A closer look at Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan

This year we are celebrating 75th birthday anniversary of Pakistan, but what Jinnah envisioned for Pakistan as a state remains a distant dream. The debate about the nature and character of the Pakistani state has never been more intense than it is today. Some still voice the demand for a theocratic state while others argue that religion has nothing to do with the business of state. Since Jinnah did not write a book or monograph, the main clues to his thinking are to be found in his speeches. Let us clear some fog about Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan through his speeches.

The first speech was delivered on 11th August 1947 when the first Constituent Assembly elected him as their first President and the second on 14th August, which is now celebrated as Independence Day in Pakistan.  If we put together these two of Jinnah’s speeches in crucial month of August 1947 we can glimpse his vision for the state he had created. The most significant and most moving speech was the one given on 11th August as it was outpouring of ideas on the state and the nature of society. On 11th August Jinnah said to his people “you are free: you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed, that has nothing to do with the fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one state; Now I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in course of time, Hindus would cease to be Hindus, and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in religious sense because that is the personal faith of each individual but in the political sense as the citizen of the state”.

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From this powerful passage comes a vision of a brave new world. The words were Jinnah’s: the thought and belief were an inheritance from the Prophet (SAW) who said thirteen centuries before that “all men are equal in the eyes of God and your lives and properties are all scared and in case you should attack each other’s life and property. Today I trample under my feet all distinctions of caste, color and nationality”.  This is the vision of an Islamic society which would be equitable, compassionate, and tolerant, and from which the poison of corruption, nepotism, mismanagement and inefficiency would be eradicated.  If Pakistanis could follow these ideals, Jinnah would be confident of the future.

Jinnah specifically did not want a theocratic state run by mullahs. Jinnah made his position clear in a broadcast to the people of the United States of America recorded in February, 1948 : In any case Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic state to be ruled by  priest with a divine mission. We have non- Muslims- Hindus, Christians and Parsee- 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.  Acceptance of minorities in the statements of Jinnah is also very significant as he had regularly reminded his Muslim audience of what Islam maintains. He said, ‘our own history and our Prophet have given the clearest proof that non- Muslims have been treated not only justly and fairly but generously’.

Unfortunately, in today’s Pakistan there is an extreme discrimination on the basis of religion and there are certain laws which are instrumentalised by the religious lot and by sectarian and violent groups. There are centers of intolerance against minorities. Therefore, we need to keep our Quaid’s legacy alive and endeavor to achieve a state of affairs consistent with his ideals, principles and vision that constitutes Jinnah’s Pakistan.

Mian Rauf 

Lahore

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