Monday, 7 March 2016

Jinnah wanted a secular Pakistan, Shabir Choudhry

Jinnah wanted a secular Pakistan
Shabir Choudhry
Director, Institute of Kashmir Affairs

As a matter of a policy I avoid writing on history and politics of Pakistan. But those who project that Mohammed Ali Jinnah wanted a theocratic state are not doing any service to Pakistan. And using that as a pretext these people have set their eyes on Kashmir. These people have twisted and abused the above topic so much that facts are clouded by their propaganda. And it is in this context that I felt obliged to put the record straight. In doing so I am aware of the fact that I am inviting criticism from this very powerful lobby.

Muslim League was the vehicle used to achieve Pakistan. Let us look at what was the purpose to set up this party of Muslims. The Muslim League was set up on 28 December 1906 in Dhaka, with the following objectives:

·         To promote among Muslims a feeling of loyalty to the British government and to remove misunderstandings;
·         To protect and advance the political rights and interests of Muslims, and to represent properly their needs and aspirations to the British government; and
·         To prevent the rise of hostility among Muslims toward other communities.
(Source: 'Quaaid-i- Millat Liaquat Ali Khan', Page 27, by Ziuauddin Ahmed).

The Muslim League, which was dominated by landlords and Westernised elite, closely followed the policy of Sir Syed Ahmed and did not want to annoy the British. They wanted to show that like Hindus, Muslims are also loyal to the British. It is partly because of this strategy that the Muslim League opposed the Khilafat Movement led by Maulana Mohammed Ali. This Movement was against the British and in support of Turkey. It is surprising that the Congress openly supported this Movement, which was popular with the Muslim Masses; and Mr Gandhi was at the forefront of this. Mr Jinnah told Gandhi that the Congress should not get involved in this, as it was a religious issue and religion and politics should be kept separate.
(Source: 'Pakistan-The formative phase', pages 48-50, by Khalid Sayeed).

This explains what was the thinking and philosophy of the Party which was used as a vehicle to "make" Pakistan. Now let us see the thinking and political philosophy of the man who was at the helm of affairs. Mohammed Ali Jinnah formally assumed the responsibility of the President of Muslim League in 1935, after his return from England. He firmly believed that religion and politics must be kept separate, and one could see the strength of his views by his speech made in the Legislative Assembly of India, he said:

"I, Sir, stand here with a clear conscience and I say that I am a nationalist first, a nationalist second, and a nationalist last….I once more appeal to this House, whether Mussulman or a Hindu, for God's sake, do not import the discussion of communal maters into this House and degrade this Assembly which we desire should become a real national Parliament".
(Source: 'Islamic concept of a modern state', page 27, by Dr Muhammad Shaffique).

This clearly tells what was the real thinking of the man. But after his bitter experience in dealing with Gandhi and Nehru, and especially after the elections of 1937, forced him to change his strategy. Allama Iqbal had always encouraged him to spearhead the Pan Islamic Movement. Allama Iqbal once said that:

"One lesson I have learnt from the history of Muslims. At critical moments in their history it is Islam that has saved the Muslims and not vice versa".
(Source: 'Pakistan-The formative phase', page 1, by Khalid Sayeed).

Apart from these factors, Mr Jinnah also witnessed during the Khilafat Movement that Muslims aroused in the name of Islam and a mass movement started. In order to achieve Pakistan he wanted a slogan to get the mass support, and he used that very successfully. He made hundreds of speeches that he wanted Pakistan for Muslims in the name of Islam. This became a very popular slogan and Muslims throughout the Sub Continent were ready to sacrifice their lives. Some commentators, after analysing the above development, believe that: "Jinnah had to bring Islam into his programme in order to win mass support".
(Source: 'Islamic concept of a modern state', page 28, by Dr Muhammad Shaffique).

Many Muslim scholars of the time, especially of Jamiyyat -al -Ulama -e -Hind, seriously suspected the religious commitment of the Muslim League as they had secular back ground and little Islamic knowledge. They thought Muslim League was using the name of Islam to push through their political agenda, and they had many other reasons for opposing this movement. Molana Maududi, Amir Jamat e Islami, also opposed Mr Jinnah and his demand for Pakistan. While speaking to students of Aligarh, he said:

"A particular type of revolution demands the same type of movement, the same type of leaders and workers and same type of social consciousness and cultural and moral atmosphere". In his view the 'people who did not care for Islamic values would create a state which would not be Islamic, it would not be Kingdom of God but be a Kingdom of Jungle'.
(Source: 'Islamic concept of a modern state', page 35, by Dr Muhammad Shaffique).

Most people, who claim that Mr Jinnah wanted to create an Islamic State, only quote his speeches made during the campaign for Pakistan. They dismiss his earlier statements by saying that Mr Jinnah changed from secular to an Islamic leader, after assuming the leadership of the Muslim League. This transformation, they believe, was complete when he launched his demand for Pakistan in 1940.

But these people very conveniently forget his speech he made to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on August 11, 1947. In his speech, Jinnah explained the core of his philosophy, his ideas, and his vision of the new state he had founded. He said:

"You are free, free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this state of Pakistan…. Now I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in the 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".
(Source:Constituent Assembly of Pakistan Debates, vol 1 no 2, 11 August 1947, page 20)

From the above one can clearly tell that he wanted to establish a Muslim State, which is, of course, different to an Islamic state. Arif Hussain in his book, 'Pakistan: Its ideology and Foreign Affairs', on page 22, commented: Jinnah was not religious from the point of view of Islamic dogma. Pakistan was not to be an Islamic state because Islam was not used as a programme, only as a slogan, to achieve its creation'.

From the time when the Lahore Resolution was passed until Pakistan became reality, Mr Jinnah spoke in support of an Islamic State. He could not have said to the people that he wanted to set up a liberal and democratic state. But that is exactly what he wanted to do. He was a secular minded person who believed in liberal and democratic values, but he could not have sold this to his people, as they did not fully appreciate the value of these ideals.

After the Punjab disturbances in 1953, Justice Munir was appointed the head of court enquiry to find out the reasons for this. In his report, 'Justice Munir reached the conclusion that Jinnah believed in the equality of all citizens without regard to religious differences. He believed that religion should not interfere in political matters because religion is a matter of personal faith. Jinnah wanted Pakistan to be a modern Muslim national state'.
(Source: 'Report of the Court of Inquiry', pages 203-232, Justice Munir Ahmed).

Mohammed Ali Jinnah, by any one's standard, was a great leader. He achieved Pakistan despite all the odds, and if he had lived for some time, he would have laid down foundations for a liberal and democratic state. As he did not live long, those who opposed his dream of Pakistan, saw the opportunity to destabilise his Pakistan, in fact, they have broken it. May be they are taking revenge of their failure from Jinnah's Pakistan, and in doing so they are also hurting Kashmir, my homeland, which Mr Jinnah wanted to remain as an independent state.

No comments: