(originally posted on Daily Times)
BY Faizan Ali Warraich
A session on ‘Living with internal differences: The South Asian dilemma’ was moderated by Khalid Ahmed, and the panellists were, as Ahmed introduced them, three extraordinary women of South Asia – Indian historian Romila Thapar, Pakistani historian Ayesha Jalal, and human rights activist Asma Jahangir. Romila Thapar said all societies had the internal ideological differences but nations resolved them with the passage of time. “I believed democracy can only be called a true democracy when it is in secular society,” she said. Asma said hegemony of the power of one group would create problems. We should respect each other’s faiths and ideologies to let Pakistan move forward on the road to prosperity.
She said nation building involved a series of events, which had to convert into a pluralist society, one-sect, one-religion was not the option for an true democracy. Asma said civilised societies build and support institutions to resolve the issues of the society, but in Pakistan as many as four times constitution was abrogated and Islamisation of the country was held under the auspicious of the then military dictator Zialul Haq.
She said Pakistani people had to decide on what grounds and ideology we were agreed upon. She said, colonial legacies in both countries created problems for the progress of society. She said writing of history textbooks by the state was a heinous crime committed by the state itself, and this allowed them to propagate their part of narrative and ideology.