Ziauddin University organized the 6th interactive series of “ZU Dialogues”, titled “Jinnah’s Vision of Pakistan: You are free to go to your temples…” to get an opinion and analysis of the experts about Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s vision, religious freedom, democracy, equality, rights of minorities, social and cultural differences among ethnicities.

The dialogue session was moderated by Syed Muaz Shah, Director, The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, Ziauddin University. Prof. Dr. Syed Jaffar Ahmed, Director, Institute of Historical and Social Research & Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, Sohail University while talking about the historical context of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s Presidential Address to the first Constituent Assembly on 11 August, 1947 said that Quaid gave a vision of future Pakistan.

The main crux of his speech was that why India partitioned and at that point he cleared that because of angularities of minority and majority we partitioned. Mr Jinnah was trying to convince people that in India there was a likelihood of the majority becoming a permanent political majority and there was a possibility of the cultural minority becoming a permanent political minority. If communities are divided along cultural lines and if those cultural lines transform in political divisions. Definitely those divisions became permanent then we cannot think of one nation.

“There is an example of the sub-continent where we failed to build as a nation and then we have Pakistan where apart from majority and minority we all have equal rights and opportunities to grow further as a nation. Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan was a vision of a modern democratic state where parliament should be sovereign.”

“When Pakistan came into being at that time out of four governors of the country, three were Christians. Out of the three commandants of chief of the different forces all the three were Christians, the law minister of Pakistan was a Hindu and it would be the same law minister who would have presented the constitutional bill in the constituent assembly of Pakistan but unfortunately Jinnah Sir died in the three months after the declaration of the country this shows that Mr Jinnah was quite clear about the equalities of minorities and majorities”, he carried out.

While talking about objective resolution he said “objective resolution does talk about the people the federation and democracy see the framing of the words “sovereignty over the entire universe belongs to Allah Almighty” Congressman were sitting there; non-Muslims were sitting there in the constituent assembly and Mr Jinnah presenting a resolution to them that’s where the differences started from because it was taken in wrong context and presented as if we want only Muslims to live in this country. Which is totally wrong Quaid-e-Azam did talk about Islam but he never discourages the other religion of this country.”

Using the lens of famous landmark judgement delivered by chief justice Tasaduq Hussain Jlani in 2014, Peter Jacob, Executive Director, Centre for Social Justice, and Chairperson, Peoples’ Commission for Minorities Rights said “it’s been 7 years and 2 governments have completed their tenure and yet failed to work on the implementation of the Jilani judgement to setup a special task force for social and religious harmony, to make education of promoting peace, to setup task force for the protection of minorities worship places, establishing a national minorities commission to have a say in policy making. Even after having 20 hearings by the supreme court and 60 court orders. Not even a single cabinet meeting has been called or a parliament has discussed this judgement. They all seem to be so reluctant to those orders of the supreme court.”

“By taking all these in consideration we can see that what has built up over a decade (i) there is an extreme discrimination on the basis of religion (ii) there are certain laws which are instrumentalized by the religious lot here, by the sectarian and the violent groups, these are centers of intolerance against minorities. If we take the recent example of temple destruction at RYK, the blasphemy law was instrumentalized initially in order to get people attacked”, he further added.

“Particularly in 1992 the movement against the inclusion of column for religion and national identity that was mainly led by Christian lot and later it was joined by the Hindu politicians besides the civil society of Pakistan against the system of the separate electorates in the country and that’s how in 2002 you get rid of separate electorates in Pakistan”, Jacob explained.

On the topic of objective resolutions, he stated “General Zia-ul-Haq felt himself at the liberty to alter the objective resolution so he removed this word of “freely practice of religion” when it comes to the minority rights that’s why minorities want guarantee and the freedom, they got by law they actually want it to be practiced”.

This policy framework had been forgotten and alternative narrative and policy framework was evolved through the decades for Pakistan which did not subscribe to the vision of the democratic state it is more into a religious state that is why you see the imposed identity on the citizens of Pakistan was perpetuated in that time.

“The struggle is on by civil society. I am a great admirer of those who led this struggle for the respect of human dignity and rights of all people in the vicinity of Pakistan’s territory. it’s a great reminder that after 74 years still we are in the state of struggle and hopefully we will win this battle in favor of everyone for the glory, prosperity and democracy of Pakistan” he commemorated

Author

Arshad Yousafzai is a Karachi-based journalist covering Education and Human Rights. He can be reached on Twitter @Arshadyousafzay

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