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What is it to be a Pakistani

05 August, 2014

By Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd)


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I am almost 84, was 17 and a first year student when Pakistan came into being. Took part in Pakistan movement, saw, heard and even photographed Quaid e Azam (and Miss Fatima Jinnah) when Quaid addressed us the students of Edwardes College Peshawar on 18 April 1948 and the next day at Islamia College (now Peshawar University). I was a proud – nay - a very proud Pakistani then. In 1950 joined army when I could have easily become an engineer, a doctor or a Civil Servant in a new born country with abundant opportunities in all fields, but no, army with much lesser pay and many a hardship was the profession for the proud to serve the nation.  Fought three wars, became a POW, but still was very proud of being a Pakistani.

Then things started to happen. On September 7, 1974, in order to appease and placate the maulvis, ulema and mushaikh, Bhutto got the Ahmadies declared non-Muslims through an act of parliament. Imagine, the ba wazoo and ba shariat! sacrosanct politicians giving a purely religious edict on Islam as to who could be a Muslim and who could not be!! Friday was declared a close holiday, only to be annulled soon later. Alcohol, gambling and races were banned, but in reality all were and are still available aplenty. After Bhutto Zia tried to Islamise Pakistan further but did more harm than good. In the process he sowed the seeds of venomous sectarianism in the country that has divided the nation into Sunnis and Shias and  Sunnis and Sunnis. If you ask me today after 67 years what it is to be a Pakistani, believe you me I am one hell of a confused person.

First of all, I am not so sure of my real heritage, identity and history any more. On 14 August 1947 all my cultural heritage and ancestral roots were severed off from my past. Most of our elders, not in the very distant past either, were non-Muslims and, like it or not, cremated on the bank of some river of Hindustan. But soon after partition anything pre-partition was Indian and sort of unpatriotic to associate with.  So much so that even the everlasting pre-partition songs of Noor Jahan (Awaaz de kahan hai – Duniya mere jawan hai) who was born, bred and now buried in Pakistan were tabooed as Indian songs and not to be broadcast by Radio Pakistan. Not that we divested ourselves from the rich cultural and historic heritage of undivided India only, we also refused to own the past cultural heritage of the land now Pakistan that fell to our lot and which is spread over the centuries - starting from the pre-historic times to the present day. It comprises of the most ancient Indus Valley Civilisation, the Gandhara Civilisation and the Pre-Islamic Period. The world famous primordial cultural treasures of Taxilla, Mohenjo-Daro, Harrapa,  Takht Bai (Mardan), Pursh Pura (Peshawar) the city of flowers and capital of Emperor Kanishka and the Kafirs of Kalash (Chitral) are all alien to us. Somehow our history halts at 14 August 1947 and there from jumps straight to Muhammad Bin Qasim (710 AD) leaving a chasm of almost twelve centuries in between.

From there we bypass all the Ummayads, Fatimides, Abbasides and connect ourselves to the Khulfa e Rashadeen. Naturally Holy Prophet (SAW) is the ultimate but the period before him (SAW) is Zamana e Jahliat and we have nothing to do with it either. Thus our such acquired history with gaps and yawns is only 15 centuries old whereas the historians and the archeologists rate our region (Pakistan) as one of the most primeval historical lands of this globe.Then, am I an Arab, an Ajam, a Semitic, an Arian, a Mongol – ooops Moghal or a crossed Dravidian?  At least not an Arab as the Arabs simply do not accept a miskeen Bakistani to be one of them. So far for the history, culture, civilisation and the identity.

Next, I am not very sure of my religion either.  Am I a Muslim or not?  According to Justice Munir report of 1954 all 40 ulema belonging to different sects, who appeared before the Inquiry Commission declared every other sect Kafir and that his sect alone was the only sect that was Islamic.  Well .... that was then. But nothing much seems to have changed even now after more than half a century, that is six decades. Enforcement of the Islamic Shariah is being demanded not only by the Taliban, extremists and the terrorists but also by all mainstream ulema and mushaikh too. And, one of these days imposed it shall be.  But which and whose Shariah, that no one knows? This reminds me of a published article by Lt Col. Moin Rauf a few excerpts of which are reproduced here:

QUOTE:

1) According to mainstream Islamic Scholars, the Punishment of Apostasy (Irtadad – reversion to Kufr from Islam) is death. Since every other sect of Islam considers the other as Kafir, that means every Pakistani citizen would be liable to be killed in the eyes of the other Pakistani. In Pakistan, only 7% of Muslims believe Ahmadis to be Muslims, and surprisingly only 50% believe Shias to be Muslims. Therefore, all other people think that these sects are doing Kufar, and their punishment would be death under the Shariah Law.

2) Under the Shariah Law, the punishment for theft is the severing of the hand. In Pakistan, only 0.9% of the population pays taxes, which indirectly means that 99.1% of them are tax evaders in one way or the other, and since tax evasion is a form of theft against the government, Pakistan should get ready to chop the hands of 99.1% of the population.

3) According to the chief of Jamat-e-Islami and a large percentage of Muslims, the only way a raped woman can convict her rapist(s) is by producing 4 eye witnesses who actually witnessed the crime. Thus, when Shariah would be imposed in Pakistan, unless a woman would have 4 witnesses which is probably only possible if she gets raped in a market, else she should remain quiet. Or, she herself would be stoned to death for making the confession.

4) Since the punishment of blasphemy of the Prophet (S.A.W) is death according to mainstream Islam, and apart from 1.4 Billion Muslims, all other 5.6 Billion humans consider the Prophet as (Tauba Naoozobillah) untruthful and wrong, (or else, if they take him (SAW) to be true it would be tantamount to their saying  Ashhado anna Mohammad ur Rasoolillah  and thus accept Islam),  therefore, it would be obligatory upon us to wipe out all such blasphemous Non-Muslims from the face of the Earth. What greater blasphemy could there be than considering the Prophet as a (Tauba Naoozobillah) liar?

UNQUOTE:

My oh my -- which one sect out of the 72 or 73 shall go to Jannah and the rest to Hell? Pray tell me please and I would not waste a moment and without a second thought jump in to join it. I am sure so would all others do and that would weave us into a one nation 200 million strong. It would also make us a proud Pakistanis for a change.  Well, well ..... untill then, I would request all to abide by the Quaid's well considered advice of 11 August 1947 that he officially gave to the first ever Constituent  Assembly of Pakistan.  He said, "You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the State..... , because that is the personal faith of each individual".  Along with it I would love to see my very dear country making great strides by leaps and bounds in the economic field and turn herself into an economic giant.  For, if money is there so will be ! there everything else – be it  the welfare of the masses, the healthcare, education, communications, roads, bridges and buildings, Travel, Airlines, Shipping and ship building, industry & engineering, trade & commerce, science and technology, art, sports and culture, food and agriculture – you name it – would ALL be there for ALL proud Pakistanis to enjoy to their heart's desire.

Reader Comments:

Surprised reading such forthcoming column. It is time to wake up and accept what is right

brk, India - 18 August, 2014

You must be very happy in this chaos that agents of ISI Qadri and Imran Khan has plunged Pakistan into.Whenever there is chaos the chances of army to take over become prominent and army takes huge loans from US,WB,IMF on high interests make economy look better then sinks the country more into debts and despair.Pakistan army has been the cancer that is eating away Pakistan and the nation can't find way out of it.

Pakistani, - 19 August, 2014

Dear Col. Riaz Jafri,
After reading your mind through these black and white letters, I am delighted to write in Your Honour, that you indeed are a Blessed Human being .... And that is the Desired Objective of any Faith or Cult ... And BEYOND that you are Blessed to be Brave enough to voice your Abstract Vision which can both be Seen and Heard .... This world would have been a better place to live in if more people had Your Kind of Conscience and Conviction.
Regards,
A Mere Mortal

Rakesh, India - 26 August, 2014

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