Saturday, 2 August 2014

What is it to be a Pakistani, by Col Riaz Jafri (Retd)

What is it to be a Pakistani, by Col Riaz Jafri (Retd)

 I am 84, was 17 and a first year student when Pakistan came into being. Took part in Pakistan movement, saw, heard and even photographed Quaid e Azam (and Miss Fatima Jinnah) when Quaid addressed us the students of Edwards College Peshawar on 18 April 1948 and the next day at Islamia College (now Peshawar University).  I was a proud – nay - a very proud Pakistani then. In 1950 joined army when I could have easily become an engineer, a doctor or a Civil Servant in a new born country with abundant opportunities in all fields, but no, army with much lesser pay and many a hardship was the profession for the proud to serve the nation.  Fought three wars, became a POW, but still was very proud of being a Pakistani.

Then things started to happen. On September 7, 1974, in order to appease and placate the maulvis, ulema and mushaikh, Bhutto got the Ahmadies declared non-Muslims through an act of parliament. Imagine whatever the reason the ba w! azoo and ba shariat sacrosanct politicians giving a purely religious edict on Islam by simply voting as to who could be a Muslim and who could not be!!

Friday was declared a close holiday, only to be annulled soon later. Alcohol, gambling and races were banned, but in reality all were and are still available aplenty.  After Bhutto Zia tried to Islamise Pakistan further but did more harm than good to Islam.  In the process he sowed the seeds of venomous sectarianism in the country that has divided the nation into Sunnis and Shias and Sunnis and Sunnis.

If you ask me today after 67 years what it is to be a Pakistani, believe you me I am one hell of a confused person. First of all, I am not so sure of my real heritage, identity and history any more. On 14 August 1947 all my cultural heritage and ancestral roots were severed off from my past. Most of our elders, not in the very distant past either, were non-Muslims and, like it or not, cremated on ! the bank of some river of Hindustan.

But soon after partition ! anything pre-partition was Indian and sort of unpatriotic to associate with.  So much so that even the everlasting pre-partition songs of Noor Jahan (Awaaz de kahan hai – Duniya mere jawan hai) who was born, bred and now buried in Pakistan were tabooed as Indian songs and not to be broadcast by Radio Pakistan.

Not that we divested ourselves from the rich cultural and historic heritage of undivided India only, we also refused to own the past cultural heritage of the land now Pakistan that fell to our lot and which is spread over the centuries - starting from the pre-historic times to the present day. It comprises of the most ancient Indus Valley Civilisation, the Gandhara Civilisation and the Pre-Islamic Period. The world famous primordial cultural treasures of Taxilla, Mohenjo-Daro, Harrapa,  Takht Bai (Mardan), Pursh Pura (Peshawar) the city of flowers and capital of Emperor Kanishka and the Kafirs of Kalash (Chitral) are all alien to us.

Somehow o! ur history halts at 14 August 1947 and there from jumps straight to Muhammad Bin Qasim (710 AD) leaving a chasm of almost twelve centuries in between. From there we bypass all the Ummayads, Fatimides, Abbasides and connect ourselves to the Khulfa e Rashadeen. Naturally Holy Prophet (SAW) is the ultimate but the period before him (SAW) is Zamana e Jahliat and we have nothing to do with it either. Thus our such self proclaimed and acquired history with gaps and yawns is only 15 centuries old whereas the historians and the archeologists rate our region (Pakistan) as one of the most primeval historical lands of this globe. Then, am I an Arab, an Ajam, a Semitic, an Arian, a Mongol – ooops Moghal or a crossed Dravidian?  At least not an Arab as the Arabs simply do not accept a miskeen Bakistani to be one of them. So far for the history, culture, civilisation and the identity.

Next, I am not very sure of my religion either.  Am I a Muslim or not?  According to Justice Munir report of 1954 all 40 ulema belonging to different sects, who appeared before the Inquiry Commission declared every other sect Kafir and that his sect alone was the only sect that was Islamic.  Well, that was then. But nothing much seems to have changed even now after more than half a century,  that is six decades. Enforcement of the Islamic Shariah is being demanded not only by the Taliban, extremists and the terrorists but also by all mainstream ulema and mushaikh too. And, one of these days imposed it shall be.  But which and whose Shariah, that no one knows? This reminds me of a published article by Lt Col. Moin Rauf a few excerpts of which are reproduced here: 

1) According to mainstream Islamic Scholars, the Punishment of Apostasy ( Irtadad – reversion to Kufr from Islam) is death. Since every other sect of Islam considers the other as Kafir, every Pakistani citizen would be liable to be killed in the eyes of the other Pakistani.

 2) Under the Shariah Law, the punishment for theft is the severing of the hand. In Pakistan, only 0.9% of the population pays taxes, which indirectly means that 99.1% of them are tax evaders in one way or the other.  Since tax evasion is a form of theft against the government, Pakistan should get ready to chop the hands of 99.1% of the population.

 3) According to the chief of Jamat-e-Islami and a large percentage of Muslims, the only way a raped woman can convict her rapist(s) is by producing 4 eye witnesses to the act. Now, unless a woman would have 4 witnesses which is probably only possible if she gets raped in a market, she should remain quiet. Or, she herself would be stoned to death for making the confession.

 4) Since the punishment of blasphemy of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W) is death according to mainstream Islam, and apart from 1.4 billion Muslims, all other 5.6 billion humans consider him (SAW) as (Tauba Naoozobillah) untruthful and wrong, (or else, if they take him (SAW) to be true it would be tantamount to their saying  Ashhado anna Mohammad ur Rasoolillah  and thus accept Islam),  therefore, it could be obligatory upon us to wipe out all such blasphemous Non-Muslims from the face of the Earth. What greater blasphemy could there be than considering the Prophet as a (Tauba Naoozobillah) liar?  UNQUOTE:

My oh my -- which one sect out of the 72 or 73 shall go to Jannah and the rest to Hell? Pray tell me please and I would not waste a moment and without a second thought jump in to join it. I am sure so would all others do and that would weave us all into a one nation of 200 million strong.  Well, well ..... untill then, I would request all especially the clergy to please spare us for a while and abide by the Quaid’s well considered advice of 11 August 1947 that he gave in his official capacity of the President of the Constituent Assembly to the first ever Constituent  Assembly of Pakistan.  He said, “You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the State..... ,because that is the personal faith of each individual”.  Along with it I would love to see my very dear country making great strides in leaps and bounds in the economic field and turn herself! into an economic giant.  For, if money is there so will be there everything else – be it  the welfare of the masses, the healthcare, education, communications, roads, bridges and buildings, Travel, Airlines, Shipping and ship building, industry & engineering, trade & commerce, science and technology, art, sports and culture, food and agriculture – you name it – would ALL be there for ALL proud Pakistanis to enjoy to their heart’s desire. And who knows with such abundance we also become more tolerant and compassionate towards one another.
 Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd)
30 Westridge 1
Rawalpindi 46000


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