By Wajahat Masood
(Translated from Urdu by Sohail Arshad, New Age Islam)
On September 1, 1947, Shabbir Ahmad Usmani had issued a press release whose every word was a reply to the speech delivered by the Qaid-e-Azam in the Legislative Assembly on August 11, 1947 just 20 days ago. Some sentences are reproduced here: “I want to make it very clear that this resounding victory of Qaid-e-Azam (the establishment of Pakistan) owes to the discipline and restraint of the Muslims. Muslims are religious by nature and the basis of the Two-nation Theory is also religion. If the Muslim Ulema-e-Deen (religious scholars) had not joined this movement lending it a religious hue, Qaid-e-Azam or any other leader with however great diplomatic abilities or even the Muslim League would not have been able to generate such degree of passion among the Muslims. Nonetheless, with the joint efforts of the Ulema-e-Deen and the Muslim leaders, the Muslims woke up and agreed upon one objective. We should now necessarily put all our efforts to prepare the Constitution of Pakistan by keeping before us the natural and universal principles of Islam as they are the sole remedy for the current malady. If we failed to do so, then the western democracy will pervade with all its vices and the destructive nationalism will replace the internationalism of Islam."
Qaid-e-Azam had said in his speech, " In course of time (in Pakistan) the Hindus will cease to remain Hindus and the Muslims will cease to remain Muslims, not with reference to religion as it is an issue of the personal belief of each individual, but in political terms as citizens of the state." Therefore, as a nut in the hands of the anti-democracy lobby in politics, Maulvi Shabbir Ahmad Usmani made it a point to quip, "I want that every Muslim remains a Muslim and every Hindu remains a Hindu even in the most adverse situations."
Addressing the American people on the radio on February 1, 1948, Qaid-e-Azam said clearly, "However, it is obvious that Pakistan will not be a religious country where the mullahs will have the authority to rule in the light of religious objectives. A sizeable population of our country is non-Muslim, such as Hindu, Christian, Parsi etc. but they are all Pakistanis. They will have the same rights and privileges as given to other citizens and they will get an equal opportunity to play their role in the national affairs of Pakistan." On February 19, 1948, in a broadcast speech for the Australian people, Qaid-e-Azam announced in no uncertain terms that there would be no place for Mullaism in Pakistan.
Now it can be pointed out that the founder of Pakistan says, " the mullahs will have no authority to rule in the light of religious objectives" but after the death of Qaid-e-Azam, the Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan while addressing the Legislative Assembly on March 12, 1949 said, "the state should not play the role of neutral observer where the Muslims will merely have the right to assert and practice their faith because practically the state will adopt such policy as will negate the very doctrines on which the state of Pakistan was demanded.”
The neutrality of the state in religious affairs is secularism. If the state assumes the responsibility of imposing religion, then the dominance of religious leadership becomes inevitable. Now the issue was raised as to what were the concepts which led to the demand of Pakistan. The question could be answered from two angles. One angle of the demand for Pakistan was purely political and legal. The Political leadership was aware of the fact but it did not try to clarify that the political demand was being presented to the Muslims in religious 'sugar-coat'. For the last 60 years a line of the poem composed by an educationist from Sialkot, Asghar Saudai "Pakistan ka matlab kya, La ilaha illallah" has been presented to the nation in such a way as if it formed the basis of the Muslim League's policy.
Now let's have a look on the testimony presented by Malik Ghulam Nabi (the former minister for education, Punjab). He was a close associate of Qaid-e-Azam and a member of Muslim League Council. On page no. 106 of his book "Kissa ek sadi ka"(The chronicle of a century) he writes: "The first conference of All Pakistan Muslim League Council in Pakistan was held under the presidentship of Qaid-e-Azam in the Dena Hall, Karachi on December 14, 1947. In the conference, a bearded man came up and said to Qaid-e-Azam, "We had told people, Pakistan ka matlab kya, La ilaha illallah," Qaid-e-Azam said, "Please sit down, neither I nor the working council of All India Muslim League has passed a resolution adopting 'Pakistan ka matlab kya, la ilaha illallah. Albeit you must have raised this slogan to garner votes."
Qaid-e-Azam was not deviating from his original stance because in his mind the Political system of Pakistan was a democratic secular one. In an interview with the representative of the Reuters, Doll Campbell, he had said, "The new state will be a modern democratic state in which the people will be the source of power. Each citizen of the new nation will enjoy equal rights free from any discrimination on the basis of religion, caste or creed."
In this regard we can also get the testimony of Maulana Ghulam Rasool Meher. The maulana was a scholar, researcher and journalist and was the editor of the daily Inquilab. He was also one of the delegates of the Round Table Conference. In his letter to Ashiq Hussain Batalwi after the formation of Pakistan, he writes: "In my view, what Qaid-e-Azam meant by 'Two-nation theory' was that the majority in each area had the right to rule. That is, the demand was not that all the Muslims should be segregated without exceptions. If that were the case, Qaid-e-Azam would be compelled to bring all the Muslims to Pakistan from different areas. In politics, sometimes different affairs are presented in an exaggerated form to impress upon their importance. Qaid-e-Azam was never convinced by the meaning of the 'two-nation theory' as understood by the common man and the leaders. However, Pakistani leaders have always suffered from exaggeration and disarray of thoughts after Qaid-e-Azam, and are still suffering.
Earlier Parts of the Article:
Resolution and Secularism--Part 2: Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Usmani Was the Pioneer
of Non-State Militantism in Pakistan
Resolution and Secularism--Part 1: How Jinnah’s Dream of a Secular Pakistan Was