Pakistan’s Performance in the Context of Quaid’s Norms

Written By: Prof. Sharif al Mujahid

We wish our people to develop to the fullest our spiritual, cultural, economic, social and political life in a way we think best and in consonance with our own ideals and according to the genius of the people.

 

On Quaid’s birth anniversary, the crucial question that arises is ‘How has Pakistan performed over the years in the context of Quaid’s well-established norms?’ The answer is hardly encouraging. Indeed, it is downright dismal.


First, a word or two about Quaid’s norms or guidelines as have been handed down to us from his public pronouncements. Fortunately for us, these norms or guidelines were succinctly summed-up in just one sentence, on the day of the launching of the Pakistan demand in Lahore on March 23, 1940. In his presidential address Quaid spelled out the rationale thus: “We wish our people to develop to the fullest our spiritual, cultural, economic, social and political life in a way we think best and in consonance with our own ideals and according to the genius of the people”. And his numerous pronouncements during 1940-48 are, in a sense, an explication and elaboration of the ideal(s) enshrined in this quintessential quote and the components therein encompass the entire fabric of national life.

 

pakperformance.jpgWhat, then, are the legacies and guidelines which Pakistan received from the Pakistan movement, Quaid’s pronouncements, and his political conduct and behavior?


In terms of constitution-making, Pakistan received three major legacies from the freedom movement: (i) Islamic aspirations (ii) federalism, and (iii) a democratic orientation. First, leaving aside the single-factor analysis/paradigm, which Pakistani historiography on partition has been obsessed with for the most part, Islam was used as the cultural metaphor not as a theocracy for galvanizing Indian Muslims under the Pakistan canopy, and their penchant to preserve and foster Islamic values in their demographically-dominant regions was decisively at the centre of the Pakistan Movement. Second, as Professor Richard S. Wheeler points out: “The history of the Muslim League and of the Muslim separatist movement itself committed Pakistani political leaders to a federal structure, tempering an overriding belief in Muslim unity with a recognition of the geographical and cultural facts of provincial diversity”. Third, Jinnah had committed the Muslim League to constitutionalism, throughout his and its career. “In heart and mind,” says Frank Moraes, a leading Indian editor, “Jinnah had a great respect for law as it stood and therefore for constitutional institutions”. Moraes quoted another leading Indian editor during the 1940s, Joaehin Alva as saying, “If constituted authority is to be overthrown what will happen to the country?”. A query that Jinnah had posed at the height of the Civil Disobedience Movement during 1920-22, to which he ostensibly and obviously received no satistfactory answer. Hence, Wheeler’s contention that “the League’s dedication to constitutionalism, epitomized in Jinnah’s career, predisposed the [Pakistani] leaders to seek solutions within the democratic parliamentary tradition, avoiding a radical break with the past”.


When it comes to a democratic orientation, it needs to be noted that throughout the struggle for Pakistan, Jinnah sought a verdict on the Muslim demand through the ballot box. At the height of the general elections of 1945-46, which were to decide the fate of Pakistan, he categorically affirmed on October 10, 1945 that, “If the Muslims’ verdict is against Pakistan I will stand down”. A week later, he reaffirmed his commitment to a democratic choice, saying, “We want the verdict of the electorate, such as it is constituted, of Muslims, whether they want Pakistan or whether they want to live here as an object minority under Hindu Raj....”


Three years later, in his broadcast to the American people in February 1948, when he presided over the destiny of the fledgling state, he reaffirmed, “. . . I am sure it [the Pakistan constitution] will be of a democratic type, embodying the essential principles of Islam.”


Earlier, in his first public pronouncement in Pakistan on August 11, 1947, he expounded the concept of a common nationality encompassing all those who resided in Pakistan, no matter what their race, colour, language or religion. This was, in essence, a call for a paradigm shift of the pre-partition two-nation theory which had envisioned Hindus and Muslims as two separate nations entitled to the right of self-determination in their respective demographically dominant regions. What he meant was that since the substratum in Renan’s nationality framework had changed with the nation having acquired statehood in the emergence of Pakistan, the two-nation theory, albeit being valid in the pre-partition subcontinental context only in terms of Hindus and Muslims (as now two nation states Pakistan and Hindustan have been established comprising diverse population in faith and creed), had somewhat changed in the emerging Pakistani nationhood context. Now Pakistanis and Indians are two nations and those living in respective country define that nationhood. Tragically though, many Pakistanis, like Indians, being “hostage” to the pre-partition ideas and stock arguments as well as the partition syndrome, were psychologically unprepared to comprehend the full implications of his call and translate it on the ground. History provides solid foundations for future contextualisation yet change is inevitable and past can’t be re-lived. All Pakistanis living in Pakistan are part of the nation including Hindu, Sikhs, Christians and others.


Oft and anon, Jinnah did talk about “embodying the essential principles of Islam” within Pakistan’s body politic, but what he meant was that Islam would not politicize it but would provide it with its ethical foundations. Pakistan being predominantly Muslim, he envisaged that Islam would become the principal source and basis for its code of public morality. Thus, when it came to Pakistan’s polity and political structure, he was emphatic that ‘Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic state – to be ruled by priests with a divine mission’. Jinnah had invoked Islam because, as he had repeatedly said, “Islam and its idealism have 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 standards of integrity and on the basis of fairplay and justice for everday.... Let us make it (the future constitution of Pakistan). We shall make it and we will show it to the world.” Thus, he stood for the democratic face of Islam; he stood for the pluralist face of Islam.


That this version of an Islamic democracy was in accord with the views of Allama Shabbir Ahmad Usmani indicates beyond doubt that the ideologue, the founder, the first Prime Minister and the foremost religious leader of the day were thinking on the same wavelength. This certainly was fortuitous for Pakistan in its formative years. The Allama, on his part, gave stolid support to the Objectives Resolution, and categorically ruled out theocracy as the structural framework of Pakistan’s constitution, arguing that “an Islamic state does not mean the government of the ordained priests. How could Islam”, he asked pointedly, “countenance the false idea which the Qur’an so emphatically repudiated in Sura al-Tauba, IX, verse 31?”


Jinnah stood not only against theocracy, but also against sectarianism. “Islam”, he said, “does not recognize any kind of distinction of caste and the Prophet [PBHU] was able to level down all castes and create national unity among Arabs.” Unfortunately though, sectarianism has raised its ugly head in Pakistan during the last twenty years, making such a mess of Pakistan. Curbing religious extremism and marginalizing jihadi and terrorist groups are, indeed, among the most critical challenges confronting Pakistan today, and the future face of Pakistan depends for the most part on how we go about tackling these critical tasks.


All through his life Jinnah was reputed to have an eye for details – whether he was pursuing a case in the courts or presenting his case across the negotiating table. Indeed his mastery over details had made him such a hard bargainer and this, along with his cold-blooded logic, was the key to his success in his numerous political battles. No wonder, when Pakistan was demanded and established, he not only enunciated ideals, principles and norms of public policy at the macro level but also enumerated problems confronting the would be or newly born state at the micro level. And he availed his August 11 presidential address to the Constituent Assembly to focus on some of the problems confronting Pakistan, which are still live issues in contemporary Pakistan.

 

Jinnah stood not only against theocracy, but also against sectarianism. “Islam”, he said, “does not recognize any kind of distinction of caste and the Prophet [PBHU] was able to level down all castes and create national unity among Arabs.” Unfortunately though, sectarianism has raised its ugly head in Pakistan during the last twenty years, making such a mess of Pakistan. Curbing religious extremism and marginalizing jihadi and terrorist groups are, indeed, among the most critical challenges confronting Pakistan today, and the future face of Pakistan depends for the most part on how we go about tackling these critical tasks.

Now, consider how relevant are the “things” he drew attention to for the contemporary Pakistan. And of them the core things are as follows.


i) “… the first duty of a government is to maintain law and order, so that the life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects are fully protected by the state.”


ii) “One of the biggest curses … is bribery and corruption. We must put that down with an iron hand…” (Remember, this includes political bribery and corruption, of which we hear so much today.)


iii) “Black-marketing is another curse… and they (black-marketers) ought to be severely punished…”
iv) “… the evil of nepotism and jobbery … must be crushed relentlessly … I shall never tolerate any kind of jobbery, nepotism or any influence directly or indirectly brought to bear upon me.”


v) “… everyone… no matter to what community he belongs, … no matter what his colour, caste or creed, is first, second and last a citizen of this state with equal rights, privileges and obligations… we are all citizens and equal citizens of one state.” (This dictum in the present context should logically be extended to include various sects and ethnic groups).


vi) “I shall (i.e., rulers in Pakistan should) always be guided by the principles of justice and fairplay without any… prejudice or ill-will, in other words, partiality or favouritism.”


As his August 11, 1947 address, his pronouncements on various occasions during his tenure as Governor General provide us with certain guidelines for building up a strong and stable Pakistan, and for public conduct in various spheres of national life.


Consider, for instance, his exhortation to the civil servants “to do your duty as servants” arguing. “… you are not concerned with this political party or that …, that is not your business. It is the business of politicians to fight out their case under this constitution or the future constitution that may ultimately be framed. You, therefore, have nothing to do with this party or that. You are civil servants. Whichever (party) gets the majority will form the Government and your duty is to serve that Government as servants, not as politicians….”


Interestingly, Jinnah also foresaw how even democratic institutions and structures could be abused. He warned, “Representative governments and representative institutions are no doubt good and desirable, but when people want to reduce them merely to channels of personal aggrandizement, they not only lose their value but earn a bad name, let us avoid that and it is possible only if we subject our actions to perpetual scrutiny and test them with the touchstone not of personal or sectional interest but of the good of the State” (Address to Quetta Municipality, June 15, 1948).


To an observer of the contemporary Pakistani scene, I don’t have to say which of the above guidelines have been translated into social action and which transgressed, and how far the successive regimes have addressed the sore problems Jinnah had pointed at in his August 11 address.


These are being dilated upon, almost ad infinitum, by scores of columnists in Pakistani newspapers day in and day out and hence I refrain from repeating or paraphrasing them.


Finally, one word about democracy in Pakistan. Fortunately, a democratic dispensation in terms of its apparatus, structure and institutions has returned. Whether it is functional, dysfunctional or malfunctional is beside the point. But what is important is that it isn’t, as yet, informed by a democratic ethos.


Remember, democracy is meaningless unless it is utilized in pursuit of the creation of a welfare state which ensures the promotion of the hallowed principles of the sanctity of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, curbs abuse of power, tyranny and exploitation, and ushers in equity, social justice, human development and an egalitarian, civil society principles, pursuits and values, sanctified both in the democratic framework and by the Islamic ethos. And that constitutes the litmus test for the present regime.

 

The writer is HEC Distinguished National Professor, who has recently co-edited UNESCO’s History of Humanity, vol. VI, and The Jinnah Anthology (2010) and edited In Quest of Jinnah (2007); the only oral history on Pakistan’s Founding Father.
 
Read 292 times

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated. HTML code is not allowed.

Follow Us On Twitter