Sunday October 01, 2023

An ambassador of tolerance

December 29, 2017

The Pakistani nation has recently celebrated the 142th birthday of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah with great enthusiasm. The 111th founding day of the Muslim League, the political party he led to form Pakistan, will also be marked on December 30.

Quaid-e-Azam, one of the most pragmatic and charismatic leaders in modern history, is also known as the ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity. He proved that success can be achieved by following the path of unity, faith and discipline.

Prof Stanley Wolpert, in the preface to his book, ‘Jinnah of Pakistan’, stated that: “Few individuals significantly alter the course of history. Fewer still modify the map of the world. Hardly anyone can be credited with creating a nation-state. Muhammad Ali Jinnah did all three.” Similarly, many renowned world leaders also paid tribute to him. Mahatma Gandhi used to call him respectable friend and a man committed to his cause. When Gandhi Ji reached India in January 1915, Quaid-e-Azam visited Bombay to welcome him.

It was Quaid-e-Azam’s sincere wish that Hindu and Muslim leaders should join hands in the noble struggle for independence. Being an active member of both parties, the All India Muslim League and the Indian National Congress, Jinnah was the mastermind behind the Lucknow Pact. The agreement, signed in December 1916, asked both parties to come together for a joint struggle to pressurise the British government into providing more rights to local people. In this regard, Jinnah received the historic title of ‘Ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity’ from Mrs Sarojini Naidu, the Nightingale of India, as acknowledgment of his efforts for establishing cordial relations.

Various Hindu personalities, such as Mahatma Gandhi, Surendranath Banerjee, Dadabhai Naoroji and Gokhale, also played a pivotal role in the political career of Quaid-e-Azam. Hindu politician Naoroji, after being elected president of the Congress in 1906, nominated Jinnah as his honorary private secretary. At that time, when the policies of the Congress towards the Muslim minority started becoming biased, Quaid-e-Azam was still hopeful for reconciliation. In August 1936, he categorically declared that India’s salvation lay in the unity of all communities, especially Hindus and Muslims.

The Muslim League already showed concerns regarding the Nehru Report due to its violation of the Lucknow Pact. In response, Quaid-e-Azam presented his Fourteen Points. However, the points were rejected by the Congress, which eventually led to the historic meeting on March 23, 1940 at Lahore. The Lahore Resolution enabled the Muslim League to define a clear strategy for achieving an independent state. It is commonly believed that the Congress’ narrow-minded approach against the Muslim minority was the main reason for the creation of Pakistan. However, Quaid-e-Azam always kept a relation of respect with all political rivals, despite differences and reservations.

There were many Hindu leaders who wholeheartedly supported the Pakistan Movement under the dynamic leadership of Quaid-e-Azam. Jogendra Nath Mandal was one such leader. Quaid-e-Azam nominated him minister in British India and after Independence kept him in his cabinet as law minister. The Quaid’s speech on August 11, 1947 clearly reflected that the roadmap of the new state would be based on the principles of harmony, tolerance and justice. He assured non-Muslim Pakistanis of religious freedom and equal civic rights. He categorically stated that Pakistani citizens would be free to go to their mosque, temples or any other worship place. And so a large number of Pakistani-Hindu families decided to not migrate and declared Pakistan their motherland.

Quaid-e-Azam believed that the purpose of Pakistan was not to establish two rival states but brotherly countries which would enjoy their sovereignty and cooperate with each other for regional peace. Pakistan, formed in the name of Islam, was supposed to keep Muslim minority safe from exploitation in the hands of the majority in United India – but also to safeguard the rights of non-Muslim minorities in the newly-created state.

Quaid-e-Azam always considered the youth as the real strength of Pakistan. In his address to the Muslim Students Federation (MSF) at Nagpur in 1941, he advised them to always adopt unity, faith and discipline.

Today, the logo of the government of Pakistan also contains these golden words. Following in the footprints of Quaid-e-Azam, this year I also celebrated his birthday with the younger generation. In two separate events, I highlighted the importance of Quaid-e-Azam’s vision. Moreover, during my participation in the show Capital Talk on Geo News, I also discussed the practical implementation of Quaid-e-Azam’s teaching. The best way to pay tribute to Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah is to make his August 11 speech a compulsory part of the curriculum to ensure a tolerant, diverse and peace-loving society.

The writer is a member of the National Assembly and patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council.

Twitter: @RVankwani