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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Towards Secular Pakistan

As we celebrate 62nd Independence Day of our great nation, all Pakistanis must loudly reject fundamentalism that is destroying our beloved nation. We can’t let the extremists, the jehadis, the suicide bombers destroy our lives. No more can we let them tie bombs to the belly of our youth…no more can we let them hide our women behind veil. No more can they deprive us of art, culture, science, and humanity. No more!

No more can we dilute our debate by blaming external conspiracies; imperial design, Zionist strategy, Hindutva resurgence etc. Our enemies are within… Jihadis are the enemies no matter what cause they represent; Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Kashmir etc. No land, no territory, no nation, no state, no freedom, no independence can justify violence. No more can we tolerate those who preach voilence.

Majority of the Pakistanis like me have resigned ourselves to the fate of oppression. We have been fearfull of the extremists. Instead of outright rejecting the authority of religion in our daily lives, we acquiesce. No more can we surrender to the oppressive religious zealots of our society.

Celebrating Pakistan’s independence simply means celebrating the secular leadership of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah; rationale guidance of Allama Iqbal, and the vision of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan.
If we want to make this great State of Pakistan happy and prosperous we should wholly and solely concentrate on the well-being of the people, and especially of the masses and the poor… you are free- you are free to go to your temples mosques or any other place of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion, caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the state… in due course of time Hindus will cease to be Hindus and Muslims will cease to Muslims- not in a religious sense for that is the personal faith of an individual- but in a political sense as citizens of one state
Quid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, Karachi, August 11, 1947

In respect of Quiad, Allama and Sir Syed we must re-write our constitution. Our constitution must represent two principles; people belonging to different faiths and sections of society should be equal before the law, the constitution and government policy. Secondly, separation of state and religion. We must modify our constitution to limit the realm of validity of religion in the public arena and society.

We should recall what Allama Iqbal taught us: democracy does not become inclusive merely by giving everyone the right to vote; its institutions must be even-handed as well.

In memory of Sir Syed we should understand that the struggle against militancy should go beyond a security response to providing justice, economic and political, to all.

It’s time now to recognize that growth with welfare is the only long-term bet against religious extremism.

It’s time now to promote a way of thinking and living that aims to bring out the best in people so that all people can have the best in life.

It’s time now to reject authoritarian beliefs.

It’s time now to take responsibility for our own lives and the communities and world in which we live.

It’s time now to emphasize reason and scientific inquiry, individual freedom and responsibility, human values and compassion, and the need for tolerance and cooperation.

It’s time now to reject violence.

It’s time now to act!


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