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September 11, 2015

Jinnah and his mission


September 11, 2015

Indian state of Gujarat has been prominent since 19th century for fostering communalism. Irrespective of the Babri Mosque or killing in thousands of Muslims later - it has the unique distinction of sowing the seeds of Indian's partition. The first recorded communal riot occurred in 1854 in Godhra in Gujarat followed by Mumbai's in 1893 against the militant cow protection movement. These proved to be wake up call for the Muslims who had gone deep into mire of despondency and decadence as a consequence to the end of Mughal rule.
At this critical juncture when all seemed lost there emerged on the scene a Messiah for the Muslims - Sir Syed Ahmed Khan (1817-1898). He had a vision and he ushered in a renaissance for the Muslims of India. Though opposed tooth and nail by the theocrats he pursued the mission of providing western education to the Muslims who had been rendered into "hewers of wood and drawers of water" outnumbered by better educated Hindu majority that had geared itself according to the changing needs of the time with the onset of industrial revolution.
Sir Syed was perhaps the first political thinker and visionary among Muslims after the debacle of 1857. He could foresee the future course of India under Indian National Congress. He advised the Muslims not to be part of its game. He perceived the Congress's demand for a wider role for the Indians in the government as the "thin end of the wedge for monopolising absolute power." As member of Viceroy's Legislative Council visualising the sub-continental scenario when the British would leave India, he raised a pertinent question-pregnant with the genesis of partition: "Now, suppose that the English community and the army were to leave India, taking with them all their cannons and their splendid weapons and all else, who then would be the rulers of India?" "Is it possible that under these circumstances two nations - the Mohammedans and the Hindus - could sit on the same throne and remain equal in power?

Most certainly not. It is necessary that one of them should conquer the other. To hope that both could remain equal is to desire the impossible and the inconceivable. But until one nation has conquered the other and made it obedient, peace cannot reign in the land."
According to him Muslims would not get equitable share in jobs and other areas of socio-economic endeavour. Their best of the brains would be numbered by the better educated Hindus. This observation was a manifestation of increasing polarisation on grounds of economic disparities between the two nations despite the fact Sir Syed believed that "Hindus and Muslims are two eyes of the beautiful bride that is Hindustan."
During the British Raj all the religious communities living in India enjoyed equal rights. They could practice their faiths in full freedom. Where they did not have equitable opportunities were the fields of employment and economic enterprise. And this friction got adequately postulated in Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah's 14 points rejected by the Nehrus.
Had the Indian National Congress accepted his proposal a unified India could have been free much earlier and without long struggle and bloodshed. Like Sir Muhammad Iqbal who did not talk of independent Muslim state in his historic Allahabad address of 1930, the Quaid did not believe in dividing India as the Lahore Resolution of March 1940 specifically wanted recognition of Muslims within Hindustan and not as an independent state. It was a much later after thought that Lahore Resolution became Pakistan Resolution.
Until 1946 Quaid had agreed to be part of confederal India as outlined in May/June 1946 plan. It envisaged a united India in line with Congress and Muslim League aspirations. The Jinnah-Nehru consensus ended when Jawaharlal Nehru told a journalist that Congress would be in majority and as such it would decide the future of India negating the basis of Muslim demands of 'political safeguards' built into post-British Indian laws so as to prevent absolute rule of Hindus over Muslims forcing Jinnah to opt for independence as a last resort.
Many pseudo-historians in Ziaist mould have ever since tried to paint a life-long secular Jinnah into a theocratic crusader misconstruing his linkage of Islam and modern concept of democracy. Quaid in the right-earnest -- believed it as an Islamic concept when he said that democracy is in our bone marrow and in our blood since the advent of Islam. Could there be anything more explicit than Islamic concept of Ijtehad, debate, discussion and consensus - for decisions of the state strictly under Huquq Ul Ibad - rights of human beings on each other based on Islamic social justice guarantying egalitarian principle of greatest good of the largest number? Most certainly not.
The Quaid spelled out his vision in his speech of August 11, 1947 in the mother legislative assembly -rightly described as his Magna Carta for Pakistan, that:
Jinnah's Pakistan-all its citizens will be equal, they will enjoy equal rights-irrespective of caste, creed, colour or gender;
Islamic socialism and secularism-according to the Quaid-- were not contradiction of Islam but its real manifestation;
That Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) was Rehmatul Lil Alameen - blessing and leader of all human kind - irrespective of caste, creed, colour or gender - an essentially secular concept;
That's why Jinnah Sahib separated religion from state management and declared categorically that Pakistan would not be a theocratic state.
However, after his death (Sept 11, 1948) his dream of Pakistan as a modern, democratic, liberal and secular state was waylaid by the power troika comprising of military, civil and judicial bureaucracy backed by the feudals. From social welfare state Pakistan was converted at gunpoint into a security state (garrison state) supported by religious groups that had opposed all three Muslim greats - Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, Allama Sir Muhammad Iqbal and the Quaid.
While observing his death anniversary we must understand the dynamics of history. We have before us the most recent example of the break up of the Soviet Union. It had the biggest military in the world, with a nuclear arsenal second to none and its super spying agency KGB had the most dreaded overt and covert operational network worldwide and yet none could save it from disintegration and collapse as it could not sustain its population, provide it succour and socio-economic well-being or bear the heavy load of a back breaking Praetorian establishment. When such institutions become larger than the state, then their existence becomes entirely dependent on external forces. They end up reaping the bitter harvest of the seeds sowed by self-serving troikas and religious extremists.
The writer is the former High Commissioner of Pakistan to UK
[email protected]

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