Syed Jaffar Ahmed, Karachi, Pakistan, May, 2009
Political Approach of the Indo-Pakistan Conflict
The evolution of the Pakistani Constitution after the Partition.
Now I would refer to another approach which certain political scientists have used. I would refer to Paul Bras who has worked on UP and he has tried to explain what Muslim separatism was and how it emerged. There it is shown that Muslim separatism was in fact the platform of those Muslims who wanted to garb out a place for themselves in the united India and initially Jinnah also worked towards that. Jinnah wanted a better place for the Muslims in a different environment of India, where there would be representative institutions, he thought Muslims could have to take a back seat. They should be given extra representation more than their mere size would have allowed them to have. This was not accepted by the Congress. Jinnah tried till the end. But finally he was so posed to the violence and so marginalized that he said then partition is the solution. Certain Indian historians are also saying the same thing. Now the other day I was talking about Dr. Ajeed Jawed and others who think that Jinnah was nationalist secular leader. But he was made Muslim Muhammedan leader by the leadership of congress.
I would refer to the speech of Jinnah on 11th Aug 1947, which we keep on referring to in Pakistan. This is a very important speech. Three days before Pakistan officially came into being he spoke to the constituent assembly of Pakistan. There he said certain things which were totally opposite of what he had been saying in the past. Now that Pakistan is coming to being we should begin a new chapter and we are one nation and there shouldn’t be any discrimination on the basis of religion. You are free to go to your mosques, to your temples, to your Mandirs or whatever your places of worships. The state has nothing to do with it. If you begin with this you will see that you will be first, second and last citizens of Pakistan. With the passage of time you would realize that these angularities of the minority community and the majority community would vanish and all of you would be the citizens of Pakistan. Now this was a recipe for a nation and a state, I would say. Certain people would say that his speech was a total u-turned from what he had been saying in the past (previously he was saying that we are Muslims, we have a separate nation, we have each and everything of what a nation is stands for, and now he is talking about one nation in Pakistan even though there were 40% Hindus in Pakistan in those days). Others would say that actually this is what he wanted to have in India also, but since in India this would not be realized he placed it before the constituent assembly of Pakistan.
What I consider is Jinnah was the liberal, was the moderate westernized person. State in Pakistan he stood for a liberal, modern, westernized democratic state. That was what he had in his mind. This could not realize. Jinnah’s death may be one reason. Even if he would have survived nobody knows what would have happened in the country. May be the same things happened which happened in reality. Why did this not happen. I would say there were two or three major reasons.
Pakistan basically was a type of a country which a state had to be built. It had to be a contractually state, it had to be a constitutionally state. It was not a historically state. So, there was an extra importance of a contract between the people of Pakistan, between different provinces of Pakistan. That contractually state could not re-establish in the country. The reason being the two most important and most powerful institutions of the country; civil and military bureaucracy. They took hold of of their state. To the exclusion of the politically they established their type of a state. They were overly obsessed with competition with India. They had in their mind that perhaps India would not let us survive. Therefore they established a national security state rather than modern democratic social welfare state. So all the policies and all the preferences of the state were geared towards national security. And India was always there in front of these institutions.
Siddharta: The India Phobia: Was that kind of confined to a kind of military elite etc. or was it something much larger than that. Did the Kashmir issue dominate Pakistani political life permanently from Jinnah’s time onwards?
Not in the beginning. I would say that in the beginning it was over all a fear of India not in the theater of Kashmir but it was believed that India would not let us survive. This was the feeling of the senior bureaucrats of Pakistan that we would not be sort of allowed to survive. And we should do whatever we can. That is why they were anxious to go towards US. And that was the reason they invited military in the state alliance, because originally military was not in the alliance. In the first two or three years it was the bureaucracy, which run the show in Pakistan in the cover of governor general Muhammadali Jinnah and later Ulam Muhammed. In 1950-51 Military also joined this alliance. In 1954 they entered into SETO and SANTO. This alliance was developed with US. So this was the belief of military bureaucracy. that for our survival democracy and social welfare should have secondary position; we need arms for our survival. That is why they went to US also.
Here comes the role of Islam. I would say that in the beginning our state was not that weak in terms of legitimacy. In the first 10 or 11 years you will not find much of usage of Islam except that in 1949 the constituent assembly passed the objectives resolution where we said that the sovereignty of the entire universe belongs to God almighty who had transformed the legitimacy to the people of Pakistan and the people of Pakistan would use this sovereignty through their elected representatives. That was one document in which you would find talk of Islam. That was I would say that the need of Jaffad Alikhan rather than the need of the state as such. He was weak enough without any constituency in Pakistan he had to face the legislators from Bengal, Panjab, Sindh and Frontier. In order to strengthen his position he got the support of the representatives of the clergy. So this was more of the need of Jaffad Alikhan rather than the state.
Nature of the constitution:
The first constitution was made nine years later, in 1956. Throughout these 9 years there was Govt. of India 1935 which was adopted as interim constitution. Within the domain of constitution making also the major issue was not religion but was representation. Bengal having 54 % of the population wanted representation in all the institutions of the state on the basis of their population which was not acceptable for Punjab and for the Mahajirs. Both Punjabis and Mahajirs dominated the bureaucracy. Military was dominated by the Punjabis and Pattans. So these ethnic groups were in a way hindrance in constitution making. Throughout these nine years it was bureaucracy which was ruling the country. One of the most secular documents of Pakistan’s history was the enquiry committee report of 1953. In 1953 anti-khadiani riots in Punjab and as a result of which martial law was imposed in Lahore and soon after there was a tribunal was constituted with an enquiry committee with justice Munir and justice kyani. It held its session for many days and invited all sessions of ulemas and asked questions about Islam, fundamentalism, definition of Islam, what you suggest should be the role of the Muslims now living in India. They came out with a report (Munir Enquiry Committee report) which is eye-opener in which they show that there is no one issue on which the religious priests have consensus. They did not agree even on the definition of who a Muslim is.
In 1958 Martial law was imposed. Ayukhan ruled about 10.5 years. Even during his time we don’t see much of the usage of Islam for the purpose of legitimacy of the State. Astharik Ali has written in his book the only good decision taken by him was the Muslim family law ordinance passed in 1961-62 in which if someone wanted to have a second marriage it was made compulsory on him to get permission from his first wife. Get this registered in the local body office. Ulemas came out on the street and said this is unislamic. But he stick to his position and that remained in the book. Then in 1964 new constitution was introduced with the title of ‘Constitution of republic of Pakistan’. There is no word ‘Islamic republic’ as it was in 1956 constitution. When the national assembly met in its very first session an opposition member belonging to Jamate Islami stood up and said how come the constitution has given Pakistan the name of republic of Pakistan it used to be Islamic republic of Pakistan in the previous constitution. Perhaps law minister Mazhur then said that this is omission and we will get it printed in the next copy. The first constitutional amendment was passed in that very session in which the name of the country was changed to Islamic Republic of Pakistan. That shows that even during Ayukhan’s time there was not much of talk of Islam. 1965 war was in a way a turning point when Ayukhan took Islamic slogans, we are the soldiers of Islam, and have attacked us, the Hindus do not know who they have challenged; we take the name of Allah who is supreme. That was a symbolic turning point. Then 1971 East Pakistan crisis developed. General Yayakhan who fought this war handled the whole East Pakistan issue on the basis of Hindu-Muslim rivaltory. In his political language, Bengalis and Hindus were synonymous that the Hindus are committing this conspiracy.
Moreover in 1970 elections religious organizations could not do well. In the 1970 election there was a debate on Islam and socialism in Pakistan. Mr. Butto was talking about socialism. Mujib Rahman was also talking about socialism. Religious organizations was declaring it as anti-Islam (120 ulemas had given fatwa decree saying that socialism was anti-Islam). Despite all that Socialist party won the election. Jamat Islami got only 4 seats out of 300 seats in the country.
During the military operation Yayakhan used jamat Islami and jamate islami formed groups who collaborated with the military. That is how for the first time the state used religious organizations for militant purposes. Then Butto came to power. Though he was liberal, secular, enlightened as far as the state policies are concerned he institutionalized the use of Islam for the purposes of the state. In 1973 a new constitution has given to the country with the name ‘Constitution of the Islamic republic of Pakistan’ and also said in a clause that Islam would be the state religion of Pakistan. Nowhere I would say in constitutions of the world a state is made Hindu or Islamic or Jew. Then there are number of clauses/institutions which gave religion a role in the state draft. In 1974 Butto declared the ahmedis as non-Muslims. In order to do this he used the parliament. Ahmedis/khadiani is originally a sect of Islam. They are just a few in Punjab. Pakistan has 97% Muslims and others are just 3%. Khadianis will come in this 3%. Socio-economically they were quiet prosperous at the time when they declared Khadiani. Now due to discrimination they are not taken to military, bureaucracy, etc. It was made compulsory on them that they change their nomenclature; not to call their masjid, masjid, not to have Muslim names.
At the social level another important thing happened was Pakistan’s tilt towards middle-eastern countries. After the separation of East Pakistan there arose a debate in Pakistan about Pakistan’s identity as a Muslim country.
Was it the compulsions which made Butto to take these decisions?
Butto was someone who wanted to have most of the power. Wherever he could get power he wanted to have that. He did things which please military and religious class to get their support. The middle-east tilt was on the one hand a compulsion and on the other hand there was certain deliberate attempt in identifying Pakistan as part of middle-east. In 1973-74 we have the biggest newspaper in Pakistan used to publish articles of who used to write that Pakistan was not a part of the subcontinent. In the past we were part more of central Asia. Now we are part of Middle East and we should look towards the Middle East. This Middle Eastern identity was fostered in our labourers and then due to the compulsion of situation three million Pakistanis went to work in the gulf religion that became an organic link between the two regions. I often say that in the beginning of 20th century the Punjabis and Sikhs went to Canada and got involved in trade union activities and they brought those back to India and we found politics of rights taking place in India. Our 3 million Pakistanis went to sharja, abudabi etc these were even worse than Pakistan as far as the politics of rights and democratization were concerned. So these people got involved in the consumer economy and through them consumerism came to Pakistan. Arabisation too. This was a major thing.
Role of Saudi Arabia in Pakistan’s affairs. Butto involved eastern countries in the politics of Pakistan. Social channels were created. Beginning of institutionalization of Islam. Then came islamisation of banking, courses, economy. He brought advisors to Pakistan from eastern countries.
The breakup of Pakistan and separation of East Pakistan had been a great setback for the secularization and democratization of Pakistan society. The major threats of democratization and secularism came from eastern countries. Even National Awami Party-NAP diluted their perception of secularism. When NAP was banned in 1975 they formed a new party called National Democratic Party-NDP. NDP cleverly took secularism out from its manifesto saying that we do not accept any law against Islam. In Pakistan the regional autonomies were always been secular but all central parties has somehow become pro-Islam and anti-secular. So, there has been a tradition of secularism and tradition of resistance of all these attempts. But gradually these decreased.
During the time we see another phenomenon of depoliticization of the society. Throwing away the political leaders outside the country. Benazir butto was sent abroad. Absence of national leaders made it rather difficult for their organization to do their type of politics.
Role of US: In Pakistan the whole phenomenon of Islamisation of the state and society cannot be addressed without referring to the role of US in 1950s and 60s. US made deliberate efforts to use Pakistan in the name of Islam against the communist threat. Yaffat alikhan’s speech in US: I have come to build a spiritual bridge between US and Pakistan. That has been built! Communists were not a threat for Pakistan. US felt threat both from China and Soviet Union. Pakistan wanted to play a role in this game because they thought that these equipment which we would get from US would be used against India. Pakistan thought that we will never be given arms if we ask it for fighting India. To ally ourselves against communist threat would give room to get whatever arms we want. In 1965 when war started US abundantly gave arms Pakistan and India both. Pakistan couldn’t get military aid from US. And on that Mr. Butto wrote his famous book: ‘Myth of independence’, where he wrote that « we did whatever we could for US and when it came a critical situation for us US did not help us against India ». US’s role is very crucial, particularly when we come to the afghan jihad. Billions of dollars were poured in Pakistan and Pakistan’s agencies were used for that purpose. Islamabad became a centre for CIA. Nine militant organization of Afghan were funded by US. The course books taught to the Afghan children in the refugee camp were published from Philadelphia and other places of US, where they teach ‘A’ for Allah ‘J’ for Jihad. US have played a criminal role in making south Asia what it is today.
Since we were concerned about how to negotiate with religious groups and how to engage these groups I will speak from the point of view of someone who pretends to be a secular. I would say that in the first place the religious groups which matter in these days in Pakistan are militant. It is very difficult to bring them to a dialogue table. Because they believe in a paradigm where dialogue doesn’t matter. It has no importance. They are self-righteous people who are following Koran. What they talk about the seculars they will not talk to other religious groups. Moulavi of Sawad, Sufi Muhammed, clearly said he would not pray behind Jamate Islami. He is not prepared to get into dialogue with other religious group. Then how can he be compelled to come to a dialogue table with liberal and democratic. He clearly says that he doesn’t believe in democracy; it is Kaphir. If the constitution of Pakistan is talking about democracy it is also Kaphir. We are all (Secularists) infidel in his eyes.
Sufi Muhammed’s influence in Sawad was recognized and that is why an agreement was signed between them and the government of Frontier. It was agreed that once this agreement is signed and his types of codes were established in Sawad then the Taliban would surrender their arms and leave Sawad. Soon after this agreement was signed and the codes were established and regular codes were abolished, the Taliban moved to another area along with their arms and it was written on the walls that now this is going to be another Sawad! These are Pakistani Talibans. They are Pattans who speaks Pashtu. The whole nomenclature they have introduced in their Khasi codes is Pashtu.
Over the years those religious groups of Pakistan tilted from academic, writing and literature to militancy. Those religious groups which were not militant were all now taking into militancy. In the last five or six years they have realized that all their resources are being spent to the Wahadi Jihad groups in Frontier and they have been wiped out from Frontier by the Wahadi group. Now they have started looking for becoming militant. Saudi Arabia is funding them. There are other local sources also. There was a political Sunni group which was taking part in election and they used to go to the parliament. They were not at all militant. Now a militant Sunni group also emerged and trying to have their hold in certain part of Karachi. That is why they are talking about talibanisation.
The situation in Pakistan is quiet complex; it is not very simple. I ask myself a question what the seculars can do in this environment. I do not know what the religious groups should do and how should they come closer to each other. And how they should resolve the whole thing. I think that the seculars too have its space in Pakistan; sufficient space in Pakistan for them to heard. Unfortunately they have not taken their responsibilities seriously. They go for their establishments. They go for their elitist interest. They forget that despite all these an ordinary Pakistani is secular in its ethos. This is something on which we can build a future provided we have a genuine, secular, democratic wise leadership available in the country.