‘Treasure’ hunt: Audio recordings of Jinnah’s Aug 11 speech still missing

Published: September 11, 2013
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Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) has a radio archive of 3.5 million minutes, it does not have even a few seconds of Jinnah’s historic address. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) has a radio archive of 3.5 million minutes, it does not have even a few seconds of Jinnah’s historic address. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

ISLAMABAD: 

“If you will work in cooperation, forgetting the past, burying the hatchet, you are bound to succeed. We should begin to work in that spirit and in time all these angularities of the majority and minority communities […] the Pathans, Punjabis, Shias, Sunnis and […] the Brahmins, Vashnavas, Khatris, also Bengalis, Madrasis, will vanish.”

Jinnah’s timeless words hold true even today on his 65th death anniversary. His epic August 11, 1947 speech to the Constituent Assembly encapsulated his vision for the fledgling state. The speech is especially famous for its advocacy of religious freedom and equality for all. “…[Y]ou are free to go to temples, mosques or any place of worship.” The speech was the strongest espousal of a secular state by the country’s founder.

But this momentous piece of the Partition’s literature is still missing from the national archives.

Oddly enough, though Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) has a radio archive of 3.5 million minutes, it does not have even a few seconds of Jinnah’s historic address.

Sometime in 2008 Murtaza Solangi, the then newly appointed PBC director-general, learnt about the missing speech. Then and there he decided to launch a mission to recover the lost speech.

His efforts finally bore fruit last week when audio recordings of Jinnah’s June 3 and August 14, 1947 speeches were handed over to Pakistan by India. But the former PBC chief points out the country already had those speeches.

Two years ago, Solangi says he had started a campaign in which he uploaded 319 rare recordings, including Jinnah’s speeches, on video-sharing website YouTube. “These two speeches can be found on the video-sharing website.”

Solangi grimly adds that there is a possibility that the missing speech was deliberately destroyed. “Perhaps this speech was available with the PBC earlier but was destroyed by the stooges of past generals.”

The speech promotes Jinnah’s secular vision and Liaquat Ali Khan (the country’s first prime Minister) did not knowingly publicise this speech as well, he adds.

Solangi is no longer with the PBC but he says he has not given up his quest. “In my individual capacity, I am still looking for the missing speech,” he says, sanguinely adding, “I am still hopeful.”

Quest for the lost speech

Solangi had taken over as PBC director-general on June 16, 2008. Shortly after, during a visit to the Central Production Unit (CPU) that stores all records, he was informed that Radio Pakistan did not have the August 11 speech.

“I did not get any answer as to why we had Jinnah’s June 3 and August 14 speeches, but not the August 11 one.”

Until 1948, he says, there was no radio station in Karachi. The first ever station was set up in Peshawar in 1936 and then in Lahore in 1937, but they were substandard with no recording facilities.

When Jinnah addressed the first Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on Monday, August 11, 1947, a team from Delhi came to record it. “I realised that I might find the recording in India,” he recalls. But due to soured relations in the wake of the Mumbai attacks, he could not take up the matter with New Delhi.

He then contacted the BBC but did not succeed. In November 2011, he visited Delhi to attend the annual Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union Conference, which provided him an opportunity to ask the head of All India Radio’s International Department.

“I was told that they had the speech but I had to formally write a request.”

Meanwhile, Solangi discussed the matter with Shahid Malik, Pakistan’s high commissioner in Delhi at the time. He also got another opportunity to further his mission when Meira Kumar, the Lok Sabha speaker, visited Pakistan in February 2012.

However, the All India Radio (AIR) DG told the Indian minister for information and indirectly conveyed to Pakistan’s high commissioner that the broadcasting station did not have the speech. Solangi never got a response to his letter.

But the AIR chief suggested that the Nehru Library might have the speech’s recording.

By that time, the Indian media had picked up the story. Right to Information activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal helped Pakistan and researchers in getting access to the recordings, Solangi said.

Preserving our history

The archives are in a small stuffy room with no air conditioner, lined with cupboards crammed with tapes. “A majority of the recordings are bad in quality as there was nothing to protect the analogue tapes,” he explains.

“Today we have digitised every single word of Jinnah’s speeches that are available with us, plus 66,000 minutes of speeches by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto.”

Published in The Express Tribune, September 11th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (14)

  • Eddie
    Sep 11, 2013 - 3:02AM

    Do I understand correctly that the speeches from the founding father of Pakistan are available on YouTube …but YouTube is banned in Pakistan?…..

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  • Ahmed Rezak
    Sep 11, 2013 - 3:27AM

    It is heartening to know that we still have people like Mr Solangi who are doing there part to help this country retain its memories for future generations to benefit.

    The mysterious absence of the 11th August speech could easily be malice as India did handover many documents to Pakistan until 1965 war and it stands to reason that the speech would have been handed over to Pakistan.

    My guess based on pure conjecture and plausibility is that it was destroyed during the era of our beloved dictator commonly know as Mard e Momin when many such unislamic things along with the word Khuda were removed from the country.

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  • Usman
    Sep 11, 2013 - 3:42AM

    E.T. how did you manage to turn Jinnah’s speech into a secular vs religious debate? Just because Jinnah wanted religious freedom for all doesn’t mean he wanted Pakistan to be secular. In fact, religious freedom is a basic principle of Islam.
    .
    It is our misfortune that the modern Maulvi has outright lied to the masses and ignored Islam’a teachings of tolerance and equality.

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  • naeem khan Manhattan,Ks
    Sep 11, 2013 - 6:06AM

    It is mind boggling that Pakistan’s founder spoke to the Constituent Assembly and the recording of his speech is missing. What kind of nation we are, we could not archive the national heritage and this treasure is lost for future generations. We are grateful to people like Murtaza Solangi who has some sense to know and care for our heritage. I wonder if Library of Congress in Washington DC might have that recording, there were some American journalist present in Pakistan at that time. Thank you Mr.Solangi and the Indian people for helping out in this regard. We as nation should be thankful to those who are preserving the national treasures.

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  • Nishant
    Sep 11, 2013 - 7:09AM

    so is this speech going to decide the fate of minorities in the country
    immature

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  • Kafir
    Sep 11, 2013 - 7:25AM

    @Usman
    Are you serious?

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  • piddler
    Sep 11, 2013 - 8:31AM

    How about applying Islamic punishment for stealing on the thief. Or the band of thieves

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  • Syed A. Mateen
    Sep 11, 2013 - 8:35AM

    Mr. Jinnah’s speech speech must have been stolen by a person on the instructions of a separatist group who do not want to see unity among different religious and political groups in Pakistan.

    The concerned authorities should investigate the matter and fix the responsibility.

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  • slave
    Sep 11, 2013 - 10:10AM

    August 11 speech may have been a concoction, there’s no tangible evidence for it – the oldest reference once can find for it is in a 1999 issue of dawn newspaper. Whats the evidence that they quoted Jinnah’s words in their exact form, without substituting or replacing words therein to suit their secular leaning ideas?

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  • A2Z
    Sep 11, 2013 - 11:16AM

    Seculars want to prove that Jinnah wanted a secular state on the basis of just one speech but all speeches during the movement are irrelevant.

    Religious freedom is basic principle of Islam. It is not necessary to declare a state as secular to enjoy the religious freedom. If tolerance levels of our nation are going down then it’s factors are different not the issue of religious and secular state.

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  • T R Khan
    Sep 11, 2013 - 1:02PM

    It has been alleged by some international channels that immediately after the 11 August 1947 speech a group of senior bureaucrats confiscated the tape from the lone camera man who had just finished filming the speech. If true, this should be investigated.

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  • Imran
    Sep 11, 2013 - 3:49PM

    ET please change the heading. Instead of Jinnah use Quaid-e-Azam show some respect. He is founder of our nation.

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  • Acorn Guts
    Sep 11, 2013 - 6:08PM

    Yes, sure .. a bit audio recording will relieve us of this near dichotomy of conflicting ideologies, not education or serious discussions at national level. Why are we so naive!

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  • piddler
    Sep 11, 2013 - 6:51PM

    @A2Z:
    I don’t think seculars need to prove anything. Secularism is a mechanism to achieve equality. Religion is too dogmatic to be a mechanism. It fine for personal practice or practice by like minded groups – diverse groups.

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