The idea of Pakistan was first mooted by Punjabi poet-politician Mohammad Iqbal in the year 1930. Three years later a group of Indian students in Cambridge proposed naming it Pakistan. The Muslim League under the leadership of Mohammad Ali Jinnah declared its support for the idea in 1940. In 1947 the state of Pakistan comprising the Muslim majority areas of East Bengal, West Punjab, Bahawalpur, Sindh, Balochistan and North West Frontier Province came into being.
The foundation of Pakistan was based on the premise that the “idea” of Pakistan would translate into the “state” of Pakistan. The intention was to build a model Muslim state that would have at its core the values of Islamic brotherhood and simultaneously grow through an engagement with the rational thought processes emanating from the West. Science and technology and democratic governance were to be the cornerstones of this new model Muslim state. For a variety of reasons, the “idea” of Pakistan could not find expression in the reality of Pakistan. Stephen Cohen in his popular work “The Idea of Pakistan” has identified the failure on the part of Pakistan “to live up to expectations” as the first in a list of failures of Pakistan. The fact remains that what the existing Pakistan manifests is the reality that Pakistanis themselves as well as the rest of the world have to deal and live with. What after all is this reality? How does it differ from the idea of Pakistan? One may identify major characteristics of the “idea” of Pakistan and see how these translated into the reality of Pakistan.
The first of these was the concept of universal Muslim brotherhood. In this regard, Pakistan soon after its formation, failed a large chunk of its Muslim brethren residing in East Pakistan now Bangladesh. What happened there is now well documented in the annals of history.
So far as the engagement with science, technology and western rational thought is concerned the report is equally dismal. The only areas visible where science and technology have been deployed are those dealing with the development of nuclear and missile technology. These too have not seen any peacetime application. Rational thought has been destroyed within the stranglehold of radicalised Islam visible in the proliferation of Taliban-run madrassas. Pakistan instead of moving ahead with the rest of the world is retreating into the “Dark Ages”.
Democracy has an uncanny link with education and rational thinking. The principles of democracy are grounded in rational thought that propounds the equality and liberty of all human kind. With the negation of rational thought in Pakistan, democracy too suffered a similar fate. Pakistan has languished under four military regimes interspersed with civil governments that can at best be termed as apologies for democracy.
The Kashmiri voice for Azaadi can be to an extent understood as a misguided and emotionally charged ideological aspiration. However, the desire to separate from India and join up with Pakistan for which Syed Ali Shah Geelani has stopped the education of the young generation completely defies rationale thinking and logic. It can only be hoped that good sense will prevail sooner than later.