommend

  • Kamran

    Ultimately what matters is the style of governance, probity and empowering the people. Pakistan was certainly not created to loot and build off-shore havens in Panama, we can debate the ideology of Pakistan’s creation endlessly but accountability of those in power will continue to remain a far cryRecommend

  • AH

    I’m not a fan of Muhammad Khan at all, but your article here is a bit over dramatic. A true “Islamic State” should in theory be quite secular. Islam allows for non-Muslims to practice there own religions or not to practice at all with no compulsions.It should look similar to what Jinnah envisioned. A lot of our elders that were alive at the time of the partition were much more progressive than people now.Obviously, the Muslim world has some serious issues overall now though.
    I’m not even going to address the rant against Imran Khan because even you must be aware of your biases against him and it’s been done over and over. The man is simply not an extremist and his he can agree with JI on issues such as accountability whilst maintaining other differences. Not a difficult concept.
    To give credit where credit is due- sure Nawaz Sharif has a more progressive social stance than before. Wonderful. However, that surely doesn’t mean we can overlook the massive corruption that has been uncovered via the Panama leaks. A few nice things said about the Hindu community while every minority and vulnerable group is suffering in part because of his three terms,is not enough.
    I do agree that PTI needs to come out and condemn people like Muhammad Khan and disassociate the party line with the extremism he spews. But lets not set aside everything else Imran Khan stands for.Recommend

  • Rj Malak Aatif Khan

    how to write for tribune ?Recommend

  • Khurram

    Everything you write is correct, but you support PPP?…are you serious?Recommend

  • mohajir

    The writer is completely misguided the whole idea of a separate state for the muslims of the subcontinent was initiated by Allama Iqbal. Allama Iqabl in his writings clearly have mentioned “Sravari Zeba faqat us zaate be hamta ko hai, Huqmara hai ek wohi butane aaziri”. The slogans “Pakistan ka matlab kya Laiillaha Illah” were raised before partitions. Jinnah in his speeches if you have read has clearly mentioned the role of Isam in Pakistan. Muslims and Islam can never be seen separately. As Iqbal stated “Qaum mazhab se hai jo mazhab nhi to tum bhi nhi hum bhi nhi”. Allama Iqbal has evenly bashed secularism socialism nationalism in his writings.
    So please before ranting about the purpose of Pakisatan do read writings of Allama Iqbal.Recommend

  • Farooq

    Rightly said. The people hiding behind media will keep posting such articles.Recommend

  • Mukhtar

    Spot on!Recommend

  • Mamu

    This article is biased. Tilting towards the authors type of liberal thinking.Recommend

  • Paki

    Rightly said Farhan. Media tries to play tricks by distorting the reason why Pakistan was built. Those who really have a problem can surely apply for citizenship in India as Adnan Sami did.Recommend

  • Lala

    Its not just one man’s decision…. The reason why people laid their lives matters. It was our grandfather’s. And we know very well from our Grandfathers why we left Hindustan. So no need to teach us.Recommend

  • Jameel

    Seeing vulnerable conditions of indian muslims we got the reason why Pakistan was created. We have liberty to live our own life in our own way. No one beat us when we eat beaf and state does not force us what to eat and what not to eat. #PakistanZindabadRecommend

  • IBN E ASHFAQ

    Pakistan has been created for the betterment of the Pakistani elite, who live in gated communities and fleece the very ordinary Pakistanis via their power and pelf. Their sons and daughters go to elite private schools and they invest in Dubai and London. They consider the very ordinary Pakistani as sheeple………..May Allah guide us all….Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    People are fools to believe that Mr Jinnah was using the ‘religion to carve out a separate entity from India which would be of secular nature. It is upto the people of Pakistan whether they want a khalifa state like Saudi Arabia and Iran or a modern Islamic State which reflects the Islamic values but not governed under the authority of the religious clerics, the like of which is todays Turkey which is still struggling to become one and also a part of the christian majority civilised Europe.Recommend

  • vinsin

    Lets ban then halal meat, circumcision etc.Recommend

  • vinsin

    Only Indian Muslims knows as they are the one who created it.Recommend

  • vinsin

    So who looted properties of Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan? How come there are Muslims in India after partition? How come there are 20-25% Muslims who own properties both in India and Pakistan?Recommend

  • vinsin

    Are secular and atheist are treated as minorities or not in Pakistan? Hindu marriage bill is passed after almost 70 yrs and in Islamic system non-Muslims marriage is not recognized.Recommend

  • Wiseguy

    Seems like a PLMN sponsored blog.Recommend

  • israr khan

    This article is a political artical favoring nawaz sharif at a time when he really needs support.. “Whatever its murky past may be, PML-N on the whole has shown progression on key issues. Now this may not mean much to PTI’s impressionable and abusive troll brigade who are singularly obsessed with Panama leaks, ” you have clearly shown your loyalty with PML (which soon be inshaAllah without N)
    Coming back to point of discussion right .. ISLAM IS A WAY OF LIFE ,its not just any other religion, Islam teaches us how to walk, how to talk, how to identify your enemy, your friends, there are rules set on how to live and to the detail that shows how to eat and what to eat :) Pakistan is Islamic republic of Pakistan fonded for muslims of subcontinent so they can practice ISLAM in their lives, Talibaan are extremist and uses power to enforce islam on everyone muslim or not, when pakistan was created it was on the will of MUSLIMS of subcontinent and not on the will of QUAID-E-AZAM. Allah says in Quran ‘namaz behayaeey se rookti hai’ so muslims must pray 5 times a day to get their thought in right direction, islam does not stop celebrating birthdays however islam does not encourage so whatever u call it ISLAM IS way of life so get your thinking right u need to UNDERSTAND ISLAM first and only then YOU will understand Pakistan :)Recommend

  • AA_Southpaw

    Secular is not a minority in Pakistan.

    Pakistan does not have an Islamic system. So your last statement does nothing for your argument.Recommend

  • vinsin

    So why Hindus marriage were consider illegal since Independence till recently?

    Are atheist allowed to live freely and express themselves?Recommend

  • hasan

    PPP the most liberal party and the most corrupt somesup this article!Recommend

  • farhan

    just another wannabeeRecommend

  • sterry

    You need to learn some history then. India wasn’t a country but a colony made by the British. We didn’t want to be part of it. As for religious people, they were against Pakistan from the get go. Look at Maulana Madoodi and others who were against Pakistan’s creation but then they started to spew venom about the need for a theocratic state. No Jinnah and his type were modern secular people who wanted a state guided by Islamic principles but not a religious state.Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    Indeed they are! Islam has no jurisdiction over other religions or secular atheists! The Madina charter of 7th century will provide the firs hand info about liberal Islam. The government of Pakistan uses mostly the laws which were used during colonial times. The author ignores that Mr Jinnah was a member of the muslim legue and not the secular league that he dreams about. Not even in the USA and Europe there is such an organistion or a cult called secular?

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • AA_Southpaw

    What exactly do I “want to be”?Recommend

  • AA_Southpaw

    What has that got to do with an “Islamic Republic”?Recommend

  • farhan

    i was talking about the writer brotherRecommend

  • AA_Southpaw

    Oops..sorry.,my badRecommend

  • farhan

    np.:DRecommend

  • Agha

    No its not part and parcel of the Islamic Republic.Theocratic state means state is siding with one particular religion. In an islamic state that would be islam. The next stage is of course the ascertaining of a who is a “muslim” because a muslim must have some privileges in an “islamic state”. Read the quotation again ” You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the state.” In an Islamic state religion is part of the state, thats what a theocratic state means. And in such a situation the state HAS SOMETHING to do with your religion, the antithesis of secular state and against a state that Jinnah envisioned. Sorry to say but you are wrong. Just because you “say” it is a part and parcel of islam does not make it so. To say that in an Islamic theocratic state, “state has no business in your religion” is a CONTRADICTION and borders on willful denial.Recommend

  • Agha

    Actually he is “far off”. Maybe you should orient yourself properly.Recommend

  • Agha

    “Indeed they are! Islam has no jurisdiction over other religions or secular atheists!”
    Oh really? Non muslims and apostates are not free in an Islamic.

    “Not even in the USA and Europe there is such an organistion or a cult called secular?”. Objective reality exists outside of your mind.Recommend

  • Agha

    “Islam teaches us how to walk, how to talk,” If you needed any ideology to learn that then i feel sorry for you.Recommend

  • Agha

    “….and state does not force us what to eat and what not to eat. ”
    Hahaha, LOL Are you for real? Recommend

  • Agha

    You are wrong. Even if a “true” Islamic state provides all the rights and freedoms to minorities (doubtful), it still isn’t secular. An Islamic state by that fact alone is bringing religion into state at the very least. Thats NOT a secular state. You can’t have both ways. Either you are secular or you are not. There is no middle ground.Recommend

  • Agha

    “this blog does not make much sense” Its ok, you are not alone. Recommend

  • Agha

    ” Not even in the USA and Europe there is such an organistion or a cult called secular?” ALL parties in west are secular. Meaning they all accept that religion should be out of statecraft. Not only that but there are also secular, humanist and atheist organizations in the west. Just because you don’t know, doesn’t mean they don’t exist. And for the record, no atheists, agnostics and apostates are not free in any version of an islamic state. This should be so obvious to a muslim. And the point about “Muslim” league not being secular because it is so named is ridiculous. Are you also saying that “Muslims” can’t be secular because their identity is muslim? (there ARE secular muslims, the two are not incompatible). What makes you think that muslims can’t group together and form an organisation which has a “muslim” in it and can’t be secular? Muslim is an identity. Your point would be valid with “Islamic”. If the Muslim League was named “Islamic League” you would have a point. But Muslim League was simply a “representative” of muslims. It was for the service of muslims, NOT Islam. And that assertion is PROVEN by the amount of hate and opposition the Muslim League got from “Islamic” parties and clerics such as JUH and Maududi.Recommend

  • Agha

    ” Not even in the USA and Europe there is such an organistion or a cult called secular?”

    Most parties in west are secular. Meaning they all accept that religion should be out of statecraft. Not only that but there are also secular, humanist and atheist organizations in the west. Just because you don’t know, doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

    And for the record, no atheists, agnostics and apostates are not free in any version of muslim state. This should be so obvious to a muslim.

    And the point about “Muslim” league not being secular because it is so named is ridiculous. Are you also saying that “Muslims” can’t be secular because their identity is muslim? (there ARE secular muslims, the two are not incompatible). What makes you think that muslims can’t group together and form an organisation which has a “muslim” in it and can’t be secular? Muslim is an identity.

    Your point would be valid with “Islamic”. If the Muslim League was named “Islamic League” you would have a point. But Muslim League was simply a “representative” of muslims. It was for the service of muslims, NOT Islam. And that assertion is PROVEN by the amount of hate and opposition the Muslim League got from “Islamic” parties and clerics such as JUH and Maududi.Recommend