Lively, well-attended discussion at the House of Lords, London on the book | " Pakistan---unique origins ; unique destiny ? ".


On Tuesday, 23rd July 2013 from 6.30 pm to 8 pm in Committee Room G of the House of Lords in Parliament building, Westminster, London, a lively, well-attended discussion was held on the book " Pakistan----unique origins ; unique destiny ? " by Javed Jabbar, published by the National Book Foundation in Islamabad.

Lord Nazir Ahmed of Rotherham hosted the discussion and Lord Khalid Hameed also jointly presided at the event. The Committee room was jam-packed with all 40 seats occupied and a few persons obliged to stand. Attendees included the elected woman Mayor of Hammersmith, Councillors, prominent British Pakistanis and Bangladeshis and British Indians, comprising bankers, businesspersons, management and marketing professionals, journalists, scholars, doctors, social activists,barristers and others, including several women.

Welcoming attendees to the event, Lord Nazir Ahmed noted the unique dimension of the book itself and quoted from the Foreword by Professor Shariful Mujahid who has stated that the book is : "...a carefully researched, thoroughly analytical, persuasively argued and eloquently written work...a must read...for all Pakistanis and for all those interested in South Asia..". He regretted that the book is not yet available for sale in the UK.

Introducing the book to attendees, the author said that he hoped a UK publisher will soon be willing to publish it in the UK. He said the book has sold well in Pakistan and its English version may soon go into its third edition while its Urdu and Sindhi versions are also in print. It has also been published in India with unchanged text but with another title as " Pakistan---Identity and Destiny ". Editions in other foreign languages are planned.

Presenting the theme and contents of the book, the author said the core concern is the extraordinary evolution of Pakistani nationalism after the birth of the Pakistani State in 1947 shaped by factors and conditions faced by no other State.

He said though Pakistan is an ailing state, it is not a failed or failing state. He said state structures and systems across the world, including the UK and the USA were being challenged by profound systemic crises. Despite Pakistan's own enormous problems of extremism, violence, bad governance, corruption, low human resource development, the people and society were demonstrating exceptional capacity to survive and persevere. He said an identity of Pakistaniyat was emerging containing within itself multiple other identities yet moving towards a singular, broad persona.

He identified sustained, refined democracy, a rational, knowledge-based application of Islam, improved relations with India (with the prime onus for this being on India ), greater readiness to deal with new global trends and enhanced individual citizen activism as the five potent factors likely to determine a stable, dynamic future for Pakistan.

Ziauddin Sardar, Co-editor of the quarterly journal " Critical Muslim ", and author of several books including " Desperately Seeking Paradise " acknowledged the distinctive nature of the book by Javed Jabbar. He expressed deep concern at how religion was being used in Pakistan to distort the original vision of its founders and the tendency of institutions and organizations to promote hate and violence against non-Muslims and perpetuate tension with India. He said major reforms were needed to make Pakistan's destiny match the uniqueness of its origins.

Attendees made incisive comments and put searching questions. These covered subjects such as : whether there are any examples of nation-states that have successfully combined a single religion with nationalistic identity to construct a democratic state respectful of all other religions; whether the European Union and the Franco-German model of reconciliation and trade is applicable in South Asia and Pakistan-India ; whether the Defence sector continues to pre-dominate budgetary resources in Pakistan ; whether adequate efforts are being made by the State and the Government to curb extremism and violence; whether the world can expect Pakistan to become more self-reliant instead of being dependent on IMF loans and foreign aid.

The author of the book responded to each query and reiterated his conviction that the polity and society of Pakistan possess the vitality and creativity to eventually strengthen the State and ensure its future progress.

Concluding the discussion, Lord Nazir Ahmed thanked all present for their keen interest and participation and hoped that the book will soon be available for readers in the UK and Europe.

Some details about the book are at www.javedjabbar.com .