Islamabad: There has been a hot debate in Islamic Republic of Pakistan during last days about country’s Islamic constitution and prospects of secularism in the country which has been almost ended by the final words of the Pakistan Army’s chief.
Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, General AshfaqKayani, stated an important and carefully-worded statement on Islam’s role in public life in Pakistan.
The general stated, “Let me remind you that Pakistan was created in the name of Islam and Islam can never ever be taken out of Pakistan. However, Islam should always remain a unifying force.”
This is a landmark statement in the wake of developments and debates went on for days in media and political circles of Pakistan.
According to the critics, a number of politicians and commentators sympathetic to thelast Pakistani government that just completed five years tried in recent days to make the coming election controversial through an organized attack in the media on the Ideology of Pakistan, and Pakistan’s existence as an independent nation.
They said that these parties are perceived to be pro-American. The organized attack focused on Islam and called for adopting European-style secularism where religion is simply withdrawn from public life. But what the advocates of this theory forgot is that Europe’s history and its political and social circumstances cannot be replicated and planted in another country far removed from European culture and experiences.
Critics said that this debate is also dangerous because it wastes a lot of public energy, confuses priorities, and creates unnecessary divisions and suspicions in the society. Pakistan is quite capable of being a modern Muslim nation, just like Turkey, Jordan, Malaysia, Dubai, Egypt, Indonesia and others without the need to wage war against religion and alienate the religious segments of the population.
Critics believed that GeneralKayani did well by making an emphatic statement about the centrality of Islam in Pakistan. This should serve to calm the nerves of religious Pakistanis who might see an attempt to attack religion in Pakistan and might be radicalized as a result of that.
They said that this is a message to the advocates of secularism to stop radicalizing religious-minded Pakistanis by waging this unnecessary war of words against religion in the hope of replicating a European example that does not fit in here. And it is also a message to religious Pakistanis to relax, to stop seeing a conspiracy in Pakistan to end Islam’s central role in the lives of Pakistanis. It is also a message that all Pakistanis can and should coexist peacefully, those who are religious-minded and those who are not. This is a homeland for all and Pakistanis can and should respect each other.
Kayani’s statement has also sent another message to all Pakistanis that Islam unifies its followers and does not divide them. Islam in Pakistan should unify Pakistanis, not divide them.