Jinnah’s Pakistan is dead. The vision of a moderate Muslim majority State, (rather than a hardline 10th century Islamic State, to whose Sharia he paid only lip service being an astute politician) as an incarnation of a modern secular liberal democracy, has died many times. The latest death, is the religious terrorism directed at an important Sufi shrine in Sindh. Pakistan has long since been a ‘theocracy’ and in the last 4 decades, has become a huge madressah, spewing bigotry, intolerance and hate in a narrow world view opposed to the vision of its founder-Barrister. Jinnah said clearly, “Pakistan is not going to be a theocracy to be ruled by priests with a divine mission.” 

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that an attack on the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar is an attack on the progressive and inclusive future of Pakistan. The principle of Equal Protection of the law and equality of citizenship on the basis of gender and religion, was contemptuously disregarded in the rush back to the 10th century jurisprudence of Islam by that Fundo, Liaquat Ali Khan. Jinnah clearly stated that, “you are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed—that has nothing to do with the business of the State. “In so stating, Jinnah being a Barrister was not merely stating the obvious truth that one could go to a Temple or mosque, which arguably no country in the world prevents, except Saudi Arabia, he was also articulating an important Enlightenment principle, Freedom of Religion and Free Exercise of Religion as embodied in the US Constitution, First Amendment. Not the Business of the State means Jinnah did not want an “establishment of religion” in the words of the First Amendment of the US Constitution. 

Jinnah’s Pakistan died again in 1973 when Islam became the State religion in the present repeatedly mangled Constitution. The founder-Barrister had warned about the dangers of sectarianism in his August 11, 1947 Speech to the Constituent Assembly. A sect of Muslims was declared non-Muslim by the State in 1974. Thus, the dangers of what had happened in England centuries ago as articulated by Jinnah being ignored raised their ugly medieval heads in the full course of time in Pakistan as we can clearly see today. 

Pakistan is today an illiberal democracy that discriminates on the basis of religion and gender. The Holy Quran discriminates on the basis of both religion if you are non-Muslim and gender, in inheritance rights, in the weight accorded to the testimony of women, and discourages women from being rulers or judges. I don’t believe the State has any business telling me how to live my life according to the State Religion. I and Jinnah were and are equally opposed to having a State Religion in the first place as this only leads to backwards thinking and institutionalized discrimination against ever newly discovered religious minorities (the Ahmadis followed by Shiites, and now Sufis) and on the basis of gender. Women and religious minorities are second class citizens in today’s Pakistan, which is certainly not “Jinnah’s Pakistan. 

OMAR MIRZA,  

USA, February 20.