The Quaid pictured with Lord Mountbatten (right) and Ms Jinnah.
The Quaid pictured with Lord Mountbatten (right) and Ms Jinnah.

EVER since Pakistan came into being, the person of Jinnah has been under strict scrutiny. Volumes have been written where he is criticised on several counts. For instance, it is argued that Jinnah did not possess a well-articulated plan for his new state. Some voiced that, being a lawyer, he possessed a limited understanding of commerce, economy and global trade. However, research by some noted scholars, such as Prof Sharif al-Mujahid, tells us otherwise. In an article for the Pakistan Development Review in 2001, Prof Mujahid noted that Jinnah stood for a mixed economy, with an emphasis on social justice. He did not subscribe to exploitative economic practices that may jeopardise the ordinary citizen’s right to exist and prosper.

For many nations, independence from colonial powers never translated into real independence. The exploitative practices introduced by the colonial overlords continued in many forms.

The clever usurpation of small and indigenous productions by big businesses, unprincipled use of state apparatus for material gains, financial subjugation of the weak and downtrodden, political exploitation as a means of economic colonisation, and the denial of fundamental rights to the majority by small syndicates of power wielders are common instances that have evolved and been promoted under the garb of ‘progress’ and ‘prosperity’.

Much of these abominable practices had a direct connection with the imperialist tendencies of the twentieth century.

“Jinnah was able to see through the designs of the existing and emerging imperial powers of his time”

Jinnah was able to see through the designs of the existing and emerging imperial powers of his time. The fabrication of baseless and undesirable wars across the world was one such instrument.

Jinnah abhorred wars and partially supported the British in the Second World War only to gain some relief for the Muslim polity in the Indian subcontinent.

Despite facing the heaviest of odds during convoluted negotiations with British imperialists and Congress leaders, he denounced conflict at every level of discourse.

In Jinnah’s perception, the tenets of Pakistan’s foreign policy were all hinged around peace, and peace alone. On the occasion of the inauguration of the Pakistan Broadcasting Service on August 15, 1947, he reiterated his resolve to maintain friendly relations with all neighbours and to abide by the prescriptions of the United Nations Charter in letter and spirit. Jinnah was clear on the count that peace was the fi rst pre-requisite for the economic progress of infant impoverished nations, including Pakistan. It is sad to note that many of those who held the reins of this country resorted to military adventurism and, since Independence, made unrest our constant prevailing condition.

One fi nds that globalisation nurtures a hypocrisy of sorts. Whereas modern world leaders often harp on about their commitment to economic freedom and access to equal-opportunity enterprises, the reverse is actually practised in reality. Imperialism during colonial times prospered through the cruel exploitation of local resources for the benefi t of colonial masters. Professors S.M. Burke and Salim Quraishi, in their seminal book The British Raj in India — A Historical Review, record that the trading exploits from India alone in the year 1740 accounted for more than ten per cent of the revenue of Britain. This figure steadily grew over time. However, this trade imbalance and later control of resources could only become possible through the absolute political subordination of the local population.

While visualising the future course of action for Indian Muslims and India as a whole, Jinnah was categorical about ensuring free enterprise based on the principles of fair play and equality. In his speech at the inauguration ceremony of the State Bank on July 1, 1948, he objectively identifi ed the shortcomings in the nascent capitalist tendencies that were deeply rooted in and promoted by the West. Instead, he proposed the principles of Islamic practices in transactions that focused on achieving the welfare, happiness and prosperity of mankind.

Jinnah could foresee that artificially planted conflicts would become the raison d’être for arms and ammunition industries — a catalyst for next-generation imperialism. It is not coincidental that he condemned the shoddy handling of the Palestinian issue by the United Kingdom, UN and later the USA, without mincing his words. The various resolutions adopted by the All India Muslim League in support of a fair and just settlement of Palestinian matters during 1937-1947 are a testimony to this fact. Prolonged correspondence between Jinnah and Lord Linlithgow and other British officials inform us about the rigorous attempt by the former to prevent Palestine from remaining a bleeding global problem.

With Palestine in ashes now, Jinnah’s foresight stands vindicated. Jinnah lost no opportunity to present the case of the Palestinian people to the powers that be through his statements and articulately drafted letters. His correspondence in this regard with US President Harry Truman is a testimony to this fact. Jinnah knew very well that if the seeds of conflict were allowed to germinate, vested interests under the tutelage of imperialist powers would be the ultimate beneficiaries. Time demands a thorough appraisal of Jinnah’s worthy legacy to rescue this country from the quagmire it has stepped into!

The writer is an academic and researcher based in Karachi.

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