A Vi­sion­ary Leader

Southasia - - CONTENTS - The writer teaches his­tory at the Quaid-i-Azam Univer­sity in Is­lam­abad.

Sikan­dar Hayat’s 'The Charis­matic Leader: Quaid-i-Azam Mo­ham­mad Ali Jin­nah and the Cre­ation of Pak­istan', now avail­able in a re­vised edi­tion from the Ox­ford Univer­sity Press, seeks to ex­plain the cre­ation of Pak­istan in terms of struc­tures, ideas and per­son­al­i­ties. Hayat has long ad­vo­cated the de­vel­op­ment and ap­pli­ca­tion of the­o­ries to South Asian stud­ies and what sets 'The Charis­matic Leader' apart is the em­ploy­ment of We­ber’s con­cept of charisma to the study of Jin­nah’s rise and the re­al­iza­tion of Pak­istan.

At first glance, Jin­nah may seem to be an un­likely can­di­date for the sta­tus of a charis­matic leader. Nor­mally, the use of the term “charisma” con­jures up images of to­tal­i­tar­ian ide­o­logues such as Hitler and Mao, mil­i­tary mod­ern­iz­ers like Mustafa Ke­mal or, more be­nignly, the

dhoti- clad lib­er­a­tor of the In­dian realm, Ma­hatma Gandhi. Jin­nah, in con­trast, was freak­ishly alien­ated from the main­stream In­dian cul­ture and never took se­ri­ously the pop­ulist pre­ten­sions of the lead­ers of the In­dian Na­tional Congress.

In a so­ci­ety steeped in ar­bi­trari­ness, Jin­nah was the arch-con­sti­tu­tion­al­ist and a lib­eral con­sen­sus builder. In an age of ris­ing re­li­gios­ity, fu­eled by the pro­pa­ganda of Gandhi and the Khi­lafatists, Jin­nah was de­cid­edly out of place and would even­tu­ally be ac­cused by his Mus­lim op­po­nents of be­ing an in­fi­del. In a pe­riod where all man­ners of so­cial­ism (from the Na­tional So­cial­ism of Hitler to Stal­in­ism and Fabian pro­grams) were in style, Jin­nah res­o­lutely re­sisted the urge to prom­ise an im­mi­nent utopia. And yet, Jin­nah’s achieve­ment as the founder of what was the largest Mus­lim-majority state in the world in 1947, and as the re­storer of Mus­lim po­lit­i­cal sovereignty over those ter­ri­to­ries of South Asia where they were de­mo­graph­i­cally con­cen­trated, is such that a se­ri­ous ex­pla­na­tion is in or­der.

Hayat’s the­o­ret­i­cal start­ing point is that our un­der­stand­ing of We­ber’s con­cept of charisma is flawed since it does not in­cor­po­rate the post-First World War de­vel­op­ment in We­ber’s thought. This de­vel­op­ment was that, dis­il­lu­sioned by the col­lapse of Im­pe­rial Ger­many, We­ber came to re­gard ra­tio­nal­ity and so­bri­ety as the core qual­i­ties of an au­then­tic charis­matic lead­er­ship. The im­por­tance of per­sonal charisma be­ing in­sti­tu­tion­al­ized in the state or po­lit­i­cal party was equally im­por­tant for oth­er­wise charis­matic lead­ers would be lit­tle more than dem­a­gogues with a death wish. Hav­ing clar­i­fied this im­por­tant point, Hayat pro­ceeds to pro­vide the his­tor­i­cal and so­cio-po­lit­i­cal con­text in which Jin­nah op­er­ated and even­tu­ally emerged as the leader of the Mus­lims. In this, Hayat iden­ti­fies cer­tain con­di­tions that needed to be met for a charis­matic leader.

The first con­di­tion is the pres­ence of a cri­sis that has the po­ten­tial to im­peril the core in­ter­ests of a group or a com­mu­nity. In the con­text of In­dian Mus­lims, this cri­sis had sev­eral di­men­sions. First, de­mo­graph­i­cally the Mus­lims were in a mi­nor­ity. As In­dia headed to­wards greater rep­re­sen­ta­tion in lo­cal, provin­cial and, even­tu­ally, cen­tral, gov­ern­ments, the in­fe­rior num­bers trans­lated into re­duc­tion of their sta­tus to a per­ma­nent mi­nor­ity in most prov­inces and in lo­cal as well as the cen­tral gov­ern­ments.

Sec­ond, num­bers aside, colo­nial rep­re­sen­ta­tion was de­ter­mined by ed­u­ca­tional, prop­erty and in­come qual­i­fi­ca­tions and in the case of In­dian Mus­lims, they were un­der­rep­re­sented even in those ter­ri­to­ries where they were in a majority due to their back­ward­ness. Third, as the de­mand for self-gov­er­nance es­ca­lated dur­ing and after the First World War, the ques­tion of Bri­tish im­pe­rial suc­ces­sion be­came the cen­tral long-term is­sue of In­dian pol­i­tics. The Congress was quite clear on what it wanted – a Bri­tish exit ac­com­pa­nied by the hand­ing over of power to a strong cen­tral gov­ern­ment that would op­er­ate on the ba­sis of univer­sal suf­frage and pre­tend that mi­nori­ties were di­a­bol­i­cal con­trivances of the Raj.

The lo­cal and provin­cial Mus­lim lead­ers had lit­tle to say about what kind of In­dia would emerge if the Bri­tish left. Many hitched their wag­ons to the Congress, hop­ing for some mag­nan­i­mous con­ces­sions that might ma­te­ri­al­ize after a cen­tral­ized, ma­jori­tar­ian democ­racy had come into ex­is­tence un­der the Congress. Hayat makes the case that among the Mus­lim lead­ers, Jin­nah alone had a long-term per­spec­tive on the evolv­ing sit­u­a­tion. He un­der­stood that the real ques­tion was the dis­tri­bu­tion of sov­er­eign power and that the Mus­lims needed to be or­ga­nized so that they too could have a say in what an in­de­pen­dent South Asia might look like.

In terms of vi­sion, Jin­nah ad­vo­cated a for­mula in the form of the La­hore Res­o­lu­tion of March 23, 1940 (dubbed the ‘Pak­istan’ Res­o­lu­tion by its crit­ics). The for­mula was vague and de­lib­er­ately so, but it held out the prom­ise that sovereignty would be re­stored to the Mus­lims wher­ever they were in a majority. For Hayat, the am­bi­gu­ity of the for­mula led peo­ple to read into it their own pref­er­ences or fears, and it fo­cused

the at­ten­tion of the Mus­lims, and the Mus­lim League, on a grand ob­jec­tive. Op­po­si­tion to the “Pak­istan” scheme served to lend it more sub­stance and turned it into a key com­po­nent of In­dia’s po­lit­i­cal dis­course.

Ac­tu­ally, or­ga­niz­ing the Mus­lims to achieve this ob­jec­tive was a very dif­fi­cult task and one in which Jin­nah did not suc­ceed as much he would have liked to. Still, the growth of the Mus­lim League be­tween 1940 and 1945 was con­sid­er­able, while the Sec­ond World War made it ev­i­dent that the ac­tual suc­ces­sion to Bri­tish rule was at hand. Hayat ex­plains in de­tail the mo­bi­liza­tion strat­egy of the Mus­lim League, its ac­ti­va­tion of stu­dents, women, tra­di­tional elites, busi­ness­men and at least some ulema and the cre­ation of a na­tional coali­tion. The growth of the League was such that by 1946 it claimed all the Mus­lim seats at the cen­ter and nearly all at the provin­cial level.

With such a re­sound­ing vic­tory, the time for fi­nally work­ing out what Pak­istan meant had ar­rived and here Jin­nah was pre­pared to ac­cept a sov­er­eign Mus­lim In­dia within an In­dian con­fed­er­a­tion or, fail­ing that, an in­de­pen­dent Pak­istan with no con­sti­tu­tional con­nec­tion to In­dia. Once the Congress re­neged on the Cab­i­net Mis­sion Plan, which promised the for­mer, Jin­nah had no com­punc­tions about do­ing what was nec­es­sary to carve an in­de­pen­dent Mus­lim-majority state out of the Bri­tish Em­pire in In­dia and mov­ing to­wards the lat­ter op­tion. For Hayat, the cre­ation of Pak­istan and its con­sol­i­da­tion meant that Jin­nah’s mis­sion had been ac­com­plished and his charisma was rou­tinized in the new state.

So, at a struc­tural level, the de­mand for Pak­istan was the out­come of the in­ter­nal asym­me­tries of de­mog­ra­phy, econ­omy and so­cio-po­lit­i­cal con­scious­ness, which had emerged dur­ing the Bri­tish Raj. Th­ese asym­me­tries, barely man­aged by con­ces­sions, re­forms and re­pres­sion, threat­ened to per­ma­nently erase the Mus­lims as a po­lit­i­cal com­mu­nity and be­came un­man­age­able as the Bri­tish Em­pire went into de­cline after the First World War. The cen­tral ques­tion was of suc­ces­sion, and here Jin­nah picked his idea – which was to ad­vo­cate the restora­tion of sovereignty to the Mus­lim­ma­jor­ity ar­eas of South Asia – and tim­ings per­fectly.

The idea res­onated and con­nected with the anx­i­ety and dis­tress of the Mus­lims, trig­ger­ing the Pak­istan Move­ment. Jin­nah’s lead­er­ship in terms of or­ga­ni­za­tion of the League, deal­mak­ing and ne­go­ti­at­ing with the Bri­tish, the Congress and other groups led to ex­tra­or­di­nary elec­toral suc­cess in 1946. This suc­cess meant that Pak­istan would ei­ther come into ex­is­tence as a vast Mus­lim-majority sov­er­eign re­gion that com­prised the whole of present-day Pak­istan and Bangladesh plus the Hin­du­ma­jor­ity ar­eas of Ben­gal and Pun­jab, or as a smaller but com­pletely in­de­pen­dent state.

Ac­ced­ing to ei­ther of th­ese op­tions was galling to the Congress, but Jin­nah’s suc­cess was that it had to choose be­tween a no­tion­ally sov­er­eign united In­dia or an ac­tu­ally sov­er­eign di­vided In­dia. The Congress’s pain and con­fu­sion were ev­i­dent in its dither­ing as it went from pre­fer­ring a loose con­fed­er­a­tion and then changed its mind and went for the twostate so­lu­tion.

Hayat’s 'The Charis­matic Leader' is a fine study of po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship in South Asia. His­tor­i­cally grounded, the­o­ret­i­cally sound and ar­gu­men­ta­tively plau­si­ble, it pro­vides a rich start­ing point for fur­ther de­bate and schol­ar­ship. What sets Hayat apart from other writ­ers is that he seeks to ex­plain Jin­nah’s lead­er­ship in terms of phe­nom­ena and in do­ing so breaks new ground. Schol­ars, stu­dents, and the gen­eral read­er­ship can all ben­e­fit from the book un­der re­view.

Re­viewed by Il­han Niaz

Book Ti­tle: The Charis­matic Leader: Quaid-iAzam Mo­ham­mad Ali Jin­nah and the Cre­ation of Pak­istan. Au­thor: Sikan­dar Hayat Pub­lisher: Ox­ford Univer­sity Press. 2014. Sec­ond Edi­tion Pages: 520, Hard­back Price: Rs.1500 ISBN: 978-0-19-906920-0

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