OUR youth and future generations will always wonder why we celebrate March 23, as Pakistan Day.
There can be many answers but, to my mind, we celebrate because the idea of Pakistan was formally conceived and declared on that day, an idea of a Muslim homeland in the sub-continent, which would never die.
The idea of Pakistan was not conceived to create an inimical adversarial state to India but to mainly provide the Muslims of the sub-continent an opportunity to have their share of the Indian sun and achieve political and economic independence while simultaneously giving the Muslims the benefit of freely practising their religious beliefs without any fear.
The question is whether we have achieved what Jinnah and his colleagues in the Muslim league set out to do in March 1940. The train “Pakistan” steamed off on March 23, 1940, from Lahore for a long and arduous journey which saw many pitfalls.
The British and the Indian Congress party were hell-bent on preventing the creation of Pakistan during which period a campaign of hatred and hallucination was countered by Jinnah with logic and steely determination while always remaining within the bounds of reason and law.
Ultimately, after a long and arduous struggle under Jinnah as the undisputed leader of the Muslims of India, we saw him lead a constitutional battle, play a role that he was destined to play by giving his logical reasons why Pakistan was the only answer and way forward after briefly considering and agreeing to the proposals of Sir Stafford Cripps under the Cabinet Mission plan in 1946 to give up the demand for Pakistan and keep India united not because Mahatma Gandhi persuaded Lord Mountbatten to offer Jinnah the position of India’s first Prime Minister or because Maulana Abul Kalam Azad advised that the Cabinet Mission plan would give Jinnah Pakistan without the burdens of Pakistan but Jinnah reverted to the demand for Pakistan because Nehru gave away his plan of a Indian majority Hindu dominated India and thus the train Pakistan was steered back on track by Jinnah and the rest is recorded history.
The only regret is the distortion and diversion that took place after Pakistan was established and after Jinnah passed away on September 11, 1948, after living in the country he established for a little over one year.
While we have achieved some degree of political independence, economic independence is still a much desired necessity. As for religious beliefs and freedom of worship, the Muslims in Pakistan are constrained to offer prayers under the armed protection of the Police and Rangers but religious extremism and radicalised thoughts and expression are not the topic under consideration and are best left to another article at another time.
Jinnah’s views, ideals, aspirations, principles and vision for Pakistan are spread all over his speeches and statements. These can best be read and understood from “The Jinnah Anthology” and “Quotes from the Quaid” which are authored by this writer along with co-author Sharif al Mujahid labelled as the best reference books on Jinnah and Pakistan but which successive Governments refuse to include as a part of curricular studies at the school, college and University levels. Reasons remain unknown but unfulfilled promises galore.
Patriots like Ardeshir Cowasjee, Minoo Bhandara and Dr. Hayee Saeed struggled for this and died without seeing their goal achieved.
Coming back to Pakistan Day and whether we achieved what we sought and strived for is another story. Is the post-1947 Pakistan or the Pakistan of today Jinnah’s Pakistan?
I do not think anyone would venture a guess and say yes. This topic has been under discussion for years. The Pakistan Resolution which was passed amidst much cheer and enthusiasm was as under: “…no constitutional plan would be workable in this country or acceptable to the Muslims unless it is designed on the following basic principles, viz., that geographically contiguous units are demarcated into regions which should be so constituted, with such territorial readjustments as may be necessary, that the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in a majority, as in the North-Western and Eastern zones of India, should be grouped to constitute Independent States… That adequate, effective and mandatory safeguards should be specifi cally provided in the constitution for minorities in these units and in the regions for the protection of their religious, cultural, economic, political, administrative and other rights and interests in consultation with them…”
This resolution along with Jinnah’s address of August 11 should have been made the subject of academic studies in schools, colleges and universities but successive Governments failed to do this.
The train moved on to its ultimate destination and the Muslims now considered themselves a nation, separate and distinct from the Hindu nation within India.
Jinnah’s classical response to Mahatma Gandhi was indeed remarkable but never intended to create animosity or bad blood when Jinnah said: “We maintain and hold that Muslims and Hindus are two major nations by any defi nition or test of a nation. We are a nation of a hundred million people, and, what is more, we are a nation with our own distinctive culture and civilisation, language and literature, art and architecture, names and nomenclature, sense of value and proportion, legal laws and moral codes, customs and calendar, history and traditions, aptitudes and ambitions. In short, we have our own distinctive outlook on life and of life. By all canons of international law, we are a nation.”
Jinnah never lost sight of the hope and desire for Muslims to live in peace and with honour with Hindus in India and did not give up his desire of Hindu-Muslim unity of which he was declared as an Ambassador.
He reportedly stated that after Pakistan was established he would have liked to become the Protector General of minorities in Pakistan — a noble task indeed befi tting a Statesman of his calibre. On India–Pakistan relations, Jinnah said: “I sincerely hope that they [relations between Indian and Pakistan] will be friendly and cordial. We have a great deal to do…and think that we can be of use to each other [and to] the world.”
“First and the foremost, both Dominions must make all-out efforts to restore peace and maintain law and order in their respective States - that is fundamental. I have repeatedly said that; now that the division of India has been brought about by solemn agreement between the two Dominions, we should bury the past and resolve that, despite all that has happened, we shall remain friends. There are many things which we need from each other as neighbours and we can help each other in diverse ways, morally, materially and politically and thereby raise the prestige and status of both Dominions. But before we can make any progress, it is absolutely essential that peace must be restored and law and order maintained in both the Dominions.”
Alas! A Pakistan as contemplated by his principles, ideals and vision could not be achieved and to add to a growing list, recently, the Chief Minister of Punjab in his speech in London said that Pakistan could not be made a Pakistan of Quaid-i-Azam without eliminating, prejudice, intolerance and extremism from the society. One cannot agree with him more as the Chief Minister of Punjab reportedly admitted that Pakistan of today is not “Jinnah’s Pakistan”.
The Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali in his speech while addressing the Pakistan Bar Council and Lahore High Court Bar Association stated with regret that: “We could not build Pakistan in accordance with the vision of Allama Iqbal and Quaid-i-Azam as mismanagement and corruption had led the country to the verge of collapse.”
While our leading politicians seem content to be photographed while speaking or presiding at meetings or meeting foreign dignitaries with a bouquet of flowers in front of them and Jinnah’s impressive portrait forming a background, the hope for a leader in the Quaid’s image emerging in Pakistan and the cherished desire for Jinnah’s Pakistan will forever remain alive in our hearts.
The writer is the grandnephew of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, President of The Jinnah Society, Managing Trustee of The Jinnah Foundation, Executive Trustee of Quaid-i-Azam Aligarh Education Trust and former Deputy Attorney General of Pakistan.