Following Bhutto’s way: Religion above rights

Published: January 16, 2012

Using religion as a tool to promote a political idea has seriously affected the country and gained ground for the cancer of religious fanaticism. PHOTO: FILE

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the former prime minister and president of Pakistan and the founder of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), still remains one of the most popular and most controversial figures in Pakistan. With the title Quaid-e-Awam (leader of the people), he is undoubtedly the most charismatic political leader Pakistan has ever seen.

Bhutto was also the first democratically elected leader to introduce the culture of using religion for political gain in Pakistan. In 1974, Pakistan’s parliament, under his premiership, adopted a law declaring Ahmadis to be non-Muslims.

For Bhutto, the move was purely political as he sought to appease religious conservatives. If this move was not political, would he have dared marrying the Iranian-Kurdish Begum Nusrat Ispahani, who was a Shia Muslim? Let’s avoid this question because some argue that the Bhutto family is Shia Muslim by faith themselves.

When Bhutto orchestrated, authorised and administrated the most ambitious scientific research on nuclear weapons, didn’t Bhutto know that his most senior and trusted science advisor Abdus Salam was an Ahmadi Muslim by faith? Salam played a major and influential role in Pakistan’s science infrastructure and was responsible for not only major developments and contributions to theoretical particle physics, but also promoted scientific research to a great extent in the country. As a science advisor, Salam played an integral role in Pakistan’s development on the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and he also directed the research on development of weapons in 1972. Because of this, he is regarded as the ‘scientific father’ of this programme by the scientists who researched under his umbrella.

But Bhutto, in a desperate attempt to buy off religious parties anxious for his departure, declared Ahmadis as non-Muslims.

Because of this controversial move, Pakistan lost the national treasure, Abdus Salam. He left Pakistan to settle in the United Kingdom in protest when he could have contributed much more to the development of science in Pakistan. In 1979 Abdus Salam, together with Sheldon Lee Glashow and Steven Weinberg ‘the American physicists’, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics:

 For their contributions to the theory of the unified weak and electromagnetic interaction between elementary particles, including, inter alia, the prediction of the weak neutral current.

Salam holds the distinction of being the first Pakistani and the first Muslim Nobel Laureate to receive the prize in physics.

Bhutto’s injection of religion into politics didn’t stop there. In 1977, he banned alcohol consumption, again in an attempt to appease religious conservatives and distract the population from a less than stellar governance record – when in fact he was a drinker himself.

Bhutto had publicly admitted to drinking alcohol when speaking at a rally where he accused the religious political leaders of ‘drinking’ the people’s blood.

Yes, I do drink wine, but at least I don’t drink the people’s blood.

When General Muhammad Ziaul Haq overthrew Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in a coup d’état on 5 July 1977, Bhutto became a victim of his own winning strategy. Zia used religion against him and started the Islamisation of Pakistan to fight off Bhutto’s popular ideology.

Since then, using religion for political gain has been an integral part of Pakistani politics. This has seriously affected the country and gained ground for the cancer of religious fanaticism. Religious fanaticism has shown its face as sectarian violence, as we have seen serious Shia-Sunni discord and attacks on Ahmadis. It has also had an impact on religious minorities as they now live in fear under the blasphemy law. A country that is in crisis at every level is going up in flames.

The founder of Pakistan, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, envisioned the creation of Pakistan as a secular state and he made it clear in his Presidential Address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on 11th August, 1947.

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

In fact, Bhutto was an opportunist who misused religion by stirring up the masses. He was the first to distort Quaid-e-Azam’s vision of Pakistan.

The Pakistan Peoples Party, the current ruling political party of Pakistan, following the footsteps of their founding leader, used similar tactics to handle the controversial blasphemy case of Asia Bibi, even isolating their own prominent PPP party leaders like Sherry Rehman and Salmaa n Taseer who spoke against the law.

Sherry Rehman submitted a private member bill to the National Assembly Secretariat seeking amendments to soften the blasphemy law after Asia Bibi was sentenced to death under the blasphemy law, which also sparked an international uproar.

Salmaan Taseer, a brave and outspoken secular politician, spoke against the law, calling it a ‘black law‘, and it exposed a deep rift between conservatives and liberals in the country.

The PPP instructed all its leaders including Ms Rehman and Mr Taseer to change their stance but Taseer stood firm to defend the rights of women and minorities in the country. One of Taseer’s last tweets was:

I was under huge pressure sure 2 cow down b4 rightest pressure on blasphemy. Refused. Even if I’m the last man standing.

The PPP government thereby distanced itself from Governor Salmaan Taseer after religious edicts were issued against him, and brought forward Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani to assure religious conservatives that the government does not have any intention to amend the blasphemy law. This move was again pure politics to stir up the masses to save their government as they have failed miserably to lead the country. Finally, governor Taseer was shot dead by his own bodyguard for speaking against the blasphemy law.

In Pakistan, unfortunately, religion is placed above its citizens, excluding them from equal rights. This was certainly not the vision of  our founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

Sikandar Khan

Sikandar Khan Kalasha

A member of the Kalasha community and a student of Economics at Aristotle University in Thessaloniki, Greece. He tweets @seekndare

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

  • muhammad owais

    salman taseer was abandoned by the ppp.the ppp people got too scared of the religious fantics and surrendered before the forces of religious extremism.taseer was not one to surrender,he fought the good fight right till the end.but it was saddening to see ppp disown him and forget him on the first death anniversary this year.Recommend

  • abdul basit

    there’s no need to mix politics and religion.both are separate things.jinnah didn’t mix them.he kept our nation’s name as the ”republic of pakistan”.it was only much later on after jinnah’s death that our country’s name was changed under pressure from the religious fanatics to “islamic republic of pakistan”. religion is and should remain a private affair,it shouldn’t be allowed to interfere in the affairs of the state.Recommend

  • Fawad

    Bhutto changes the map, literally, and idea of Pakistan, yet we hail him as a hero. Complete ignorance!Recommend

  • Samir

    Beautifully written. Couldn’t agree more with the author on this. Bhutto was the original root of all our evils – Zia just took his evil ways to its logical conclusion.Recommend

  • Syed Tahir Hussain Shah

    You have forgotten.. I remember you that this tale doesn’t start from 1974. First it was the creation of PaK which Sparked the fanaticism. Pakistan by default has taken this baggage.
    always speak full truth.. Half truth is more dangerous…Recommend

  • Khan

    A non muslim can be seen as secularist.Recommend

  • Zahra

    why is this article based on so many assumptions? if this, then that.. if that, then this and then the writer pushes in his own sectarian biasesRecommend

  • Sadia Mahmood

    Thank you for writing this article. Recommend

  • Omer bin Abdulaziz

    What historical distortion mate!!!
    Ahmadis are Muslims?
    No they aren’t! Believing in Mohammad (SAWW) as the last prophet is a prerequisite, which they don’t fulfill. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t live a honourable life as non-Muslims in the country.

    Jinnah wanted a secular Pakistan?
    Wrong again. Had he desired that, he wouldn’t have asked for religious scholars to present programmes on the Pakistan radio. However, the religious intolerance in today’s Pakistan too is far from anyone’s imagination.

    Abdul Salam was the ‘father of Pakistan’s’ nuclear programme?
    He literally sold secrets of Pakistan’s programme to the Americans. Some lousy ‘father’ he was. And NO, it was Abdul Qadeer Khan who was the actual mastermind.

    Please author, a little less fabrication please.Recommend

  • faraz

    @Omer bin Abdulaziz

    Jinnah was a Shia, his foreign minister was Ahmadi, his law minister was Hindu, his Chief justice was Christians, and mullahs hated him. So you think a person from minority sect was going to impose religious laws followed by the majority sect?

    The father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb is Munir A Khan. He was in charge of the Atomic Energy Commission and recruited scientists and technicians for the bomb project. Qadeer Khan came much much laterRecommend

  • notahmadi

    In Pakistan it seems the only reason for asking for ‘sekularism’ is that some Ahmadis are unhappy. Had ahmadis been not been declared nonmuslim no one would have cared for secularism.Recommend

  • Vijay K

    “Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.”
    –Seneca Recommend

  • Syed

    Great article! Bigots will fume at you but you should not care for them. Pakistan’s survival lies in returning to Jinnah’s secularism.Recommend

  • Umer

    Abdul Salam was the ‘father of
    Pakistan’s’ nuclear programme? He
    literally sold secrets of Pakistan’s
    programme to the Americans.

    Do you have any evidence of that? Was he ever charged officially? Why not?

    If not then your claim is merely sectarian hatred and jealousy. If you can’t do it then you hate the person who does.Recommend

  • Umer

    And NO, it was Abdul Qadeer Khan who
    was the actual mastermind.

    How do you know? Has any credible scientist ever claimed that? Why not? Obviously Abdul Qadeer Khan gives to much credit to himself and so do you.

  • Ali Tanoli

    There was reason when they decleared non muslim by suprem court of pakistan.
    Bhutto was great leader of pakistan no matter if he was shia muslim.Recommend

  • Umar

    But please do not forget that Bhutto’s era was not all evil, he was being squeezed to the protests and riots which were being cnducted against himand had to concede to there demands remember Bhutto was a politician not a dictator and has to listen to the voices of the people. I believe you are liberal in ur thoughts which is very good but please remember justice Munir report regarding of uprisings, protests, and slaughter of 1952 and also remember that Ayub Khan also declared martial due to the unrest against Ahmadis.Recommend

  • Seizure

    This is one of the most moving and educational blog I have ever read on ET.Recommend

  • Sadia Mahmood

    @ Ali Tanoli: What was the reason? Mind sharing it here? Thanks.Recommend

  • Ali

    @Umar Bhutto got elected democratically but he behaved more and more like an autocrat in office. He had his own security force (Federal Security Force) which used to intimidate and beat opponents. It is widely believed that he rigged the 1977 elections in his favor (even though it was believed he would win, but we will never know will we?). To his credit he introduced Pakistan’s strongest constitution and began the nuclear program but he failed to deliver economically. His nationalization policy failed miserably and ended up destroying the economic progress of the 60s. The downward spiral of Pakistan began in the late 60s and throughout the 70s. This article is spot on. The point is that he wasn’t quite the brilliant leader he is often painted to be by PPP stalwarts. Just because he was killed unjustly by Zia does not mean we should idolize him when he failed to deliver to the masses.Recommend

  • Ahmad

    What a useless wate of space. Has no focus. And btw, Bhutto’s actions against Ahmadis, while ideally wrong, saved many Ahmadi lives as well, people who were threatened with death by the religious right unless their status was changed. But hey, facts should never stand in the way of a good polemic. Did Bhutto introduce the blasphemy law, since you imply thats his fault as well?Recommend

  • Acorn Guts

    Abdul Salam was the ‘father of Pakistan’s’ nuclear programme? He literally sold secrets of Pakistan’s programme to the Americans.

    What utter nonsense! Despite the hate that Dr Salam has been dished out all his life he was never implicated of nuclear proliferation. Contrary to our hero Dr Qadeer who himself confessed to such crimes in early 2004.Recommend

  • Sara

    it was not bhutto who declared ahmedis non-muslims…it was the pakistani parliament, and thats the rule in a democracy…the majority rules
    and yusuf raza gillani was not ‘brought forward’ after taseer’s death…he has been the prime minister since before that Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli

    Why westren world did not accept you guys a nuclear power yet??
    why Mr Bhutto invited A.Q khan before he had Abdul salam sahab and Munor A Khan sahab?
    and every thing changes with time there were some reasons when Salam left for Italy.
    The writer is least informative and more anti truth guy.Recommend

  • Cynical

    @Sued Tahir Hussain Shah

    You are absolutely correct.But it will take another 100 years for people to accept it openly,though I suspect many of us already know it.Recommend

  • rizwan

    i agree with you 100%.very well written articleRecommend

  • Faisal Rehman

    tribune is always writing controversial and biased article for cheap publicity. Bhutto did what people demanded for a long time. PPP has never been involved in using religion as shield. It is a social party no religious. It was Zia who called himself amir ul momineen and used islam as his shield.
    Well the author belongs to kalasha community and studying economics in greece. This further increases the biased view and ill knowledge about politics.Recommend

  • ali

    Writer seems so secular… In fact religion is not above citizens but certainly Islam is….
    Islam is the only way to live a life.. others are artificial. No doubt every one is misusing reins of Islam, it does not mean there is any thing wrong in Islam… Writer has spoken only a little to describe his point of view… needs to study more.Recommend

  • Katarina

    Who are you to deem that other ways of living are artificial? Recommend

  • Hassan Askry

    It is happening in Pakistan because many even most of people are completely ignorant about Islam , and they considered them-self “Contractor of Islam”. They just use Islam for their benefit. And when they found Islam difficult to act upon they leave it. Recommend

  • Umer


    Islam is the only way to live a life..
    others are artificial

    Which Islam? Brelvi, Deobandi, Shia, any other, or the one that says schools should be blown up and shrines should be attacked or any other? Care to show where that Islam is in reality which you propose?

    If you fail to show, as you will, then understand that secularism is the only way as the majority of the world has come to understand after centuries of bloodshed in the name of religion.Recommend

  • Umer


    And btw, Bhutto’s actions against
    Ahmadis, while ideally wrong, saved
    many Ahmadi lives as well

    By that standard if there are Hindu-Muslim communal riots in India then Indian Government should itself take away the rights of Muslims to calm down Hindus. What a ridiculous argument in support of religious bigotry; accept taking away your rights by the government or prepare to die.

    Governments need to treat everyone equally and still protect their rights from terrorists and bigots. Bowing down to bigots by the Bhutto government is the reason we are where we are and now no sect is safe. Even the Deobandis who have Talibans as their co-religionists are being attacked by Taliban for not being hard line enough. Again by your logic we should bow to the Taliban to save lives so Taliban stop blowing us up. May be Shias and Brelvis should also accept themselves as non-Muslims so they are not attacked by the anti-Shia and anti-Shrines organisations. Great logic Ahmad, not.

    Even Bhutto could not escape the wrath of the genie of religious extremists that he himself helped to take out of the bottle. So one can say it was poetic justice that was delivered to Bhutto in the end.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Generally speaking religion and politics make strange bed-fellows. This assumption has been and is still being tested in Pakistan. It’s a question of time before before the truth registers, hopefully it’s not too late by then.Recommend

  • Humanity

    @Omer bin Abdulaziz wrote:
    Ahmadis are Muslims?
    No they aren’t! Believing in Mohammad (SAWW) as the last prophet is a prerequisite, which they don’t fulfill. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t live a honourable life as non-Muslims in the country.

    By the Grace of God, Ahmadi Muslims proclaim the Kalimah :
    “There is none worthy of worship except God
    Muhammad is the Messenger of God”

    The the Grace of God, Ahmadi Muslims believe in the Holy prophet to be the Khatamun Nabeyeen.

    In Surah Fatihah, Allah(SWT) declares He alone is the Master of Day of Judgement. Determining who is or is not a Muslim is His and ONLY His prerogative. Allah has given no human the authority to judge the faith of another on His behalf. When asked who to count as a Muslim, the Holy Prophet (SAW) stated that whosoever calls himself or herself a Muslim is a to considered a Muslim for the wordily matters.

    And yet Mr Abdul Aziz has the audacity to step into of the godly realm and judge on His behalf. the faith of Ahmadi Muslims Mr. Abdul Aziz has the audacity to over rule the Holy Prophet (SAW) and declare Admadi Muslims as non Muslim when they themselves consider themselves to be Muslims.

    The fate of Bhutto, his progeny and Zia should serve as a humbling reminder for those who dare to step into God’s dominion. The noose that the peddlers of religion designed for the Ahmadi Muslims is tightening around the necks of the self-righteous. The proof is in the pudding called the the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

    My humble advice to Mr. AbdulAziz and his kind is to repent and seek Allah’s forgiveness and protection. The salvation of this country lies in returning from the land of demigods and restore the spirit of humanity to inculcate love, tolerance, and equal rights for all irrespective of faith, gender, ethnicity, age, language, for God is sufficient to judge the faith of all humans.Recommend

  • Khan

    This article is NOT about Sunni vs Shia vs Ahmadis.
    It’s a reminder for Pakistanis how religion is used by our rulers for filling-in their vote banks.
    The right-left ideology they try to sell their followers is a fabricated one.
    Well articulated by the writer.Recommend

  • Ahmad


    your quite impressive rant starts off with what is so predictable about narrow-minded pseudo-intellectuals: a comparison with India. Indian democracy has enjoyed an uninterrupted run of 65 years barring the two years of emergency rule. They have institutions which work. Right now, their COAS has taken the government to court over the issue of his age and time of retirement. He will probably lose. And there is absolutely nothing he can do about the decision once made. Can you imagine that happening here?
    Pakistan on the other hand, has flirted with democracy before whole-heartedly accepting dictatorship which goes fine for a year or two courtesy of the US but then turns sour. Our short memories mean we have this cycle down on repeat. I will scream from the rooftops that Pakistan should be secular and that the Taliban deserve no protection under the constitution which they disown and should be treated exactly as they treat other people. I am all for an army operation in FATA to get rid of these people once and for all. But that isnt really helping anyone is it? Despite which I continue to do it.
    While there may be many similarities between the Taliban today and the religious right of the 70’s one of them is undoubtedly that both were/are supported by the military. And that brings us to the root of every single problem faced by this country: our army. Even in the chaotic merry-go-round of the 50’s, we did manage to frame and pass a constitution in 1958, broken not even two years later by Ayub Khan, who committed the original sin, for which he should never br forgiven. And when I say that many Ahmadi lives were saved, thats not my opinion, it is the opinion of members of that sect that I know.Recommend

  • Lone Star

    Any person who makes sense is “labelled” Ahmadi. And Ahmadis do make sense.Recommend

  • Kashif

    One of the best blogs I have read lately. Pakistan was indeed meant to be a progressive state with peoples of all faiths and sects living freely and as equal citizens of state. Indeed, Bhutto was one of the most greedy power-hungry politician we have had. He exploited religion to the full and in appeasing to the Mullahs, he laid the foundation of today’s dark Pakistan. Pakistan took a U-turn there on. It is very unfortunate but without State stopping interference in people’s faith, there is no way to reverse the present downward spiral. Pakistan must return to Jinnah’s vision – a Secular State.

    P.S: Secular State does not mean naked women all around and drinking in the streets, lest the bigots start complaining. It ONLY means that the State treats everyone equal and religion is not a basis for discrimination. Period!Recommend


    Umer-bin-Abdul aziz,Plz. don’t ruin the great name of a caliph by negating facts.It’s an excellent article written in daring style with authenticity.Hats-off to the writer! The first big mistake was the objective resolution of 1949 after the demise of Quaid-e-Azam,which gave bigots to enter in main stream after their concession acceptance of Pakistan and then becoming the main stake holder of country.Recommend

  • Ahmed Qamar

    “failed to deliver economically”

    The author has presented a robust structure of the article based on what he has been fed, religious bias and logical sense that can only match to that of a baboon…

    You can bring the rich to the level of poor overnight but it takes a lifetime to lift the poor to the level of the rich

    Bhutto started nationalizing in 1973 which took a couple of years to complete. From, 1975-1977 if you think you can judge the outcome of the decision in just 2 years then my friend you need to revisit your facts because you are making a fool out of yourself here. It was Zia’s extremism and his policies that destroyed the economic progress… Express Tribune needs to filter out such articles in order to maintain their credibility… Thank YouRecommend

  • notahmadi


    Secularism has been accepted in only the countries of nonbelievers. Muslims will always live by Islam which provides principles for entire living. If you we can’t follow Islam because of sect then we may as well stop being Muslims. But we don’t become non muslim because of sects so why our government become secular because of sects?Recommend

  • Huzaifa K.L

    It saddens me to see so many people praising the guy who was solely responsible for breaking up Pakistan just so that he could extend his rule. That is the harsh truth no matter how charismatic he was!Recommend

  • bigsaf

    The mixing of religion and state happened much earlier in the latter half of the 1950’s with religious symbols being added onto state properties and the discussion of Sharia.

    You’re wrongly assuming that religious conservatives were only Sunnis, or that there was the same perception or action being taken against Shias as there was against Ahmadis, at least by law.

    ZAB’s Shia Muslim background or marriage at the time would have virtually no political or religious societal pressure in the 70’s, or even today, as compared to demands against Ahmedis through law.

    Back then, conservative Shia Muslim clerics threw their support behind conservative Sunnis, including the hardline Deoband elements.

    Wahhabification/Sunnification of Pak did not happen until the 80’s. Even then and now there was/is little appetite by mainstream Sunni Pakistanis to marginalize Shia Pakistanis by law despite all the sectarian violence by extremists, though prejudice is now more widespread. Unfortunately for Ahmadis, the institutional discrimination is the same, if not worse for them today.

    Ironic that Benazir in the 90’s would in one parliament session have her sectarian background touched on, to which she alarmingly shouted that she was not a Shia, just her husband, hoping to maintain political legitimacy in what was a growing polarized society. Remarkably, her husband has faced less religious scrutiny, though it does irk a small bigoted segment, the extremists and even the KSA. Recommend


    @Omer bin Abdulaziz:
    Whenever you speak the truth, speak it completely. This is what writer has done. If Abdus Salam had to sell the secrets to United States, then he had never supported Pakistan in buying the first nuclear reactor, which enabled Pakistan to be nuclear power.
    Besides you said Ahmadies do not believe in the finality of prophethood (Khatme Nubuwat), absoloutely wrong. It seems you do not go beyond the limits of promoted religion on media and television channels, even on Youtube you can find some informative material in this regard. Other Muslims believe Hazarat Eisa will be a prophet, same we believe about Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Sahib, who claims to be Mohammadi Messiah. Besides, all Ahmadis believe in debate and arguments, we have always answered to the raised questions about our religious thoughts. Since our all arguments come from Quran and Hadith, the devil dictator Gen Zia even made this a crime for us to relate ourselves with Quran from any angle, so what this is all about?
    Quaid e Azam wanted to build a model Islamic state, is this Islamic that the Christians, Hindus and other religious schools of thoughts’ people are handed over Quran with translation as gifts and Ahmadis do not even recite it loudly in public? This is what writer has highlighted and his stance has come with good arguments.Recommend

  • Umer


    Secularism has been accepted in only
    the countries of nonbelievers.

    Countries of “nonbelievers” whose nationalities is the dream of every believer and where everyone including believers are living happily? I would say it’s much better than a country of believers such as ours where dozens of believers get killed every other week by other believers who consider the first lot to be non believers. This believer nonbeliever issue is getting quite complicated and dangerous for one’s health. Better move to secularism to avoid further bloodshed as in countries of nonbelievers.Recommend

  • Noor

    A bogus article.

    Ahmadis were declared as such Non-Muslims after getting a lot of scholarly input.
    If Ahmadis were just a sect. Why don’t they call other sects Non-Muslims?

    Blasphemy laws were also made by deliberate consultations & checking from Authentic religious sources.

    Lets not fiddly with divine rulings, rather move forward & educate our people not to mis-use them.Recommend

  • Omaidus

    He took the snake (molvi) out of the pot now every one is the victim of its venom…, just looking back and watching the events that took place back in our history, we realize what miserable he did, who could have imagine Bhutto will be the first victim of molvis, pity on him and this country…..Recommend

  • fareeha

    @Omer bin Abdulaziz:
    seriously get your facts right. Abdus Salam never sold any nuclear secrets to anyone. from where do u get this idea?Recommend

  • Liberal

    Bhuttoo was hero in many ways except this one. He had no right to announace Ahmdis as non-muslim ender pressure from religious bigots.

    Zia didn’t further Bhuttoo program, he furthered Jamiat Islami controlled project.Recommend

  • RajX

    The author is wrong. The issue of using religion did not start with Bhutto but with Jinnah. Both Jinnah and Bhutto have the same background. Both were well educated power hungry politicians who used religion to gain power. But saying anything negative about Jinnah is not politically correct in Pakistan.Recommend

  • lodhi

    How could Bhutto hand over the powers to Sheikh Mujib when the whole nation was calling Mujib a traitor.Practically East pakistan had become independent in 1950s when Bengalis had protested on Language issues.The decision to form the Govt after elections was made by Gen Yahya and not by Bhutto.
    @Omer,Ali and Noor
    Your arguments need objectivity not bigotry.Recommend

  • Muneeb

    As a pakistani citizen after reading this article,the question arises in my mind that “is religion the only issue pertaining to the problems of pakistan”?? Certainly not !! perhaps its our national charatcer which causes the abuse of equal rights in this country. We should peep into our own collars before blaming our ex politicians and generals for ruining this country. After all its we who elect them and select them as our masters.Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli

    Then why u called Ahmedi or qadianis your self if you believe these all things and why Mirza
    is Masiah or Mehdi ???? why so hypo man
    And Bhutto was a elected prime minister of pakistan and in Democracy you gotta litsen to the
    mendate what they demands and what happend on faisalabad station in 1974 this was a reaction to that and one more thing if pakistan is made by Jinnah Then saved by Bhutto keep
    in mind u guys and also thank full to pakistan other wise go back to Gurdhas pur with sikh peoples and live where u belongs, if they allows.Recommend

  • ER

    Seems some commenters miss the point of the post, which is about the mix of religion & politics in Pakistan, & observations of present & recent history in the context of Pakistan’s founder’s intent.Recommend

  • Umer

    Kudos to ET for publishing such posts and bringing out the bigots among us. Judging from the comments however it will take a while for religious bigotry to go away. While the rest of the world is in 21st century some here are still peddling stone age mentality.Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli

    Believing the way of companions of last prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him & his Noble family) did if u called this a stone age then my friend we are happy in our stone age
    and pray may Allah help u find that true path too. the path true in all meanings..Recommend

  • bigsaf


    Abdus Salam never sold any nuclear secrets to anyone. from where do u get this idea?

    Omer got the idea from his institutional educated hate talking points and societal prejudice that allows for such dishonesty for the sake of bigotry…

    Isn’t religious hypocrisy and intolerance awesome? Recommend

  • bigsaf

    @muhammad owais:
    PPP also disowned and abandoned the only Christian minister Shahbaz Bhatti.

    The religious extremists will win thanks to cowardice. Recommend

  • bigsaf

    @Omer bin Abdulaziz:

    But that doesn’t mean that they can’t live a honourable life as non-Muslims in the country.

    Honourable life in Pakistan as a non-Muslim.

    Amazing how deluded bigots are and how they justify open discrimination and injustice in Pak. Recommend

  • bigsaf


    Islam is the only way to live a life.. others are artificial. No doubt every one is misusing reins of Islam, it does not mean there is any thing wrong in Islam…

    The ‘Islamic Republic of Pakistan’ is pretty artificial.

    Which Islam are you talking about? It’s not even Shia/Sunni any more. There’s now Wahhabi/Salafi/Deobandi, etc which have dangerously co-opted the mainstream. I don’t think MY Islam is wrong, but I do believe THEIR twisted version of Islam is totally wrong. Unfortunately for me they think my belief is wrong to the point of justified murder. So much for tolerance.

    No thanks. These interpretations they want to impose…are artificial and extreme in itself. Now what to do with competing ideologies?

    No two scholars can seem to define what ‘real’ Islam is… perhaps it’s time to be pragmatic instead of imposing superstitious versions on the rest of us who don’t agree with extreme interpretations or share the same faith.

    How long do you want to tolerate this ‘misusing reins of Islam’ as Pak divulges into extremist, sectarian and anti-minority abyss, and also gives a bad name to Islam and all Muslims?

    This is why we don’t want state and religion to mix. Unnecessary religious tests and fake holier than thou religiosity. It is just so easy to abuse religion by zalims, hypocrites and liars to commit any crime or exploit any situation through propaganda simply because of the superstitious aura of some false Islamic label that ignorant people will give value to over reason or actual Islamic code. Recommend

  • bigsaf


    Secularism has been accepted in only the countries of nonbelievers. Muslims will always live by Islam which provides principles for entire living.

    What does it say of Jinnah when he praised Attaturk, on news of his death, as the ‘greatest Musalman’ who transformed modern Turkey as a secular state?

    Doubt Jinnah would promote the current Wahhabification of Pak, when it would discriminate against someone of his own sect background. Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli

    They were wahabis when Russia invaded afghanistan and pakistan got all the support and money and free oil when ever pakisatan got in trouble so dont be too much high ok.Recommend

  • Humanity

    @Ali Tanoli:
    Mr. Tanoli, just like one would need to read the Quran and understand its message from the Holy Book itself and not from the people who spread mis-information about its message, similarly I suggest you read about the Admadi Muslim belief from the source and not get mis-information from the anti-Ahmadi sources. I urge you educate yourself with an open mind and adopt the policy of live and let live. It will do you much good.

    For your information, Ahmadi Muslims call themselves as such to declare they are Muslims who believe that the Promised Messiah and the Madhi has come in the person of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Sahib in the 14th century as predicted by the hadith. They do not not need permission or permit from any agency to belong to a group and choose a title for that group. They believe faith to be a matter between God and an individual, for only Allah knows the most hidden of intentions and Allah alone i the Master of the day of judgment.

    Ahmadi Muslims were in the forefront in the struggle to create Pakistan. They have every right to live in Pakistan with equal rights that all citizens of Pakistan deserve, regardless of their faith. This was the raison d’être of Pakistan.

    Jinnah created Pakistan with the vision of a country where people would live with harmony as equal citizens. Religious clerics who opposed the creation of Pakistan had no shame in migrating to Pakistan, only to spread the ideology of hate. Bhutto gave these peddlers of religion a free hand only in an effort of self-preservation. The shrewd politician that Bhutto was, he simply forgot that those who dig a hole for others sooner or later end up falling on their faces in the same hole.

    Bhutto did not save Pakistan. Instead he set it on a course where now every sect is pitted against the other, every ethnic group is dagger drawn against the other. No this is not the Pakistan that Jinnah had envisioned.

    There is a lesson to be learnt that God does not forgive those who step into His Dominion. Judging others is a grave sin that falls into the category of shirk. My humble advise is for all to look within and stop worrying about whether or not others are pure enough to pass through the pul-siraat. The baggage of sin we carry is heavy. May God guide us to mend our ways so that we can earn His pleasure. May God show the people of Pakistan to way to live as humans and not as self-worshiping demigods who are above every one else.


  • Humanity

    @RajX wrote:
    The author is wrong. The issue of using religion did not start with Bhutto but with Jinnah. Both Jinnah and Bhutto have the same background. Both were well educated power hungry politicians who used religion to gain power. But saying anything negative about Jinnah is not politically correct in Pakistan.

    RajX, Mr. Jinnah was a man of character. Mr. Jinnah’s impeccable honesty, integrity and principle are unquestioned even by his arch enemies.

    Had Mr. Jinnah lived longer, the landscape of Pakistan would have been totally different. The people who gave their blood to make this country were not fools to have this nightmare as a vision of their homeland. The undoing of the vision o Pakistan was at the hands of the hate monger, anti-Pakistan element who migrated to Pakistan after they failed to prevent its creation. Like termite, they ate away at the very foundation of the country with their ideology of violence, intolerance, and division.

    Unfortunately, the Pakistan of today gives credence to the cynical remarks like yours. But those who share the true vision of Pakistan, that of a tolerant free homeland with equal opportunity for all its citizens, believe that the blood shed for the creation of Pakistan will bear fruit that will make Mr. Jinnah proud, and this nation a pride of humanity, insh’Allah!Recommend

  • Humanity

    @Noor wrote:
    *Ahmadis were declared as such Non-Muslims after getting a lot of scholarly input.
    Blasphemy laws were also made by deliberate consultations & checking from Authentic religious sources.

    Lets not fiddly with divine rulings, rather move forward & educate our people not to mis-use them.*

    Dear Noor,
    1. God alone is the Master of the day of judgment.
    2. The Holy Prophet (SAW) instructed his sahaba to count those who called themselves Muslim as Muslim.

    To judge another person’s faith is stepping into the godly realm and no scholarly input, no matter who the scholar is, can override the ruling of the Holy Prophet(SAW). Patronage of an ideology that teaches otherwise is tantamount to blasphemy. Have mercy on your soul and educate yourself, my dear!Recommend

  • Humanity

    @Ali Tanoli wrote:
    keep in mind u guys and also thank full to pakistan other wise go back to Gurdhas pur with sikh peoples and live where u belongs, if they allows.

    Mr. Tanoli, what religion do you follow which teaches you so much intolerance. Certainly, it is not Islam.

    Today, you order Ahmadi Muslims to leave Pakistan, tomorrow you will order Shia Muslims to leave Pakistan, next it will be Christian and Hindu, and then it will your brothers and sisters until the only person pure enough to remain in the circle of Islam will be Mr. Tanoli. That day, the raison d’être Pakistan will be fulfilled and the land of pure will be a certified Islamic Republic of Pakistan.Recommend

  • mateen saeed

    We may hold Z.A. Bhutto, even current PPP leadership responsible for being opportunist, using religion as tool. Fact is for being true so-called Pakistani, every individual including political leadership has to remain within certain set ideological parameters. Most of us know what those parameters are; Salmaan Taseer dared to speak if not clearly, at least to some extent. 4 January has passed, most of us didn’t recall, it was his death anniversary. Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli

    Mr Z.A Bhutto (R,A) was great leader of pakistan better than many mullahs indeed he gave us
    voice, he shed it those crrupt and pharoh fourty families who made us the slave and were looting the country and making the bank balances some where else he becomes victom of Harami bearocracy and there army crrupt genrals remember when bhutto fired 300 crrupt Bearocrats.Recommend

  • bigsaf

    @Ali Tanoli:

    Which high are you talking about? The zealous Wahhabi high after bombing a minority group? Or the religious hypocrite Gen. Zia flooding Pak with heroine to raise funds…now that was some suicidal high!

    Support, money and free oil going exactly into whose pockets? Military? Militants? Mullahs and their Madrassahs that preach militancy and hate against other Muslims, sects and non-Muslims?

    Wahhabification wasn’t just about Saudi support during the 80’s for the Afghan effort. It was a mental capitulation of Pak political/military/societal institutions to a foreign extreme ideological import, including influence on un-Islamic misogynist Hudood laws and our increasing bigoted societal attitude towards Pakistani minorities outright supporting a program of sectarian cleansing of Pakistani citizens.

    What good was that foreign free money and oil when all we’ve got to show for it is hate, extremism and massacres? You’d think we’d be rich, but no, only unwanted dangerous ideological side-effects. Be bitter towards them, not at one who inconveniently points out the facts. Recommend

  • GH

    Its Really annoying to Read comments that Pakistan should be that State , or Pakistan Should be this state.
    For those who thinks Pakistan Should be a secular State, assume we are secular State, Pakistan is Republic of Pakistan not Islamic republic of Pakistan.
    Will this stop killings of Ahmadi’s? Will this stop killing in suicide attacks? will this change the whole scenario of Pakistan? Never.
    Why don’t we understand that “Less Education” creates this frustration and evilness in Society. India is a secular state, than why there are Killing and separation movements arising? (Now you’ll say ISI is behind this)?? Why India is not a Peaceful state although they are secular since Independence??
    Islam is the Best religion if we practically follow it!! see what west is doing trying to Lower the interest Rate to Zero?? And thats what Islam teach us!!
    if we follow Islam in true spirit than we don’t need labels!!!GHRecommend

  • rex minor

    Mr Bhutto was an erratic and a usual emotional personality, but pragmatic and was the the master of machivellian politics. I suspect that his approach of classifying muslims as non muslims was a ploy to save the Qadiani group! I bet he did not expect the backlash against the muslim shias and the muslim qadianis nor against other non muslim groups. He continualy supported and flirted with the military and this in the end cost him his life from a lunatic General.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • khurshid

    some corrections on the nuclear program and its “father” is warranted. As a physicist I am aware that Salam was involved in the bomb to the extent that he enocuraged some of his most talented students to switch from particle physics to the practical problem of bomb design. AQKhan was entrusted with ONE aspect of the device which was enrichment. There was a large team at the PAEC that worked on several aspects such as florination of uranium; bomb design with chinese help and design of the trigger device etc. I am not sure why we as a nation cant accept a team activity as a team activity and must look for individual HEROES to shower our love upon. AQK has many things to answer for which shall remain unsaid at this site.Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli,

    Peoples remember allways commander inchief or saba salar only its a history (pram praa) or
    Rawyat of the world. and AQK is hero no doubt about it.Recommend

  • a larger perspective

    The author makes many claims, some of which can be argued to at great length, but I believe the vast majority of commentators here are biased themselves or ignorant of the truth. I would encourage the writer to continue sharing opinions like these for the sad reality is, for any plurality to prosper, all peoples and beliefs need to be incorporated, and those ideas for discussion, no matter how outrageous, ought to be shared to foster the public sphere. Aristotle stated that “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” Sadly, most people who have commented on your article clearly are not. Recommend

  • Syed Zafar Ahmad

    A very thought-provoking and unbiased article, indeed. The vision of Pakistan, as envisaged by Jinnah, was destroyed by Bhutto’s short-term game-plan to appease the violent Mullahs. The result is for everyone to see. The present day Pakistan is paying the price of the ‘doctrine’ of Bhutto and Zia that resulted in a divided Pakistan – full of hatred and intolerance.One needs to see through the game to understand what ails the country.Recommend

  • husain umar

    putting simply both abdul aziz and zia ul haq are ah. I do not know about aziz but the other sob is dead. good ridden. Recommend

  • husain umar

    oh my comments are not posted.Recommend

  • http://- Abid P. Khan

    @rex minor:
    “Mr Bhutto was an erratic and a usual emotional personality, …and was the the master of machivellian politics. ….He continualy supported and flirted with the military and this in the end cost him his life from a lunatic General.”

    His Machiavellian approach continues even today, by his followers. The other day Lal Masjid mulla group was allotted 20-acres of land by the present regime.Originally they had ½ acre under their control! Everything about PPP is/was always fake. BB introduced an armed forces day and eulogized Gen Beyg as a great democrat. Still PPP claims to be a secular party.

    How long will this game go on?

    Lal Masjid LandRecommend

  • Arshad

    @Humanity: you wrote that “By the Grace of God, Ahmadi Muslims proclaim the Kalimah :
    “There is none worthy of worship except God
    Muhammad is the Messenger of God”
    The the Grace of God, Ahmadi Muslims believe in the Holy prophet to be the Khatamun Nabeyeen.”
    1- All Qadianis know that when they recite the Shahada, They mean Mirza Ghalam Ahmad as last Nabi of Allah, not Prophet Muhammad (SAW), they alsoo believe that Mirz was Superion than our Prophet SAW.
    2- Khtaman Nabeyeen is Mirza acoording faith of Qadianis.
    To varify my view you should read the Answers & Questions to Mirz Nasir in Pakistan National Assembly in1977. If they think they are Muslim why they do pray in our mosque, do not perform salat e Janaza of our muslim. They even do not consume meat slaughter by non Qadiani. They do allow their daughters to marry a non Qadiani. What type of Mulims are they? They must have separate religion than Muslim ummas of the world for example Wahabi, Salfi, Ahle Hadith, Deeobandi, Modoodi and Shia. Although we divided various sect but all Muslim sects have one goal Mirza is not nabi or Khatammum Nabeyeen.Recommend