Pacifist Jinnah vs. pugnacious Nehru, Patel | Pakistan Today

Pacifist Jinnah vs. pugnacious Nehru, Patel

  • The protector general of minorities

The 1916 Lucknow Pact was acknowledged as a pillar of Hindu-Muslim friendship. However, Motilal Nehru, at the behest of the fanatic Hindus, shattered the spirit of peaceful coexistence by formulating his Nehru Report (1928). His son Jawaharlal, outwardly liberal, regarded the creation of Pakistan as a blunder. His rancour against Pakistan reached a crescendo in his remark ‘I shall not have that carbuncle on my back’. Jaswant Singh, in his book, Jinnah: India, Partition, and Independence reveals that Jinnah shelved the idea of independent Pakistan by putting his signature to the Cabinet Mission’s recommendations. This Mission envisaged keeping India undivided for ten years. The constituent assemblies were to consider the question of division after 10 years. When Congress refused to accept the recommendations of the Cabinet Mission, the British government decided to divide India.

Despite the lapse of over 70 years, India still has to reconcile with Pakistan as a reality. When Jinnah left India on 7 August 1947, Vallabhai Patel said, ‘The poison had been removed from the body of India’. But the Quaid said, ‘The past has been buried and let us start afresh as two independent sovereign States’. Nehru’s followers continued their anti-Pakistan efforts in the post-Partition period.

Fanatic Hindus in Indian National Congress thought that Pakistan would, at best, be a still-born baby. But, Pakistan was able to survive all hurdles. It proved its viability despite severe politico-economic jolts.

A few words about the Quaid’s vision are in order. Doubtless, the Quaid visualised Pakistan to be a democracy, not a theocracy. In a broadcast addressed to the people of the USA (February 1948), he said, ‘In any case Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic State to be ruled by priests [mullahs] with a divine mission. We have many non-Muslims, Hindus, Christians, and Parsees– but they are all Pakistanis. They will enjoy the same rights and privileges as any other citizen and will play their rightful part in the affairs of Pakistan’ When an over-ebullient admirer addressed him as `Maulana Jinnah’, he snubbed him. Jinnah retorted, ‘I am not a Maulana, just plain Mr. Jinnah’. About minorities, the Quaid often reminded Muslim zealots ‘Our own history and our and our Prophet(PBUH) have given the clearest proof that non-Muslims have been treated not only justly and fairly but generously. He added, ‘I am going to constitute myself the Protector-general of the Hindu minority in Pakistan’. Till his last breath, the Quaid remained an ardent supporter of rights of minorities as equal citizens of Pakistan. Our official dignitaries shun rituals and customs of minorities. But, the Quaid participated in Christmas celebrations in December 1947 as a guest of the Christian community. He declared: ‘I am going to constitute myself the Protector General of Hindu minority in Pakistan’.

One member of his post-Partition cabinet was a Hindu. A Jewish scholar, Mohammad Asad, who embraced Islam, held important positions in the post-Partition period in Pakistan.

The following extracts from the Quaid’s speeches and statements as Governor General of Pakistan epitomise his vision: “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, caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State…We are starting in the days when there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed or another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of the one State”.

The Quaid visualised that `in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State”. A. K. Brohi, in his The Fundamental Law of Pakistan, argues that Pakistan is an Islamic state, but not a theocracy. Jinnah’s address to the Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947, also, epitomises his vision.

He hoped India and Pakistan would live in peace after Partition. In his Will and Testament

He bequeathed a part of his fortune to educational institutions in Aligarh, Bombay and Delhi. He never changed his will as he hoped to visit India again.

Lord Ismay, Chief of Staff to the Viceroy, recorded an interview with the Quaid. Excerpt: ‘Mr. Jinnah said with the greatest earnestness that once Partition has been decided upon, everyone would know exactly all troubles would cease, and they would live happily ever after where they were’.

Ayesha Jalal, in her paper Why Jinnah Matters, recalls `Just before his own death, Jinnah proposed a joint defence with India as the Cold War started to shape the world and the two power blocs began to form. Jinnah was still thinking as a South Asian nationalist. … Had Jinnah’s vision prevailed– and found an echo in India, we would have seen a very different South Asia. ..there would have been no crippling defence expenditures. There would have been no reason to join one or other camp of the Cold War. There would have been open borders, free trade and regular visiting between the two countries…. a more humane sub-continent might have emerged … In 1971, when Pakistan was broken in two, its critics jubilantly cried, `Jinnah’s Pakistan is dead’. They were wrong. Jinnah’s Pakistan will be alive as long as …’.

He wanted Pakistan to be a welfare state, not a plutocracy. In his speech at the 30th session of the Muslim League during the freedom struggle, he said, “It will be a people’s government. I should like to give a warning to the landlords and capitalists who have flourished at our expense by a system which is so vicious, which is so wicked and which makes them so selfish that it is difficult to reason with them. The exploitation of the masses has gone into their blood. They’ve forgotten the lesson of Islam. Greed and selfishness have made these people subordinate to the interests of others in order to fatten themselves…If they’re wise they’ll have to adjust themselves to the new modern conditions of life. If they don’t, God help them; we shall not help them.”

Stanley Wolpert paid tributes to the Quaid in following words, “Few individual significantly alter the course of history. Few still modify the map of the world. Hardly anyone could be credited with creating a nation State. Muhammad All Jinnah did all three”. Pakistan overcame insurmountable problems of influx of 1947 refugees, skimpy finances and myriad other problems to emerge as a viable entity. We welcomed refugees, while India is all set to drive out 4.7 million refugees from its eastern state of Assam.

Fanatic Hindus in Indian National Congress thought that Pakistan would, at best, be a still-born baby. But, Pakistan was able to survive all hurdles. It proved its viability despite severe politico-economic jolts.

The writer is a freelance journalist, has served in the Pakistan government for 39 years and holds degrees in economics, business administration, and law. He can be reached at [email protected]

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