The world sees Pakistan as an excessively religious country which is only defined by its Islamic values today. But the reality is much more antagonistic to what the world or even the locals perceive, and is, in some manners, more close to nation’s two entirely opposite extremes fighting with each other for their believed rights – leaving the nation’s development at a dusk.
The roots of this instability lie in the creation of the separate state for the Muslims of India itself. Pakistan is labeled as the only nation founded on the basis of Islam today, a Muslim power, whose roots were strengthened during the Mughal rule in the Indian subcontinent. In fact, it would be fair to say that Pakistan was, in fact, the result of, so to say, Muslims’ extremism against non-Muslim’s opposition.
Though the roots of Muslim extremism in India goes far deeper to the late 9th century, our main focus of arena in on colonialism, when whites – the representatives of western societies – came on the shores of India – a strong Muslim power at the time. Mughal Empire that we discussed earlier, is believed to be one of the most successful rules in the history of the Indian subcontinent. They contributed a lot in the development of the land way it would work in the future. Though the local trade was thriving, when the white captains, who were experts in manipulating psychology, came offering manufactured goods, weapons and rum to the local rulers, they had a little reason to hesitate and happily allowed them to start trade with the local Indians in an effort to prosper the Indian soil.
That camouflage trap was only the first step on the ladder of power for the whites in India, British specifically, who will later change its map, dividing them both mentally and geographically into two extremes.
Fast forward to the 18th century, the company (East India Company) which was once thought to prosper the Indian land through their trade with Europe, now hold much of the powers in India. They have their own army consisting of locals (sepoy) fighting against their own people on the orders of the outsiders and maintained a superior image for the locals through their brutal ruling strategies and grandiose architecture they lived in.
The British, without any doubt, belonged to an educated, well-mannered and a sophisticated land but possessed the heart of a mouse for the other nations. Their ruling strategies were unlike anything the local rulers of their colonies had ever imagined, leaving those powerless who opposed their rule.
The most significant aspect of their colonization was the introduction of a different form of identity to the locals by converting the nation’s youth and the local rulers into cheap imitations of the Englishmen through their ‘superior’ education and English manners.
As Imran Khan in his autobiography, says:
“During their time in India, the British had embedded an inferiority complex amongst the natives with great care. Waiters and attendants were made to wear the clothes of Mughal army officers and the Mughal aristocracy, while the officers of the symbols of British power, the army, the police, and the civil service, wore the dress of the colonials.”
To achieve this, Mission schools (also called missionary schools), the colonizers’ primary means of smashing the local’s identity, were developed by the British during colonial era for the education of their children and westernization of the local people in India.
These British prep schools – which still exist and Pakistan still imports British course for the elites – helped the whites to create a class divide in the natives, people who were neither Indians nor British but had a strong desire to become one. People who went to such institutions, most notable being the Maharajahs and the local elites of India, automatically became the part of the aristocracy of India and considered themselves superior to the local traditions and those who practiced them, but at the same time, inferior to the Englishmen.
They were, in other words, partners with the British helping them expand their colonial powers. The empire in India in fact later dependent most on them for the indirect rule even when power was transferred to the monarchy, after the British Indian Army.
This act triggered the former rulers, the Muslims, who now started to rebel through staying in their mosques and excessively promoting their religion along with the local identity they had protected for centuries. Near them, it was an answer to the colonizers that Muslims are keen on their grounds.
The most humiliating aspect of this opposition was the separation of religion and modern education. Mosques became the home for the religious education and never came out of it, while science got limited to British or modern institutions only, which Muslims had rejected. Western suits got associated with secularism while the shalwar kameez – the local dress – was seen as a sign of being religious. This mindset still continues to affect the way people interact with each other today.
The opposition continued for another 200 hundred years, and eventually demand for separate nation started to emerge when Muslims realized that the Hindus too, in some manners, supported the colonizers who had promised them to return their land to them along with its former glory – a perfect example of a divide and rule strategy implemented by the British here.
Due to long continued fight against ‘westernism’, the practicing Muslims had now forgotten modern education and started to take it as a threat by the west to their religion and ideology. Science became fake and Jewish conspiracy near the Muslims, and their students were only taught and instructed about religious education and how to protect it, even if they have to pay their lives for it.
Then, once Pakistan emerged, their powers strengthened and instead of developing the newly founded nation, these conservative minds, who actually controlled the roots of the country, continued their religious fight against westernization and now became more brutal from their own base.
These mosque confined Mullahs – shaped by the centuries of foreign occupation who tried to smash their identity – now reinvent Islam by advising its followers to protect it by remaining incurious and ignorant, two things entirely opposite to the reason behind the emergence of Islam.
Today, the west blame these religious extremists for promoting backward ideas in the east and threatening its development, but the reality is they are now only protecting the idea which was once threatened and still is by the west near them – an idea which in fact is not much different from the west’s if truly understood.
In fact, the word ‘terrorism’, or ‘Muslim Terrorism’ in today’s context was unknown as late as 1960 – the time Muslims initiated their brutal war on westernization – and before that, ‘colonialism’ had the very same spot in the world – the reason Muslims initiated their war against westernization. Their fight then, in some manners, is as fair as west’s fight towards their modern ideology today.
Pakistan now works in a hierarchy of classes, of which two out of three of them are on the extremes, the mosque confined Mullah who control the nation indirectly and the westernized Desi American supporting the western ideology who control it directly, both fighting with each other for their believed rights to strengthen their grounds and outperform the idea of one another. As there can be no light without darkness, the extremism too then lies in not one but two forms today.
In the middle lies the only power that can not only balance and abolish those extremes but also help to form successful self-government in the nation. A voice is only heard when it becomes a crowd, the power working/middle class holds is far greater than any other, but so is their fear and lack of knowledge to realize and use this power.