Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Counterfeit coins

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

The grand old man of Jinnah’s Pakistan, the unparalleled Ardeshir Cowasjee, died last month. This great secular urban citizen of Pakistan has managed to blaze quite a trail for those who still want to see this country prosper and reclaim Jinnah’s idealism for Pakistan. Unfortunately, there continues to be no realisation of the precipice our deviation from Jinnah’s vision of a secular state has brought us to. Naysayers on both the right and the left continue to bulldose the memory of Mr Jinnah for their own petty self-interests. Cowasjee rescued the idea of Jinnah’s Pakistan from oblivion but, unfortunately, one Cowasjee is not enough to counter the tomes of misrepresentation that have passed for historical works in Pakistan.

One such distorter of history, purveyor of untruths and a platform for unimaginative bigotry is the Nazaria-e-Pakistan Foundation, which was founded by Ghulam Hyder Wayne in 1992 with a partisan agenda and was legitimised through an Act of the provincial assembly in 1997. This organisation, though established by a legislative Act, continues to be run as a personal fiefdom of Majeed Nizami who the Nazaria-e-Pakistan Foundation describes as a veteran leader of the Pakistan Movement (even though when Pakistan was formed in 1947, Mr Nizami was barely 19 years old). Religious rightwing and reactionary forces — aligned against Jinnah in his lifetime — have come to be the uncles of Nazaria-e-Pakistan (ideology of Pakistan) under the banner. The tragedy of Pakistan is that those who have slowly poisoned it with hate and bigotry claim to be its greatest patriots. There is no transparent and meritorious procedure by which one is admitted to the board of governors. It is simply a case of who fits the narrow-minded ideological agenda, and therefore may be admitted into this fold. Important figures actually associated with the Pakistan Movement far more than the self-styled leaders of the Pakistan Movement who do not quite fit Nizami’s myths about history, like Zafrullah Khan, the man who was tasked by Quaid-e-Azam as the Muslim League’s advocate during partition, have no place in the museum. The contributions of leftists to the Pakistan Movement including such men as Mian Iftikharuddin, Daniyal Latifi and Sajjad Zaheer have been brushed under the carpet. A number of mullahs, maharajas, nawabs and nawabzadas, who Jinnah referred to as ‘counterfeit coins’, jee huzooris (yes-men) and toadies of the British bureaucracy, are instead portrayed as the heroes of the movement in pictures at the so-called Aiwan-e-Karkunan-e-Tehreek-e-Pakistan. The subtle distortions of history to which we have been subjected has ensured that the great poet-philosopher, Allama Iqbal, has been gradually raised to the status of a founding father ahead of Jinnah. In due course we shall also see — mark my words — an inveterate opponent of the movement like Maulana Maududi being hailed as a founding father as well. Don’t be surprised when the principal patron of the organisation pulls that rabbit out of his hat.

So long as such people continue to act as jealous guardians of the ill defined and illogical ‘ideological’ frontiers of Pakistan, Pakistan will continue to go down the path of dissolution and destruction. In fact ‘dissolution’ is precisely the word Jinnah had used in a prescient comment to the Raja of Mahmudabad, when the latter was insistent on an “Islamic system”. Unfortunately, some people, fattened by the forces of the status quo and reaction, have hastened the dissolution of this country manifold. Nowadays, they claim to be democrats but one feather in Mr Nizami’s imaginary cap is that he was nominated for the Shura by General Ziaul Haq, the worst dictator this country endured. Many unworthy individuals have managed to install themselves as the guardians of our ideology by selling themselves to the agendas of dictators like General Zia. Just as there are war-profiteers in other countries, in Pakistan we have ideology-profiteers and religion-profiteers.

To the Majeed Nizamis of Pakistan, past, present and future, we must say: for God’s sake let Pakistan survive, let Pakistanis breathe. Have you not done enough damage to the soul of this nation? Have you not turned Muslims against Muslims in this country? Will you continue to drive us down a road to hell? Will you continue to encourage Takfir factories? Where will this end?

Let us face up to a few facts honestly as Pakistanis first and foremost. Pakistan is a terrible place for not just non-Muslims or women but for many mainstream Muslim sects as well. The prophecy that Ghulam Abbas, that great writer from the 1960s, had made in his short story “Hotel Mohenjodaro”, is coming true. The cannibalistic nature of the so-called Nazaria-e-Pakistan now threatens the very existence of this state. For all the noise about the ideological frontiers of Pakistan, at the end we would be left with only those frontiers. The writ of the state has been compromised all over Pakistan. We now need to seriously rethink our priorities and decide whether we want to allow this theatre to continue any further. The time has come for Pakistanis to take account of the facts honestly and without any misconceived notions about our ideological frontiers. An important step in that direction will be to either repeal the Nazaria-e- Pakistan Foundation Act of 1997 or appoint new people, people with a certain level of integrity and impartiality, as the caretakers of the Nazaria-e-Pakistan Foundation.

The writer is a lawyer based in Lahore and the author of the book Jinnah; Myth and Reality. He can be contacted via twitter @therealylh and through his email address yasser.hamdani@gmail.com

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