The sole statesman - 3

02 Jul 2000

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NO set of documents (nor even one single document) exists which spells out the 'ideology of Pakistan'. Thus, every man with a thought process available to him is entitled to his own conception of what this ideology is. However, it would be absolutely logical to assume that the ideology should rightly spring from what our sole statesman envisaged for the country he created and, more accurately, from what he wrote and said.

There are many who hold that the Objectives Resolution, which was drafted and came into being a mere six months after the death of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, is the embodiment of the 'ideology'. There are others who hold that it is not quite what Jinnah had in mind as the ideological cornerstone of his nation.

The Objectives Resolution, the text of which, in English and in Urdu, was embossed on brass plaques and once mounted in the hall of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, has been pronounced by our successive democratic and other leaders to be a reminder to us all of the purpose of the creation of Pakistan. It is regarded as the main source of guidance for whatever dispensation of justice exists, for the execution or non-execution of the affairs of the state. On the day in March 1993 when the present Supreme Court building was inaugurated by the then prime minister, Nawaz Sharif (later to be its ultimate demolisher), he declared that not only had the Objectives Resolution been affixed to the wall of the highest court of the land, but that it was imprinted in the hearts of every loyal Pakistani.

Right. Now let us look at this Objectives Resolution. It was moved and adopted on March 7, 1949, on the first day of the fifth session of the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, meeting in the Assembly Chambers at Karachi, at four of the clock in the evening. The official report for the 1949 day's debates records:

"The Honourable Mr Liaquat Ali Khan (East Bengal, Muslim) : Mr President, Sir, I beg to move the following Objectives Resolution embodying the main principles on which the Constitution of Pakistan is to be based.

"In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful;

"Whereas sovereignty over the entire universe belongs to God Almighty alone and the authority which He has delegated to the State of Pakistan through its people for being exercised within the limit prescribed by Him is a sacred trust ;

"This Constituent Assembly, representing the people of Pakistan, resolves to frame a constitution for the sovereign independent State of Pakistan ;

"Wherein the State shall exercise its powers and authority through the chosen representatives of the people ;

"Wherein the principles of democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance and social justice, as enunciated by Islam, shall be fully observed ;

"Wherein the Muslims shall be enabled to order their lives in the individual and collective spheres in accord with the teachings and requirements of Islam as set out in the Holy Quran and the Sunna ;

"Wherein adequate provisions shall be made for the minorities freely to profess and practise their religions and develop their cultures ;

"Wherein the territories now included in or in accession with Pakistan and such other territories as may hereafter be included in or accede to Pakistan shall form a Federation wherein the units will be autonomous with such boundaries and limitations on their powers and authority as may be prescribed ;

"Wherein shall be guaranteed fundamental rights, including equality of status, of opportunity and before law, social economic and political justice, and freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith, worship and association, subject to the law and public morality ;

"Wherein adequate provision shall be made to safeguard the legitimate interests of minorities and backward and depressed classes ;

"Wherein the independence of the judiciary shall be fully secured ;

"Wherein the integrity of the territories of the Federation, its independence and all its rights, including its sovereign rights on land, sea and air, will be safeguarded ;

"So that the people of Pakistan may prosper and attain their rightful and honoured place amongst the nations of the world and make their full contribution towards international peace and progress and happiness of humanity."

But it was not the true English text of the original Objectives Resolution which was sanctified that day in 1993 on the wall of our apex court. The plaque in the Supreme Court gave a modified version of this Resolution. The original stipulated that "adequate provision shall be made for the minorities freely to profess and practise their religions and develop their cultures." On the plaque, in the English version, the word 'freely' was deliberately omitted.

Now to quote from Liaquat's subsequent address to the President, the Honourable Mr Tamizuddin Khan, a quotation which must bear constant and frequent repetition :

". . . the people are the real recipients of power. This naturally eliminates any danger of the establishment of a theocracy . . . . In the technical sense, theocracy has come to mean a government by ordained priests, who wield authority as being specially appointed by those who claim to derive their rights from their sacerdotal position. I cannot overemphasize the fact that such an idea is absolutely foreign to Islam. Islam does not recognize either priesthood or any sacerdotal authority; and, therefore, the question of a theocracy simply does not arise in Islam. If there are any who still use the word theocracy in the same breath as the polity of Pakistan, they are either labouring under a grave misapprehension or indulging in mischievous propaganda.

". . . . . Therefore, there should be no misconception in the mind of any sect which may be a minority in Pakistan about the intentions of the state. The state will seek to create an Islamic society free from dissensions, but this does not mean that it would curb the freedom of any section of the Muslims in the matter of their beliefs. No sects, whether the majority or a minority, will be permitted to dictate to the others and, in their own internal matters and sectional beliefs, all sects shall be given the fullest possible latitude and freedom. Actually, we hope the various sects will act in accordance with the desire of the Prophet who said that the differences of opinion amongst his followers are a blessing. It is for us to make our differences a source of strength to Islam and to Pakistan and not to exploit them for our own interests which will weaken both Pakistan and Islam.

". . . . We believe that no shackles can be put on thought and, therefore, we do not intend to hinder any person from the expression of his views."

To return to the Supreme Court of Pakistan and the plaques initially affixed to the walls of the entrance hall. In 1993 I made a vain attempt to get through to Chief Justice of Pakistan Afzal Zullah, to impress upon him that the English version of the Resolution should be amended to contain the word 'freely' which in the Urdu version had not been omitted. Then came Chief Justice Dr Nasim Hasan Shah, a man with a great sense of humour with whom it is always a pleasure to converse. An expert at ping-pong, Dr Shah said he would do what he could do to set the record straight. Nothing happened. He was followed by Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah who settled the issue by having both plaques, the English and the Urdu versions, removed from the hallowed walls which still remain bare.

Sajjad Ali Shah's court was later, on November 28, 1997, stormed and morally destroyed at the behest of the then born-again prime minister Nawaz Sharif. Those who have followed Sajjad in the Supreme Chair have still to identify and punish the desecrators of the people's apex court.What our sole statesman's reaction would be to not only the Objectives Resolution, but to all those men and women and events that have followed it down the years can only be imagined.