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Letter from Deathbed

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

October 23, 2017

This past week I entrusted my life to the most skilled set of surgical hands at the Aga Khan University (AKU) in Karachi (named after Aga Khan, the first president of the All India Muslim League). A monstrous tumour on the right lobe of the brain was plaguing my existence. Given time, it could have claimed my life but through a cutting-edge surgical technique called awake craniotomy, the brilliant surgeons at AKU saved my life.

Awake craniotomy is one of the most extraordinary surgical procedures. You are kept awake as your brain is cut open, so that your eloquent brain is kept intact. When one has been gone as close to the reality of life (which after all is death) as I did, one only remembers beautiful and tender moments and all the rest becomes a half veiled mist of unrealities. So this is my letter to you Pakistanis from what is effectively my deathbed.

Procedures like awake craniotomy characterise real progress — as opposed to making bombs and blowing up human settlement and mixing religion with statecraft by adding it to the country’s constitution is not real progress I’m afraid. This is what Pakistan needs to understand.

When the AKU had started its state of the art secondary education system about 15 years ago, religious parties like the Jamaat-e-Islami (it must be remembered that the party had shamelessly opposed the creation of this country) had accused Ismailis of trying to ‘secularise’ Pakistan (as if that is such a bad thing) and destroy its Islamic ethos. Such shameless acts remind one of that Urdu language phrase: ‘Sharam Tum Ko Magar Nahi Aati’.  Jamaat-e-Islami’s and its leader Maulana Maududi’s hateful discourse against Pakistan and Jinnah is all part of the historical record. Yet these JI wallahs and their supporters like MNA Captain (retd) Safdar have become the uncles of Pakistan’s ideology. I have written in detail about Captain Safdar’s vitriol against another patriotic community of Pakistan — the Ahmadis — in my previous article. The shameless son-in-law of the now thoroughly discredited former Prime Minister of Pakistan had the gall to declare that a ‘Sazshi-Tola’ (a conspiratorial gang) appointed Sir Zafrullah Khan as Pakistan’s foreign minister.  He should know that if there was such a ‘Sazshi-Tola’ it was headed by none other than Mohammad Ali Jinnah. It was Jinnah who appointed Zafrullah as Pakistan’s lawyer before the boundary commission and it was Jinnah who asked Ispahani to send back Zafrullah to take over as Pakistan’s first foreign minister. Jinnah had referred to Zafrullah Khan as ‘my Muslim son’ on numerous occasions. How dare this shameless son-in-law of a disqualified Prime Minister refer to the team led by the founder of the nation as a ‘sazshi-tola’. Those of you who have followed my writings here know that I am not a supporter of a judicial coup against an elected government and I have not agreed with Supreme Court’s Iqama judgment but if democracy means sustaining the shamefulness and bigotry of people like Captain Safdar on account of the fact that he is married to the daughter of the then PM, then I am afraid we all have to reconsider our opinions.

Just as Aga Khan University in Karachi is the place to go to get your neurosurgical needs met, the premier place for cardiovascular surgery in Pakistan is Tahir Heart Institute in Rabwah — run by Ahmadis. It is also common knowledge that some of our best schools, hospitals and universities are run by Christian minorities. Pakistan is not just for constitutionally sanctioned Muslims. Pakistan is for all Pakistanis regardless of their faith. The country is sustained through the goodwill and efforts of all Pakistanis, especially non-Muslims.

When Captain Safdar’s antecedents in Majlis-e-Ahrar, Jamaat-e-Islami and Jamiat-e-Ulema-Hind were trying to destroy the foundations of this country and abusing Jinnah as Kafir-e-Azam and Pakistan as Kafiristan, it was the Aga Khanis, Ahmadis, Christians, Dalits and scheduled caste Hindus who stood with Jinnah against Majlis-e-Ahrar and other traitors like Khaksars, Khudai Khidmatgars and Jamiat-e-Ulema Hind — all of whom had sold themselves to the Indian National Congress.

As I have mentioned in my last two articles — it bears repeating that the 1973 constitution and the horrendous 2nd Amendment to this constitution were passed by individuals like Wali Khan, Mufti Mahmood, Maula Bux Soomro and others who had opposed the very making of Pakistan. Upon the fall of Dacca in 1971, Mufti Mahmood, father of Maulana Fazlur Rahman, famously declared ‘thank God we were not part of the sin of making Pakistan’. During General Zia’s time, Maula Bux Soomro declared equally famously ‘I am proud of the fact that my family including Allah Bux Soomro opposed the making of Pakistan’. Soomro’s son Illahi Bux Soomro tragically has been establishment’s go to man in Sindh for decades now.

The point of repeating this history is to make sure that it is clear to everyone. The only way Pakistan can progress is by unwaveringly, unquestioningly and unstintingly following Jinnah’s prescription of August 11, 1947, wherein he clarified that religion had nothing to do with the business of the state and that every Pakistani is an equal citizen of the state, and it does not matter if one is a Hindu, a Muslim, a Catholic or a Protestant. Religion is just not the point.

Yasser Latif Hamdani is a practising lawyer.