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Safar 10, 1440

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Towards Jinnah's Pakistan


In the 1930's the big Land-owners, having benefitted from the Raj, were keen to continue to support it. They were not yet prepared to follow Mr. Jinnah. In the Punjab, for instance, they adorned the ranks of the Punjab National Unionist Party, established in 1923. It was committed to the protection of the class-interests of the land owners of all the three communities, Hindu, Muslim and Sikh. During the Sikandar Hayat ministry (1937-42) it passed some far-reaching Acts protecting the vital interests of the agriculturist. The Restitution of Mortgaged Lands Act 1938, the Registration of Moneylenders Act, 1938, and the Relief of Indebtedness Act of 1940, provided relief to the landowner from the clutches of the non-cultivating moneylender.

The cross-communal character of the forces impelling these reforms, directed primarily against Hindu money-lenders, is borne out in the person of the prime mover behind, and the pilot of, these enactments. Sir Chotoo Ram was a Hindu Minister in the Punjab cabinet. His name is revered to this day among all land-owners, and even Muslim zamindars of Pakistan.

Meanwhile the Hindu bourgeoisie, straining for its own markets, and impatient with the concessions allowed to imperial manufactures, had stepped up its pressure. Gandhi launched the Salt Satyagraha, and won the concessions embodied in the Gandhi-Irwin Pact from Vice-Roy Irwin, in 1931. The movement made the imperial government a little less confident of itself. It could perceive the growing strength of the Indian bourgeoisie. It called a series of Round Table Conferences in London. After deliberations in which the entire range of Sub-continent's leadership took part, the Government of India Act, was promulgated in 1935. The Act provided for a modicum of self government and a delegation of some lesser powers to the native representagives. Belated elections under the Act were held in 1937, but only at the provincial levels. The 1937 elections became the turning point that would inevitably lead to that so far elusive "parting of the ways" between the two communities.

The Act of 1935, was scarcely a complete constitution. For one, to come into operation, its federal arrangement dependent upon the willing assent of at least one half of the princely states as these pretended to have certain, quite ambiguous, rights under "treaties" with Britain. It was indeed ingenious how the "subsidiary treaty" was initially devised by Britain to grasp power from the state in the name of the larger entity, and was now pleaded to prevent its transfer to that larger entity itself! The introduction of weightage to the arch-conservative princes was a preconceived method of preventing the formation of any representative governments at the federal level even when the principle of "dyarchy" did not envisage even a substantially sovereign authority. On a wink from the Government the princes did not submit to the application of the Act. Federal institutions, barring the Federal Court, were thus never to come about.Allama Dr. Mohammad Iqbal

Another significant anomoly in the scheme of the Act was the operation of the principle of "weightage" at another level resulting in indefensible injustices. Muslim representation in the Muslim majority province of the Punjab was, by this curious device, reduced to a minority. In the Bengal this reduction left the barest majority in Muslim hands making them dependent upon coalition support. These evident injustices of the British legislation were soon to be compounded by the intransigence of the over-confident Congress. It pushed the Muslim community, and its leadership, irrevocably towards the point initially visualised by Iqbal in 1930.

The Congress won five of the eleven provinces in the 1937 elections. By coalition and manouverings it was able to form governments in another three, including the NWFP where it had only 19 out of the 50 seats. In this province its allies, the Khuda-i-Khidmatgars, were able to displace Sardar Abdul Qayyum's short-lived cabinet and instal Dr. Khan Sahib as the Chief Minister. The Punjab had been swept by the Unionist Party of pro-British landowners who were to continue to govern even after Congress Ministers resigned in 1942.


All this while the League had sought conciliation. Neither the Muslim bourgeoisie, nor the Muslim feudals, as yet felt the need, as a whole, for any protection against any possible discrimination. The League was prepared to nominate Muslim Ministers in Congress cabinets if its exclusive right to represent India's Muslims was recognised. The Congress appeared to be in no mood to wait upon an irksome "pretender" to the leadership of a minority community. It had little patience for the uncreditworthy claims of the League, particularly as the League's showing had been poor even in Muslim majority provinces.

What the Congress leadership did not realise was that it was purporting to judge the strength and potenial of the Muslim bourgeois, non-landed leadership at a time when it was yet to obtain the support of the Muslim landowners. The dominent interest that Congress represented, the Hindu bourgeoisie, wanted to humble and capture the Muslim majority areas as its market, and then to hold it as passive agrarian appendix to the industrially developed areas of the Sub-continent, the ire of the Congress leadeship was not altogether incompreshensible.Jawarlal Nehru A weak, isolated Muslim bouregoisie, having no inherent power and lacking the support of the established pressure groups, was perceived as destined to fail and be overcome by desertions.

And this is exactly how Jawarlal Nehru assessed the prospects of the League in July 1937, when writing to his predecessor President of the Congress, Rajendra Prasad in July, 1937, he narrated:

"Towards the end of June, a little before the working Committee meeting, the U.P. Muslim League leaders, Khaliquezzaman and Nawab Ismail Khan, made an approach towards the Congress. This had obviously some connection with the possibliity of Ministries.......When Maulana Adul Kalam went to Lucknow from Wardha he was met by Khaliq who told that he was practically prepared to give him a blank cheque provided two of their number were included in the Ministry, himself and Nawab Ismail Khan, the President of the U.P.Board. Maulana looked at all this with some suspicion but he felt attracted by the possibility of the whole Muslim League ceasing to exist as a separate group and being practically absorbed by the Congress........We feared reaction among the Congressmen in general and the Congress Muslims in particular, who would have been irritated at their being excluded in preference for those who had been fighting the Congress ..... What of the Muslims who had stood by the Congress during all these years? What of the Jamiat which was supporting us and opposing the League?

"All this, and more we considered and we hesitated.....After much discussion.....we came to the conclusion that we should offer stringent conditions to the U.P. Muslim League and if they excepted them in toto, then we would agree to two Ministers from their group. Besides them one Minister would be Rafi Ahmad......These were pretty stringent conditions and in effect amounted to more than the Congress pledge. But we did not ask them to sever all connection with the parent Muslim League. The position would have been a peculiar one, involving a dual loyalty to some extent. It could not last and we expected the U.P. Leaguers to break away from the parent League".'The Nationalist Movement 1885-1947, Select Documents', McMillan, Edited by B.N. Panday

Had Nehru obtained an impression that even the negotiators were amenable to defection? His perception may have been mistaken but it does, no doubt reflect the Congress confidence when he continues in the same letter:-

"There were talks with Khaliq who agreed to all the conditions except two: the winding up of the Parliamentary Board and not to set up separate candidates at by-elections. These were vital conditions. Khaliq said that he personally would agree but he had no authority to do so. In effect, he pointed out this might happen any how....

"Today Khaliq made another approach (21st July). He suggested that he would call an emergency meeting of his executive to consider the question of the by-election if we could postpone decision for some days. I spoke to him on the telephone. I referred him to Pantji (G.B. Pant, Chief Minister of the U.P. from 1937 to 1939 & 1946 to 1954) but did not encourage him at all".'The Nationalist Movement 1885-1947, Select Documents', McMillan, Edited by B.N. Panday


If Nehru's assessment indicated the mind of the Congress leadership, it is evident that it had again miscalculated. The League, by now had a confident and charismatic leader in Mr. Jinnah. And its objectives were, by now, squarely identified with the fast growing Muslim bourgeoisie.

As in Europe, the development of the bourgeoisie had led to a recession of fundamentalism and religious orthodoxy. The bourgeoisie cannot develop and progress on the basis of obscurantist dogma. It moves with science. Its very tools are technology, and to keep in the market, it has constantly to keep up with the latest advances. If it does not do so, its goods will not not be up to the latest standards or, if so, will be prohibitively expensive. Of necessity the bourgeoisie weans itself of religious dogma, without itself being anti-religion or even irreligious. The bourgeois state may comprise overwhelmingly of citizens belonging to, and devoutly faithful to one religion. But the state itself does not adopt it. It was surely about a bourgeois Muslim state that Iqbal was confident, as we have seen, that it would not be ruled by religion.

Without any doubt, Mr. Jinnah was the very best of the Muslim bourgeois culture of the Sub-continent. And he was definitively against orthodoxy, obscurantism, and the rule of religious parties upon the state. He did not want a theocracy. That is why almost every member of the Muslim bourgeoisie, the trader, the shopkeeper, the Aligarh students, followed him. That is why the orthodoxy opposed him and was so roundly defeated by him.

Mr. Jinnah had established his credentials more than once with his liberal and anti-fundamentalist articulations. There are many instances that establish that Mr. Jinnah posited politics and religion, and therefore, the state and religion, in two separate compartments. He was quite clear in his mind about the issue, and never missed an opportunity to make his views known. Reacting, for instance, to a question by an enthusisatic youth about Mr. Gandhi's non-co-operation call in 1920, Mr. Jinnah had said:

"Well, young man, I will have nothing to do with this pseudo-religious approach to politics. I part company with the Congress and Gandhi, I do not beleive in working up mob hysteria. Politics is a gentleman's game".See 'History Today', Volume 44(9), September 1994, London, p. 34, article by Akbar S. Ahmed
entitled: 'Jinnah and the Quest for Muslim Identity', from p. 35

On another occasion when some other ardent admirers adressed him as "Maulana Jinnah", he put them down curtly saying:

"I am not a Maulana; just Mr. Jinnah."Ibid, at p. 39

But such small, though significant instances apart, two very important speeches made by him during his career as a leader of men tell most about his thinking on the subject. The first, in 1929, made on the Child Marriages Restraint Bill, and the other, on the eve of Independence, made by him on 11th August, 1947, in the Constituent Assembly. These one must reflect upon. These were well-considered deliveries. They tell the most, and in explicit terms, about Jinnah's views on the subject. Yet, somehow, even senior and competent biographers like Ayesha JalalAyesha Jalal: 'The Sole Spokesman: Jinnah, the Muslim League and the Demand for Pakistan',
Sang-e-Meel Publishers, Lahore and Stanley Wolpert,Stanley Wolpert: 'Jinnah of Pakistan', Oxford do little justice to many of Jinnah's speeches. The one on the the rights of political detenus and the one on the relationship between the state and religion, being the one on the Child Marriages Restraint Bill, are not even noticed.

The Child Marriages Restraint Bill (later an Act by the same name), was moved in 1927 in the Legislative Assembly by Rai Haridas Sarda. As such it was also known as the Sarda Bill. Because of the controversy it generated, it remained pending in the House for two long years. It proposed the adoption of a minimum age for contracting of marriage, and provided penalties for guardians giving away their minor wards in marriage.

The Bill invoked the ire of the fundamentalists throughout the land. The House Petitions' Committee received as many as 707 petitions against the Bill, signed by no less than 72,725 persons! A fatwa had also been pronounced by 74 leading ulema condemning the Bill. Only four petitions, signed by a mere 10 persons, were received in support of the Bill. Inside the House the opposition came from other Muslim members including Nawab Sir Sahibzada Abdul Qaiyum from the N.W.F.P., Mr. A.H. Ghaznavi, from Dhakka, Mr. Mohammad Yamin Khan from U.P., and Maulvi Mohammad Shafi Daoodi from Tirhut. The Maulana was the most vocal. He believed that if the Bill was adopted it would be the most cruel encroachment on the rights of the Mussalmans. Those opposed to the Bill cried that "religion was in danger" on account of the proposed law.

Mr. Jinnah was undeterred by the opposition. His words were clear and unambiguous, and I quote some portions of his speech in his own words:

"I cannot believe that there can be a divine sanction for such evil practices as are prevailing, and that we should, for a single minute, give our sanction to the continuance of these evil practices any longer. How can there be such a divine sanction to this cruel, horrible, disgraceful, inhuman practice that is prevailing in India?"

Mr. Jinnah was not insensitive towards the fundamentalist opposition, and Voltaire-like was prepared to let them be with their sentiments and convictions. He did not grudge them these, but was not prepared to buckle under on a matter of principle. He was firm when he observed that:

"Always the social reformer is face to face with this orthodox opinion having behind it this conviction, this sentiment, this feeling which is perfectly understandable and to some extent legitimate. But are we to be dragged down by this section for whom we have respect, whose feelings we appreciate, whose sentiments we regard; are we to be dragged down and are we to be prevented in the march of progress? In the name of humanity, I ask you.

"And if we are going to allow ourselves to be influenced by the public opinion that can be created in the name of religion, when we know that religion has nothing whatsoever to do with the matter --- I think we must have the courage to say: 'No, we are not going to be frightened by that'."

It may be difficult for a Pakistani today, exposed as he is to a selective rendering of Jinnah's statements, to believe that these are indeed Mr. Jinnah's own words.Yet today people in the country created by Mr. Jinnah entirely through the democratic process,

have been over-taken by the so-called 'constitutional' amendments, expediently adopted by an
undemocratic dictator, that invest the Shariat Courts with the power to review every law and
precept on the touchstone that Mr. Jinnah himself refused to resort to. Of course, expediency also
guided the dictator from withholding some matters, considered crucial by his theocratic allies, from
review by the Shariat Courts. The passages have been quoted above beg the question whether
Mr. Jinnah could himself have even envisaged the establishment of such forums in the country he
created? The theme that there were some matters that had nothing to do with religion would continue in the other speech alluded to above. And even more strongly and emphatically for in that later speech Mr. Jinnah would spell out the Grundnorm of Pakistan. But we will examine the contents of speech of 11th August, 1947 later.


Although Nehru had predicted defections from the ranks of the Muslim League, and even though it lacked, as yet, a mass following and an electoral vote-bank, it would not suffer any defections. Jinnah was gradually tightening his political grip on the minds and souls of the Muslim masses, and the Indus person.

The Muslim League had, no doubt been routed in the 1937 elections. It needed to broaden its base among the masses. It had to expand its electoral vote-bank. A mass following was essential. Even the support of the feudals and landowners in the Muslim majority areas was contingent upon the League first acquiring, and demonstrating, support among the broad masses. It had to set about building this support, But how to wean all the Muslims from the seemingly secular embrace of the Congress?

The Congress itself provided the League leadership its first opening. The Congress policy of attempting to break or discredit Muslim ministries in Muslim majority provinces (such as the NWFP) was the League's opportunity. And Jinnah would not let it go by. The Congress had provided the League with the crucial issue. The League leadership reacted at once. The perception that Congress was intolerantly anti-Muslim could now be disseminated without much difficulty. The issue was so formulated as to set up the League's "Muslim" image in contradistinction with the Congress' "Hindu" orientation.

This perception, once generated by Congress intrusions in the provinces that had Muslim ministries, worked in two ways. First, it won for the League a wider and less qualified support in the Muslim Community. Second, the vigour of the campaign built for the League its first foundation as a mass organisation. It reached out to the Muslim populace. Even Rajendra Prasad was to complain to Valabhai Patel, that right-wing representative of the big Hindu bourgeoisie:

"The Mussalmans as a body have been alienated and inspite of all that the Congress ministries have been doing to be just and even generous to them, there is not only no recognition but positive opposition......I think if we had not been engaged in breaking, or at least discrediting, Muslim ministries in non-Congress provinces, the position would have been different. The Muslim League propaganda has gained much strength on account of this attitude of the Congress in Muslim provinces......"'The Nationalist Movement 1885-1947, Select Documents', McMillan, Edited by B.N. Panday

It was not merely the League ministries that were under threat. Within its own ranks the Congress leadership began to display a certain narrow-mindedness that was to cost it dearly.

Abul Kalam Azad, one-time President of the All-India Congress Committee, and India's first Minister for Education, published his memoirs entitled "India Wins Freedom", in 1958. Some portions were, however, held back by him for publication after the passage of thirty years from his death. He died in 1958. The book has again been published, in 1988, with these additional portions the publication of which may have embarrassed him, or others, during his lifetime. These portions tell, in Azad's own words, of the Congress' misguided and costly mistakes. In one of these withheld pieces he bitterly wrote of how Congress decided to form provincial governments after the elections of 1937, and the policy it pursued thereafter:

"As a result of these discussions, the Congress ultimately decided to accept office. At first, it did so in the provinces where it had a parliamentary majority, then in the provinces where it was the single largest party in the Legislature, and finally whereever it could...... Two things happened at the time which left a bad impression about the attitude of the Provincial Congress Committies. I have to admit with regret that both in Bihar and Bombay, the Congress did not come out fully successful in its test of nationalism. The Congress had grown as a national organisation and given the opportunity of leadership to men of different communities. Thus in Bombay Mr. Nariaman was the acknowledged leader of the local Congress. When the question of forming the provincial Government arose, there was general expectation that Mr. Nariman would be asked to lead it in view of his status and record. This would have however meant that a Parsee would be the Chief Minister while the majority of members in the Congress Assembly Party were Hindus. Sardar Patel and his colleagues could not reconcile themselves to such a position and felt that it would be unfair to the Hindu supporters of the Congress to deprive them of the honour. Accordingly Mr. B.G. Kher was brought into the picture and elected leader of the Congress Assembly Party in Bombay.

"A similar development took place in Bihar. Dr. Syed Mahmud was the top leader of the province when the elections were held. He was also a General Secretary of the All India Congress Committee and as such he had a position both inside and outside the province. When the Congress secured an absolute majority, it was taken for granted that Dr. Syed Mahmud would be elected the leader and become the first Chief Minister of Bihar under Provincial Autonomy. Instead, Sri Krishna Sinha and Anugraha Narayan Sinha who were members of the Central Assembly, were called back to Bihar and groomed for the Chief Ministership. Dr. Rajendra Prasad played the same role in Bihar as Sardar Patel did in Bombay. the only difference between Bihar and Bombay was that when Sri Krishna Sinha formed the Government, Dr. Syed Mahmud was given a place in the Cabinet.

"These two instances left a bad taste at the time. Looking back, I cannot help feeling that the Congress did not live up to its professed ideals. One has to admit with regret that the nationalism of the Congress had not then reached a stage where it could ignore communal considerations and select leaders on the basis of merit without regard to majority or minority."Maulana Abul Kalam Azad: 'India Wins Freedom', The Complete Version, Orient Longman,
1988, pp. 15 to 19

Azad could have added one other factor that gave impetus to Hindu-Muslim friction. The Hindu majorities in some of the provincial legislatures began to insist upon that the proceedings commence with the recital of the 'Banday Matram', a nineteenth century Hindu revivalist anthem. Muslim members resented this move, and resisted it. The 'Banday Matram' controversy singed its scar upon Muslim minds.See Abdul Hamid: 'Muslim Sepratism in India', Oxford, p. 221 Compare this with the liberal and broad-minded approach inherent in Jinnah's principles. He would choose his first Foreign Minister, on merit, from what has since been constitutionally been decreed as a minority community.Sir Mohammad Zafarullah Khan His first Law Minister was a Hindu.Mr. Mandal Would the present-day fundamentalist lobbies that have held successive governments under intense pressure, endorse any such induction today?

To his last day he would endlessly exhort his supporters to safeguard the rights of the minorities. The principle would, indeed, be a grund norm of the State he was now struggling to create. As we will see it reflected in his speech on the eve of the establishment of Pakistan, he was possessed by this one passion.


Disillusionment with the divergence inherent in the Congress leadership's policy and practice spread fast among the minorities. The Muslim masses now began to rally around the Muslim League flag. Congress opportunism was contrasted with Jinnah's inflexible comitment to principles. Muslim League ranks began to fill up, To consolidate its widespread support, the League had now to mobilize its followers in a show of strength which would also make it a credit-worthy organization.

The Congress now provided a second, and crucial opening upon the commencement of the Second World War. In October 1939, the Congress asked all its ministries to resign in a dispute on the war aims made explicit by Lord Linlithgow. The adept Jinnah did not miss his chance. He immediately called for the observance of a "Day of Deliverance" from Congress rule.

The widespread observance of December 22 by the Muslim community as Deliverance Day established, at once, the credentials of the League as well as of its new support in all the Muslim majority areas. Even though tentative in demand and vague in parametres, the Pakistan Resolution by the League in its Lahore Session on 23rd March 1940, was a natural follow up. The League demanded that "geogrpahically contiguous units [be] demarcated into regions which should be so constituted, with such terirtorial readjustments as may be necessary that the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in a majority as in the North Western and Eastern Zones of India should be grouped to constitute 'Independent States' in which the constittuent units should be autonomous and sovereign."See: 'Historic Documents of the Muslim Freedom Movement', p. 382 But even though the initial Resolution seeking a separate political identity may have yet been tentative, the mood of the Muslim League was no longer hesitant, or double-minded. It was now prepared to exploit any opportunity provided to it. This did not take long.

As the Second World War progressed and India's contribution to the War effort was, again, decisive. Britain had no intention of being deprived of it. But Indian leaders were aware of the significance of its role. It had provided an enormous resource base, of men, manufactures, food and provisions, to the Allied forces around the world. and Britain seemed to be giving nothing in return. In 1942 the Congress passed the "Quit India" Resolution. Britain was not prepared to publically countennace this eventuality. Congress leaders went to the Ahmadabad Fort Prison.

The League leadership was also for the winding up of the Raj. But upon different terms. It therefore responded at once with the call for "Divide and Quit". A confident and vigorous Muslim League demanded the partition of India and the establishment separate homelands for the Muslims of India. The Muslim League of M.A. Jinnah had thus brought 'Pakistan' upon the political horizon of the Sub-continent. It leaders went to the Muslim masses.

The landed gentry of the Indus region was now paying heed to the League. The Sindh Assembly, composed almost entirely of the feudal lords, had voted its adherence to the Pakistan Resolution in 1940. In the Punjab the feudal class was led by Prime Minister Sardar Sikandar Hayat of the Unionist Party. Even though the League had won only one out of the 86 seats in the Punjab in the 1937 elections, the Unionists now felt its presence and were under pressure. The Jinnah-Sikandar Pact (October 1937), established the Unionist Party's realisation that it needed the support and blessings of an extra-parliamentary party, the Muslim League. Jinnah and the League had become inevitable for the the feudals of the Indus region. Events had come full circle. The ailing and frail Jinnah's commitment and determination were now winning, and winning fast.

Sikandar's successor, Khizar Hayat at first attempted to assert his independence of League's policies (guaranteed adherence to by the Pact). He could not hold his own however, after Jinnah effectively vetoed his inclusion in the reconstituted Viceroy's Council during the Simla Talks in 1945.

Events thereafter moved fast. The Labour Government sent a Cabinet Mission, comprising of British ministers, to the Sub-continent in March, 1946. During exhaustive discussions with the Congress and Muslim League leaderships, no agreement could be arrived at. The Mission then announced its formula for resolving the constitutional impasse. Even though the Cabinet Mission Plan did not envisage Pakistan, the Muslim League accepted it as it contained principles of a three tier federation and the formation of an interim government, with certain safeguards for the Muslims in the shape of two groups of semi-autonomous Muslim provinces. This was the best that seemed to be possible at the time. The Congress, intriguingly enough, withheld its acceptance. In view of the Congress attitude, the Mission decided to ignore the Muslim League's acceptance. Jinnah was annoyed. The British bias in favour of the Congress seemed obvious.

Direct Action Day - Calcutta, August 16, 1946. In two days of 'demonstrations' organized by the Muslim League to put pressure on the Congress and the British, over 4.000 people lost their lives

On July 29, 1946, the League withdrew its acceptance and called for "Direct Action". August 16 was fixed as Direct Action Day. On that day fierce Hindu-Muslim riots broke out in Calcutta. Out of the estimated 4,000 dead, "appreciably more Muslims than Hindus were killed."See Mansergh: 'Transfer of Power', Volume VIII, p. 274, Wavell to Pethic-Lawrence, August
21, 1946 Jinnah was now firm in his "opinion that there is no alternative except the outright establishment of Pakistan .... We guarantee to look after non-Muslim and Hindu caste-minorities in Pakistan, which will be about 25 million, and protect and safeguard their interests in every way ..... That is the quickest way to India's real freedom and to the welfare and happiness of all the peoples inhabiting this sub-continent."Wolpert: 'Jinnah of Pakistan', p. 287, from Jamil-ud-Din Ahmed: 'Some Recent Speeches and
Writings of Mr. Jinnah', 1952, Ashraf, Lahore, Vol. II, p. 433 Jinnah had, by now, become the most important of all the players in the field. And then, during 1946, there was a mutiny in some units of the Royal Indian Navy in Bombay. Would this mutinous virus spread to the other forces? Britain was on the edge. It now took the most crucial decision.

Early in 1947, Mr. Clement Attlee, the British Prime Minister, announced that Britain would leave India before June, 1948 even if the Muslim League and Congress could not agree between themselves on the constitutional framework of an independent Sub-continent. In March Lord Mountbatten was appointed the Governor-General of India. Mountbatten soon announced what came to be known as the "June 3rd Plan". It proposed the Partition of the Sub-continent into India and Pakistan. The Congress and Muslim League both accepted it.

It was because the impulse of Indus towards separatism was natural and primordial, and because it was itself based on foundations that lay in ancient history, that history was turning full circle. The Indus was reverting to its primordial status.


Jinnah, having started with a weak and limited following among the Muslim bourgeoesie, had won, by the time of the elections of 1946, the support of the landed gentry of the Indus region. An effective alliance had been forged. The newly converted feudals, with greater and traditional economic power in the Muslim majority areas the Indus region, began to exert an even greater influence on policy making than the bourgeoisie. Together, under the charisma and charm of Jinnah, they were able to arouse a vigorous mass following both in the urban and rural areas. Pakistan had become inevitable. Jinnah had been proclaimed the Quaid-e-Azam, or the Great Leader. 1947 was an irresistable step away.

On the eve of Independence the Quaid-e-Azam addressed the First Constituent Assembly of Pakistan. The speech of the 11th of August, 1947, embodied the fundamental principles that had impelled the creation of the country. It was a speech made by none other than its sole founding father. It was a speech made in the forum enjoined to draw up the fundamental document, the Constitution of the newly-created state. And it was a speech appropriately made on the very eve of its creation. It was thus a contemporaneous rendering of the essential moorings of the new state by the most competent authority, on the most apt, and solemn, of all occasions. It embodied the essence of the struggle, and the definition of the objective that had been pursued and that had now been grasped. What other testimony could have a greater cogency to the continuing controversy about the rationale of the new State?

In the very opening words of his speech the Quaid asserted:

"You will no doubt agree with me that the first duty of a Government is to maintain law and order, so that the life and property and religious beliefs of its subjects are fully protected."

He then proceeded to decry the bribery, corruption, nepotism, and jobbery, that had afflicted the Sub-continent and felt that a break would have to be made from this legacy. And then he pleaded for tolerance:

"Now, if we want to make this great State of Pakistan happy and prosperous we should wholly and solely concentrate on the well-being of the people, and specially of the masses and the poor. If you will work in co-operation, forgetting the past, burying the hatchet, you are bound to succeed. If you change your past and work together in a spirit that every one of you, no matter to what community he belongs, no matter what relations he had with you in the past, no matter what is his colour, caste or creed, is first, second and last a citizen of this state with equal rights, privileges and obligations, there will be no end to the progress you will make.

"I can not emphasise it too 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, Shias, Sunnis and so on and among the Hindus you have Brahmins, Vashnavas, Khatris, also Bengalis, Madrasis and so on, will vanish. Indeed if you ask me this has been the biggest hindrance in the way of India to attain its freedom and independence and but for this we would have been free peoples long long ago. No power can hold another nation, and specially a nation of 400 million souls in subjection; nobody could have continued its hold on you for any length of time but for this.

"Therefore, we must learn a lesson from this. 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

"As you know, history shows that in England conditions sometime ago were much worse than those prevailing in India today. The Roman Catholics and the Protestants persecuted each other. Even now there are some States in existence where there are discriminations made, and bars imposed, against a particular class. Thank God we are not starting in those days . We are starting in the days when there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State. The people of England, in course of time, had to face the realities of the situation and had to discharge the responsibilities and burdens placed upon them by the Government of their country and they went through that fire, step by step. Today you might say with justice that Roman Catholics and Protestants do not exist: What exists now is that every man is a citizen of Great Britain and they are all members of the nation.

"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".

Recall, once more, the salient points of what Jinnah, the Great Leader, was saying on the eve of Independence: "You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State". And: "Today you might say with justice that Roman Catholics and Protestants do not exist: What exists now is that every man is a citizen of Great Britain and they are all members of the nation. Now, I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal ........." (In the present-day environment of obscurantism, these words would be dismissed as the thoughts of a anglicised lawyer. But it was the Founder himself discussing the "ideal"). And notice also the words: "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 was because of such thoughts that were so fine-tuned and in harmony with the spirit of the Indus region, and because of his consistent adherence to his principles that Jinnah had been proclaimed the "Quaid-e-Azam". His memory continues to evoke a vast an emotive following, although its adherence to his essential philosophy has been gradually replaced by an adherence to certain State-sponsored dogmatic precepts.

It is time to revert to the thoughts, practices and principles of the plain "Mr. Jinnah."

The Indus Saga and the Making of Pakistan
Aitzaz Ahsan



the popular cause and the welfare of India will be my key-note and the guiding principle in the future. I have not desired to seek any post or position or title from the government. My sole object is to serve the cause of the country as best as
I can.

Issued his remarkable election manifesto for his candidature for the Indian Legislative Assembly, to the voters of Bombay constituency.
September 19, 1923
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