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Pakistan, Jinnah And The Absence Of A Stable National Identity

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The question of identity in Pakistan is at the centre of his entire politics. There are two views about Pakistan which represent two different national identities. The first is the Muslim-secular view which according to Vali Nasr is based on the Muslim communal discourse. The idea is to protect the cultural, economic, political rights and interests of Muslims. Under this view, Islam is only a symbol of Muslim identity and not a religion associated with pre-modern mentality.

The use of Islam is limited to integrating Muslims only. Under this view, in the words of Faisal Devji, the Pakistani movement is a symbol of Muslim Zion. Zion is based on the acquisition of new land and the dismissal of the old land. The Muslim population wanted to move away from this large subcontinent so that it could not withstand the fear of oppression of the majority.

The second is the Islamic view which believes in a public space made up of Islamic values, Islamic institutions, and Islamic faith. In this view, Islam is a symbol of moral supremacy beyond the mark of identity and the imagery of the Islamic State is at its centre.

This idea gives Venkat Dhulipala the definition of a new medina. The rise of Islam and supremacy is the essence of this idea. The Muslim-secular idea of Pakistan is associated with the Instrumentalist theory of nation-building introduced by Paul Brass.

According to this theory, Pakistan was created by Muslim upper-class people who were facing economic and political competition with Hindus. These Muslims made political use of Muslim identity symbols to protect their interests and organize Muslims.

The Islamic idea of Pakistan is linked to the Primordialist theory of Francis Robinson. According to this theory, Pakistan was created due to the special imperative of Islam and in the context of the deep religious differences between Hindus and Muslims.

Mohammad Ali Jinnah considered himself the sole spokesman of not only the Muslim League but also of the entire Indian Muslims in the Pakistan movement. According to Stanley Wolpert, few have changed the course of history, few have modified the map of the world, hardly anyone has been credited with creating a Nation-State, but Mohammed Ali Jinnah did all three. Jinnah is at the centre of both Islamic and Muslim-secular views, which makes it a little difficult to understand Jinnah.

According to Stephen Cohen, Jinnah, who was a lawyer by profession, was democratic, socially progressive, a believer in Western logic, and also a constitutionalist. His imagination of the Muslim nation was based on these values. According to Rasul Rais, Jinnah’s idea of the state was based on equal citizenship and fairness of the state in religious relations. According to Jinnah, the state should be inclusive so that it can adopt groups and minorities of other religions as other pluralistic states do.

The prime example of his Muslim-secular view found in the 14 August 1947 speech which he gives to newly independent Pakistan. Also, Jinnah’s biographers Ayesha Jalal and Stanley Wolpert have mentioned Jinnah’s secular leanings and attachment to liberalism.

In contrast to this statement, Jinnah also introduced an Islamic interpretation that is associated with the creation of an Islamic state. In February 1943, at Bombay Ismail Yusuf College, Jinnah had said that Pakistan would be a state which would be run on the principle of Islam, its culture, politics and economic structure would be based on the principles of Islam.

The same Jinnah repeated the same thing in the Council of the Muslim League on 15 December 1947 and in Bengal in 1948. Under all these statements Pakistan would have become an Islamic state where sovereignty would have been associated with Allah and the centre of power would have been only the Quran and Sunnah.

Today, Pakistan and Jinnah are different things for different people. Modernist Muslims believe in the Muslim view and secular Jinnah, the same conservative Muslims in Islamic view and Islamic Jinnah. Due to this identity based ideological ambiguity, both Pakistan and Jinnah are a contradiction. The conclusion that I reach out is that if your central leadership is ideologically unclear then the perception of your nation’s future is in crisis.

A stable national identity is the first requirement for any nation and its absence makes the state collapse, the nation fragmented and demolishes the political institutions. Its main example is Pakistan.

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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