Enlightenment is the way to lead Pakistan: Prof Ishtiaq Ahmed

Sajjad Azhar Pirzada

Professor Ishtiaq Ahmed is a known political scientist based in Sweden. He holds a Ph.D degree in political science from the Stockholm University. Presently, he is teaching political science as a Professor Emeritus at the Stockholm University. Besides, he also remained associated with the Government College University (GCU), Lahore and the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), Lahore as a visiting Professor.

Apart from teaching the main subjects of political science e.g. political theory, he has also been teaching the politics of South Asia, political Islam in different aspects in global politics, human rights, multiculturalism and nationalism. Beside this, he is the author of several important books in which a lot of historical events and uncovered facts have been recorded. Being a human he is a very kind person. He loves humanity and equality of all human beings without any discrimination. He firmly believes in Pakistan's right to exist as an independent and sovereign state. He wishes Pakistan and the South Asian region to live in peace and prosperity together through cooperation and solidarity. He is totally opposed to any aggression against Pakistan by a foreign power.

Few weeks ago a controversy happened to him when a columnist levelled some allegations against him in an article published in a Pakistani Urdu newspaper. In response to those allegations and few other topics he spoke to Sunrise Today on Saturday. Following is the excerpt of the interview:

Sunrise Today: Muhammad Izhar-ul-Haq in one of his columns has seriously criticised you for your thinking and alleged that you are anti-Pakistan and a critic of Quaid-e-Azam and Allama Iqbal. What is your response?

Prof Ishtiaq Ahmed: Actually I came to know through a senior journalist Shakeel Chaudhry that a stupid man Izhar-ul-Haq has written an article against me in an Urdu daily. So, I strongly deny all the allegations and want to respond with reality, because, my views and thoughts are based on facts and figures on ground and I am very clear about my position at all.

ST: Why do you address Mahatma Gandhi with respect? Should the Pakistanis also call him with respect?

Prof I.A: Yes, why not. He must be respected by everyone. Actually the true facts and figures have been hidden from us and that is why you are asking such a question, however, if you go through the real history, you would find that he had safeguarded hundreds and thousands of Muslims in Calcutta and Delhi during riots at the time of partition, whereas he also had helped Pakistan in getting her share in the resources of the United India. For me this fact is enough that when his attempt of keeping India united, failed, he did not even compromise on his principles about saving the precious human lives and played his due role in this regard. 

ST: As you have a different opinion about the Two Nation Theory, so, in your point of view what are its effects on the Muslims of Subcontinent? 

Prof I.A: Well, Hindus still live in Pakistan and Muslims still live in India, so where did the Two Nation Theory go? I don't believe in any kind of thinking or ideology that makes the people enemies of each other by telling them false stories. Let someone tell me that what we have achieved from such thoughts and behaviors? Pakistan and India fought many wars but still they couldn’t reach to a position or end to resolve their issues, especially the conflict of Kashmir. 

ST: How do you see the relations of India and Pakistan in the future?

Prof I.A: The relationship between India and Pakistan has been proverbially bad, but one must believe in reason and collective conscience. Hopefully one day both the countries would see the benefits of burying the hatched and would move on forward. Here, it is to mention that many countries have fought wars with each other but now they are good friends of each other. Moreover, I don't think we can afford a war on both the sides, using nuclear weapons.

ST: Well, what is your viewpoint about the today’s Pakistan?

Prof I.A: My position has always been very clear that Pakistan has come into being and now it is a reality and a recognized state under the international law. If India at some stage wants Pakistan to return to a united India so that phase is long over and presently on both the sides there is no such feeling of becoming one state. However, both the states in order to remain legal and legitimate entities need to obey the international law and maintain their internal and external peace. Similarly, disputes to be resolved through negotiations and dialogue only.

ST: What is the actual cause of religious fundamentalism and extremism in Pakistan? And what do you know about the diversity and pluralism of Pakistan before the Afghan War?

Prof I.A: It is a very good question. I would like to say that religious fundamentalism and extremism is basically a product of the Muslim nationalism which has been used in the Afghan War as an important weapon to destroy the enemies. However, in return Pakistan has also received a lot of repercussions which seriously damaged her diverse culture and plural society. Before proxy war in the region our society was very tolerant and peaceful but the Afghan War not only destroyed Afghanistan but also adversely affected Pakistan and now a long time is required for the remedy of this huge disaster.

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