By: I.A. Rehman
Over the next decade, he decisively transformed what was left of Jinnah’s dream of a secular democratic Pakistan into an almost completely theocratic polity.
His handiwork has survived more than three decades and appears unlikely to be replaced with another political structure in the foreseeable future.
In order to understand Ziaul Haq’s success in redefining Pakistan and the survival of his scheme we have to examine the genesis of ‘the Pakistan idea’ because he drew upon the tussle between two groups of people over what Pakistan was meant to be.
The Lahore Resolution of 1940 offered a constitutional scheme as an alternative to the one embodied in the Government of India Act of 1935.
In his address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on August 11, 1947, the Quaid-i-Azam also described the creation of Pakistan and Partition as the only solution of India’s constitutional problem.
This would imply that the movement for Pakistan was a purely political struggle unrelated to any religious objective.
However, the new constitutional scheme advanced for two parts of the British Indian territory was based on the fact that these were Muslim-majority areas and, after the failure of the Muslim leaders to secure adequate safeguards to which they were entitled as a large minority, the All-India Muslim League had won considerable support for the Two Nation Theory.
This theory defined the Muslims of India as a nation completely different from the majority (Hindu) community and one entitled to a state of its own.
The grounding of the Pakistan demand in the religious identity of the people for whom a state was being demanded gave rise to the idea that Pakistan could be an Islamic state.
Jinnah did not advocate a religious polity but he did not completely disown the religious motivation either. He ignored Gandhi’s offer of persuading Congress to concede Pakistan if it was not demanded on the basis of religion.
Jinnah often maintained that he was asking for a democratic state and that was what Islam stood for. The only people who believed Pakistan was not going to be an Islamic state were the ulema, with rare exceptions.
The elections of 1945-1946 revealed a significant division in the ranks of Pakistan’s supporters.
While the League leadership continued demanding Pakistan without disclosing in detail what Pakistan was going to be (like, religious slogans were raised especially in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa).
Although the slogan 'Pakistan ka matlab kia, La Ilaha il-Allah' was not the battle cry, it was frequently raised at some places.
Other religious slogans, such as 'Muslim hai tau Muslim League mein aa' [If you are a Muslim join the Muslim League] and 'Pakistan mein Musalmaanon ki hukumat hogi' [Pakistan will be ruled by Muslims] were freely used.
That religion did play a role in the movement for Pakistan was confirmed by the request made by Congress campaign organisers in Punjab to their high command to send some Muslim scholars to help them. Thus the Pakistan supporters were divided into two camps; one may be loosely defined as the group that swore by democracy while the other was vaguely attached to the concept of a religious state.
The roots of Zia’s Pakistan lay in this division. With the creation of Pakistan there was a reshuffling of posture by both groups.
The Quaid-i-Azam realized he no longer needed the religious card.
Three days before Pakistan’s emergence as a new state he said goodbye to the Two Nation Theory and called for the formation of a new nation on the basis of people’s citizenship of Pakistan.
The religious parties that had opposed the Pakistan demand did a complete volte-face and called for making Pakistan an Islamic state.
Two factors guided them: They had opposed Pakistan because they had no hope of its becoming an Islamic state; in the Pakistan the League had demanded, the Muslims were going to be in a nominal majority and declaring it as an Islamic state would have been almost impossible.
The partition of Punjab and Bengal changed the situation. In the new Pakistan’s population of 65 million, non-Muslims were only around 20 million, and most of them were in the eastern wing.
The ongoing riots could further reduce the non-Muslim population.
Besides, the religious parties had seen in the elections the strength of the religious slogans.
These two factors had brightened the prospect of declaring Pakistan an Islamic state.
Maulana Maududi was among the first ulema who decided to benefit from this situation.
He migrated to Pakistan, deleted the anti-Pakistan thesis from his major publication 'Musalman aur Siyasi Kashmakash' [Muslims and Political Struggle], accepted the Punjab government’s invitation to lecture the bureaucrats on Islamic values and broadcast similar messages on the radio.
However, he soon lost the government’s goodwill when he declared that Pakistan’s involvement in Kashmir was not jihad as the state was not Islamic.
Within a few months of Pakistan’s creation, in February 1948, the ulema of various shades of opinion presented the government with a charter of demands containing steps required to establish a religious state.
They were put off with promises of favourable consideration of their demands.
But the government was rattled by East Bengal’s demands for acceptance of its cultural rights and tried to face these demands by raising the standard of Islamic solidarity.
Eventually, it took refuge under the Objectives Resolution of March 1949, which displayed a variety of wares to suit different sections of the population.
The most important feature of the resolution was a declaration that sovereignty belonged to Allah. The ulema were jubilant.
The slogan-walas had defeated the Jinnah lobby.
The Jamaat-i-Islami now declared Pakistan an Islamic state.
The most telling observation on the Objectives Resolution came from a Congress member of the assembly who warned the house that the resolution had cleared the way for the emergence of an adventurer who could claim to be God’s appointee.
And General Zia behaved exactly like that.