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‘Secularism only remedy to present turmoil in Pakistan’

Tuesday 12 March 2013, by siawi3

KARACHI Monday, 18 Jun 2012 7:24 am


ISMAIL DILAWAR - Pakistan can not come out of its present turmoil unless its society and polity are organized on genuine democratic and secular values, declared the members of Forum for Secular Pakistan on Sunday.
“We wish to emphasis on secularism without which even democracy does not bear fruits,” said Senator (Retd) Iqbal Haider, president of the Forum while reading out a “Declaration” to a briefing at Karachi Press Club.
Quoting the August 11 (1947) and April 1957 speeches of the founder of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah and then Prime Minister Husseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, who, he said, were the proponents of secularism, Haider stressed the need for a concerted effort to take educational and constitutional reforms in the country to ensure equality of citizens in Pakistan.

He said it was unfortunate that the pronouncement of Mr Jinnah were easily ignored by his successors who in fact moved in quite an opposite direction making Pakistan an obscurantist, clergy-driven and non-democratic state.
The wrong policies and priorities set by the successive governments of past he said had made Pakistan a security state which, he said, was fast degenerating and falling prey to the forces of religious extremism.
He also flayed the past rulers for a failed strategy of indulging the country into so-called Afghan Jihad and creating the Jihadi outfits to pursue the Kashmir policy. “These did ruin the socio-political fabric of Pakistani society,” said Haider.

“Today the society is highly weaponised, instead of creating a culture of dialogue there has emerged the language and uproar of weapons,” he added.
The former senator said religion today was being used by anti-social elements to spawn their respective militant/terrorist groups to serve as magnets to attract the poor and unemployed youth into its fold.
In a bid to clarify misperception about the term secularism, Haider said the past governments had done the worst thing by presenting secularism as “ladinyat”. Instead, he said, secularism stood for acceptance of all religions to their adherents. “Instead of harming religions, secularism secures state,” he explained.

He said his side was proposing the establishment of Forum for Secular Pakistan which would be a democratic and non-party platform to promote secularism in the country.
“We would promote the right sense of secularism,” the Forum’s president said.
Others who spoke on the occasion include Sherbaz Khan Mazari, Javed Qazi, Hasil Bux Bazinjo, Zubaida Mustafa, President KPC Tahir Hassan Khan.
Justice (Retd) Fakhruddin G Ibrahim who was to attend the event could not show up due to what Haider said illness.