Pakistan is a nation that was born in confusion, is still in confusion but will move out of it in the future – hoped eminent nuclear physicist and author Pervez Hoodbhoy who has, for long, been a champion of the “secular state” notion. “Though I know that it is not welcome in my country and people who deviate from the notion that it is an Islamic state, are looked upon disapprovingly, I strongly feel that’s what we need to head towards,” Hoodbhoy reiterated.
He was speaking at a session on ‘Reimagining Pakistan’, organised as part of the ongoing Hyderabad Literary Festival. The Pakistani scholar was joined by Venkat Dhulipala, a US-based professor, historian and writer, on the dais.
The conversation about a secular Pakistan, took both the authors back in history – to the time of partition and Jinnah’s fight for a separate “Muslim” nation. While Hoodbhoy spoke of Muhammad Ali Jinnah as a “confused” man whose idea of separating a Hindu nation from a Muslim one fell flat when “east Pakistan broke away in 1971” to form Bangladesh, Dhulipala, quoting from popular theories, painted the founder of Pakistan as a “secular person”. “It has been a broadly accepted axiomatic truth that Jinnah wanted it (Pakistan) to be a European style nation state based on secular democracy. And if only he had stuck around longer, he would have been able to nurture that dream. Pakistan would have then emerged as a mirror image of India,” the author of ‘Creating a New Medina’ stated.