Pakistan rectifying historical mistake?
by Rohit Srivastava on 21 Dec 2015 5 Comments
Last month, on 6th Nov, Pakistan quietly amended the service rule for appointment of persons to the post of sanitary workers/sweepers. Under the previous rule, only non-Muslims of minority communities could be appointed to these positions at the bottom of the social and administrative ladder.


The D.O. letter to all administrative secretaries from the government of Punjab, cabinet 1, says, “It has been observed that it is not only deemed discriminatory but also in violation of article 27 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973. In the light of constitutional requirement and international commitment to Convention on Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), there is a need to amend/remove any such discrimination”.


It took 68 years for Pakistan to realise that an insulting discrimination exists in the nation’s recruitment rules, that too, after it was pointed out by the secretary for Human Rights and Minority Affairs.


It is pertinent that the small numbers of Hindus and Christians who did not migrate (were not allowed to migrate) from Pakistan primarily belonged to the scheduled castes and were mainly engaged in janitorial works. Pakistan was very accommodating with them and the new nation of the ‘pure’ felt that non-Muslims were most suited for janitorial works.


Most observers across the world believe that the Islamisation of Pakistan began with President Zia ul-Haq. They mistakenly believe that the nascent Pakistani nation was not discriminatory towards non-Muslims in the early decades. But this is a flawed reading of Pakistani history. It is true that during the Zia regime the Islamic forces gained strength. The mullah and army developed a partnership and the concept of jihad as state policy came up.


But the era from independence to the end of the Bhutto regime was not devoid of Islamism. This is sheer romanticism stemming from President M.A. Jinnah’s politically motivated speech of August 11th, at the advice of General Ismay, that Pakistan will be a democratic state and religion will have nothing to do with the affairs of state. The reception to this speech inside Pakistan is too well known to bear repetition.


The stability induced by martial law under Gen Ayub Khan gives a superficial impression that all was well in Pakistan. Indians have been made to believe that it was Gen Zia and the military-mullah nexus which made Pakistan what it is today and that there exists a large section of society that is educated, liberal and has a secular world view. This is the view propagated by India’s pro-Pakistani liberals. But Pakistan was created for Muslims and was a political project of the Muslim elites of Undivided India.


In March 1949, the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan passed the ‘Aims and Objectives of the Constitution,’ popularly known as the Objectives Resolution. The idea was to frame the broader outlines of the constitution. The resolution, moved by Liaquat Ali Khan, begins, “In the name of Allah”, and goes on to declare the sovereignty of the entire universe lies with the Allah. The content of the Objectives Resolution was pro-Islamic and it outlined the Islamic State that Pakistan subsequently became. This resolution was opposed by the Hindu members of the Constituent Assembly and a few Muslim members, whose reasons were different.


On March 7, 1949, in his speech introducing the resolution, Liaquat Ali said, “we the people of Pakistan, have the courage to believe firmly that all authority should be exercised in accordance with the standard laid down in Islam so that it may not be misused... the Objectives Resolution lays emphasis on the principles of democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance and social justice, and further defines them by saying that these principles should be observed in the constitution as they have been enunciated by Islam.”


He left nothing hidden about the supremacy of Islam and Islamic values in the resolution and that these were to be the guiding principles for the constitution of the new nation. What Gen Zia did with the constitution of Pakistan was in accordance with the Objectives Resolution. It is a different matter that the interpretation of what is Islamic changes with the change in regime as every ruler comes with his favourite set of maulanas and it is these maulanas who define what is ‘Islamic’ for Pakistan.


The resolution met with severe opposition from the non-Muslim members of the assembly.  They proposed amendments which were rejected on the floor of the house. The amendments sought changes such as omission of the first paragraph declaring sovereignty lies with Allah; insertion of paragraphs stating that sovereignty belongs to the people of Pakistan, and so on. The idea behind these amendments was to eliminate the Islamic character and to assert the secular democratic idea as the guiding force of the new nation.


The amendments were put to vote and were defeated by 21:10. None of the Muslim members voted in favour of the amendments. Subsequently, the resolution was tabled on the floor of the House and was adopted. The division in the Assembly was clearly on religious lines and the prominent Hindus who supported Pakistan on the basis of regional affinities were given the clear message that Pakistan is for Islam. Mr Jinnah had succeeded in taking prominent secular Hindus of Bengal with him and this helped in securing a larger Bengal. He wanted the whole of Assam which had just two Muslim majority districts, but could not succeed. But his agenda was very clear, viz., to use the Muslim majority to hem in India from all sides barring the sea.


The then Congress leadership could not see the grand post-colonial design against India being implemented through Mr Jinnah. The transformation of a pork-eating, whisky-drinking, western-style aristocratic Khoja Muslim (considered non-Muslim by even Shias) to a charismatic Muslim leader is one of the greatest makeovers in the history of mankind. Much water has since flowed under the bridge, yet many liberal Indians still fall for the charade of a ‘liberal’ Pakistan even after it has become an Islamic Republic.


It is high time Indians come to terms with the real character of Pakistan and its objectives against India. Pakistan patronises and supports the secular liberals of India because they serve to keep the Indian people confused about the real Pakistan. As long as Indians are confused and as a nation we are unable to form a clear policy towards Pakistan, that country has the upper hand. India needs to discern the unbroken continuity from Jinnah to Nawaz Sharif and Raheel Sharif.


The end of the service rule for janitorial work might be the beginning of end of the institutional discrimination against minorities in Pakistan. But one cannot read too much into it as these are small mercies in the era of extreme Islamisation, generally undertaken to avoid international criticism. The abduction of Hindu girls and their forcible conversion is a painful example of how the Government of Pakistan appears helpless (or unwilling) to protect minorities in that country. In sum, the inability of the State of Pakistan to defend its minorities is enshrined in its Objective Resolution and India needs to acknowledge it.      

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