Jinnah’s Pakistan

Published: March 28, 2013
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It appears that by pointing out gaping holes and factual inaccuracies in Mr Yaqoob Khan Bangash’s article “Jinnah’s Pakistan”, makes me a “sycophant” to a dead man, as stated by the writer in his recent article, which was a rejoinder to my rebuttal of his original piece on the topic. It may be stated that Mr Bangash’s rejoinder did not address two out of three points that I had raised. It can, therefore, be said that he has conceded that he was wrong on the issue of Jinnah’s claim as the sole spokesman for Muslims being tantamount to being a religious claim and that Jinnah’s actions vis-a-vis the NWFP assembly were undemocratic.

Let us move to Mr Bangash’s new claim, i.e., Jinnah promised secularism to non-Muslims and Islamic rule to Muslims, but that this was not necessarily a theocratic state. He claims that the Gulf states are not theocracies but are not secular either. This is an extraordinary claim. The Gulf states are monarchies with no semblance of representative rule. Pakistan is a country that aspires to be a democracy. What would qualify Pakistan as a secular state? In legal constitutional terms, a state without a state religion is a secular state. If Pakistan did not discriminate between its citizens on the basis of religion and did not have a state religion, it would legally be a secular, democratic state.

Now, we come to the issue of Jinnah supposedly never having spoken of a secular (i.e., an inclusive, non-religious, democratic) state to a mainly Muslim audience. Pray tell, what was the August 11 speech which was delivered to the Constituent Assembly? Was the Constituent Assembly of the largest Muslim majority state of its time not a mainly Muslim audience? The word “Islam” does not appear once in the entire speech. The Muslim League under Jinnah did not pass even a single resolution committing Pakistan to Islamic rule despite there being attempts of doing so. In 1943, a member from Bombay forwarded a resolution to that effect but Jinnah shot it down. On several occasions, Jinnah had addressed mainly Muslim audiences and asked them to ensure that all Pakistani citizens have equal rights. There are countless speeches in this regard but no occasion was more religious than the Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi event at the bar association in Karachi where he declared: “What reason is there for anyone to fear democracy, equality, freedom on the highest sense of integrity and on the basis of fair play and justice for everyone? Let us make the Constitution of Pakistan. We will make it and we will show it to the world.”

Granted that speaking to certain Muslim audiences, Jinnah was at pains to explain that an inclusive democratic state was what Islam also prescribed, but that amounts to speaking to a people in their language. It does not follow that he was promising them “Islamic rule” instead of the inclusive, pluralistic democracy he underlined repeatedly. His argument was that Islam stands for pluralism and democracy. Jinnah was not the only leader to appeal to religion on this count. Ghaffar Khan, who Mr Bangash does not tire of quoting, spoke of Islamic principles all throughout July and August 1947 when making a case for Pathanistan. It was part of the idiom.

Much of what is attributed to Jinnah by way of Islamic rule is fabricated. For example, our textbooks say that on January 13, 1948, Jinnah spoke of Pakistan being a laboratory of Islam when speaking to students of Peshawar’s Islamia College. Not only was Jinnah not there in Peshawar on the said date but he never said any such thing when he did speak to students of Islamia College on April 14, 1948. Finally, it is a moot point that Pakistan needs to be what would serve the interest of Pakistanis best today. All I have argued is that the Pakistan we have now does not conform to the ideas and vision that Jinnah stated repeatedly for the new state.

Yasser Latif Hamdani

Published in The Express Tribune, March 29th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (24)

  • mind control
    Mar 28, 2013 - 10:19PM

    Jinnah was at pains to explain that an inclusive democratic state was what Islam also prescribed, but that amounts to speaking to a people in their language. It does not follow that he was promising them “Islamic rule” instead of the inclusive, pluralistic democracy he underlined repeatedly. His argument was that Islam stands for pluralism and democracy.

    This indeed is a novel definition of secular, inclusive, pluralistic democracy. But if we decide to go by this definition then, pray do tell, which religion would not fit this bill.

    Take Christianity- Love Thy Neighbour- The Meek Shall Inherit etc etc.

    Or take Hinduism- All Atmas are part of the same Parmatma- All Paths Lead to One God etc.

    So what was the tearing hurry for getting away from one inclusiveness to another?

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  • thor
    Mar 28, 2013 - 11:49PM

    @YLH
    If this is what Jinnha was asking for ..what is the point of asking for a separate homeland?

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  • Ahmed
    Mar 28, 2013 - 11:50PM

    Jinnah from a speech on January 25, 1948, at Karachi Bar Association saying: “I could not understand a section of people who deliberately wanted to create mischief and made a propaganda that the constitution of Pakistan would not be made on the basis of Shariat.”

    “No doubt there are many people who do not quite appreciate when we talk of Islam. Islam is not only a set of rituals, traditions and spiritual doctrines, Islam is also a code for every Muslim which regulates his life and his conduct even in politics and economics and the like.”

    http://tribune.com.pk/story/484417/as-nation-remembers-jinnah-speakers-fear-his-legacy-has-been-forgotten/

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  • RS
    Mar 29, 2013 - 9:45AM

    Are you a lawyer? Must be a good one..!

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  • Holycow
    Mar 29, 2013 - 3:45PM

    The gulf states are far from being secular but to claim that a monarchy can’t be secular is ridiculous.

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  • Rex Minor
    Mar 29, 2013 - 5:06PM

    It is time that the two Dons, one from the American and the other from the English university tell us their concept about the Governing system in Pakistan, and not flogging to death what Jinnah said and not said, meant and not meant giving the impesson to foreigners that he was a great charlatan of his time.

    Noting should be proposed, however, which may disturb the democratic order in todays Pakistan.

    Rex Minor

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  • Abdul Alim
    Mar 29, 2013 - 6:07PM

    There you go. Indian trolls on the case of Jinnah. Why they cannot focus on the brahmin hegemony which nehru wanted to imposed on the caste plagued hindu society. That was what Jinnah wanted out of. All Jinnah wanted was a proportional representation to ensure the rights of minorities like Muslims including Dalits. Read Sachar report and see why it made sense for Muslims to separate. Jinnah was in favor of a confederal model. Nehru did not want that and wanted to have a strong federation with abolute majority principle. Gandhi constanly played the religious card by getting to play the Khilafat movement card and encourging divisions between Muslim leadership. its time that the indian trolls get to focus on the “rape” capital of the world that they proudly own. it is time for them to pay attention to increasing civic strife by the communists and the Nagas. It is time that they pay attention to aparthied ridden caste system that keeps more than 500 million indian citizens below povert line and depriving 57% of indian children of completing school. Spare us your trolls and do some work for your own country.

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  • Truth
    Mar 29, 2013 - 7:34PM

    @thor
    Indeed it was Jinnah himself who was first was against the partition of India earlier. Only once he realised that in the common country Muslims would not be able to face the overwhelming Hindu majority and the very basic rights may well be violated, he decided to call for Pakistan. Jinnah wanted to establish Pakistan and show by example that a Muslim Majority country can give equal rights and full status to its citizen regardless of religion.
    We Pakistanis never see the contrast. Jinnah fought his entire life for the equal status of Muslims and no discrimination due to religion (SECULAR). Suddenly after getting Pakistan he would forget his ideals and beliefs for a Islamic state. Please give some thought to this. Jinnah was a man of Principles and he wanted to show Pakistan would give the status to its non Muslims what India was not giving to it’s Muslims in latter and spirit.
    We fight the Hindus for injustice when we are in the minority, but when we gain power, we forget what we stood for and do the same injustice with our minorities. Sheer Hypocrisy which Allah hates e most.
    A bitter but necessary truth that needs to be understood and accepted.

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  • thor
    Mar 29, 2013 - 9:11PM

    in the common country Muslims would not be able to face the overwhelming Hindu majority
    Muslims have been living with Hindu for 1000 years.
    the very basic rights may well be violated,
    can you tell me the rights which could have been violated.
    Jinnah wanted to establish Pakistan and show by example that a Muslim Majority country can give equal rights and full status to its citizen regardless of religion.
    That is hypothetical.

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  • Truth
    Mar 29, 2013 - 11:52PM

    @thor:
    Muslims have been living for 1000 years with different Muslim monarchies or Foreign rule, Mughal, Ibrahim Lodhi, Sher Shah Suri and the British with a dark period in Hindu history. The momentum of rights and self government was on the rise after Congress and Gandhi’s struggle and by the 20th century there have been numerous incidents of communal violence and Hindus were the strongest in their entire history and Muslims and Hindus were being killed in communal violence.
    I can’t believe you actually asked about the about rights violation. Babri Mosque, Bombay riots, Gujrat violence, Shiv Sena threats and numerous incidents of communal tensions. India tries its best to keep order and be secular for peaceful coexistence between Muslims and Hindus. If only they were not secular how much worse could the situation be.
    Nothing about the third point is hypothetical. It is naive to suggest that if one fights his entire life for a cause only to become a hypocrite and act against his beliefs when he himself is in power. Read Jinnah’s biography and beliefs and then judge his actions accordingly. I end with this very famous part of his address to the Pakistan assembly which clears everything.
    You will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus, and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State.’
    The “personal faith of each individual’ sums up the idea for a secular or Islamic rule state.

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  • thor
    Mar 30, 2013 - 10:51AM

    @Truth:
    Can you contemplate a little as to why by the 20th century there have been numerous incidents of communal violence? I mean Hindu/Muslims together fought in 1857.
    Its because seed of hatred was being planted always to keep them divided by British.

    Now regarding events after 1993 in India, you are equating communal violence with that of rights violation.These incidents are aberration, its not like Muslims being in minority are prosecuted in India.I am not aware of any country or religion which do not have its share of fanatics.
    If India now trying its best to keep order and be secular for peaceful coexistence between Muslims and Hindus now, why you think it would not have done the same in an united India+Pakistan?

    As per Jinnah, it is not the outsiders, but intellectuals with in Pakistanis who are debating the kind of Pakistan he wanted & that too 66 years later.If he was so unsure about Muslims rights, then he should have fought for it.Instead he called for direct action.
    Martin Luther king who fought for blacks right could have demanded a separate state for blacks.Why he did not do that?

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  • G. Din
    Mar 30, 2013 - 4:43PM

    @thor: to Truth
    ” I mean Hindu/Muslims together fought in 1857.”
    Yes, they did. The question to ask is why did they not stick together and defeat the British who were not at all capable of resisting an all-India movement, being so few in numbers and so far away from any help from the mother-country. The answer is not “Its because seed of hatred was being planted always to keep them divided by British.” After all if they were fighting the same enemy together, that lame excuse would not fly. It is because Muslims were fighting to get the Muslim rule back which Hindus did not want. Hindus, very rightly, chose the lesser of their two tormentors – the British. Muslims have not forgotten that to this day.
    “Martin Luther king who fought for blacks right could have demanded a separate state for blacks.Why he did not do that?”
    He could have demanded but he would not have got anything but a general massacre of the black race. Like Gandhi, he realised, it was not wise to challenge the military might of your oppressor. Blacks did have the “Black Power” movement at one time but it fizzled.
    Are Muslims the only minority in India? Why is it that the only minority that every country in the world has a problem with is the Muslim? Currently, it seems Buddhists of Burma and Sri Lanka have come to the same conclusion as did the Hindus, Christians and the Jews that Muslims are an abrasive, capricious, pugnacious people who do not know how to, or want to, get along with those amongst whom they live. The worst solution is to appease such a people by pseudo-sickularism practiced in India.

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  • thor
    Mar 30, 2013 - 6:42PM

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BahadurShahII

    As the Indian rebellion of 1857 spread, Sepoy regiments seized Delhi. Seeking a figure that could unite all Indians, Hindu and Muslim alike, most rebelling Indian kings and the Indian regiments accepted Zafar as the Emperor of India.,[11] under whom the smaller Indian kingdoms would unite until the British were defeated. Zafar was the least threatening and least ambitious of monarchs, and the legacy of the Mughal Empire was more acceptable a uniting force to most allied kings than the domination of any other Indian kingdom.

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  • Truth
    Mar 30, 2013 - 8:10PM

    Bahadur Shah was just used as a symbol. Hindus did not want Muslim or British rule for themselves. Why do you feel they would so happily want a Muslim monarch over them ruling by fist? The era of Constitution and rights had arrived by the 19 Century. If you actually research and do deep into the causes of the Indian Rebellion and not just read 5 lines from a book or website, you’d find out that everyone had different reasons to fight. Why is it so that the Rebellion was defeated? And why is it that the rebellion found such less support throughout India that it failed? There were many Hindu rulers and people who were not comfortable with seeing Bahadur Shah as a unifying symbol. Only few Hindus saw him this way, NOT the majority. After all there were as many as 50 Indians for every British, that too having a very consecutive figure. The rebellion did not enjoy widespread support because every group was fighting for their personal gain.
    Now you are thinking from a 2013 perspective. Jinnah asked for Partition in the 1940s. And the violence was great at that time. He asked for partition keeping in mind the conditions of the time and thousands of lives depended on him. If it is the right decision today or not is not they question. What Jinnah did then was right because of the conditions. To understand history you have to analyse the time and conditions under which the decisions were made to fully understand their logic.

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  • thor
    Mar 30, 2013 - 10:56PM

    Bahadur Shah was just used as a symbol.
    Even Gandhi & Jinnah were Symbols.
    Hindus did not want Muslim or British rule for themselves.
    & why should they?
    Why is it so that the Rebellion was defeated?
    There are many reasons or that..British won it because they were advanced.
    And why is it that the rebellion found such less support throughout India that it failed?
    The rebellion did not enjoy widespread support because every group was fighting for their personal gain. That’s why Indians were ruled for 1000 years by invaders.That is the India of an different era.It i not worthwhile to think about it in 2013.
    Jinnah asked for Partition in the 1940s. And the violence was great at that time. He asked for partition keeping in mind the conditions of the time and thousands of lives depended on him.
    The congress leadership agreed for partition for the same reason.
    so it was Jinnah who asked for partition & rest is history.
    I rest my case..

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  • G. Din
    Mar 30, 2013 - 11:20PM

    @thor:
    wikipedia is not always authoritative. What you read therein is written not by authoritative sources but ordinary folk like you and me. That is why it is unwise to depend on its authenticity. It is useful if you look at it as just one opinion.
    Please read my comment again and try to answer the questions raised therein.
    Also, ask yourself why did the lifelong “bhai-bhai”ism of Gandhi fail even while he was alive?
    Do not colour history by your biases or wishful thinking as he did. (India’s appointed “historians” have painted 1857 mutiny as “India’s First War of Independence”. Nonsense.) Those who do that are in for huge disappointments and let-downs at best as Gandhi discovered and utter humiliation as brought to us by Nehru’s “bhai-bhai”ism, at worst.
    In life, it is best to respect others and expect respect from them. Allow each to have his/her own personal space and be sure not to intrude into that. Demand the same for yourself. So bear hugs, even if brotherly, are out. Treat each other as adults. If you don’t get respect or are not treated like an adult, walk away! Love does not work in the public space! Both Gandhi and Nehru learnt that but, oh, it was too late for both.

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  • thor
    Mar 31, 2013 - 12:38AM

    @G. Din:
    The history as we know is too written by someone. Why blame the Wikipedia alone.
    I too gave the quote from Wikipedia just as an opinion.
    I understand the complex nature of history of the Indian subcontinent.
    It did not begin with Britishers or Mughals. It is a long saga, i do not know, could ten thousand years old or may be more.. Even historians have failed to decipher every thing about it & may be they have missed on many parts.
    Frankly i am not good at history. For me personally Chanakya, Chandragupta Maurya & Asoka were interesting characters from history..Please be sure they are not that interestingly depicted by India’s appointed “historians”.
    1857 was a failure & history will treat it so. It does not matter who labels it with their own color.
    The topic of discussion was on Jinnah & i stand by my statements.
    It was Jinnah who called for direct action.
    It was Jinnah who asked for partition.

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  • G. Din
    Mar 31, 2013 - 1:27AM

    @Truth:
    @thor:
    Are we talking about the same beloved and acclaimed Bahadur Shah Zafar who wrote from Burma?
    “Kitna hai badnaseeb Zafar, dafn ke liye;
    Do gaz zameen na mili koo-e-yaar main”

    (How unfortunate am I (Zafar) that (I) couldn’t find six feet of my beloved ground to be buried in).
    His address – still Burma. Wonder, why?

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  • thor
    Mar 31, 2013 - 9:14AM

    @G. Din:

    That was British India..
    I pray for all the freedom fighters who lost there life..the list is endless.
    Many freedom fighters were deported to Andaman where they were tortured to gruesome death.

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  • Truth
    Mar 31, 2013 - 12:36PM

    @thor:
    Gandhi and Jinnah were symbols widely supported and accepted by the Hindus and Muslims. Bahadur Shah was not. He represented the old age of declining Mughal power which could not face the British might so thus was defeated. Bahadur Shah couldn’t even play an important role himself in the uprising. Just remained a symbol for a minority of Indians.
    There were many reasons you said. Yes I agree there were many and British strength was one. But division and disunity among Indians over motives and action was also one of the main reasons. Why was it that 13 American colonies fought and gained independence from the same British Empire? Because they were united in their cause to establish a representative government. Disunity is a great reason for Indians to lose.
    And as you said the rebellion failed because everyone was fighting for their gain? That’s EXACTLY what I said. There is the answer to your own example of using Bahadur Shah as a uniting figure. You brought him up. He wasn’t a uniting figure for the Majority only a small quarter of Indians took him as a uniting figure.
    And yes Jinnah did ask for partition. I don’t understand, I never said Jinnah didn’t. I only tried to explain WHY he asked for partition which was your very first question at the top.
    Brother Thor you seem a bit confused. Just read over our argument once and I think you’ll understand.
    It was nice having a discussion with you, have a good day!

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  • thor
    Mar 31, 2013 - 12:57PM

    That was British India..
    I pray for all the freedom fighters who lost there life..the list is endless.
    Many freedom fighters were deported to Andaman where they were tortured to gruesome death.

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  • thor
    Mar 31, 2013 - 10:41PM

    @Truth:
    Disunity is a great reason for Indians to lose.
    Yes i agree to your conclusion..It requires a man like Chanakya to unite a whole country called India when there is an outside threat.
    The rebellion did not enjoy widespread support because of different reasons, one is because there was no common goal, everyone looked in to there own.
    The common goal should have been… Indians being ruled by Indians.Not Muslims or Hindus.
    @G.din
    It is because Muslims were fighting to get the Muslim rule back which Hindus did not want. Hindus, very rightly, chose the lesser of their two tormentors – the British. Muslims have not forgotten that to this day.
    I do not agree to this particular point that Hindus, very rightly, chose the lesser of their two tormentors..
    I just see the past 1000 or more years as a black/sad/terrible period for India..
    It was sad time..& i hope it never gets repeated.
    But now India is on rise because Indians are being ruled by Indians…

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  • thor
    Mar 31, 2013 - 10:53PM

    @Truth:
    When i said about uniting figures.. Gandhi ,Jinnah,Zafar…see the context with which i said it.
    Anyways..those period of symbolism/emperor/kingdoms are gone..
    I just feel the history has taken a correct course for India..
    I do not think Indians will ever make any mistake in future which would result in a situation where they fight with themselves & some outsider start ruling them..I hope it never happens.

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  • thor
    Mar 31, 2013 - 11:04PM

    The last 66 years of Indian History is something of a miracle of short..may be the founding fathers of India did a lot of research of India’s past..They not only kept India united,,but also threw away all the weak links that had stood as a barrier to India being ruled by Indians.
    India is a modern Idea..democracy, secularism, gender & economic equality being the corner stones.Some time it does fail..but i see that as a learning chapter..

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