Since Pakistan’s inception, we have been a nation crippled by a crisis of identity desperate to determine whether our flag comes before our faith. We like to owe our allegiance to the Muslim Ummah and attempt to tie our national interests with Arab concerns but in the process, we discredit the idea of being patriotic Pakistanis devoted to the service of a motherland land that we secured at an enormous price.
When Quaid e Azam created Pakistan, his sole purpose was to create a country where the Muslims of the subcontinent could practice their religion freely. The Quaid did not subscribe to the idea of projecting Islam as a political ideology and had no intentions of creating a theocratic state where clerics would hijack power and use Islam as a handy tool to exploit the sentiments of the Pakistani people.
Pakistan’s dilemma is its inability to reconcile the moderation of the masses and the extremity of fundamentalist factions that want to bring radical Islam in the main stream and are seeking to transform cultural attitudes, customs and values. This contentious struggle has weakened Pakistan as a state and has drained us of our political will and national vigor.
The true essence of Islam has never been recognized and Islam’s liberating and egalitarian principles have never been implemented in Pakistan. Instead religion has been exploited by miscreants who have used it to seek legitimacy for their illicit rule. Thus our country has moved away from improvement and towards deterioration.
Religious violence has been justified in recent times by religious language and though religiously-motivated ideology put forth by the Taliban and Al Qaeda who have conspired to propel extreme doctrines and fanatical practices that put Islam to shame. Such deep religious commitment has risen from an overarching religious view of the world which has inspired them to step outside the law to devise devious schemes aimed at achieving dangerous goals.
Based on credible historic and contemporary evidence one can firmly argue that more people have been killed in the name of God than for any other purpose. Religious differences are perhaps the most difficult to overcome; people can come to terms with their race or caste, but belief and faith are important issues both subjectively and objectively. Positive social forces always emphasize harmony and diplomacy as the surest way to resolve disputes, but when religious sanctity is projected to be at stake, it angers a whole social configuration-one that associates itself to that religion.
One of the greatest tragedies of our times is that the delicate balance between the Hindu and Muslim communities in India and Pakistan has been aggravated. It is still uncertain as to who benefited from all this; neither the Hindus nor the Muslims seem better off quibbling over whether a ‘mosque’ should exist on one specific piece of land or a ‘mandir,’ especially when both nations share a history and can not deny cultural and linguistic affinities and the enormous potential for growth.
In light of such developments one is compelled to wonder that if Islam awards supreme importance to virtue and piety then why don’t moral codes regulate conduct in Pakistan? Why is it that the observance of ethical norms is not grounded in our belief or worship? Do our actions denote the ideals that we stand for? Does it make sense to sit in seminaries and endlessly debate over arcane aspects of doctrine especially when we are aware that a clash can easily spiral out of normalcy and be detrimental to all factions involved in such controversies?
From my perspective, these misconceptions need to be addressed. A truer, more appropriate picture needs to be drawn, so that our understanding is not restricted to propagandized falsities, but extends to ground realities and rational objectives that can collectively be achieved. This would greatly avert the dangers of conflict but would obviously require people with clear-headed commitment, courage and integrity. But such people are seemingly, too rare.
As far as Pakistan is concerned, it can either adopt a realistic approach or refuse to acknowledge reason. If Pakistan has to align itself along the path of progress and prosperity, it must seize to be emotional. Duty to the nation is as significant as devotion to Islam. Hence we must break out of the shackles of extremism and evolve into an emancipated, progressive nation that understands the need for rectification and reform. Grass roots perceptions in Pakistan need to be altered positively for real patriotism to take root.
We must not allow anyone to incur damage upon our national integrity and distinction as a nation or else we will deprive ourselves of the respect we deserve among the comity of nations. It must always be remembered that Islam and Pakistan are not mutually exclusive but faith must not be allowed to take precedence over the betterment of the people. The exponential growth of radicals must stop and the profile of our country must be revamped to rein us into the world of change, cooperation, continuity and co-existence.