Onwards To People’s Republic Of Pakistan

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

The Nation has reported in its newspaper today that that a scheme to change Pakistan’s name from Islamic Republic of Pakistan to People’s Republic of Pakistan was discussed in the parliamentary reforms committee and was ultimately withdrawn.  

ISLAMABAD – Awami National Party (ANP) during the deliberations of Parliamentary Reforms Committee had proposed to change the name of Islamic Republic of Pakistan as Peoples Republic of Pakistan, while Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) supported the move, the sources close to these political parties disclosed to TheNation. The idea was, however, dropped due to strong opposition from the rest of the members of the committee, the sources added. MQM Deputy Convener and Federal Minister Dr. Farooq Sattar confirmed it to the media in an informal chat on Wednesday and said that MQM along with PPP members of the committee supported the idea of renaming Islamic Republic of Pakistan as Peoples Republic of Pakistan. On the other hand, ANP member of the committee Haji Adeel denied having proposed the name of Peoples Republic of Pakistan to replace Islamic Republic of Pakistan. However, some members of the committee on condition of anonymity confirmed it to TheNation that ANP had proposed the said change in the name of the country and MQM and PPP members had supported it. During chat with media, Dr. Farooq Sattar also proposed making Gilgit-Baltistan as the fifth province of the country and its chief minister should also be included in the National Finance Commission (NFC). The government should take appropriate steps in this regard to remove the constitutional and international hurdles, he added. He said if the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms would finish with its deliberation on provincial autonomy by mid of December, they would be in.

My only regret is that this eminently reasonable suggestion has come from ANP and not any of the politicians and parties who don’t tire taking Jinnah’s name in vain.   The historical fact which needs to be repeated again and again and again is that  Jinnah did not found an Islamic Republic.   The name of the state that Jinnah founded was the Dominion of Pakistan.  Jinnah was a committed opponent of theocracy and an Islamic Republic- a misnomer as it is legally, morally and politically-  can only be a theocracy.

Writing in his book “Facts are Sacred” – which was otherwise an extremely partisan and badly researched book-   the late ANP leader Wali Khan rightly concluded that Quaid-e-Azam wanted a secular Pakistan and those who now claim to follow Mr. Jinnah are morally bound to follow Jinnah’s vision.    If indeed this proposal has come from ANP,  then it is morally consistent with Wali Khan’s stance and we salute the ANP for raising this demand at this juncture. 

This author has been demanding this for a while on many grounds,  not the least of which is Jinnah’s vision for Pakistan.  However another question that must be asked is whether the term “Islamic Republic” has any real meaning?   A republic by its sheer logic is for the public or the people and therefore cannot be limited to just one group or one community.    And while the name Islamic Republic has no significance in Islamic law or Muslim ecclesiastical history,   it is used again and again by the Mullahs (who had opposed the very creation of this country) to deny equal opportunity and equal rights to the people of Pakistan.

Therefore,  we hope that ANP, MQM and PPP will not shelve this plan and undo what PPP and ANP’s forerunner NAP had done in 1973.  Pakistan – to hark back to Jinnah – belongs to the people of Pakistan and people of Pakistan, regardless of religion, caste or creed,  are the only arbiters of this republic.   Onwards to the People’s Republic of Pakistan!   Qadam barhao PPP, MQM aur ANP  hum tumharay saath hai!

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31 Comments

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31 responses to “Onwards To People’s Republic Of Pakistan

  1. Majumdar

    Well, actually a simple “Republic of Pakistan” is good enough, people’s republic has the negative connotation of a Commie state.

    Regards

  2. Milind Kher

    Changing the name to “People’s Republic of Pakistan” would have been a very good one. Mr Jinnah had never envisaged a theocratic state in any case.

    Which fiqh is universally acceptable in Pakistan? Iran does not have that problem since an overwhelming majority follows the Jafari fiqh.

    Also, this will help the populace achieve a more secular perspective.

  3. KJ Il

    How about the Democratic People’s Republic of Pakistan…DPRP?

  4. Omer

    Dominion of Pakistan sounds way cooler…lets have a cool name!

    Or maybe just ‘Pakistan’ would/should do?

  5. Rashid

    NAP leader Wali Khan was only member of National Assembly who protested against 2nd ammendment and did NOT sign it. Impressive!

  6. yasserlatifhamdani

    Yes but sadly it did not stop him from insinuating that since Zafrullah, a Qadiani,wrote the Lahore resolution it was a British conspiracy…

    Still despite profound disagreements with Ibn-e-Bacha Khan…. I respect him for being a man of some integrity and a towering stature.

  7. gv

    if we have to change it i think Majumdar’s suggestion is the most simple and apt one..

    or even omer’s plain pakistan is good for me.. but dominion reeks of a colonial hangover…

  8. gv

    although the whole exercise seems so irrelevant…

  9. Pingback: NWFP History: Referendum and the Pakhtunistan demand - Pakistan Defence Forum

  10. mohammad

    Too long our political class tried to be on the right side of hypocrates likes of JI. ZA B was a man of principal but he made few bad decisions as well. I do not think changing name will mater to a layman pakistani, but if it is intended as a political smack for ‘mulla do piazza’ then it should be deliberated upon. Political class should be careful not to give mullas a non issue to die for. I think more pressing point is elimination of religion column from our passports.

  11. Milind Kher

    In our subcontinent, display of religion takes precedence over its actual practice.

    Given that, there is a need for people discard ritualism and take up spiritualism. That will genuinely help.

  12. wajid

    i hope other parties acknowledge this too. There would be fair chances of its approval if PML supports this proposal. remember it was Nawaz League – as an Islamic parties’ front – that changed the weekly off day from Friday to Sunday, amidst all the protest etc.

  13. wajid

    at the same time i wish the issue is not turned into some national sovereignty and Islamic identity crisis.

  14. Hossp

    Good idea but prematurely presented.

    In politics sometimes presenting an idea prematurely can cause its death. Lots of spadework is required for this to happen. A better thing would be to suggest to remove the Sharia laws form the constitution starting with the Anti-Women laws.

  15. Wikki

    ہزاروں خوہشیں ایسی کہ ہر خواہش پہ دم نکلے۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔

  16. Milind Kher

    @Wikki,

    Why the reference to “Hazaron khwaishen aisi?”.

    I have not understood the significance..

  17. yasserlatifhamdani

    milind sb,

    What Wikki is trying to say is what Iqbal said a long time ago… you know that masjid and shab bhar mein and so on and so forth …

    These fools think that by annointing Pakistan a superfluous Islamic Republic they can impose their theocratic agenda on Pakistanis. Pakistanis will always reject these fools Islamic republic or not.

  18. Milind Kher

    Oh. I agree with you. Intelligent and independent people cannot be tied down by obscurantists

  19. Wikki

    ANP & MQM regress from their stances, lol!

    جن پہ تکہ تھا۔۔۔۔۔۔

  20. Nusrat Pasha

    On a general note, the whole idea of an Ideological State and a State Religion is a fallacy. While a state or nation-state has physical boundaries, a religion has spiritual dimensions. So essentially, State and Religion are two distinctly separate spheres which coexist, but do not overlap.

    On a more specific note, with reference to the identity and genesis of Pakistan, the entity at risk was not the “Religion of Islam”, but rather the “Muslim-majority states” of the Sub-continent. After having exhausted all possibilities of securing a promising economic future for these states within an Undivided India, the persistently rigid and unaccommodating attitude of the Congress left Quaid-e-Azam with no other choice but Pakistan. The smaller bloc of the Muslim-majority states were at risk of being socially and economically subdued by the larger conglomerate of the Hindu-majority states. So, Pakistan was created not in the name of Islam, but rather in pursuance of a secure political, economic and social future for the inhabitants of the states that eventually became Pakistan.

    There is a colossal difference between creating a country in the name of Islam and pursing a secure social and economic future for Muslim-majority states.

    As late as November 14, 1946, which means merely 9 months prior to independence, Jinnah said, “….I am NOT fighting for Muslims, believe me, when I demand Pakistan.” Jinnah pursued Pakistan neither in the name of Islam, nor exclusively for Muslims.-majority states of the Subcontinent. By any standards, Jinnah was perfectly right – morally, legally and politically right – in doing so.

    CONCLUSION: Jinnah did not pursue an “Islamic” Republic of Pakistan, as is commonly claimed. There is a “huge” difference between creating a state in the name of Islam and securing a safe economic future for the economically vulnerable Muslim-majority states of the subcontinent. Therefore, State Religion comes nowhere in the scheme of things, when we talk with reference to Pakistan.

  21. Bin Ismail

    @Nusrat Pasha

    Endorsing your words: “Jinnah pursued Pakistan neither in the name of Islam, nor exclusively for Muslim-majority states of the Subcontinent”, may I add that the confusion is due to semantics. People generally fail to distinguish between the following 4 terms and interchange them with liberty:
    1.Islam
    2.Muslims
    3.Muslim-majority states
    4.Politico-economic wellbeing of Muslim-majority states
    Out of these 4, the latter is what Jinnah actually strived for.

    Jinnah saw the Indian states as comprising of 2 sub-categories:
    1.Muslim-majority states
    2.Hindu-majority states
    Of these 2, the politico-economic condition of the former was evidently precarious. Jinnah stood to struggle for them. He was essentially a pro-minority activist. Muslims were not the only minority who caught his eye. His concern for the community of the Untouchables was even greater. He said, “in the name of Humanity, I care more for them [the Untouchables] than for Mussalmans. ” [address at the All India Muslim League session at Delhi, 1934]. One could argue that this was mere rhetoric, but then how much of rhetoric do we otherwise come across in the dispassionately practical speeches of Jinnah.

    Moreover, Jinnah never envisioned Pakistan and India as rival neighbors, one representing Belief and the other Disbelief – certainly not. In November 1946, he said, “The two states [Pakistan and India] will be friends and will go to each other’s rescue in case of danger and will be able to say ‘hands off’ to other nations. We shall then have a Munroe Doctrine more solid than in America.”

    In short, the concept of an “Islamic Republic” was nowhere to be seen at the time Pakistan came into being.

  22. Khullat

    The fewer the prefixes the better. “Pakistan” without prefixes or suffixes, sounds beautiful.

  23. Nusrat Pasha

    An honest confession would be that we, as a nation, were a sinful lot even in 1947. The subsequent six decades have hardly seen us evolve into saints. The only difference caused by attaching the prefix of “Islamic” is that our sins have been validated and our wrongdoings sanctified – nothing beyond this. Removing this undeserved prefix could actually be a service to Islam. In the name of Islam, let us spare the name of Islam.

    “Republic of Pakistan” is just perfect.

  24. Sultan Ahmad

    If you cannot do it for Pakistan’s sake ,please do it for Islam’s sake.As a country we are in complete mess.Economically we are beggars.Socially we are even worst .Daily the whole world listens that so many people have been butchered on the streets of Pakistan .When you name this country as’Islamic republic of Pakistan’, it brings a bad name to Islam.Trust me if you call this country just Pakistan or Peoples Republic it will be a service to Islam.

  25. Bin Ismail

    Among all the nations of South Asia, we have to admit that Bangla Desh has lately shown the most impressive signs of pragmatism. While Militant Mullaism is on the rise in Pakistan with suicide bombings on a daily basis and Shiv Sena and other Hindu fanatical movements in India are eating away whatever was left of the mythical Indian secularism, Bangla Desh is showing renewed signs of a renaissance. Bangla Desh started off with Secularism, got temporarily derailed, but then was quick in correcting itself, and has now reoriented itself towards a secular outlook by repealing the 5th amendment of its constitution. Pakistan and India, both can learn a lot from Bangla Desh.

  26. Bin Ismail

    Incidentally, our sister-nation Bangla Desh is also called “Peoples Republic of Bangla Desh”. “Peoples Republic of Pakistan” sounds as good.

  27. yasserlatifhamdani

    Ironically only ANP has had the guts to introduce a note requesting the removal of the word “Muslim” in presidential qualifications.

  28. bonobashi

    @Bin Ismail

    Shiv Sena and other Hindu fanatical movements in India are eating away whatever was left of the mythical Indian secularism

    You seem to be approximately ten years behind the ball. The Shiv Sena and other similar bodies, like the Sangh Parivar, have had their day, they have peaked, and the signs of popular scepticism about their glib formulae of hatred and exclusion are clear to see. Except for those who don’t wish to see.

    Also, regarding ‘mythical’ Indian secularism, this was an ungracious and uncalled-for remark. Thinking Indians are among the first to observe that Indian secularism does not resemble western secularism, being all-inclusive, rather than all-exclusive, and being closer to the UK of today than to other examples. That does not take anything away from the fact that throughout the history of the current Indian Republic, secularism has been an ideal and has been sought to be implemented as best as could be thought through. That it seems to be capable of improvement in no way gives anybody the license to describe it as mythical.

  29. Bin Ismail

    @bonobashi

    A claim such as “…Shiv Sena and other similar bodies, like the Sangh Parivar, have had their day, they have peaked…” reflects positively on your optimism, but rather poorly on your pragmatism. Trends of religious intolerance can be more resilient than you would like to believe. It would appear rather premature to judge that “they have peaked”. It would more realistic “to be approximately ten years behind the ball”, specially when the ball needs approximately a decade to visibly appear.

    However, I must acknowledge that the Constitution of India is indeed a secular one, and in that respect admirable. I wish India every success in its journey towards achieving true secularism. I assure you of my deepest regards for your refined thinking, even where I may not share your thoughts.

  30. Nusrat Pasha

    @ yasserlatifhamdani

    “Ironically only ANP has had the guts to introduce a note requesting the removal of the word “Muslim” in presidential qualifications.”

    But unfortunately, nobody has had the guts to introduce a note requesting the removal of Article 2 of the Constitution, which states that “Islam shall be the State Religion of Pakistan.”

    Article 2 has served only as the perfect back door through which pro-theocracy elements have made their disastrous entry into Pakistani politics.