From Resolution to Revolution

March 2015

There is a profound challenge for Pakistan 75 years after the adoption of the Lahore Resolution which led to the independent State of Pakistan in 1947.This challenge is to make a third and decisive transition. Over the past three-quarters of a century , two transitions were initiated but remain incomplete. The first transition requires on a mass level , a re-examination of our origins and history.

The second transition requires a re-positioning of our relationship with our land. The third transition requires an authentic Revolution , ideally comprehensive , and in practical terms, gradual, phased, in some respects simultaneous, in others consecutive. But in all respects tough , painful , sometimes unavoidably violent , always single-minded and radical.

Resolutions are far easier to manage, to amend, to re-interpret , as we know from the experience of the Lahore Resolution. On the other hand , Revolutions once begun can , like wars, spin out of control. So there can be no certainties about the future. But there is the freedom to dream, and to speculate !

The first transition that continues today in 2015 requires a re-appraisal , if not outright replacement of officially -approved school , college and university text-books about the formally certified past. Muslim nationalism in South Asia is a genuine aspiration rooted in the DNA of faith. Yet one kind of narrative of its expression fostered by some is an exclusivist version that rejects realities to enforce a needless uniformity which disregards our beautiful diversity.Ernest Renan said : " Getting history wrong is an essential part of becoming a nation ". While mythification energised the will and the negotiating guile to carve out the entirely new entity of Pakistan against formidable odds , some aspects of that mythification require re-visitation. One such central element is to replace the concept of a supra-State structure suddenly super-imposed virtually overnight upon identities and structures that stretch back hundreds or thousands of years.

While recognising that 97 per cent of the population of Pakistan in 2015 is Muslim, the re-visitation has to unequivocally acknowledge the heterogeneity of these 97 per cent Muslim people. This diversity is linguistic, ethnic, cultural, social, economic and sectarian. Therefore the notion of a supra nation-State descended from above --- in more senses than one --- has to be replaced with the concept of a volitional , willing , collaborative process of coming together. This dimension was already partly there at birth itself. It was evident in referenda , resolutions , rallies. However , there were some parts which were coerced , some actions that were unilateral : perhaps inevitable in the hurry -and -scurry of the bizarre haste with which we were established.

In 1971 , largely due to our own blunders but crucially due to India's active role , the harsh truth of our original sins broke our country as well as our hearts . 45 years later --- among some , not all--- new discontents have become a grave threat. At inception , the top was forced down to the bottom . Now it is time to enable the base , or rather , the different poles of our people to move towards a singularity of identity while retaining the individualities of respective pasts. To build a stable summit that makes the spirits soar.

The 18th Constitutional Amendment which provides the constituent Provinces of the Federation for the first time with fragments previously usurped by the super-imposed structure , is one vital yet inadequate and partly flawed step towards de-mythification.

In the first transition , both in the education text-books cited earlier ,and in the public education process shaped by media, civil society and in public discourse, the de-mythification may be small yet substantive. God is in the details. But the devil also hides somewhere in them. For instance, most young --- or even adult Pakistanis --- are not aware that the Lahore Resolution of 1940, adopted seven years after the invention in 1933 by Chaudhry Rehmat Ali of the name " Pakistan " does not even occur in what is widely termed the " Pakistan Resolution ". Nor that the poet--philosopher of Pakistan, Allama Iqbal , who lived up to five years after the announcement of the new name chose, to the best of one' s limited knowledge , never ever to use the term " Pakistan "either in his poetry, in his writings or in his statements.
Nor even did the Quaid --Azam use the name of the country he was going to create till AFTER the passage of the very text which is said to be its formative text.

Are these trivia or are they important facts of how ambivalently and remarkably the State of Pakistan was eventually yet almost instantly created ? Young Pakistanis in particular deserve to know about the ambiguities of history rather than be fed with flat generalities that under-estimate the capacity of youth to appreciate nuances and shades of grey.

While the young are " taught " about the 1940 Resolution , few, if any , are instructed about the amendments made by the April 1941 session of the Muslim League , held 13 months later in Madras.

The over-all significance of the amendments was to reinforce and deepen the original concept of two independent entities : one in the North-west , one in the North-East. It was only in the April 1946 convention of Muslim League legislators that another Resolution was adopted aiming to create one, single State , not two. But this was NOT a Resolution of the League as a party which had adopted the first two Resolutions of 1940 and 1941. While a change in conditions between 1941 and 1946 may help explain the basic alteration of vision , the normal omission from the history that is taught avoids dealing with fundamental facts of the indigenous identities that surrendered their rights to their own sovereign autonomy and helped constitute the new single State of Pakistan. Mr Jinnah ascribed the elimination of the plural reference as a typographical mistake in the original.

The second transition is to re-position relationships with land. While respecting the principle of ancestral continuity between a portion of the earth and a community's association with that particular soil , there is also the reality that many of those who rightfully claim to be sons of the soil are actually descendants of those who , in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries came from other places, near and far , to settle on other people's historic lands. For instance, several Baloch tribes settled and took over parts of today's Sindh for various reasons.

Just as, in the later part of the 20th century , people who migrated from other parts of South Asia to what is now Pakistan, began as step-sons of the soil. But who, in a couple of generations , through sheer continuity, through inter-marriages with earlier settlers or original occupants, through factors of dependence , by their own sweat and toil , have become naturalised sons of the soil too.

Post-1947 , the internal migrations of millions , from rural to urban areas , from one Province to another , from one geography to an entirely different terrain have altered demography and formed new relationships between the land and those live upon it. The Punjabi-speaking or Urdu-speaking settlers in Quetta , though relatively small in number ,feel as much part of Balochistan as do the Pukhtuns and the Baloch of that Province. The Pukhtuns in Karachi and in other parts of urban Sindh , have become so numerous over the past 40 years in particular that Karachi alone is projected to become a Pukhtun -majority mega-city over the next 10 to 20 years.

So the physical territory of the Pakistan of the 21st century already exudes a new, unprecedented assimilated dimension of association and ownership. The pre-1947 occupants of the country' s territory have demonstrated an extraordinary hospitality and accommodation to the post-1947 influxes. As a whole, the country has also shown virtually unrivalled openness and acceptance for 2.5 million Afghan refugees settled for the past 36 years since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan of 1979.

The failure to conduct the census due in 2008 because of apprehensions of some that the results would legitimise some unpalatable realities is an indicator that the second transition is incomplete. But being incomplete does not mean that it should remain so !

Perhaps the third transition is the most complex. Which is to initiate the Revolution of the future. Just as the Resolutions of 1940 , 1941 and the legislators' resolution of 1946 crystallised historic trends and responded to new exigencies , the Revolution envisaged will comprise multiple trends, phases and events. Their cumulative impact will hopefully be that of a truly transformative change.

In the country' s formative phase , the military was not a determinant factor. Though in amplifying how Defence was to be managed, the Quaid and the Muslim League were concerned about the need to ensure that the responsibility for the defence of Pakistan be clearly defined to avert any threat to State survival.

In 2015 , after four phases of military-led rule, the military is either an overt or a covert factor in some basic aspects of State policy. The hard, but real fact is that the military cannot be by-passed. Equally, the civil, political dimension must be strengthened to become the ascendant , competent factor in State affairs.

The Revolution is already in -the -making. Fragile at first, still vulnerable , a distinct direction is being defined. By an assertive Judiciary , by hyper-media , by mass discontent frequently expressed in street protests , by the response to terrorism , by Zarb-i-Azb. Though the first, prolonged phase of the Revolution is violent , some parallel phases are non-violent, self-introspective, and even creative. Fortunately , there is no single leader , else the messiah complex would soon make it messier

As appraisal critical of those who claim to be the ideological custodians of Islam increases, as revulsion at terrorist and extremist barbarities grows , as support for the insurgency in Balochistan remains confined , the space for a pre-dominantly non-violent Pakistan Revolution expands.

The Resolutions of 1940 and 1941 used at least five different terms to describe the possible geographical composition of the new State : units, areas, regions, states and homelands , first to be re-adjusted, then to be simply adjusted.

Correspondingly , one can identify five different ideological components of Pakistan's faith-based identity and destiny , of which only one should emerge as the dominant component.

1. A moderate, balanced, humanist, inclusivist interpretation of Islam as articulated and symbolised by the persona and actions of Quaid-I-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Post-Independence ,Mr Jinnah did make some statements which are cited by some to suggest that he adopted an orthodox view of religion and State but one must go by the totality of his life and his work, not by a few sentences that can be read with ambiguity.

2. The same as above, but without the clarity and will to articulate it, leave alone to enforce it. Instead , a lethal willingness on the part of " moderate " political parties , with only a few exceptions , to be awed and intimidated by orthodox custodians of the faith.

3. Religious political parties that do not accept the several Islamic provisions in the 1973 Constitution , in its original form and in its amended versions as being sufficiently true to Islam.Instead , they ask for their respective versions of Shariah to be given more weightage. They claim to participate in parliamentary democracy with reluctance and only in order to help State stability.

4. Those who , while being Muslim , reject the supra-State structure of Pakistan and call themselves nationalists as per their respective regions. Some, such as those in Sindh use words as weapons ,while some in Balochistan use weapons in place of words.

5.Those who completely reject the concept of the Pakistani State as presently constructed because in their view it is actually unIslamic , who make no bones about dismissing democracy and who do not participate in the electoral process.
One of these last categories use violence against other Muslim sects and against non-Muslims. Some of these appear to enjoy a weird protection from parts of the State itself.

Of the above five different views of religion and the State , the first seems to represent the overwhelming majority of the people of Pakistan. Religiosity and showy piety have spread in recent years --- partly as a reaction to rapid, bewildering change. Yet the first balanced approach , despite representing the vast majority is ironically the most weakly -2organised and under-represented in elected forums and in other institutions.

Elements of the Pakistan Revolution should comprise several radical changes. Reform and rationalisation of the Education system to end schisms, enable equity. Local Government elections to be held BEFORE Provincial and National elections : to vest power at the grass-roots level and re-build the State base up.

A directly elected President while retaining the office of Prime Minister ,along with a directly elected Senate : to vastly strengthen the civil dimension in relation with the military , to promote cohesion between all 4 Provinces and to enable the 3 smaller Provinces to gain equity with Punjab. A new primacy to human resource development with particular priority to women's empowerment ,girls' education ,health care , nutrition : to increase female participation in the formal labour force from below 30 per cent to at least double. Increase access to family planning services to achieve balanced population growth. Ruthless, uncompromising attack on corruption at the highest level. Tackling the virus of violence through daunting but determined de-weaponisation as conducted in Turkey in the 1980s. Compulsory voting to make democracy truly representative. Compulsory military service for all fit adults between 18 and 40 years every 6 months and every two years for 4 such spells : to reduce the cleavage between civil and military, to defuse the monopoly on security issues , to instil discipline amongst millions of citizens whose disregard for the law is evident at most traffic lights as also in massive evasion of income tax obligations. Increase documentation of the real economy : whereas the official GDP is about US dollars 280 billion, reliable estimates that include the parallel economy place it at 750 billion or even one trillion dollars.

The Revolution will probably require about two generations --- about 30 to 40 years ---to show progressive results. There is not a moment to be lost !

As published in Dawn's special report on Pakistan Day 23rd March 2015.