Crafting a New Pakistaniat

There are eight reasons according to Javed Jabbar that make Pakistan’s origins unique

ALTERNATIVES

DR GULL WANI

   During my last visit to Lahore, Pakistan, I got enthused by a book by Javed Jabbar - former federal information minister of Pakistan. The book deserves to be reviewed as it falls within the category of new literature on Pakistan painting a new image of the country amidst gloom and despair that has overtaken it. The new literature on Pakistan has three shades. One shade is represented in the doctoral theses of those studying in western universities like  Humaira Iqtidar who projects Jamati-e-Islami and Jamait-e-Dawa as entities with potential to secularize Pakistani society. The increasing number of Pakistani postmodernist scholars such as Humaira Iqtidar, Sabha Mehmood,  Amina Jeelani and many others now project religious right as the new face of Muslim and Pakistani modernity. The second shade, represented in the works of Ayesha Siddiqa, have a pessimistic view of Pakistan state and its politics. Ayesha has in her book Military Inc: Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy exposed the military hold of Pakistan and its dominance over both Pakistan economy and politics. The third shade is represented in the works of Maleeha Lodi’s Pakistan: Beyond The crisis State, and Javed jabbar’s Pakistan –Unique Origins, Unique Destiny. The book by Javed Jabbar has been published by national book foundation, Islamabad. The book has a foreword by Sharif-al-Mujahid - distinguished National Professor, Karachi, who describes Javed Jabbar as the symbol of Pakistaniat.
                              Javed Jabbar puts forward six categories of Nation-States in the world and accordingly places his country in the category most suited for it. The first grouping is that of historical nation-states - China, Japan, Egypt etc. The second category is constitutive of nation-states created through mass migration like New Zealand and Australia. The third category is permuted nation-states like Germany and Italy. Strong individual leaders have welded different units together into these nation-states. The fourth category of nation-states is post-colonial nation-states. Placed in this category are the nation-states which were previously colonized and got independence during the 20th century. India is an example of post-colonial construct. The fifth category to Javed Jabbar is the new nation-states emerging from the disintegration of large states. States, such as Pakistan (1971), Ethiopia (1991) and Yugoslavia (1990) got disintegrated. The sixth and the last category are nation-states created on the basis of religion. In this 6th category are placed only those states which were created in recent history on the specific basis of religion: the Hindu Kingdom of Nepal, the city state of Vatican, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Maldives, Israel and Pakistan are religion based states. According to Javed Jabbar each of the six countries in this category has individual features while Pakistan is the most distinct from the other five. In the case of Pakistan neither did Islam originate in the areas claimed for Pakistan nor did the Prophet of Islam (Peace Be Upon Him) walk upon the same land. Nor did any of the first four caliphs of Islam come anywhere near the region that now constitutes Pakistani territory. In fact what makes Pakistan unique is the fact that neither the Father of Nation, Quid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, nor the principal leaders of the Muslim League and the Pakistan Movement were individuals who claimed to be the religious authorities or called themselves ulema. In fact the religious leaders opposed the demand for Pakistan.
There are eight reasons according to Javed Jabbar that make Pakistan’s origins unique. This is the only nation-state whose name is an invented adjective - based on links with place-names and the only country created with two wings separated by 1000 miles, with no friendly country in between. Pakistan is the only nation-state created on the principle of religious identity on land which is neither the homeland of that religion nor the headquarters of that religion. Further Pakistan is the only nation-state created at 10 weeks’ notice and the only state which had to absorb millions of refugees before, during, and shortly after its birth. Further, to the author, Pakistan is the only nation-state born with two hostile immediate neighbor-states: despite one of these states also being predominantly of the same Muslim faith. Pakistan again according to Javed Jabbar is a state located on land with 7000 year history of human civilization but which began its evolution with a Pakistani national identity only after becoming a new state. The last, but to me the only, reason that makes Pakistan unique is that it is the only nation-state whose future will become its real history: as its baby-name and the country itself become adults in the time-scale of history.
The author, however, suggests two not-so-good reasons that make Pakistan’s history unique. One, Pakistan is the first nation-state which disintegrated after world war-2nd (1939-1945). Created in 1947, disintegrated in 1971. Again the only nation-state in the world in which the majority of the population separated from its own nation-state and in which the minority of the population retained the original name of the nation-state. Needless to mention when Yugoslavia began to break up in 1991 the constituent units eventually became new independent states known as Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia and Kosovo. The author further underlines near about 57 strengths of Pakistan and 38 weaknesses as well. There is no preferentiality in the sequencing of the strengths and weaknesses except in a few instances such as placing collective strengths ahead of individual achievements. The evolution of Pakistaniat as a strength has been listed at serial number 57 just only to give it a summative importance.
To Javed Jabbar, Pakistanis are a hardy, resilient people capable of absorbing great shocks and are quite practical and pragmatic people. The country has a distinguished intelligentsia and people are deeply committed to justice even when they do not always get it. The country has an independent judiciary and common people prefer to vote for a progressive, forward-looking politics with due space for women. There is a youthful, energetic population and a vibrant, flourishing mass media sector. According to Jabbar, in 2005, Newsweek magazine singled out Pakistan for special mention as possibly the world’s most hospitable country. The country can also have pride of having a strong Diaspora and largest contributor to peace-keeping forces of the United Nations. Pakistan is the first Muslim country to produce a Muslim woman Prime Minister and first Muslim nation to develop and test nuclear weapons. It is also the first Muslim country to produce a winner of a Nobel Prize though the first to latter disown him.
Javed Jabbar is equally forthright in digging into the weaknesses of Pakistan and lists 38 such shortcomings. The country is low-ranking in Human Development Index and suffers from chronic miss-governance. There is rampant corruption, practices of feudalism and weak enforcement of rule of law and also the fact that intelligence agencies operate beyond the Law. The author also finds disrespect to time and tendency of armed to intervene in political matters as other black spots. The negative global image and the habit of blaming others rarely themselves are other weaknesses of Pakistanis. 
The entire burden of defining and articulating a new identity for Pakistan is to create a new and committed citizenry who can drag that nation out of the humiliation trap in which it has fallen. However, like many others I too find fault with Javed Jabbar’s position that respect for religious and ethnic minorities is a prominent feature of Pakistaniat. The fact is that minorities in Pakistan are increasingly getting marginalized and the latest Quetta massacre of a certain religious sect is not only horrific but shameful as well. This is the first book I have ever reviewed where the author has like a typical school teacher given the home work for the reader with blank pages just to find out whether any more strong or weak points on Pakistan can be excavated. I on my part would suggest Javed Jabbar to look into the possibility of finding whether there can be a common ground between Pakistaniat and Kashmiriat so as to figure it out as a strength of the former. It is also worthwhile to look into another possibility of how proper space can be, and should be, created for Afghaniat on the western side so that Pakistaniat grows unhindered and in a fairly relaxed regional environment. The book is a must read for those interested in Pakistan and South Asia at large.

Lastupdate on : Sat, 19 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 19 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 20 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST




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