By Yasser Latif Hamdani
(This post is solely my opinion. Other PTH editors, in particular maker-founder Raza Rumi and leading editor Raza Raja, have nothing to do with it. I want to make it clear so that they do not feel compulsively compelled to apologise on my behalf again- YLH)
A blog that is (un)critical of PPP, supports (un)secularism, defends organised religion and PPP’s policy of imposing Maulana Sherani- a right wing Islamo-fascist- on the nation has further exposed just how confused these “critical” supporters of the PPP are. In an interview with Nadeem Farooq Paracha, a liberal par excellence and a real hero to all people fighting for sanity in Pakistan, they asked a question that laid bare just how terribly ignorant of history and how bankrupt their ideas are. PTH’s leadership has in the past surrendered to this blog.
“LUBP: Also, can we choose to ignore our nationalist leaders like ZAB, BB, Bizenjo, G. M. Syed, Haider Bux Jatoi and Bacha Khan and their appeal to the masses in our combined struggle for a secular Pakistan or can secularism be constructed simply from Jinnah’s August 11th speech to the Constituent Assembly?
NFP: Legacies – secular or theological – need to be looked and studied critically to see what went right or what went wrong during the time those people associated with the legacies were doing what they have become famous or infamous for.
Of course one can’t but respect the politicians that you have mentioned, but I’d rather look at their weaknesses and vulnerabilities in trying to construct whatever they thought was secularism, or progressivism or liberalism. I am specially critical of ZAB in this respect.
But the truth is, secularists and liberals in Pakistan must stop looking backwards for inspiration. It’s an entirely different Pakistan today. A Pakistan on the brink of turning itself into a Somalia or a myopic, widespread reactive society that instinctively and without much thought is seen to applaud populist narratives brimming with isolationist, intolerant and delusional notions of patriotism, politics and faith.
Like I said, enough of the apologetics. I personally have no doubts about me being a Muslim Pakistani. I believe in God, but why should I have to wear my beliefs on my sleeve? I’ve seen young people wearing T-Shirts saying, ‘I am a Muslim.’ But who is doubting that? I never thought that they were Martians, so why the exhibitionism?
I am a believing Muslim who is a staunch secularist. I do not see a contradiction in this. I do not have to evoke my belief in God, or prove how Jinnah was also a secularist, to make my point.
My points should be proven in showing how the whole idea of a theological state has been disastrous for this country, over and over again, and how if Pakistan has to advance and survive as a cohesive state in the future, it can only do so through democracy and by having a progressive relationship between all of its many ethnicities, religions and sects and with the world at large.”
Now the aforesaid italicised part is ironic… to say the least (and NFP has hinted to it albeit in dabbay chuppay ilfaz).I agree with NFP’s response. However let us try and understand the incredible mindset of the LUBP fascists…. tomorrow if NFP will condemn the attack on Sherry Rahman they will abuse him as “ISI” stooge and pseudo-liberal.
First of all ZAB and BB were not nationalist (as in linguistic or ethnic nationalist) leaders, they were Pakistani nationalist leaders. ZAB’s policies in Balochistan etc prove this point whether you support him or oppose him. Furthermore it is forgotten that ZAB was an ultra-Pakistani nationalist- his views as expressed in the 1960s and 1970s would warm the hearts of people like Zaid Hamid… his role in the 1965 war (that turned two peaceful neighbors into warring parties), at Tashkent… his declarations of a 1000 years war with the Hindus… all were contributing factors to irreparably irrevocably wedding the conception of Pakistani Nationalism to anti-India sentiment.
Nor was Z A Bhutto a secularist in any sense of the word. ZAB got Pakistan to introduce Islam as a state religion (both the 1956 and 1962 constitutions had no reference to a state religion). ZAB involved Maulana Maududi in the constitution-making and met him in Lahore’s governor house. ZAB’s backstabbing of the Ahmadis is also well known and spoken about. It was ZAB who banned alcohol and horse racing and gambling in Pakistan and it was ZAB who made Friday the weekly holiday. Ironic that ZAB is now being touted as a nationalist and secularist leader… but in 1970s, he was attacking ethno-nationalist leaders like Wali Khan (Bacha Khan’s son) for being against two nation theory…. how ironic that Wali Khan defended himself by referring to Jinnah’s 11th August speech and claimed that his party was committed to Jinnah’s conception of Pakistan. The entire record is listed in Justice Dorab Patel’s book “Testament of a liberal”… (and before LUBP denounces Dorab Patel as evil ISI stooge let me point out that Dorab Patel was one of the judges who opined against Bhutto’s death sentence). Bhutto even castigated Mujib ur rahman for making Bangladesh Secular and was in touch throughout with the conspirators who assassinated Mujeeb ur Rahman. Read Stanley Wolpert’s Zulfi Bhutto of Pakistan to confirm. And let us not forget, it was Bhutto who started the Islamic insurgency against the left-leaning Afghanistan government, a policy that his handpicked general and executioner the bigoted General Zia took to another level.
Benazir Bhutto – her hate-India rhetoric notwithstanding and despite her role in creating the taliban – was a much better leader than Zulfikar Ali Bhutto…. she was committed to a truly plural and democratic Pakistani society. She was however a Pakistani to the core and nothing in her outlook represented narrow ethno-nationalist considerations. It is a great tragedy that she was assassinated and unfortunate that she did not get the opportunity to govern for a third term. It would have saved the PPP and a genuine secular PPP might just have emerged under her sane guidance and leadership. At the very least we would not have ANP’s attempt to hijack the PPP as is obvious from the blog in question.
Bacha Khan’s supposed secularism has been discussed elsewhere. Perhaps his apologists ought to also revisit Bacha Khan’s alliance with Fakir of Ipi (whose grandson now is a leading member of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan).
The unkindest cut of these little knowledge types is that they claim – much like their Mullah counterparts- that those who refer to Jinnah only refer to his one speech. This is a blatant and shameless lie. Only Mullahs and the Neo-jiyalas continue to put it up. For this I recommend that the readers here should revisit this argument which has been discussed in some detail.
Jinnah’s secularism remains relevant not because a few people admire Jinnah or revere him (and this author is a self-professed admirer and follower of the Quaid-e-Azam) but for the same reason that Wali Khan cited Jinnah in his defence. Wali Khan’s argument was that if Jinnah is considered the founder of the country, the country ought to follow his ideas as clearly expressed at a time when the constituent assembly was about to start work on constitution-making. By understanding the 42 years of Jinnah’s political history which saw a committed and determined secular Indian nationalist transform- at the end of his life- into a champion of Muslims and an advocate of Pakistan one can de-construct the Islamic ideology that the state has imposed starting with Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and PPP’s 1973 constitution.
Unfortunately championing ethno-nationalists will never help the liberal or secular cause. Wali Khan welcomed General Zia’s coup because Zia over threw Bhutto who had persecuted Pushtun Nationalists. Bacha Khan’s letters to General Zia about the re-naming of NWFP shows that Bacha Khan was ready to go along with Zia if he renamed the province. Bacha Khan’s son Ghani Khan accepted presidential medal from General Zia. It must also be remembered that ANP – the so called secular party today- had willingly joined the PNA alliance which had promised to impose Islamic law on Pakistan and which started a movement funded by Pakistani establishment against the PPP. How ironic that today the same people are owning up to Bhutto and are also turning a blind eye to his flaws.
This author has voted PPP in all elections but not because the author is blind to PPP’s flaws. It is because PPP represents the lesser of all evils in Pakistan. It is a federal party that is liberal to a certain extent. However its policies increasingly show that it is now giving up both planks on which Pakistanis who want a liberal and democratic framework support it. Babar Awan’s statement represents this mentality. So does the attempt by ANP to hijack the PPP.