• Sat. May 18th, 2024

Jinnah

Jinnah – the betrayed and abandoned father figure

Conservative and liberal camps exist in most countries and societies. The difference is in the intensity of opposing viewpoints and the degree of tolerance or accommodation of opposite perspectives. From a psychological standpoint, the higher the degree of tolerance of ambiguity or disagreement, the healthier the mind is likely to be. That holds true for all groups, societies and nations too. There is no dispute that the case for an independent Pakistan consisting of Muslim majority provinces was lead almost under the singular and undisputed stewardship of Quaid-e-Azam, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the now seemingly ignored, if not forgotten “Father of the Nation”! That lack of dispute is not always entirely from the goodness of all hearts but is nevertheless a rare consensus, partly from fear of retribution from the vast majority who still hold Jinnah in high reverence.

From the man on the street to the most educated Muslim then, Jinnah was the only source of information, guidance and decision making at the time. Jinnah himself never said publicly or privately that Pakistan was created in the name of religion. Those who said so used a sort of reverse logic to the one used by Zia in his referendum; if the voters supported Islam, it was his victory. In this case, if a homeland was envisaged for Muslims in the hope of a better future, it had to be for religious reasons only.

Muslim majority provinces being the natural basis of self-governance meant that Muslims from any province not being a Muslim majority province had a choice to make. They had an optional right to migrate to Pakistan from any Muslim minority province in the sub-continent but that was purely a personal choice based on either imminent threats to their existence or perception of brighter future for their generations to follow in a new country, but Pakistan was only primarily meant for Muslim majority provinces. Likewise Hindus and Sikhs who migrated to India had personal choices to make based on similar considerations. Millions of Muslims stayed back in India and today constitute a bigger group of population than the Muslim population of Pakistan.

The creation of Bangladesh in 1971 further reinforced the principle of self-governance by the majority because that is what the people of Bangladesh eventually felt they were being deprived of, not the right to offer their prayers! In fact it was the “litmus test” argument or illustration in favour of majority rule being the only basis for an independent Pakistan.

Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s personal life style and dress code throughout his early life and the independence struggle period provided circumstantial evidence of his socio-cultural leanings. But with vested interest so determined to blur that image, more direct evidence was needed. Two most focused and unswerving quotes from Jinnah leave no room for doubt. None was required by his admirers anyway but vested interest needed not only to propagate their twisted version but also to try to destroy any evidence that threatened to make their concocted case weaker. These direct quotes from Jinnah that leave no room for an iota of doubt have rarely been in public view. Was this just a coincidence or oversight; an innocent oversight of the very basis on which Jinnah carried out a long struggle for an independent state? Most unlikely.

The campaign for Jinnah’s posthumous character reform reached its climax during the devilish period of General Zia. Jinnah’s framed photos in “western dress” hung in government offices since independence were removed and substituted by artificial paintings showing Jinnah clad in a “sherwani”, a dress not a common wear in any of the five provinces that constituted Pakistan in 1947. The change of dress in itself is not the issue; the motives of deception behind the move are the real issue, as if the Father of the Nation needed additional demonstrative certification of his patriotic credentials. The two quotes from Jinnah in reference are:

  1. “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…. You will find 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. [Aug 11, 1947, Jinnah’s address to the First Constituent Assembly].
  2. “Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic state to be ruled by priests with a divine mission. We have many non-Muslims-Hindus, Christians and Parsis – but they are all Pakistanis. They will enjoy the same rights and privileges as any other citizens and will play their rightful part in the affairs of Pakistan.” [Feb. 1948, Jinnah’s broadcast address to the people of the United States of America].
    So direct evidence, supporting circumstantial evidence and forensic evidence consisting of Jinnah’s personal belongings, still in display till today in the museum next to his dignified resting place in Karachi all showcase with loudness and clarity a consistent argument.

Having abandoned a crystal clear national vision provided by Jinnah, with such guilt free ease and having opted or fallen instead for exactly what he had specifically forbidden, do we have any case for being surprised or frustrated at where we stand today? Should we even wonder why religious fanaticism has come to haunt us when it was carefully programmed in a manner that institutes of technical and vocational education which provided possibilities and opportunities for at least self-employment to young technicians were instead incrementally fizzled out to be replaced by a network of uncontrolled and unregulated “deeni madrassas” [religious schools] owned and managed by quarrelsome and militant religious sub-groups? Could this approach to nation building, creating the present lot of young so-called students who come out of religious schools and have no other career prospects than the narrow channels into which they are launched from early childhood have led to any outcome other than what is on display today?

The national leaders betrayed its founding father as soon as he passed away, consequently the nation lost its way and the rot set in from the beginning; the journey has been downhill ever since. It had to be. A mass of people moving in different directions, for destinations unknown does not make a nation. It has to have all the attributes of a crowd. A crowd is easier to mislead than an organised group or nation. A distinct feature of a crowd is that individual identities are consumed by the chaotic mob mentality. Is it difficult to figure out who could have gained from this induced madness? It could not have been Jinnah’s followers and admirers; it had to be only those who stood to lose from the adoption of Jinnah’s guidelines and political vision of nationhood.

One wonders if our rulers would have betrayed Jinnah even if he had lived on for a longer period of time. Had Jinnah lived on to see himself being betrayed in his life time, it would have been the ultimate insult for him, to witness betrayal by those for whose well-being he even concealed his terminal illness, because disclosure could have triggered a manipulated fatal delay in the nation’s destiny, in the clear knowledge that with him removed from the scene, the movement would lose momentum and direction to die a natural death. The fact that he did not live long enough to witness his own betrayal will have spared him the agony in his last moments but it does not lessen the disgraceful conduct of those who still do lip service to his name but exclude and insult every basic value he epitomised, from their private and public lives. It was madness but certainly not without a well-conceived and disguised method. Does the country now have any other option whatsoever other than to regroup under Jinnah’s original guiding principles ONLY and to make a fresh start? Better late, than never, that is if it is not already too late!

Zahir Kaleem