Is two nation theory the real rift between India Pakistan relations?

Allama Mohammad Iqbal was a great visionary, a profound philosopher, a remarkable poet and a man with astounding capabilities. Iqbal, considering Hindus and Muslims as two separate nations with entirely different religious and cultural beliefs, introduced the famous two nation theory. Iqbal ardently believed that the Muslims inhabiting the Indian subcontinent had a distinct identity which needed to be preserved by creating a separate homeland.

After having wars, border skirmishes, water politics and the long standing Kashmir dispute with India, there is no denying to the two nation theory.  The Muslims of the Indian subcontinent had to face the wrath of the British after the 1857 war of independence.  Sir William Hunter in his book “The Indian Musslamans” published in 1871 gave a detailed account of the heartrending conditions of the Indian Muslims – they  were denied all important jobs in addition to this there refusal to British education contributed to the decline of their financial status.

 Sir Syed Ahmad Khan was one of the greatest reformers of the Indian Subcontinent.  He was a man with an extraordinary vision who never for a moment faltered in his resolve. Sir Syed realized that the Muslims lagged behind the Hindus in every field owing to their refusal to modern western education. He felt the need to instill in the Indian Muslims the desire for social reforms and western education.  He successfully established the Mohammedan Anglo Oriental College which later became the Aligarh Muslim University. This institution offered education in science, humanities and technical subjects in English. Pakistan, after having spent 70 years of independence is in a dire need of a better education system and reforms.

 Modern western education was introduced to India by the British which gave rise to ideas of liberty and equality. The spread of the western education in India created an urban middleclass comprising of lawyers, doctors, journalist, teachers, bankers and other professionals.  This group of the society became conscious of their rights as they were inspired by the ideas of freedom and justice.  After partition, India got a bigger share of infrastructure, industry and above all an urban population.

The Pakistani nation today has to compete with a much bigger Indian economy that capitalizes on its fairly big English- speaking populace. Who have  been vital in exporting information technology services, software workers and business outsourcing services. However, Pakistan’s agriculture results in more than one-fifth of the production and creates two-fifth of employment. Textile contributes to most of Pakistan’s export earnings. But Pakistan has failed to enlarge an export base for other manufactures including films. On the contrary, Bollywood is expected to become India’s biggest export. The Indian cinema has been successful in reaching out to its populace and in creating a common imaginary that promotes nationalism. Films have been mirror to political issues in India where 35% of the population is illiterate. The novelty of the Indian cinema is based in how the political system fits to greet film stars. The Indian cinema is apparently and secretly quite political but what makes the association between cinema and politics is the participation of the film stars in politics.  The Indian political system welcomes the shift from star-fan to politician-voter association.

Pakistani entertainment industry, particularly films were hindered by socio, political and economic restrains. This resulted in the apparent ineffectiveness of the entertainment industry in creating a common imaginary based on progression and modernity. According to an article published in Herald, Zia ul Haq introduced strict policies on film production and censorship in the early 1980’s which led to the decline of the film industry. The filmmakers in order to make films had to go through a strenuous process of getting registered, besides the approval of the Ministry of Culture. After going through this arduous process, the film makers still needed the final permission to make a film. This new process demanded the filmmakers to show their academic degrees besides providing a sum of two hundred thousand rupees as bank guarantee. The meddling censorship policies introduced by the regime restricted the creative imagination of filmmakers.

 Besides the downfall of arts and entertainment, substandard education system for the poor, inadequate policies and suppression of liberal thought has resulted in creating a backward society.

Today, Pakistan is faced with the challenges of extremism, poor governance, corruption and home grown security problems.  Even after receiving independence, Pakistan has not been able to create a society free from injustice and oppression. Sir Syed’s vision of Muslims emerging as a scientifically advanced modern nation seems to be forgotten in today’s Pakistan. It is important for the youth to realize their role in creating a society that restores human dignity beyond social background and religion. The Pakistani nation needs to create a tolerant, just and progressive society.

Hindu nationalists in modern day India find an economically prosperous and sovereign Pakistan unacceptable. Two nation theory has been an object of acrimony as it is held responsible for disrupting the centuries old Hindu – Muslim unity.  The two nation theory may be the real rift between the India Pakistan relations. However, it is important to realize that the neighboring states - India and Pakistan cannot change their geography. Thus, both the states should adopt a realistic approach of looking towards a peaceful co- existence. Tens and thousands of people in this region live below the poverty line hence, peace in the region is essential for future generations.



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