“Few individuals significantly alter the course of history. Fewer still modify the map of the world. Hardly anyone can be credited with creating a Nation-State. Mohammad Ali Jinnah did all three. Hailed as a ‘Great Leader’ (Quaid-i-Azam) of Pakistan and its first Governor-General, Jinnah virtually conjured that country into statehood by the force of his indomitable will.” (Prof Stanley Wolpert; Jinnah of Pakistan)
Islam gave the Muslims of India a sense of identity; dynasties like the Mughals gave them territory; poets like Allama Iqbal gave them a sense of destiny. Jinnah’s towering stature derives from the fact that, by leading the Pakistan movement and creating the state of Pakistan, he gave them all three. For the Pakistanis he is simply the Quaid-i-Azam or the Great Leader. Whatever their political affiliation, they believe there is no one quite like him.
Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah was the centre-point of the Pakistan Movement and he himself led the struggle for a separate homeland for the Muslims of India through its most critical phases to a successful end i.e. the creation of Pakistan. He had a vision for the new state of Pakistan. But, unfortunately, he did not live long to build the new state as per his ideals and aspirations. Jinnah, actually, was not a mere political leader; he was a statesman par excellence. It was his statesmanship that influenced and determined his political leadership role as he led the Indian Muslims on the tortuous road to Pakistan during the 1940s.
A statesman, unlike a mere politician, looks at problems and developments on a long-term basis. This is not only in terms of immediate goals, but, more importantly how they could be fitted in and integrated within the long-term, larger perspective. Hence a statesman constantly and continuously tends to prognosticate and keep in view the long-term consequences of day-to-day developments. Above all, a statesman looks at events and problems through the prism of a grand vision.
There is no denying the fact that Quaid-i-Azam demanded for the creation of Pakistan for which he had a clear vision. He did not want to create only a separate country for the Musalmans of the Subcontinent, but he also knew how to structure it, what orientation it should opt for, and what ultimate goals it should pursue. All this meant to make its establishment meaningful and significant to the masses in terms of their living standards, economic betterment, cultural uplift and spiritual contentment.
Although it is true that political independence from the British rule and Hindu domination was the immediate goal of all his endeavours, what was to make it meaningful was a process of quests that would change the face of the Muslim homeland for a better tomorrow, a brave new world.
The main goals of the entire struggle were: ideological resurgence, cultural renaissance, economic betterment and social welfare. Jinnah spelled out his rationale behind the demand for Pakistan in his historic Presidential Address to the 27th Session of the All India Muslim League in Lahore on 24 March 1940, whereby he said:
“Musalmans are a nation according to any definition of a nation, and they must have their homelands, their territory and their State. We wish to live in peace and harmony with our neighbours as a free and independent people. We wish our people to develop to the fullest our spiritual, cultural, economic social, and political life in a way that we think best, and in consonance with our own ideals and according to the genius of our people.”
The Quaid’s numerous pronouncements during the years 1940-48, when taken together, portray his vision for the state of Pakistan.
First, in his August 11, 1947, address, he called for an indivisible Pakistani nationhood; a concept by which all the inhabitants irrespective of their race, colour or religion were declared the citizens of Pakistan having equal rights, privileges and obligations. He said:
“As you know, history shows that in England conditions, some time ago, were much worse than those prevailing in India today. The Roman Catholics and the Protestants persecuted each other. Even now there are some States in existence where there are discriminations made and bars imposed against a particular class. Thank God, we are not starting in those days. We are starting in the days when there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State.”
Second, on February 21, 1948, he stressed the need for “the development and maintenance of Islamic democracy, Islamic social justice and equality of manhood.”
Earlier, in his June 18, 1945, message to the Frontier Muslim Students Federation, he had said:
“Pakistan not only means freedom and independence but the Muslim Ideology which has to be preserved, which has come to us as a precious gift and treasure and which, we hope other will share with us.”
In his broadcast to the US in February 1948, he was sure that the Pakistan’s constitution would be of “a democratic type, embodying the essential principles of Islam”. He further said:
“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.”
The Quaid was dead against not only theocracy, but he was also a livid opponent of sectarianism. At another point, he said:
“The great majority of us are Muslims. We follow the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). We are members of the brotherhood of Islam in which all are equal in rights, 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.”
The Quaid had invoked Islam because he believed that “Islam and its idealism has taught us democracy. Islam has taught equality, justice and fairplay to everybody. What reason is there for anyone to fear democracy, equality, freedom on the highest standard of integrity and on the basis of fairplay and justice for everyday?”
At the political level, Jinnah stood for undiluted democracy, constitutionalism, autonomy of the three pillars of the state (executive, legislative and judiciary) and for a freer press, civil liberties and a civil society. He championed the rule of law, accountability and a code of public morality. It is in the formulation of such a code that Islamic principles would come in handy, and that ideology would play a pivotal role in Pakistan’s body politic. He stood for moderation, gradualism, constitutionalism and consensual politics all through his public life. He believed in building up a consensus on an issue, step by step. He believed that controversies should be resolved through debate, a discussion in the assembly chamber and not through violence in the streets. He believed in democracy and not monocracy.
He believed on the lines of Disraeli who laid down the axiomatic rules for the birth and maintenance of a stable and self-propelling democracy when he said, “We must educate our masters, the people; otherwise we would be at the mercy of a mob masquerading as democracy”. This is tragically what has been missing in Pakistan since the early 1950s. More often than not, most of our political leaders succumb to wild rhetoric, weakening the democratic temper of the masses and strengthening the trend towards monocracy or dictatorship.
On the economic side, the Quaid dreamed of Pakistan to be a welfare state. Among others this would call for structural changes in the economic system, ensuring a balanced and mixed economy with a more equitable distribution of wealth. He advocated full employment opportunities for one and all, for a contented labour, for a fair deal to the farmer and for human resource development at all levels.
On the societal front, Jinnah stood for the enforcement of law and order. He also wanted the elimination of nepotism, bribery, corruption, black marketing and all sorts of corrupt practices. He had envisioned the wiping out of distinction on the basis of race, religion, colour and language and avowed the provision of equal opportunities to all and sundry for the economic betterment of the masses.
He advised the first Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947 by saying:
“Now, if we want to make this great State of Pakistan happy and prosperous we should wholly and solely concentrate on the well-being of the people, and especially of the masses and the poor”.
He also stood for the emancipation of women for conceding them their due rights, and for taking them along with men side by side in all spheres of national life.
In short, he wanted Pakistan to be progressive, forward-looking, modern and welfare-orientated country but the one that is firmly anchored to the pristine principles of Islam — the principles firmly rooted in the enduring traits of equality, solidarity, freedom and emancipation of the marginalised sections of society.
This, then, represents the Quaid’s vision of Pakistan. And unless and until we translate his guidelines into public policy and ground reality, Pakistan would not become the sort of a country the Quaid had envisioned.