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Religion and Politics in Pakistan

Being a state with perplexed history maligned with controversies and undiscussed truths, Pakistan is an exception that such a state, since its birth, continues to fight a war without sticks and stones but with a complicated and catastrophic past led by a conflict of ideology and identity. The crux of this war is politics and religion. This ideological war has caused more bloodshed than ever, despite no use of guns or bullets because intolerance is a deadly weapon. The transition from being a secular state to an extremist, fundamentalist state is why even after more than 70 years of independence, the state is still lost in the abyss of ignorance.


Witnessing the atrocities faced by minorities of the subcontinent at the hands of the ruthless majority, Quaid e Azam had the vision to create a state where people belonging to any race, religion, caste, or creed could live to practice their customs and traditions freely. To set stones for such a secular vision state, Quaid made it very clear that "In any case, Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic State to be ruled by priests…We may have many non-Muslims, but they are all Pakistanis. They will enjoy the same rights and privileges as any other citizen…." The words of Quaid reflected that he specifically didn't want a theocratic state run by mullahs. However, the vision of Jinnah remains vague (Ahmed). To gather masses under a platform, he played a religious card to attract groups in the name of religion


Hence, Pakistan came into being as a result of increased democratization and Indianization of the government of India in the face of the peculiar geographic distribution of Muslim cohesiveness and Hindu domination. Despite the vagueness, Jinnah left no stone unturned in his efforts to create a secular state, but it was after the death of Mr. Jinnah that Fundamentalism took birth. By appointing an Ahmedi as Foreign Minister and a Hindu as a Law Minister is evident of the fact that he wanted the nation to be pluralist and accepting. However, things changed when the Sunni majority played its part in domination in the name of religion. The first-ever victim of Sunni authority was Jinnah himself being a Shia. He was given two funerals, one privately according to Shia rituals and other publicly according to Sunni traditions (Jamal, 2017)



"The two funerals symbolized not an expression of religious tolerance but a potential choice to appropriate Jinnah to the dominant Shia strains of Islam (Pakistan: From the Rhetoric of Democracy to rise of Militancy ). Things started to get even worse right after the demise of Jinnah. In 1953 Sunni clerics attacked Ahmedis by destroying their places of worship and demanding to label them non-Muslims. This wish was granted when Pakistan's 1973 constitution declared Ahmedis as non-Muslims, and any activities promoting their faith were considered blasphemous punishable by death. Since 1956 the state barred non-Muslims rom being president, and since 1973 banned non-Muslims from being Prime Minister of the state.


No wonder Pakistan is the only country struggling with being and becoming an Islamic state because of the unfortunate efforts of framing the constitution before dissolving it in 1954. Furthermore, the fact that Ulema completely ignored the solutions of Ibn Khaldun of adjusting Islamic 

political theory to the political realities of the given time (Binder, 1963) 

and instead, Islam has been used to gain legitimacy for the rule of civilians as a mere tool of state policy to strengthen the role of religious fundamentalists in politics and society. (Islam and Politics in Pakistan, 2011).


The fact that Pakistan wasn't created as a theocratic state since independence, the religion is being misused, we as a nation continue to struggle with our identity. Noam Chomsky highlighted the fate of Pakistan very recently in a session with Habib University: "Pakistan used to have advance science with Nobel laurates and so on. Pakistan has no future if it lives in religious superstition" (Chomsky, 2020).

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