Mandir Politics

Prime Minister Imran Khan is consulting the Islamic Ideology Council on
the matter of constructing a place of worship for the Hindus in Isamabad.

By Dr. Qasim Sodhar | August 2020

Pakistan was created in the name of Islam and one of its main functions was to safeguard Muslim rights. This was the reason why Jinnah agreed to withdraw his demand for the creation of a separate country for the Muslims when the Cabinet Mission Plan (1946) had guaranteed the sovereignty and autonomy of all units/provinces. However, the Cabinet Plan was not accepted by the Congress leadership and ultimately Pakistan came into being.

There has been a very hot debate between the religious and liberal forces in the country that whether Jinnah wanted a secular Pakistan or an Islamic state? Those leaning towards the liberal and secular concept often quote Jinnah’s very famous speech of 11th August 1947, in which he clearly said: “You are free, you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the State … now I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State.” This speech vividly depicts Pakistan as a country where secular ideals would prevail.

At the other end, the religious forces also quote Jinnah’s various speeches and statements in which he had expressed his willingness to make Pakistan an Islamic state. For example, at the conclusion of his address to the tribal areas on July 31, 1947, Jinnah said: “In the end, I would appeal to all the different elements in the frontier province and in the tribal areas to forget past disputes and differences and join hands with the Government of Pakistan in setting up a truly democratic Islamic State.”

If we analyze both the aforementioned speeches of Jinnah delivered on different occasions, it becomes very clear that like a populist leader, Jinnah’s points of view were different in different places and occasions. However, it should not be forgetten that the Constitution of Pakistan guarantees minority rights and freedom. In this regard, Article 36 of the Constitution guarantees these rights, by stating, “The State shall safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of minorities, including their due representation in the Federal and Provincial services.”

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One thought on “Mandir Politics

  • August 3, 2020 at 6:53 pm

    The article is itself depicting care and concern towards minorities in general and Hindus in particular despite Narindra Modi’s fascist ideology and squalid politics, Pakistan Prime Minister’s initiative for mandir construction is laudable. The religious fanaticism should be detached as Pakistan needs to walk on the grounds of democracy, something that our beloved Jinnah envisioned. Indeed it is a terrific piece of writing by Dr Qasim Sodher because one can sense the positive vibes of writing. We need more positivity, better international image, and we need to be truly humanitarians first.