Our chequered history does not show that we have ever valued our freedom. For this painful situation, our bureaucratic and military and elected civilian leaders and their partners in power – the so called elite comprising industrialists, big traders, landlords and feudal chiefs – are more culpably responsible than the vastly deprived and marginalized population of Pakistanis. These rulers kept the masses deprived of the basic needs of modern life – good education, good healthcare, access to clean drinking water, rule of law, and equality before law, security of life and property, opportunities to eke out a dignified livelihood – even after 70 years of independence. Even today, over 45% of the population remain below the poverty line.
The democracy was destroyed soon after the demise of the Qaid-e-Azam. The inclusion of the Objectives Resolution as the preamble of the Constitution was a direct attack on the secular polity of this multi-religious and multi-cultural country. No direct elections on the basis of adult franchise were held in the country until 1970. The indirect elections were tailored to the needs of the ruling elite to keep themselves in power. The direct elections in the Eastern Wing of the country in the early 1950s resulting in the crushing defeat of Pakistan Muslim League, alarmed the ruling elite from the Western Wing to abandon the democratic path altogether.
The subsequent ten elections in the country from 1970 to 2018 were made controversial by the mainstream political parties charging each other for collusion with powerful Presidents or powers that may be, rigging and acquiring power through back door. The performance of the ruling elite in both executive and opposition has never been above board or geared to the public good. Generally, they had been unabashedly making hay when the sun shined. We witnessed paupers turn into billionaires just after one or two stints in power. They weakened the legislature, attacked the judiciary, politicized the bureaucracy and police and relegated anti-graft institutions to periphery to get away with their plunders.
The fallout this free-for-all plunders on the people was very harmful. The society came to believe that nothing would happen to the powerful elite; the laws of the country were operative for the prosecution and persecution of underprivileged lower and middle class. The politics acquired the client-patron streak with the poor people looking to the ruling demigods for crumbs – a menial job, a petty contract and protection from oppressive police.
They stopped thinking of their rights as citizens of the state and improvement in their life through legislation, land reforms, conducive working conditions for labour in agriculture and industry, better emoluments and protection of life and property with the powerful freely enjoying power and wealth in a society mired in inhumanity, plunder, extortion, insecurity, religious bigotry, sectarian intolerance, illiteracy and poverty. This has created a phenomenon of hopelessness, despondency, bitterness and apathy. This is what we have done to Pakistan – a country which was established after a long struggle. We have so far failed to value the freedom which this country brought to us from the subjugation, mendacity and oppression of the bigoted majority community in the Sub-continent.
The history of the oppressive pre-Partition period beckons to us again and again to realize the need for an independent country and to be grateful to the heavens for this favour. How the British Imperialists in collaboration with the majority community abetted and precipitated the decline of the Muslims in education, superior services, trade and other professions of life is elaborately recorded in history and the British India gazetteers.
From 1857 to 1947, there were 3100 graduates from the Calcutta University, with only 57 Muslims. No Muslim was in the Senate and Syndicate of it. Out of 895 Examiners, only 9 were Muslim. Back in 1937-1947, the Dhaka University produced only 17 Muslim BSCs. In Punjab University in 1921, there were 25 faculties with 19 Muslims out of 102 members. In 1933, there were 9 Muslims out 68 Professors; in 1942, 16 Muslims out of 82. In the Government College Lahore in 1928, out of 45 Professors, there were 5 Muslim – 3 Arabic and 2 Persian teachers. There were no Muslims in other faculties. In 1917, there were 42 professors in the King Edward College out of whom only 3 were Muslims.
In 1930, the Hindu Schools were 3 times more than the Muslim Schools. In 1901 there were 957 Judges in Bengal with only 9 Muslims. In 1933, the Bengal had 1048 Gazetted officers out whom the Muslims were only 45. Similarly, the share of the Muslims in the Indian Civil Service from Bengal and North-Western provinces – Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan and NWFP was quite negligible. In 1947, there were 980 ICS officers with 101 Muslims. Their share in 1984 was reduced to less than 2%.
The Times of India reported in September 1993 that the share of Muslims in the Indian Central Secretariat was less than 1%. The data of the same year showed that in Andhra Pradesh, out of 2358 civil servants, only 270 were Muslims; in Assam, out of 3135, the Muslims were 225; in Behar, out of 6617, Muslim were 359; in Haryana, out of 877, the Muslims were only 6. West Bengal had 136 Muslims out of 4782 civil servants. The strength of Delhi Police in 1993 was 50,934. Despite the concentration of the Muslims in the capital, only 1120 Muslims were in Delhi Police. In Haryana police, Muslims counted only 271 out 28718.
According to a report prepared and released by an Indian National Organization in 1987-88 suggested that some 53.3% of the Muslim population were living below the poverty line. Until 1990, 21 organized communal attacks were carried out against Muslims by Hindus extremists throughout India in which thousands of lives were lost. The Muslims have been living in a subdued, insecure, uncertain and fearful atmosphere. The Modi regime has further aggravated the situation by disregarding the secularism of Jawaharlal Nehru or the religious tolerance and non-violence followed by M. K. Gandhi and moving to the Hindu extremism of Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Madan Mohen Malaviya or Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
The situation of discrimination against middle class majority Muslim population in Sindh was not different from the rest of British India. Sindh was part of the Bombay Presidency until 1936. The annexation of Sindh with Bombay had grossly deprived the Muslims of education, state employment, opportunities in trade and commerce. These professions had become the exclusive preserve of the minority non-Muslim communities. The landlord class remained beholden to Hindu Seths for loans mortgaging their agricultural lands. They treated Muslims unsacred and untouchable. The Sindhi society was subject to a sort of apartheid established by Hindus in deference of their religious beliefs. They used to throw any utensil touched by a Muslim. I am sure that the situation in the other provinces of Balochistan, Punjab and KPK or East Bengal (now Bangladesh) was any different from this.
With the advent of Pakistan, we became the master of our destiny and the resources the country possessed despite gross instances of injustice, discrimination and inequity perpetrated against the small federating units or the East Bengal by the misguided political, economic and administrative policies of the ruling elite. Pakistan is not an exceptional case in discriminatory policies favoring a dominant majority community. The nations’ evolutionary history is full of such contentious instances. There is no denying the fact that the earlier wrongs have been gradually corrected to a greater extent through the constitutional and political process from 1970 despite disruptions. Today, the small federating units are governed by their elected representatives; manned by their own administrative officers; they have exclusive right over their resources and freedom to utilize them for development.
The past rulers and their cohorts – the so called elite – have been an ungrateful bunch of thugs denying to the people what is constitutionally due to them. They have directed their energy to political slogan mongering, religious and cultural and parochial fragmentation and sectarian bigotry for their self-serving interests. We, as a nation, have to correct this situation by accountability through ballot and courts. First of all, we should realize the value of our freedom and our citizenship of an independent and resourceful country taking a lesson from the history of Palestinians and other stateless populations the world over or the tortuous struggle of Kashmiris bearing the brunt of the inhumanity of so called secular India.
The country would be unable to forge ahead as a progressive state unless we overcome our weaknesses as a nation. We have unabashedly sunk into vices unheard of in civilized societies – dishonesty, falsehood, forgery, trickery, inhumanity, profiteering, hoarding and adulteration, pilferage of national resources including gas and electricity, tax evasion and what not. These are the signs of a moth-eaten and crumbling society. We have time to revert to our sublime faith which turned the heathen Saracens into a great nation at par with the Roman and Sassanid Empires. How the mighty Mughal Empire died a slow death with the last princes and princesses either publicly hanged or left behind to beg on the streets of Delhi where once they yielded power. The Indians, at least, keep remembering their subjugation under the Muslim rule of 1000 years.
Gentlemen, we should not lose sight of the unobtrusive and merciless turns of history and value our freedom and this independent country. The price of freedom is constant vigilance.
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