Pakistan: Remembering the Quaid
The nation had mourned death of the Quaid on 11th September 1948, which was a premature death in the sense that he did not get time to translate his perception of state into action in the nascent state. The nation observes anniversary of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah on this day, and special prayers are offered for the eternal peace of the great leader of subcontinent and founder of Pakistan. The government and non-government organizations plan various programs to highlight different aspects of the Quaid’s life. His principles, namely democracy, constitutionalism and egalitarianism are remembered. The fact remains that Muslims of the undivided India had reposed full confidence in him by accepting his concept and perception of the new state – Pakistan. Today, the myriad political and religious parties, intellectuals and pseudo-intellectuals have variegated views and perceptions about the rationale behind the creation of Pakistan.
Some religious scholars say that Pakistan was to be a theocratic state; while liberals interpret Quaid’s views as secular. But it is not difficult to conclude from the Quaid’s speeches that he was a democrat, but opposed to unbridled capitalism and feudalism. He had declared in unequivocal terms that beneficiaries of jagirs, feudal lords and exploiters were to have no place of privilege in an independent Pakistan. Quaid-e-Azam had envisioned Pakistan to be a modern progressive state, rooted in the eternal values of our religion, and at the same time responsive to the imperatives of constant change. In his presidential address at the All India Muslim League session at Delhi on 24th April 1943 he had outlined his vision about Pakistan: “I have visited villages; there are millions and millions of our people who hardly get one meal a day. Is this civilization? If that is the idea of Pakistan I would not have it”.
In his address before the Constituent Assembly on 11th August 1947, which was his first policy statement, he vowed to fight corruption, bribery and black marketing, and asseverated not to tolerate jobbery and nepotism. In fact, he had given guidelines and the parameters within which constitution of Pakistan should be framed by the representatives of the people.
Unfortunately, efforts were made to distort his speeches even during his lifetime, and the vested interest had tried to remove his 11th August 1947 speech from the record. However, the most remarkable part of this speech was his assurance to the people of Pakistan including minorities that their fundamental rights, liberties and freedom would be well-protected. “You are free; you are free to go to your temples; you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or 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”, he declared before the constituent assembly.
He had made it absolutely clear that it was not going to a theocratic state because he was aware that every sect would come out with its own interpretation of the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah. And the resultant conflicts and clashes between the sects could lead to bloodshed, as is happening today. Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah was a visionary; he was not a traditional politician but a great leader, brilliant statesman and a master strategist, who fought the case for Pakistan so well that he not only frustrated the designs of the British that wished to see the sub-continent united in one form or another but also made Congress leadership to believe that division of the sub-continent would save it from some bigger catastrophe. He had united the Muslims of the subcontinent and waged struggle for separate homeland for Muslims to rid them of exploitation and repression by brute Hindu majority; and also to enable them to lead their lives according to their faith and culture. This twin-objective was in fact the ideology of Pakistan. By going through the full text of the Quaid’s speech delivered on 11th August 1947, which was in fact his first policy statement, one could find the guidelines and the parameters within which constitution of Pakistan was to be framed by the representatives of the people. In his address, he had identified the malaises in the society and stated that “first duty of a government is to maintain law and order, so that the life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects are fully protected by the State. The second thing that occurs to me is this: One of the biggest curses from which India is suffering is bribery and corruption…Black-marketing is another curse…Now you have to tackle this monster, which today is a colossal crime against society, when we constantly face shortage of food and other essential commodities of life…The next thing is the evil of nepotism and jobbery. I want to make it quite clear that I shall never tolerate any kind of jobbery, nepotism or any influence directly or indirectly brought to bear upon me”.
Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah was no doubt one of the most charismatic leaders in the recent history that happened to be there at the right moment when Muslims of the undivided India were facing ugly challenges of life. The beauty of the Quaid’s leadership was that there was hardly any instance in the annals of history whereby a leader got independence and created a sovereign state without a shot being fired. In the words of Professor Akbar S. Ahmed, a Cambridge scholar: “Islam gave the Muslims of India a sense of identity; dynasties such as the Mughals had given them territory; poets like Iqbal created in them a sense of destiny; Jinnah’s heroic stature can be understood from the fact that by leading the Pakistan movement and creating the state of Pakistan, he gave them all three”.
Quaid-e-Azam had tried to get the rights of Muslims secured by accepting Cabinet Mission Plan in 1946. But when Gandhi claimed that Congress alone represented India, the Quaid made up his mind that at an opportune time he would not accept less than a separate homeland for the Muslims. Indian leadership, pseudo-intellectuals and even some misguided elements in Pakistan thought that Quaid-e-Azam was a tool in the hands of the British, and that Pakistan was created as a result of an intrigue. William Rushbrook, a British official, who later joined the ‘Time’ as a leader-writer, was the witness to the negotiations held between Muslim League and the Congress. He wrote in his book titled ‘The State of Pakistan’: “Anybody who knew Mr. Jinnah would vouch for that he could never become a tool in anybody’s hands”.
However, decision Quaid-e-Azam took that he would accept nothing short of an independent country, when British decided to quit India vindicates his position. Quaid-e-Azam was indeed a man of principles and a trendsetter who introduced a new style in politics, and set very high standards and values. He never compromised on principles, but as matter of strategy he showed flexibility on less important issues with a view to achieving broader objective. But once he knew about the Britain’s decision of leaving the subcontinent, he single-mindedly focused on a separate homeland for the Muslims, and did not care about the ‘last wish’ of the British to keep India’s unity in one form or another, or even symbolically. The Quaid – a charismatic leader had inspired the people and accomplished what would otherwise look like a wishful thinking.