This report was originally published on December 25, 2017.
Exactly 70 years to the day, on December 25, 1947, Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah agreed to be photographed reading Dawn – the newspaper he had founded. The headline on the front page of Dawn that day read: ‘71 today’. The trace of a whimsical smile on Mr Jinnah’s lips is unmistakable as he is seen glancing at the newspaper. | Photo: Press Information Department (PID)
The importance of being Mr Jinnah
By Ayesha Jalal
IN one of the more unforgettable contemporary recollections of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Beverely Nichols in Verdict on India described the lanky and stylishly dressed barrister as the “most important man in Asia”. Looking every bit like a gentleman of Spain, of the old diplomatic school, the monocle-wearing leader of the All-India Muslim League held a pivotal place in India’s future. “If Gandhi goes, there is Nehru, Rajagopalachari, Patel and a dozen others. But if Jinnah goes, who is there?” Without the Quaid-i-Azam to steer the course, the Muslim League was a divisive and potentially explosive force that “might run completely off the rails, and charge through India with fire and slaughter”; it might even “start another war”. As long as Jinnah was around, nothing disastrous was likely to happen and so, Nichols quipped, “a great deal hangs on the grey silk cord of that monocle”.
If the British journalist overstated Jinnah’s importance, he had put his finger on an essential piece of the sub-continental political puzzle on the eve of British decolonisation in India. Jinnah was a crucial link between the Congress and the Muslim League, which, if broken, could catapult India into disaster.
While regaling journalists at a tea party in his honour at Allahabad in April 1942, two years after the formal orchestration of the demand for Pakistan by the Muslim League, Jinnah had emphatically denied harbouring the “slightest ill-will” against Hindus or any other community. Charged with fomenting hatred and bigotry, he retorted: “I … honestly believe that the day will come when not only Muslims but this great community of Hindus will also bless, if not during my lifetime, after I am dead, [in the] the memory of my name.”
Drawing an analogy between himself and the first man to appear on the street with an umbrella, only to be laughed and scorned at by the crowd that had never seen an umbrella before, he said self-assuredly, “You may laugh at me”, but time will soon come when “you will not only understand what the Umbrella is but … use it to the advantage of everyone of you”.
Jinnah’s prediction that posterity would come to look kindly on the umbrella he had unfurled in the form of his demand for Pakistan remains unrealised. Confusing the end result with what he had been after all along, his admirers and detractors alike hold him responsible for dismembering the unity of India.
But, then, the Pakistan that emerged in 1947 was a mere shadow of what he had wanted. Let down by his own followers, outmanoeuvred by the Congress and squeezed by Britain’s last viceroy, Jinnah was made to accept a settlement he had rejected in 1944 and 1946.
His early death in September 1948 deprived Pakistan of a much-needed steadying hand at the helm during an uncertain and perilous time. With no one of Jinnah’s stature and constitutional acumen around to read the riot act, constitutional propriety and strict adherence to the rule of law were early casualties of the withering struggle between the newly-created centre and the provinces as well as the main institutions of the state.
Repeated suspensions of the democratic process by military regimes have ensured that even after seven decades of independence, Pakistanis are bitterly disagreed on the principles and practices of constitutional government as well as the sharing of rights and responsibilities between the state and the citizen. So, while there is no denying the centrality of Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s iconographic location in Pakistani national consciousness, there is a gaping chasm between the nationalist icon and the savvy politician.
Across the 1947 divide, clashing representations of Jinnah and his politics highlight the fissures in the Indian national imaginary. The unanimous rage that exploded as Indian nationalism, whether of the ‘secular’ or the ‘communal’ variety, in the wake of Jaswant Singh’s book on the Muslim League leader is evidence of Jinnah’s negative standing in the Indian psyche.
Left to an adoring following in Pakistan and equally impassioned detractors in India, the clear-headed lawyer who never missed a cue has been reduced to a jumble of contradictions that mostly cancel each other out. Jinnah’s demonisation in the Indian nationalist pantheon as the communal monster who divided mother India contrasts with his positive representation in Pakistan as a revered son of Islam, even an esteemed religious leader (maulana), who strove to safeguard Muslim interests in India. Misleading representations of one of modern South Asia’s leading politicians might not have withstood the test of history if they did not serve the nationalist self-projections of both India and Pakistan.
Nations need heroes and Pakistanis have a right to be proud of their greatest hero. But popular memories too need to be informed by some bare facts and meaningful ideas. Fed on improbable myths and the limitations of the great men’s approach to history, Pakistanis have been constrained from engaging in an informed and open debate on whether their country merits being called Jinnah’s Pakistan. Is Jinnah at all relevant to the current Pakistani predicament?
Even the most approximate answer requires training our sights on matters that most concern Pakistanis – rule of law and a balance between state institutions that is conducive to social justice, economic opportunities and peaceful coexistence. Fed on state-sponsored national yarns about the past, Pakistanis are at a loss how to settle matters of national identity and the nature of the state – democratic or authoritarian, secular or Islamic.
The rise of Hindu majoritarianism in secular India and seemingly unending convulsions of religious bigotry amid state paralysis, if not compliance, in Islamic Pakistan is causing widespread dismay, confusion and disenchantment among a cross-section of citizens on both sides of the international border.
This is why reassessing the legacy of the man, who is universally held responsible for a partition that he had assiduously tried avoiding, is so necessary. But to do so meaningfully, one has to go beyond the simplistic distinction between the secular and the religious on which so many of the national myths of India and Pakistan are based.
There is no doubt that after the Muslim League’s election debacle in 1937, Jinnah made a conscious effort to display his Muslim identity. On key public occasions, he donned the sherwani – the traditional Muslim dress – rather than his well-tailored Western suits, and made more of an effort to appear as a mass politician. This was in some contrast to the days when his oratorical powers were restricted to the quiet of council chambers in the central legislature.
But the aloofness that characterised his earlier life did not give way to a new-found affinity with the teeming multitude. A champion of mass education as the key to the democratisation and freedom of India, Jinnah lacked the populist touch of a Gandhi.
Solitary in disposition, he used the distance between himself and his followers to command esteem and, most importantly, authority. Every bit the politician, Jinnah had a keen sense of timing and spectacle. Making the most of the adulation showered upon him by Muslims, he launched a powerful challenge against the Congress’s claim to speak on behalf of all Indians.
However, even while banding with segments of the Muslim ulema for political purposes, he remained to the core a constitutionalist with a distaste for rabble rousers who made cynical use of religion. He distanced himself from the humdrum of theological disputes about divinity, prophecy or ritual. “I know of no religion apart from human activity,” he had written to Gandhi on January 1, 1940, since it “provides a moral basis for all other activities”. Religion for him was meaningless if it did not mean identifying with the whole of mankind and “that I could not do unless I took part in politics”.
Jinnah’s expansive humanism is in stark contrast with the shocking disregard for the freedom of religious conscience in the country he created, a result of the political gamesmanship resorted to by authoritarian rulers and self-styled ideologues of Islam in post-colonial Pakistan.
In terms of his most deep-seated political values and objectives, Jinnah was remarkably consistent throughout his long and chequered political career. He had begun his journey as a Congressman seeking a share of power for Indians at the all-India centre.
Since Muslims were a minority in the limited system of representation in colonial India, he became an ardent champion of minority rights as a necessary step towards a Hindu-Muslim concordat and Congress-League cooperation. The provincial bias in British constitutional reforms after 1919 tested the resilience of a centralist politician with all-India ambitions.
As a constitutionalist of rare skill and vision, Jinnah tried reconciling communitarian and provincial interests while holding out an olive branch to the Congress. While his insistence on national status for Indian Muslims became absolute after 1940, the demand for a separate and sovereign state was open to negotiation until the late summer of 1946.
Jinnah was acutely aware that almost as many members of the Muslim nation would reside in Hindustan as in the specifically-Muslim homeland. The claim to nationhood was not an inevitable overture to completely separate statehood. An analytical distinction between a division of sovereignty within India and a partition of the provinces enables a precise understanding of the demand for a ‘Pakistan’. On achieving Pakistan, Jinnah was categorical that equal citizenship and an assurance of minority rights would form the basis of the new state.
The Quaid-i-Azam was checkmated at the end game of the Raj by the votaries of unitary and monolithic sovereignty. Yet his constitutional insights into the imperative of forging a new Indian union once the British relinquished power at the centre resonated well with a long South Asian political tradition of layered and shared sovereignties.
The four decades since the end of World War II were the heyday of indivisible sovereignty across the globe. Since the late 1980s there has been a perceptible weakening in the hold of that dogma. Jinnah’s legacy is especially pertinent to the enterprise of rethinking sovereignty in South Asia and beyond in the 21st century. If Pakistan and India can shed the deadweight of the colonial inheritance of non-negotiable sovereignty and hard borders which has been at the root of so many of their animosities, a South Asian union may yet come into being under the capacious cover of Jinnah’s metaphorical umbrella.
His expectation that Hindus quite as much as Muslims would one day bless the memory of his name remains unfulfilled. But moves in that directi on have been in evidence more recently. In 1999, the Indian prime minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, made a point of visiting the venue where the Lahore Resolution of 1940 was adopted by the Muslim League. This was followed in 2005 by Hindu nationalist leader Lal Krishna Advani’s homage to the founding father of Pakistan at his mausoleum in Karachi.
On the 141st birthday of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, it is worth recalling Bengali Congress leader Sarat Chandra Bose’s obituary comment, paying “tribute to the memory of one who was great as a lawyer, once great as a Congressman, great as a leader of Muslims, great as a world politician and diplomat and, greatest of all, as a man of action.”
The writer is Mary Richardson Professor of History and Director of the Center for South Asian and Indian Ocean Studies at Tufts University, Massachusetts, United States of America.
This story is the final part of a series of 16 special reports under the banner of ‘70 years of Pakistan and Dawn’. Visit the archive to read all reports.
*HBL has been an indelible part of the nation’s fabric since independence, enabling the dreams of millions of Pakistanis. At HBL, we salute the dreamers and dedicate the nation’s 70th anniversary to you. Jahan Khwab, Wahan HBL.*
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The enigmatic Mr Jinnah
AS the nation celebrates Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s 141st birthday, we look back at a rare collection of photographs that attempt to reveal the various facets of his personality.
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The wit and humour of the Quaid
By Hassanally A. Rahman
The following are excerpts from an article under the same headline that was published in Dawn on December 25, 1976, as part of a supplement marking the Quaid-i-Azam’s birth centenary.
ALL those who knew Quaid-i-Azam intimately, know very well that he did never crack a joke merely for the sake of raising a laugh. He was too self-controlling and disciplined a man to waste time on little things. One thing he valued most was, Time. Time, he knew, can never return. Shakespeare said: “Oh! Call back yesterday / bid time return”. But Quaid-i-Azam never had the need to do so. He used every minute of his life as carefully as he wanted to. Punctuality, keeping appointments and never wasting a moment was his second nature.
He was [once] arguing an appeal before the full bench of Bombay High Court. He argued the whole day. The working time was up to 5pm. The judges asked: “Mr. Jinnah, how much more time would you need to finish your side?” He replied: “My Lord, hardly 15 minutes.”
Then the senior judge [on the bench] said: “Could you continue for a few minutes longer today and finish your address?” Normally, when a High Court judge says so, no lawyer would decline. But not so with Mohammad Ali Jinnah. “My Lord, I would love to do so, but I have a very important appointment which I can just make in time if I leave the court at once.”
The junior-most judge sitting on the left side of the chief justice whispered to him to insist that the case be finished on the day. “That is all right, Mr. Jinnah. We also have an appointment, but we like to finish this today so that judgment can be delivered on Monday.” Out came the reply from this great lawyer, shooting like a gun: “My Lords, the difference between your Lordships and myself is that (raising his voice) I keep my appointments.”
The three judges, Engilshmen, all went more red in their face than they already were. They all rose as if in a huff. Everybody got up and while the advocates bowed fully, the judges seemed only to nod. It was thought that the solicitor, who had instructed Jinnah, felt that this may affect the result of the case. The next morning the judges appeared in a very good mood.
Mr Jinnah was absolutely on the top of the profession. Therefore, naturally many lawyers tried their best to be allowed to work with Mohammad Ali Jinnah but very few could be taken. Mr. Frank Mores, then Editor of Indian Express, once wrote: “Watch him in the court room as he argues his case. Few lawyers can command a more attentive audience. No man is more adroit in presenting his case. If to achieve the maximum result with minimum effort is the hallmark of artistry, Mr. Jinnah is an artist in his craft. He likes to get down to the bare bones of his brief in stating the essentials of his case. His manner is masterly. The drab court rooms acquire an atmosphere as he speaks. Juniors crane their necks forward to follow every movement of his tall well-groomed figure. Senior counsel listen closely, the judge is all attention; such was the great status of this top lawyer.”
Once a very close friend whose request Mr. Jinnah could not decline came with his son who had just returned from England as a full-fledged barrister. He said: “Jinnah, please take my son in your chamber and make him a good lawyer.”
“Of course, yes,” said Jinnah. “He is welcomed to work in my chambers. I will teach him all I can. But I cannot transmit my brilliance to him”. Then slowly he added: “He must make his own brilliance.” This went into the heart of the young barrister and he worked so hard on the briefs and the law that one day he too became a great lawyer, but nowhere near the height of Mr. Jinnah.
It was around 1936-37 that Quaid-i-Azam came to Karachi and appeared before the Chief Court of Sind, as it then was, and appeared in a very important case and three lawyers of Karachi appeared against him. He had made a name as a lawyer long ago and in politics also he figured as a giant personality.
Consequently the rush to the court room consisting of lawyers, students and politicians was so great that the court room was full to the brim. The entrance to the court room had to be closed to stop any noise, so that judicial work could be carried on with a decorum and dignity befitting the occasion. But at the end of every hour, the door was ordered to be opened so that those who wanted to go out or come in could do so. When the first opening of the door at 12 O’clock occurred there was such a noise of rush that it appeared that the judges would lose their temper.
“My Lords,” said Jinnah in very sweet, melodious voice, “these are my admirers. Please do not mind. I hope you are not jealous.”
There was a beam of smile on the faces of judges and they appeared to be magnetically charmed by the words of the great persuasive man. The door remained opened and Quaid-i-Azam looked back on the crowd, raising his left hand indicating that he desired them to keep quiet. The atmosphere became absolute pin-drop silence as if by magic. The case proceeded for two days.
Quaid and students
The Quaid-i-Azam was fond of students. He loved them immensely. He always exhorted them to study hard. “Without education”, he said, “all is darkness. Seek the light of Education”. In particular, he was most attached to the Aligarh Muslim students. He used to visit the Aligarh University as often as he could. In fact, in his will, he left the entire residue of his property worth crores of rupees to be shared by the Aligarh University, Sind Madressah and Islamia College, Peshawar.
On one occasion at Aligarh after a hard day’s work of meeting people, addressing the students as he was sitting in a relaxed mood, he was told that one student, Mohammad Noman, was a very fine artist of mimicry. He could impersonate and talk or make a speech with all the mannerism of his subject. Quaid-i-Azam was told that this student could impersonate him to such a degree that if heard with closed eyes, Quaid-i-Azam will think that it was he himself who was speaking and he will think as if he himself was talking to Quaid-i-Azam.
Quaid-i-Azam sent for the student at once. The student asked for 10 minutes’ time to prepare himself. After 10 minutes the student turned up dressed in dark gray Sherwani, a Jinnah cap and a monocle, like Quaid-i-Azam. Of course, he could not look like Quaid-i-Azam, but the appearance on the whole was somewhat similar.
Then the student put on his monocle and addressed an imaginary audience. The voice, the words, the gestures, the look on his face and everything appeared like Quaid-i-Azam. In fact, if he had spoken behind a screen without being seen, the audience would have taken him to be Quaid-i-Azam speaking himself. Quaid-i-Azam was very much pleased with the performance. But when it was finished, the culmination came unexpectedly. Quaid-i-Azam took off his own cap and monocle and presented to the student, saying: “Now this will make it absolutely authentic.”
In November, 1947, Quaid-i-Azam was in Lahore and he personally supervised operation of the rehabilitation of refugees. One day Quaid-i-Azam was invited to a girls college. The girls and ladies of the staff did not observe purdah as he addressed them.
When back at Government House, Quaid-i-Azam was in a humorous mood and wanted to know why the ladies did not observe purdah. His sister, Miss Fatima Jinnah, said: “That was because they regarded you as an old man.”
“That is not a compliment to me,” said Quaid-i-Azam. Liaquat Ali Khan, who was present, said: “That was because they regarded you as a father”.
“Yes, that makes some sense.”
Man of character
Quaid-i-Azam was a man of such a strong character that he could not be easily attracted toward anyone, including women. Excepting his wife, there is no instance whatsoever of anyone at whom he glanced in love.
Once in Bombay, where he had gone to an English club to relax after hard day’s work, he played cards. The game was called Forfeit. It was played among four persons – two gentlemen and two ladies. Tradition required that the lady who lost the game must offer to be kissed by the gentlemen who won. The lady indeed was very attractive and she offered Quaid-i-Azam to be kissed by him.
Quaid-i-Azam said: “My lady, I waived my rights. I cannot kiss a lady unless I fall in love with her.”
Rose between thorns
On the 14th day of August, 1947, Lord Mountbatten with his wife came to Karachi for the investiture ceremony of the Governor-General of Pakistan. After Quaid-i-Azam was sworn in, the new State of Pakistan was handed over to him legally, constitutionally and with proper ceremony.
Lord Mountbatten proposed that Quiad-i-Azam be photographed with Lord and Lady Mountbatten. Quaid took it for granted, that, as usual etiquette requires, the lady will stand between the gentlemen. So he told Lady Mountbatten: “Now you will be photographed as the rose between the two thorns”. But Mountbatten insisted that Jinnah should stand in the middle. He said that being a Governor-General etiquette requires that Quaid-i-Azam should be in the centre. Naturally, Quaid-i-Azam yielded.
And when Quaid-i-Azam stood between the two, Mountbatten said to him: “Now you are the rose between two thorns.” He was right.
Whenever Quaid-i-Azam was cornered in a difficult situation, he proved greater than his opponent. His political enemies always wanted to publicise that Quaid-i-Azam was always with the Congress, but when the opportunity came he switched over to Muslim League.
In December, 1940, Quaid-i-Azam visited London along with the Viceroy and Congress leaders. He furnished details about Pakistan issue and quoted facts and figures as to how the Congress had betrayed the trust of the Muslims. One correspondent said to him: “Oh, you were also in the Congress once.” Jinnah retorted: “Oh, my dear friend, at one time I was in a primary school as well!”
In 1946, political agitation both by Congress and Muslim League had reached its zenith. The British government, always master of the art of side-tracking the main issue, suggested to Jawaharlal Nehru that as very soon India will be handed over to them, so as a beginning some Hindus and some Muslims should be taken in the Interim Cabinet. Before that there was no such thing. The body which was functioning was the Viceroy’s Executive Council. But Jawaharlal Nehru insisted that it should be called a Cabinet. Example was shown that the Viceroy himself calls it a Cabinet.
Quaid-i-Azam refused to do so. He said the Cabinet is a constitutional body the members of which are selected from the members of Parliament by the leader of majority. Here, there is no such thing. It is purely an Executive Council and it cannot become a Cabinet merely because you call it a Cabinet. A donkey does not become an elephant because you call it an elephant.
Call for honesty
Gandhi always used to speak about his inner voice. He seemed to create an impression that there is something spiritual within him, which, in time of necessity, gives him guidance and he obeys it and calls it his inner voice. As a matter of fact Gandhi often changed his opinion and suddenly took the opposite stand. Quaid-i-Azam called it a somersault.
Once having committed himself to a certain point of view, he took a dramatically opposite stance. On the next day, Gandhi maintained that his inner voice dictated him to take the opposite view. Quaid-i-Azam lost his temper and shouted: “To hell with this Inner Voice. Why can’t he be honest and admit that he had made a mistake.”
In June 1947, partition was announced by Lord Mountbatten. He insisted on an immediate acceptance of the plan. Quaid-i-Azam said he was not competent to convey acceptance of his own accord and that he had to consult his Working Committee. The Viceroy said that if such was his attitude, the Congress would refuse acceptance and Muslim League would lose its Pakistan. Quaid-i-Azam shrugged his shoulders and said: “What must be, must be.”
In July 1948, Mr. M. A. H. Ispahani went to Ziarat where Quaid-i-Azam was seriously ill. He pleaded with Quaid-i-Azam that he should take complete rest as his life was most precious. Quaid-i-Azam smiled and said: “My boy there was a time when soon after partition and until 1948, I was worried whether Pakistan would survive. Many unexpected and terrible shocks were administered by India soon after we parted company with them. But we pulled through and nothing will ever worry us so much again.
“I have no worries now. Men may come and men may go. But Pakistan is truly and firmly established and will go on with Allah’s grace forever”.
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Jinnah in the eyes of his colleagues
Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan
HONESTY without humbug – an honesty which even his severest critics have never called in question; an honesty which seeks no shelter in sanctimonious spiritual impedimenta; which abjures alike the halo and the high place, the beard and the bargain, the mystic voice and the money value – an unemotional shrewdness which strips facts down to their naked reality, but makes him pace the floor till the early hours of the morning examining and re-examining, weighing and valuing each detail of the decision upon which the very life or death of his people might depend – perseverance which recognises no obstacle as unsurmountable; intellectual acumen which can see the whole in detail and the detail as part of the whole – such is the man and statesman, the Quaid-i-Azam of ninety million Indian Muslims, the Disraeli of Indian politics – Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
Haji Abdullah Haroon
JINNAH is the uncrowned king of Muslim India. In the Islamic world as a whole, he happens to be the greatest Muslim statesman of this age. In the matter of service to Islam his record is great and glorious. In the future history of Muslim India he will figure as a great benefactor of Mussalmans. He created awakening among the Muslims of India and brought them under one banner at a most critical time in their history when they were about to meet with the same fate which had met the unfortunate Dravidians some centuries ago. He is the founder of a new India in which all nations can live happily together. May God give him long life.
MUSLIM India will be celebrating the birthday of the Quaid-i-Azam in a manner befitting the occasion; his name has become known to the Muslims of India and even beyond its borders to the Muslims of the world. His lifelong service to the community and devotion to the cause of Islam have rightly won him his unique position. In nationalist quarters he once occupied a respectable place but is now considered to be a separationist and a communalist of the worst order. Time alone will testify whether his politics of today is not in the interest of peace and goodwill of the communities in the future.
Qazi Muhammad Isa
OUR beloved and esteemed Quaid-i-Azam, Mohammad Ali Jinnah is at this most critical time in the history of the world moulding the destinies of ninety million Muslims, who live unitedly, as never before under the banner of the mighty Muslim organisation – the All-India Muslim League.
Our beloved Quaid-i-Azam at the 1940 Annual Session of the All-India Muslim league, held at Lahore, sounded a clarion call, and exhorted us all to gather under the banner of the League, and laid down in a clear and no uncertain manner the line of action which the Muslim Nation must take to ensure its honourable existence in India.
God has come to our rescue, and gifted us with a leader, great in trials, mature in his judgement, infinite in his affections for his fellow Muslims, and who stands like the premonitory, who not only stands four square to all the waves of intrigues and hatred, but against whom all these waves are repelled.
Raja Sahib of Mehmoodabad
HE is our teacher, preceptor and guide – that is how we of the younger generation regard our great Quaid. He received our allegiance and, having received it, taught us what true and honest politics is; and has guided us on the right political path. He has steered our mind clear of pseudo-nationalism to a right perception of the implications of that patriotism for the Indian Muslim which, while not forgetting the true interests of the Motherland, holds fast to Islam; and above all he has, by making it his own by the clarity of his exposition and the irrefutability of his arguments, given an irresistible momentum to that life-giving movement – the movement for the creation of sovereign Muslim States in those parts of India where Islam pervades i.e. Eastern and North Western India. May he live long to see the consummation of this inspiring ideal.
Shah Nawaz Khan
I DEEM it a great pleasure to express my deep appreciation for the noble services rendered by Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah in the cause of the upliftment of the Muslim masses. He commands the confidence of 90 million Indian Musalmans, who look to him for guidance and are ready to do anything which the Quaid-i-Azam orders them to do. His name is a watchword in every village and town of my province and I take the liberty to assert that no Muslim leader has, so far, commanded that much respect or confidence of the Muslim masses like the Quaid-i-Azam.
Sirdar M. Aurangzeb Khan
WHEN Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar was being removed on a stretcher to the boat which was to take him to England for the First Round Table Conference, ardent disciples asked him as to who after him was to lead Muslim politics in India in the stormy times ahead. “Mr Jinnah and none else,” he prayerfully blurted out... “If great God puts it in Mr Jinnah’s head to take up the job.”
I may be permitted to at once connect Dr Iqbal’s last wish with the prayer of Muhammad Ali. In the annual meeting of Bazm-e-Iqbal last March when Mr Jinnah was presiding, Sir Abdul Qadir read a passage from a letter of Dr Iqbal to a friend (that friend during Doctor Saheb’s last illness wrote to him praying for his speedy recovery) and pray listen to the reply of the Poet of the East:
“My message has been duly delivered. My time is up. Instead of praying for me you should pray for the lives of Ataturk and Mr Jinnah who have yet to fulfil their missions.”
Sir Sikandar Hyat Khann
I ASSOCIATE myself whole-heartedly with the celebrations of the 64th birthday of Mr Jinnah. His unique services to the Mussalmans and to India entitle him to the respect and admiration of all patriotic Indians; and so far as the Muslims are concerned, his contribution, at this psychological moment, has deservedly earned him the title of Quaid-i-Azam. Even his worst critics cannot but recognise his great ability, integrity and sense of public duty. May he live long to complete the organisation of the Mussalmans, so that with the other elements in the country they may contribute their best in the building up of a new India wherein the best in the culture and life of each section may be fully safeguarded and effectively guaranteed, and no class or party tyranny may be permitted.
I WISH to begin with a frank confession. Not many years ago, the politics of Mr Jinnah did not quite appeal to me and I was inclined to be skeptical of the ideals which Mr Jinnah was holding up before the Muslims of India. It did not, however, take long for me, like many others, to realise that the lead which Mr Jinnah was giving in 1936 was the only correct lead in the circumstances rapidly developing in the country.
If today, 90 million Muslims now stand shoulder to shoulder in a solid phalanx under the banner of the All-India Muslim League, if machinations to reduce Muslims to the position of a perpetual and powerless minority depending for their very lives on the mercy of others have failed, the credit goes primarily to one man: Mohammad Ali Jinnah. This is no mean achievement.
Sir Cowasji Jahangir
IF there is one characteristic, more than another, which distinguishes Mr Jinnah in public life, it is his sturdy independence. Nothing will sidetrack him from what he considers is the path of truth, righteousness and equity. No amount of opposition, no threats and no danger will daunt him, in his determination. He is a man full of courage and tenacity. He has never put self or his own interests before those of his country. Such men are rarely found in public life. He stands today not only as the acknowledged leader of the millions of his community but also as one of the foremost men in the public life of India. May Providence continue to give him health and strength to serve India in general and his great community in particular.
Nawab M. Ismail Khan
MR Jinnah’s sagacity, penetrating intellect, rapid grasp of the most intricate problems and luminous insight coupled with calmness of temper and complete personal disinterestedness have enabled him to rise to that unique and pre-eminent position among the Mussalmans of India, which no other Muslim leader in recent years, however great his services, and however high his personal quality, has held among his fellow Muslims.
For the past few years by organising the Mussalmans politically under the banner of Muslim League, he has succeeded in infusing into them a spirit of self-reliance and self-respect, and has thus saved them from the doom which threatens every nation split up in small factions of warring political creeds and ideologies.
Sir Hormasji Pherozshah Modi
MR. Jinnah has long been one of the dominant figures of our political life. His has been a chequered career, with many apparent contradictions, but throughout it certain fundamental charac-teristics have stood out. He is fearless and straightforward, seeks no popularity and is singularly free from political intrigue. He is a lone figure; very few have really known him or have penetrated the armour of his aloofness. An arresting personality – one may dislike or condemn, but cannot ignore him – his contribution to the political life of India has been outstanding. As one who has known Mr Jinnah for many years, I can wish him nothing better than that he may long continue to occupy the place he has created for himself.
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Stringent measures for a dangerous lot
By I.A. Rehman
THE plethora of laws used to chastise, tame and punish newspapers and journalists during the 70 years of independence suggests that they have all along been considered dangerous institutions and individuals. That may also be the reason why Pakistan ranks high among the countries considered dangerous for media persons.
What follows is not a complete list of actions taken to punish the Press and journalists, but a selection of such actions is used to identify the means (laws, etc.):
During 1947-58, the Public Safety Act and the Security Act were used to arrest editors/publishers/printers, to punish them or force closure of their publications, or the press laws were invoked to strangulate newspapers by cancelling their declarations. The cases representative of these trends are: The arrest of Faiz Ahmad Faiz and Amir Husain Shah, editor and publisher of Imroze, in May 1948 under the Safety Act for publishing a story that was said to have defamed a DSP, and banning of Al-Wahid (Sukkur) for six months and its editor’s arrest. The Safety Act was used to guillotine daily Sarhad (Peshawar) by arresting its editor and cancelling its declaration. In 1949, the Civil & Military Gazette was closed down for six months for publishing a report about a possible division of Kashmir.
The extent to which a government could go to destroy a newspaper was revealed in the Nawa-i-Waqt case of 1951. First the printer’s declaration was cancelled, followed by the cancellation of the publisher’s declaration. Subsequently, its name was allotted to someone else and an attempt to appear under a different name (Al-Jehad) was foiled. The high court ended the ignoble charade after several months.
Daily Inquilab was forced to close down by denying it advertisements and newsprint quota. The Safety Act was used to kill Safina (Lahore) and Mr. Durrani, editor of Istiqlal (Quetta), was arrested under the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR). The journalists detained for trade union activities included Ahmad Ali Khan, Zaheer Babar, Hamid Hashmi, Mumtaz Husain and Ghayurul Islam.
The Ayub regime (1958-69) imprisoned editors of Imroze, Lail-o-Nahar and The Pakistan Times, Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi, Sibte Hasan and Faiz Ahmd Faiz, soon after Martial Law was proclaimed. In April 1959 the regime seized the Progressive Papers Ltd, the publishers of these publications, and escaped judicial censure by amending the Security Act.
The regime combined the existing Press laws, the Press and Registration of Books of 1867 and the Press (Emergency Powers) Act, into harsher laws under the banner of the Press and Publication Ordinances of 1960 and 1963.
The victims of Martial Law regulations included editors Mohammad Hasan Nizami (Tanzeem) and Waliullah Ahad (Kainat). The Defence of Pakistan Rules (DPR) were used to imprison Shorish Kashmiri and ban his weekly Chattan in 1966 and 1967. Salamat Ali of The Pakistan Times was hauled up under the Official Secrets Act.
The Yahya regime (1969-71) used Martial Law Regulations (MLRs) to imprison Najibullah and Shams Ghani of Pakistan Observer and Abdullah Malik of Azad.
The Bhutto government (1971-77) imprisoned Husain Naqi and Muzaffar Qadir (weekly Punjab Punch), Altaf Husain Qureshi and Ejaz Husain Qureshi (Urdu Digest), and Mujibur Rahman Shami (Zindagi), and the military court also barred them from ever becoming editors, publishers or printers.
DPR victims included Altaf Gauhar, editor of Dawn, daily Sun Karachi (declaration cancelled), Salahuddin, and Qasim Bughio (Jasarat), and daily Elan (banned) and its editor M. Akhtar (detained).
Gen. Ziaul Haq went after the Press and journalists with a vengeance. More than a hundred journalists and activists were sentenced to prison terms by military courts and four journalists – Khawar Naeem Hashmi, Nasir Zaidi, Iqbal Jafri and Masudullah Khan – were awarded 10 lashes each. The first three were whipped straightaway while Masudallah was spared because of infirmity. SGM Badruddin, Zaheer Kashmiri and Jamilur Rahman, all of Musawat, were sentenced to prison terms under MLR 33; others arrested under the same MLR included Bashir Rana and Iftikhar Husain of Sadaqat and Ayaz Amir of Muslim.
Mazhar Ali Khan and Husain Naqi of Viewpoint and Mahmud Sham of Mayar were booked under the Official Secrets Act. In October 1979, Gen Zia closed down half-a-dozen newspapers and imposed pre-censorship on all publications that remained in force in some cases until 1983. In 1981 almost the entire staff of Viewpoint and Al-Fatah was detained.
After the Zia regime in 1988, the governments of Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif in the centre and of Jam Sadiq Ali in Sindh continued using Press & Publication Ordinance (PPO) and Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) Ordinance to control the Press. A case under the Anti-Terrorism Act was registered against Maliha Lodhi, Shakilur Rahman and Saeed Ahmad of The News. Five editors of Karachi eveningers were booked under section 505 of PPC (libel), and 10-year imprisonment was awarded to Sailab Mehsud in South Waziristan under the FCR.
From the mid-1980s till 1999 the greater threat to the Press and journalists came from political factions and non-state actors who attacked journalists, prevented the circulation of newspapers, burnt houses and killed quite a few journalists.
During the last about 15 years the relatively less violent means of dealing with the Press and journalists have been replaced with enforced disappearance and killing of journalists. The unofficial figure of journalists killed since 2000 exceeds 140 while the Committee to Protect Journalists has confirmed the killing of 60 journalists in Pakistan from December 4, 1994, to February 12, 2017.
The writer is a senior political analyst and human rights activist.
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The fifty commandments under Zia
In the turbulent years (1980-81) over 400 ‘Thou shalt nots ….’ plagued the press, a selection of 50 appears below:
01, March 11, 1980: A news agency report saying ‘Gen Zia has crushed an attempted coup and arrested 26 army officers involved’, should not be published.
02, June 10, 1980: No criticism of Zakat and Usher Ordinance announced by Gen Zia.
03, Aug 3, 1980: A court verdict on Bohra Dai’s (spiritual leader) petition can’t be published.
04, Aug 3, 1980: Resignation by Islamic Council members. Not to be published.
05, Aug 3, 1980: Political parties have decided to take direct action. Story stands killed.
06, Aug 4, 1980: ‘People rely on BBC’. Zia’s reference during his talk with the Press is to be deleted.
07, Aug 9, 1980: Qadianis are exempted from Zakat. Report should not be published.
08, Aug 9, 1980: No news of protest by Iranian students outside the US consulates in Karachi and Rawalpindi is to be published.
09, Aug 9, 1980: No political speeches delivered at Iftar parties are to be published.
10, Aug 11, 1980: Nazir Abbasi, a student leader, died in prison. Only take a filler [one paragraph] or with a small headline.
11, Aug 21, 1980: An appeal to observe protest against riots in India. It should not be taken.
12, Aug 22, 1980: President Zia said that members of the newly constituted Ulema Board will have wider powers than federal ministers. Please delete this portion.
13, Sept 2, 1980: A trainer plane of the Pakistan Army crashed at the Lahore Airport killing the pilot and a Wing Commander. News stands killed.
14, Sept 10, 1980: A smugglers’ gang has been arrested in Lahore whose leader is an ex-army man. Kill the story.
15, Sept 10, 1980: Fresh mob raid on Pakistan Embassy in Delhi; kill APP story.
16, Sept 15, 1980: Baloch leaders’ return from the hills to be highlighted.
17, Sept 15, 1980: Play up the story of today’s Mashaikh conference.
18, Nov 16, 1980: Report of S M Zafar’s petition in the Lahore High Court against censorship of his book should not be published.
19, Nov 20, 1980: No mention of Kashmir in the CMLA’s answers to newsmen in Quetta.
20, Dec 19, 1980: All handouts on military court sentences, floggings, must be published regularly.
21, Feb 10, 1981: Student politics at the Karachi campus. No coverage.
22, Feb 11, 1981: Assault on a US lady diplomat in Pindi. No report is to be taken.
23, March 3, 1981: PIA hijacking: at most second lead; only APP version; no comments.
24, March 22, 1981: Two buses were set on fire in Karachi. Kill the story.
25, March 22, 1981: Fifteen Ulema have jointly criticised the Shariat Court judgment on Rajm and Zina. Kill the story.
26, March 30, 1981: No coverage of any political activity.
27, April 18, 1981: Reports say after drinking Haleji Lake water some children fell ill and were hospitalised. Kill the story.
28, May 4, 1981: Flower-petals were showered on President Zia in Lahore by girl students. No news or picture.
29, May 5, 1981: Delete two passages from the President’s speech: a) Hukumat ke chamche, b) people are fed up with the old faces.
30, May 16, 1981: Certain cabinet ministers have been expelled by their parties. No report or comments.
May 23, 1981: No news about Khalistan is to be published.
32, June 7, 1981: A firing incident has occurred at a function addressed by the Information Minister. Kill the story.
33, June 10, 1981: Gen. Zia’s interview with BBC, in its Sairbeen programme, should not be published. (The General said he would ‘hold elections under a system suited to the temperament of the people’).
34, June 11, 1981: Hamid Baloch was hanged in Quetta Jail. Story stands killed.
35, June 25, 1981: Give prominent display to statements hailing the national budget.
36, June 28, 1981: No coverage of statement issued by some women’s associations.
37, Aug 4, 1981: Two Pakistani army officers reached Al-Zulfikar HQ in Kabul; one was killed, another escaped. Kill the story.
38, Aug 10, 1981: A report about breaches in Sukkur Barrage should not be published.
39, Aug 14, 1981: Photograph of Begum Zia can be published only with dupatta on.
40, Aug 18, 1981: Nasir Achkazai will be hanged on August 21. No coverage.
41, Aug 24, 1981: Afghan foreign minister, Shah Mohammad Dost, today renewed appeals to Pakistan and Iran to agree to direct talks with Kabul. Kill the story.
42, Aug 24, 1981: Punjab Finance Minister Nawaz Sharif’s statement saying that liquor shops for non-Muslims would be opened throughout the country should not be published.
43, Aug 29, 1981: A military court at Khuzdar found some persons guilty of anti-national activities and plotting to murder government functionaries. They were sentenced to death, and hanged. This report should not be published.
44, Aug 31, 1981: A car of Sindh Governor House has met with an accident. The item should not go.
45, Sept 4, 1981: Defence Day supplement may be devoted to articles of a general nature about the activities of the armed forces, but not the 1965 war.
46, Sept 8, 1981: Sanam Bhutto’s marriage is not to be reported.
47, Sept 16, 1981: PPI’s story on Indira Gandhi’s interview: give good display.
48, Sept 24, 1981: An order from an Islamabad magistrate, banning entry in Islamabad of journalists’ leader, Minhaj Barna, for sixty days, should not be taken.
49, Sept 25, 1981: Ch. Zahur Elahi’s murder: only APP story is to be taken. Take Zia’s message also.
50, Nov 7, 1981: A students’ raid on the censor’s office in Karachi. The item should not be taken.
The random selection of Press Advices, reflective of the censorship during the Zia regime, has been made from Zamir Niazi’s book ‘The Web of Censorship’.
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Opening up windows in a fortress
By Saleem Asmi
THE newspaper was already a fortress when I stepped into the office of the Editor at Dawn in early 2000. It wasn’t easy as I was replacing the venerable Ahmad Ali Khan who had been there for more than a quarter of a century and had his mark stamped on just about everything – from editorial discretion to the manner in which Dawn journalists were expected to behave. And it was hard to tweak what had already been a success. In fact, there was no point fixing what was not broken. Maintaining the status quo was apparently a viable option. A Hobson’s choice.
But times were changing. Actually they had already changed. Dawn had flourished for the most part in an era where the competition had been of low intensity ever since the Pakistan Times in Lahore and the Morning News in Karachi had been taken over by the state-owned National Press Trust (NPT). But then The News came out from multiple stations with multiple value-added satellite products followed by The Nation and, then, The Daily Times. There were new challenges and we needed to do anything but status quo. It was still a Hobson’s choice.
The former two of the newspapers named above had come out in the 1990s when I was the News Editor. The Dawn transformation, as such, was a gradual phenomenon. We realised that we could no longer continue to dedicate the front page exclusively to foreign news. The localisation of our coverage – especially in terms of news display – took some time; and this time was spent shedding the baggage of self-censorship that had crept in during the long and tough Ziaul Haq years.
It was an effort, I remember, to convince the editorial leadership at the time to have news reports and, indeed, a photograph of some national significance on the front page. We had apparently mastered the art of saying between the lines during the censorship years to such an extent that even when we had no more fetters to worry about, we didn’t know what to do with our freedom.
I had my own reasons to feel confident about treading the path, but, as I said, not everybody was willing to get onboard. The good thing is that professional competition was working on my side and Dawn started to take some hesitant, though not reluctant, steps. The Dateline series that was initiated for our district correspondents was a major step towards broadening the scope of news coverage. They had their linguistic limitations but then there are always sub-editors to fine-tune the raw copies. It takes some doing, but that precisely is our job, I would often find myself telling the naysayer in that phase.
Layout and design were not areas that Dawn editorial had ever felt enamoured with. So it was, again, a hassle to go for bigger pictures with four-colour printing, background screens, reverse headlines and even playing around with the column width. Today, they are all part of everyday life at Dawn, but those were different times and it’s funny that I am only talking about things that happened just about two decades ago.
Another turnaround that I thought was necessary and long overdue was the coverage of Human Rights. This apparently was a fallout from the Zia days when the state itself was against giving anybody any right and that explained its distaste for any coverage on that count. It made editorial sense to me to stop publishing press releases coming from entities that were practically one-man parties, and use it for the real stories related to abuse of rights.
And when things were so grey in the domain of Human Rights, one can well imagine what it would be like for Art and Culture. Their coverage was practically considered beneath out editorial dignity. But changing times came to my aid again and we were able to walk this road as well. In the domain of magazines, Gallery was a full-scale publication dedicated to the subjects and it was well-received. It had its share of critical acclaim. Today when I see such coverage consuming ample space – sometimes beyond that – on Metropolitan and National pages of Dawn, a wry smile is what I often end up with.
Talking of magazines, Books&Authors was something I really feel very happy about. Book reviews and excerpts had been a part of Dawn for long, but they were rather scattered and abrupt. By bringing them under one umbrella, along with Urdu-language titles and inclusion of authors in terms of their direct contributions and interviews, struck a chord almost immediately with the audience. When we slightly adjusted the focus by encouraging fiction over current affairs, it was like shedding another piece of editorial arrogance.
But while indulging in all these acts of rather ‘soft’ journalism, there was no compromise on the staple diet of hard news that is part and parcel of any newspaper worth its name. The interview of Osama bin Laden we published in November 2001 was a World Exclusive and was quoted widely and wildly across the globe.
It was his first interview with any journalist since the infamous 9/11 and he had a lot to say to the West. Publishing it was a tough call to make as the Editor, but I think the right call was made. The same applied to the decision to publish the complete report of the controversial Hamoodur Rahman Commission. It was some vindication of the decision when other newspapers followed suit.
With the changing of times around the turn of the century – millennium, actually – it was also time to adjust the workflow at Dawn and it was just in the fitness of things that we went through a process of internal devolution of authority where section heads were encouraged to act like team leaders and take their own decisions.
I quite cherish a remark that was narrated to me by Zohra Yusuf, a Dawn friend, who quoted Zubeida Mustafa, a very senior member of the Dawn family, as telling her that I was opening up windows in what had for long been a fortress. If I was able to do that, I guess my job was done.
The writer is a former Editor of Dawn.
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Chronicling Pakistan’s political economy
By M. Ziauddin
OVER the last quarter of a century, Dawn Economic and Business Review (EBR), a weekly pink-page supplement, has been serving as a chronicler of Pakistan’s political economy. The term ‘political economy’ has been traditionally defined, firstly, as the interrelationship involving political power, society and the economy, and, secondly, as the macroeconomic situation and public policies that decied how public finances are raised and how the State spends them.
To these two components could be added the competitive standing of a country vis-à-vis others in the global trading system in terms of, say, its exchange rate and trade relations. The organisation and structure of its agriculture, industry and services would also become relevant in terms of the pattern of ownership. Finally, the framework of law and practices that govern the economy also has a bearing on political economy issues.
Feudal culture, patronage and rent-seeking largely underpin the political economy of Pakistan.
EBR’s launch in 1982 was a pioneering editorial attempt as until then daily newspapers in Pakistan had kept the subject relegated mostly to spot economic stories and that too confined mostly to inside pages and limited to columns even fewer in number than what were being devoted to sport stories.
Those who conceived the idea and implemented it – the then Editor of Dawn, Ahmad Ali Khan, and SGM Badruddin, who was in charge of the new section – were academically and professionally more than well-equipped to launch such an innovative media enterprise. And the editorial policy of EBR at the time of its advent was seemingly influenced by the self-confessed and well-known left-of-centre political predispositions of these two giants of Pakistani journalism. To begin with, the EBR, therefore, looked at the issues of political economy through the prism of the voiceless, the downtrodden and with a pronounced sense of social and distributive justice.
The EBR started promoting from day one the concept of regulated market economy and what is today called inclusive growth, safety nets, poverty alleviation and social spending. At the same time the weekly editorially opposed dole-dependence and policies that increased inequality between people and regions.
It was around this time that the international debate about economic systems – state-managed socialism or liberal democracy and capitalism – seemed to have been settled. By the time the Soviet Union collapsed, the case was closed. However, since then, the rise of China has belied the view that a state-led strategy will always fail, and the global financial crisis exposed the perils of inadequately regulated markets and crass capitalism.
Ghayurul Islam, who succeeded Badruddin in 1990, and Jawaid Bokhari, who succeeded the latter in 1993-94, were also from the school of economic thought to which their predecessors had belonged. As such, the two had no difficulty in continuing with the coverage of political economy based on the editorial policy originally envisaged for the weekly.
The current person in charge, who succeeded Bokhari in 2017, Afshan Subohi, had joined the EBR as an internee in 1984. One, therefore, presumes she has walked into the slot knowing very well its demands and of course mindful also of the geo-economic challenges that the country in particular and the world at large are facing currently.
The 1980s were the years of ‘no politics’ as commanded by General Ziaul Haq. But there was no ban on covering economic developments as long as the coverage was confined to straight reporting sans political angles.
Most of the economy in those days was under the public sector. Even the profit margins in the limited private-sector activities were being determined by the government. There was a blanket ban on access to official economic data. Even the rate of inflation was treated as national secret. At the official level the exchange rate was treated not as an economic issue but something linked to our national pride.
The decisions taken by the federal and provincial cabinets, the ECC and the NEC were also treated as sacred secrets; and deals with IMF, the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and the Paris Club were similarly treated.
So, economic journalism by and large during the decade of 1980s and good part of the 1990s was too cramped; limited to publishing government handouts and verbatim accounts of press conferences by official economic managers and ministers.
Those were indeed testing times for the Press as it was being regulated under the infamous Press and Publication Ordinance (PPO) imposed in 1963 by General Ayub Khan and burnished in 1980s by General Zia’s censorship and a special law which stipulated that even if what had published was the truth and in the national interest, the journalist concerned would be liable to be tried under the law if the military dictator so wished.
It was in these troubling times that the EBR started testing the limits on Press freedom with its interpretative stories. They were mostly investigative reports based on facts but were invariably incomplete because of the strategically placed stonewalls on the way to complete truth. The government rarely challenged these incomplete truths fearing that perhaps a public debate would expose the policy weaknesses.
This highly secretive style of governance had given rise to a lucrative economic information market which those unscrupulous elements in the civil service, who were privy to this information, exploited to the hilt for making an extra buck by selling it clandestinely to the interested private parties.
From Islamabad the EBR reported on economic policies, macroeconomic indicators and management of public-sector units. In Karachi, the EBR focussed on banking, financial institutions and the performance of major public-sector units. A close watch was kept on provincial economies as well. Developments in the agriculture sector were covered from Lahore but only occasionally.
Even with all those restrictions curbing its style, the EBR succeeded in bringing out in those largely blind days for the Press a complete political economy dossier week after week, containing fairly comprehensive international, regional and national market data of commodities and exchange rates, national and international macroeconomic indicators and official development information on agricultural, industrial, commercial and financial sectors.
For sources, the EBR correspondents depended mostly on official international and national data, research departments of nationalised banks and the Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (FPCCI) as well as the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP). Budget documents, annual Economic Surveys of Pakistan, SBP reports and five-year-plan documents also provided the back-up.
During the first two decades following its launch, EBR staffers, when confronted with the said stonewalls, would be left with no alternative but to tap cooperative insiders and willing whistle- blowers for vital information and relevant documentary evidence. And at times they would also willingly refuse to resist when tempted with an opportunity to surreptitiously pocket documents lying around in some unguarded corner of the officialdom. Some of us were also known to have made handsome payments from personal pockets for documentary information.
Space limitation does not permit recalling here all those ‘excellent exclusives’ that the EBR weekly broke over the last 25 years on its pink pages, which at times were called by its detractors ‘yellow pages’ to perhaps liken the content with yellow journalism as occasionally in attempts at testing the limits the EBR staffers would turn their exclusives into pieces reading like crime stories.
Once during an exclusive EBR editorial meeting, Khan Sahib, the Editor, mentioned that seniors looking after the white pages (regular daily newspaper) were asking him why he would not allow them the same freedom as he had given to those working for the pink pages. Quick came an offer from colleague Babar Ayaz in a lighter vein: “Even better, Khan Sahib, let our team manage the white pages as well!” Some of us were later actually given editorial responsibilities on white pages. But that is another story.
Contributions of Babar and the late Sabihuddin Ghausi of the original EBR weekly staff generously reflected their left-of-centre ideological leanings, but they would never ever be found slanting an analysis or interpretation to suit their ideological bent. Another member of the original team, Shaheen Sehbai, possessed a keen eye for the mountains camouflaged in molehills and was very good at coining catchy phrases and using colourfully descriptive epithets when discussing newsy characters and events.
It did not take long for EBR to establish itself as a well-regarded weekly notice board of Pakistan’s political economy, and gained in the process quality readership as those who controlled its editorial policy had kept an extra-careful watch all along over the integrity and credibility of its content.
Khan Sahib would be ruthless with those of us who would break, even accidently or by mistake, his rigorous codes of integrity and credibility. On the other hand, he would not let the management take liberties with his staff nor would he entertain complaints from the government against any of his reporters. Therein lies a critical component behind the success that EBR achieved.
The writer is Dawn*’s former Resident Editor at Islamabad.**
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Darkly, through a decade of disquiet
By Ghazi Salahuddin
A FEW weeks after Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s execution, I drove to his grave with my family. In Larkana, Benazir was receiving people who were coming for condolences. A Sindhi-language journalist led us into her presence. When informed that I was in Dawn, she apparently was not very pleased and said the meeting was not to be reported.
But when I told her my name and said that I wrote ‘Karachi Diary’, everything suddenly changed. She called a friend rather excitedly: “Come, come”. And I felt extremely flattered when she quoted some sentences from my recent columns.
This was an exceptional instance of the kind of feedback that Karachi Diary would occasionally provoke during those days of pain and anxiety. Almost the entire nation was in a state of bereavement. Readers of Dawn, drawn from more literate and more enlightened segments of society, were particularly irked by that drift towards militant obscurantism.
Since those days of the long night of Ziaul Haq’s Martial Law are now slipping out of living memory, I sometimes try to awaken the interest of the present generation of our youth in the historical significance of that period. A valid point of reference is the role of the media in its abiding pursuit of freedom and the ability to portray the pulsating reality of the moment.
But the media itself is the mirror of how things have changed. It has risen to new depths of depravity. Besides, because of our pathological disdain for history, we do not much care about the choices we have made as a nation. Hence, when I reminisce about the weekly column that I wrote in Dawn for just over a decade, until I left to be part of a great journalistic adventure of the launching of The News, I feel the passing of a world that has been lost forever.
Dawn in those days was the predominant English newspaper and one would assume that it had considerable influence on policy as well as the thinking of the intelligentsia. That is why I see that opportunity of writing a column as the pride of my very long stint as a journalist. But it was the timing of it that mattered.
Now, Dawn has had a long and illustrious list of regular columnists and I was hoping to make an honourable mention of a number of them. However, I gave up when the names flickered on my mind’s screen because there are so many of them. My thoughts about them also made me realise that my own contribution was not of much consequence. Which, in an inverted sense, is the reason I want to recall that experience.
Opinion pieces in a newspaper, ideally, are meant to inspire sober reflection with their analyses of certified ground realities. But Karachi Diary was more emotional and more subjective. There were restrictions on the media and the overall social environment was oppressive. So I resorted to writing between the lines, frequently leaning on poetry. The first column I wrote after press censorship was imposed on October 16, 1979, had an entire poem of Faraz – published in Urdu without translation.
Yes, Karachi Diary was not an appropriate title for a column devoted to larger national issues. It was intended to cover the cultural and literary activities of the city. But with the advent of Martial Law, I gradually and surreptitiously shifted its focus and was encouraged by its response. It became so personal and passionate in its setting that the birth of my younger daughter during the unrest before the imposition of Martial Law became an allegory of hope as well as apprehension about the future.
At one level, my column became the requiem for the hanging of Zulfikar Ali Bhuttto. A national trauma was reduced to private grief for the readers. This was followed by a long struggle for democracy. Then, there was Karachi and the initiation of its unending depredation. All across, there was a loss of hope and I was somehow able to render the popular distress in a defiant tone.
In the wake of press censorship, there was a time when writing about Bhutto was not allowed. I realised that Martin Luther King was assassinated on the 4th of April, the date on which Bhutto was hanged. So I would write about King and the personification was perfect, with quotations (‘I have a dream’) that fully illustrated the Pakistani situation. I also did not forget to mention that King was a Capricorn – as was Bhutto.
There were other similar allusions. This was the time when Faiz spent his final years in Pakistan and he died during Zia’s reign – in late 1984. So, I wrote about what it meant to have a Faiz in our lives. It is strange how his poetry has provided captions to our political experiences, also quoted endlessly by his ideological adversaries.
One reason why I had a good following was that Karachi Diary, along with other columns, was a regular feature of Dawn Overseas Weekly, published mainly for our diplomatic missions abroad.
I remember that there were many suggestions, including from some distinguished individuals, that I do a book of selected columns. My excuse was that there were so many hints and covert references to the week’s developments that every column would need footnotes.
I have not quoted from my columns but, to conclude, here is something that should give you some idea of what it was. In February 1979, five days before the Supreme Court judgment on Bhutto’s case, I had met his minister of external affairs Aziz Ahmad. This was the last paragraph of a column I wrote after Bhutto’s hanging:
“Anyhow, I wondered why Mr Bhutto had to suddenly leave for a tour of some Muslim countries in June 1977, leaving the signing of the accord with the PNA. Mr Aziz Ahmad said he had asked Mr Bhutto the same question and added that Mr Bhutto had given an enigmatic answer. What was that answer? He told Mr Aziz Ahmad: ‘I went to say goodbye’.”
The writer is a senior journalist and socio-political commentator.
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The sole statesman
By Ardeshir Cowasjee
The following are excerpts from five columns by the writer published in Dawn on June 18, 2000, July 2, 2000, July 9, 2000, July 16, 2000 and December 25, 2011.
...Mohammad Ali Jinnah was a proud man, proud for good reason; by the overriding force of his indomitable will, and that alone, he carved out a country for us. Not following the form of his day, Jinnah did not go to jail for a single day, never embarked on a hunger strike, did not encourage rowdy protest marches, he abhorred any form of violence...
“Do your duty and have faith in God. There is no power on earth that can undo Pakistan.”’
This conviction was soon to be proved wrong. His buoyant optimism and his firm certitude in the future of this country clouded his perception of the calibre and character of the leaders who would immediately and later follow him. He failed to conceive that through their lack of ability, lack of integrity, their avarice, their unquenchable greed, their hunger for power, pomp, pelf and position, they would be the undoing of Pakistan.
He was the sole statesman this country has had. Those who followed were small men, narrow of thought... Within a quarter of a century, half of Jinnah’s Pakistan was lost... It is now an overpopulated, illiterate, bankrupt country...
When Jinnah addressed the first constituent assembly of the country on August 11th 1947, he embodied in his speech the core of his philosophy... his vision for the state he had founded. It was a fine piece of rhetoric; too fine, too moral, too democratic, too liberal, too full of justice, too idealistic for the Philistines. This speech...has been subject to distortion; it has inspired fear in successive governments which would have been far happier had it never been delivered...
On August 11th 1947, before the flag of Pakistan had even been unfurled, Jinnah told his people and their future legislators:
“You are free, free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed - that has nothing to do with the business of the State.”
That same day, he made it clear to the future legislators and administrators that “the first duty of a government is to maintain law and order...” He told them he would not tolerate the evils of bribery, corruption, black marketeering and “this great evil, the evil of nepotism and jobbery.”
Little did he know that day that these prime evils were to become prerequisites for the survival of the politicians in and out of uniform, and of the administrators of all ranks and grades for the maintenance of their power.
In a way, it was fortunate that Jinnah did not live long enough to see the negation of his principles... A man of high ideals – his disillusion would have been too great to bear...
No set of documents exists which spells out the “ideology of Pakistan”. Thus, every man... is entitled to his own conception of what this ideology is. However, it would be logical to assume that the ideology should rightly spring from what our sole statesman envisaged for the country he created...
There are many who hold that the Objectives Resolution, which came into being a mere six months after [his] death, is the embodiment of the “ideology”.
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 successive democratic and other leaders to be a reminder to us all of the purpose of the creation of Pakistan... But it was not the true English text of the original Objectives Resolution which was sanctified. The plaque 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...
Those alive today who knew Mohammad Ali Jinnah... were well aware of what he wanted. He achieved his ambition and founded for us what he intended to be a democratic, forward-looking, modern, secular state...
In the last 53 years this country has changed its name and status three times. It started as a dominion, which it remained until 1956, when under the constitution promulgated that year, it became the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. In 1962, Field Marshal Ayub Khan, who had abrogated the 1956 Constitution, when he took over in 1958, promulgated his constitution and declared it to be simply the Republic of Pakistan. Then he became a politician... and by his First Constitutional Amendment Order of 1963, we again became the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
Now to a press conference held by Mohammad Ali Jinnah on July 14, 1947, in New Delhi. I quote relevant portions:
“Q. Could you as Governor General make a brief statement on the minorities’ problem?
A. ...I shall not depart from what I said repeatedly... Minorities to whichever community they may belong, will be safeguarded... There will be no interference of any kind with their freedom of worship... They will be, in all respects, the citizens of Pakistan without any distinction of caste or creed. They will have their rights and privileges and no doubt along with this goes the obligations of citizenship...
Q. Will Pakistan be a secular or theocratic state?
A. You are asking me a question that is absurd. I do not know what a theocratic state means...”
Now to what Mohammad Ali Jinnah had to say on the future constitution of Pakistan, in his broadcast to the American people in February 1948:
“The constitution of Pakistan has yet to be framed... I do not know what the ultimate shape... is going to be, but I am sure that it will be of a democratic type, embodying the essential principles of Islam... Islam and its idealism have taught us democracy. Islam has taught the equality of men, justice and fair play... In any case, Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic state to be ruled by priests with a divine mission...”
For those who wish to interpret it [what Jinnah decreed for Pakistan] their own way, it conforms merely to narrow expedient government vision; and to the bigots and the intolerant who sadly make up the majority of the 180 million, it has been discarded or distorted into wishing what they wish it to mean.
His creed is nationally long gone. ‘Secular’ is almost a treasonous word, tolerance an equally treasonous practice, as bigotry is largely the order of the day. Jinnah’s Pakistan became virtually moribund on his death and received the final fatal blow in 1949 when his trusted lieutenants brought in the Objectives Resolution. From then on, it was a steady downhill dive to where this truncated country now finds itself – isolated and distrusted by much of the world which is concerned about its erratic policies and practices.
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Mr Jinnah through the eyes of his colleagues
The legacy of Mr Jinnah
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