Secular is communal, communal secular
India and Pakistan – the midnight’s twins were born at the same time in history. Both had the same tryst with destiny. Both sought freedom to start their journey afresh. But both had a different foundation. Or at least were presumed to have a different foundation. India was considered a secular democratic republic and Pakistan (for its Muslim exclusivity) is still seen communal in nature. Though Jinnah immediately removed all notions about religion by declaring his republic as liberal democracy, but the tag remained. Even if he proclaimed a secular equality with religion having no role in defining the citizenship of a Pakistani national, but Pakistan has not been able to wash clean the label it inherited as a baggage of history.
Seven decades have passed and both countries have experienced different moods of history. Except some initial hiccups, the road to democracy for India has been relatively smoother. In a stark contrast Pakistan was riven by the dictatorships, the army and to cap it all – the monster of religious fanaticism. The two countries had different challenges to meet but for Pakistan the job was tougher.
Past be past, but the present sounds like a movie where characters swap roles. The hero assumes the role of a villain and villain is the new hero. Indian and Pakistani political systems apart, if we analyse the general public trend in the two countries, the result we get is reverse. People of the two countries are showing two contrasting attitudes. A secular republic like India is ruled by hard-boiled, dyed-in-the-wool, unabashed communalists whose counterparts have no space in Pakistan. Indian electorate votes those to power which Pakistani electorate rejects. (The recent elections offer a case study). Religious bigotry is no doubt a challenge to the state of Pakistan but in India it’s the engine that runs the state itself. This Indianisation of Pakistan and Pakistanisation of India is a question of curiosity for any student of history. What is fringe in Pakistan has become the very core in India. Those who crave for a seat in Pakistan leave hardly a seat unoccupied in India. That is how the picture is at present.
Why then is India stable and Pakistan still on a weak wicket. The difference lies in the institutions of democracy which were strengthened in India and were hollowed in Pakistan by a chosen class of dictators and fanatics. No matter where we place the two nations seventy one years after freedom, a people-to-people comparison reveals the other side of the truth. People there have proved maturer in grappling with the crisis. India is still cashing in on its past capital. The ugly spots of communalism remain hidden behind the gloss of power and progress. On this count Pakistan as a state may falter, but as a people they are the winners.