The fractured image of Muhammad Ali Jinnah

Jinnah has been 'converted' by Pakistan till he can no longer be recognised. Faking Jinnah has meant a lesser Pakistan.

The Founder of Pakistan, Father of the Nation, the Great Leader, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah (1876-1948) is today the sentinel of Pakistan´s Islamic ideology. His portraits are everywhere, from Parliament to the smallest police station, showing him in sherwani and his trademark cap, his features set in an expression of ideological censure.Jinnah´s party, the Pakistan Muslim League, is in power and it has no doubt that he would have approved of the process of Islamisation and the imposition of sharia. The Quaid-e-Azam´s entire career is today explained as given over to the struggle for the establishment of an Islamic state where only Muslims would be full citizens.

Jinnah has been harnessed to a version of Islamic ideology that was not his own. In order to maintain Jinnah in this ideological posture, the Pakistani state has had to modify many known details of the man´s life. Such as his beliefs, his family relationships, his eating habits, his religiosity, his attitude towards Partition and towards India, and his views on minority rights.

In India, Jinnah has been reviled as a malevolent, humourless, politically ambitious man who wrecked the dream of a united, secular India. Authors like H.M. Seervai have tried to put the record straight, but Jinnah-bash-ing continues in India, which has had an impact on how the larger world views the Quaid. Gandhi was Jinnah´s contemporary rival but it was young Nehru who was responsible for demonising him. Shortly before his death, Mountbatten called Jinnah "bastard" in his interview with Dominique Lappiere and Larry Collins while they were researching Freedom at Midnight. Attenborough´s film Gandhi has castigated Jinnah while deifying the Mahatma.

The Quaid´s image has been manipulated within Pakistan just as he has been misrepresented outside the country. His country today struggles with its internal crises, made possibly worse because it has deviated so far from the path that Jinnah had charted. Indeed, the falsification of Jinnah hits at the very soul of Pakistan.

It has been easier for the state to tinker with Jinnah´s historic portrait because his family is not around to challenge the version that has emerged. In fact, Pakistanis today know virtually nothing about his kin, his marriage, or his only child, a daughter still alive who has never been officially invited to visit Pakistan. It is now taken as the truth that the Quaid turned against his daughter when she married a Christian, considering her an apostate. However, this stands without evidence. (see page 17).

As for Jinnah´s attitude towards India, unlike what the average Pakistani has been led to believe, Jinnah never thought that India and Pakistan would be hostile neighbours. The fact that three institutions in India – including the Aligarh Muslim University – were named beneficiaries in Jinnah´s will clearly goes against the state-sponsored version of his life. Jinnah could have changed his will any time after he made it in 1929, more so after 1947, but he did not. It is a different matter that none of the three institutions in the end received money from the Jinnah Trust which looks after the Quaid´s estate, funds which were instead diverted to Pakistani institutions.

Perhaps the most drastic redrafting of Jinnah´s worldview has been in how he saw the minorities, for Jinnah´s vision of Indo-Pakistani relations itself was based on a bilateral regard for the minorities in each country. However, particularly within Pakistan, it was not a vision anyone cared much for. Jinnah´s colleagues in the Muslim League were not willing to treat non-Muslims equally, especially not the Hindus of East Pakistan who formed one-fourth of the population there.

The Quaid and the general
The re-moulding of Jinnah´s persona began even before the birth of Pakistan. On 11 August 1947, addressing the Constituent Assembly in Karachi, Jinnah said:

You are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed…that has nothing to do with the business of the state… We are starting in the days when there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no distinction between one caste or creed or another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one state.

The Muslim League bureaucracy, which did not agree with Jinnah´s vision of a secular Pakistan, asked the press in Karachi not to print the statement. In later years, the statement was not even allowed to feature in official publications. Under General Zia-ul Haq, historians were even commissioned to state that Jinnah was not completely in his senses when he addressed the Constituent Assembly.

Gen Zia also banned Stanley Wolpert´s book Jinnah of Pakistan (1984) because it contained descriptions of Jinnah´s dietary habits. Wolpert quoted M.C. Chagla´s book Roses in December: An Autobiography (1974), in which it is mentioned that Jinnah drank alcohol and ate ham sandwiches. (Chagla, later chief justice at Bombay High Court, was Jinnah´s private secretary and also the Muslim League secretary who left the League following differences with Jinnah over the Nehru Report of 1928. The Nehru Report envisaged a secular nationalist India and went against the Muslims because it denied them separate electorates which would have meant assured representation in the legislatures.)

On the whole, Wolpert´s book is probably the most effective defence of Jinnah´s secular credentials but it has remained banned in Pakistan. The author, who went on to write a debunking biography of Nehru titled Nehru: A Tryst with Destiny (1996), is also not as welcome in Pakistan as he might have been. It is said that Gen Zia, who had acquired numerous copies of Wolpert´s book on Jinnah, was in the habit of presenting it to his guests with the offending page marked to show the ´difference´ between himself as the Islamic messianic leader, and Jinnah, who had founded the country wrong.

The Quaid´s daughter, Dina, living in New York, was secretly asked to deny that her father ever drank alcohol or ate ham. When she refused to oblige, she was threatened with ´disclosures´ about her private life if she ever made it public that she had been approached.

Islamic objectives
It is often said that Pakistan´s Constitution was not framed till as late as 1956 because the West Pakistani elite was not willing to share power with the East Pakistani majority. Any constitutional dispensation would have tilted in favour of East Pakistan because its population was larger. The first Constitution of 1956, nevertheless, favoured West Pakistan by creating the myth of parity between East Pakistan and a West Pakistan formed into One Unit after abolishing the four provinces.

Another reason for postponing the constitutional exercise, however, was that Jinnah was not willing to allow a religion-based document. It was immediately after his death in 1948 that Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan formed a committee of the ulema to decide the Islamic guidelines for it. In 1949, when the recommendations were tabled in the Constituent Assembly as the Objectives Resolution, the East Pakistani Hindu members objected, but neither did the draft please the Islamists in the Muslim League. Constitutional historian G.W. Chaudhry and others actually complained that the Objectives Resolution was not Islamic enough.

It is to his credit that Liaquat Ali Khan did not allow the Objectives Resolution to become as abrasively Islamic as would have been preferred by his secretary-general Chaudhry Muhammad Ali, a close friend of Maulana Syed Abu Ala Maududi, the founder of Jamaat Islami. The reason was that Pakistan had signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, whose Article 18 provides that minorities should be allowed to practise their religion freely. Hence, the Objectives Resolution stated that "adequate provision would be made for the minorities freely to profess and practise their religion and develop their cultures".

With time, the Objectives Resolution became the Preamble to the Constitution of Pakistan. In 1985, Gen Zia decided to make the Preamble an operative part of the Constitution, and his 8th Amendment included it as an Annex to the Constitution. But without pointing it out, he removed the term ´freely´ from the text. The situation today is that the Objectives Resolution, as an inoperative preamble to the Constitution, promises minorities that they can practise their religion freely, but the operative Annex inside takes away this freedom. After the death of Gen Zia in 1988, successive elected governments could have restored the original text in the Annex simply by declaring it a printing error, but they didn´t.

Separate and unequal
In his book on Gen Zia, Working with Zia: Pakistan´s Power Politics 1977-1988 (1996), Gen Khalid Mahmood Arif writes that the text of the 8th Amendment was agreed at the General Headquarters through a consensus among the corps commanders. However, the actual job of changing the 1973 Constitution to make it Islamic enough for Gen Zia was probably done by historian and lawyer Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada  former secretary and devotee of Jinnah and his assistants. (Pirzada was the person responsible for making public the ideological rift between Jinnah and his trusted lieutenant Liaquat Ali Khan. He also wrote extensively to show that in his last days Jinnah had lost trust in Liaquat.)

The 8th Amendment introduced separate electorates for Muslims and non-Muslims under Article 51 (4), thus nullifying Jinnah´s 11 August 1947 address to the Constituent Assembly. Non-Muslims could no longer vote together with Muslims on the general seats; they would instead stand for elections and vote only for special seats set aside for them in the federal and provincial legislatures.

The amendment was made so ham-handedly that the phraseology of Article 51(4) relating to the National Assembly was not repeated in Article 106 relating to the provincial assemblies. When a Christian candidate went to court to make the Election Commission accept his candidature for the general seats in the provincial assembly, the judges interpreted Article 106 tendentiously to reject the petition. (In 1997, the outgoing Chief Election Commissioner, Sardar Fakhre Alam, did recommend that joint electorates be resumed because separate electorates were tantamount to denial of representation to non-Muslims in Pakistan.)

Pakistan´s first Constitution in 1956, prepared by Chaudhry Muhammad Ali, who was to become Pakistan´s first prime minister under it, had sought to impose separate electorates on both wings of Pakistan, but East Paki­stan had rejected the idea. Thereupon, the matter was left to the discretion of the provinces. West Pakistan accepted the separate electorates under the Muslim League government but failed to form constituencies for non-Muslims because its geography was clearly seen to deny representation to the minorities. As Rafi Raza wrote in Pakistan in Perspective 1947-1997 (1997), "Eventually, in April 1957, joint electorates were reintroduced throughout Pakistan because the task of delimiting separate electorates proved too complex."

Since the adoption of the 8th Amendment in 1985, Pakistan has been forcing non-Muslims to vote for special seats under a system of constituencies which are geographically so spread out that voters are most often totally unacquainted with their leaders. The minorities have been agitating against separate electorates which have now been elevated by Islamabad to the realm of ideology.

Political package
Separate electorates has been given a religious colour, with non-Muslims not allowed to vote together with Muslims. However, Jinnah´s campaign for separate electorates in United India was of a different nature and had nothing to do with religion. (And his two-nation proposal came much later, after he was repeatedly snubbed by the Congress.) In United India, it was the Muslim minority asking for separate electorates. In contemporary Pakistan, the minorities are not asking for separate electorates. They want joint electorates. Separate electorates were initially recommended to the Government of India in 1908 by Gopal Krishna Gokhale, India´s great liberal leader who was a source of inspiration to Jinnah. In 1916, Jinnah was able to get the Muslim League and Congress together in a joint session in Lucknow to accept the principle of special seats for the Muslim minority on the basis of Gokhale´s liberal vision.

At the joint session, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, who had eclipsed Gokhale in popularity with the use of religious symbols and extremist nationalism, voted in favour of separate electorates for Muslims. The same year he had been successfully defended by jinnah in a case of sedition against the raj. Jinnah, who had been called the ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity by Gokhale, got along nicely with Tilak´s religious rhetoric. Both were politicians who had an eye on the opportune moment.

In 1928, replying to the Nehru Report which had gone back on the Lucknow compact over separate electorates, Jinnah issued his Fourteen Points in which separate electorates were claimed not as a religious demand but as a political package which could be modified.

In Punjab province, the cross-communal Unionist Party of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs ruled on the basis of separate electorates which gave Muslims a permanent majority. When Jinnah began negotiating with the Congress over his demand for separate electorates, the Unionists convened an All-India Muslim Conference in 1929 denouncing his abandonment of the cause. The Unionists were able to get the support of the Aga Khan and Allama Iqbal, the Muslim League leader from Punjab who is perhaps better known outside Pakistan as the poet Muhammad Iqbal.

While all this was going on, Gandhi took over the Khilafat Movement (organised against the British for dismembering the Turkish empire) which the Muslim League was reluctant to support. Gandhi thus became a leader of Muslims (that is, until he called off the Movement). Through support for the Movement, Gandhi eased Jinnah out of the Congress centre stage. During this period, besides being in political limbo, Jinnah was personally devastated because of his estrangement from his wife. Her death in 1929 caused him to migrate to England where he bought a house and settled down to legal practice, and was not to return to India till 1934.

Back in India, the Nehru Report compounded the hurt the conservative anti-Jinnah Muslims had felt by Gandhi´s calling off in 1924 of the Khilafat Movement. Thereafter, separate electorates emerged as the foremost political issue in Muslim politics. The principle established in United India was: if the minorities want them they should be allowed as affirmative action, but it should not be imposed on the minorities by the majority population. In Pakistan, the minorities are so few (about one percent of the national population) and scattered all over so thinly that they would prefer to vote together with the Muslims for they would then form a vote bank for Muslim leaders. The Pakistani State has violated this principle by forcing the minorities to accept a system that effectively disempowers them. Jinnah would never have allowed it.

Apart from separate electorates, there are other laws that make non-Muslims in Pakistan second-class citizens. The law of evidence in force under the sharia discriminates against them because their testimony is not equal to that of Muslims; the Gustakh-e-Rasul (Insult to the Prophet) law targets non-Muslims and has serious legal defects; conversion to Islam by non-Muslim women has been exploited by Muslims because Christian and Hindu marriages stand automatically annulled after the wife converts to Islam. Under another law, non-Muslims are not allowed to compete freely with Muslims for seats in educational institutions and for government employment; under the Zakat (poor due) law, non-Muslims are not allowed treatment in institutions run by Islamic charity.

Nothing, it can be said, has damaged Pakistan´s position on the Kashmir dispute in the 1990s more than the laws passed against the non-Muslims. The 1949 UN Security Council resolutions asking for a plebiscite in Kashmir were passed when Pakistan was still Jinnah´s Pakistan. Today, it would be morally wrong to even propose that nearly two million Hindus and Buddhists of Jammu and Ladakh live under these draconian anti-minorities laws in Pakistan.

Lahore Resolution
Jinnah was driven to separatism by the Congress and its dynamic leader, Nehru, who personally disliked Jinnah. While in exile in London, Jinnah attended the two Round Table Conferences convened in 1930 and 1931 to decide the future Constitution of India. He heard the name ´Pakistan´ in London among Muslim activists residing there, in particular Chaudhry Rehmat Ali, who had thought up a scheme for Muslim homelands in India (see box opposite).

The Muslim delegates of the Round Table Conference, however, ignored Chaudhry Rehmat Ali´s theory, mainly because they were handpicked by the Unionist chief Sir Fazle Hussain, who had in 1930 become the first Indian member of the Viceroy´s Council. The Unionists were against the Pakistan proposal because they wanted a united non-communal Punjab opposed to the politics of both the Congress and the Muslim League.

In 1940, when the Lahore Resolution was approved by the All-India Muslim League, the Punjab Unionist premier Sir Sikandar Hayat saw to it that Pakistan was not mentioned in it. The Resolution also mentioned separate states´ to be created for the Muslims instead of one state´ in order to ensure Punjab and Bengal their separate identities. After the 1937 elections, which was held on the basis of separate electorates under the Government of India Act 1935, and in which the Congress won overwhelming victories in all the provinces except Punjab and Bengal, Jinnah approached the Congress once again for an agreement on power-sharing with the Muslim League but was snubbed by Nehru, then the Congress president. Jinnah was perforce pushed into embracing a scheme he had no stomach for as a liberal-secularist.

Pakistani Gettysburg
Today in Pakistan, no one can openly call himself a secularist. The term ´liberal´ is also seen as a secular giveaway, condemned by religious parties. When Pakistan´s new president, Muhammad Rafiq Tarar, called himself a "liberal Muslim", he was challenged by the clergy. Jinnah could not have survived in this environment. To maintain him in the national pantheon, the state is at pains to describe him as a non-secular, non-liberal leader who had promised the sharia as part of his political programme.

According to author Akbar S. Ahmad, Jinnah´s two speeches at the Constituent Assembly constitute his Gettysburg Address. They are: the 11 August speech in which he declared Pakistan a secular state, and the 14 August speech in which, in answer to Mountbatten´s reference to Akbar the Great, as the model for the new Muslim state, he pointed to the greater example of the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad. Additionally, while addressing the Karachi Bar Association on 25 January 1948 on the occasion of the holy Prophet´s birthday, Jinnah said: "Some are misled by propaganda. Islamic principles are as applicable to life as they were 1,300 years ago. The Constitution of Pakistan will be made on the basis of the sharia."

These two references to Islam are used by social conservatives to claim Jinnah for themselves, but they make Jinnah a fundamentalist, as aggressively claimed by New Delhi editor-journalist M.J. Akbar in his book India under Siege (1986). Jinnah had learnt his politics in India the hard way. He had objected to Gandhi´s use of religion, but he had also seen, without protest, Tilak doing it blatantly to establish himself as lokmanya (the title prefixed to his name which means "respected by the people"). Nothing worked on the masses more than nationalist extremism and divisive religious sloganeering. He was forced to use Islam in Punjab where the cross-communal Unionism was finally brought down by the mullahs.

But the concept of sharia was different in the minds of Jinnah and Allama Iqbal after they corresponded in 1937-8 to clarify what later came to be known as the vision of Pakistan. Both had endured abusive opposition from the pro-Congress Khilafat Committee headed by the Ali Brothers, Muhammad Ali and Shaukat Ali. (In The World of Fatwas: Or the Shariah in Action, New Delhi journalist Arun Shourie quotes Gandhi´s diarist to show how the Ali Brothers were devoted to Gandhi after 1919, kissing his feet and expressing their opposition to the Muslim League. Akbar S. Ahmed notes the violent opposition faced by Jinnah from Shaukat Ali. Ashiq Hussain Batalvi, perhaps the best historian of the Pakistan Movement, speaks of virulent journalistic attacks made on Jinnah by Muhammad Ali.)

Allama Iqbal, steadfast in his opposition to the concept of khilafat, defended the ´liberal´ model of Turkish Islam in his famous Lectures; the book Jinnah gave Dina to read was on Kemal Ataturk, the secular founder of modern Turkey who had abolished the Caliphate (Khilafat) in 1924. In his sixth and final Lecture delivered at Aligarh in 1929, Allama Iqbal opposed the hudood (Quranic punishments) today in force in Pakistan. He said:

The prophetic method of teaching according to Shah Waliullah is that, generally speaking, the law revealed by a prophet takes especial notice of the habits, ways and peculiarities of the people to whom he is specially sent. The prophet who aims at all-embracing principles, however, can neither reveal different principles for different people, nor leave them to work out their own rules of conduct. His method is to train one particular people and to use them as a nucleus for the building up of a universal sharia. In doing so he accentuates the principles underlying the social norms of all mankind in the light of the specific habits of the people immediately before him. The sharia values resulting from the application (e.g. rules relating to the penalties for crimes) are in a sense specific to that people; and since their observance is not an end in itself they cannot be strictly enforced in the case of future generations. (from Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam by Muhammad Iqbal, 1977)

In December 1986, Justice Javid Iqbal, the son of Allama iqbal  confronted Gen Zia at a seminar and, referring to the Iqbal-Jinnah correspondence, told him that Islamic punishments had not been envisaged by the two Muslim leaders for the Islamic state. While Justice Iqbal denied that the two had planned a secular state, he declared that it was an ideal secular state they had in mind. (This writer possesses a signed statement made by Justice Iqbal on 25 January 1986 at a seminar titled "Pakistan ka aham tareen masaala kiya hai" What is Pakistan´s number one problem?) Gen Zia ignored the point, and the hudood, including the cutting of hands and stoning to death, remained in place. Justice Iqbal has retired and today is a member of the Muslim League in the Senate and supports the ruling party´s opposition to the secular state while continuing to adhere to the view of Allama Iqbal on the question of hudood.

The Tashakhus identity
Jinnah was the most incorruptible Muslim of his times, even though his integrity originated from his Western orientation. Today, Pakistanis continue to idealise him even as their Islamic politicians plunder the country. Pakistan has reached the acme of Islam but has become one of the most corrupt countries in the world. In a series of interviews during the Ramadhan just past, almost all the political leaders said that they keep the fast and after breaking it, say the special after-dinner prayers called travih. They also pray five times a day and say the special namaz called tahajjud, meant for the extremely pious. The interviews are poignant because almost all these leaders face charges of dodging taxes and gouging the banks for loans they never paid back.

Jinnah has had to be transformed because Pakistan has gradually set its face against his legacy. As author Akbar S. Ahmed says, "his behaviour reflected Anglo-Indian sociology", but he was also a Muslim. The tendency has been to emphasise the Quaid´s Muslim identity by juxtaposing it with the ´Hindu-ness´ of the Congress as the Pakistani historian saw it.

What Jinnah and Allama Iqbal had in mind was a modern Islamic state, the ´modern´ referring to a secular state where all religions could coexist. Contest with India, and the need at all times to ´separate´ Pakistan´s identity from India´s, caused the Muslim League politicians to firm up the Islamic attributes of Pakistan till their prescription broke away from Jinnah´s vision. The new identity, which Gen Zia called "tashakhus", inducted into the task of law-making the very Islamic clergy which had condemned Jinnah for visualising a separate state.

Today, the break from Jinnah has plunged Pakistan into sectarian chaos. The Shia-Sunni conflict, lying buried in old books, has been exhumed by the extremist clergy and made into a new ideology, a natural journey of ´purification´ which began after Jinnah´s death. Conservative Urdu columnists, who have lent their powerful rhetoric to the transformation of Jinnah into a fundamentalist, are now warning about the possibility of secularism becoming a popular slogan.

Pakistan´s relations with Iran, always friendly in the past, are now judged increasingly along sectarian lines. After India´s Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral made friendly overtures, Iran is now held out as the major enemy of Pakistan for threatening its western frontiers through interference in Afghanistan. The Central Asian states, ruled by secular elites, are gradually revising their traditionally favourable attitude towards Pakistan and are seeing it as a threat to their own security.

Relations with India became hostile in 1947 because of what Pakistan saw as an invasion of Kashmir after Mountbatten had cleared the way through a fraudulent boundary award. But Jinnah, just before his death, envisaged normal relations with India despite the Indian leadership´s conviction that Pakistan wouldn´t survive and instead "relapse". It is difficult to see how Indo-Pak relations could have been normalised since the singular reason for Islamising Pakistan beyond Jinnah´s vision was the fact that, "India had not reconciled itself to the existence of Pakistan". However, there is no doubt that had Pakistan remained secular, it would have consolidated itself and persuaded India to accept it on the basis of its viability.

Today, Pakistan has cut itself off from the world. Its indoctrinated leaders seem to challenge the global order, presenting Pakistan as an increasingly recalcitrant and unstable country where non-Muslim minorities are at risk. Jinnah´s vision of a ´modern´ state would have saved Pakistan from international isolation and made it easy for the world to deal with it. This isolation has complicated Pakistan´s relations with India and Indians seem less interested to normalise ties with a country that will soon be punished by the world. Getting rid of Jinnah´s legacy has been Pakistan´s greatest tragedy, the consequences of which are being felt as the country hurtles down towards ideological chaos.

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