Jinnah's Pakistan: Ahead of time

Discussion in 'Pakistan' started by Vikramaditya, Jan 7, 2011.

  1. Vikramaditya

    Vikramaditya Regular Member

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    I was stunned, definitely, but not surprised at Salman Taseer's assassination. His death is just another episode in a drama that continues to be staged in Pakistan. The curtain rose on this drama when Pakistan's founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah gave that monumental, memorable, yet futile speech to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on August 11, 1947. And I quote him:

    “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.”

    Jinnah, who is still widely regarded as a secular man, was the right man man in the wrong place. His concept of a new “State of Pakistan”, as he noted in his speech quoted above, was floated before the wrong audience. Everything doesn't sell everywhere.

    The drama I refer to is the longstanding and seemingly never-ending struggle that Pakistan's secular, liberal, progressive forces have been engaged in. This tug-of-war between the merchants of intolerance and the philanthropists of peace began the very day the idea of Pakistan was conceived.

    Salman lost his life to this tug-of-war.

    The secular, liberal, progressive forces of Pakistan have been dying a slow and painful death for decades.

    Many others in Pakistan have fallen prey to such predators. The modus operandi of Salman's assassination reminded me the way Benazir Bhutto (BB, as I had come to call her towards the last days of her life) lost her life. Salman and BB, both died fighting intolerance — intolerance of religion, of democracy, of peace, of human rights. And, such crusaders die such deaths in Pakistan.

    This reminds me of a famous piece of poetry by Munir Niazi, a renowned Pakistani poet, whose work in the Punjabi language hasn't seen many a parallel. The poem goes:

    kujh unjh wi raahwaan aukhiyaan sun,

    kujh gall wich gham da tauq wi si,

    kujh shehr day lok wi zaalim sun,

    kujh saanu maran da shauq wi si.

    ( my path was tough anyway,

    and I had a noose of sorrow around my neck,

    the people of my city were cruel,

    but even I had a fascination for dying.)

    These lines sum up the attitude and outlook of the brave and brazen of Pakistan. And such people, obviously, become popular and visible and audible. BB was all these. Salman was only the latter two. Despite that, he lost his life in a bizzare fashion. They die fighting at the hands of the same intolerance they have fought all their lives. Their cause becomes their end.

    Even though both BB and Salman died similar deaths, there was a cardinal difference in their public persona. BB was a leader of the masses. Salman, for that matter, wasn't someone the down-trodden of Pakistan looked up to but, of late, he came to champion the cause of an outright underdog. That's what got him into the league of popular leaders like BB. BB was unbelievably brave, sometimes bordering on stupidity (considering the circumstances of Pakistan, not to take anything away from her, especially when she's not around to defend herself).

    When Jinnah gave that famous speech, he made another wrong assessment in context of the new “State of Pakistan”. I quote him again:

    “... in the course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State.”

    Only Jinnah's spirit knows today how wrong he was when he uttered these words.

    In the light of Salman's murder, Jinnah's words fail him. He stands alone, with no one by his side to join forces with his ideology. I quote Munir Niazi again:

    Welay to aggey langh jaan di sazaa,

    bandaa kalla reh jaanda ae.

    (the price you pay for being ahead of time,

    you stand alone).

    Perhaps, the time for Jinnah's Pakistan of August 11, 1947, hasn't come yet.

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