Quaid’s Sublime Vision for Pakistan
“We are a nation with our own distinctive culture and civilization, language and literature, art and architecture, names and nomenclature, sense of values and proportion, legal laws and moral code, customs and calendar, history and tradition, aptitudes and ambitions; in short, we have our distinctive outlook on life and of life. By all canons of international law, we are a nation.”
— Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah
The formulation of the Muslim demand for Pakistan in 1940 had a tremendous impact on the nature and course of Indian politics. On the one hand, it shattered forever the Hindu dreams of a pseudo-Indian—in fact Hindu—empire on British exit from India while it heralded an era of Islamic renaissance and creativity, on the other, in which the Indian Muslims were to be active participants. The Hindu reaction was quick, bitter and malicious. Equally hostile were the British to the Muslim demand; their hostility having stemmed from their belief that the unity of India was their main achievement and their foremost contribution. The irony was that both the Hindus and the British had not anticipated the astonishingly tremendous response that the Pakistan demand had elicited from the Muslim masses. Above all, they failed to realize how a hundred million people had suddenly become supremely conscious of their distinct nationhood and their high destiny. In channeling the course of Muslim politics towards Pakistan, no less than in directing it towards its consummation in the establishment of Pakistan in 1947, none played a more decisive role than did Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. It was his powerful advocacy for the case of Pakistan and his remarkable strategy in the delicate negotiations that followed the formulation of the Pakistan demand, particularly in the post-war period, that made the establishment of Pakistan inevitable.
The British reaction to the Pakistan demand came in the form of the Cripps Mission offer of April 1942 which conceded the principle of self-determination to provinces on a territorial basis. The Rajaji Formula (named after the Congress leader C. Rajagopalacharia, which became the basis of prolonged Jinnah-Gandhi talks in September 1944), represented the Congress alternative to Pakistan. The Cripps offer was rejected because it did not concede the Muslim demand the whole way, while the Rajaji Formula was found unacceptable since it offered a “moth-eaten, mutilated” Pakistan and that too appended with it a plethora of preconditions which made the new country’s emergence in any shape remote, if not altogether impossible. Cabinet Mission, the most delicate as well as the most tortuous negotiations, however, took place during 1946-47, after the elections which showed that the country was sharply and somewhat evenly divided between two parties – the Congress and All India Muslim League – and that the central issue in Indian politics was Pakistan.
By the close of 1946, the communal riots had flared up to murderous heights, engulfing almost the entire subcontinent. The two peoples, it seemed, were engaged in a fight to the finish. The time for a peaceful transfer of power was fast running out. Realizing the gravity of the situation. His Majesty’s Government sent down to India a new Viceroy, Lord Mountbatten. His protracted negotiations with various political leaders resulted in the 3rd June (1947) Plan by which the British decided to partition the Subcontinent and hand over power to two successor states on 15 August 1947. The plan was duly accepted by the three Indian parties to the dispute, the Congress, the League, and the Akali Dal (representing the Sikhs). Resultantly, Pakistan emerged on the world map on 14 August 1947. In recognition of his singular contribution, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah was nominated by the Muslim League as the Governor-General of Pakistan, while the Congress appointed Mountbatten as India’s first Governor-General. On 15 August 1947, the Quaid-e-Azam was sworn in as the first Governor-General of Pakistan. The oath was administered by the Chief Justice of Lahore High Court, Mian Abdur Rashid, who later became the first Chief Justice of Pakistan.
Pakistan, it is truly said, was born in virtual chaos. Indeed, few nations in the world have started on their career with fewer resources and in more treacherous circumstances. The new nation did not inherit a central government, a capital, an administrative core or an organized defence force. The Punjab holocaust had left vast areas in a shambles with communications disrupted. This, along with the mass migration of the Hindu and Sikh business and managerial classes, left the economy almost shattered. The exchequer was empty as India had denied Pakistan its due share in cash balances. On top of this, the still unorganized nation was called upon to feed some eight million refugees who had fled the insecurities and barbarities of the north Indian plains that long, hot summer. If all this was symptomatic of Pakistan’s administrative and economic weakness, the Indian annexation, through military action in November 1947, of Junagadh (which had originally acceded to Pakistan) and the Kashmir war over the State’s accession (October 1947-December 1948) exposed her military weakness. In the circumstances, therefore, it was nothing short of a miracle that Pakistan survived at all. That it survived and forged ahead was mainly due to one man—Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The nation desperately needed a charismatic leader at that critical juncture in history, and he fulfilled that need profoundly. After all, he was more than a mere Governor-General: he was the Quaid-i-Azam, who had brought the State into being.
In the ultimate analysis, his very presence at the helm of affairs was responsible for enabling the newly-born state to overcome the terrible crisis on the morrow of its cataclysmic birth. He mustered up the immense prestige and the unquestioning loyalty he commanded among the people to energize them, to raise their morale, to raise the profound feelings of patriotism that the freedom had generated, along constructive channels. Though tired and in poor health, Jinnah yet carried the heaviest part of the burden in that first crucial year. He laid down the policies of the new state, called attention to the immediate problems confronting the nation, and told the members of the Constituent Assembly, the civil servants and the Armed Forces what to do and what the nation expected of them. He saw to it that law and order were maintained at all costs, despite the provocation that the large-scale riots in north India had provided. He moved from Karachi to Lahore for a while and supervised the immediate refugee problem in Punjab. In a time of fierce excitement, he remained sober, cool and steady. He advised his excited audience in Lahore to concentrate on helping the refugees, to avoid retaliation, exercise restraint and protect the minorities. He assured the minorities of a fair deal, assuaged their inured sentiments and gave them hope and comfort. He toured the various provinces, attended to their particular problems, and instilled in the people a sense of belongingness. He reversed the British policy in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and ordered the withdrawal of the troops from the tribal territory of Waziristan, thereby making the Pathans feel themselves an integral part of Pakistan’s body politic. He created a new Ministry of States and Frontier Regions and assumed responsibility for ushering in a new era in Balochistan. He settled the controversial question of the states of Karachi, secured the accession of States, especially of Kalat which seemed problematic, and carried on negotiations with Lord Mountbatten for the settlement of the Kashmir Issue.
Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah believed in the power of purposeful education. He was convinced that education was the only effective means to liberate the masses and link them into a strong nation and also to bring about social, political and economic development in the country. The Quaid attached great importance to education. He was aware that under the political subjugation and servitude of the British, the character of the Muslims as a nation had been destroyed. They had lost respect for piety, for character, for knowledge or even for wealth, and were taught to respect nothing but power. A nation with a slavish mentality naturally respects power. Quaid-i-Azam believed that education was the birthright of every child and that it was the duty of the State to provide for universal elementary education for its citizens. In an illiterate society, it must be enforced compulsorily, because elementary education cannot become universal without compulsion. To do the duty, the State must find the funds required, and tax the people, if necessary. Masses can only be liberated through a planned program of compulsory universal elementary education. Quaid said, “There is no salvation for the masses unless the principle of compulsion is introduced in this country. In no country has elementary education become universal without compulsion.”
Quaid-i-Azam assumed that education was the key factor in safeguarding national independence and moulding the character of a people. The system of education must be truly national to meet the needs and aspirations of the people. In national education lies the only sure and permanent guarantee of national defence and national strength. No country can have an ignorant population and be free and strong at the same time. The economic development and cultural advancement depend directly on the type of instructional programmes at different levels. The quality of the process of educating the younger generation will depend upon the quality of the teacher and the work – the way he works with the learners and brings them up as informed and skilled individuals and as a community of responsible citizens ready to enter the world of work. Addressing the students of Islamia College, Peshawar, on 12th April 1948, the Quaid-i-Azam called for a changed approach, on the part of the students, to political, social and economic problems facing Pakistan. In contrast with the methods of approach they adopted during their struggle for independence, “The duties required for you now,” he said, “are to develop a sound sense of discipline, character, initiative and a solid academic background.” Advising the students to be constructive in their criticism of the government, the Quaid observed, “Government welcomes constructive criticism. You can make a big contribution towards bringing about harmony and unity were for personal and other selfish considerations some people may adopt courses which are likely to lead to disruption and disunity. Remember that your government is like your own garden. Your garden flourishes by the way you look after it and the efforts that you put towards its improvement. Similarly, your government can only flourish by your patriotic, honest, and constructive efforts to improve it.” He wanted the students, “not to allow your actions to be guided by ill-digested information or slogans and catchwords. Remember we are building up a state which is going to play its full part in the destinies of the whole Islamic world. We must develop a sense of patriotism which should galvanize and weld us all into one united strong nation.”
Jinnah had high hopes for the educational sector in Pakistan. It should be the responsibility of Pakistani students to work towards Jinnah’s educational vision for Pakistan. First and foremost, this means appreciating the opportunity that they have to attain an education. Secondly, it means making the most of their education by striving to gain more knowledge, to achieve academic excellence and to use their education for the development and prosperity of the nation. Thirdly, students must play a role in promoting education for all children in the country. In Pakistan, there are unfortunately still many children who are unable to acquire education, for various reasons. As Pakistani citizens and students, it is our responsibility to advocate for education for every single member of the nation. So, on this Quaid-i-Azam Day, remember the wise words of Muhammad Ali Jinnah regarding education, and do your part to promote educational excellence in Pakistan.
The writer is a PhD Scholar (English Literature).
He can be reached at: email@example.com