Established in August 1947, Pakistan is the first of the two anomalies in the nation state system dominating the entire International order of the contemporary times. The peculiarity associated with the state of Pakistan owes to the very idea of Muslim Nationalism that convinced the Muslims of India to struggle for a separate state. Notwithstanding the fact that the state owns its ideology overtly, there is a need to incorporate it as a pillar of national integration and ultimately the national security of the country. Strengthening the very idea of Pakistan would serve as a remedy to the hazardous politicisation of various ethnic groups residing in the country.
In what came to be known as the age of ‘nationalism’ whose popular definition till date incorporates factors such as common language, culture, history and geography to generate a sense of belongingness, the Muslims of India asserted their nationhood on the basis of shared religious identity and ideology. The very notion of inviting people to a point of convergence provided by their bond with their faith was hitherto unseen. The creation of Pakistan was therefore a watershed moment in the Muslim history, especially at a time, when Muslims around the world, were caving in to the idea of the right to self determination on the basis of their ethnic identities. None of the freedom movements in Muslim majority areas against colonising powers were inspired by Islam, rather they were enshrouded by historic ethnic identities possessed by people of those areas.
Pakistan does not possess an ethnic identity since its formation was a result of convergence of what classical definition of ‘nationalism’ declared ‘nations’ on a point of homogeneity, i.e. Islam. In other words, the people of Pakistan do not have a shared language, culture or historical legacy. From ancient movements of nationalism to those of the contemporary times associated with the state, all except Pakistan and Israel stand on the basis of their rich ethnic identities.
The Pakistan movement, particularly after Dr. Allama Iqbal’s address as the president of All India Muslim League in Allahabad, turned into an outright ideological struggle for a Muslim homeland in the subcontinent. The coming years also saw a change in the stance of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, who was once a strong proponent of Indian nationalism. Jinnah while addressing the Gaya Muslim League conference in January 1938 clearly stated the agenda of Muslim League in the following words,
When we say This flag (Muslim League’s flag) is the flag of Islam they think we are introducing religion into politics – A fact which we are proud of. Islam gives us a complete code. It is not only religion but it contains laws, philosophy and politics. In fact, it contains everything that matters to a man from morning to night. When we talk of Islam we take it as all embracing word. We do not mean any ill. The foundation of our Islamic code is that we stand for liberty, equality and fraternity.
Now that we have glanced into the application of Muslim Nationalism in unification of different ethnic groups to establish a separate state, its easier to understand the critical importance of the very ideology in the modern times for Pakistan’s national integration. We are a people divided along ethnic lines and are still facing a challenge in the form of politicisation of our ethnic groups by ethnolinguistic movements. Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that foreign intelligence agencies are exploiting these movements in their bid to destabilise the state of Pakistan.
With around 97% Muslim population, there are two major factors which have been providing opportunity to the ethnolinguistic movements to subvert people against state. First, the people of Pakistan have been continuously losing confidence in the credibility of state to fulfil its commitment with the people in its transformation into a true Islamic Welfare state. The second factor, of course is the failure of state in generating sufficient economic activity. In order to achieve national integration, both these challenges need to be addressed comprehensively by the state of Pakistan. The Medinan model provides a good example of national integration while maintaining Islamic ideology.
The Medinan Model
Medina was the first Islamic state established by prophet Muhammad ﷺ . It serves as the best model for the state of Pakistan not only because it was an ideological state based on uniting the believers as a nation but also because it formed an ambience of peaceful coexistence between Muslims and Non-Muslim minorities. Notwithstanding the fact that the state of Medina was a true Islamic state whose sovereignty belonged to Allah, the Non-Muslim citizens were granted equal socio-economic rights and religious freedom via Charter of Medina. The state achieved a remarkable degree of pluralism and peaceful co-existence among people of various faiths while itself being governed by divine laws of Islam.
Mark Graham, an expert in Medieval History and Religious studies at the Connecticut College, USA, wrote the remarkable achievement of the State of Medina in integrating various groups via its constitution known as the Covenant of Medina. He wrote,
“Muhammad’s brilliance lay in politics as well as spirituality. One of the most extraordinary events to take place during this time was the drafting of the Covenant of Medina (Sahifat al-Madinah), what some consider to be the world’s first constitution. It was a treaty and city charter between the Arabs and Jews of the city. All groups (Muslims, Jews, and non-Muslim Arabs) pledged to live in civic harmony, governed by mutual advice and consultation.”
Re-Invigorating the Basis
Pakistan is a Muslim state whose very basis are formed by Islam which is very deeply embedded in the Pakistani society. Notwithstanding the fact that almost a century of British rule in this part of the world, had a dramatic impact upon the Muslim lifestyle in the subcontinent, the Muslims managed to maintain their Muslim identity and ideology. The establishment of Pakistan as a Muslim homeland is the greatest evidence of this fact.
In the modern times, Pakistan requires re-invigoration of its ideological basis coupled with efforts to boost economic activity in the neglected areas, to preserve its integrity as a nation. People of Pakistan look forward to the state of Pakistan as a divine blessing and their loyalty to the state has a lot to do with Pakistan’s ideological basis. Therefore, any attempt to impose secularised nationalism on the masses will not only be outrightly rejected but resisted. Prime Minister Imran Khan has been repeatedly sharing his vision to adopt Medinan model for Pakistan, however, little has been actually done in this regard. To defeat forces generating ethnic friction and achieve national integration, the Pakistan Ideology, which gives meaning to the otherwise a piece of land in subcontinent, is the only way out.
About The Author
Abubakar Farooqui is the brains behind Rationale-47. He Studies International Relations at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. His areas of interest include National Security of Pakistan and International Politics, particularly of Afghanistan and Middle East. He tweets @AbubakarTweets
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the original author and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views of Rationale-47.