By Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani
August 25, 2018
Muslims across the globe celebrated EId ul Azha with religious zeal and enthusiasm. Like every year, thousands of Pakistani citizens performed Hajj.
Every religious festival delivers a positive message for mankind. Although the Hajj sermon was addressed to millions of Muslim pilgrims, the golden principles for spending a purposeful life are, in fact, applicable to everyone, regardless of their religious affiliations.
This year, Eid comes at a time when Pakistan has started a new era. For the first time in our national history, people have elected a government which has a track record of a 22-year-long struggle to ensure social justice and curb corruption.
Pakistan is a Muslim-majority country that came into existence in the name of Islam. But Jogendra Nath Mandal’s involvement in the Pakistan Movement reflects the positive contribution of non-Muslims in this struggle. Quaid-e-Azam, in his famous speech on August 11, 1947, also declared that every citizen in Pakistan will be allowed to live according to his/her own faith.
Today, the non-Muslim vote bank consists of around 3,500,000 people who have played a significant role in the PTI’s victory in Election 2018. The slogan of Naya Pakistan has effectively won the trust of the people. But it is time to move one step forward to transform Pakistan into a welfare state. For this purpose, it is necessary to analyse the salient features of Madina.
The state of Madina, which was founded by Holy Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) fourteen centuries ago, is considered to be the world’s first welfare state where protecting the rights of vulnerable communities was the government’s primary responsibility. To ensure internal integrity and safeguard Madina’s people from external factors, a peace agreement known as the Charter of Madina was signed between Muslim and non-Muslim citizens.
According to the charter, all citizens were granted civic rights on an equal basis. The territory of Madina was declared as a unit and it was every citizen’s responsibility to protect it. It was mutually agreed that the Muslims and non-Muslims of Madina will be allies. In case of any external aggression, they will jointly defend the homeland.
The key priority of the state was to raise the living standard of citizens by ending all forms of exploitation. Rule of law and equal treatment of all citizens were enforced in such a way that when a woman belonging to an influential elite family committed a crime, the Holy Prophet (pbuh) declared that if his own daughter was proven guilty, she would face punishment. This is the real spirit that maintains law and public order within a state.
The non-Muslim prisoners of war, who were captured after the Battle of Badr, were offered freedom in exchange for teaching people in Madina. Similarly, Madina’s foreign policy revolved around establishing peaceful relations with other tribes and nations. If a tribe decided to remain neutral, its decision was respected.
Today, when non-Muslims in Pakistan are told that the ruling party is interested in implementing the Madina model in our beloved country, many of them are in favour of the idea as they know that they will finally be treated equally. It is quite unfortunate that patriotic non-Muslims who declared Pakistan as their homeland have been kept away from the mainstream. For example, the Evacuee Trust Property Board was established to look after properties left behind by Hindus after Partition. But the board has been criticised for its incompetent leadership and the absence of non-Muslim representation.
It is important to appoint those belonging to smaller provinces at top positions to reduce the sense of deprivation among the underprivileged. But we must also account for non-Muslim representation and ensure that it isn’t neglected. The appointment of qualified non-Muslims can deliver positive results to achieving the goal of Naya Pakistan. Similarly, their presence can also be beneficial to portray a positive image of the country among the international community.
All Pakistanis are urged to understand the Hajj sermon and implement it in letter and spirit. There is also a dire need for suitable legislation to implement the Madina model.
Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani is patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council.