Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Quaid-E-Azam Jinnah's Vision Of Pakistan

For some years now, Quaid-e-Azam Jinnah's vision of Pakistan has been a source of controversy and conflict. Much of this has however tried to cut Jinnah to fit a predetermined image. A close look at Jinnah's long and chequered public life, encompassing some forty-four years (1904-48), helps determine the core values he was committed to throughout his political career.

This paper examines how Jinnah's politics evolved through main phases, which, though distinct, yet merged into the next, without sudden shifts.The constitutionalist in Jinnah led to him having a similar experience with the Home Rule League (HRL). He had collaborated with it since it was founded by Annie Besant, and joined it in a show of solidarity when Besant was interned in 1917. In October 1920 Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, upon being elected HRL President on Jinnah's proposals, went about changing its constitution and its aims and objects and renaming it Swarajya Sabha rather unilaterally.

He joined the AIML formally in October 1913 and became its President in 1916. He utilized his pivotal position to get the Congress and the League act in concert, and work out common solutions to problems confronting the country. One result of his efforts was the Congress-League, Lucknow Pact of 1916, which settled the controversial electorate issue, at least for the time being, and paved the way towards a entente cordiale between Hindus and Muslims. Another result was the holding of Congress and League annual sessions at the same time and at the same place for seven years (1915-21).

For Jinnah, while national freedom for both Hindus and Muslims continued to be the supreme goal, the means adopted to achieve it underwent a dramatic change. If it could not be achieved through Hindu Muslim unity, it must be done through Hindu-Muslim separation; if it could not be secured through a composite Hindu-Muslim nationalism, it must be done through separate Hindu and Muslim nationalisms; if not through a united India, it must be through partition. In either case, the ultimate objective was to ensure political power for Muslims.

Jinnah's Transformation:
The period after 1937 marked a paradigmatic shift. Jinnah became identified in the Muslim mind with the concept of the charismatic community, the concept which answered their psychic need for endowing and sanctifying their sense of community with a sense of power. Increasingly he became the embodiment of a Muslim national consensus, which explains why and how he had become their Quaid-i-Azam, even before the launching of the Pakistan demand in March 1940.

He still believed in democracy, but now felt parliamentary democracy of the Westminster type was unsuitable for India because of the existence of a permanent majority and a permanent minority, which he defined in specific terms:

Minorities means a combination of things. It may be that a minority has a different religion from the other citizens of a country. Their language may be different, their race may be different, their culture may be different, and the combination of all these various elements – religion, culture, race, language, arts, music and so forth makes the minority a separate entity in the State, and that separate entity as an entity wants safeguards.

Jinnah also traveled across the other end of the political and ideological spectrum in other ways. Previously he had disdained mass politics, now he opted for mass politics. Previously he had objected to Gandhi's injection of religion into politics, now he was not averse to couch his appeals in Islamic terms and galvanising the Muslim masses by appealing to them in a cultural matrix they were familiar with. Previously he had called himself an Indian first and last, now he opted for an Islamic identity. Previously he had strived long and hard for a national consensus; now all his efforts were directed towards a Muslim consensus. Jinnah, the erstwhile "ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity" became the fiercest advocate of Hindu-Muslim separation.

Jinnah then used this to argue the case for Pakistan at two levels. First, he invoked the universally recognized principle of self-determination. But it was invoked not on the familiar territorial basis, but for the Muslim nation alone. As he stipulated in his marathon talks with Gandhi in September 1944, the constituency for the plebiscite to decide upon the Pakistan demand would comprise only the Muslims, and not the entire population of the areas concerned. Second, he spelled out his reasons for reaching out towards the ‘Pakistan' goal in his Lahore (1940) address in more or less ideological terms, arguing that "Islam and Hinduism… are not religions in the strict sense of the word, but are… different and distinct social orders", that "the Hindus and Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies, social customs, literature", "to two different civilizations", that they "derive their inspiration from different sources of history"… (with) different epics, different heroes and different episodes." "We wish our people", he declared, "to develop to the fullest our spiritual, cultural, economic, social and political life in a way that we think best and in consonance with our own ideals and according to the genius of our people."

Jinnah developed this into a definition of Muslim nationhood that was most cogent, the most closely argued, and the most firmly based in international law since the time of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan. "We are a nation," he wrote to Gandhi on 17 September 1944, "with our distinctive culture and civilization, language and literature, art and architecture, names and nomenclature, sense of values and proportion, legal laws and moral code, customs and calendar, history and traditions, aptitude and ambitions; in short, we have our own distinctive outlook on life and of life."

Jinnah's Realisation:
After independence, as head of the state he had founded, Jinnah talked in the same strain. He talked of securing "liberty, fraternity and equality as enjoined upon us by Islam" (25 August 1947); of "Islamic democracy, Islamic social justice and the equality of manhood" (21 February 1948); of raising Pakistan on "sure foundations of social justice and Islamic socialism which emphasized equality and brotherhood of man" (26 March 1948); of laying "the foundations of our democracy on the basis of true Islamic ideals and principles" (14 August 1948); and "the onward march of renaissance of Islamic culture and ideals" (18 August 1947). He called upon the mammoth Lahore audience to build up "Pakistan as a bulwark of Islam", to "live up to your traditions and add to it another chapter of glory", adding, "If we take our inspiration and guidance from the Holy Quran, the final victory, I once again say, will be ours" (30 October 1947).

For Jinnah, "the creation of a State of our own was a means to an end and not the end in itself. The idea was that we should have a State in which we could live and breathe as free men and which we could develop according to our own lights and culture and where principles of Islamic social justice could find free play" (11 October 1947). He told Edwards College students that "this mighty land has now been brought under a rule, which is Islamic, Muslim rule, as a sovereign independent State" (18 April 1948). He even described Pakistan as "the premier Islamic State" (February 1948).

Technically speaking, theocracy means a government "by ordained priests, who wield authority as being specially appointed by those who claim to derive their rights from their sacerdotal position." Unlike Catholicism, there is no established church in Islam; (in fact, it decries such a church). Moreover, since Islam admits of no priestcraft, since it discountenances a sacerdotal class as the bearer of an infallible authority, and since it concedes the right of ijtihad to "men of common sense", the concept of theocracy is absolutely foreign to Islam. Hence, during the debate on the Objectives Resolution (March 1947), Mian Iftikharuddin refuted the Congress members fears about the sovereignty clause, saying that "the wording of the Preamble does not in any way make the Objectives Resolution any the more theocratic, any the more religious than the Resolution or statement of fundamental principles of some of the modern countries of the world" (10 March 1949). Thus neither Iqbal, nor Jinnah, nor any of the independence leaders (including Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Usmani) stood for a theocratic state.

Not surprisingly, it has elicited varied comments from scholars and contemporary journalists. One scholar has put it down to "loose thinking and imprecise wording" and a departure from Jinnah's erstwhile position. Another calls it "a remarkable reversal" and asks "was he [Jinnah] pleading for a united India – on the eve of Pakistan?"

It is, however, not usually recognized that political equality in general terms (because absolutism was the rule at the time of the advent of Islam) and equality before law in more specific terms are attributes Islam had recognized long before the world discovered them as secular values. They were exemplified in the Misaq-i-Madinah, the pact between the Prophet (PBUH) and Aus and Khazraj, and in his letter to Abul Hairs, Christian priest and the accredited representative of the Christians of Najran, and in the conduct of the Khulfa-i-Rashidun. This covenant, comprising 47 clauses, lays down, inter alia, that the Quraishite Muslim, the Medinites and the Jews of Banu Auf from one community apart from other people, that the Jews shall have their religion and the Muslims their own, that they shall help each other against one who fights with the people of the covenant. Now, how could these disparate tribes characterised by differing religious affiliations from one political community unless their entitlement to equal rights, privileges and obligations are conceded in the first place. A community postulates such entitlement, and it may be conjectured that Jinnah believed that Islam concedes equal citizenship to one and all, without reference to creed, colour or race.

Jinnah was the most Westernised political leader in all the annals of Indian Islam; no other Muslim political leader could match him in terms of modernity and a modern outlook. He was completely at home with the milieu in cosmopolitan Bombay and metropolitan London. He also married a Parsi girl, so unconventional for a Muslim leader at that time, though after getting her converted to Islam. During his chequered career, Jinnah came in contact with an exceedingly large number of non-Muslim leading personalities and a host of British officials, more than any other Muslim leader and had interacted with them for some four decades — before he underwent a paradigmatic shift. Jinnah was also a man who minced no words, stood no humbug, and called a spade a spade. He held political rhetoric in high disdain; he preferred political wilderness to playing to the gallery. Such a man could not possibly have gone in for an Islamic orientated discourse unless he felt that the Islamic values he was commending were at home with the values underlying modernity, that Islam was in consonance with progress and modernity. During the debate on Islam and secularism, this is a point that has lain ignored.   (ArticlesBase SC #1993816)

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