Tuesday, July 12, 2005

on jinnah

jul 12th

so much for jinnah's 'secularism'. i have been ignoring the fuss about this because i think it is a complete red herring.

but i do think jinnah was 'secular', as in the perverse indian sense attributed to the term: it means someone who gives muslims (and christians, and marxists, all 'people of the book', semitic/abrahamists) preference over hindus. just like the nehruvian stalinist establishment. therefore, yes, jinnah was 'secular'.

but jinnah was not secular as in the dictionary meaning of the term, which means equally indifferent to all religions. christopher hitchens, for instance, is secular as he despises all religions equally. jinnah despised only some (in an orwellian way, some were more equal than others for him).

Organizer 10 July 2005

Secular Jinnah a command performance


Meenakshi Jain


Muhammad Ali Jinnah's long ignored speech of 11 August 1947, currently cause celebre in India, was actually a command performance at British instance. Alarmed at the horrific bloodletting of Sikhs and Hindus in the new state, Lord Ismay, Chief of Staff to Viceroy Lord Louis Mountbatten, categorically asked Jinnah to issue a placatory statement assuring all communities that there was room for everyone in Muslim majority Pakistan.


            Lord Ismay admitted to thus pressurizing Jinnah in an interview to Prof. Kirpal Singh, former Head of the Department, Punjabi Historical Studies, Punjabi University, Patiala, in England on 17 August 1964. The full transcript of the interview has been included in Prof. Kirpal Singh's book "Select Documents on Partition of Punjab – 1947 (India and Pakistan)," sponsored by the Punjab Government and the Indian Council of Historical Research, and published in 1991.


When asked how the bloody massacres in Punjab in 1947 could have been averted, Lord Ismay replied:  

"I suggested to Mr. Jinnah that he should issue a statement assuring the Sikhs that Pakistan was not only for the Muslims but for all the communities including the Sikhs. They would be given all opportunities in services and administration of the country, and Sikh shrines in Pakistan would enjoy the status of Vatican. Perhaps he (Jinnah) hated everything Hindu; he said, 'it was weakness to the hostages'. When I repeated he did not respond at all".


In the course of the interview, Lord Ismay also revealed that he did his best to persuade Jinnah not to bifurcate the army. "Regiments should not be divided," he reasoned. But the Quaid-e-Azam disagreed: "You do not know the working of the Hindu mind."


That the 11 August 1947 speech in no way signified Jinnah's genuine views on the issue of minorities in Pakistan is attested to by several public pronouncements he made during the course of the same year, in which he forthrightly stated that exchange of population was imperative along with the Partition. Commenting upon the partition of Punjab and Bengal in Delhi on 30 April 1947, as reported in the Dawn the following day, Jinnah said:

"Exchange of population will have to take place and the Constituent Assemblies of Pakistan and Hindustan can take up the matter and subsequently respective Governments in Pakistan and Hindustan can effectively carry out the exchange of population wherever it may be necessary and feasible."


Despite proposing the population transfer, Jinnah duplicitously claimed that the Hindu-Sikh exodus was part of a carefully calibrated Indian strategy to paralyze the infant state of Pakistan economically and socially. Addressing the Civil, Naval, Military and Air Force officers of the Pakistan Government on 11 October 1947 Jinnah asserted:

"… I have repeatedly made it clear in my utterances, both private and public, that we would treat the minorities fairly and that nothing is farther from our thoughts than to drive them away. I, however, regret to say that the minorities here did not give us a chance to prove our bonafides and give us their whole-hearted cooperation as citizens of Pakistan when the criseses suddenly overtook us. Before we could assume the reins of office, non-Muslims started pulling out of Pakistan, which as subsequent events have proved, was part of a well-organized plan to cripple Pakistan".


Six months after the famous 'secular' speech, in December 1947, Jinnah addressed the All-India Muslim League Council, where he bemoaned the condition of Indian Muslims and expressed willingness to take over their leadership if the Council endorsed such a proposal. Expounding his vision of the new state, he emphasized: "Let it be clear that Pakistan is going to be a Muslim State based on Islamic ideals. It was not going to be an ecclesiastical state. In Islam there is no discrimination as far as citizenship is concerned. The whole world, even UNO has characterized Pakistan as a Muslim State."


A month later, he elaborated this theme in an address to the Bar Association of Karachi on the occasion of the Prophet's birthday on 25 January 1948. Refuting the propaganda in certain quarters that Pakistan's constitution would not be drafted on the basis of the Shariat, he clarified: "Islamic principles today are as applicable to life as they were 1,300 years ago."


Surprisingly, India's contemporary and rather acrimonious debate over Jinnah's secular credentials ignores certain defining features of Indian Islam. These deeply condition the Muslim response and severely restrict the freedom of action of those claiming to be the community's political messiahs.


Islam's primary preoccupation in the Indian subcontinent has been to maintain a separate identity vis-à-vis Hindus and Hinduism. For centuries the Muslim leadership has expended its energies in educating ordinary Muslims on their dissimilarities with their non-Muslim neighbours. All reform movements without exception have stressed the need to purge Indian Islam of elements of indigenous culture still retained by converts and attempted to familiarize ordinary Muslims with the "high-culture version" of their faith. This has led to enhanced orthodoxy by increasing the grip of the ulema over the populace.


Far more significant is the fact that Muslim tradition consistently denies the notion of a common political society or the desirability of a common law that is not founded on the Shariat. Muslims attach the greatest importance to organizing their polity on the basis of religion and community. In British India they opted for separate electorates because that guaranteed them a political identity based on their religious exclusivity. In this manner, Indian Muslims accepted elections, but resisted rule by genuine political majorities, and insisted instead upon statutory parity between Hindus and Muslims. The secular nationalism of the Indian National Congress could never appeal to them. Partition and the brutal discrimination against minorities in both wings of Pakistan were inherent in such a mindset.







kiran said...

while hajvani's comments on 'secular' jinnah raised a storm in the psec elm, manmoron's statement that 'raj was beneficial to india' was brushed under the carpet.

Anonymous said...

in depth analysis by tvr shenoy of both advani's and manmohan's speeches. a lot of clarification here