Quaid-e-Azam M.A. Jinnah's Vision for Pakistan
With the passage of 60 years since Pakistan's independence, a lot of myths have grown around Pakistan's founding father and his vision and intentions for Pakistan. This blog post is an attempt to explain who the Quaid-e-Azam was and what he wanted Pakistan to become as a nation.
Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah (1876-1948), the father of Pakistani nation, was a brilliant Muslim lawyer and political leader who lived a life that could be described as essentially westernized and secular. He was born in an Ismaili Shia Muslim family, raised in Karachi, receiving his early schooling at Karachi's Sindh Madressah and then received his law education in the U.K. He returned to the Sub-continent in 1896, married a Parsi woman Ruttie Petit, and practiced law in Bombay while waging a struggle for the independence of India from the British. He dressed mostly in the latest English-style suits of his time and spoke mostly in English with occasional Gujarati and Urdu. He did not have religious education and most ulema of his time agreed that his life did not conform to what most ulema considered "Islamic principles". In fact, the ulema on both sides of the partition debate, including Maulana Hussain Ahmad Madani and Maulana Shabbir Ahmed Usmani, questioned Jinnah's credentials as a "good, practicing Muslim". He fought for India's freedom, first as the President of Indian National Congress, and then as the head of the Muslim League.
Having worked hard but unsuccessfully for Hindu-Muslim cooperation and unity, the Quaid--i-Azam was disillusioned with the Indian National Congress. He decided to join the Muslim League in 1935. After joining the Muslim League, his goal was to create a separate, independent homeland for Muslims of the Indian Sub-continent, where they could flourish freely without interference from or competition with the politically, educationally and economically dominant Hindu majority in South Asia. But he clearly opposed a "theocratic state" ruled by the religious elite (something like Iran's Guardian Council) with the ultimate veto power over the will of the people and the democratic processes and institutions. In fact, he believed in the separation of church and state, just as much as he favored the superiority of political leadership over the military officer corps in running the nation's affairs.
Here are three excepts from Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah's most important speeches laying out his vision for Pakistan:
"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 nothing to do with the business of the State." Quaid-e-Azam M.A. Jinnah in address to first constituent assembly, Aug 11, 1947
"In any case Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic state to be ruled by priests with a divine mission. We have many non-Muslims-Hindus, Christians and Parsis -- but they are all Pakistanis. They will enjoy the same rights and privileges as any
other citizens and will play their rightful part in the affairs of Pakistan." Quaid-i-Azam, Feb. 1948
“Never forget that you are the servants of the state. You do not make policy. It is we, the people’s representatives, who decide how the country is to be run. Your job is to only obey the decisions of your civilian masters.” Quaid-i-Azam's Address to Military Staff College, June 14, 1948.
In the current circumstances when Pakistan is threatened from the forces of darkness and dictatorships disguised as saviors of the nation, it is important that we understand clearly what the founding father intended for Pakistan. With the above speech quotes from the Quaid-i-Azam, I will let the reader be the judge of his intentions.
As you read and ponder, let me leave you with a relevant quote from popular columnist Ardeshir Cowasjee: "Fortunately for him, Jinnah did not live long enough to see his dream betrayed by men unworthy even to utter his name. He died before total disillusionment could set in (though he had his suspicions that it was on its way) and broke his heart. From what we know of him, he was that rare being, an incorruptible man in all the many varied meanings of the word corruption, purchasable by no other, swayed by no other, perverted by no other; a man of honor, integrity and high ideals. That the majority of his countrymen have been found wanting in these qualities is this country's tragedy."
In conclusion, I take the liberty of paraphrasing Iqbal's admonition to his fellow Indians in his time, as follows:
Na samjho gay to mit jao gay ay Pakistan walo
Thumhari dastan tak bhi no hogi dastanon main
Which loosely translates as:
Listen up, pay attention, and mend your ways, o Pakistanis
Or else thou shall perish and be consigned to the dustbin of history
Over 200 black and white pictures of Jinnah and family on display.
Quaid’s pictures on display at Heritage Museum. PHOTO: MYRA IQBAL, INP
The town was abuzz since last one week with people from various walks of life paying tribute to their leader Muhammad Ali Jinnah in the run up to his anniversary – some remembering his edicts, others exhibiting rare collection of his photographs.
Empowering youth and implementing Jinnah’s vision is important for a sovereign nation, shared speakers at a conference “Vision of Quaid” organised by International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) and Muslim Research Institute (MRI) here on Tuesday, said a press release.
Minister for Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan Affairs Ch. Barjees Tahir who presided over the meeting said “Unless we govern Pakistan on the lines of Quaid’s teachings, the dream of a successful nation will not come true.”
No nation can progress with corruption in its system, so we also need to get rid of the menace of corruption, he said.
In his address IIUI President Dr Al-Draiweesh said the principles given by the great leader are in accordance with the teachings of Islam.
He termed him as versatile and honest in whatever he did and he will be live through his deeds and the vision he gave to people.
Former senator Akram Zaki paid tribute to the Jinnah saying that he was a man of law who always abided by law and told others to obey the law. “He fought the battle of freedom of Muslims with power of arguments and law, he also wanted it to prevail in the society”, he added.
The IIUI Vice President, Chairman MRI Sultan Ahmed Ali, Dr. Mumtaz, former secretary of Election Commission of Pakistan Kanwar Dilshad, Asif Rizvi, Dr. Noor Fatima, Abdul Baqi and other renowned scholars also shared their views on the Jinnah’s life, work and struggle for freedom.
A couple of miles apart, a two-day photo exhibition on Jinnah’s life opened at Lok Virsa Complex, Shakarparian today.
It was organized by National Institute of Folk & Traditional Heritage in collaboration with Directorate of Electronic Media and Publications (DEMP).
It includes 200 black & white photographs showing Jinnah’s life, his family members at various stages of the Pakistan Movement. Many photographs feature Jinnah holding official meetings and attending functions after the creation of Pakistan.
Photographs of the historical moment of the governor General addressing the first Constituent Assembly on August 14, 1947 are also on display.
Besides photographs, there are publications focusing life, struggle, work and sayings of Jinnah for visitors to buy.
The opening ceremony was held at the Heritage Museum. Parliamentary Secretary for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Barrister Mohsin Ranjha inaugurated the exhibition.
In his speech, Barrister Ranjha paid rich tributes to the father of the nation for his valuable contribution towards creation of Pakistan. “I am personally impressed by personality of the Quaid-i-Azam and this was the reason that I chose the profession of law. Our younger generation needs to work hard by following in the footsteps of Quaid. Our youth have a great potential, and I advise them to make the country prosperous by adopting his teachings in letter and spirit.”
The present government is determined to work for the development and prosperity of the country and its people according to the vision of our great leader, he added.
Appreciating the efforts of Lok Virsa and DEMP he said “it will go a long way in creating awareness among the masses in particular youth about the achievements of our national leader and his struggle for the creation of Pakistan”.
School children, youth, art and culture lovers and media attended the event.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 25th, 2013.