Recently more than 50 people belonging to the Shia sect of Islam were killed in Peshawar. The Islamic State-affiliated terror group ISIS-K claimed to have carried out the attack. ISIS and its affiliates, which champion a radical variety of Sunni Islam, have never hidden their hatred towards other communities, including non-Sunni communities within Islam. It’s no surprise that he thrives in Pakistan and Afghanistan as he has a large support base in those regions.
Despite the controversies, it is commonly believed that the founder of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, was a Shia at some point in his life. Will ISIS target Jinnah because he belonged to the Shia sect?
Although Pakistan was founded as an Islamic state under the leadership of Jinnah, minorities were not targeted as violently as they are today. Although Muhammad Iqbal called secularism “Europe’s greatest mistake” and blamed its misfortunes such as World War I on its secular politics, and Jinnah orchestrated the direct action to hasten the partition of the sub -Indian continent, they did not directly target minorities. . Jinnah was an ambitious politician who was determined to create the state of Pakistan and used the two-nation theory to achieve his goals.
In his address to Pakistan’s Constituent Assembly, Jinnah promised protection for all minority communities in the new state, regardless of their religious or sectarian beliefs. He said: “…over time, all these angularities of the majority and minority communities, the Hindu community and the Muslim community…will disappear. . . You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or any other places or places of worship in this state of Pakistan… We are starting from the time when there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We start from this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State.
Pakistan’s early rulers followed Jinnah’s path, but the situation deteriorated rapidly in the 1970s. Abdullah Al-Ahsan in his book Umma or Nation? explains how the Independent State of Pakistan had to deal with flexible and rigid interpretations of the ummah, how there was a clash of ideas between its educated intelligentsia in Europe, who had faith in secular democratic ideals, and those who advocated a radical political system. This conflict ended with Zia-ul-Haq who promoted a rigid interpretation of the ummah. In a reference to the liberal group in his state, Zia said: “…over the past 30 years in general…there has been a complete erosion of the moral values of this society…These are the Islamic values , and we try to bring those values.
Zia has radicalized Pakistani societies and under her watch minorities have been targeted. They have become victims of an increasingly radicalized state. Famous Pakistani politician Farahnaz Ispahani wrote in 2013: “At the time of partition in 1947, almost 23% of Pakistan’s population was made up of non-Muslim citizens. Today, the proportion of non-Muslims has fallen to about 3%”.
Benazir Bhutto was a critic of Zia’s vision of Pakistan. She wrote: “Pakistan under the military dictatorship had become the epicenter of an international terrorist movement which had two main objectives. First, the extremists’ goal of reconstructing the concept of the caliphate… And second, the militants’ goal of causing a clash of civilizations between the West and an interpretation of Islam that rejects pluralism and modernity. The goal – the great hope of the militants – is a collision, an explosion between the values of the West and what the extremists claim to be the values of Islam.
The monster of radicalism in Pakistan has hardened over the years. Whether it’s the public lynching of a Sri Lankan business leader last year, the Asia Bibi case, or the frequent targeting of minorities, including Shiites, violence against minorities has increased in recent years. last years. Forget minorities belonging to other religious beliefs, minorities within Islam have not been spared radical anger.
When religion is a matter of personal belief, it is better for the community than for the state. But when it becomes an instrument of state policy, or state ideology, the problems multiply. Jinnah himself did not address this paradox – Pakistan was formed on the basis of the two-nation theory, but his speech, mentioned above, challenged this very nation of two nations. Zia took the two-nation theory to its logical conclusion, and the years since Zia have seen no change from that trajectory.
How far can we go in this path of moral exclusion? For radical Sunni groups like ISIS-K or the Taliban, only their group and members of their group carry the torch of virtue and morality, and others are excluded from their world. As the selected people are excluded from their moral world, they could be killed because killing them does not generate guilt. Applying this logic, will ISIS-K also target Jinnah? Will they proclaim that the Shia Jinnah are excluded from their moral world?
The opinions expressed above are those of the author.
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