Pakistan’s first problem is that of identity. We have a firm belief that every successive generation has to redefine its identity and let it evolve with both, time and space. Evolution means that central core features of the past are preserved and new features are added in the new space and time. These new features and values in their own time will become both permanent and critical to the core identity or give way to the new ones. This is, and always have been the way of history.
The identity has to be shared and acknowledged by all. This, however, can only be possible if it holistically represents the needs, hopes, emotions, values, beliefs and practices of the people who adopt and endorse it. This then requires that the identity is defined by us, the people (and not any external agents), within the larger context of a nation- state.
The current generation of Pakistanis are standing at a crucial junction of their history. Amidst the ongoing national crises, marked by conflicts, not solely due to but mainly arising out of borrowed, misconstrued and confused identities, is an opportunity. It is an opportunity to reconstruct an all-encompassing identity that would permit integration of our differences and similarities into a harmonious national, regional and eventually a global project we call the “Pakistan ”.
Hence, the need is to ‘refine and update’ Pakistani identity for our generation, that is deeply rooted in historic identity but is somehow distinct from it.
That affirmation of the dream, therefore, is the first step on the path of reform for the people of Pakistan. This is the idea of Pakistan has not died yet. In fact it cannot die.
Pakistan was conceived in the name of Islam for Muslims, but not as a religious state to be ruled by priestly class or according to the dictates of redundant and archaic laws and structures.
The ideology was, and still is, to view Islam as ideology that inspires against obscurantism, subjugation and tyranny of one over another.
It was not the Islam of Ummayads, Abbasids or Ottomans. It was the Islam where Umar, ( about who Barnby Rogerson writes… ‘there is no one quite like him in all in the centuries of western history…Garibaldi, Lincoln, and Cato touch closest upon certain aspects of his character), used to address black ex-slave Bilal as ‘ Syed-Na’ ( Our Sir).
That dream then is to define Pakistan as a human state and make it exist as the rationalist
Muslim state inhabited by humans of different origins, race and colour without fear or prejudice.
Human state represents our idea of a principled and competent system. A system that embodies and implements the virtues of pluralism, tolerance, liberty and equity. It is a perfect melting pot of distinct ethnic, tribal, linguistic, religious and political identities, where all these converge into a collective identity that corresponds to “The Dream”. It is a state where human diversity is not only acknowledged but also reinforced. Is not Pakistan the perfect place for it? Different languages, different races, different traditions yet bound by same culture and one ideology.
It would be appropriate at this stage to write just a few lines about Muslims in undivided
India. Some Muslims, almost all in India, claim that the number of Muslims in an undivided India would have made a substantial minority and would have had more say.
That may be true. But would that have given Indian Muslims a state of their own to ‘ experiment’ their understanding of Islam ( ref Jinnah) and try to move forward in time and not be stuck in 1200 year old Sharia. Would Muslims in that state have been able to present a third way in competition with capitalism and communism? Would there have been an opportunity for institutional development to present a modern or postmodern face of Islam? Not that such has happened in Pakistan at present but we are talking about an opportunity? Would we be speaking Urdu a language of Mir, Ghalib and Iqbal or a heavily sanskitrised Hindi in the name of false secularism? Would we be able to say that we have a piece of land ( state in the modern parlance) where we can develop ideology of Islam as an answer to the existential crisis, both material and spiritual, facing the planet and human race? We can go on and on with these arguments but this is not the place for it.
Hence, it is a dream that will fulfill in the form of Pakistan as a progressive, post-modern nation state, that spearheads the development of Muslim and Human commonwealth.
And in the process helps make Humanity ready for the existential challenges that face human beings in the 21st century.
It is a state, whose intellectuals lead the new beginnings of Islam, to restore it back to its original human outlook, by taking it out of the clutches of Sufis, Ulemas, and Western influenced Liberals.
A state, where women are not tied to their stereotypical roles but instead are seen and treated as a human in thier own right with dreams, desires and ambitions. Where they have no boundaries to explore and redefine limits to both, their personal, social and national experience.
A state, whose young are educated, motivated, innovative and hard working. Hence, ready to take responsibility for their individual as well as collective future.
A state, where wisdom of the older generation is not left to relinquish and eventually fade out amidst the isolation of our own homes.
And finally it is a state where being human is a way of life, underpinned by the idea that all humans have been created equal by Allah and are such in the eyes of law; and where people of all beliefs can live together in a way that fosters appreciation of religious differences and recognition of human diversity.
The Dream, therefore, is to see Pakistan as a Nation that becomes a beacon of light and
hope for the world. A nation that can create, symbolise and emerge as the human
paradigm for the world to follow.
[This is a part of the article “Defining Pakistan I by Vision21]