Regionalism and Separatism in Pakistan:
Jinnah spoke of a Pakistan that was not Bengali, Baluch, Punjabi, Sindhi, or Pashtun, but a new nation, exhorting his listeners to remember the lessons of 1,300 years ago, when Islam came to India and unified it:
“You have carved out a territory, a vast territory. It is all yours: it does not belong to a Punjabi or a Sindhi or a Pathan or a Bengali. It is all yours. You have got your Central Government where several units are represented. Therefore, if you want to build yourself up into a nation, for God’s sake give up this provincialism.”
On paper, Pakistan has a tolerant view toward its ethnolinguistic groups. However, every Pakistani leader, whether from the Punjab or a less populous province, has vehemently opposed “nationalist” or ethnolinguistic sentiments, which they consider a threat to the state.
In the 1960s the deepest fault line had an east-west orientation, as Bengalis came to regard the Punjab-Mohajir Establishment and the military as stifling.
Since 1971 the fault lines have become more diffuse, with the autonomist-separatist movements draw their energy from Baluch, Pashtun, Mohajir, and Sindhi resentment of the dominant Punjab, sometimes in coalition with other ethnolinguistic minorities.
The creation of Bangladesh strengthened several existing separatist autonomist groups.
Outside of Punjab, there were movements for a Sindhudesh, an independent Baluchistan, a NWFP tied to Afghanistan, and even (for the Mohajirs) a Karachi that might become another Singapore.
Jinnah and Extremism:
For a man who had emphasized the differences between Muslims and Hindus right up to independence, Jinnah pointedly urged the new Pakistanis— Hindu, Sikh, and Christian, as well as Muslim, to forget the past and work together “in a spirit that every one of you, no matter to what community he belongs, no matter what relations he had with you in the past, no matter what is his color, caste or creed, is first, second, and last a citizen of this State with equal rights, privileges and obligations, there will be no end to the progress you will make.”
Whether Sunni, Shi’ia, Bengalis, Tamils, Pathans, Punjabis, or Hindus of any caste—not to mention Christians or Parsis—all residents of the new state were Pakistanis, Jinnah proclaimed, and he urged cooperation. Pointedly, he told the assembly that if India had been imbued with this spirit, it would have been independent years earlier. Without this sense of tolerance, he implied, the new state would be in danger.
Of the constitutional changes, the blasphemy laws and the laws declaring the Ahmediyyas to be non-Muslims are stains on the Jinnah-of-Pakistan model: they have been used to systematically persecute and punish Pakistanis who do not conform to a narrow, Sunni-dominated vision of Islam.
Jinnah’s “was a middle of the road approach which viewed Islam as a civilization and culture, a social order, and a source of law, rather than a set of punitive, regulative, and extractive codes.”
As one analyst notes, Jinnah was reinterpreted as an Islamist, not a secular politician, and the Ulema (religious leaders) marginal in the struggle for the creation of Pakistan were “elevated to a vanguard (Leading) role.” Jinnah’s call for a state of all faiths and religions was erased from accounts of his life during the Zia years, and an attempt was made to show that Jinnah favored an Islamic state with rigorous Islamic codes and laws.
Same was done with Sir Syed’s image as Islamist while hiding his secular movements.
For complete Pakistan Affairs notes click here.