Re­fig­ur­ing Jin­nah

The Pak Banker - - Front Page - Nadeem F. Paracha

TO­DAY many Pak­ista­nis are aware of Jin­nah’s Au­gust 11, 1947, speech in which he clearly ex­plains Pak­istan to be a demo­cratic Mus­lim ma­jor­ity coun­try where re­li­gion has noth­ing to do with the busi­ness of the state.

Well-known his­to­ri­ans have all main­tained that to Jin­nah the Mus­lims of un­di­vided In­dia were a sep­a­rate cul­tural en­tity re­quir­ing their own home­land.

Jin­nah’s de­sire to see this through was born from his awk­ward­ness with the idea of a post-colo­nial In­dia sub­ju­gated by the ‘Hindu-dom­i­nated’ In­dian Na­tional Congress: even though the Congress was al­most en­tirely sec­u­lar.

How­ever, there is ab­so­lutely no ev­i­dence that Jin­nah’s push to carve out a sep­a­rate Mus­lim coun­try was made in or­der to con­struct an Is­lamic state.

For years Pak­ista­nis have de­bated about how Jin­nah went about claim­ing Pak­istan. Was he able to think it through, or did he fail to per­ceive the vul­ner­a­bil­ity of his claim?

Many also be­lieve that his claim in this re­spect was too open-ended. That’s why it was eas­ily ex­ploited by some who even­tu­ally turned it into a mono­lithic en­tity and a mil­i­taris­tic bas­tion of Is­lam.

It is ironic that the first Pak­istani head of state to sin­cerely try to re­alise Jin­nah’s con­cept of Pak­istan was a mil­i­tary dic­ta­tor. Field Mar­shal Ayub Khan’s regime (195969) still re­mains per­haps the most sec­u­lar in the coun­try’s his­tory.

Apart from, of course, sidelin­ing the demo­cratic as­pects of Jin­nah’s con­cept, Ayub oth­er­wise went about defin­ing (through leg­is­la­tion) his un­der­stand­ing of Jin­nah’s Pak­istan. To him it was about a sec­u­lar Mus­lim ma­jor­ity state sus­tained by the ge­nius of en­tre­pre­neur­ial ac­tion, a strong mil­i­tary, and the spirit of mod­ernistic and pro­gres­sive Is­lam of the likes of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, Iqbal and Jin­nah.

How­ever, in a nat­u­rally plu­ral­is­tic so­ci­ety like Pak­istan with mul­ti­ple eth­nic­i­ties, reli­gions and Is­lamic sects, if one takes out democ­racy from the above equa­tion, one would get (as Ayub did) eth­nic strife, reli­gious re­ac­tionary-ism and class con­flict.

The class-based and multi-eth­nic com­mo­tion in this re­spect opened win­dows of op­por­tu­nity for well-or­gan­ised left­ist groups who were not only suc­cess­ful in forc­ing Ayub out (1969), but they also es­chewed the reli­gious op­po­si­tion to the Field Mar­shal’s gov­ern­ment.

Left par­ties like the Pak­istan Peo­ple’s Party (PPP), Na­tional Awami Party (NAP), and stu­dent groups like the Na­tional Students Fed­er­a­tion (NSF), in the for­mer West Pak­istan, achieved this by at­tack­ing Ayub’s ‘pro-rich poli­cies’ (state-fa­cil­i­tated cap­i­tal­ism), and, on the other hand, neu­tralised the Is­lamic fun­da­men­tal­ists by adding a new twist to Jin­nah’s im­age.

For ex­am­ple, the PPP ad­vo­cated Jin­nah to be a pro­gres­sive demo­crat whose think­ing was close to the ideas of ‘Is­lamic so­cial­ism’ first pur­ported (in the re­gion) by such lead­ers of the Pak­istan Move­ment, as Chaudhry Rehmat Ali, and Iqbal.

Af­ter the break­away of East Pak­istan in 1971, and the com­ing to power of the PPP (led by Z A. Bhutto), the au­thor­i­tar­ian cen­tre-right sec­u­lar­ism of the Ayub era (and con­cept of Jin­nah), moved to­wards the pop­ulist left.

But the Bhutto regime was highly mu­ta­ble. Though it re­mained pop­ulist, it reg­u­larly shifted from left to right on an is­sue to is­sue ba­sis.

A study of Jin­nah’s quotes used on state-owned me­dia of the pe­riod sug­gests a regime try­ing to push Jin­nah as a demo­crat who was not sec­u­lar in the western sense, but a pro­gres­sive Mus­lim whose faith was plu­ral­is­tic in essence and ‘awami’ (pop­ulist).

Such quotes, that be­came a main­stay just be­fore the main 9pm news bul­letin on the state-owned PTV, sud­denly changed track when Bhutto was top­pled in a re­ac­tionary mil­i­tary coup by Gen­eral Zi­aul Haq (July 1977).

From 1977 on­wards, no more was Jin­nah be­ing bounced be­tween Ayu­bian sec­u­lar­ists and Bhutto’s Is­lamic So­cial­ists. He now be­came the prop­erty of the ‘Is­lam­pasand’ (pro-Is­lamic state) lot.

PTV and Ra­dio Pak­istan were or­dered to only use those quotes from Jin­nah’s speeches that con­tained the word ‘Is­lam’.

A con­cen­trated ef­fort was made to re­mould him into a leader who con- ceived Pak­istan as an Is­lamic state with a strong mil­i­tary.

In 1978, the or­der of Jin­nah’s cel­e­brated motto, ‘Unity, Faith, Dis­ci­pline,’ was reshuf­fled to put the word ‘faith’ first in­stead of the mid­dle.

Then Zia’s in­for­ma­tion min­istry sud­denly un­earthed a di­ary kept by Jin­nah in which he had sup­pos­edly ex­pressed his de­sire to see Pak­istan as a coun­try run on Is­lamic laws (in­stead of democ­racy), and em­pha­sised the po­lit­i­cal and ide­o­log­i­cal role of the mil­i­tary. The di­ary turned out to be a des­per­ate forgery. Also, Jin­nah’s Au­gust 11 speech was ex­punged from the school text­books, as if it never ex­isted. By the end of Zia’s dic­ta­tor­ship (1988), Jin­nah had been turned into a pious, 20th cen­tury caliph of sorts who presided over the cre­ation of a ‘ci­tadel of Is­lam’.

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