Though an Islamic Republic on paper by 1956, Pakistan was still holding onto its secular values in practice for more than a decade after this. Celebrating both, the liberal left and the Islamist right throughout the 1950s and 1960s, partying at night-clubs, gambling, alcohol consumption and sexual advertisements in the daily newspapers were not uncommon in Pakistan.
Prior to the situation in East Pakistan reaching its climax, till about 1965, Pakistan was a very socially diverse society. In 1965, Pakistan went at war with India and came out extremely frustrated by the fact that the United States refused to help, in spite of signing defense assistance agreements in 1954 and 1959. This, paired with West Pakistan becoming sterner against East Pakistanis leading to their eventual separation in 1971, meant that Pakistan was to begin to drift away from the United States towards pan-Islamism. After the separation of East Pakistan, the 1973 constitution was passed which was more Islamic than any constitution that had preceded it. Saudi-funded religious parties and movements were quickly gaining power in social circles after the creation of Bangladesh, which began to murder individuals of the Ahmadiyya Community en masse, demanding them to be declared non-Muslim. In 1974, their demand was accepted, as another law based on placing mainstream Islam before other faiths was implemented.
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and General Zia-ul-Haq spearheaded these narratives and policies under their rule, as the two came in succession, magnifying the effect that each had. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, aside from accepting the aforementioned events of 1973 and 1974, subsequently banned night-clubs, drinking and gambling by 1977, while Zia followed up by formally beginning Pakistan’s Islamisation — the effects of which have not been reversed to this day. Moreover, Zia’s policies emboldened the ultra-religious conservative elements of the population, which eventually engulfed a sizeable portion of the Pakistani populace partially thanks to the ideology and cash flowing in from Saudi Arabia.
Zia followed the footstepts of Ayub and imposed martial law. Zia unjustifiably got Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto hanged and made him a martyr.( Bhutto’s performance was abysmal and he had rigged the elections. Had he not been hanged people would not have loved him). Thus a politics based on personalities got started in Pakistan. PPP gets vote in the name of Bhutto and not on their performance. Zia’s forced Islamization brought Pakistan the gift of terrorism and extremism. Shia and Sunni lived in harmony before Zia’s regime. After his forced Islamization and encouragement and nourishing of one particular sect, Shia-Sunni conflict arose in Pakistan. Taliban were created and till today they haven’t been able to get rid of them.
To summarise, Pakistan’s political pan-Islamism drift has resulted in it distancing itself from secularism.
Politics plays a pivotal role in influencing the views of Pakistanis with regards to pan-Islamism, religious nationalism and secularism. As previously stated, Pakistanis stand today where they do mostly due to political influence during rule of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and later, Zia-ul-Haq.
From as early as 1956, when the constitution of Pakistan was first drafted, religion has played a role in the politics of Pakistan. Faced with opposition from non-Muslim Bengalis at the time, secularism was immediately tossed to the bin as Pakistan was declared an Islamic Republic. Later, in 1973, more Islamic provisions came along constitutionally than ever before. These have created a seemingly unbreakable bond between the state and religion.
Aside from this, religion is one of the most effective political tools in Pakistan, due to religious conservatism being rife in the country. The political elite will not allow religious influence die out. All major political parties including PML-N, PPP and PTI have historically used, and still presently use, religion to gain support.
The day Zia launched the coup, was the doomsday for Pakistan. Zia brought terrorism, gun culture and an influx of religious extremism to Pakistan which haunts the country till today. He was the person, who brought shame to the face of Pakistan! The chaos in Pakistan and the war in Afghanistan are his legacies which effected the Afghan-Pakistani border region very hard and it will take centuries to clean up the mess and to recorver from this agony.
When Zia took power in Pakistan, Pakistan was till hurting from the separation of East Pakistan in a humiliating military defeat. The very identity of Pakistan was in question. Until then, Pakistan had not pushed Islam hard in the country. Now, there was a national vacuum. Some way was needed to be bring back pride and a sense of being. Islamization offered a way out. That would make it a different country. And, the Muslims in Pakistan would live under different rules than the Muslims in India and Bangladesh. They would be “true Muslims.”
Zia was the one introducing hard-line Islamic version of Wahabbism in general and tried to “Arabanise” Pakistan instead of urbanizing it. It was the time Pakistani culture (the south Asian/Indian culture) was forced to die. Artists were lashed in public and unreasonable restrictions were put on national television. His idiocy can be gauged by his small actions, he used to convince his men to use the term Allah Hafiz instead of Khuda Hafiz, just to make sure Pakistan was a complete Arab colony.
Beside nuclear attacks on Pakistani culture, Zia is alone culprit of bringing Kalashnikov-culture in Pakistan. The Afghan jihad war left-over arms and ammunition is still available in markets of FATA and KP. He was a short-sighted leader who did not calculate consequences of Afghan war. The Afghan Talibans that Pakistan supported with help of CIA/US later turned against Pakistan and formed TTP, which is responsible for death of over 80,000 innocent Pakistani civilians in last 16 years. Pakistan lost at least $103 billion dollars economically due to terrorism, got a bad name internationally and had to spend billions of dollars on operation Zarb-e-Azb, Rah-i-Rast, Rah-e-Nijaat and so one. It was a big blow to all the sectors.
Almost all writers in Pakistan press blame him, for bringing religious fanaticism in Pakistan. They point towards him for present day suicide terrorist missions in Pakistan. One man can not do it. In any community, religious fanaticism is the easiest thing to insinuate masses to run a campaign.
Conclusion is, Pakistan has been and is in cold war from like 40 and more years and that all fuss was initiated by Gen Zia. If he had not dragged Pakistan into the menace of state-sponsored Jihad, narcotics, free-arms regime, Pakistan would have been in a lot better situation. Culturally Pakistan was most rich in 60s, 70s but it started fainting evetually. If only Pak had preserved its art, culture and social fibre it would be on par with other moderate Muslim countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Turkey. This country has had potential in every single field but unfortunately it has never been tapped. Right now, the politicians of all hues are drowned in corruption, and have their head quarters abroad. More than a year has passed in their fight against bad terrorists and fight is far from over. This shows the extent of seriousness of disease.
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