For Quaid-e-Azam, Pakistan was just a creation of a nation where the majority of citizens would be Muslims like Algeria, Turkey or Egypt. After their independence none of these countries adopted theocratic rule
A few days back Prime Minister Gilani reiterated that the army is diligently defending Pakistan’s geographical and ideological boundaries. One would like to believe that Mr Gilani is just puttering the oft-repeated cliché of ‘ideological boundaries.’ However, a closer examination shows that the ruling elites, while trying to eliminate armed religious bands, are trying their best to cling to the ‘ideological boundaries’ defined by Ziaul Haq and his pro-theocracy allies led by Jamaat-e-Islami (JI).
There were several questions regarding ‘ideological boundaries’ that had to be addressed first before the implementation of the concept, but Zia and his groomed military-civilian leadership snubbed the opposing views for political expediency of that period. First and foremost the question was: which religious school will be followed in defining the ‘ideological boundaries’? Will it be the Islam defined by the Sufis or by the mullahs? Second, how will the different sects consent to a consensus about the boundaries and third, can Pakistan claim to be a modern state if the minorities are accorded second or third class citizenship?
The most powerful justification for imposing the ‘ideological boundaries’ is given by the slogan that ‘Pakistan was created for Islam’ or ‘Pakistan ka matlab kia, La Ilaha Illilah’. Before 1970 such slogans were very rare and Ayub Khan’s successful suppression, good or bad, of pro-theocracy forces — Maulana Maududi was sentenced to death and his life was spared due to external appeals — shows that religious forces were not in a challenging position.
The religious grouping could not gain credence because they had opposed the creation of Pakistan and the founder of the nation, Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, who was quite clear that Pakistan was not going to be an Islamic theocratic state. He was a westernised liberal person with routines that would be prohibited by Ziaul Haq’s defined ideological boundaries. I am sure the great Quaid would have spent his entire life behind bars if he had continued with his breakfast and evening routines. For Quaid-e-Azam, Pakistan was just a creation of a nation where the majority of citizens would be Muslims like Algeria, Turkey or Egypt. After their independence none of these countries adopted theocratic rule.
The slogan mentioned above was popularised to combat Zulifkar Ali Bhutto and his People’s Party. The religious parties and traditional ruling classes perceived Bhutto as a mischief-maker intent upon unleashing, intentionally or otherwise, liberal and progressive trends. As a matter of fact, when the JI popularised the slogan ‘Pakistan ka matlab kia, La Ilaha Illilah’, Habib Jalib gave the real meaning to this slogan in his very famous poem of the time in these words:
“Khait wadairon se lay lo, milein lutairon se ley lo,
Koi rehay na aali-jah, Pakistan ka matlab kia La Ilaha Illilah.”
(Take the land from the feudal and mills from the exploiters. No super-citizen should exist any more. This is the meaning of La Ilaha Illilah.)
Alas! Habib Jalib lost in defining the slogan and his opponents won even during Bhutto’s regime when he declared Ahmadis a minority, banned liquor and racing and designated Friday as a weekly holiday. Zia, supported and brought to power by the Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) — a joint front of mullahs, ruling elites with tactical military support — took Bhutto’s hypocritical Islamisation to its logical conclusion.
After the ideological boundaries were fully defined, whatever happened was against every big or small desire Habib Jalib had expressed in his memorable poem. Unlike 1970, land reforms, increasing labour’s share in industry, giving people shelter, bread, education and health services was never put on any party’s election manifesto or were never made the focus of the election debates. In the 1970 elections the atmosphere was so progressive that even the JI had to insert a limit on land holdings in its manifesto.
So-called strengthening of the ideological boundaries freed everyone of social responsibility and in a convoluted manner individuals went on a binge for personal gains. It was in direct contravention of Sufi Islam, where the individual was made responsible to himself and to fellow humans around him/her and the state or Shariah (state-imposed rules) had nothing to do with personal or societal well being. Sufi thought emerged as a revolt against the negative social experience under theocracy. The essence of Sufi thought sought love and liberation through personal efforts, leaving the worldly rule-making in the hands of the state. It meant that the state should be secular and religious practices should be left to individuals.
The Sufis’ experience once again proved its validity. Except comforting the mullahs by banning alcohol, prostitution, gambling, etc., the imposition of so-called ideological boundaries gave birth to every possible social ill. Not only the consumption of alcohol increased manifold, heroin and other fatal drugs became common. Prostitution, ousted from Shahi Mohallas, proliferated in every corner of every city. The only change that took place was that the police and civil administration increased their income from pimps and bootleggers.
Besides the spread of social ills, ideological boundaries gave birth to quite expected sectarianism. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Sipah-e-Sahaba, Tanzim-i-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) and many other sectarian organisations created havoc in the country, unleashing the murders of innocent citizens. And it was the reign of demonological boundaries that gave birth to Salafi Islam that created the Taliban and other types of jihadis. It is interesting that other than Saudi Arabia, no Muslim country has emulated the Salafi version of Islam. It is also noteworthy that this version of Islam, prevailing in tribal Saudi Arabia, has resonated in limited circles of Pashtun tribals (not among settled or urbanised Pashtuns) and nowhere else. Therefore, the entire gambit of ‘ideological boundaries’ and its impact has to be re-examined. Eliminating the Taliban or the armed jihadis is just the starting point and the deep rooted ideological troubles are not going to go away automatically.