Sohni Dharti Allah Rakkhey
By Akhtar Mahmud Faruqui
On March 23, 1940 the Muslims of the subcontinent resolved to establish Pakistan.
The decision was not taken in haste nor precipitated by a sudden, dramatic turn
Hindus and Muslims had lived in India for centuries but had remained two distinctly
different cultural entities presenting marked dissimilarities that neither time
nor assimilative forces could erase. They were like two streams running a parallel
course. So manifest and so profound were the differences that the London Times,
commenting on the Government of India Act of 1935, had to ungrudgingly concede:
‘Undoubtedly the difference between the Hindus and Muslims is not of religion
in the strict sense of the word but also of laws and culture, that they may
be said indeed to represent two entirely distinct and separate civilizations…’.
This incontrovertible realization found a more convincing elucidation in the
words of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah: ‘Notwithstanding thousand years
of close contact, nationalities which are as divergent today as ever, cannot
at any time be expected to transform themselves into one nation merely by mean
of subjecting them to a democratic constitution and holding them forcibly together
by unnatural and artificial methods of British Parliamentary Statutes.’
Thanks to Mr. Jinnah’s unwavering leadership and untiring efforts, Pakistan
was transformed from an ideal into a reality in a short span of time. In 1947,
seven years after the passage of the historic Pakistan Day Resolution at Lahore,
the world witnessed the emergence of the largest Muslim state.
But the path to independence and separate nationhood was strewn with a multiplying
myriad of problems. First and foremost was the claim to nationhood vehemently
contested by the Congress stalwarts and their supporters. How could a community
of converts claim itself to be a nation? Gandhiji posed the question as he ridiculed
the Muslim League’s claim to independent nationhood. The Quaid was quick
to furnish the answer: “Mussalmans are a nation according to any definition
of a nation, and they must have their homeland, their territory and their state...
“The Hindus and Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies,
social customs, literature. They neither intermarry, nor interdine together
and, indeed they belong to two different civilizations which are based mainly
on conflicting ideas and conceptions. Their aspects on life and of life are
different. It is quite clear that Hindus and Mussalmans derive their inspiration
from different sources of history. They have different epics, different heroes
and different episodes. Very often the hero of one is a foe of the other and,
likewise their victories and defeats overlap. To yoke together two such nations
under a single state, one as a numerical minority and the other as a majority,
must lead to growing discontent and final destruction of any fabric that may
be so built up for the government of such a state…”
What was true then is also true today.
Is there a role specially cut out for Pakistani Americans to help the country
tide over its pressing problems, its multiplying set of challenges? The answer
is simple. We have to prioritize a number of tasks as we chalk out a course
to bring about a wholesome change on the home front.
As stated in these columns before and reaffirmed once again this week - on the
occasion of the forthcoming Independence Day of Pakistan - it is imperative
to have a learned Pakistani, an eminent academic associated with the Georgetown
University in Washington. The academic could interact with various think tanks,
Congressmen, State Department officials, and researchers engaged in the study
of South Asia. He could address symposia held in the American capital and present
“not a Pakistani view but a view about Pakistan”, as Professor Stephen
Cohen of the Brookings Institution put it.
The second task for the Pakistani American community is to sponsor the visits
of American academics to Pakistan. The visits could be of both short or long
durations and offer the researchers an opportunity to share the Pakistani perception
on various issues as well as to get to know the country and its people more
intimately. Professor Cohen, a distinguished fellow at the Brookings Institution
and a friend of Pakistan who has written several insightful books, visited the
country after fifteen years of his regular sojourns to India. He found the country
very different from the picture that he had formed in his mind on the basis
of impressions gained in India. The views of other academics could likewise
be altered if Pakistani Americans were to take the initiative and offer financial
support to prospective visitors.
A third task for Pakistani Americans is to support the education sector in Pakistan.
Giving a boost to the education program is a major pressing necessity. It is
gratifying that some groups, including APPNA, HDFNA, Safi Qureshey Foundation,
DIL, et al. were active and seized of this role but much more needs to be done.
Explicit details need to be worked out with an air of urgency.
Another role that the Pakistani Americans could voluntarily take upon themselves
is to serve as a bridge between the US and Pakistan by lobbying for Islamabad
and projecting the national point of view on crucial issues like Kashmir.
The four tasks have already found expression, though to an imperceptible degree,
in some of the initiatives of Pakistani Americans. Yet, a lot still needs to
be done and without loss of precious time.
There are quite a few shining examples of expatriate communities in the US
rising to the occasion and coming to the rescue of their country of origin.
They have acted like mini-multinationals by gainfully employing cheap and abundant
labor at home and diffusing, in return, higher technical skills in the manufacture
of value-added products. A speedy technological uplifting of the mother country
has been the goal of some communities, while others have been more active on
the political front and have been successful in achieving tangible results.
The goals have been well defined and the blueprints drawn up to the minutest
details. The results were spontaneous, sustained, and had a chain-reaction effect
with many wholesome spin-offs and ramifications. What applies to the strivings
and successes of other expatriate communities applies equally to the zest and
zeal of the enterprising community of Pakistani Americans.
[taken from http://www.pakistanlink.com/Editorial/08082003.html]
Date/Time Last Modified: 2/25/2004 1:18:49 PM
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