Since the dawn of Independence, the Establishment — albeit with varying labels — has tried to misinterpret, tamper or altogether censor any sayings of [Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali] Jinnah and his sister [Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah] which are in direct conflict with the ruling cliques’ own views.
On August 11, 1947, according to Hector Bolitho, Jinnah made “the greatest speech of his life”. Some hidden hands tried to tamper with a portion of this speech, without success. During the anti Qadiani inquiry, Justice Mohammad Munir and Justice M.R. Kiani had “to face the wrath of obscurantists on the same speech”. During Z.A. Bhutto’s trial in the Supreme Court, he had said that “attempts were made to have this speech burnt and removed from the record”. Details reproducing the attempts to gag certain portion of this speech are given in The Press in Chains, pp. 34 8, with documentary evidence.
Miss Jinnah, like her brother, has been a frequent victim of the whims and fancies of the mercurial power hungry bureaucrats. On the third death anniversary of Jinnah, her speech broadcast on the radio was twice faded out for a few seconds. “A successful attempt was made to silence her voice on two occasions”, which, in the opinion of the Controller of Broadcasting, Z.A. Bokhari, were “critical of Liaquat’s government”.
At least twice Jinnah’s sayings were censored by the provincial [Press Information Department] PID censor authorities, once in August 1980 (Business Recorder) and again in March 1981 (The Muslim). The second incident once again related to Jinnah’s speech of August 11, 1947. As stated, attempts were made to censor or censure Jinnah’s inaugural address to the Constituent Assembly, but without success — the bureaucracy failed in its attempt to stifle his voice. But in 1981, during the dark days of pre-censorship, this passage was deleted from an article by Khwaja Masud.
The first incident relates to a sentence in Jinnah’s address which an editorial in Business Recorder quoted on March 23, 1980, and which was deleted by the Sindh PID, although a few weeks earlier the editor, M.A. Zuberi, then a member of the toothless Majlis i Shoora, had read out the entire passage in one of [its] sessions.
Jinnah’s motto of ‘Unity, Faith and Discipline’ was tampered with during the Zia dictatorship. No word was added or dropped or changed. It was just the positioning of one word that made all the difference. Hamid Jalal writes: “His ‘Unity, Faith and Discipline’ has been presented as ‘Faith, Unity and Discipline’. Perhaps our theocratists , clutching at straws, equate the word ‘Faith’, used in the Quaid’s motto, with Islam. There is evidence to show that for the Quaid ‘Faith’ was to be used in the context of the Pakistan Movement. Once Pakistan had been achieved, the Quaid in his first broadcast as Governor General, from Lahore on August 31, reworded his motto. He said: ‘It is up to you to work, work and work and we are bound to succeed, and never forget our motto, Unity, Discipline and Faith’.”
It is not only Jinnah’s sayings that have been censored. His only portrait, painted by Ahmed Saeed Nagi, for which he sat in Lahore in 1944, mysteriously disappeared from the VIP lounge of Karachi Airport in 1982, where, according to the noted painter, it “hung for many years”. Nagi claimed that he did the painting at the request of Liaquat Ali Khan. He writes: “[I]t (the portrait) has been replaced by another painting with the Quaid i Azam dressed in a black sherwani … The authorities concerned suddenly decided that portrayal of Mr Jinnah as he was, bareheaded, in a suit and tie, with a light in his eyes and a smile on his face, is repugnant to present day trends, and have seen fit to cause it to disappear.”
Thus was Jinnah ‘Islamised’ in official portraits, showing him in sherwani and Jinnah cap. Jang, Karachi, went a step ahead when it published his full page colour portrait in the ‘Awami’ shalwar qamiz and waistcoat. During Z.A. Bhutto’s ‘Awami Raj, his battalion of sycophants tried to convince the nation that Jinnah was an ‘Islamic socialist’.
Like Jinnah, Allama Iqbal has not been spared by the master tailors who have been engaged to fabricate history. He also is quoted selectively, words are put in his mouth, and matter torn from its context to fit into ideological frameworks. The Nai Roshni Schools in Punjab (a brainchild of Lt-Gen Mujib) in its primer told its pupils: “The great poet of the East, Allama Sir Mohammad Iqbal, attended the historic public meeting in Lahore on March 23, 1940, along with the Quaid i Azam, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, and presented the momentous Pakistan Resolution. He read out his blueprint for the new state, and issued the ideology of Pakistan.”
[During all these years] the names of Jinnah and Iqbal have been capitalised on by all kinds of adventurers and zealots as their common stock in trade.
One can go on and on quoting articles and editorials debunking falsification of history in our country. One is tempted to end this chapter with a reference to two publications by noted historian K.K. Aziz, entitled The Pakistani Historian and The Murder of History. He tells us that “millions of young minds are being fed on a diet of lies, inaccurate facts, misrepresentations and blatant official propaganda”. The painstakingly-documented books explore how and why history in Pakistan has become a strange and dangerous mixture of fact and fiction.
Excerpted from ‘The Web of Censorship’
This story is part of a series of 16 special reports under the banner of ‘70 years of Pakistan and Dawn’. Read the report here.