Two-nation theory, alive and well: Former Pakistani minister

January 26th, 2012 - 6:55 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 26 (IANS) Former Pakistani information minister Javed Jabbar feels the two-nation theory is “alive and well” in the sub-continent as Pakistani had its “own distinctive outlook on life” from India.

Delving into the creation of Pakistan at a talk at the Jamia Millia Islamia here Wednesday evening, he said it is erroneous to use the term “partition” or to say that Pakistan seceded from India. At that juncture in history, two nations were born.

As producer and scriptwriter of “Ramchand Pakistani”, depicting the travails of a Hindu Pakistani boy living in the border area and caught in the tensions between the two countries, Jabbar had come out as a sensitive, thinking individual, aware of the hardships of people in both countries.

However, the politician in him came out at as he explained the reason for Pakistan’s creation and its uniqueness as he spoke on the theme ‘Pakistan’s National Identity: Evolution and New Challenges’ organised at the Academy of International Studies. He said Pakistan’s identity was not India-fixated, yet raked up the India factor during most of his talk.

Placing the creation of India as a nation in the category of post-colonial construct — a category wherein departing colonial powers still want a control over the resources of that region and hence create political entities which would be friendly and hence accessible — he justified the idea of Pakistan as a nation by citing Jinnah’s famous quote.

“We maintain and hold that Muslims and Hindus are two major nations by any definition or test of a nation. We are a nation of a hundred million…we are a nation with our own distinctive culture and civilization, language and literature, art and architecture…history and traditions, aptitudes and ambitions. In short, we have our own distinctive outlook on life. By all canons of international law we are a nation.”

And Jabbar felt that this articulation of nation by Jinnah is a sound basis for creation of Pakistan, as nation formation is the process of simultaneously being able to identify with millions of people whom one has never met on the basis of shared history, language, myths, religion, threats and paranoia.

Describing Pakistan’s uniqueness, he said: “We are the only nation in the world to have an invented name. Other nations have got their names from history…We had to adopt the Indus Civilization after giving India its name. We have no history, our future will be our history.”

Describing the key elements of ‘Pakistaniat’, he listed its vivacious culture, music, cuisine, and arts; the pride in its achievements in various fields, pride of migrants who have made Pakistan their home by choice, pride of non-Muslims in Pakistan; obsessive interest in politics, with people voting sincerely yet unwisely and the crises that the country is embroiled in.

Passion for Pakistan’s victory, especially against India, the first Muslim state to go nuclear, pushed into becoming one by India, and other aspects highlighted by him did reek of India fixation, but he denied that Pakistanis identify themselves in juxtaposition to India.

“It’s wrong to say that we say ‘we are not Indians, therefore we are Pakistanis’. We don’t reject the Indianness. We don’t have a negativist foundation.” Also, he felt that the difficulty of Pakistanis in coming to terms with its past and present is not unique, as even the US is going through that struggle for identity.

While terrorism as a factor in Pakistani life was absent form his talk - a fact reminded by a research scholar from Jamia - Jabbar conceded the threat coming from narrow interpretations of Islam and the misconception in Pakistan that secularism means godlessness.

He also gave credit to India for handling intra-regional tensions by carving out linguistic states. “India created more states… We still have only four provinces. We have to create new provinces, the way India has done.”

The talk was organised by Pakistan Studies Programme, Academy of International Studies, Jamia, in association with Jinnah Institute, Islamabad and Australia India Institute, Melbourne, as part of Jamia’s Distinguished Speaker Series.

(Meha Mathur can be contacted at mehamathur@gmail.com)

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