Previous few articles in this space have dealt the idea that if Pakistan’s constitution should be based on fundamental human principles of equality and fair play, as expressed by the founder of the nation, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, on 11 August 1947. He clearly said that religion of a citizen would be his business alone and not that of the state.In my previous articles I also explained in these articles the complex set of events that led to the partition of British India into Pakistan and India. What is clear to my mind is that there is no ideological or religious rationale for having a constitution in Pakistan that distinguishes on the basis of citizenship members of different faiths. I have repeated it before and I will repeat it again — whether a Pakistani is a Muslim or a Christian or any other faith — the state should obviously not concern itself with such a question. The matter of religion is an issue between man and god. That is why when our wannabe Islamic Napoleon Zulfikar Ali Bhutto took it upon himself to resolve a 90 year “theological” question of the Ahmadi community, he did untold damage to the country. The question of citizenship and self identification cannot be resolved through tyranny of the majority in the national assembly. A national assembly is not the council of Nicaea but it is the representative of all members of a nation. There is no provision, even in this hyper-Islamised constitution, that defines Pakistani as only a Muslim. On the contrary any person born a Pakistani, no matter what his religion might be or lack thereof, is an equal Pakistani. Why then does the 1973 Constitution create several layers of discriminations. A Non-Muslim Pakistani cannot be the Prime Minister or President. I know many magnificent Pakistanis, honest, people of integrity, loyal and patriotic who would have given good account of themselves as Prime Ministers and Presidents than the sorry lots we have had ruling upon up in the last many decades. Are we seriously going to ask the question as to whether someone like Justice A R Cornelius was eminently more qualified or not than Ziaul Haqs and Nawaz Sharifs and the likes. These gentlemen were better, more sagacious, honest, ameen and sadiq despite being Non-Muslims. This damnable constitution as I pointed out last time was put in place by the very gentlemen who had opposed the creation of Pakistan including Wali Khan, Mufti Mahmood, Maualana Maududi, Maula Bux Soomro etc. It does not take much to check their historic records against the making of Pakistan as well as their support for the so called consensus constitution of 1973. Sooner or later Pakistan will have to give up its obsession with religion and appeasement of extremist forces. Only then will Pakistan stand as a respectable nation in the comity of nations Pakistan can no longer afford to be an exclusivist republic, such as an Islamic Republic. A democracy is either a democracy or it is not. An Islamic Republic is not a democracy. It is a theocracy. Any system of government which privileges one set of beliefs over another is a theocracy. Jinnah warned against Pakistan becoming a theocracy several times. Read his especially his addresses to the people of Australia and America in which he ruled out the very idea of theocracy. He said very clearly — Pakistan shall not be a theocratic state to be run by priests with a divine mission. Yet a theocratic state run by priests with a divine mission is precisely what Pakistan is. The biggest issue over the last two weeks in this country has been the oath of Khatm-e-Nabuwat — a doctrinal religious issue. It is true that a great majority of Muslim sects have different interpretation of this doctrinal issue but does that mean you kill that small minority ie Ahmadis who disagree? Do they have no right to their own belief system? Pakistan’s actions against religious minorities, including Ahmadis, fall squarely foul of Pakistan’s obligations under International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Pakistan ratified ICCPR in 2010 and won alongside it the prestigious GSP Plus status from European markets. I put to you that so long as Pakistan remains an Islamic Republic and so long as Pakistan continues to ignore Jinnah’s clear promise made on 11 August 1947, Pakistan will never fully integrate itself as a responsible human rights state that fully respects its international obligations. The international community must — the time has come — force Pakistan to amend its constitution and undo any and all legislation and provisions that violate the very principle of equal citizenship guaranteed to every human being under United Nation Human Rights Declaration. This means changing Pakistan’s name from Islamic Republic to Republic of Pakistan and to separating religion from state once and for all. Pakistan must be modern democratic republic based on equal citizenship as promised by the founding father. Only a Republic of Pakistan i.e. Jinnah’s Pakistan which views all its children equally and does not discriminate between them on the basis of faith can ultimately be a reliable and worthwhile partner in global piece. Sooner or later Pakistan will have to give up its obsession with religion and appeasement of religious extremist forces. Only then will Pakistan stand as a respectable nation in the comity of nations. The writer is a practising lawyer. He blogs at http://globallegalforum.blogspot.com and his twitter handle is @therealylh Published in Daily Times, October 30th 2017.