Thursday, November 02, 2006

Jinnah, the Pakistan Demand, and the Meaning of Pakistan

In order to understand Pakistan I believe that much can be learnt by taking a peek at history - especially the history of the Pakistan movement in the 1940s, led by Mohammed Ali Jinnah.

The basic thinking behind the demand for Pakistan can be traced back to Sir Sayyed Ahmed Khan, a descendent of Mughal nobility, and founder of the Aligarh Muslim University. In the aftermath of the revolt of 1857, Sir Sayyed was obsessed with preserving the distinct Perso-Arabic ‘Sharif’ culture of the North Indian Muslim nobility that, after being dominant in the area for centuries, was losing ground to local vernacular and popular culture. Seeking a way around this problem, he was the first to come up with concept that Muslims in the Indian Subcontinent were ‘a nation, not a minority’.

Whatever influence Sir Sayyed and others (like Iqbal, the poet and philosopher) had on the Pakistan movement, from around 1935 onwards, Muhammad Ali Jinnah became the undisputed leader - the sole spokesman – of this movement. Jinnah's own boast that he created Pakistan “with the help of his secretary and typewriter” was not too far from the truth. This being so, it is especially important to understand what Jinnah thought of Pakistan, and what he considered the goals of the Pakistan movement to be.

Early in Jinnah's political career he had been known as the ‘ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity’. However, his views appeared to have changed considerably by 1940, when in his presidential address to the Muslim League at the crucial Lahore Session - where the famous Pakistan Resolution was passed – he said:

It is extremely difficult to appreciate why our Hindu friends fail to understand the real nature of Islam and Hinduism. They are not religious in the strict sense of the word, but are, in fact, different and distinct social orders, and it is a dream that the Hindus and Muslims can ever evolve a common nationality ... The Hindus and Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies, social customs, and literatures. They neither intermarry nor interdine together and, indeed, they belong to two different civilizations which are based mainly on conflicting ideas and conceptions.

This seems to indicate that Jinnah held the view that Hindus and Muslims of the Indian Subcontinent were fundamentally incompatible with each other, and had to be separated whatever the cost. In other words, Jinnah viewed partition and the creation of a sovereign Muslim state as absolutely necessary.

However, on August 11th 1947, in his inaugural address to the Pakistan Constituent Assembly - one of his most important and carefully prepared speeches - this is what Jinnah had to say.

Everyone of you, no matter to what community he belongs ... is first, second and last a citizen of this State with equal rights, privileges, and obligations. ... In course of time all these angularities of the majority and minority communities, the Hindu community and the Muslim community, will vanish. ... 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 or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State. ... We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State. ... 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.

It is difficult to believe that these two diametrically opposed visions of Pakistan could have been articulated by the same person. It appears from the second quote that Jinnah wanted Pakistan to be just like India, with religion as a private issue, no business of the state. But if Jinnah wanted Pakistan to be just like India, then what was the purpose of the Pakistan movement, what was the need to create a new state at such great cost?

In recent years revisionist historians - the most prominent being Ayesha Jalal - have come up with a thesis that goes a long way in explaining Jinnah's actions. According to this thesis, Jinnah never really wanted Pakistan, i.e., a separate sovereign state for Muslims. His demand for Pakistan was just that – a demand. For Jinnah this demand was no more than simply a tool to oppose the dominant Congress Party and a ‘bargaining counter’ to be deployed for the sake of achieving his real goal – a larger share of power for himself and for the Muslim League in a united India. Jinnah always thought of ‘Pakistan’ as a demand, never as an independent sovereign state. No wonder then that when the state of Pakistan was actually established in 1947, Jinnah had no idea what this new state was to be all about, and had nothing resembling a long-term vision for it. As Salman Rushdie put it in his novel Shame “Pakistan may be described as a failure of the dreaming mind... Perhaps the place was just insufficiently imagined.”

Ayesha Jalal’s book about Jinnah and the Pakistan movement The Sole Spokesman is fascinating. Here is a what historian Francis Robinson says of the book.

By enabling us to peep at Jinnah's cards and by pointing out to us the tricks he was really trying in order to win, Jalal reveals the inner coherence of a career spanning half a century in politics. ... Jinnah never deserted his early attachment to Hindu-Muslim unity. ... There was no disjunction between a secular ideal. ... Jalal reveals the logic of Jinnah’s twists and turns in the complex negotiations surrounding the transfer of power. We understand more fully the wording of the Lahore Resolution. We see how his plans were far more fundamentally threatened by the Cripps offer than those of Congress. We feel for him when the Cabinet Mission proposals tease out the contradictions between his rhetoric and his purpose.

The Pakistan Resolution

The resolution passed at the Muslim League's Lahore session in 1940 has come to be known as the ‘Pakistan Resolution’ and is widely celebrated in Pakistan as a pivotal event in its creation. The site where the resolution was passed is now commemorated by the ‘Minar-e-Pakistan’, and the date (March 23rd) is celebrated every year as ‘Pakistan Day’. Clearly, this resolution is of great importance. It is therefore relevant to ask: how did Jinnah view this resolution; what was his purpose behind it?

Let us first see what the resolution says

.... Resolved that it is the considered view of this session of the All India Muslim League that no constitutional plan would be workable in this country [i.e., British India] or acceptable to Muslims unless it is designed on the following basic principles, viz. that geographically continuous units are demarcated into regions which should be so constituted, with such territorial adjustments as may be necessary, that the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in a majority as in the north-western and eastern zones of India should be grouped to constitute Independent States, in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign. ... Adequate, effective and mandatory safeguards should be specifically provided in the Constitution for minorities ... for the protection of their religious, cultural, economic, political, administrative and other rights. Arrangements thus should be made for the security of Muslims where they were in a minority.

The ambiguous, vague and self-contradictory nature of the resolution is remarkable. Bowing to the desire for autonomy expressed by powerful provincial leaders in Muslim majority provinces such as Punjab and Bengal, the resolution demanded ‘Independent States’ (plural) rather than a single ‘Independent State’, and did not say a word about any central government, either Muslim or Indian. Later, when Jinnah became politically more powerful and could afford to disregard the opinions of the regional leaders, he would claim that ‘States’ was simply a misprint, and the Lahore Resolution really meant a single ‘State’ for Muslims (link). While demanding safeguards for minorities, it is significant that the resolution talks of this being a constitutional arrangement rather than treaty arrangements between sovereign states, indicating that what was envisaged was an all-India arrangement under a constitution, rather than two (or more) independent states with treaty arrangements amongst themselves. The borders of the ‘Independent States’ were also intentionally left vague and undefined by the resolution.

According to Jalal, the Lahore Resolution is to be seen as a “bargaining counter, which had the merit of being acceptable (on the face of it) to the majority province Muslims, and of being totally unacceptable to the Congress and to the British also”. Also, notes Jalal, “at no point between 1940 and the Cabinet Mission's arrival in 1946 did the League expand, revise, or make more specific this incomplete and contradictory statement, even when its position was ostensibly stronger, and the need for clarification most urgent.”

The Cabinet Mission Plan

What did Jinnah really want? According to revisionist historians like Ayesha Jalal, Jinnah really had three primary goals in mind.
(a) To create a strong Muslim central government in an unpartitioned India, with the Muslim center being represented by Jinnah and the Muslim League, and powerful enough to discipline regional Muslim leaders.
(b) To create parity at the center (in undivided India) between Muslims and non-Muslims. This meant that at the all-India central government level the Muslim community, which comprised about one-fourth of the population, would have as much power as all other communities put together. The fundamental principle of democracy – parity for individuals, i.e., one person one vote – was not acceptable to Jinnah, because, as he put it, in such a democracy “Brother Gandhi has three votes [in the Constituent Assembly], and Brother Jinnah has only one.”
(c) To get himself and the Muslim League recognized as the sole representative of Muslims in undivided India. Jinnah wanted the Congress (and others) to be barred from nominating Muslims for seats in legislatures. He treated Muslim Congress leaders with utter contempt. For example, while meeting with a Congress delegation at the Simla Conference in 1945, Jinnah refused to shake hands with Maulana Azad even though shook hands with the non-Muslim Congress delegates.

The Cabinet Mission Plan of 1946 came close to fulfilling these three main goals that Jinnah had in mind. It envisaged a complicated tri-level arrangement for governing India. At one level would be the provincial governments, with the provinces being grouped into Muslim and non-Muslim provinces. At the second level would be two strong central governments - a Muslim center for the Muslim provinces and a non-Muslim one for the non-Muslim provinces. At the third level would be a ‘super-center’ with representation from the Muslim center and the non-Muslim center. The ‘super-center’ would be responsible only for foreign affairs, defense, and communication. After much discussion both the Congress and the Muslim League accepted the Cabinet Mission Plan. Eventually however the plan would fall apart (for more about the plan see this excellent web-site; the author's reasoning, with which I largely agree, of why the Congress had to do what it did is available here).

What is important to note here is that the Cabinet Mission Plan categorically rejected the concept of partition and the creation of a sovereign Muslim state of Pakistan. Yet Jinnah accepted this plan, indicating that even as late as 1946 he did not see a separate sovereign state of Pakistan as an absolute necessity, at least in the near future (the plan called for a re-evaluation after 10 years).


Unfortunately for Jinnah and for India - especially its Muslims -Jinnah's game of high stakes poker went horribly wrong after the failure of the Cabinet Mission Plan. Congress - enjoying the support of the vast majority of the Indian population - would never agree to complete parity with the Muslim League at an all-India level. The British wanted to leave India as soon as possible. Jinnah's own supporters had been whipped into a religious frenzy and had come to see the creation of a sovereign Pakistan as some sort of religious deliverance - they were not willing to accept any compromise. Eventually Jinnah had no option but to settle for a “mutilated, moth-eaten” Pakistan that, on two earlier occations, he had rejected out of hand.

Ayesha Jalal in her book The Sole Spokesman has this insightful passage in the introduction.

The most striking fact about Pakistan [as it actually came into being] is how it failed to satisfy the interests of the very Muslims who are supposed to have demanded its creation. The main centers of Muslim population, the Punjab and Bengal, ended up being sliced in two. In both these provinces ...Muslims had come to dominate the ministries. Partition ... deprived Muslims of the benefits of undivided provinces. Muslim Punjab lost its fertile eastern districts. Muslim Bengal lost Calcutta, its capital city and economic ‘heart’ . ... As for Muslim minorities in other provinces, they were left high and dry inside a country where their more numerous co-religionists to the east and west had no influence. At a stroke, partition stripped them of ... the shield that Muslim-majority provinces might have raised in their defence inside undivided India. ... Muslims of Sind, NWFP and Baluchistan had one thing in common: fierce attachment to their particularist traditions and deep antipathy to any central control. The creation of Pakistan bundled them willy-nilly into a state dominated by ... western Punjab and placed them under the tight central control that Pakistan had to impose if it had to survive.

Jinnah himself appears to have been unsure of how to deal with partition and the creation of Pakistan. He came up with the bizarre notion that the Pakistan Constituent Assembly should meet in Delhi! He objected to India using the name ‘India’ - he preferred ‘Hindustan’. Perhaps he did not want to view Pakistan as splintering away from India, but rather India dividing into Pakistan and Hindustan. One gets the impression that Jinnah did not want to uproot himself from his beloved Bombay and move to Pakistan. He chose not to sell his house in Bombay, which was worth a fortune. Nor did he donate it to the new state of Pakistan (as Liaquat Ali Khan did with his). When, after independence, his house was in danger of being declared ‘evacuee property’, Jinnah pleaded with the Indian High Commissioner (Ambassador) to Pakistan. “Sri Prakasa, don’t break my heart. Tell Jawaharlal not to break my heart. I have built it brick by brick. Who can live in a house like that? What fine verandahs? It is a small house fit only for a small European family or a refined Indian prince. You do not know how I love Bombay. I still look forward to going back there.” (link). This, after independence. It appears that the Quaid-e-Azam had very little desire of spending the rest of his life in Pakistan.

What is the Relevance Today

I feel that a better understanding of Jinnah and the Pakistan demand can go a long way in understanding the Pakistani state today. Not only was Jinnah the sole spokesman of the Pakistan movement in the 1940s, but since then no leader has emerged in Pakistan with sufficient legitimacy to ask basic questions about the nature and purpose of the state that Jinnah created – perhaps Pakistani society does not feel sufficiently self-confident to allow such questions to be asked. As a result, ideas in Pakistan have not evolved much since Jinnah's time.

Consider the following.

For Jinnah, Pakistan was simply a demand that was a useful political tool in opposing the Congress Party and was a ‘bargaining chip’ to extract concessions. His motivations for Pakistan were thus entirely negative, entirely oppositional. Jinnah's Pakistan was never inspired by any positive or constructive ideas. A similar kind of thinking is prevalent in Pakistan today. The Pakistani state views itself primarily as an instrument to oppose India, and defines Pakistani nationality primarily in terms of hostility towards India.

For Jinnah and the Muslim League, achieving parity with the Congress Party was a key goal of the Pakistan movement. Continuing this line of thinking after independence, Pakistan has strived hard to achieve at least some level of parity with India, sometimes going to absurd lengths. For example, India's land area is obviously much larger than Pakistan’s; but Pakistan must seek parity with India; so was born the dubious doctrine of ‘strategic depth’, whereby Pakistan sought to control Afghanistan’s territory, in order to achieve parity of sorts with Indian territorial ‘depth’. Consider another instance. After India tested a nuclear bomb in 1974, Pakistani Leader Zulfikar Ali Bhutto famously said “even if we have to eat grass we will make the bomb” in the eternal Pakistani quest to achieve parity with India.

For Jinnah it was important to be recognized as the sole spokesman for all Muslims in undivided India. After independence, Pakistan, at some level, has sought to do this as well. The intellectual descendents of Jinnah who still are part of the power structure in Pakistan have tried to maintain this rhetoric, seeking to be the ‘Muslim voice’ or the ‘defender of Muslims’ in the subcontinent. There is a school of thought in Pakistan that believes that Muslim Pakistan’s militaristic threats scare Hindus and thereby afford protection to Muslims in India. For example in the book Jinnah, Pakistan and Islamic Identity Akbar S. Ahmed – a former Pakistani diplomat, a self-proclaimed admirer of Jinnah, and supposedly a scholar – offers this ‘Pakistan as a guardian of Indian Muslims’ argument in support of the Pakistani state’s policy of sponsoring terrorist activity inside India. “What stopped the widespread orgy of rioting in India after Ayodhya were the bomb-blasts in Bombay in 1993. The shock effect froze the rioting. ... The Hindus blamed the Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence, the ISI. In the end, if the ISI were responsible, then they and they alone were the guardians of Muslims in India.” The reality, of course, is very different from this rhetoric. Pakistani sponsored terrorism in India, far from protecting Indian Muslims, may have actually made them more vulnerable to communal violence. And who can deny that in the sixty years since independence, the Pakistani state has been responsible for hundreds of thousands (millions?) more Muslim deaths – such as in the genocide in East Pakistan (Bangladesh) – than all the communal rioting in India put together.


Blogger Umang said...

I loved most of this begin well and there is some good marshalling of thoughts...but the "why-it-matters-now" part towards the end seemed rushed...I think part of the reason Pakistan defines itself in oppotion/relation to India is due to the threat it perceives to its existence...and be that as it may...does Pakistan regret its formation?

November 07, 2006 7:12 AM  
Blogger Siddhartha Shome said...

Umang, thanks a lot for the compliment. You are right that I was somewhat rushed towards the end ... was trying to finish up late in the night before an early morning flight.

You are right that Pakistan perceives a threat to its existence. The question is why. Pakistanis will say that it is because of India's hegemonic tendencies. But there are many countries in the region like Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, etc. who, while sometimes resentful of Indian economic/military power, are not afraid that Indian hegemony threatens their very existence. For Pakistan I see 2 fundamental differences: (1) Pakistan wants parity with India, unlike Bangladesh, Bhutan, etc. who are reasonably happy with an international role that is more or less proportional to their size/population/economy; and most crucially (2) Pakistan has not been able to come up with a definition of Pakistani nationalism that is not primarily based on opposition to India (unlike Bangladesh, Nepal, etc., who have a strong ethnic/cultural/geographic nationalism). Attempts to develop an ethnic/cultural/geographic basis of Pakistani nationalism have largely failed (for an example of a potentially viable ethnic/cultural/geographic nationalism for Pakistan see this). As long as Pakistani nationhood is defined in terms of opposition to India, they will always feel threatened because India is always likely to be bigger and more powerful economically/militarily than Pakistan. My contention is that Pakistani hostility to India came first (from Jinnah’s hostility to what he called Hindustan), and the threat perception inevitably followed (rather than the other way around). I think India's approach of building CBMs, encouraging people-to-people contact, cricket, etc. are baby steps in the right direction, but in the end the effect of these is very small - redefining Pakistani nationalism has to be done by Pakistanis themselves.

November 07, 2006 4:32 PM  
Blogger hammer_sickle said...

Excellent analysis! Jinnah was either very confused about his Pakistan movement throughout or was cunningly meticulous and played his cards as needed. Not much different than Musharraf :)

November 08, 2006 6:22 PM  
Blogger sumir said...


You may find the following post of R. K. Khanna also relevant. I hope so. The link is

You may also like


November 14, 2006 9:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Landed on ur blog searching for anti-reservation blog posts ..

Sorry to comment in this post , but thought this was the best way to bring to ur notice .

I dont really understand how u support reservation in IITs and IIMs . If a person wants to come to an IIT or an IIM , it is a must that he should have gone for some coaching and he should be in a position to pay for the education .
How did u think he will be out of the creamy layer which many people are asking to be removed from the reservation list .

I am 100% sure the people who are going to get benifited from this are the creamy layer and not others .

December 14, 2006 11:29 PM  
Blogger Adnann Zee Waqar said...


Good points. As someone who was born in Pakistan and cares deeply about the country, I’ll freely admit that Pakistan is still searching for the meaning of its existence.

There is nothing wrong with asking some tough questions. What was the reason of Pakistan if India has as many Muslims as Pakistan ended up with? If Pakistan was meant for Muslims, what sort of constitution the country will have. Will it be a theocratic state or a secular state?

It is my experience that Pakistan is yet to wake up to these questions in earnest. Which is precisely why it flounders looking for its identity. Religious clergy has merit in laying claim to governance by rule of God, since they will always argue that a land for Muslims should be governed by religion of Muslims.

As far as Jinnah is concerned, I subscribe to Ayesha Jalal’s revisionist theory that Pakistan turned out to be a different product from what Jinnah considered in the beginning. However countries have interesting ways of coming into being. Historic cataclysms frequently give birth to nations, and never are those countries more invalid because of why they came into being. I suspect there is an underlying fear in Pakistani psyche that prevents it from asking these tough questions, and consequently make a demon out of India to keep justifying the State of Pakistan.

By the way, I really like your write-ups. I eill be looking forward to reading more of your blogs.


January 22, 2007 1:25 PM  
Blogger Siddhartha Shome said...

Hi Adnann, thank you very much for your very insightful comment. You are absolutely right that there are verious historical reasons that give birth to to nations and never are those countries more invalid than others.

You talk of the "underlying fear in Pakistani psyche". What, in your opinion is the origin of that fear?

January 23, 2007 2:47 PM  
Anonymous Hasan said...

Me too live left of the border in Karachi.
I have thoroughly read your article and the comments that followed. What I think missing is a very crucial factor in the equation is the Indian pshyche.
The Indian Hindu would be no more pleased with a splintering Muslim cracking their once united motherland. Has the Hindu mentality accepted the right of Muslims (no matter only a fraction of the total in the area) to rule across a guarded border?
I think no. The Hindus are still dreaming about dissolving the divide: you look at the comments made by any Indian dignitary crossing border, whether it be artists, musicians or politicians; noteworthy is the Indian Punjab chief minister.
Indian mentality and the policy towards Pakistan is not that unconcerned and blessed with imperial arrogance. While India treats other neighbours as mere neighbours, Pakistan is a bit more: a splinter group, illegitimate, not-to-be. I know Bangladesh may also qualify for that matter but the fact is Bangladesh's relation with the rest of the subcontinent is doubly convulted and it has joined hands with both the Indian Hindu and the West-Indian Muslims.

October 25, 2007 5:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pakistan should take all the muslims living in india today.
That would fulfill the true reason why pakistan was created.
Anything less would be falling short of the founding ideals.

July 21, 2008 7:29 PM  
Blogger Time Traveller said...

All nation states are a product of history... Pakistan does not need a reason to exist any more than India does. Jinnah spoke of a consociationalist solution for India. His Pakistan was a semi-autonomous or a loosely federated state of the Union of India. It was neither a bargaining chip nor a maximum demand.

His vision of what this state was going to be was completely secular. That had nothing to do with the basic reasons for asking for Pakistan in the first place. Pakistan- a product of a minority's struggle- could not be unmindful of its own minorities- or so Jinnah thought.

In the end, he and his Pakistan were let down by Pakistanis.

November 19, 2008 9:12 PM  
Blogger Time Traveller said...

"Jinnah's own boast that he created Pakistan “with the help of his secretary and typewriter"

This is a misquote... The actual statement Jinnah had made was in 1941 when he said that "when we started to re-organize the Muslim League, I only had a type writer and an assistant"... to underline how far the League had come.

He has been misquoted so often, that it has become an article of faith with a lot of people.

November 19, 2008 9:17 PM  
Blogger Tiku said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

December 15, 2008 4:30 AM  
Blogger pkt said...

While it is an engaging article; the following would see it under a different prospective.

December 15, 2008 4:33 AM  
Blogger raghu said...

Hi, for all the time I wasted since my childhood until now (I am 30) , I never could find convincing end answer to indo pak problem, history. Now, i am in a state of realization. I can sleep very well. The problem lies with jinnah's tactic, and pakistan's failure to read its history in a objective way post partition.

You are a genius. I would be regular to this blog.
Regarding Hasan's question about India's psyche, we dont treat pak different to other neighboring countries if pak acts the same way. Yes, hindus feel sad at the break of their motherland( or Bharat) but thats a pain which can be forgetful and believe me it has been. We are more happy now, as the Indian and Pak muslims can now seperate truth from lie. Hindus were never a threat to muslims throuh out history. Hinduism perpetrated self inflicting slavery (i.e slavery of dalits), but was magnaminous to other religions as such religious freedom was fundamental to hinduism . We praised the price for such open arms strategy of welcoming and believing in hospitality to foreigners . Mistakes should be learned. Thats why we see the formation of RSS and its affiliates. From Indians point of view, we will be thankful to pakistan if it stopsinterfering in our land. We have no intention of breaking it apart .
Thanks bye.

January 19, 2009 12:16 PM  
Blogger Winston said...

I read this article by KPS Gill ji and I found Mr. Gill's thought very thought provoking and without bias and true to the core. Winston Vinod Mahanti, USA.
Jinnah’s Harvest of Hatred
The opportunistic falsification of history has been one of the gravest and most persistent follies of the Indian political leadership and intellectual elite. We demonize and iconize at will, with no concern for facts or for reality, yielding to expediency or the fashions of the moment. So it is, now, in the current controversy over Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the creator of Pakistan and, overwhelmingly, of the carnages of Partition.

We may quibble over Mahatma Gandhi’s eccentricities and Jawaharlal Nehru’s ‘intransigence’, in apportioning ‘blame’ for Partition, but it must be clear that Jinnah, and Jinnah alone among the prominent leaders of undivided India, sought this ‘solution’, passionately and often violently – witness the call for ‘direct action’ in August 1946, which resulted in thousands of innocent deaths – advocating his disgraceful ‘two-nation theory’ of communal ghettoisation. The argument that he was neglected or marginalized in the Congress, and this ‘forced’ him to an extreme position is no more a justification than is claimed by other groups that commit communal carnage in the name of present ‘neglect’ or past wrongs.

It is useful, here, to reiterate that Gandhi is, today, recognized as one of the most visionary leaders of the 20th Century, and though he now appears to inspire few among India’s own leadership, his ideas and example have catalyzed – and continue to impact on – some of the great transformations of history across the world. Nehru, too, despite his many failings and notable errors of judgment, was immensely influential, both within India and internationally. We may dispute elements of his legacy – but we cannot deny its enormity.

But Jinnah, today, is historically dead; utterly irrelevant. His vision and his legacy are fractious icons of failure, lawlessness and discord. Outside the sub-continent, few have even heard of him; within it, he is reviled everywhere but in the fractured land of his creation – and even there, more and more are questioning his bequest with the passage of time.

Did Jinnah make a grand speech about his great vision for a ‘secular Pakistan’ where he declaimed, "You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the state"? Did he speak of a Pakistan where, "in the 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"? Of course he did. But that was because he could not see the malignant aberration his vision and murderous actions had shaped; or because, in his dying days, he sought to confine or moderate the monster he had created.

Did Jinnah eat pork, drink whiskey and violate other Islamic commandments? Again, of course, he did. But he systematically used and abused the Islamic identity and the idea of jihad to secure his short-term political ends. British administrators record the use of the idea of jihad during the ‘Direct Action’ movement, and the fact that much of the inflammation occurred in mosques, with active participation of extremist mullahs. It is on record that Jinnah exhorted and funded Iskandar Mirza, a civil servant who resigned to foment disorders in the NWFP in 1947 on his direct command, to start a jihad in the frontier province, which was dominated by Badshah Khan’s committed and secular ‘Red Shirts’. The secular forces that existed in the Punjab at that time, moreover, found it impossible to stand up to the militant Islamist forces of the Muslim League, and to prevent or mitigate the great slaughter of Partition.

There are vivid accounts of Nehru’s acute and manifest distress at the sight of Muslim bodies after riots in Old Delhi. Indeed, Nehru’s anguish at the massacres of Partition even led him, however briefly, to consider the possibility of asking the British to resume control of affairs in the country, so that the slaughters could be brought to an end. But no such act of regret, compassion or contrition has ever been attributed to Jinnah at any point of time during the massacres of Sikhs and Hindus in the newly formed Pakistan.

The consequences are unsurprising, and a nation born out of an ideology of hatred has become the fountainhead of a universal ideology and movement of terrorism – the current and international Islamist jihad. It is useful, in this context, to notice that, despite its prominence in Islamist rhetoric, it was not Palestine that gave birth to the current movement of global terrorism. Indeed, the many other movements of ‘Islamic jihad’ – Chechnya, Algeria, the Kurds, Uighur and Uzbek – are essentially sub-national movements, articulating local ethnic rivalries and targeting their own Governments under the guise of a jihad. It is Pakistan that brought together forces from across the Arab and Muslim world into its terror camps in Afghanistan and on its own soil, to fashion this global movement of terror; it is Pakistan that created the Taliban, the Al Qaeda and the myriad groups that have ranged out across the world to commit appalling and unforgivable acts of terror.

Notice, also, that non-Muslims, who formed 23 per cent of the population of West Pakistan at the time of Partition, had been reduced to three per cent by 1991 – the last census in which minority population data was given – and are believed to have fallen well below two per cent now.

This is the Pakistan Jinnah created, notwithstanding his occasional and wavering statements of commitment to opportunistic secularism.

There are very grave lessons to be drawn from this. In the delusional euphoria that ‘peace processes’ generate, it is easy to lose sight of reality; to the extent that this is happening – and it seems to be the pervasive trend in Indian politics across party lines today – we will be condemned to pay for our folly in a manner that is too horrifying to contemplate. General Pervez Musharraf has skillfully manipulated our perceptions, our hopes and our vulnerabilities to secure the most unlikely endorsements for Pakistan’s ‘change of heart’. But thousands still fall to Pakistan-sponsored terrorism each year; dozens of ISI-backed terrorist modules are identified and disrupted every year, across India, outside Jammu & Kashmir; the infrastructure of terrorism remains intact in Pakistan; and, worst of all, the ideology of communal hatred continues to be taught in extremist madrassahs and state run public school alike, and to be advocated from the mosque and political pulpit without restraint. Some of the methods are changing – adapting to transformations in the international context – but the ends remain constant, unwavering. It is, consequently, imperative that we do not allow the militant minority in Kashmir – concentrated in just part of the Valley, which, in turn, is just a small fraction of the total area of the State – openly backed by Pakistan, to dictate and jeopardize the future of the whole region. We are, today, listening to Islamist fundamentalists and terrorists in Kashmir because they use extreme and indiscriminate force – not because they have reason or popular will or right on their side.

That, precisely, is the weakness Jinnah exploited, using random and excessive violence to make the unreasonable and iniquitous seem acceptable and necessary; that is the failure of that led to Partition; that, again, is the strategy, and the characteristic myopia of the Indian response, that the Pakistani establishment is capitalizing on today; and that is the blindness that is building up to another and potentially dire crisis in South Asia.

KPS Gill

(Published in The Pioneer, June 11, 2005)

April 01, 2009 1:08 PM  

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