The urban upper-middle class supporters of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) are making a mistake by comparing Imran Khan with Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, for the two stand poles apart.
Khan has been using religious slogans, but Jinnah had abandoned ‘Pakistan ka matlab kya – la ilaha ilallah’ slogan in 1947. Jinnah said, “Neither the Muslim League Working Committee nor I ever passed a resolution ‘Pakistan ka matlab kya’ — you may have used it to catch a few votes”.
On August 10, 1947, Jinnah got oaths altered in Pakistan by omitting words like ‘swear’ and ‘so help me God’ to separate religion and state.
Jinnah was clear about the new country’s constitution from start. He stated it would be a non-theocratic parliamentary democracy based on principles of social justice, equality and fair play.
Quaid stopped people from declaring Islam as the state religion. He appointed a Dalit, Jogendra Nath Mandal, as Pakistan’s first Minister of Law and Labour to frame the constitution of the country. These weren’t isolated cases. While the Congress was supported by the Islamist parties, like the Majlis-e-Ahrar and the Jamat-e-Islami, the League was in bed with Hindu parties like the Justice Party of Shudras and Scheduled Castes Federation of Dalits. The Islamists supported the Congress because populist Gandhi had participated in the Khilafat Movement.
Shudras and Dalits constituted the majority of Indian population, and their representatives were allies of the League because of Jinnah’s secularism and the Congress’ hostility towards them. Brahmins were less than 5 percent of the entire population, and they were the ones who dominated the Congress and big Indian Enterprises, which prevented others from progressing socially, politically and economically. The Congress’ militant wing, Hindu Mahasabha, which followed Hindutva, was co-founded by Lala Lajpat Rai in 1915. He was a member of the Congress as well as Hindu Mahasabha in 1924, when he called for separate countries for Muslims and Hindus by partitioning Punjab and Bengal. This was six years before Iqbal suggested autonomy for Muslim provinces.
In 1940s, a vague ‘Pakistan Demand’ was raised; but in reality, till December 1946, Jinnah was open to having a settlement with the Congress, and live under one federation, provided he was offered something good in exchange, like autonomy for Muslim provinces or having an influence in the centre to protect non-Brahmins of Hindu majority provinces. This was the reason why Muslims from the Hindu provinces supported the movement, and not because ‘Pakistan was to become Riyasat-e-Madina’ as Imran Khan claims.
Jinnah was clear about the new country’s constitution from day one. He stated it would be a non-theocratic parliamentary democracy based on principles of social justice, equality and fair play. When he faced criticism for supporting western democracy, he claimed that Islam and its idealism taught democracy, social justice and equality centuries ago; hence, it’d be inaccurate to think that Pakistan would be in conflict with Islamic principles.
Jinnah also supported the first wave feminist movement in England; wanted to lift the ban on interfaith marriages and divorce in 1912; emancipated Indian soldiers so they too could become officers; ended martial race rule in Bengal; drafted Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929; opposed forced purdah and so on.
English Philosopher, John Locke, known as the founder of liberalism and secularism, was religious but secular in his approach to politics. He used verses from the bible to justify his political views. Since English liberals like Locke, Gladstone and John Morley inspired Jinnah, he used their approaches to propagate secular democracy among Muslims. He recalled, “I happened to meet several important English liberals with whose help I came to understand the doctrine of liberalism… which became part of my life.”
Unfortunately, since Jinnah passed away, the ‘Islamic references’ are being used out of context. If Islamists use it to justify theocracy, then half informed ‘intelligentsia’ uses it to prove that Jinnah was inconsistent. Jinnah also supported the first wave feminist movement in England; wanted to lift the ban on interfaith marriages and divorce in 1912; emancipated Indian soldiers so they too could become officers; ended martial race rule in Bengal; drafted Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929; opposed forced purdah and so on.
Jinnah’s mindset and his achievements are too big for a populist leader like Imran Khan; hence, Jinnah shouldn’t be brought down to his level.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect Friday Times’ editorial policy.