THE following excerpts beg comments from all those who have been or are now occupying the power seats of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

From Mohammad Ali Jinnah's presidential address at the All-India Muslim League session in Delhi in April 1943: “The minorities are entitled to get a definite assurance or to ask: 'Where do we stand in the Pakistan that you visualise?' That is an issue of giving a definite and clear assurance to the minorities. We have done it. We have passed a resolution that the minorities must be protected and safeguarded to the fullest extent, and as I said before, any civilised government will do it and ought to do it. So far as we are concerned, our own history and our prophet have given the clearest proof that non-Muslims have been treated not only justly and fairly but generously.” (Rizwan Ahmed, ed., Sayings of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah , Karachi: Pakistan Movement Center, 1986, p. 30.)

While discussing Pakistan in an interview given to a representative of the Associated Press of America on November 8, 1946: “Hindu minorities in Pakistan can rest assured that their rights will be protected. No civilised government can be run successfully without giving minorities a complete sense of security and confidence. They must be made to feel that they have a hand in government and to this end must have adequate representation in it. Pakistan will give it.”

(Ahmed, Sayings , p. 65.)

In Jinnah's interview given to a Reuters correspondent on May 21, 1947, he assured the minorities of Pakistan “that they will be protected and safeguarded. For they will be so many citizens of Pakistan without any distinction of caste or creed.” He had no doubt in his mind that they “will be treated justly and fairly and the collective conscience of parliament itself will be a guarantee that the minorities need not have any apprehension of any injustice being done to them.”

(Sailesh Bandopadhaya, Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and the Creation of Pakistan , New Delhi: Sterling Publishers, 1991, p. 326.)

From Jinnah's address to the Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947: “We should begin to work in that spirit and in course of time all these angularities of the majority and minority communities, the Hindu community and the Muslim community — because even as regards Muslims you have Pathans, Punjabis, Shias, Sunnis and so on, and among the Hindus you have Brahmins, Vashnavas, Khatris, also Bengalis, Madrasis and so on — will vanish. Indeed if you ask me, this has been the biggest hindrance in the way of India to attain the freedom and independence and but for this we would have been free people long long ago. No power can hold another nation, and specially a nation of 400 million souls, in subjection; nobody could have conquered you, and even if it had happened, nobody could have continued its hold on you for any length of time, but for this. Therefore, we must learn a lesson from this. You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed, that has got nothing to do with the business of the state…. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one state. The people of England in course of time had to face the realities of the situation and had to discharge the responsibilities and burdens placed upon them by the government of their country, and they went through that fire step by step. Today, you might say with justice that Roman Catholics and Protestants do not exist; what exists now is that every man is a citizen, an equal citizen of Great Britain and they are all members of the nation. Now I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the state.” ( Dawn , Independence Day Supplement, August 14, 1999.)

Jinnah's interview with a Reuter's correspondent on October 25, 1947: “Every citizen is expected to be loyal to the state and to owe allegiance to it. The arm of the law should be strong enough to deal with any person or section or body or people that is disloyal to the state. We do not, however, prescribe any schoolboy tests of their loyalty. We shall not say to any Hindu citizen of Pakistan: if there is war would you shoot a Hindu?” (Ahmed, Sayings , p. 42.)

Jinnah's broadcast to the people of Australia on February 19, 1948: “The great majority of us are … members of the Muslim brotherhood of Islam in which we are equal in right, dignity and self respect. Consequently we have a special and a very deep sense of unity. But make no mistake: Pakistan is not a theocracy or anything like it. Islam demands from us the tolerance of other creeds and we welcome in closest association with us all those who, of whatever creed, are themselves willing and ready to play their part as true and loyal citizens of Pakistan.” (Ahmed, Sayings , p. 69.) arfc@cyber.net.pk

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