Religion has always been a hot topic in Pakistan. It is very relevant to the social infrastructure of our society. Religion and religious belief is something which can make and break any vital socio-economic decision. In 1947, the founder of the nation Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah appointed Sir Zafarullah Khan as his foreign minister. It is pertinent to mention that Sir Zafarullah was an Ahmadi Muslim. This highlights the vision of the founder, the Quaid was always of the view that Pakistan is an ideological Islamic state, but at the same time, he also believed in the concept of an Islamic welfare state where not only Muslims but the minorities would also be able to live freely and independently.
However, in the year 1974, the most powerful and popular civilian ruler of Pakistan declared Ahmadis as non-muslims. Dr Abdus Salam was the first Pakistani Nobel Laureate. He was a science advisor to the Ministry of Science and Technology in Pakistan from 1960 to 1974, a position from which he was supposed to play a major and influential role in the development of the country’s infrastructure. Due to that particular legislation, Dr Salam resigned from his post. In the coming years, he won the Nobel Prize, but because of his religious belief, he was never warmly accepted by Pakistan. It should be remembered that Dr Salam was a true patriot in every aspect. On the occasion of the Nobel Prize ceremony, he wore traditional Pakistani dress as a sign of respect for his motherland. His Nobel Prize is showcased in his former educational institute, GC University Lahore. Dr Salam’s love for his country is apparent in his every action but what we did to him as a country is shameful.
Keeping Dr Atif Mian’s achievements in mind, it was an excellent appointment, but his only problem was his religious belief. History repeated itself. The government asked Dr Atif to step down in the interest of the country. Some rejoiced and saw it as a triumph, however, it isn’t a victory but a lost beginning.
This is our history, but it seems like we as a nation, do not want to learn from our past mistakes. Recently, the newly elected Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, formed an economic advisory council, where he appointed a renowned economist, Dr Atif Mian as one of the members of the advisory council. He is the only Pakistani to be ranked amongst the top 25 young economists of the world. In 2014, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) identified Atif Mian as one of the twenty-five young economists who is expected to shape how the world thinks about the global economy in the future.
Keeping his achievements in view, it was an excellent appointment, but his only problem was his religious belief. History repeated itself. The government asked Dr Atif to step down in the interest of the country. This again disturbed the writ of the state which happened in the recent past as well, when the Khadim Rizvi led religious group disabled the whole nation and the capital of the country. The state surrendered in front of them. Some rejoiced and saw it as a triumph, however, it wasn’t a victory but a lost beginning.
The time has come for the masses to stand up against these religious groups. Fundamentalists cannot control the fate of a nation which was founded by a Muslim who believed in the concept of a welfare state. Religion is a source of inspiration and hope, but the way things are happening, it paints it as an enemy rather than a friend. Naya Pakistan has failed its first test, but why do we care, we who love to live in the past, whether it is conventional or unconventional.
The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Published in Daily Times, September 12th 2018.