A Lost Federation With Identity Crisis

Faizan Raza
It becomes a very tiring task when one starts to contemplate over the accomplishments of Pakistan. It has definitely not been able to serve the purpose of it’s creation and doesn’t provide a sense of belonging to it’s citizens. Objectively, the fault merely lies in the practice but rather in at the ideological front of Pakistan then be it the debate of federalism or the national identity. To sum this up effectively, consensus can only be formed on the ideals of Quaid that he had set for his brainchild, Pakistan. It would be frivolous in this debate if Jinnah’s vision is to be searched by reckoning his speeches that he delivered at various public gathering. The rationale serving this is simple, public gatherings are all about emotions and narrative building. The aim is to enhance the vote bank and promulgate the popular opinion which can be contrary to stark realities. It would be prudent if policy statements of All India Muslim League (AIML) are taken into account. For this purpose reliance can be made upon 1940 Lahore Resolution and on resolution presented in Sindh Assembly by G.M. Sayed in 1943. Former and latter exhibit Pakistan as a federation with the states in it being autonomous and sovereign. Besides this, there is no other policy document of AIML or Quaid which could be relied upon. Both these resolutions determine the state’s governing model but all this has been in vain since 14 August 1947. The ruling elite stood opposed to such notion and rather have asserted for a long time that Pakistan needs to be governed as an unitary state, implying Pakistan to be a single nation state. Though 18th amendment has principally altered the principles of governance but practically it hasn’t change a lot. In a federal governance model, except Foreign Affairs, Currency, Defence, Communication and Fiscal and Monetary policy rest of the subjects are devolved to states. However, unfortunately the federal government still operates multiple ministries which have been devolved i.e Education, Health, Science and Technology, Industries, Narcotics etc. The attitude adopted in matters of federal importance are also decided unanimously with mutual consultation but that seem to apply in Pakistan. Be it selling rivers to India in 1948, building dams on Indus, decision to support a block during cold war etc, all these decisions have been taken unilaterally by those in power. This ultimately makes Pakistan a loose federation where greed for power and authority of federal government doesn’t seem to come to an end even after a constitutional amendment. Even if governance model seems to have consensus a great obstacle in nation building is the narrative of Pakistani nation. This notion has remained epicenter of confrontation because Pakistan was never established as a unitary country as nations settled in this region even prior to British invasion had a rich historic and traditional evidence of existence as a nation. Balochs, Sindhis and Pakhtuns have reiterated this thought after 1947 multiple times with each time them being labelled as traitors. Advocates of a unitary nation are to be found in Punjab and in the Urdu speaking Sindhis and it’s not a Herculean task to contemplate over the rationale. Both these groups do so because of the religious propaganda. Muslim Punjabis affirm this thought mainly due to their animosity with the Sikhs and thought of Pakistani nation provides them a safe escape from being labelled as Sikhs. While the Urdu speaking Sindhis believe so because that’s what was preached religiously in UP, CP and Bihar. AIML leaders merely emphasised on the religious identity to gain support for their personal vested political interests. This was the reason why Maulana Azad had predicted before the creation of Pakistan that there would be identity crisis post partition. It is imperative to note that the effort to form Pakistan a unitary nation actually sow the seeds for separation of Bangladesh. 21st February is observed as mother language day by UN which is celebrated to pay homage to the martyrs of Dhaka University who laid their life to make Bangla as national language of Pakistan. This sole event should be an eye opener for all those advocates of Unitary nation state as the historic nations of Pakistan have never compromised on their national identity. What is even more disturbing is the fact that Pakistan has failed to become a Secular state. Once again, reliance can be placed on the only formal policy statement of Quaid, his speech at the floor of constituent assembly of Pakistan. He was crystal clear in his thought that religious identity is a matter of personal choice and it has nothing to do with business of state. He went on to say that religious identity of individual would seize to exist and all the citizens of Pakistan will be equal. Besides this all the other statements of Quaid could be political statements made for political benefits but reliance can never be placed on such statements as they are no where part of any formal policy document. Even principally, this thought is justifiable and aligned with fundamental human rights as described by UN because a religious state differentiates among it’s people on a standard which is of personal choice. It’s akin to differentiate people on the basis of their selection of books or the attire or even occupation as all these subjects are of personal choice and free will. It won’t be flawed if suggested that a religious state operates on the basis of narcissism as people of any religion except the state religion would be deemed as second class minority citizens. This can happen even to a Hindu Pakistani billionaire who though contributes much more than an average Muslim but he cannot become the head of state or become it’s Prime Minister merely because he is not a Muslim. Hence it is in mutual benefit of all of us that the process of revisiting our set principles of governing Pakistan starts this 14th August. Let’s hope sanity prevails and Pakistan can be looked upon as a true republican democratic federation with a secular approach of governing.

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