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Monday, 25 July 2011

Was Jinnah's intended original design for Pakistan one that is more liberal than modern times?

We have received the article below from Kamran James of the Department of Political Science at Forman Christian College.  He has requested it's publication on our blogsite for wider circulation.  It provides some fascinating insights on the formation of Pakistan, Jinnah's vision and that of other lead Minority and Muslim leaders of the day.  We hope you enjoy reading the article as much as we did:

Objective Resolution 1949
(A Historic Review of Minorities Perspective)
Mr. Kamran James
Department of Political Science
Forman Christian College
(A Chartered University)
(Updated on July 20th, 2011)

Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah while depicting the outline of the future constitution of God gifted state of Pakistan in the first constituent assembly of Pakistan under the president ship of a minority representative jogender Nath Mandal very frankly said:

Pakistan is not a theoretical state we would treat the people of other religions with tolerance. We welcome all persons irrespective of caste, color or creed as being the equal citizen of Pakistan

After being elected the first president of the constituent assembly on 11th August 1947, Jinnah delivered his memorable presidential address. It is one of his most important speeches in which he clearly outlined the ideal and concept of Pakistan. The first duty of the government, he declared was maintenance of law and order and protection of life, property and religious beliefs of the citizens.

 He called upon the majority and minority communities in Pakistan, Muslims and Hindus respectively, to bury the hatchet, forget the past and cooperate with each other. He exhorted them to concentrate on the well being of the people, especially of the poor. He declared that all citizens of Pakistan regardless of their color caste or creed would enjoy equal rights, privileges and obligations.

The Quaid Said: 

“I can not emphasis it to much we should begin to work in that spirit and in course of time all these angularities   of the majority and minority communities, the Hindu community and the Muslim community- because even as regards Muslims you have Pathans, Punjabis, Sunnis, Shias and so on an among the Hindus you have Brahmans, vashnavas, khatris, also Bengalese, madrasis, and so on-will vanish. Indeed if you ask me this has been the biggest hindrance in the way of India to attain the freedom and independence and but for this, we would have been free people long ago. No power can hold another nation and especially a nation of 400 million souls in subjection: no body could have conquered you, and even if it had happened, no body could have continued its hold on you for any length of time but for this. There fore we must learn a lesson from this.”

He then proceeded to affirm the right to religious freedom in the following words:

“You are free: you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other places 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”.

He further added:

"Now, I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in course of time, Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the state.
It is evident from the speech that jinnah’s prescription for the constitution of Pakistan included guarantees that: one, all citizens of Pakistan would be equal regardless of their belief, caste or creed: two, that all citizens would be guaranteed freedom to practice whatever religion they believed in : three, that all religious, sectarian, ethnic, linguistic and other similar distinction would cease no matter in political sense, and the constitution would ensure that the nation should progress regardless of such distinction and four that Pakistan would not be a theocratic state and religion would be a citizen’s personal matter."

Commenting on Don Campbell’s question (writer’s Correspondent in New Delhi) regarding the protection of the minorities in the new state of Pakistan. 

Muhammad Ali Jinnah very clearly stated:

“There is only one answer. The minorities must be protected and safeguarded. The minorities in Pakistan will be the citizens of Pakistan and enjoy all the rights privileges and obligations of citizenship with out any distinction of caste, sect. They will be treated justly and fairly .The government will run the administration and control the legislative measures by its parliament and the collective conscience of the parliament itself will be a guarantee that the minorities need have any apprehensions of any injustice being done to them. Over and above that there will be provisions for the protection and safeguard of the minorities which in my opinion must be embodied in the constitution itself. And this will leave no doubt as to the fundamental rights of the citizens ‘protection of religion and faith of every section freedom of thought and protection of their cultures and social life" (For reference see Dawn 22nd May, 1947, Jinnah Papers: prelude to PakistanVol.01 Lahore)

On another occasion Jinnah Said:

“Pakistan does not merely postulates the freedom for the Muslims we want freedom for the both Muslims and Hndus.There can not be Pakistan with out securing freedom for Hindustan” Speech at F.C College Lahore March 31,1946)

In short Jinnah visualized Pakistan as a modern progressive and democratic sate whose energies would be harnessed towards the uplift of the people, especially the masses and the poor and evils such as corruption, bribery, black-marketing, nepotism and jobbery would be stamped out. This was a reaffirmation of what Jinnah had told Don Campbell, Reuter’s correspondent in New Delhi in 1946:

The new state would be democratic state with sovereignty resting in the people and the members of the new nation having equal rights of citizenship regardless of their religion, caste or creed”.   

Contrary to Jinnah’s political philosophy, the first Prime minister of Pakistan Nawab Liaquat Ali khan moved objective resolution on 7th March 1949 in the constituent Assembly outlining the basic Principles for the constitutional frame work which was opposed by the Hindu members. According to them the proposed Objective Resolution by Prime Minister of God gifted State of Pakistan is contrary to the 11th August’s speech of Quaidi-i- Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. 

At the conclusion of the Liaqat Ali Khan’s speech all the amendments proposed by the non Muslim members were put to the vote of the constituent Assembly. These amendments were rejected by the House by ten against twenty one.  As soon as the Resolution was moved, a non Muslim member ,Pram Hari Barma proposed that the motion be circulated for eliciting public opinion thereon by the 30April 1949.This motion was vehemently supported by another non Muslim member Sirs Chandra chattopadhyaya in the following words;  

“So long as we had an idea that the constitution would be based on the eternal principles of equality democracy and social justice. We thought that religion and politics would not be mixed up. That was the declaration of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in this house but the resolution before us has a religious basis.”   

Out of the long speeches made by the non Muslim members of the constituent assembly, the speech of Birat Chandra Mandal, made on 9 March, 1949 was an eloquent and representative one for the minorities parts of which are:  

“Sir is there not pundits in India who could not insist on political thinkers of India to adopt such a constitution. Are there not bishops in England nor in America or in any other country which is dominated by Christians on the face of the globe?
“Individuals might have religion, but the state has got no religion. So in the interests of the state of which I am a humble member. I bring it to your notice through  the president  that you will be held responsible because you are the sponsor of this resolution not to the countries in the world which have made their constitutions in the past but also to the posterity who will think of making their constitutions in the future. So I tell you again and again to ponder over the resolution before you finally adopt it.

“But as you bring in religion or things as matters of faith. You open the door ajar for resentment of criticism. You then leave it to absolutism to fling it wide open. Sir I feel –I have reason to believe that were this resolution to come before this house with in life time of great creator of Pakistan, The Quad-I-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah it would not have come in its present shape .Even with you, sir, the honorable mover of this resolution at the helm of affairs in the state, I have no fear that criticism will be stilled or absolutism will find a chance to assert it self.”   

The Minority members who voted for the amendments were: 
1)     Mr Preme Hari Burma
2)     Prof. Raj Kumar Chakarvarty
3)     Mr Sris Chandra Kumar Chattopadhyaya
4)     Mr Akshay Kumar Dass
5)     Mr Bhupendra Kumar Data
6)     Mr jnanendra Chandra Majumdar
7)     Mr Birat Chandra Mandal
8)     Mr bhebesh Chandra Nandy
9)     Mr Dhananjoy Roy
10) Mr Harrendra Kumar Sur

After voting on the amendments the main resolution was passed before the constituent assembly and was adopted.   

The Hindu members vehemently opposed also the basic Principles report, of 1953 where it was purposed that that the head of state shall be Muslim. In September 1954 session of the constituent assembly the constitutional amendment bill could not be passed. After one month the constituent Assembly was dissolved by Bureaucrat Malik Ghulam Muhammad unexpectedly

Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, in his first address to the Constituent Assembly in 1947, said:

“I sincerely Hope that you with your support and your cooperation we shall make this Constituent assembly, an example to the world. The Constituent assembly was got two main functions to perform. The first is the very onerous and responsible task of framing our future constitution of Pakistan and the second of functioning as a full and complete sovereign body as the Federal Legislature of Pakistan”

And what did the members of that constituent assembly do? They wrangled endlessly over what kind of constitution Pakistan should have. The most they could do in two years time was to have the controversial Objective Resolution moved in the Assembly by Liaquat Ali khan in March1949. it was controversial because it was not in accordance with the guidelines set by Quad I- Azam in his 11th August address and in a host of other statements and declaration he had made earlier and was therefore boycotted by the Non Muslims members of Assembly .By then the neighboring India the draft of the constitution had been published and was soon adopted by the central Legislative Assembly in November 1949, becoming effective two months later in January 1950. .”(The Foreign Policy of Pakistan, Musa Khan Jalal Zai, pp23-24, Ariana Publications)

The constituent assembly went on neglecting the onerous and responsible talks of framing a constitution and the process got itself dissolved by Governor General Ghulam Muhammad in October 1954.Eventually it took 9 long years,2 Constituent assembly,4governor generals 04 prime ministers and 5 governments before Pakistan finally got its first constitution on 23rd march 1956,only to be robbed of a with in year and a half following the imposition of martial law on 7th Oct 1958 since then Pakistan have had a series of constituent and non constituent assemblies and  Majlees- a- Shooras and more than one constitution not one of them corresponding either to what Jinnah had envisaged or to the needs and aspirations of the vast majority of the people of Pakistan.

Jinnah recognized that once independence was achieved more than religion would be necessary to unify the fragmented polity and that he would no broaden the basis for national identity. In this oft-quoted address to the constituent assembly of august 11, 1947 he outlined the principles on which the new state was to be based.” Religion would have nothing to do with the business of the state, he declared.”(The Foreign Policy of Paksitan, Musa Khan Jalal Zai, pp23-24, Ariana Publications)

It is unfortunate that there was a division on the resolution along communal Lines and there was not even a single minority vote casted in favor of the Resolution. Muslims members voted against the amendments and non Muslim members voted for the amendments. One cannot escape the conclusion that the Resolution might have sown the seeds of suspicion, alienation, and distrust among the minorities against the majority. It might have been prudent to accept some of the amendments proposed by the members representing the minorities in order to reach an understanding with them so that the resolution could have been passed by consensus.  

It can not be denied that some of the proposed amendments were quite reasonable and moderate and their point of view ought to have been accommodated in the larger national interest (Constitutional and political History of Pakistan by Hamid khan, pp64-65 Oxford university press, The Constituent Assembly of Pakistan Debates, Volume V-1949, pp2-7)  

(Compiled by Mr. Kamran James, Assistant Professor & Head Department of Political Science Forman Christian College, A Chartered University Lahore, Pakistan)

1 comment:

  1. Nicely composed document. But did you not notice that Quid-Azam did not at any time brought the word 'Christians' anywhere in his addresses.