Fading legacy: In search of Jinnah’s missing speech

Published: August 14, 2012
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Quaid’s speech calling for religious, ethnic tolerance missing from Radio Pakistan’s archives.

Quaid’s speech calling for religious, ethnic tolerance missing from Radio Pakistan’s archives.

KARACHI: 

The audio recordings of every speech of the Quaid-e-Azam are with Radio Pakistan – except for one.

Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s landmark speech at the Constituent Assembly’s first meeting on August 11, 1947 in Karachi has been missing for decades and all recent efforts to retrieve it have so far been in vain.

These days, Radio Pakistan runs an Urdu translation recorded in somebody else’s voice of the same speech. Where the original speech disappeared, and whether this was deliberate, remains an unanswered question.

It may be no coincidence that the missing speech has these famous words in it: “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this state of Pakistan …You may belong to any religion or caste or creed—that has nothing to do with the business of the state.”

It was also in this speech that the founder had said that the first duty of a government was to maintain law and order, “so that the life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects are fully protected by the state.”

Lost treasures

Radio Pakistan Director General Murtaza Solangi told The Express Tribune that ever since he took over the state broadcaster, he had been looking for the record of the speech, but in vain.

When the Constituent Assembly’s session was held in Karachi on August 11, special teams from Delhi’s All India Radio station and the BBC had arrived in the then capital city to record the event.

Last November, Solangi approached his counterpart in India and requested him to look into his archives for the speech. After a few months passed without any result, he approached the speaker of India’s Lok Sabha, Meira Kumar, during her visit to Pakistan in February and requested her to push for the record.

Unfortunately, however, the Radio Pakistan DG was told in June that India’s radio archives don’t have the record either, and he must look for it elsewhere. Solangi received the same bad news at the archives department of the BBC.

The former journalist says the speech is of paramount importance, especially given the current climate of extremism, terrorism and ethnic divide prevailing in our country.

Significantly, no one before Solangi made an attempt to recover the recording.  “None of my predecessors at Radio Pakistan made any effort to retrieve such an important record of our history simply because nobody was interested in preserving it. It’s possible that the people before me wanted us to forget about it, but I will leave no stone unturned in getting it,” he said, adding that he hadn’t lost hope and would continue his search.

Wazir Mansion

Meanwhile, Jinnah’s birthplace in Karachi is a picture of neglect, where his message of tolerance seems to have been lost in the labyrinth of a polluted neighbourhood.

When the bearded old rickshaw driver was asked to go to Jinnah’s home in Kharadar, he had no idea that the Wazir Mansion was his birthplace. And when he finally reached the destination, he hurled the choicest of expletives on the nation’s founder, while gazing angrily at the two-storey building.

He said: “Jinnah had promised Pakistan to be a fortress of Islam. But is this what you call a fortress of Islam?”

The situation around Wazir Mansion is graver. Graffiti of various religious and political parties is scribbled on the walls nearby. Like the rickshaw driver, a large number of men gathered outside after offering afternoon prayers didn’t know that the building next door to the mosque was a national monument.

There is no signboard outside the building; only a rusted fence.

Inside, a small museum of Jinnah’s artefacts is present. There are no visitors, which is the norm. The reading room on the ground floor is empty and complimentary copies of newspapers that would arrive every day no longer do so.

Wazir Mansion museum in-charge Tanveer Sajjad says that although it is open to the general public six days a week, these days he is wary of allowing groups of young men to enter the building together. “The poor law and order situation in the area has forced us to take these extreme measures,” he says.

But who would want to steal from such a place? The few treasures housed here include a cigarette case, a few of Jinnah’s clothes; Ruttie Jinnah’s furniture set; a table clock and tortoise shell spectacles.

The renovation work at Wazir mansion began in 2004 and ended in 2008. However it was yet to be formally inaugurated and therefore no signboard can be installed until that happens, the in-charge says.

Every year, the area’s union councillor, if available, is invited to hoist the Pakistan flag at the building on August 14.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 14th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (22)

  • Kazim
    Aug 14, 2012 - 4:07AM

    Since India Radio and BBC doesn’t have anything like that on their records, so it seems like this is either a non-existent speech or it existed as a part of another big speech in which Jinnah iterated for Pakistan to become a religious country. Now, as far as this news is concerned, this is the greatest lie, published as a piece of news on any newspaper. Stop manipulating people and minds against the nation and its founding fathers!

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  • Sandip
    Aug 14, 2012 - 4:51AM

    For a person who ordered “Direct Action’ and hence was directly responsible for much of the bloodshed at the time of partition, is it any surprise that his legacy in the shape of today’s Pakistan is seeped in violence? The difference between Gandhiji and Jinaah in 1947 is the difference between India and Pakistan in 2012.

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  • Aug 14, 2012 - 4:53AM

    Garhi Khuda Bakhsh abad rahe, Wazir Mansion ki khair he.
    Jiye Bhutto, Raj ke Lutto

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  • S
    Aug 14, 2012 - 5:18AM

    After a violent partition that rendered millions dead and millions more homeless on the basis that Hindus and Muslims, who had been living together for thousands of years, could no longer coexist, suddenly, one fine morning, Jinnah proclaimed that Hindus would cease to be Hindus, Muslims would cease to be Muslims… Two months later in October 1947, he urged his countrymen to build Pakistan as a “fortress of Islam”. Pakistan has been none, neither secular nor a bulwark of Islam, dangling helplessly in the middle desperately trying to find its founding morale 65 years after it all began.

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  • Uzair
    Aug 14, 2012 - 5:20AM

    This was purely a deliberate attempt to wipe out the words of Quaid which many eyewitnesses claim Quaid claiming Pakistan to be a Muslim state, whereas ever after the disappearance of the tape has put the state’s religious identity in controversy. Where many illogical liberals claim that Quaid wanted to make this a secular state, which is totally bollocks. Had the Muslims wanted a secular state, two-nation theory and Muslim struggle for an independent state would have been totally pointless. Pakistan was built for Muslims as a separate state with minorities welcome in every manner, it is to remain an ISLAMIC REPUBLIC

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  • Danish
    Aug 14, 2012 - 5:21AM

    It was conceived to be and to remain an Islamic Republic InshaAllah

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  • IM the Dim.
    Aug 14, 2012 - 7:50AM

    pity

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  • moonjely sony
    Aug 14, 2012 - 8:42AM

    whats the use of going back on Jinnah speech. sent all the Hindus and Sikhs to India, and take back all the Muslims from India. There will be no more fuss.

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  • sensible
    Aug 14, 2012 - 8:44AM

    no wonder why Pak is this state coz we have forgotten the words of our founder!

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  • Aug 14, 2012 - 8:47AM

    Ask All Inda Radio they may be able to help us out.

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  • Samir
    Aug 14, 2012 - 9:38AM

    Pakistan was never supposed to be an Islamic nation, and wasn’t ever supposed to be an independent nation. From my research, (believe me I’m an avid history buff especially of the subcontinent, I’ve read all the speeches from Jawaharlal Nehru to Gandhi to Jinnah) And I have concluded that Jinnah never wanted Pakistan to be totally independent of India. Jinnah never intended Pakistan to be hostile towards India, in fact Quaid wanted india and pakistan to have very close ties since they shared the same cultural heritage. I can sum it up by saying that Jinnah wanted “Pakistan” to be another state of India but it would have strong autonomy/be independent and serve the indian Muslim.

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  • Nzaar Ihsan
    Aug 14, 2012 - 10:31AM

    People, who cares what Jinnah said or did not say 65 years ago? Do a referendum and let the people decide how “Islamic” they want the country to be? If they want a Saudi, give them a Saudi! If they want a Turkey, give them that!

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  • Sobriquet
    Aug 14, 2012 - 11:04AM

    @Uzair:
    “Islamic Republic” is an oxymoron because in a republic the executive is legitimized by a constitution and all citizens have an equal right to run for public office. In Pakistan, however, Islamic laws take precedence and non-Muslims are barred from holding the highest elected office. So first Pakistanis should learn what a Republic is before making such claims.

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  • harkol
    Aug 14, 2012 - 11:42AM

    It is missing for a good reason. It has no relevance to Pakistan anymore – it’ll be 100% muslim nation!!

    And it’ll have even less relevance in couple of decades, when Pakistan will effectively be 3-4 separate nations.

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  • Jamal Uddin
    Aug 14, 2012 - 12:08PM

    @Sandip: you are just a jealous Indian bloke. Jinnah was more epic than Gandhi and all the Indians combined. You guys are jealous because he snatched away Pakistan right under your scheming noses

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  • poleturtle
    Aug 14, 2012 - 12:45PM

    In the History of this world there have been 2 countries founded on basis of Religion. Both are doomed!! Israel and Pakistan ! Fact is that what we have today as Pakistan is 45% of what Mr. Jinnah got in 1947.

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  • R.A
    Aug 14, 2012 - 1:21PM

    Not missing speech but
    intentionally LOST speech
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  • Human
    Aug 14, 2012 - 1:24PM

    Jinnah created a Lost Nation 65-years ago and it is stick to its motive, still lost and trying to find aim for existence………no wonder his legacy is also lost…..

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  • Z.Khan
    Aug 14, 2012 - 1:25PM

    Effort at the part of Mr Solangi is commendable. He is doing it for the good cause and soon will succeed. If some more hands join him probably will be able to find some clues. In Uk effort will be made to find some more clues with British Museum and Library.

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  • Ammar
    Aug 14, 2012 - 1:38PM

    We, as Pakistani’s, need to understand that Pakistani is meant to be a secular state where religion and state affairs are to be kept separate. A secular state doesn’t mean we lose our islamic idealogy, however this idealog doesn’t have to be forced upon anyone. Live and Let Live – this will help our country to prosper. Happy Independence day!!!

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  • A2Z
    Aug 14, 2012 - 2:11PM

    Oh another 11 August 1947 speech article…The followers of this speech should also refer to other speeches of Quaid-e-Azam. Those who are blaming religion for all problems of Pakistan should understand that religion was never practiced properly. The penal code of Pakistan is based on English law not on Islamic law. This is just a single example and all of us know very well that judiciary has failed miserably since 1947.

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  • Cynical
    Aug 18, 2012 - 4:29PM

    Too bad. This speech was his one and only ticket to the hall of secularism.Now that it’s lost we will have to live with all other speeches that liberals would rather belive never made.

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