Friday, July 11, 2008

Quaid-e-Azam M.A. Jinnah's Vision for Pakistan

With the passage of 60 years since Pakistan's independence, a lot of myths have grown around Pakistan's founding father and his vision and intentions for Pakistan. This blog post is an attempt to explain who the Quaid-e-Azam was and what he wanted Pakistan to become as a nation.

Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah (1876-1948), the father of Pakistani nation, was a brilliant Muslim lawyer and political leader who lived a life that could be described as essentially westernized and secular. He was born in an Ismaili Shia Muslim family, raised in Karachi, receiving his early schooling at Karachi's Sindh Madressah and then received his law education in the U.K. He returned to the Sub-continent in 1896, married a Parsi woman Ruttie Petit, and practiced law in Bombay while waging a struggle for the independence of India from the British. He dressed mostly in the latest English-style suits of his time and spoke mostly in English with occasional Gujarati and Urdu. He did not have religious education and most ulema of his time agreed that his life did not conform to what most ulema considered "Islamic principles". In fact, the ulema on both sides of the partition debate, including Maulana Hussain Ahmad Madani and Maulana Shabbir Ahmed Usmani, questioned Jinnah's credentials as a "good, practicing Muslim". He fought for India's freedom, first as the President of Indian National Congress, and then as the head of the Muslim League.

Having worked hard but unsuccessfully for Hindu-Muslim cooperation and unity, the Quaid--i-Azam was disillusioned with the Indian National Congress. He decided to join the Muslim League in 1935. After joining the Muslim League, his goal was to create a separate, independent homeland for Muslims of the Indian Sub-continent, where they could flourish freely without interference from or competition with the politically, educationally and economically dominant Hindu majority in South Asia. But he clearly opposed a "theocratic state" ruled by the religious elite (something like Iran's Guardian Council) with the ultimate veto power over the will of the people and the democratic processes and institutions. In fact, he believed in the separation of church and state, just as much as he favored the superiority of political leadership over the military officer corps in running the nation's affairs.

Here are three excepts from Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah's most important speeches laying out his vision for Pakistan:

"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." Quaid-e-Azam M.A. Jinnah in address to first constituent assembly, Aug 11, 1947

"In any case Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic state to be ruled by priests with a divine mission. We have many non-Muslims-Hindus, Christians and Parsis -- but they are all Pakistanis. They will enjoy the same rights and privileges as any
other citizens and will play their rightful part in the affairs of Pakistan." Quaid-i-Azam, Feb. 1948

“Never forget that you are the servants of the state. You do not make policy. It is we, the people’s representatives, who decide how the country is to be run. Your job is to only obey the decisions of your civilian masters.” Quaid-i-Azam's Address to Military Staff College, June 14, 1948.

In the current circumstances when Pakistan is threatened from the forces of darkness and dictatorships disguised as saviors of the nation, it is important that we understand clearly what the founding father intended for Pakistan. With the above speech quotes from the Quaid-i-Azam, I will let the reader be the judge of his intentions.

As you read and ponder, let me leave you with a relevant quote from popular columnist Ardeshir Cowasjee: "Fortunately for him, Jinnah did not live long enough to see his dream betrayed by men unworthy even to utter his name. He died before total disillusionment could set in (though he had his suspicions that it was on its way) and broke his heart. From what we know of him, he was that rare being, an incorruptible man in all the many varied meanings of the word corruption, purchasable by no other, swayed by no other, perverted by no other; a man of honor, integrity and high ideals. That the majority of his countrymen have been found wanting in these qualities is this country's tragedy."

In conclusion, I take the liberty of paraphrasing Iqbal's admonition to his fellow Indians in his time, as follows:

Na samjho gay to mit jao gay ay Pakistan walo
Thumhari dastan tak bhi no hogi dastanon main

Which loosely translates as:

Listen up, pay attention, and mend your ways, o Pakistanis
Or else thou shall perish and be consigned to the dustbin of history


SAWJ said...

Nice post, Mr. Haq.

Just one correction: Quaid-e-Azam was a Asna Ashari Shia. Mr. Qutbuddin Aziz, a close associate of Mohtarma Fatimah Jinnah, told ud this while giving a speech at our college campus.

A Question: What should the servants do when the democratically elected rob the country and it's people? One thing Quaid-e-Azam didn't know would happen is the entry of feudals into politics.

Riaz Haq said...

Dear sawj,

My understanding from various sources is that Quid-i-Azam was born as Mahomedali Jinnahbhai to parents who belonged to Ismaili Khoja branch of Shi'a Islam. He could have been a Twelver (Isna Ashri) believing in 12 imams. But he was not particularly religious or sectarian in his life. He saw himself as just "Muslim" rather than a particular kind of Muslim. He was the leader of all of the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent regardless of denomination. He often prayed with Sunnis and his funeral prayer was led by Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Usmani, a Deobandi alim.

I firmly believe that if the Quaid had lived, he would have done everything possible to emasculate Pakistan's feudal class, just like Nehru did in India. He was so popular that the feudals would not have been able to stop him. I think democracy would have taken root in Pakistan if the Quaid had a few more years to live.

SAWJ said...


Anonymous said...

This is in response to the concept the author is trying to project here. Please be honest in your expression and write ups.

Be honest to write thouse hundreds of quotes of Quaid-e-Azam speaking of an Islamic state. I have done my own reserach and have found numerous coutless quotes where he catagorically states the purpose of creation of Pakistan.

How conveniently you hide those numerous quotations. It is underatandable that you have intentionally hidden those from the public eyes using your dishonesty. Otherwise, to dig out these three quotes and quote them out of context, research is required, which you supposedly have already done.

I am also writing an article and will reference your article and hit you hard for our "intellectual dishonesty" towards the father of the nation, Pakistan and Pakistanis. Shame on you....


Dr. Imran Chaudhry
(Writer for Re-Volt youth magazine)

Riaz Haq said...

The film Gandhi was essentially a "paid political advertisement by the government of India", says commentator Richard Grenier in a piece titled "The Gandhi Nobody Knows". Here is an excerpt from it:

AS IT happens, the government of India openly admits to having provided
one-third of the financing of 'Gandhi' out of state funds, straight out of the
national treasury--and after close study of the finished product I would not be
a bit surprised to hear that it was 100 percent. If Pandit Nehru is portrayed
flatteringly in the film, one must remember that Nehru himself took part in the
initial story conferences (he originally wanted Gandhi to be played by Alec
Guinness) and that his daughter Indira Gandhi is, after all, Prime Minister of
India (though no relation to Mohandas Gandhi). The screenplay was checked and
rechecked by Indian officials at every stage, often by the Prime Minister
herself, with close consultations on plot and even casting. If the movie
contains a particularly poisonous portrait of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the founder
of Pakistan, the Indian reply, I suppose, would be that if the Pakistanis want
an attractive portrayal of Jinnah let them pay for their own movie. A friend of
mine, highly sophisticated in political matters but innocent about film-making,
declared that 'Gandhi' should be preceded by the legend: *The following film is
a paid political advertisement by the government of India.*

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts from a piece by Beena Sarwar on secularism debate in Pakistan:

First of all, the very fact that this discussion is taking place in a mainstream newspaper -- even though it is in English, which limits its outreach -- is something to appreciate.

Secondly, the discussion is taking place at a time when Pakistan, indeed the world, finds itself polarised as never before. Never before have we seen such extremes jostling for ascendency at the same time. In Pakistan, the extremes are most visible in the attire people, particularly women, wear out on the streets (from jeans to burqas), the gatherings and functions they attend (from religious gatherings to musical evenings, fashion shows and wild underground parties), what they are reading (religious literature to Communist readings that would have landed them in jail in the Zia years), the television and films they are watching (religious shows to uncensored films on DVD, and Indian films at mainstream cinemas), and how they express their views (through writings, art, music, seminars and peaceful candlelight demonstrations to violent protests and suicide bombings).

The entire gamut is there, from the extreme left to the extreme right, from wild permissiveness to ultra-conservatism -- the latter apparently on the rise not just in Pakistan but around the world. In fact, this ascendency of the Right is so strong that the demons of religion-based militancy unleashed during the Zia years can take down even those who adhere to the late General's world views: a Zaid Hamid can lose even as Gen Zia wins, as the UK-based researcher Anas Abbas interestingly posited it. The charismatic right-wing cult leader, who had sucked into his fold youth icons like the fashion designer Maria B and rock singer Ali Azmat, had to go into hiding not because progressive Pakistanis prevailed against his virulent pan-Islamist, anti-India world view, but because he offended his own.

This is a time when the 'blasphemy laws' as they are applied in Pakistan are causing a worldwide uproar because of the injustice they perpetuate; ......

We're talking about secularism at a time when supposedly educated people, including parliamentarians and politicians are 'warning' the government not to tamper with these blasphemy laws, or else face the 'consequences'. It is ironic that such a warning was issued recently by Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, President of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q)....
We can now have this debate in the pages of this English-language newspaper, 20 years after Gen. Zia's departure, because those who hold these violent beliefs consider us to be irrelevant. So is the situation hopeless for people like us? No, because these discussions are not taking place in a vacuum. There is a lot of questioning going on in Pakistan at various levels about religion and its role in the state. These discussions are taking place in many languages and at many fora. Thousands if not millions of activists, political workers and ordinary citizens in Pakistan share the belief that religion should be a private matter, which should not be imposed violently.

The rise of the Internet -- according to one estimate, as many as 18 million Pakistanis have Internet access -- means that people have other alternatives to share information that the dominant news media sidelines. Blogs or facebook pages like SecularPakistan or SayNoToTheStateReligion may not have millions of followers but their readership is growing. Amidst the cacophony of jihadist views that regularly find space on radio and television networks are also voices that courageously question the role religion has been given in Pakistan. The trickle may not become a flood anytime soon, but neither is it about to dry up and disappear.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from a piece by Taseer's daughter Shahbano published in NY Times today:

"TWENTY-SEVEN. That’s the number of bullets a police guard fired into my father before surrendering himself with a sinister smile to the policemen around him. Salmaan Taseer, governor of Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province, was assassinated on Tuesday — my brother Shehryar’s 25th birthday — outside a market near our family home in Islamabad.

The guard accused of the killing, Mumtaz Qadri, was assigned that morning to protect my father while he was in the federal capital. According to officials, around 4:15 p.m., as my father was about to step into his car after lunch, Mr. Qadri opened fire.

Mr. Qadri and his supporters may have felled a great oak that day, but they are sadly mistaken if they think they have succeeded in silencing my father’s voice or the voices of millions like him who believe in the secular vision of Pakistan’s founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah."

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting excerpt from an Adrian Hamilton commentary on Taseer assasination published by The Independent:

Assassination is an abominable act but also an effective means of challenging power structures and frightening people into passivity. Religion may make it more difficult for ordinary citizens openly to oppose the men of violence, but it's not necessarily the cause in itself.

The real issue is the almost universal assault on pluralism within countries. At a time when the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, openly dismisses multiculturalis m as a mistake, when senior members of the Israeli government call for new laws to enforce ethnic purity in the country, and minorities are being persecuted and driven out of most countries of Asia, to talk of the Muslim issue as if it were a unique phenomenon misses the wider context. The violence in Pakistan has been perpetrated far more by Sunnis on Shia, Ahmadi and Sufi co-religionists than on Christians.

The revival of Islamic belief is certainly a real and in some ways threatening reality of our time. In country after country Muslims seem to be turning back to religion as a means of defining and asserting their identity. That poses a problem – although much exaggerated – in Europe and other regions where they are a minority. But it poses much more far-reaching problems for Muslim states, such as those in North Africa and Central Asia, where secularism is associated with corrupt and authoritarian regimes.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from a Wall Street Journal review of a recent book "Great Soul" on Mohandas Gandhi's life by Joseph Lelyveld:

Joseph Lelyveld has written a generally admiring book about Mohandas Gandhi, the man credited with leading India to independence from Britain in 1947. Yet "Great Soul" also obligingly gives readers more than enough information to discern that he was a sexual weirdo, a political incompetent and a fanatical faddist—one who was often downright cruel to those around him. Gandhi was therefore the archetypal 20th-century progressive intellectual, professing his love for mankind as a concept while actually despising people as individuals.

For all his lifelong campaign for Swaraj ("self-rule"), India could have achieved it many years earlier if Gandhi had not continually abandoned his civil-disobedience campaigns just as they were beginning to be successful. With 300 million Indians ruled over by 0.1% of that number of Britons, the subcontinent could have ended the Raj with barely a shrug if it had been politically united. Yet Gandhi's uncanny ability to irritate and frustrate the leader of India's 90 million Muslims, Muhammad Ali Jinnah (whom he called "a maniac"), wrecked any hope of early independence. He equally alienated B.R. Ambedkar, who spoke for the country's 55 million Untouchables (the lowest caste of Hindus, whose very touch was thought to defile the four higher classes). Ambedkar pronounced Gandhi "devious and untrustworthy." Between 1900 and 1922, Gandhi suspended his efforts no fewer than three times, leaving in the lurch more than 15,000 supporters who had gone to jail for the cause.

A ceaseless self-promoter, Gandhi bought up the entire first edition of his first, hagiographical biography to send to people and ensure a reprint. Yet we cannot be certain that he really made all the pronouncements attributed to him, since, according to Mr. Lelyveld, Gandhi insisted that journalists file "not the words that had actually come from his mouth but a version he authorized after his sometimes heavy editing of the transcripts."

Although Gandhi's nonviolence made him an icon to the American civil-rights movement, Mr. Lelyveld shows how implacably racist he was toward the blacks of South Africa. "We were then marched off to a prison intended for Kaffirs," Gandhi complained during one of his campaigns for the rights of Indians settled there. "We could understand not being classed with whites, but to be placed on the same level as the Natives seemed too much to put up with. Kaffirs are as a rule uncivilized—the convicts even more so. They are troublesome, very dirty and live like animals."

Riaz Haq said...

Arab protesters demand democracy, but not secularism, says Michael Scheuer, former Bin Laden hunter at the CIA:

The Arab world’s unrest has brought forth gushing, rather adolescent analysis about what the region will look like a year or more hence. Americans have decided that these upheavals have everything to do with the advent of liberalism, secularism, and Westernization in the region and that Islamist militant groups like al-Qaeda have been sidelined by the historically inevitable triumph of democracy—a belief that sounds a bit like the old Marxist-Leninist claptrap about iron laws of history and communism’s inexorable triumph.

How has this judgment been reached? Primarily by disregarding facts, logic, and history, and instead relying on (a) the thin veneer of young, educated, pro-democracy, and English-speaking Muslims who can be found on Facebook and Twitter and (b) the employees of the BBC, CNN, and most other media networks, who have suspended genuine journalism in favor of cheerleading for secularism and democracy on the basis of a non-representative sample of English-speaking street demonstrators and users of social-networking sites. The West’s assessment of Arab unrest so far has been—to paraphrase Sam Spade’s comment about the Maltese Falcon—the stuff that dreams, not reality, are made of.

A year from now, we will find that most Arab Muslims have neither embraced nor installed what they have long regarded as an irreligious and even pagan ideology—secular democracy. They will have instead adhered even more closely to the faith that has graced, ordered, and regulated their lives for more than 1400 years, and which helped them endure the oppressive rule of Western-supported tyrants and kleptocrats.

This does not mean that fanatically religious regimes will dominate the region, but a seven-year Gallup survey of the Muslim world published in 2007 shows that a greater degree of Sharia law in governance is favored by young and old, moderates and militants, men and even women in most Muslim countries. While a fa├žade of democracy may well appear in new regimes in places like Egypt and Tunisia, their governments will be heavily influenced by the military and by Islamist organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda. If for no other reason, the Islamist groups will have a powerful pull because they have strong organizational capabilities; wide allegiance among the highly educated in the military, hard sciences, engineering, religious faculties, and medicine; and a reservoir of patience for a two-steps-forward, one-step-back strategy that is beyond Western comprehension. We in the West too often forget, for example, that the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda draw from Muslim society’s best and brightest, not its dregs; that al-Qaeda has been waging its struggle for 25 years, the Muslim Brotherhood for nearly 85 years; and that Islam has been in the process of globalizing since the 7th century.

As new Arab regimes develop, Westerners also are likely to find that their own deep sense of superiority over devout Muslims—which is especially strong among the secular left, Christian evangelicals, and neoconservatives—is unwarranted. The nearly universal assumption in the West is that Islamic governance could not possibly satisfy the aspirations of Muslims for greater freedom and increased economic opportunity—this even though Iran has a more representative political system than that of any state in the region presided over by a Western-backed dictator. No regime run by the Muslim Brotherhood would look like Canada, but it would be significantly less oppressive than those run by the al-Sauds and Mubarak. This is not to say it would be similar to or more friendly toward the West—neither will be the case—but in terms of respecting and addressing basic human concerns they will be less monstrous.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from a NY Times review of "GREAT SOUL: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India" by Joseph Lelyveld:

Some years ago, the British writer Patrick French visited the Sabarmati ashram on the outskirts of Ahmedabad in the Indian state of Gujarat, the site from which Mahatma Gandhi led his salt march to the sea in 1930. French was so appalled by the noisome state of the latrines that he asked the ashram secretary whose job it was to clean them.

A sweeper woman stopped by for an hour a day, the functionary explained, but afterward things inevitably became filthy again.

But wasn’t it a central tenet of the Mahatma’s teachings that his followers clean up after themselves?

“We all clean the toilets together, on Gandhiji’s birthday,” the secretary answered, “as a symbol to show that we understand his message.”

Gandhi had many messages, some ignored, some misunderstood, some as relevant today as when first enunciated. Most Americans — many middle-class Indians, for that matter — know what they know about the Mahatma from Ben Kingsley’s Academy Award-winning screen portrayal. His was a mesmerizing performance, but the script barely hinted at the bewildering complexity of the real man, who was at the same time an earnest pilgrim and a wily politician, an advocate of celibacy and the architect of satyagraha (truth force), a revivalist, a revolutionary and a social reformer.
As Lelyveld shows, the outcomes of Gandhi’s campaigns in South Africa were neither clear-cut nor long-lasting: after one, his own supporters beat him bloody because they thought he’d settled too quickly for a compromise with the government. But they taught him how to move the masses — not only middle-class Hindu and Muslim immigrants but the poorest of the poor as well. He had, as he himself said, found his “vocation in life.”

Soon after returning to India in 1915, Gandhi set forth what he called the “four pillars on which the structure of swaraj” — self-rule — “would ever rest”: an unshakable alliance between Hindus and Muslims; universal acceptance of the doctrine of nonviolence, as tenet, not tactic; the transformation of India’s approximately 650,000 villages by spinning and other self-sustaining handicrafts; and an end to the evil concept of untouchability. Lelyveld shrewdly examines Gandhi’s noble but doomed battles to achieve them all.

He made a host of enemies along the way — orthodox Hindus who believed him overly sympathetic to Muslims, Muslims who saw his calls for religious unity as part of a Hindu plot, Britons who thought him a charlatan, radical revolutionaries who believed him a reactionary. But no antagonist was more implacable than Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, the brilliant, quick-tempered untouchable leader — still largely unknown in the West — who saw the Mahatma’s nonviolent efforts to eradicate untouchability as a sideshow at best. He even objected to the word ­Gandhi coined for his people — “Harijans” or “children of God” — as patronizing; he preferred “Dalits,” from the Sanskrit for “crushed,” “broken.”
Gandhi is still routinely called “the father of the nation” in India, but it is hard to see what remains of him beyond what Lelyveld calls his “nimbus.” His notions about sex and spinning and simple living have long since been abandoned. Hindu-Muslim tension still smolders just beneath the uneasy surface. Untouchability survives, too, and standard-issue polychrome statues of Ambedkar in red tie and double-breasted electric-blue suit now outnumber those of the sparsely clothed Mahatma wherever Dalits are still crowded together.....

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Op Ed in the News criticizing of Nawaz Sharif's Aug 13 speech at SAFMA:

Nawaz Sharif’s speech on Aug 13 at the Safma seminar “Building Bridges in the Subcontinent” continues to make waves two weeks later. Media attention has focused mainly on some of his observations which seem to question the basis of Pakistani nationhood. These remarks have caused surprise and consternation even among some long-standing supporters of the PML-N, which claims to be the successor of the party which led the Pakistan movement in pre-partition India. Hardly anyone from the top ranks of the PML-N, apart from the newly appointed spokesman, has sought to defend the party leader’s verbal escapade.

Pakistan and India, Nawaz said, had the same culture and heritage, ate the same food, spoke the same language and shared the same way of life. Despite the many things the people of the two countries had in common, he said, they were now separated by “a border”.

Even when allowance is made for the fact that Nawaz was addressing a mixed audience of Pakistanis and Indians on building bridges between them – in itself a totally desirable enterprise – his statement is offensive. And it is untrue because, though the Muslims and Hindus lived on the same soil for centuries, they inhabited two different spiritual worlds. Nawaz was in fact repeating many of the points made by the Congress Party of India – and refuted by the Quaid-e-Azam – during the Pakistan movement.

Almost as outrageous as Nawaz’s assertion about the Indians and Pakistanis having a common culture is his assertion that they worship (pujte hain) the same God. The Quran says something very different in Surah al-Kafirun: The believers worship not that which the non-believers worship, nor do the non-believers worship that which the believers worship. Nawaz should also know that the Muslims do not perform puja, as the Hindus do, but ibadat.
Nawaz’s political judgment – never very sound, as seen in his selection of Musharraf as the army chief and then in the ham-fisted manner in which he tried to fire him – has been warped further by the trauma of his overthrow in 1999 and subsequent forced exile. That may be understandable at a human level. But such a flaw can be fatal in a national leader. If Nawaz cannot overcome this shock, he should return fulltime to his family business and leave politics to others.

The Indian government and media are delighted, and understandably so, at Nawaz’s Safma speech. But so also is a small section of the Pakistani media and “civil society” which labels itself pretentiously as the “liberals”. The newly coined English word lumpen-intelligentsia would be a more appropriate description for them. One of them, a star TV commentator, claimed last week that 99 percent of the people of Pakistan agreed with what Nawaz said. The remaining one percent, whom this analyst dismissed as the thekedar (self-appointed guardians) of the two-nation theory, were itching to nuke India, as he claimed. So much for objectivity and informed analysis.

Pakistan and India should indeed give up confrontation, learn to live as peaceful neighbours and try to build bridges of understanding. But denying the foundations of Pakistani nationhood, ignoring the threat posed by India and abandoning the Kashmir cause is certainly no way of going about it, as Nawaz seems to think. If he does not retract the unfortunate remarks he made on these issues, it is to be hoped at least that others in his party would disown them.

Syed Shah said...

But you have twisted Iqbal's sher Sir. He never said ay Pakistan walo. It did not exist then. For him it was just the Muslims of the sub-continent. Please correct that part. Sorry I cannot accept the twist.


sir iwant to talk you about quaids motive for pakistan and current scenario of pakistan
do they meet the demands of quaide azam


Riaz Haq said...

The first Islamic state constitution was Meesaq e Madina which was a very pluralistic framework acknowledging non-Muslim residents of Madina as part of single "Ummah" with equal rights. Quaid-e-Azam wanted separation of religion from state which he said in the following words: "You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State." Quaid-e-Azam M.A. Jinnah in address to first constituent assembly, Aug 11, 1947