The “ideological” foundations of Pakistan

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Yasser Latif Hamdani[1]


(The vague concept of South Asian Muslim nationalism has proved to be an inadequate unifier.  Pakistan’s inability to learn from the mistakes made by the Congress Party led to the ultimate dissolution of the erstwhile Union which included the Eastern wing. Given that after 1971, there were more South Asian Muslims outside Pakistani borders (as in Bangladesh and India) than inside it, the Pakistani establishment was forced to seek Islamic ideology as a possible replacement to South Asian Muslim nationalism as the basis of the state. Had Pakistan focused on understanding the complex nature of events that had resulted in its creation, it would have been much easier to understand and appreciate the vision laid down by Mohammad Ali Jinnah on August 11, 1947. – Author)

K K Aziz’s most important contribution to the study of the genesis of Pakistan comes in his incredible study of why, how and when Muslims in British India began to see themselves as a nation and where the aspiration for a separate Muslim state arose. His works are eye-opening for those who wish to limit the idea of Pakistan and its practical execution to the All India Muslim League (AIML) and the negotiations between Jinnah and his erstwhile comrades in the Congress. It becomes apparent that the belated conversion of the Muslim League and Mr. Jinnah to the idea of Pakistan was the final phase of an idea that was in the offing for at least half a century if not more. Most other monumental works on partition are merely works on Jinnah and the AIML’s politics from 1937-1947 essentially and therefore leave out the innate instincts by which men like Chaudhry Rahmat Ali and Mian Kifayet Ali were guided and which took root amongst Muslims of present day Pakistan. They fail to see the significance of why Dr. Iqbal and no other national Muslim leader spoke of a consolidated national state for Muslims within or outside India in 1930 and that this nationalism itself was borne out of the urban middle class Muslims in regions that were Muslim majority.

It is true that many are now allergic to the acceptance of a nationalism based on group identity which may include religion, however, throughout history we see that religious differences have been a major driving force behind those vague notions we call “national aspirations”. The truth is, all nationalism based on group identity is the same; whether based on language, race or religion. Humanity has to reach a post-nationalist phase for the next step in its evolution but there is no distinction between the various ideologies of exclusion. Religion has in the nationalist phase played an important role in even the most secular of national identities.  It was, for instance, because of the inability of Muslim rulers of the multicultural Ottoman Empire to fuse their identity with their Non-Muslim subjects that Turkey and Greece are two different states instead of one. Countless examples can be quoted as well from the History of Europe where the concept of the nation state originated.  Pakistan’s idea, however, was unique in the sense that it appeared in the 1930s – long after the demise of the Mughal Empire in India.  In this sense, it was not the emergence of a modern class of patriotic officers and operatives within the old Muslim imperial structure, as was the case in Turkey, but rather the emergence of a modern middle class amongst the Muslim community no longer in power who sought a Muslim homeland for themselves.

KK Aziz wrote of no less than 80 schemes for the partition of India that emerged before the so called idea of Pakistan was expressed by Dr. Iqbal in 1930.  The most important of these schemes was what ultimately became known as the “Confederacy of India”.  Aziz identifies the author as Mian Kifayet Ali who confirmed it in his letters. There are startling revelations of this scheme which should assist historians in analyzing historical developments in a different light. For example, the original name of the scheme was “Pakistan” when it went to the publishers. At the same time it was sent to Jinnah as the League had requested for alternate plans to the federation envisaged under the Government of India Act, 1935. Jinnah sent an immediate telegram to the Nawab of Mamdot, the financier of the publication, asking him to change the name of the scheme. It was therefore amended and ultimately re-named “Confederacy of India.”

This scheme was not only prophetic but also projected the mindset of the educated Muslim middle class at the time.  Mian Kifayat Ali’s foremost idea was that the Muslims of Northwest India constituted a nation. This was perhaps the most lucid and articulate expression of Muslim Nationalism.  Jinnah repeated all the arguments put forward by Kifayet Ali in Lahore’s Minto Park and, as a result, this would eventually be referred to as Jinnah’s Two Nation Theory. It is apparent that Jinnah studied this scheme in detail and used much of its content in his presidential address in the League session in 1940. The Lahore Resolution, when seen in the light of the proposals of the Confederacy of India, becomes a powerful expression of a Muslim national identity and an instinct towards separatism that is often ignored by all sides of the argument.

The book mentions differences of history, culture, laws and ultimately religious doctrine that formed an unbridgeable gap between the two communities. However, after dwelling on these superficial but substantial differences, the author goes into the economic differences that stood in the way of Hindu-Muslim Unity.  It is, in the end, a class argument. Muslims were agriculturalists and had a weaker bourgeoisie whereas Hindus had a strong middle class. The author rightly noted that at times the protectionist tariffs affected Muslims and Hindus differently. Kifayet Ali predicted that the movement for separation would be led by and fuelled by a middle class. KK Aziz calls this a remarkable prediction given that it was Jinnah, a self made man from the middle class and not the old Muslim aristocracy that ultimately led the movement.

This was because the entire economic and political future was in the hands of the Hindu majority and the fear of marginalization was real. W. Cantwell Smith, a writer who is particularly noted for his antipathy towards Muslim League and the Pakistan Movement, while condemning the Muslim League’s demand for Pakistan, wrote: “Middle Class Muslims realized one after another that their chance for middle class success, pitifully meager in the present order, and, as individual’s, none too bright in Free Capitalist India, would be immensely increased if they stand together as a corporate Muslim middle class and fight for power. If Pakistan were achieved they would have an opportunity of investing their money, of dominating commerce, the professions, the government service, of raising tariffs to foster their own industries and so on. The fact that Pakistan would not solve the communal problem of the masses was thus irrelevant. They have said Hindus and Muslims are so different that they cannot live in one state. What they meant is that the Hindu bourgeoisie and the Muslim bourgeoisie are so competitive that they cannot own banks and industries and run commerce, do the professional and other jobs in one capitalist state” Pages 273-274 Modern Islam in India.

So what W C Smith intended to be a “critique” of the Pakistan idea actually came closest to being its most agreeable definition and proper justification. The only difference was that Muslim League never said Hindus and Muslims could not live together but rather that there ought to be two states- one Muslim Majority and the other Hindu Majority –  to fulfill the economic and political ambitions of the rising middle classes of both communities. What Smith does not explain is why the bourgeoisie itself was divided along Hindu and Muslim lines. The main reason for this was – as mentioned above- that historically Muslims, especially where they had been rulers, had never been able to fuse their identity with their non-Muslim subjects. Hinduism and Islam especially were not able to forge a united identity because of their totally divergent nature and social systems. To quote Kifayet Ali “Hinduism is flexible, conciliatory and vague, Islam is rigid, uncompromising and clear cut”.

Smith’s argument on the competitiveness of the bourgeoisies was also wrong. On the contrary, it was the utter and total lopsidedness of the two that necessitated partition. This was the main argument by Kifayet Ali who wrote: “ In the economic field , the Hindus have such a grasping control over every economic activity that Muslims find it impossible to enter into such a closed society. All trading and industrial concerns are Hindu. The banking and insurance companies from which they borrow are Hindu. The middle men who control the marketing of goods are Hindus. Even the petty shopkeepers are Hindu.”

Many critics who oppose the concept of Pakistan try and point to similar arguments as the one above to prove that Pakistan was based on “hate”. Some clever, yet utterly dishonest, Indian writers have tried to equate Muslim nationalist grievances to the Nationalist Socialist Party of Germany under Adolf Hitler.  The more than obvious point being overlooked here is that unlike the Jews who were a hapless minority, though economically strong, the Hindus were a majority of 3 to 1 in South Asia. Muslims in United India were – and continue to remain – victims of prejudice and a minority. The economic prejudice to which Muslims were subjected might have worked well for the religious orthodoxy within the Muslim community for they could prey on poverty, but for the Muslim middle class the only way out was to find an alternate route to secure their economic and political interests in South Asia and this was Pakistan. This is why, standing in Pakistan’s way were not just the leaders of the Caste Hindu majority but the orthodox doctors of Islam and Muslim feudal lords of the Unionist Party as well. In addition, a small group of independently rich Muslims also opposed Pakistan. Had it not been for Gandhi’s famous characterization of Jinnah as the “gentleman from the minority community” and the repeated rebukes by Congress on the issue of Hindu-Muslim Unity, Jinnah might well have been part of a group of individually successful but highly irrelevant Muslims who acted as assistants of the Congress.

The Muslim demand was not based on hatred for Hindus nor was there a desire to overpower the Hindus and establish Muslim rule.  Kifayet Ali, for instance, kept the Muslim claim to a minimum in the event that, at some future date, Muslims may consider establishing an Islamic order in these Muslim states. One thing is for sure, their idea of separatism was not based on the disintegration of India but rather on an amicable division which would maintain cultural and geographical unity and would live in peace and harmony with its neighbors. A very important difference was that the authors of these schemes were to a large extent products of western education and went to great lengths in an attempt to reconcile faith with modern parliamentary democracy. They believed that the British parliamentary system was most suited for largely homogenous societies and therefore sought to create their own majority state where they could develop an Islamic society based on parliamentary and democratic lines

These schemes were never a clarion call for a Caliphate. Ch. Rahmat Ali’s schemes – wild and chaotic as they were- were nationalist and not religious in orientation even if his nationalism was colored by religious symbolism and personal mysticism. Kifayet Ali, spoke of a world revolution on Islamic lines.  What he meant by this was an Islamic renaissance and reformation and not a desire to dominate non-Muslims. He believed and clearly stated that everyone had the right to live according to their own cultural and religious beliefs. Even with respect to Pakistan, Kifayet Ali did not declare that it would necessarily have to be an Islamic state. He believed that such a choice should be left to the people of Pakistan.

The adaptation of the arguments of this scheme by Jinnah made it apparent that he was impressed by it.  Jinnah, himself, was coming to terms with the idea of Muslim nationalism but from a totally different direction.   Throughout, his main objective had been to come to some sort of an understanding with the Congress Party.  His disillusionment with Nehru after 1937 made him consider alternatives. World War II broke out in 1939 and Congress’ reaction to Lord Linlithgow’s declaration of war on behalf of India made the British look for options other than the Congress. Fearing an imminent alliance between the British and the Muslims, Gandhi begged Linlithgow not to consult the Muslim League. Sir Sikandar Hayat also tried to stop such a meeting but for different reasons.

Linlithgow asked Jinnah to meet anyway.  Jinnah advised the Viceroy, in this meeting, to turn out the Congress for they would never stand with Britain in this war. He also thanked the Viceroy for helping him keep the Muslims together – a reference to Linlithgow disregarding Sir Sikandar’s advice to ignore Jinnah. When asked about the all India federation under the Government of India Act, 1935, Jinnah said this was no longer acceptable upon which Lord Linlithgow asked him to give his own alternative. This instigated the League to search for alternate schemes which, in turn, prompted the Nawab of Mamdot to forward Kifayet Ali’s modified scheme to Jinnah. Contrary to the claims made later, and those even by Ayesha Jalal, the British predicament did not dictate the timing of the Lahore Resolution; however, Jinnah was able to exploit this scenario to his advantage.  More significantly, by 1940, Jinnah was already convinced that India would have to be divided into two or three federations – preferably in a confederation or a treaty alliance. Not only would this meet the needs of the Muslim middle class but this would also solve the communal problem which would be more manageable in separate federations.

Jinnah was quite clear – despite the fact that the idea of Muslim nationalism was naturally predicated on Islamic symbols – that the Muslim majority federation would have to be a secular democratic state with sovereignty resting with the people of that future federation unconditionally and without any bar vis a vis community. Jinnah made a distinction between citizenship/state and group nationalism. His vision of a state – which was that of a secular democracy- was clearly beyond the comprehension of the Muslim middle class despite all its apparent westernization. Jinnah, it must be remembered, came not from the traditional centers of Muslim middle class like Aligarh but was the product of a thoroughly western education. As an Ismaili Khoja Lawyer, educated in Lincoln’s Inn and steeped in British liberal tradition, Jinnah was much more integrated in the Hindu bourgeoisie than any of the other Muslim leaders. In fact had it not been for his name, he would be considered a part of the westernized Hindu bourgeoisie: economically, socially, politically and culturally. Of course, Jinnah did not expect his secular vision for Pakistan to come overnight, however, even a gradual evolution was alien to the otherwise westernized and secular Muslim League second tier.

Another fact that needs to be recognized is that the complex study of Jinnah and the Muslim League leadership that Ayesha Jalal presents is entirely true in so far as Jinnah’s relationship with his subordinate leaders in the Muslim League was concerned.  Having only been re-organized as a mass party in 1936-1937, documentary evidence pertaining to the League’s weak organization is overwhelming. However, Jinnah reached out to the Muslim masses over the heads of Muslim League leaders. By raising the slogan for sovereignty, Jinnah had given shape and substance to the demands and schemes of many in the Muslim majority areas. This led to what K K Aziz called a “phalanx” like community organized behind Jinnah and leaving feudals and leaders at the top no choice but to fall in line.

In addition, another mistaken belief is that it was Gandhi who, by patronizing the Mullahs, made religious identity non-negotiable. Actually, Gandhi’s support to the religious clergy during the Khilafat Movement and the subsequent disaster only served to discredit the clergy in Muslim eyes.

Furthermore, it is a misconception that the British divide and rule policy started in the 20th century. Right from Company Raj in the 18th century to Lord Curzon’s rule in early 20th century, the British had maintained a policy of encouraging the Hindu majority of India against the Mughal and Muslim ruling class. The Hindu majority, oppressed for centuries by callous Muslim rule, had built themselves a strong economic community – a process that started as early as the 1790s by Raja Ram Mohan Roy. It was not until another 80 years that a Muslim, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, emphasized the importance of modern education and even then he did so for the Ashrafia or the upper classes. The division thus predated all the major leaders who are often blamed by either side for the divide.

Before the British colonised the subcontinent, the people of this region existed in overlapping sets of multiple identities, where contending sovereignty of identity groups was negotiated and power was shared at several levels.

The British brought with them European notions of nations and nation states.  The different dynamics of homogenous European nation states and the heterogeneous nature of India were glossed over while applying the same model on the latter.  Later enthusiastic young Indian nationalists, including Muslims like Badruddin Tyabji and Mohammad Ali Jinnah, agreed with this concept of one Indian nation and remained committed to it for a very long time. It was only the fear of Hindu majority rule within this one Indian nation that forced Jinnah to revert to the thesis they had previously rejected, i.e. India was not one nation but at least two if not more. The two major leaders of the Indian Nationalist Movement post-1920, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, were well aware of the various contending identities within the umbrella of the Indian Nationalist Movement yet, the centralised Indian identity proved to be intolerant of smaller communal and ethnic identities. In fact, Congress spent much of its time demonising them as the “other”: the exact opposite of the one Indian identity.

Instead of relying on the pre-colonial paradigm of multiple identities and shared sovereignty, the folly of South Asian leadership, including Jinnah till at least 1937, was that they sought the national concept prevalent in the industrialised world which was generally limited to a few million people at a time in one nation state and tried to apply it to India which was one of the most populous and diverse countries of the world.  It was the failure of the Congress leadership to move beyond this idea of the nation state that made it impossible for them to come to an arrangement with the Muslim League on the basis of the Cabinet Mission Plan, a plan that would have preserved Indian unity, the good that British had done, and restored India’s original concept of shared sovereignty, structured on modern lines. Critics of this scheme allege that this would have been a negation of a “one-man one-vote” democracy. In reality the Cabinet Mission Plan would have been a reasonable and logical negation of the centralised nation state but not of the one person one vote democracy. The one person one vote democracy would have been perfectly served within individual nations that co-existed in one India.

Failure to envisage communities as nations, a nationhood which at least one party had already claimed in 1940, on the part of the Congress rendered its own political discourse useless. For all its claims of being inclusive and representative, by failing to accommodate an alternative understanding of the national discourse in India, the Congress ultimately laid the seeds of partition.

The23rd March commemorates two events: 1) Passing of the Lahore Resolution in 1940.  2) The declaration of a republic in Pakistan in 1956.   The Lahore Resolution is perhaps the most venerated and yet the most unimplemented document in the state that lays claim to it.  The document is reproduced in full below:

The Lahore Resolution

March 23, 1940 – Lahore

“While approving and endorsing the action taken by the Council and the Working Committee of the All India Muslim League, as indicated in their resolutions dated the 27th of August, 17th & 18th of September and 22nd of October, 1939, and the 3rd of February, 1940 on the constitutional issue, this session of the All India Muslim League emphatically reiterates that the scheme of federation embodied in the Government of India Act 1935 is totally unsuited to, and unworkable in the peculiar conditions of this country and is altogether unacceptable to Muslim India.

It further records its emphatic view that while the declaration dated the 18th of October, 1939 made by the Viceroy on behalf of His Majesty’s Government is reassuring in so far as it declares that the policy and plan on which the Government of India Act, 1935, is based will be reconsidered in consultation with various parties, interests and communities in India, Muslims in India will not be satisfied unless the whole constitutional plan is reconsidered de novo and that no revised plan would be acceptable to Muslims unless it is framed with their approval and consent.

Resolved that it is the considered view of this Session of the All India Muslim League that no constitutional plan would be workable in this country or acceptable to the Muslims unless it is designed on the following basic principles, viz., that geographically contiguous units are demarcated into regions which should be constituted, with such territorial readjustments as may be necessary that the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in a majority as in the North Western and Eastern Zones of (British) India should be grouped to constitute ‘independent states’ in which the constituent units should be autonomous and sovereign.

That adequate, effective and mandatory safeguards should be specifically provided in the constitution for minorities in these units and in the regions for the protection of their religious, cultural, economic, political, administrative and other rights and interests in consultation with them and in other parts of India where the Muslims are in a minority adequate, effective and mandatory safeguards shall be specifically provided in the constitution for them and other minorities for the protection of their religious, cultural, economic, political, administrative and other rights and interests in consultation with them.

The Session further authorizes the Working Committee to frame a scheme of constitution in accordance with these basic principles, providing for the assumption finally by the respective regions of all powers such as defense, external affairs, communications, customs, and such other matters as may be necessary.”

Many historians have written about the various implications of this document but my interest in it is not that of a historian but as a citizen of Pakistan and a resident of this subcontinent.   Perhaps the best articulation of the problems that arise from not studying what ought to have been Pakistan’s constitutional magna carta appeared in an article by Dr. Ayesha Jalal a few years ago:

“Historians and publicists in India have seized on the contradiction in the demand for a Pakistan based on the Muslim right of self-determination and the apparent unwillingness to grant the same right to non-Muslims living in Punjab and Bengal.

Much like their counterparts in Pakistan, they have conveniently glossed over the difference between a purely secessionist demand and one aimed at providing the building block for an equitable power sharing arrangement at the sub continental level between two essentially sovereign states – ‘Pakistan’ based on the Muslim-majority provinces and Hindustan based on the Hindu-majority provinces.

With their singular focus on a monolithic and indivisible concept of sovereignty borrowed from the erstwhile colonial rulers, scholars and students of history on both sides of the 1947 divide have been unable to envisage a political arrangement based on a measure of shared sovereignty which might have satisfied the demands of ‘majorities’ as well as safeguarded the interests of religious minorities in predominantly Muslim and Hindu areas.

In 1944 and then again at the time of the Cabinet Mission Plan, the All-India Muslim League at the behest of Mohammad Ali Jinnah refused to accept a ‘Pakistan’ based on the division of the Punjab and Bengal.

It was Congress’s unwillingness to countenance an equitable power sharing arrangement with the Muslim League which resulted in the creation of a sovereign Pakistan based on the partition of Punjab and Bengal along ostensibly religious lines.

Cast against its will in the role of a state seceding from a hostile Indian union, Pakistan has tried securing its independent existence by espousing an ideology of Muslim ‘nationhood’ which has entailed riding roughshod over the provincial rights promised in the Lahore Resolution and dispensing with democracy for the better part of its history.”

The Lahore Resolution, the crowning glory of the Muslim League’s existence and the basis for the independent and sovereign state of Pakistan, deliberately left the door open on a United India.   The constitutional scheme propagated by it clearly provided room for negotiation, as is evident from the very last line.  Jinnah, in a revealing moment, agreed with H.V.  Hodson’s assessment that Muslim League’s “Pakistan” was consistent with a United India.

Many of Pakistan’s constitutional crises have emerged due to our inability to implement the fundamental features of the Lahore Resolution in our constitution.   Some have argued that this started with the Delhi Muslim League Legislators convention in 1946 where “one state” was substituted by two.  However, research also shows that the League, especially Jinnah, was ready to accept an independent United Bengal as late as May 1947.     In 1970, Mujeeb ran on a platform called “6 points”.  The 6 points were nothing but a reiteration of some of the finer points of the Lahore Resolution. Had those in power been more discerning, they would have seen Mujeeb’s demands as a strengthening of the basic principle on which Pakistan was realized.

So let us consider here some of the fundamental implications of the Lahore Resolution and how they might affect our constitutional scheme:

  1. Provincial autonomy:

Time perhaps has come for Pakistan to reassess some fundamental features of the relationship between the center and the provinces.  In the context of the 1973 constitution this would mean:

a.  Abolition of the concurrent list.  This would entail revising federal and provincial legislative lists.   The federal government should deal with external affairs, defence, currency, communications, customs and fundamental rights.

b.  Abolition of the Zia-introduced Federal Shariat Court as it might impinge on the legislative powers of the provinces.     The Supreme Court of Pakistan alone should exist as a final court of appeal for all provincial high courts with Suo Motu powers to impose fundamental rights.

c.  The appointment of provincial government should remain the prerogative of the federal government but it should be made subject to an approval by a senate committee instead of the president or prime minister.

2.  Minorities’ Rights

The resolution speaks of “adequate, effective and mandatory safeguards”  to “be specifically provided in the constitution for minorities”  for the “protection of their religious, cultural, economic, political, administrative and other rights and interests in consultation with them.”

The adequacy of these safeguards has been made subject to “consultation” with minorities.  Therefore, the Lahore Resolution is calling for the same safeguards for Pakistan’s minorities that Muslim League had asked for Muslims in India.   These safeguards were to be “specifically provided”, which meant that these would not be subject to Islamization but would constitute the immutable part of that constitution which would be adopted by Pakistan.  And these safeguards would not merely be “religious” but also inter alia ”cultural”, “economic”, “political” and “administrative.”

This should have sufficed as the “Objectives’ Resolution.”  The Pakistan Constituent Assembly, however, passed a separate Objectives Resolution in 1949 which narrowed the scope of the safeguards to be provided to minorities and broadened the mission statement of Pakistan to include, “enabling” the Muslims to lead lives according to their faith.   It was further narrowed when General Zia amended the Objectives Resolution to exclude the word “freely,” with regard to the practice of religion by minorities, before inserting it as part of the constitution of Pakistan.  It is apparent that, since then, digression from the letter and spirit of the Lahore Resolution has only escalated.

Post-partition India, despite being officially secular with an uninterrupted democracy (which has, no doubt, given it an edge) remains, for the most part, a Hindu-dominated nation state. The erosion of the Congress Party coupled with a rise of smaller regional and other ideological alliances has, however, made it possible for smaller groups to play a greater role in the destiny of their homeland.

In comparison, Pakistan’s dilemma has been more pronounced. The vague concept of South Asian Muslim nationalism has proved to be an inadequate unifier.  Pakistan’s inability to learn from the mistakes made by the Congress Party led to the ultimate dissolution of the erstwhile Union which included the Eastern wing. Given that after 1971, there were more South Asian Muslims outside Pakistani borders (as in Bangladesh and India) than inside it, the Pakistani establishment was forced to seek Islamic ideology as a possible replacement to South Asian Muslim nationalism as the basis of the state. Had Pakistan focused on understanding the complex nature of events that had resulted in its creation, it would have been much easier to understand and appreciate the vision laid down by Mohammad Ali Jinnah on August 11, 1947.

Contrary to suggestions, Jinnah was not reversing or retiring the identity that had resulted in the partition but rather was expounding the secular principle of citizenship which should be an essential feature of any modern state. His hope that religious and ethnic political identities would lose importance in Pakistan was not a denial of their significance but rather an appeal to work towards an inclusive and pluralistic future; mindful of the multiple identities that existed within Pakistan. Having considered the idea of converting the Muslim League into a Pakistan League open to all citizens of Pakistan and realising that public opinion was not ready for it at that point in time, Jinnah resigned from the Muslim League on 17 December 1947, declaring that as governor general he could not remain the head of a self avowed communal organisation. This was an indication of his belief that the state was above identity, community and nation.  Jinnah did not close the door on the idea of re-establishing Muslim League as a non-communal party. He told Roger Stimson that the decision to have a purely Muslim organisation was not irrevocable and that it all depended on the progress Pakistan would make. He was hoping that Pakistan would gradually integrate and move beyond politics of identity to politics of issues. Having suffered both, military and pseudo-democratic centrism, it is about time that Pakistan re-imagined, re-cast, re-drew and re-organised a state along these lines.

It is not enough to state this without giving a solution. This would require Pakistan and Pakistanis to accept that Pakistan is a multicultural, multi-religious, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and even a multi-national state; that a Pakistani citizen has multiple identities encompassing multiple situations and multiple classes; that there is no hard and fast distinction between majority and minority but rather an accommodation between the various identities and classes that contribute to making Pakistan one whole.

[1] Yasser Latif Hamdani is a lawyer based in Lahore.  He can be reached at