Jinnah’s Christians: From Pakistan Movement to the Formation of Pakistan

Christians played a crucial role

The Christians’ unquestionable and undeniable allegiance and commitment to Pakistan needs to be flagged again in the frame of historical reference when the 74th independence day of Pakistan is being celebrated. The historical account of Christians’ services to the Indian Subcontinent, especially in the field of education, bears witness to their spirit to serve humanity with modern education which brought forward celebrated leaders to demand Pakistan as an independent state.

The Christian missionaries in the region realized that the Indian Subcontinent was in dire need of educational institutions which might impart quality education. So keeping in view the well-crafted future of this land, they began to materialize their vision in order to transform the stereotypical socio-political, socio-cultural and socio-religious ideologies.

The first ever Christian missionary school in the Indian Subcontinent was established in 1849 at Rang Mahal in Lahore by Dr. Charles W. Forman. This school is still serving the nation but not as effectively as it had been serving under Christian administration since 1849 till the nationalization in Bhutto regime. Dr. Charles W. Forman was one of the celebrated scholars of his time, who also established Forman Christian College in 1864 in Lahore. This college has always been regarded as one of the prestigious institutions both before and after the independence of Pakistan which produced eminent scholars, politicians, bureaucrats, armed forces officers and industrialists. The other esteemed institutions which Christian missionaries established are CMS School Karachi, Gordon College Rawalpindi, Edwardes College Peshawar, Murray College Sialkot and Kinnaird College Lahore. These institutions proved to be an emblem of excellence. As a result, many Christian and Muslim supporters of Pakistan movement were products of these institutions.

Generally, these educational institutions enlightened the minds of all living on that land, such as Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Parsis, Buddhists and scheduled castes by imparting modern education based on Western concepts of nationalism, democracy, liberty and equality. However, the most prominent outcome of this education was seen in the most ardent Muslim leaders of Pakistan movement like Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Dr. Allama Muhammad Iqbal and Ch. Rehmat Ali.

Keeping in view the contribution and support of Christians in Pakistan Movement, the present day Christians in Pakistan take pride in retaining the spirit of their forefathers which made the Quaid’s dream a reality. Their loyalty to the country and efforts in their capacities to make Pakistan liveable and loveable are their pride and joy.

Along with others, the Christians had also learnt in these institutions to stand by the truth and support fairness and justice. So, they set their faces against the Hindus’ biased attitudes and behaviour against non-Hindus. In continuation of this, when the Quuaid rejected the Nehru Report and presented his Fourteen Points the Christians also rejected the Nehru Report in the All India Christian Conference. Interestingly, they offered unconditional support to the Quaid and the All India Muslim League even when the Quaid was being called a British agent by some Muslim religious groups who were in opposition to both of them and their ideology.

Furthermore, the Christians vote in favour of Pakistan before the Boundary Commission chaired by Sir Cyril Radcliffe proved to be the decisive vote in the creation of Pakistan. The Christians were also seen and heard chanting slogans “Long live Pakistan” during the election in 1945-1946. As an acknowledgment and appreciation of these gestures, the Christians were promised by the All India Muslim League that they will be offered more privileges as compared to other minorities in Pakistan.

The Quaid cherished a cordial relationship with eminent intellectuals, well positioned Christians like Mr. Joseph Burr (a member of the Viceroy’s Council and an advisor to the Nawab of Bhopal), Sir Samuel Rangandhar (a high Commissioner in London), Mr. K.L Kundan Lal (President All India National Congress), Rev Andrews and Mr. John Bright. The list is long. So, they all favoured  and supported Jinnah in one way or the other in the pursuit of his dreamland.

When the Quaid-e-Azam founded Dawn newspaper in 1941 as the mouthpiece of Muslim League for the promotion of Pakistan movement and appointed Pothan Joseph, a well reputed journalist of that time, as the first editor of Dawn, Delhi. Mr. F.E. Chaudhry was a photojournalist who promoted the Pakistan Movement by capturing historical moments in this regard.

Subsequently, his decision to make his two sons join the Pakistan Air Force speaks volumes of his love for Pakistan. Sqn Ldr Cecil Chaudhry, a proud son of Mr. F.E Chaudhry, proved to be a pride of his father and the nation as a 1965 war hero. Mr. Joshua Fazaldin was another Christian intellectual and a proponent of the Pakistan Movement who used to write newspaper articles to promote the Quaid’s vision. His passionate support and favour to an idea of separate homeland in his articles won the heart of Ch. Rehmat Ali when many Muslim leaders were thinking that it was an impractical notion.

Dewan Bahadur S.P. Singha, another Christian intellectual, served Punjab University as a Registrar and made efforts for educational reforms in the region. Apart from his services in the field of education, he also appeared as a good politician and became the Speaker of the Punjab Legislative Assembly. S.P. Singha was dismayed by the Christians’ predicament caused by the Hindus’ discriminatory attitude and behaviour towards them. He preferred to support the Muslims in their demand for a separate land. He believed that their social values were comparatively secular and accommodating in nature. As an active Christian leader, he gave a statement that Christians be considered with the Muslims in their demand for a separate homeland. Moreover, he travelled from city to city to seek support of Christians and to convince them that they should claim to be a part of Pakistan.

Under the leadership of S.P Singha, the Christians began to visualize Pakistan as their land where their social, religious and political rights would be protected. History bears witness that S. P. Singha stood before Tara Singh and had a scuffle with him at the gate of the United Punjab Assembly when he defied the proponents of Pakistan by waving his Kirpan in the air and said that if someone demands Pakistan, he will be killed.

Despite other developments, the day had come when it was to be decided by votes whether West Punjab would be included in Pakistan or not. It proved to be a very stressful situation even for the Quaid when Muslim League and supporters of Hindustan were on the same number of votes, which was 88. At that moment S.P. Singha who had a casting vote as a Speaker Punjab Assembly stood up to change the game and cast his vote in favour of Pakistan. The other two Christian members of the Assembly Mr. Fazzal Ellahi and Mr. C. E Gibbon, followed him. Pakistan won by three votes and West Punjab was included in Pakistan.

Keeping in view the contribution and support of Christians in Pakistan Movement, the present day Christians in Pakistan take pride in retaining the spirit of their forefathers which made the Quaid’s dream a reality. Their loyalty to the country and efforts in their capacities to make Pakistan liveable and loveable are their pride and joy.

Azeem Alphonce
Azeem Alphonce
The writer is a freelance columnist

23 COMMENTS

  1. It is such a beautiful and factual column and the language is also very comprehensive.
    I will just say this just perfect.

  2. Very enlightening. The chiristians support to quaid e Azam and Paksitan is undeniable. This is the need of hour to tell our youth about the services of christians in the fields of education, defence, judiciary, policy making and above all, in Pakistan movement . Pakistanis owe a lot to the christian of Pakistan. I admire the eforts of the writer for writing this beautiful and very much needed piece.

  3. Highly appreciated. Very well done. Blessed to have a Mentor like you and studied under your shelter.

  4. A much needed article. The role was played and is still played! It’s just now not considered! Maybe it’s time to sit and think what went wrong. Great Effort!

  5. Highly appreciated this fruitful article , indeed christianity have much contributed in educational sector of Pakistan before and after too. Thank u sir for sharing ur precious knowledge for enlightening the youth’s thoughts
    Bundles of blessings for u sir

  6. Although I’m not an expert in the field of writing, yet studying in Murray College Sialkot many decades before I still remember the days spent there. Had the college not been nationalized I would have been there till today.Most probably as Prof of physics. To quench my thurst I finally joined FCC Lhr.Nationlization damaged the system to point of no return.

  7. Welldone sir 👍 really appreciated 👍✌️ God bless you more 😇♥️ #Feeling_proud ✌️😎♥️

  8. Although people today have in their minds that nowadays Pakistani nation is quite at par with the rest of the most developed world, although indigenous n foreign missionaries has contributed a lot,yet we ought to work hard to be at par with the rest of the world. Missionary institutions have been undoubtedly contributing since preparation.

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