Dr Muhammad Khan
Sequel to War of Indian Independence-1857, the Muslim population of India was alienated by Colonial British rulers and the Hindu majority. This deep sense of alienation, discrimination and humiliation compelled the Muslims to think for their separate identity and ultimately a homeland of their own. The Urdu-Hindi controversy-1867 was the first major event, which forced Muslim leaders like Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, a great advocate of Hindu-Muslim unity to take a different stance. Hindus of Banaras demanded replacement of Urdu with Hindi and its Persian script with that of Devnagri script. Despite his efforts for reconciliation with Hindu leadership, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan had to say, “When even the language of a nation is not safe at the hands of other nations in a region, it would be unwise to continue living with them.”
In the later years, Muslims felt estrangement and a continuous discrimination even at the platform of ‘Indian National Congress’ established to take care of political rights of native Indians. Hindu leadership totally dominated this so-called liberal platform and used it for their political and socio-economic gains. Establishment of All India Muslim League-1906, the fourteen points of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah-1929 and Allahabad Address of Allama Dr Muhammad Iqbal-1930, gave further impetus for the establishment of a separate Muslim identity and a separate homeland for the Muslim of India.
Pakistan Resolution (Lahore resolution-1940) was a decisive milestone, which paved the way for a Muslim homeland and in later years, Pakistan became the destination of Indian Muslims, living all over subcontinent. Seven years from Lahore Resolution, on August 14, 1947, Pakistan became a reality. This indeed was the consequence of hectic efforts of our forefathers and painful history of Muslim discrimination.
Today, after 70 years of independence, Pakistan is facing a number of challenges. These challenges being faced by the state and society of Pakistan are even more crucial, uncertain, hostile and dangerous then our forefathers faced during Pakistan movement. Today, the anti-Pakistan nexus are more in numbers and lethal in cause and effect. They have both covert and overt presence inside and outside Pakistan. These challenges are both internal and external having intimate connections and linkages with enemies of Pakistan. The elements of extremism, radicalization and terrorism are only their tangible forms. The old rivals of Pakistan are now regrouping in a number of new forms and formats.
The strategies, these forces are adopting are very treacherous, aiming to destroy the very basis of the state and society of Pakistan. These forces want to defeat and destroy the social filament and the ideology of Pakistani nation. The social structure and ideological bondage of Pakistani society is being shattered through the promotion of ethnicity, sectarianism and radicalization. The past two decades have witness these tendencies in a more recurrent and rambling way. These factors have damaged the traditional coherence and harmony, the Pakistani society had for centuries.
Whereas, the rival forces could solely and gradually proliferate into the roots of the peaceful Pakistani society to create a fissure and exploit those subsequently, the political leadership, the religious scholars and intellectual/ academic classes were found wanting in playing their desired role of maintaining the harmony and coherence in the society. They also could not develop a counter narrative against the quite visible strategies of the anti-state forces. The Pakistani free media could neither conceive nor pursue a role it should have played for the promotion of national integration and social cohesiveness. Rather, at time, it becomes part of those narratives, which ultimately harmed the national integration, deliberately or otherwise.
Radicalization of the society by a selected class of the people while making use of Islam is a bigger conspiracy against the ideological basis of Pakistan. The foreign sponsored militants; TTP and many other militant groups are misusing Islam for promoting the objective of forces behind them. They get un-ending funds and weapons and equipment for misleading the youth of Pakistan, through a misconstrued form of Islam. This strategy has created extremism and terrorism in Pakistan, which has physically and ideologically damaged the state and society of Pakistan.
The military actions; like ‘Operations Zarb-i-Azb’ and ‘Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad’ though destroyed the organized basis of militancy, however, the splinter groups still find their way to cause bomb blasts/suicide attacks. The most recent being the Quetta attack on a military vehicle, killing 15 people including eight men of Pak Army. In Upper Dir area, four Army personnel including a major were killed through a suicide bombing. The security forces, especially Pak Army deserve a special appreciation for these achievements. Since Pak Army and other security forces have played their part, there is a need that, political forces, the religio-political groups, the religious scholars, the academia and Pakistani society must play their role in the consolidation of the gains, armed forces have attained.
As a way forward, there is a need to develop the counter narratives to what the enemies of Pakistan have been betraying the innocent masses for the past two decades now. Whereas, a selected political, intellectual and social class of Pakistan should formulate these narratives, the media should play a role in the promotion and exploitation of these narratives for defeating the enemy’s objective. Besides, let us strengthen the national integration and social cohesion among the Pakistani masses and transform the society to its basic norms of peace, harmony and political stability for an economically prosperous and strategically secure Pakistan.
— The writer, Professor of Politics and International Relations, is based in Islamabad.
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Dr Muhammad Khan