Can we afford to bypass Jinnah’s Pakistan?

By Raza Rumi

Published today by Jinnah Institute, Islamabad:

Notwithstanding the contradictions inherent to pre-1947 Muslim politics, Jinnah was clear about certain fundamentals. Pakistan was to be a secular, democratic state. It was not destined to be a national-security obsessed and a paranoid military-intelligence complex.
Pakistan was to be a federation and Jinnah’s advocacy in the 1930s and 1940s was majorly focused on achieving a de-centralized governance paradigm. Finally, the new state was envisioned as a peaceful country, which would interact and establish relations with its neighbour India following the US-Canada model. Jinnah indicated that he would not mind settling down in his native city Bombay after his retirement. All of these facts are on public record and not fantastic or imagined tenets of his vision. What was so alarming about Jinnah’s vision for Pakistan that had to be virtually undone by the custodians of a Praetorian state? Not unlike Pakistan’s history, Jinnah’s legacy is a contested and fractured narrative.

After successive victories, the right wing of Pakistan won a significant battle under General Zia-ul-Haq (1977-1988) when it officially established the “ideology of Pakistan”. However this victory was not limited to official pronouncements but significant institutional changes were also effected to achieve a colonial archetype from South Asian history i.e. a “permanent settlement” of ideological contours. Lord Cornwallis may have undertaken such a settlement for Bengal’s fertile land but Pakistan’s education system, the media and the public discourse finally declared such a settlement as the sacred “truth”.

This sacred “truth” nullified Jinnah’s vision and historic struggles to achieve a fair deal for the Muslims of India, which had culminated in the creation of a truncated and “moth-eaten” Pakistan.

In terms of domestic governance of the new polity, Jinnah’s speeches to civil servants, firm advice to military officers and even to some of his errant politician colleagues were clear. The bureaucracy and the Army had to operate within the legal boundaries and a new direction for the post-colonial state had to be negotiated without undermining the rule of law and the imperative of creating a citizen-responsive state. To the military men Jinnah said the following in June 1948:“…I should like you to study the constitution which is in force in Pakistan at present and understand its true constitutional and legal implications.” And, to the civil service, his message was clear in early 1948: “You do not belong to the ruling class; you belong to the servants. Make the people feel that you are their servants and friends, maintain the highest standard of honor, integrity, justice and fair-play. If you do that, people will have confidence and trust in you and will look upon you as friends and well wishers.”

So how did we fare after Jinnah’s untimely death in September 1948? We abandoned the goal of a secular-democratic state guaranteeing its minorities’ full rights with the introduction of the Objectives Resolution in 1949. This odious legal instrument became the nightmare for every constitutional draft for its vagueness and appeasement of theocratic urges had to be willy-nilly reconciled with any democratic framework. The final nail in the secular coffin came in the shape of making the Objectives Resolution an operative part of the Constitution in 1985 via Article 2-A, which today is allowing for dragging religion into everyday governance and enabling the right-wing legal profession and jurists to abuse it with impunity.

After Jinnah, the abandonment of the democratic project and the hegemony of the unelected institutions of state meant that an enemy was required to justify the existence of a military empire; and to provide it a permanent political role. In the process, we lost the Eastern wing, which reacted to military diktat and revolted against an unjust army action in 1971. By the 1980s, hating and fighting this enemy, i.e. India was not a just a nationalistic endeavour but a religious obligation, when the state adopted a particularistic interpretation of “jihad” as an official policy. This was necessary for the sustenance of General Zia-ul-Haq’s long rule as well as Pakistan’s profitable role as a frontline state in the anti-communist war in Afghanistan. Thus the jihad[s] in Kashmir and Afghanistan and its subsequent export to other locations across the globe were well thought out and calculated strategic shifts. The ruling elites had all but destroyed Jinnah’s Pakistan. The only thing that could not be transformed in such a short time was the diversity, pluralism and essentially secular versions of lived Islam at the subaltern level. Perhaps this is the reason why Pakistan continues to survive as a viable and vibrant society, which has the capability to muster its social capital and community networks in times of serious adversity, and continue to move on. Nevertheless the un-Jinnah definition of Pakistan has gained traction, as the school system, madrassah-mosque networks and a public discourse laden with enemy-conspiracies and lies have indoctrinated two generations of Pakistanis. The average Pakistani mind today is hostage to the perennial paranoia about the un-doing of its ideological framework, protected by an arsenal of nuclear warheads and the strategic Jihadi assets, which can provide a perverse sense of national honour by wreaking havoc in the eastern and western neighbourhoods.

In such a context, economic growth, social justice and equal opportunity have been relegated to the domain of rhetoric and good intentions. The only time the political discourse veered away from national security was under Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, where an agenda for social change became a plank for public mobilization and state policy. However, this was short-lived partly due to Bhutto’s indulgence of the national security institutions and partly because the military could not allow the evolution of alternative narratives of the state.

Therefore, Pakistan reverted to its original “type” in 1977: a paranoid and militant national-security state. In the three decades that followed Bhutto’s judicial murder in 1979, Pakistan was governed directly by the military for two decades and indirectly for a decade. These decades were perhaps the most damaging for they witnessed the rise of Islamism and sectarianism, and worsened relations with India. Alongside these structural shifts, centralization of power and repression of sub-national political aspirations took place, thereby turning Pakistan into an ungovernable and unworkable federation. It is only in recent years that the political elites of Pakistan have, through consensus, attempted to re-align Pakistan to a more federal complexion through 18th amendment to the Constitution, which provides a radical departure from the abominable trends of centralization of power. However, the greater challenge faced by the civil and military rulers of Pakistan holds the key to the country’s survival.

This “challenge” comprises the following: the educational system and the madrassah networks, the black laws introduced by the military under General Zia-ul-Haq and the primacy of an outdated national security paradigm. The latter is the most complex of the contemporary challenges: however, resolving it would take us closer to the viable state that Jinnah had envisioned in the late 1940s.

The radicalisation of society through the Qadris and al-Qaeda operatives within state institutions and the growing power of sectarian and Islamist militant organizations across the country, contain the seeds of Pakistan’s undoing. Contrary to the Wahabi worldview of Islam as a monolith, Pakistani Muslims are diverse, heterogeneous and steeped in the secular worship traditions of South Asia. These traditions did not emerge in a year or a decade but were formed over a millennium of interaction with the ancient cultures and religions of South Asia. Thus, the tolerant Islam of South Asia practised the art of co-existence and was not shy of finding commonalities rather than emphasizing and ossifying differences. But such inclusiveness and pluralism can only flourish in a secular state with a neutral and professional civil-military bureaucracy that reports to the representatives of the people and allows for negotiation, bargaining and accommodation – hallmarks of a democracy.

August 11 is now turning into the real Independence Day, for this was the day when Muhammad Ali Jinnah, as an official Head of State, laid down clear and unequivocal policy parameters. Naysayers within Pakistan’s liberal chatterati, its leftist minority and the right-wing fascists may exercise their democratic right and contest Jinnah. However, whether there is any other viable alternative to ‘Jinnah’s Pakistan’ remains a question. Public debate in Pakistan must not bypass what Jinnah foresaw in a post-colonial Pakistan. Pakistan’s remotest chance of carving out an identity for itself will always, in one way or another, hinge upon Jinnah’s advocacy and vision for the Muslims of India.






All My Posts, History, India-Pakistan History, On Pakistan, Pakistan, SouthAsia , , , , , , ,

  • Pingback: A Day With Talib Hussain | Lahore Nama

  • Nuzaffar

    Although, I am from the same segment of the society from which the writer belongs to, however, I have strong reservation when we use the term “Jinnah’s Pakistan” as if that is the way Quaid defined the management style of for Pakistan…Mostly we all using this expression thinking that Quaid wanted a secular Pakistan….It is not the case at all….

    Unfortunately this term and style of interpretation moreover caught ground when Justice Munir (The CJ who pioneered the downfall of Pakistan political system ie when Isikandar Mirza dissolved the parliament in 1958 and announced martial law, Justice Munir and the Supreme Court placed a judicial stamp of approval on what had taken place)wrote a book from Jinnah to Zia and mis quoted a statement of the Quaid…(other reasons also but due to limited space one cannot go into details)

    If I am saying that Quaid was not secular that does not mean that he did not want what most pro secular group state–i.e. modern, peaceful, rights of women/minorities etc etc. Yes he wanted but not necessarily by being called a secularist…..One can achieve all this by following the true Islam /Quran. There are many examples in which the Quaid stated that that was the basis on which he wanted the foundation of Pakistan….Further, the two nation theory itself is evident of the fact that how would he have strongly supported such a theory if he was wanting secular governance of the country which was made for muslims.

    • Abdullah Noor

      نظفر صاحب۔ اللہ آپ کا بھلا کرے۔ آپ نے سچ لکھا اور قائد اعظم کے ارشادات کو توڑ مروڑ کر پیش کرنے کی کوشش کو بے نقاب کیا۔

  • uzeepert

    please sir u gotta watch this and stop mutilating Jinnah’s vision of pakistan. He said only islamic social justice is the foundation of pakistan, NO OTHER ISM !!!! http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=10150388999334251&comments

  • Robert Smith

    Well put. Jinnah’s legacy is complex and overlaid with all kinds of conflicting interpretations. However his constitutionalism and tolerance make the task of reexamining his legacy relevant and timely. And not only in Pakistan!

  • amir jafri

    The Greatest Man IN India’s Freedom movement..NOT Jinnah NOT Gandhi ..who were both paper-pushers..”EDUCATED” types working within Law..the Ghulaam ASKING , REQUESTING, BEGGING to be release…This great man would have won freedom & NOT INDEPENDENCE by exterminating WESTERNISM from India ( & Pakistan)…That day is yet to dawn! Subhaaj BOSE>>ZINDABAAD
    Japan’s unsung role in India’s struggle for independence | The Japan Times Online http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl-x-all.html

    • Abdullah Noor

      Bhaiyya zara apni zaban to dekho. Pehley tameez se baat krna seekho phir munh kholo. Allah tumhe hidayat dey

  • Pingback: Wake Up, Smell the Coffee: Jinnah January 1948

  • http://thediaryofaliar.blogspot.com/ A Great Liar

    All right. Having gone through this twice, the whole thing comes as an act of preaching, hardcore and intolerantly expressed without enough arguments to support the point of view constantly shoveled down the readers throat.

    Just check out the beginning of the article in question;

    “Notwithstanding the contradictions inherent to pre-1947 Muslim politics, Jinnah was clear about certain fundamentals. Pakistan was to be a secular, democratic state. It was not destined to be a national-security obsessed and a paranoid military-intelligence complex.
    Pakistan was to be a federation and Jinnah’s advocacy in the 1930s and 1940s was majorly focused on achieving a de-centralized governance paradigm.”

    *sigh*. All right. It could all very well be true, or false, or whatever, but whatever happened to the good old arguments to give ground to a given debate. I mean, to be frank here, it is a bit like nailing jelly fish to the wall!

    In short, it is the not so new tirade of liberal vs. conservatives. The usual ongoing debate both pre and post Qadri vs. Taseer era that is so rampant these days in the local media. Just about every tabloid/newspaper or blog one turns to, rest assure you would find this ‘hot’ topic lurking somewhere in the wake.

    And yes, one little thing; as a blogger one should always reply to the comments of one’s dear reader, people who take the time and trouble to go through one’s reading. Trust me, it would only add to your following and would do no harm to your celebrity status …

    • Abdullah Noor

      Well said!!

  • Pingback: Tangled Up In Blue: ...On Shammi Kapoor's Passing

  • mudassar

    where is Jinnah’s pakistan it was broken in 1971, after we are still on the search whose Pakistan is this.

  • columbus

    sir,
    i at times think that secular pakistan is an oxymoron,
    how can a state be secular if it came into being after division of a bigger state on the basis of religion????
    if jinnah wanted secular pak he would have not divided it but if it has been divided on religion name how can you call it secular???or was islam again used for the purpose to get the support of the local population??????

  • amir jafri

    Muslims BEWARE: There are a lot of “muslim” NAMES who to avoid being called and charged as MURTIDS are operating under the ruse of being SECULAROONS. Steps towards becoming a MURTIDOON 1. First crack the door a little to LIBERALOONISM 2) THEN put foot in to SECULAROONISM 3) Then become NANGA , bayhayaa and baighairat under arts farts to KanjarRism 3) Finally declared & Enter into MURTADOONism. MUSLIMS: These snake’s head need to be crushed..They are blatantly ant-muslim and anti-Islam…become a vigilante..warn friends and relatives…..Lists of Names members of SAFMA and affiliated westoxicated NGOs must be published frequently and relentlessly; identified and these secularoons must be hounded and hunted down …These worms from the cesspool of khusraaism, Heejraaism and Kanjarism needo be taught how to respect muslims and Islam. These riffraff, mostly english-medium types, are twirled by their Uncle Sam and Abba angraiz…hence act uppity in as whitehouse-slaves………That string has to be snipped.

  • http://www.area148.com Maryam Rahman

    I think amir jafri needs to stop doing drugs. Not one sentence makes sense. “Muslims BEWARE” indeed…

  • amir jafri

    http://preserveurdu.wordpress.com/2011/09/03

    click or copy/paste above to read ..this will open your eyes OR open your eyes , RED and this will open your mind ( Hopefully) you summun bukmmun secularoon!

    This is a very important write up about our beloved Quaid-i-azam…This should put to rest all the evil propaganda being unleashed relentlessly by the english-medium westoxicated seularoon liberaloon and kanjaroon of Pakistan to turn our Piyara Pakistan into an image of their vile selves. 3 pages ..first left, 2nd right and 3rd below. Please circulate by every means at your command.

  • amir jafri

    http://preserveurdu.wordpress.com/2011/09/03

    click or copy/paste above to read ..this will open your eyes OR open your eyes , READ and that will open your mind (Hopefully) you summun bukmmun secularoon!

    This is a very important write up about our beloved Quaid-i-azam…This should put to rest all the evil propaganda being unleashed relentlessly by the english-medium westoxicated seularoon liberaloon and kanjaroon of Pakistan to turn our Piyara Pakistan into an image of their vile selves. 3 pages ..first left, 2nd right and 3rd below. Please circulate by every means at your command.

    [ note for english-medium "educated" jaahils]: This is in URDU

  • http://absarahmed.wordpress.com Absar

    A very, very one-sided article. The author is being biased. Please refer to Dr. Pervez Hoodboy’s article

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/7065207/Jinnah-and-Pakistan-as-an-Islamic-State-by-Pervez-Hoodbhoy