By Nusrat Pasha
Interfaith Harmony is unattainable until there is Interfaith Equality. Equality, on the other hand, is bound to remain a fantasy as long as there is a State Religion. As soon as you start talking about a State Religion and involve that religion in legislative matters, you inadvertently open the door to theocracy. The question of “who decides and who interprets?” comes up. An unending battle for supremacy between interpretations offered by the various sects and denominations, within that faith, ensues. Clergymen of diverse sects, simultaneously begin claiming absolute monopoly over the right to decide, the right to interpret and the right to rule. The umbrella of religion ends up being misused and abused to justify and even sanctify all forms of misconduct. Since Monopoly and Equality can not coexist, interfaith harmony is most conveniently sacrificed at the altar of the State Religion.
Only a truly Secular State can aspire to achieve any meaningful Interfaith Harmony. A Secular State does not at all signify an anti-God or even an anti-religion set-up. That would be an incorrect and misleading definition of secularism. Atheism, not Secularism, is the opposite of Religion. A Secular State, by definition, does not defy or deny religion; nor is it by nature anti-religion. A secular state is simply one that is not interested in the religious identity of the Citizen, and deals with all citizens as “equal citizens of one state” , in the words of Jinnah. The religion, religious affiliation or religious inclination of an individual, is thus of no relevance to the state in a secular state. This is the kind of state that was conceived by Quaid-e-Azam.