By Yasser Latif Hamdani
August 26, 2019
Prime Minister Imran Khan recently made a statement that Pakistan was not meant to be an Asian Tiger but only to recreate the state of Medina. Ironically the only other person who has claimed Medina as the raison d’etre for Pakistan is the incorrigible Jinnah-basher and anti-Pakistan polemicist Venkat Dhulipala and he too was at least honest enough to admit that Jinnah never referred to Medina in any of his speeches.
The reason why Jinnah never referred to Medina was because he understood more than others that any such invocation would be subject to interpretation of not just progressive and modernist Muslims but also the reactionary and orthodox. While the former might see in the holy state of Medina a proto-republic, the latter’s conception of the state of Medina may not have the same aspiration.
It was for this reason that Jinnah told Raja of Mahmudabad that any attempt to create an Islamic state in Pakistan would lead to its ultimate dissolution. Explaining the rationale for Pakistan, Jinnah said: “”What are we fighting for? What are we aiming at? It is not theocracy, not for a theocratic state. Religion is dear to us. All the worldly goods are nothing when we talk of religion. But there are other things which are very vital-our social life and our economic life, and without political power how can you defend your faith and your economic life.” Pakistan’s rationale therefore was not religion per se. Had it been Christians or Buddhists instead of Muslims in the same position, they too would have made a Pakistan. It had to do with the fact that Jinnah never believed Gandhi or Nehru could deliver an India, which would be truly secular. Events of the past few weeks have proved him right and history will record a verdict in his favour.
At a time when we should be speaking of the ever present but once masked Hindu majoritarian undercurrent that is now sweeping our neighbour, we are busy proving to the world that we are a badly majoritarian state ourselves
Ironically it is the Prime Minister of Pakistan now referring to Gandhi and Nehru and their conception of India, when it is their idea of Indian exceptionalism that when taken to its logical conclusion means Modi and BJP. Jinnah could see this as early as the 1920s. Our confused Prime Minister on the other hand is damning our own national narrative in a manner not done since General Zia-ul-Haq’s fascist dictatorship.
Imran Khan’s ill thought statements are a source of glee for every Pakistan-basher out there. People like Javed Akhtar and Shabbana Azmi, ever eager to prove their loyalty as Indians, are having a field day with our Prime Minister’s ridiculous pronouncements. We are giving our enemies the ammunition they need. At a time when we should be speaking of the ever present but once masked Hindu majoritarian undercurrent that is now sweeping our neighbour, we are busy proving to the world that we are a badly majoritarian state ourselves with a Prime Minister who does not know what he is talking about.
However let us put aside for a moment the inconvenient truth that neither Jinnah nor his associates ever referred to the state of Medina at any point or the doubly inconvenient fact that the only known pre-partition politician to make a reference to Medina was Maulana Hassan Madani of Jamiat-e-Ulema-Hind who did so to shore up support for the Congress party during the independence movement. Is Imran Khan saying that the state of Medina and the idea of economic prosperity and growth mutually exclusive? I am not a doctor of religion but from what I have read of the life of Holy Prophet (PBUH), he was an extremely honest and hardworking businessman and it was this quality that had endeared him to Hazrat Khadija (RA). It was for this reason the Holy Prophet (PBUH) was called Sadiq and Ameen. The prophetic example therefore is of hard work and effort. The Hadith of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) says “Al-Kasib-ul-Habibullah” which translates into “he who makes an effort to earn is a friend of Allah”. How then can being an Asian tiger be a goal mutually exclusive to that of a state inspired by the principles of our great Prophet (PBUH)?
Pakistan’s economy is in a downward spiral. Other than a few people at the very top who have managed to ingratiate themselves with the current regime, the entire country is suffering. Refer to the Jinnah quote I produced above. Are we safeguarding our economic life? Are we giving 210 million Pakistanis, an overwhelming majority of whom are Muslims, the economic opportunities to excel? Is this the Prime Minister’s idea of Medina?
Imran Khan’s statement once again shows the wisdom of why Jinnah refrained from using such religious concepts so blatantly even at the height of the Pakistan Movement. The only plausible explanation for Imran Khan’s statement positing a binary between Riyasat-e-Medina and the idea of an Asian tiger is that Imran Khan has thrown up his hands and realised that he can do nothing for the people of Pakistan.
Instead of misusing religion then, perhaps the good and honourable thing for the Prime Minister is to resign and call for fresh elections. Sadly Imran Khan does not have it in him to do the right and dignified thing. In the process Pakistan and Pakistanis will continue to suffer and then one day we would be rid of this regime which is not only incompetent but is so cynical in its use of our great faith. By then though, they would have done irreparable damage to our already suffering nation. May God help Pakistan.
Yasser Latif Hamdani is an Advocate of the High Courts of Pakistan and a member of the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn in London
Original Headline: Are Riyasat-e-Medina and Asian Tiger mutually exclusive?
Source: The Daily Times, Pakistan