The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has laid another egg. This time, a certain Professor Kundi of the HEC was pleased to send a letter/notification to the rectors and vice chancellors of degree awarding institutions telling them to curtail opinions contrary to the “ideology and principles of Pakistan”. This begs the question as to what this “ideology” is and what constitutes opinions “contrary to it”.
Is the Two Nation Theory this ideology that we hear of? The Two Nation Theory was a tactical argument forwarded by Jinnah not as an idea etched in stone but a device to achieve parity for the Muslims of India at an all India level and, because the Muslims were themselves divided into many sects and sub-sects, this theory had to be necessarily non-theological, for Muslims as a multitude agreed on very little. It was the articulation of a minority group identity couched in national terms. Whether this was intended to produce a loosely federated India or whether the end objective was to create a Muslim majority state, one thing is certain: the Two Nation Theory did not seem to be the water tight compartments of Hindus and Muslims that we now imagine them to be.
There are very definite clues why, for Jinnah, who should logically be the master signifier of Pakistan’s ideology, the Two Nation Theory was not an ideological commitment but a pithy counter argument. His response to Mountbatten when the latter insisted on dividing Punjab and Bengal on religious lines is one such clue. Jinnah’s response was “a Punjabi or a Bengali is a Punjabi or a Bengali before he is a Hindu or a Muslim.” This showed clearly that Jinnah, at least, saw the Two Nation Theory as a counter to the idea of the One Nation Theory of the Congress. Even otherwise the Two Nation Theory could not be a suitable ideology for the new state, as Jinnah pointed out so well in his August 11 speech, for a country with sizeable minority populations. In Pakistan, the idea is to have a Pakistani nation – one and indivisible – and this fact is recognised by the Constitution of Pakistan, flawed as it may be, when it purports to grant equal citizenship to all citizens of Pakistan. The Two Nation Theory, therefore, is a distant part of our history, a lawyer’s clever argument that unfortunately has become, despite that lawyer’s attempts, a blanket we cannot seem to rid ourselves of. It certainly is no ideology as it does not seek to give answers to the more pressing questions of the day and the modern problems a nation state faces.
Is Islam this elusive ideology? After all, the refrain is that Pakistan was created in the name of Islam, an idea encapsulated in the rallying cry, “Pakistan ka matlab kiya? La illah Illallah” (what does Pakistan mean? No God except God). Even if we ignore the fact that Jinnah categorically distanced himself from this slogan, there are several problems with this approach. For one thing, if Pakistan was created in the name of Islam, it begs the question: would Islam ceased to have existed had Pakistan not been created? And if Pakistan was created in the name of Islam, why did some of the greatest names in South Asian Islamic scholarship, from Abul Kalam Azad to Abul Ala Maududi oppose its creation? Today, Maulana Fazlur Rahman steps forth as the great champion of the ideology of Pakistan but his forbears, his father Mufti Mahmood and his ideological guru Maulana Madni, were all dead set against the creation of Pakistan on religious grounds. Others like Ataullah Shah Bokhari and Agha Shorish Kashmiri, so admired by the right wing Pakistani ideologues, went so far as to declare the new country “Kafiristan” (land of the infidels). One would have imagined that all of these great scholars of Islam would be deemed the enemies of Pakistan and Islam. Yet, it seems that most of these gentlemen (with the exception of Maulana Azad) have been adopted in some form or the other as the mascots of Pakistan’s official ideology. Confusing to say the least but that is just the tip of the iceberg. In any event, if Islam is to be the ideology of Pakistan, would that not officially mean that people not following Islam as a religion are automatically against the ideology of Pakistan and therefore suspect as citizens?
Truth be told, democracies do not have ideologies. Democracy is often contrasted with dictatorship but, in my opinion, dictatorships can and will give way to democracy in the end. This is why illiberal democracy is characterised as a hybrid regime, something between authoritarianism and democracy. The true antonym of democracy is ideocracy, a rule by ideology. It presupposes that a certain set of organising principles is eternal and not subject to worldly changes and developments. In a way, this very idea of an ideology negates the principle of movement within a society, a principle of movement that has been expressed in Islam through ijtihad (independent reasoning).
This is not to say Pakistan has to necessarily become completely secular to be a democracy though that would be ideal. Under the Pakistani constitution, the Quran and sunnah are sources of law though not the only sources of law and this may be an expression of a democratic choice. It ceases to be a democracy though when it imposes a certain set of Islamic beliefs as ideology. The true ideology of Pakistan can only be democracy i.e. rule of the people, by the people, for the people. If a certain generation of the Pakistani people have decided to order their lives according to a certain faith without violating the fundamental rights of others, one would accept it as the general will of the people, provided that it is recognised that one generation cannot impose its will on the next. The Pakistani Constitution recognises the principle of each generation choosing its own set of laws and beliefs under Articles 238 and 239 of the Constitution under which the Constitution may be amended by two-thirds majority of parliament. This alone can be our true ideology.