(My thoughts after reading this article on why “A Secular Pakistan is Closer to Islam”: http://t.co/TMPSx7R ) Good article!
Twelve years ago I remember examining the map of the world and wondering why Pakistan was only on good terms with China. After all, Pakistan was an Islamic Republic, and the nearby countries of Iran, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan were all Muslim majority countries, or so my Atlas told me. My eight year old self had learned grandiose ideas about a united Muslim ummah in school, in Islamiat lessons and Punjab textboard Urdu books.
Of course, while eight year olds are usually taught about the golden age of the khalifat in standard curricula, nobody really tells them about how Islam is not monolithic (72 sects, any one?), how Pakistan has a sizeable non-Muslim minority, how history is complicated, how Pakistan interfered in Afghanistan’s affairs and created a monster, or what caused the separation of East Pakistan and why superficial “Muslim-hood” can’t be a binding force.
Sadly there is an innate focus on “the other” in our society, and this might be the reason why the concept of a secular Pakistan is distasteful to a lot of Pakistanis. The idea of an “islamic republic” is like an analgesic for the political conscience of most Pakistanis. Regardless of the impracticalities and what happens when you merge the Church and State, the mass population is content with childish dreams of their own states.
The fact that each and everyone of us may have completely different ideas on the role of religion in the state, escapes most. Instead of focusing on the common ground of most religions, on ethics, on principles of honesty, truth, and justice, the political debate is tainted by talks of Sharia or no Sharia. Secularism would work in Pakistan because every one would be granted the basic right of freedom of religion; and why should this be objectionable to you?You will get your right, and so would another? To put it crudely, why should it concern you how others lead their own lives? Why should everyone act like a moral police, tiny regiments of the saudi muttaween? Shouldn’t the focus be on your own moral righteousness, not everyone else’s? Sadly the culture of “doosra kiya ker raha hai” pervades all things in the Land of the Pure.
While there remains a political focus on a reactionary dream of Pakistan and a denial about the country’s actions, how can the nation move forward?