It would be interesting to note that there is a strong lobby of human rights activists and other liberal Muslim intellectuals in the Pakistani media who are indeed quite popular (for example, Mohammad Hanif – see this – http://www.openthemagazine.com/article/international/pakistan-s-general-problem, Najam Sethi – see this – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rz-aXacN_p4&feature=related, Hasan Nisar – see this – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17B5e9s_zZc, Nadeem Paracha – see this – http://dawn.com/2012/02/09/also-pakistan-2/ and this – http://dawn.com/2012/09/27/also-pakistan-v/ and http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/10/10/We_Are_All_Malala?page=0%2C1 and Marvi Sarmad – see this – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENlWhhySHuU – to name only a few, and those interested can also watch videos of the Pakistani Punjabi music band Beygairat Brigade that is strongly wedded to liberal ideas, such as of their popular song ‘Aalu Anday’ – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEpnwCPgH7g!) who are ever-ready to take up the cause of the religious minorities whenever they are wronged (this video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nG8FHh2qcrQ&feature=related is interesting in this connection) or condemn acts of terrorism by their countrymen (have a look at this article written by liberal Pakistani Muslim intellectual Irfan Husain shortly after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, published in the Pakistani newspaper ‘Dawn’ known for its liberal leanings – http://blog.panda.net.in/2008/12/facing-truth-by-irfan-husain-dawn-news.html – unfortunately, the article isn’t opening on the Dawn website but for those doubting the authenticity, you can see it in the archives here – http://archives.dawn.com/weekly/mazdak/arc-mazdak.htm – and this video of news anchor Kamran Khan – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVa8BO0X3zs, besides the book ‘Pakistan on the Brink’ by Ahmed Rashid) and even advocate friendship with India, and some of these liberals are making a grassroot difference in transforming radicals (have a look at this article, which was published in the Washington Post and the author of which seems to be a non-Muslim Westerner – http://afpak.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/10/21/pakistans_most_powerful_weapon). Pakistani human rights activists have also come out in the open to strongly condemn the torture of Indian soldiers [for reference, please see this video –
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tsmJOoI4o8 (kindly watch it from the 6:46 point onwards)].
Their history textbooks indeed have had a lot of bias and distortion since the Zia-ul-Haq regime but not prior to that (even in India, the BJP saffronized the NCERT history textbooks, but that nowhere came close to what was done in Pakistan, and was, in any case, undone by UPA-I – however, I must clarify that I am not an uncritical admirer or ardent basher of any political party), but liberal Pakistani Muslim intellectuals have very strongly condemned the same (for reference, please see these – http://news.monstersandcritics.com/education/news/article_1646412.php/Pakistan-s-education-system-a-breeding-ground-for-extremism, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5JQZHvX04k&feature=related, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djFgy-NflmM, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNMP-1kmVNc&feature=player_embedded, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FBikPpC7T4&feature=related), emphasizing that they should take pride in their pre-Islamic past (for reference, please see this article in Dawn – http://dawn.com/2012/06/22/a-muslim-majority-indus-valley-civilization/) as also Indian freedom fighters from what is today Pakistan, like Bhagat Singh (for reference, please see this – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2NbvLTq4qQ&feature=player_embedded, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Lahore-chowk-named-after-Bhagat-Singh/articleshow/16621017.cms, http://shirazhassan.blogspot.in/2012/11/shaheed-bhagat-singh-seeking.html), and they have also rebutted the idea that India should be seen as a threat by Pakistan (please see this video of former air force chief of Pakistan – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K57q_914QAU – it’s a must-watch!) and even emphasized that they are ethnically and culturally Indians and not Arabs and should accept this fact (for reference, please see this video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4f_GNLVJlM&feature=related) and still others have even ventured to argue that Muslim leaders who were Indian nationalists like Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan were better than the likes of Liyaqat Ali Khan (for reference, see this – http://dawn.com/2012/08/14/the-two-muslim-theory/), criticize Iqbal (for reference, see this – http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/10939/is-allama-iqbal-relevant-in-today%E2%80%99s-politics/) or even gone to the extent of bashing Jinnah in no uncertain terms (though even some of the previously cited articles/videos carry sometimes carry soft criticism of that man, here is one that bashes him in no uncertain terms – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIjydcEHnFA&feature=player_embedded, though many liberal Pakistani Muslims love Jinnah and argue that he wanted Pakistan to be a secular state, and this article subscribes to that school of thought – http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\11\05\story_5-11-2012_pg3_6) and here are two more remarkable articles – http://dawn.com/2013/02/05/coexistence-with-india/ and http://dawn.com/2013/02/19/coexistence-with-india-ii/ – by a liberal Pakistani Muslim intellectual bashing the Muslim rulers of India and the Muslim League, and hailing the Muslims in the Congress and other such Muslims who opposed the partition of India on the basis of religion. Some have explicitly stated that the partition of India was wrong and Jinnah committed a blunder – http://www.dhakatribune.com/long-form/2014/may/26/jinnah-made-mistake-and-i-am-ashamed-being-pakistani.
There is also a minority of Pakistani Muslims who practise Hinduism alongside Islam – http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/Ancient-Pakistan-temples-draw-devotees-from-across-faiths/articleshow/39084949.cms.
Though it is true that the religious minorities in India are way better off than in Pakistan (a liberal Pakistani Muslim concedes the same in this article – http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/15327/if-a-muslim-can-head-india%E2%80%99s-intelligence-bureau-can-a-hindu-be-made-dg-isi/), especially after the Zia-ul-Haq regime (particularly the Ahmedis who claim to be Muslims but are not accepted by many Sunnis and Shi’ites as being so are in quite a pitiable condition in Pakistan), there is much more to Pakistan than what many in the saffron brigade or even many chauvinistic Indian nationalists secular by outlook would like to see and the religious minorities there are not in as bad a shape as many would imagine (for more on this, please see-http://qrius.com/do-we-tend-to-exaggerate-the-plight-of-the-religious-minorities-and-women-in-pakistan/).
The attack on the schoolgirl Malala provoked tremendous outrage even among relatively conservative elements in Pakistan (interestingly, even the Lashkar-e-Taiba condemned the Taliban for this attack!), leading some Pakistani commentators to slam the Pakistani regime’s having sponsored terrorism in the first place for it to have boomeranged with such consequences, as can be seen in this article – http://tribune.com.pk/story/451119/we-are-not-malala/.
Pakistani cinema has also been bold enough to address the issue of religious extremism, as the fairly recent movies ‘Khuda ke Liye’ and ‘Bol’ demonstrate (the former is a must-watch), and the movie ‘Ramchand Pakistani’showcases how the loyalty of Pakistani Hindus to their country is rather unjustifiably doubted. In fact, I recently saw the 2003 Pakistani movie ‘Shararat’ on an Emirates flight from London to New Delhi (I had the option to watch Bollywood movies too, but decided to try something different), which closely resembled a Bollywood movie of the 1980s or 1990s era, except the usage of western slangs like ‘cool’ that perhaps became relatively more popular later. None of the female characters were burqa-clad, one wore a saree (though she was a Muslim in the story, and indeed, there are Pakistani Muslim women who do so, like their prominent public intellectual Marvi Sarmad mentioned earlier in this very article), the heroine was a brave and adventurous girl, women are shown as equals wielding considerable power in the family and being highly respected, religion was of no relevance to the storyline, except the casual references to the Almighty as ‘Allah’ in the course of conversation as there would be to ‘Bhagwaan’ in Indian movies, there’s that assertion of loving your own country and not migrating to the West (but no, not the faintest trace of India-bashing), there’s the upholding of forgiveness as the greatest virtue and a whole lot of song and dance.
In fact, Pakistan has an affluent section of its society which is fairly westernized and fairly indifferent to religion in its ways, as has been pointed out in this article – http://tribune.com.pk/story/424631/in-pakistan-underground-parties-push-the-boundaries/. Pakistanis of this category visited my school for an exchange programme and my college for a competition. Some may argue that these people are not “true Muslims” but one has to take them into cognizance before making sweeping generalizations about Pakistanis or those who identify themselves as Muslims or carry Muslim names. In fact, there are also those who criticize Islam in the media at the risk of being charged with blasphemy –
Here is an article by a Pakistani secularist who was formerly a religious fundamentalist – http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/22057/once-upon-a-time-in-the-land-of-the-pure-i-was-a-religious-fundamentalist/.
However, there is also no dearth of Pakistani liberals who are devout Muslims and justify their liberal perspective in the light of the Muslim scriptures.
Also, in the context of Pakistani liberals, it may be noted that there is a secessionist movement in every major province in Pakistan (including the so-called Azad Kashmir), except Punjab, and these separatists, by and large, have rejected the idea of Pakistan, i.e. the Muslims of undivided India being a single cultural and political unit. They wish to have their provinces as sovereign countries governed as secular states (and in this context, they look up to India) with nationalism based on linguistic, rather than religious, identity. This is particularly true of Balochistan (for reference, please see – http://www.examiner.com/article/balochistan-celebrates-india-s-victory-over-pakistan-world-cup-cricket), and to a lesser extent, Sindh, and the separatists in all the Pakistani provinces (in Balochistan, a vast majority of the Baloch are separatists, and indeed, theirs was a sovereign constitutional monarchy annexed by Pakistan in January 1948, and impartial Pakistani scholars like Babar Ayaz point to the hypocrisy of their nation-state in demanding self-determination for Kashmiris on the Indian side of the LoC, but itself denying the same to the Balochs!) cheer for India against Pakistan in cricket! Two separatist leaders of the so-called Azad Kashmir were also arrested for this reason! (for reference – http://epaper.timesofindia.com/Repository/ml.asp?Ref=VE9JS00vMjAxMS8wNC8xOCNBcjAwNjAw)
When Pakistani cricketer Afridi said that Indians aren’t large-hearted enough, he was slammed by former Pakistani cricketer Aamir Sohail (for reference, please see – http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports/cricket/cricket-world-cup-2011/news/Sohail-slams-Afridi-for-comments-against-Indians/articleshow/7865768.cms?intenttarget=no).
And having said all this, I would like to point out to the readers that I am the very same person who has started a Facebook group against the army, intelligence, terrorists and propagandists of Pakistan (http://www.facebook.com/groups/158504520883850/?ref=ts&fref=ts) and who wrote a piece on the hypocrisy in Pakistani propaganda (http://www.facebook.com/notes/karmanye-thadani/the-hypocrisy-in-pakistani-propaganda/486168623170)! But the focus in this article has been different. In fact, by creating a flawed self-imagined picture of Pakistani Muslims only comprising religious fanatics, we alienate their liberals who need to be strengthened.
The author is a freelance writer based in New Delhi. He has co-authored two short books, namely ‘Onslaughts on Free Speech in India by Means of Unwarranted Film Bans’ and ‘Women and Sport in India and the World’.