By Yasser Latif Hamdani
October 16, 2017
In my article last week, I argued that my religion or religious beliefs, or lack thereof, are not the business of the state, and I quoted Jinnah’s promise made explicitly to all people of Pakistan on 11 August 1947 to this effect.
In response, a number of readers wrote in to say that Pakistan was founded in the name of Islam and that the Two-Nation Theory itself was based on identity politics. As I said earlier Pakistan was not created in the name of Islam. This is a myth that has been forced down our throats by people with incredibly small IQs who have had a free run of things in this country for close to 70 years. The first generation — immediately after Jinnah’s demise — made the humongous mistake of passing the Objectives’ Resolution but that itself was more inspired by preambles of states like Ireland for example and not by any desire to establish a theocratic state in Pakistan.
All said and done, Pakistan was created for a very simple reason — so simple in fact that it often misses ideologues and nationalists on both Indian and Pakistani sides. In the 19th century the British introduced census in the subcontinent and as part of this census they counted Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and so on and so forth instead of counting just inhabitants (there was no real Indian identity at the time). With time these culturally informed religious identities began competing for jobs, shares in the economic pie, politics etc. Pakistan’s founding father Jinnah it must be remembered tried the longest to come to a fair compromise between Hindus and Muslims on the basis of joint electorate (not separate electorate as Pakistan Studies’ text books claim) but that compromise was rejected. Meanwhile simultaneously the idea of partition of India took root and was not mooted by Iqbal or the Muslims mind you.
The Two Nation Theory — so conveniently laid at the door of Jinnah and the Muslim League — was the brainchild of Bhair Parmnand and the Hindu Nationalists of Punjab. Read Dr Neeti Nair’s book Changing Homelands. The idea of partition was mooted by Lala Lajpat Rai of Congress Party on 14 December 1923. It was the Hindu right wing of the Congress Party ultimately that mooted the idea of both the two nation theory and partition.
Muslim League adopted the idea as a defence mechanism almost 20 years later. By arguing that Muslims were a nation in 1940, Jinnah did not say Hindus and Muslims could not live together. On the contrary what Jinnah said was that Hindus and Muslims could and should live together as two equal nations working together in the governance of their common motherland. It was the Muslim answer to caste Hindu domination at an all India centre which is what Congress Party — despite its inclusive protestations- promised. Jinnah pushed his demands to the extreme but then backtracked on all of them when he accepted the Cabinet Mission Plan. The Cabinet Mission Plan of 1946 — which none of its critics have ever bothered to actually read — did not give Hindus and Muslims parity. Quite the contrary it accepted the arithmetic of Hindu majority. What it did do was give minority Muslims effective safeguards against future Hindu tyranny. Congress sabotaged the Cabinet Mission Plan and chose to partition the country instead. India’s greatest jurist H M Seervai wrote as much three decades ago.
So this idea that Pakistan was created in the name of Islam is an entirely false idea based on a lie. Yes some populists might have used Islamic slogans but so did opponents of the Muslim League. Maulana Ataullah Shah Bokhari, a man championed as a freedom fighter by India to the extent that even Nehru sent moving eulogy on his demise, famously declared that voting for Muslim League or for Mr. Jinnah is like eating pork. Mazhar Ali Azhar of Majlis-e-Ahrar called Jinnah Kafir-e-Azam and Pakistan Kafir-i-stan. Their abuse against Pakistan and Jinnah is a matter of record. They did so because the Congress tasked them to divide up the Muslim vote. In Punjab Ahrar started the anti-Ahmadi movement and in Lucknow Ahrar started the anti-Shia campaign. In 1970s the Ahrar and other religious parties prevailed over Pakistan’s parliament to declare Ahmadis Non-Muslim.
Now you have Captain Safdar — you know what his achievement in life is- spewing venom against Dr Abdus Salam, Pakistan’s greatest physicist and scientist. And Captain Safdar had gall to suggest that Ahmadis should not be allowed in military service. Perhaps he does not know that the only general to die for Pakistan in battle was an Ahmadi. Captain Clueless spoke of Fikr-e-Maududi. He should know that when Maududi was denouncing Kashmir war of 1948, it was Furqan Force of Ahmadis fighting on the frontlines there.
Then you have our newly-anointed foreign minister Khawaja Asif bad mouthing the Ahmadis. What fall from grace — this post was once held by Zafrullah Khan, another Ahmadi. The reason why Pakistan has a case today in Kashmir is because of Zafrullah Khan. It was the same Zafrullah Khan who was appointed as Pakistan’s sole counsel before the Punjab Boundary Commission and the same Zafrullah Khan about whom Jinnah wrote to Ispahani asking him to release Zafrullah on October 22, 1947: “Naturally we are short of very capable men, and especially now and then our eyes turn towards him for various problems we have to solve.” When Zafrullah returned to Pakistan, Jinnah inducted him as Pakistan’s first foreign minister. This was the same Jinnah who on 23 May 1944 told a questioner that Ahmadis were Muslims because they profess to be Muslims and that he had no right to declare them otherwise. He had also warned the Muslims of Kashmir and India not to raise such sectarian and theological disputes which would help no one but cause destruction.
Given this history — given that the politician from Lal Haveli in Rawalpindi has shamelessly invoked Ataullah Shah Bokhari and Majlis-e-Ahrar in the Assembly, given that the Captain Clueless of PML-N is interested in Fikr-e-Maududi rather than in the ideas of Jinnah, given that the National Assembly is sounding more and more like an inquisitorial tribunal for conduct of genocide of Pakistan’s Ahmadis, at the very least what you can do is take Jinnah’s portrait off. The constitution of 1973 framed by many who were part of the abuse and hate against Jinnah is incompatible with Jinnah’s Pakistan. So before you pass a resolution further stripping Ahmadis of their rights as citizens, pass a resolution removing Jinnah’s portrait from the National Assembly and the Senate as well as our currency. Pakistan does not deserve Jinnah. And Jinnah certainly does not deserve to be associated with a country of fascist bigots and religious fanatics.
Yasser Latif Hamdani is a practising lawyer.