The J-Man and His Pakistan

I was informed that this article has resulted – to put it euphemistically-  in giving wedgies to quite a few chaddiz over at Bharatrakshak.com (as I had predicted in the article).  So I dropped by and just as I predicted… their rear is entirely up in smoke.  And the responses are hilarious.  One genius is suggesting that Jamiat-e-Ulema-Hind are “secular” and the Majlis-e-Ahrar were good guys (that they laid the foundation of Anti-Ahmadiyya bigotry and led the movement for Islamization in Pakistan is just an inconvenient side-point for these geniuses).    Mohandas Gandhi- whether someone admits it or not- is the father of politicization of religion.  He brought Mullahs into politics deliberately to sideline the liberals.  Jinnah and his ilk were only using the tools that were left to them.   No wonder Hindu fascist chumps from Bharat Rhakshak think Jamiat-e-ulema-hind were harmless.  The only harm JUH and Deobandi Islam ever did was to Muslims by stifling their progress.   After all the latest edict from the “Secular” Deoband is that banking is haram for Muslims.  Brilliant… what more could Hindu communalists ask for.  

Update:  Responses to Nusrat Pasha’s article confirm the Gandhian mindset amongst Indians and I use the word  Gandhian in the most uncharitable sense of the word.  Gandhi – whatever his intentions-  made a crucial mistake of driving down Muslim liberals and allying himself with Islamo-fascists- same Islamo-fascists who are responsible for much of the problems in the Muslim world.  In the Urdu language,   the word “taya” is used for an uncle who is older than one’s father.   If Gandhiji is estopped from claiming fatherhood of political Islam,  he must surely rank as the taya of political Islam in South Asia.     Same thing is happening today.  Many Indians – who have a vested interest in bolstering liberals – are so seized with nationalist bigotry and hatred that is ingrained in them against Pakistan and Jinnah that they are gleefuly celebrating Pakistan’s descent into chaos.  Well my little short-sighted friends,   if we in Pakistan fall – yes we the liberals you hate so much-   you will be faced with a darkness that you can seldom conceive and which you barely realize at this moment.  Then your little “secular deoband” fantasy will quickly turn into something you have no understanding of.

From Daily Times today

VIEW: The J-man and his Pakistan —Yasser Latif Hamdani

Jinnah was, and remained so, till the end of his life a classical liberal schooled in the Victorian era. His economics and politics was based on liberal and limited government protecting and forwarding the cause of freedom of speech, religion, press and also markets

It has been pointed out, quite justifiably, that most of my articles, if not all, refer to Jinnah and his conception of Pakistan in some form or the other. I can assure you that this reference is quite deliberate on my part for primarily two reasons. The first reason is that Jinnah was, as the Americans would say, the man, indeed our ‘main man’, or as I like to call him affectionately the J-man. Those who have had the opportunity of studying abroad and have read about Jinnah in our college libraries there can seldom recognise the sky blue sherwani topi-clad fellow with a similar name who is found on the walls of our government offices.

The second reason for my doing so is that there are many people who do not quite like it when I mention Jinnah. My mention of Jinnah, therefore, serves as a godsend for the industry that produces Pepto-Bismol for public consumption. These people — who have varying responses to my articles — are themselves derived from varied backgrounds and indeed nationalities. One group consists of rabid Islamists who insist Pakistan was created as some sort of millennial fantasy to create Allah’s kingdom on earth. The second group consists of the pseudo-Left, who want to be cool enough to be called Marxist but shy away from the intellectual rigour that is required for dialectical analysis that is the hallmark of Marxism. The third group is derived from amongst Pakistan’s ethno-nationalists who have an intense dislike for what Jinnah stood for. The fourth group consists of gung-ho ultra Indian nationalist types to whom liberal Pakistan is for some reason more troublesome than the religious theocracy it has increasingly become.

All of these groups, of course, use the same arguments and the same selective quotes out of context from Jinnah. Jinnah’s ambiguous references to Islam, Islamic ideals and Islamic unity are used to demolish his vision of the state which he clearly expressed on — as per last count — at least three dozen occasions. For a politician operating in a charged environment already poisoned by the introduction of religion into politics — by the great Mahatma Gandhi no less — Jinnah, who had warned Gandhi against it when he first started this nasty business, did appeal to the Islamic ideals of unity, equality, fraternity and justice to wean away supporters from Islamist parties like the Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Hind and Majlis-e-Ahrar. After all, is that not what we always do when we claim that Islam does not stand for terrorism or that Islam is reasonable and rational and in consonance with the modern world. Jinnah was expounding his classical liberal thought to his followers in terms that were easily comprehensible to them. His was not some crass use of religion and crude communalism. When read in context, each of Jinnah’s speeches — even those flowered with references to Islamic principles — focus on Jinnah’s idea of a state and society that would be impartial, modern, liberal and, I daresay, secular.

Jinnah was, and remained so, till the end of his life a classical liberal schooled in the Victorian era. His economics and politics, as his 37-year long career as a legislator showed, was based on liberal and limited government protecting and forwarding the cause of freedom of speech, religion, press and also markets. On freedom of speech and freedom of religion, so strong were Jinnah’s views that he cautioned the legislature and posterity against misuse of 295 A — a law criminalising freedom of speech deemed as offending to people of different religions. What indeed would Jinnah think of 295 B, 295 C as well as 298 B and 298 C of our penal code? This is a question best left unanswered lest the state of Pakistan be forced try its founder posthumously.

I hate to break it to the ‘Pakistan was founded for Islam’ group that in J-man’s vision of statehood, religion had little or no role whatsoever. Indeed any form of religious tyranny was an anathema to him. These are not myths ladies and gentlemen. Jinnah’s 37-year long career as a legislator in the central legislature of India is not a myth. That he was willing to negotiate on the basis of united India till the very end is a fact now well established as a consensus amongst historians studying partition whether in the West or in South Asia. The fact that Jinnah vetoed numerous resolutions calling to commit Pakistan to Islam within the Muslim League, famously describing one such attempt as nothing less than “censure on every leaguer” is not a myth. The August 11 speech, delivered to the constituent assembly, which did not mention the word ‘Islam’ once and which spoke not just of freedom of religion but equality of citizenship and status of religion as personal faith with which the state would be completely unconcerned is not a myth.

When asked about Pakistan ka matlab kiya, La Ilaha illallah, J-man responded that he had never allowed such a resolution to be passed in the Muslim League and that the person in question might have done so to “catch a few votes”. Was this lawyerly talk or naivety of British India’s most eminent brown sahib? Either way, the founder of this state of ours never envisaged Pakistan to be a theocracy to be run by priests with a divine mission. He had always had a visceral dislike for the clergy.

The reason why Pakistan could not be an ‘Islamic state’ or harbour any fantasies about role of religion in state was perhaps best explained by Jinnah himself when he told Raja of Mahmudabad to distance himself from the League. He asked the impetuous Raja to tell him whose shariah would Pakistan follow? Even more forthright is the version transmitted to us by Iskandar Mirza who quoted Jinnah as saying, “Shariah? Whose shariah? No. I shall have a modern state.”

If the Pakistani state cannot reinvent itself along the lines given by Jinnah, perhaps the state should think about distancing itself from Jinnah and letting him rest in peace.

Yasser Latif Hamdani is a lawyer. He also blogs at http://pakteahouse.wordpress.com and can be reached at yasser.hamdani@gmail.com

PS: Here is Jinnah playing with his dogs – especially for Kashif Hafeez Siddiqui of Jamaat-e-Islami:





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