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Why not an egalitarian Pakistan?

36 42 60
14.01.2018

Even after 70 years of independence, unending, fruitless debates about the raison d’être of Pakistan’s creation are exasperating. The arguments to justify a state, purportedly created in the name of religion, yet a ‘Republic’, will always remain unconvincing. ‘Republic’ derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the general body of citizens and precludes monarchy and clergy. Pakistan, run predominantly under the laws enacted by colonial masters, till today is controlled security state where clergy is used to gag the sane voices.

Clergy’s oft-repeated claim (though totally misconceived) is that divorced from religion, politics is ‘changezee’ (chaos, anarchy and disorder). What Iqbal emphasises in couplet is entirely different — higher values (deen) should be part and parcel of governance. Religious parties interpret it to assert that politics and religion are inseparable. They conveniently ignore the first stanza — Jalali padshai ho ya jamhori tamasha. If both stanzas are read together, Iqbal debunks both monarchy and democracy, if sans ethics.

About 43 countries in the world have a state religion — Islam is the official religion in 27 countries in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa as well North Africa and the Middle East. Many state religions have roles that are largely ceremonial. Some have official religions primarily as a legacy of history. The issue in our peculiar context can be understood by examining the case of Bangladesh. In March 2016, the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, while reconfirming that Islam is official religion of the country, made it clear that the State is secular, pluralistic constitutional democracy. Earlier, the Court in its decision of July 28, 2010 barred the use of religion in politics. Bangladesh’s original constitution barred the use of religion in politics.

Many believe that dismemberment of Pakistan in 1971 exploded the myth that the “sole” purpose behind creation of Pakistan was........

© Daily Times