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“Jinnah’s Pakistan” is not dead

By Raza Rumi

In recent weeks, several commentators have dwelt upon the amorphous notion of ‘Jinnah’s Pakistan’, challenging its notional contours and exposing its overt ideological underpinnings. Whilst such a debate is healthy in a democratic society, it becomes a worrying sign in a deeply polarised polity such as Pakistan. Jinnah’s Pakistan was no consensus project: It had several dissenters — from the religious right to the Khudai Khidmatgars in the northwest. Perhaps these problematic foundations led to the capture of the state by a national security paradigm, later bolstered by the Islamist discourse.

Blaming Jinnah’s Pakistan as a cause or manifestation of the ideological chaos rooted in our perennial identity question is simply disingenuous. Jinnah may have said different things at different occasions but his views as head of the state are what matter. It was not Jinnah alone who created Pakistan. The politico-economic interests of nascent ‘Muslim’ bourgeoisie and the famous salariat (to use Hamza Alavi’s term) were the prime causes of Pakistan’s creation. Jinnah nearly gave up the idea of a separate state in 1946 after accepting the Cabinet Mission proposals (the best possible compromise to retain Indian unity). Many critiques of Jinnah overlook the ‘intransigence’ of the Indian National Congress, documented by HM Seervai. Sadly, both India and Pakistan have buried the fairly objective view of Seervai, as particularistic nation state narratives are always threatened by objectivity.

In spite of the horrors unleashed by Partition, Jinnah insisted on a US-Canada type relationship between India and Pakistan with, open and permeable borders; and even wanted to retire in his beloved city, Bombay. However, he died too early and Gandhi, while fasting for the rights of Pakistanis, was killed by an Hindu extremist (note the absence of this fact in the Indian discourse — Hindutva terror started with Gandhi’s assassination).

India was soon taken over by its political-bureaucratic machinery and Pakistan’s security forces took direct control of power. Such appropriation of Pakistani political space could only work if the Indian ‘threat’ was amplified to alarming proportions. Consequently, the entire country became a fortress, defending itself from reason, with ‘religion’ painted on its entrance. Did Jinnah envisage or wish such a polity? No, he warned against it.

Jinnah had a sense of Indian unity above the newly formed states of ‘Pakistan and Hindustan’. American scholar William Metz noted in his 1952 doctoral thesis (University of Pennsylvania), that for Jinnah, a Hindu-Muslim settlement was itself a form of Hindu-Muslim unity.

Recounting history is important today. The religious zealots who are silencing voices of tolerance did not believe in Jinnah’s Pakistan. They wanted a pan-Islamic theocracy — what al Qaeda wants Pakistan to become in 2011. Pakistan is a reality but its viability is once again linked to Jinnah’s post-June 1947 vision entailing: a) a secular state, b) resistance to calls for theocracy, and c) a US-Canada model for India-Pakistan relations.

Jinnah’s Pakistan is not dead: Millions of Pakistanis who want a tolerant homeland resent its creeping radicalisation. If not Jinnah, what else do we have to counter the armed extremism on the Pakistani street? If we have drifted too far, which we have, then all the more reason to reclaim the ideal. Denouncing Jinnah’s vision, ironically, reinforces the national security paradigm as well as the Indian nationalist narratives. I hope Pakistani ‘liberals’ are aware of that.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 21st, 2011.

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367 Responses to "“Jinnah’s Pakistan” is not dead"

  1. Bin Ismail Pakistan Google Chrome Windows says:

    @ amar (February 4, 2011 at 1:16 pm)

    “…..A has his absolutist finalist arrogance which he has to (and wants to) live out…..”

    …..and some members of “B” have an absolutist and finalist rancour towards “A”, which they just can’t get over.

  2. Amaar United States Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    amar,

    you need a remedy for mental sickness.

  3. Mubarak United States Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    @Girish February 3, 2011 at 12:14 am

    Well said.

  4. Roadrunner United States Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    For the extremists, it might mean something like the following:
    no India = a reversion to the situation before the arrival of Muslim rule in India = a divided India that could easily allow the Muslims (supposedly more united than the Hindus due to their common faith) to dominate the subcontinent.

    This is a big mistake of imagination. Class divides have always existed, everywhere. To imagine that Hindus were always divided by caste or Muslims were always united by faith, betrays a lack of intellectual aptitude. There are libraries full of textual evidence that the society of India from 750-1750 CE was organized along several dimensions – including religion, caste and economic class. This is what saw a Deccani Muslim make common cause with a Poligar Hindu chieftain in Raichur against a Rajput subedar representing the Mughals. Read history to learn about the experts from Turkey who officered Shivaji’s artillery regiments. And let’s not get into a discussion of the lively poetic exchanges between an allegedly orthodox Tulsidas and the great Rahim. And do we want to forget about the Quaid’s mastery of the Hindu purans? Or the fact the Sevener Ismailis until the mid 18th century followed Hindu family law?

    This may put off and anger my Muslim friends, but just as it has been said there was no monolithic Hindu community, there hasn’t been any monolithic Muslim community of India either until the late 19th century. The Muslim traditions of India were more like the Bangladeshi Islamic tradition of the early 20th century and the Indonesian tradition of the late 20th century.

    I will tell you another thing. There is not one orthodox Muslim I have met in India who has ever failed to respect my Hindu practices – not one, never ever. And I believe I would encounter the same experience if I were to visit a maulana in Pakistan.

  5. amar India Internet Explorer Windows says:

    bin ismail writes:
    “…..and some members of “B” have an absolutist and finalist rancour towards “A”, which they just can’t get over.”

    Again you equate the “rancour (or violence)” of the defender (B) with the “rancour (or violence)” of the aggressor (A) and his quislings (AQ). The twain ain’t the same. The looted person’s (=B’s) rancour and the looter’s (=A’s) rancour about not having been able to loot to his heart’s fill – are they to be called the same? Voila!

    Amar writes “you need a remedy for mental sickness.”

    The mental sickness is not in the one who points out to the mental sickness in the other’s ideology or religion. The mental sickness in this arab religion are its manifold layers of dishonesty, terrorization and hunger for world dominance.
    If someone poits out to the sicknesses in the hindu religions then I would not call him mentally sick. I would rather invite hindus to read him and take him seriously and do introspection. That you cannot do the same vis a vis your muslim brethren shows where and wherein the sickness really is.

    The flatterer is never the real friend.

  6. Raj United States Google Chrome Windows says:

    Roadrunner wrote
    “This may put off and anger my Muslim friends, but just as it has been said there was no monolithic Hindu community, there hasn’t been any monolithic Muslim community of India either until the late 19th century”

    ==

    This is very true. This has always been true and will remain true. Soon after the Mughal empire collapsed, once power was lost, various reactionary muslim sects and ideologies propped up….Muslims started it first , it is true idea of organizing hindus into a monolithic entity also took shape in response to this.

    However, hindutvadi (Hindu Mahasabha)groups were in the fringe. Congress leaders fought for an identity that transcends religion…despite political posturing to oppose vote bank politics, even now most BJP supporters are also subscribers to this Indian nationalism…This is what keeps India going.

    The role of Jinnah types amongst muslims (“liberals” of erstwhile Muslim League) was to pretend to be progressive at the same time whipping up religious hatred, divisiveness and violence. Jinnah was a muslim supremacist, who claimed to get safeguards for muslims…while in fact it was all about gaining disproportionate power and territorial control for muslims.

    Paks are so well coached in the lies of pakistan movement and study the twisted lies in Pakistan studies, even otherwise reasonable pak “liberals” regurgitate the same lies.

    Retaliating Indians/ Hindus also are coached wouldn’t fly…since our history text books are completely silent on these issues. “Some muslims wanted to separate, people of all religions are Indians” is what Indian text books teach..

  7. roofylaboue United States Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    @amar
    We get it… your wife ran off with an Arab… it happens….. get over it.

  8. Bin Ismail Pakistan Google Chrome Windows says:

    @ Girish (February 5, 2011 at 12:11 am)

    Hayyer’s version: “…..What the CMP could have led to is really in the realm of the imagination. Indians feel by and large that it would have led to India’s disintegration, our Pakistani friends think it should have been given a chance. We can agree to differ on this…..”

    Your version: “…..Indian feel, by and large that it (the CMP) would have led to India’s disintegration. Our Pakistani friends think it should have been given a chance. Many of them do so precisely because they believe that it would have led to India’s disintegration, eventually if not immediately…..”

    My version: What the CMP could have led to is really in the realm of the imagination. Indians feel by and large that it would have led to India’s disintegration, our Pakistani friends think it should have been given a chance. This may or may not have led to India’s disintegration – most likely not. We can agree to differ on this.

  9. amar India Internet Explorer Windows says:

    rofylaboue wrote:
    “@amar
    We get it… your wife ran off with an Arab… it happens….. get over it.”

    I request the moderaters to keep the standard of PTH high and free from filth by deleting such sentences as come from immature persons who have no control over themselves and their own minds.

  10. Prasad India Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Raza Rumi wrote a very fine piece of article for his people. The commentators ( latest ones atleast) have taken entire discussion to a different level. What is the point of ridiculing beyond tolerance levels?

    and especially when the topic is completely unrelated.

    Please strengthen the hands of individuals who are fighting the system which has been brainwashed by half a century of state propaganda.

    These individuals
    -are religious but do not want religion to rule their land,
    -are well educated and want their society to be educated with mainstream education
    -want to contest the inane policies of the state against their neighbors and want to foster a healthy relationship based on the founding father’s vision

    WHAT IS WRONG IN ALL THE ABOVE? Support them and not ridicule.

    I would rather request the energetic Indians to divert their attention back home to fight the Oligarch and her progeny in Delhi, the Grand old Saviour Oligarch and his countless Progenies in the South ( Read TN) and Highly intelligent communists in Bengal in the coming elections

  11. Mubarak United States Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    @amar

    I request the moderaters to keep the standard of PTH high and free from filth by deleting such sentences as come from immature persons who have no control over themselves and their own minds.

    I agree. Roofylaboue’s comments along with yours and kaalkets should be censored.

  12. Hayyer India Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Girish:
    I would stop at leaving it to the imagination. Anything is, and was possible, including imagining what others think, or might have thought.

  13. roofylaboue United States Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    “I request the moderaters to keep the standard of PTH high and free from filth by deleting such sentences as come from immature persons who have no control over themselves and their own minds.”

    oh so she did run away. now I understand this anger towards arab god fascism bla bla.

  14. roofylaboue United States Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    “I agree. Roofylaboue’s comments along with yours and kaalkets should be censored.”

    Well if you censor my comments, who will throw the bullshit amar and co. have hurled, back at them.

  15. amar India Internet Explorer Windows says:

    Pakistanis are in a grove where they cannot and may not think beyond some Mohammad (be it bin Abdullah or bin Ali Jinnahbhoy Poonja or any salesman named Mohammad with his name printed on his visiting card).

  16. amar United Arab Emirates Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    @ Kaalket, Raj (the other one)

    mom was asking me to tell you guys that she’ll be expecting you guys after ten o’clock…
    Oh and she said one of you needs to pick up the Trojans tonight. She’s out of them.

    PS: Please try not to wake me up with your ruckus this time!

  17. Bin Ismail Pakistan Google Chrome Windows says:

    @ roofylaboue (February 5, 2011 at 10:12 pm)

    “…..now I understand this anger towards arab god fascism…..”

    Please do not abbreviate a term whose beauty is best expressed it its totality. The term is, and please do take note, as follows:

    “arabic-absolutist-finalist-totalitarian-obscurantist-fascist-followed-by-quislings”

    Of course, subject to need, more hyphens and adjectives can always be added. Please do not forget to take note. And my apologies to amar, in case I’ve inadvertently left out any indispensable link from this chain.

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