Pakistan Perspective

Old man carrying his wife in India, 1947. Over 10 million people were uprooted during the partition. Margaret Bourke-White / Wikimedia

I AM not sure if the peculiar strains which confronted Pakistan immediately on its emergence as a free state are adequately understood.

The first strain was ideological. It is a common fallacy to believe that the concept of Pakistan was formed in a poet's dream. The poet, Dr. Muhammad Iqbal, was no idle dreamer. Nor can countries like Pakistan (364,737 square miles; population 80,000,000) spring from the nebulous realm of poetry alone. Iqbal was in fact a philosopher of traditional as well as modern thought who had made a careful study of human affairs, both East and West, and focussed the light of his inquiry on the causes of economic and cultural subjugation to which the Muslims of India had been systematically subjected since their first abortive struggle for independence in 1857. It was in his presidential address to the annual session of All-India Muslim League in 1930 that he spelt out the broad outlines of a plan under which the Muslims of India were led to aspire to an independent state in which they would be free to follow their own way of life.

The All-India Muslim League based its Charter on this idea and, under the leadership of Qaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, launched a struggle which culminated in the establishment of Pakistan in August 1947.

Iqbal's thesis that in their free state the Muslims were to practice their own way of life posed an ideological problem which was not easy to handle. On one hand, there were many outside Pakistan who charged us with planning to establish an obdurate theocracy in the mediæval sense of the term. On the other, most of us within Pakistan itself were not quite clear how to go about welding our spiritual ideals into the business of statecraft. The result was a great deal of loose groping which infected our politics and our intellect alike.

Pakistan was thus involved in the paradox of almost losing its ideology in the very act of trying to fulfill it. This distraction

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