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Thursday, September 13, 2012

The 65 Year Old Infant Part 5

Original Article: Daily Times
Date Published: September 13, 2012
Original Link: http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012%5C09%5C13%5Cstory_13-9-2012_pg3_4


First and foremost a heartfelt note of gratitude to many who have appreciated a novice like me and my efforts to direct our attention towards our flailing ideology on life support. Those re-tweets on Twitter and personal e-mails tend to uplift my spirits. When I wrote the first instalment, I was not expecting that it would end up in an amateurish thesis.

Therefore, without further delay, I would like to present some solutions to our dilemma, of course in my very own 'simplistic style'. In the last four weeks, I have exposed the gaping holes in our 'two-nation theory'. It has always struck me that we badly need a revision of that failed ideology. Nothing would be more apt than what I will introduce as a 'One-Nation Theory'. The fundamental problem with the existing two-nation theory is that it assumes that Pakistan is solely inhabited by Muslims; thus in essence, it completely sidelines any non-Muslim as an equal citizen.

What the one-nation theory will truly stand for that is all Pakistanis, regardless of who they are, what they believe in, what language they speak, what heritage they have, what colour, caste or creed they have, will all be one, with no concept of majority or minority. It will be utterly criminal to invoke any preferential or discriminatory practice of any shape. A rich and influential person will not be able to trample the rights of any poor or weak person, as the system will never allow such malpractice. All citizens will be equal, with equal rights, equal protection and equal responsibilities.

My critics will jump in and exclaim what is so unique about this? It is like this right now, all Pakistanis are the same. We all know that if that were the case, then we would not have been in such a pathetic state. These are folks trying desperately to cover the casket, which is so clearly visible to the rest of us. The most ironic thing is that these folks accuse people like me of being 'traitors' to their motherland and by extension, to our faith as well. Anybody with a tiniest brain cell if it is still alive can easily decipher that the present status quo contradicts everything that our faith stands for. On the other hand, what the one-nation theory proposes is the real essence of our faith. The highlight of this ideology is that it encapsulates all the fairness that has been repeatedly emphasised in the Holy Scripture as well, without alienating a single citizen.

Does it mean that people with their regional identities will have to compromise their respective identities? Not completely, I would suggest, but we cannot and should not let the regional identities ever trump the basic 'national identity'. That is the key. This is where some of the confusion lies. In the present ideological sphere, try engaging people about their true identity. You will get a very misleading response, perhaps like this. I am a Muslim first, then I am a Pakistani. The questions I often raise get me either scorn or empty stares, or I am asked, "So are you trying to tell me that you have to be a Muslim first to be a Pakistani? What if you are not a Muslim then are you not a Pakistani? What about millions of Muslims who are not Pakistanis, are they still Muslims?"

The problem with people solely leaning on religion to create a unified and cohesive nation cannot get any clearer than the generic conversation listed above. It is time to create an unbiased, unprejudiced, unwavering, unyielding and just nation, based on fairness and equality. Yes, I do get lectures from my critics that my faith propagates all of that. What they fail to realise so conveniently is in practice it is not so. Then I get the canned excuse of we are so far away from the 'deen'. Once we all become 'good Muslims' all will be fine. Then when I raise the question of who will decide if one is acting like a good Muslim, it evokes a similar reaction as listed above. Almost instantaneously comes the textbook defence, "Well once we have the Shariah law, government will do all that." I smile and probe further, "What if the majority opposes the Shariah law, then what?" At that point, the discussion usually turns into a heated argument because the typical person only sees it from an extremely myopic angle of their faith. When I remind them that Pakistan is not a theocracy but a democracy where the majority gets to decide, so if the majority opposes something, not out of their disrespect or disdain towards the faith but their fear of subjectivity and over-intrusion of the state in their religious affairs, then where lies the solution?

I have no doubt in my mind that the one-nation theory is the need of the hour. It will pacify many who feel disenfranchised and alienated from our richly diverse nation. We will emerge as a strong, united and dedicated country, where people will not have so much negative baggage at all times. I hope that some legislator is reading these lines and I honestly wish that he or she introduces a bill on the floor of the house.

I will repeat myself here once again. When I wrote the first instalment in the shadow of Independence Day, I had no idea what I had touched. This topic is so near and dear to my heart and I have a bit more to say, so long as you are willing to listen.

(To be continued)
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