Friday, May 07, 2010

Jinnah's Pakistan?

Ardeshir Cowasjee, in Dawn
The Objectives Resolution, legislation which would never have been permitted by the founder maker of this country, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, came into being in March 1949, a mere six months after his death when his loyal lieutenants succumbed to the pressures of the religious right which sought to impose its will on a country, the formation of which it had either opposed or stood by silently while the Muslim League struggled. It negated all that Jinnah had stood for, if we are to take as our guideline his famed address to the constituent assembly of Aug 11, 1947, when he declared that faith, caste or creed were to be put aside and all were to be equal citizens of one country, and, most importantly, that religion was not the business of the state.

The most ominous words spoken that March day when the resolution was passed by the constituent assembly were spoken by Hindu citizen of Pakistan, Sri Chattopadhyay, who represented 25 per cent of the then East Pakistan population.

“I do not consider myself as a member of the minority community. I consider myself as one of seven crores of Pakistanis. Let me retain that privilege.

“I sadly remind myself of the great words of the Quaid-i-Azam that in state affairs the Hindu will cease to be a Hindu; the Muslim shall cease to be a Muslim. But alas, so soon after his demise what you do is that you virtually declare a state religion.

“You could not get over the old world way of thinking. What I hear in this resolution is not the voice of the great creator of Pakistan — the Quaid-i-Azam, nor even that of the prime minister of Pakistan, the honourable Mr Liaquat Ali Khan but of the ulemas of the land.

“This resolution in its present form epitomises that spirit of reaction. That spirit will not remain confined to the precincts of this house. It will send its waves to the countryside as well. I have been passing sleepless nights pondering what shall I now tell my people whom I have so long been advising to stick to the land of their birth.

“And on the top of this all, by this resolution you condemn them to a perpetual state of inferiority. A thick curtain is drawn against all rays of hope, all prospects of an honourable life. After this what advice shall I tender? What heart can I have to persuade the people to maintain a stout heart?”

While Cowasjee presents this as a departure from Jinnah's vision, to most Indians, the above is an inevitable outcome of Jinnah's politics. Whether he wanted it or not is another matter. But you cannot upend a glass of milk and not expect it to spill.