In 1953, three years before the country chose to shed its secular tag as envisaged by its founder Muhammed Ali Jinnah, Pakistan was a secular nation celebrating a host of festivals ranging from Holi to Christmas.
This image, which Tarek Fatah shared on his Facebook page
, is from the time Pakistan was a secular country.
Though Pakistan officially adopted the Islamic Republic tag in 1956, it did not enforce the strict Sharia laws in practice until the arrival of General Zia ul-Haq, who served as the 6th President of Pakistan from 1978 till his death in 1988.
It was during General Zia’s rule that Pakistan adopted all of its current political Islamic form. The Ordinance XX was introduced which outlawed Ahmadiyya Muslims out of the purview of Islam in Pakistan.
Even Pakistanis hate him for his Islamization of the country
and blame him for planting the seeds of terror.
The Islamization actually ended the secular nature of Pakistan, turning the millions of minorities into something like enemies of the State. So the current holiday list of Pakistan should not surprise us.
But in the present times, there is a wave of communal harmony flowing in Pakistan. Thanks to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s own initiatives, such as greeting Hindus on Holi
, things are changing. Sharif’s promise to stand with minorities against injustice
even if the perpetrator is a Muslim can be seen as a sign that Islamabad is exorcising the ghost of Zia.