PAKISTAN is now 60, the most mature age of a nation. On March 23, 1940, our founding fathers resolved to commit themselves to Iqbal’s vision.
The Allama’s dream was of a separate homeland free of external domination, based on the lofty ideals of Islam, where the Muslims of the subcontinent could live in accordance with the tenets of Islam.
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As a result of their determined struggle under the charismatic and sagacious leadership of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, a major Muslim country was placed on the map of the world on 14th August 1947.
Muslims in India were not an occupying force as India tries to depict in its revision of history which is being protested by all historians in India. Waves of people came to India along with the Aryans who brought features of Hinduism with them.
Among these waves were some Central Asians, who, like the Aryans before them, settled down, married, declared the place their country, contributed and died in India. The name India itself is an English version of the Arabic word Hind for India.
With hundreds of years’ worth of heritage when Muslims failed to defend India from Europeans, it was the beginning of problems for South Asia’s Muslim population.
For 500 years, India witnessed a tolerant Muslim rule, under which economic prosperity, educational reforms and relative racial equality were a norm.
However, as the British East India Company took over India by the mid-19th century, masses of Muslim-owned agricultural and commercial lands were annexed and multitudes of Muslim professionals, elites, and officers were dismissed from government positions.
While the Hindus were promoted, the Muslims of India were ignored and reduced to second-class citizens. A comprehensive analysis of the state of Muslims under British rule is documented by a British author, William Hunter, in his monumental work, Indian Musalman, published in 1871, in which he explains, “Now all sorts of employment, high or low, great or small are being gradually snatched away from the Mohammedans [Muslims], and given to other races particularly Hindus.
They are reduced to Bahistee, wood cutters, peons or pen menders in offices.” Ulema and Imams of mosques, by design, were made to live hand to mouth and collect loafs of bread everyday from doorsteps of their own muqtadis.
This biased treatment of the British against Muslims, along with Hindu chauvinism, gave rise to Muslims’ demand for proportionate representation in government jobs and electoral seats.
The constant opposition of Hindus for minority rights and the worsening prejudiced treatment of Muslims germinated the Pakistan Movement and the Two-Nation Theory. One response surfaced in the form of the All-India Muslim League, founded in 1906, in Dhaka, which served to protect and advance the political rights of the Muslims of India.
Hindu nationalists, however, heavily promoted the name of Pakistan, before even Muslims adopted it as their goal. By the 1930s and 1940s, the Muslims of India and the leaders of Muslim League realized that while politically their very existence and survival in Hindu-led independent India would be perilous from a cultural and social standpoint, it foreshadowed their gradual extinction. This was a real fear which, running through their rank, fuelled and intensified the Pakistan Movement.
As the poet-philosopher Muhammad Iqbal states in his presidential address of the Muslim League at Allahabad in 1930: “The formation of a consolidated North-West Indian Muslim State appears to be the final destiny of the Muslims, at least of North West India…the life of Islam as a cultural force in this country very largely depends on its centralization in a specified territory.
”The approach of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Allama Iqbal towards Indian Muslims’ freedom was deeply rooted in pragmatism – it was embedded, on the one hand, in universally accepted democratic and constitutional norms and, on the other, it represented the inalienable right of Muslims to statehood in areas where they excelled in numerical strength. The claim of Muslims to nationhood was an expression of both truth and reality of the situation.
The Pakistan Resolution of March 23rd, 1940, signified the peak of a long trailing freedom struggle of 100 million Muslims of South Asia, as well as a focal point of their destiny – Pakistan. This resolution, which was presented by Maulvi Abul Kasim Fazlul Haq, Premier of Bengal, demanded that the Muslim-majority areas in the Northwestern and Eastern zones of India should be grouped to constitute independent States, using a confederatory model, in which the constituent units should be autonomous and sovereign.
Despite its meager resources, Pakistan and the idea of Pakistan have survived more than half a century despite the prediction by the Indian leadership at the time of independence that in a few years, Pakistan would be begging to join India. Hundreds and thousands of Muslims throughout India, Bangal, Burma and Afghanistan voted with their feet by migrating to Pakistan. On the ideological front, it symbolized Muslims’ aspiration to develop a sanctuary where they could shape their lives in conformity with the principles postulated by Islam.
As Quaid-e-Azam once emphasized, “Islam is not only a set of rituals, traditions and spiritual doctrine, it is a code for every Muslim, which regulated his life and his conduct – all aspects; social, political, economic etc. It is based on the highest principles of honor, integrity, fair play and justice for all.”
Although the Constitution of Pakistan has undergone a number of amendments, the ideology of Pakistan has survived in the preamble to the country’s Constitution. Pakistan was a milestone in the Pakistan Movement, but the struggle continues until its ideals are achieved for all Pakistanis.
Of late, there has been a debate in Pakistani media, whether or not the Two-Nation theory exists. There are voices for and against, and during the current peace process a campaign was launched in order to nullify the concept of Two-Nation Theory. They say with the emergence of Bangladesh, this theory is no more relevant now.
It is unfortunate that our own amongst the intelligentsia do not accept the reality on ground. Indian leaders even today repeat the same stance that they would bow Pakistan to beg for remerging into Akhand Bharat.
The discriminatory treatment meted out to over 200 million Muslims of India has led to great realization there that the Two-Nation Theory does very much exist even today. This is evident from the Ghodhra massacre and Gujarat massacre of Muslims and other such incidents and above all the fact-finding Sachar Committee Report published recently.
Indian fortnightly Frontline in its issue of December 15 published the cover story on the Sachar Committee Report saying that even after 60 years of Independence India has failed to ensure participation in governance for its largest minority group, the Muslims.
Muslims have a share of 13.4% in the country’s population but their representation in government jobs is a mere 4.9%. The report also points towards the fundamental social condition that has created this situation. Muslims across India have lesser access than other religious groups to educational facilities, particularly in higher education.
Consequently, only 3.4% of the Muslim population has completed graduation whereas the corresponding figure for non-OBC (Other Backward Communities), non-SC/ST (Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes) Hindus is 15.3%. Literacy levels are also similarly low. Only 59.1% of the community has literacy while the national average is 64.8%.
The literacy level for non-SC/ST Hindus is 65.1%. The community with such large deficit in education and employment, naturally figures high in terms of incidence of poverty. The report’s analysis is that incidence of poverty among Muslims has a Head Count Ratio (HCR) of 31%, which is second only to the SC/ST, ie HCR of 35%. Judging by the sheer volume of representations that the Committee is said to have received, there seems to be a sort of general consensus among Muslims throughout India that they are economically and socially “backward” compared with the general population.
The fact that by and large Muslims are indeed economically marginalized is well known, a point the Sachar Committee report reiterates.
Our dilemma is that probably, in practical terms, we have not conformed to being a One-Nation even after 60 years of Independent Pakistan. Practically we have refused to let our ranks united. Softening of borders with India doesn’t mean we should submit our individual identity to the totality of subcontinent.
We have proved that we are an equally strong, impregnable nation with the superior nuclear technology in our hands. We can excel in every field and every walk of life. Friendship is acceptable only on equal and honourable basis, without losing our national and cultural identity