Even after so many years of its existence, some of the intellectual Pakistanis continue to be haunted by these questions — why was Pakistan made? In which direction should Pakistan head? Should Pakistan be a secular or an Islamic state? There are numerous arguments circulating on various forums and all of them seem plausible from their proponents’ points of view, as to why Pakistan should or should not have been carved out of the Indian Subcontinent. Some say that as we were carved out of one and the same Indian Sub-Continent, we were culturally exactly the same as India, had been living together with our numerous faiths for thousands of years, and differences in our faiths should not and could not have been the basis for our separation. Others say, cow-slaying Muslims were very different culturally and religiously from the cow-worshipping people of the Brahminic faith, and needed their separate country irrespective of how many more Muslims still remain in India even today. Some argue, Muslim migration to Pakistan reduced their number in present-day India and thus Muslim strength in India was weakened by partition. Once we move on from the partition of the Indian Sub Continent, we encounter arguments about what kind of Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam wanted or what the founding father originally intended to be its purpose. This, it is believed, would determine the direction in which Pakistan should move. It is needless to get into a detailed analysis of all these arguments since most of us have seen and heard these on TV channels and print media, in addition to our very frequent drawing room discussions on this subject. I do not intend to add an intellectual twist to any of these debates, but to present simple causes of these events from a commoner’s point of view drawing upon my childhood learning and experiences. When I was in grade 7, in Fauji Foundation School in Lalazar, Rawalpindi, I went to my social studies and history teacher, a tall man who was taller in the art of teaching, Mr Zahoor, and asked him, “Sir, what is politics… really? And what is real democracy? Mr. Zahoor chuckled and said, “we have read about them but we could really only find out when we learn them practically…”. So it happened that he enacted a tiny-scale election in class with forty of us acting like the Pakistani voters and some of us standing for elections. The elected boys would have powers like allowing late-comers to sit in the class, giving grace period to boys who didn’t do their homework, etc. In addition to being addressed respectfully as ‘Minister’, ‘Prime Minister’, and ‘President’, and all this by the authority of Mr Zahoor, the teacher and the constitution! Who amongst us won or lost the election is beside the point, but what is relevant here is that all of us got divided into small political groups, with smaller groups feeling extremely threatened, insecure and vulnerable and so got more defensive, constantly complaining to the ‘Viceroy’, Mr Zahoor about bullying and the misconduct of bigger groups. The bigger groups wanted it their way at all costs, and labelled the smaller groups as losers who could just complain to the teacher, all the time planning to disrupt the ‘sacred electoral process’. The whole class went from complete harmony to absolute ruckus and disarray. Fast friends were now bitter enemies and old enemies were new comrades. This was our rendezvous with politics and democracy, and it was not pleasant to say the least. With so little powers and at such a small scale compared to our national elections and politics, it is not hard to imagine what democracy can do to otherwise harmless and cordial people, and in case of the partition of the Sub-Continent, where differences were much greater and stakes much higher, only much greater chaos, much more animosity and much higher friction could have been expected. India is and has always been a Subcontinent just like Europe, and about the same size; to unite it was no easy task. Therefore, unity was never achieved in its entire history, and the partition of 1947 was merely a pattern being repeated. Even if we were to arrive at the most preposterous conclusion that Pakistan was made as an atheist or a devil-worshipping state, it would not matter now because when Muslims form the majority, they must find out what Allah wants from them If believers of Brahminism (commonly referred to as Hinduism), Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Jainism, Shermanism, Sikhism, and Zoroastrianism were living together in the pre-partition period. It was in an undemocratic or limited democratic Indian Sub-Continent, where a Muslim Nawab could rule a Brahminic majority state, and a Brahminic Raja could rule a Muslim majority state, but all that changed dramatically when the British brought their style of democracy to India. This of course was a continuation of the valuable Western imports of goods and ideas into the Indian Subcontinent. Now we come to what kind of Pakistan did our Founding Father, Mr Jinnah wanted — Islamic, secular, jihadi, atheist, or something else? This matter again has been extensively discussed by many intellectuals and esteemed historians. Is it not misleading to debate this point and lose track of our responsibilities as Pakistanis? Even if we were to arrive at the most preposterous conclusion that Pakistan was made as an atheist or a devil-worshipping state, it would not matter now because when Muslims form the majority, they must find out what Allah wants from them. It is only this debate and discussion which could be meaningful in helping us determine our path to salvation. We cannot choose an Islam that suits us and chuck out an Islam that does not. It will be tragic if our intelligence, intellect and wisdom cannot help us see beyond the obvious and what we are told by ‘external forces’. Unlike western democracy where the majority of the people freely decide what to do irrespective of God’s wishes, majority in Islam means we can then carry out what Allah wants and not what our instincts desire! Islam without spirituality and divine love (Ishq) is like a body without a soul. Without love and spirituality, whether we are religious or not, we end up becoming ignorant, arrogant and extremist. We must not shy away from ourselves — our culture and history, our faith and most importantly our spirituality. Even the science of psychology and psychotherapy point out that faith and spirituality provide an incredible amount of anchoring and mental peace, which can help us go through life and tackle its problems without losing our minds. It is time for us to find this anchoring, stop confusing ourselves with irrelevant and misleading debates, and set sail — for us and for Pakistan. Writer is a visiting professor at the National College of Arts, and has taught and designed history and culture courses at various universities in Pakistan for over fifteen years. He is a member of the AUTAQ Policy Think Tank on culture under Lok Virsa and has co-authored the book, ‘Folk Heritage of Pakistan’. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org Published in Daily Times, November 11th 2018.