KARACHI: Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah was a liberal-minded Muslim who did not believe in differences between sects of Islam, said Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain said in a speech on Tuesday.
He spoke via telephone at a seminar organised by the MQM to mark the death anniversary of the country’s founder. Altaf Hussain highlighted that Jinnah had included Hindus and Ahmadis in the cabinet – the country’s first foreign minister was Sir Mohammad Zafarullah Khan, who was an Ahmadi, and the law minister was Joginder Nath Mandal.
Speakers at the event included veteran politician and a former key leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party Mairaj Mohammad Khan, author and journalist Mohammed Hanif as well as Mujahid Barelvi, Saleem Safi and Dr Farman Fatehpuri. According to an account of the event issued by the MQM, Hanif noted that if the ambulance that had transported the Quaid from Ziarat left today, it would have been stopped in Quetta. Jinnah would have never reached Karachi because if they had checked his identity card, they would have realised what sect of Islam he belonged to. The Quaid, Hanif said, did not want a country like the one we have today, which has become a ‘factory producing non-believers’.
Mairaj Mohammad Khan said that this was not Quaid-e-Azam’s Pakistan, but a country of beggars and that the country’s policies had engulfed it in debt.
Journalist Mujahid Barelvi said that the vision of Pakistan that the Deobandi ulema and the Jamaat-e-Islami have adopted is different from that of the Quaid’s and Allama Iqbal’s.
Altaf Hussain reiterated a point that he has made often in the past few weeks: decrying the spate of killings of Shias after they are identified. “I do not want a country of extremists and mullahs but a country of Quaid-e-Azam’s vision where people of all faiths, sects and creeds are treated equally,” Hussain said. He said that the Quaid’s honesty was not appreciated by the ‘establishment’ and alleged that the founder of the country had not died of natural causes. He asked why the ambulance that was sent to the late founder did not even have petrol in it, and why was there no backup car for the governor-general of the country?
Talking about minorities, Altaf Hussain said that he had once used the word ‘mosques’ when speaking about Ahmadis and was told to refer to them as places of worship instead. The MQM founder asked that if people could not consider them Muslims, they should at least be considered Pakistanis. “Do they not have the right to live in Pakistan and stay alive?” he said.
It was being said that Hindus, Christians, Sikhs and Ahmadis had no right to live in Pakistan and that they should be killed and their places of worship be destroyed. But what would happen if this fire were to spread to Europe or the US; if Muslims were told that they could only be considered citizens if they went to church or if a Muslim woman was told that she could not marry a Christian and would have to convert if she wanted to. He asked if Muslims would be able to handle it if mosques in Europe were destroyed.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 12th, 2012.