TORONTO: School textbooks in Pakistan are turning it into a suicide factory and if this idea of suicide takes a collective form in that country, it could have very dangerous consequences because of its nuclear weapons, warned noted journalist M.J. Akbar here on Tuesday.
Akbar, who spoke on `Terrorism and Geopolitics: The Coming Decade’ as part of promotion of his latest book `Tinderbox: The Past and Future of Pakistan’, at the University of Toronto’s India Innovation Institute, said India and Pakistan took two divergent paths in 1947.
While India has become a thriving, secular and pluralistic nation, Pakistan has reached the point of no return, he said, adding that his latest book traces the historical journey of the idea and evolution of an Islamic state for Indian Muslims from 18th-century Islamic scholar Shah Waliullah Muhaddith Dehlawi to Mohammed Ali Jinnah.
While India’s democratic, secular space gave a place to all its divergent groups, Pakistan chose to be an Islamic state after the partition of the sub-continent in 1947, Akbar said.
“Today, the idea of India is stronger than the Indian, but the idea of Pakistan is weaker than the Pakistani,’’ the celebrated journalist-author said.
Hitting out at the proponents of the two-nation theory, he said these so-called champions (read Jinnah) of Islam created Pakistan in the defence of Islam. “Pakistan was refashioned as a fortress of Islam. But Islam was never in danger even there was only one Muslim (the Prophet) in the whole world. So how could it be in danger now?’’
But if Pakistan was created in the name of Islam, then why did a large part of it broke away in 1971 in the form of Bangladesh? he asked.
This shows, he said, that religion has never been a mobilizing force.
Luckily, he said, India didn’t take the same path in 1947, though some groups wanted it to be the mirror-image (means a Hindu state) of Pakistan.
That’s why while India today is “a modern idea of nation’’ with its pillars of democracy, secularism, the Civil Code and economic equity, Pakistan has gone downhill as “Islam was not sufficient basis’’ for keeping it together as a nation.
“Pakistanis are not to be blamed for it. They cannot comprehend the forces that are taking them in that direction. They are fast reaching a point of no return,’’ he said.
The only destination for a theocratic state, he said, is: CRASH.
Unless the Pakistanis abandon the old two-nation theory, there is little hope for that country. But Pakistan remains “willfully’ weak to change its course, he added.
Taking a jibe the proponent of the two-nation theory, Akbar made fun of Jinnah’s Islamic credentials.
He said Jinnah “divided the country on the slogan: Islam is in danger,’’ but he had no knowledge of the Quran. It was the same Jinnah who had opposed separate electoral lists for Muslims in 1906 when the newly floated Muslim League took this demand to the viceroy. He supported the British in the First World War.
Akbar said , “When a lawyer loses his cases, he changes his narrative.’’ And being a smart lawyer that Jinnah was, Jinnah too changed his script after faring poorly in the 1937 elections.
This same whiskey-sipping Jinnah who lived a stylish western life suddenly found that Islam was in danger, said Akbar with a chuckle.
And it was whiskey-drinking Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who declared prohibition in Pakistan and turned into an Islamic state, Akbar added.