VIEW: Quaid’s perception of the state —Mohammad Jamil
Unfortunately, Pakistan lost the Quaid and other founding fathers too soon, and a conglomerate of a privileged few, feudals, the bureaucracy and nouveau-riche industrialists devoid of political acumen and vision took over the state
A great majority of Muslims in the subcontinent had reposed full confidence in Quaid-e-Azam because they accepted his concept and perception of the new state — Pakistan. Today, the myriad political and religious parties, intellectuals and pseudo-intellectuals have variegated views and perceptions about the purpose for and rationale behind the creation of Pakistan. Nevertheless, it is not difficult to conclude from his speeches that he was a democrat, but was against unbridled capitalism and feudalism. He had declared in unequivocal terms that the beneficiaries of jagirs, feudal lords and exploiters were to have no place of privilege in an independent Pakistan. The problem, however, is that his speeches are often misinterpreted by vested interests, especially the status quo forces. Some of them insist that Pakistan was created in the name of Islam, therefore shariah should be enforced, while others hold the view that it was created to rid the Muslims of exploitation by the Hindu majority. In fact, Pakistan was created to rid the Muslims of the exploitation of the majority because the then leadership of Congress was not willing to accept any reasonable arrangement to protect the rights of Muslims within the framework of one India.
Quaid-e-Azam had envisioned Pakistan as a modern progressive state, rooted in the eternal values of our religion and, at the same time, responsive to the imperatives of constant change. In his presidential address at the All India Muslim League session in Delhi on April 24, 1943, he outlined his vision for Pakistan: “I have visited villages; there are millions and millions of our people who hardly get one meal a day. Is this civilisation? If that is the idea of Pakistan I would not have it.” In his address before the constituent assembly on August 11, 1947, he outlined his vision about Pakistan, and vowed to fight corruption, bribery and black marketing and asseverated not to tolerate jobbery and nepotism. In fact, it was a well thought-out first policy statement in which he had given guidelines and the parameters within which the constitution of Pakistan should be framed by the representatives of the people. Unfortunately, efforts were made to distort his speeches even during his lifetime; vested interests had even tried to remove his August 11, 1947 speech from the record. However, the most remarkable part of this speech was his assurance to the people of Pakistan, including minorities, that their fundamental rights, liberties and freedom would be well protected.
“You are free, you are free to go to your temples, and you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or 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 declared before the constituent assembly. On another occasion, he had made it absolutely clear that Pakistan was not going to be a theocratic state because he was aware of the fact that every sect would come out with its own interpretation of the Holy Quran and Sunnah. And the resultant conflicts and clashes between the sects could lead to bloodshed, as is happening today. Quaid-e-Azam had indeed said that we should seek guidance from the Holy Quran for ensuring socio-economic justice in society, but did not hint even remotely that shariah would be enforced in Pakistan. Unfortunately, we lost Quaid-e-Azam too soon, and the bureaucracy, feudalist politicians and those who had opposed Pakistan and Quaid-e-Azam assumed the role of champions of the cause of Islam. Religious parties succeeded in getting the Objectives Resolution (OR) passed by the constituent assembly immediately after the Quaid’s death. Later they continued to pressurise every government to Islamise the constitution though there were clauses that no law would be made repugnant to the Quran and Sunnah.
The constituent assembly that framed the constitution in 1973 did not make the OR a substantive part of the constitution, though it was unanimously adopted as a preamble by the national assembly and by religious parties. However, General Ziaul Haq did. In the wake of the Afghan jihad, there was a mushroom growth of madrassas, and the then leadership could not visualise that these forces would one day cause colossal damage to the polity and social fabric of Pakistan. Religious extremists indeed took advantage of the OR and were and are of the view that Pakistan does not need a constitution when we have the Holy Quran. In Swat, Maulvi Fazlullah’s onslaught on Pakistan’s courts, the constitution and parliament was a case in point. As regards the OR, on August 24, 2010 during proceedings in the Supreme Court, Justice Javed Iqbal remarked “…how it became difficult to achieve consensus at the time the resolution had been tabled before the first constituent assembly in March 1949. A member from the then East Pakistan had opposed it but Sardar Abdul Rab Nishtar and former Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan assured the members of the then assembly that the resolution was nothing more than a policy guideline and should not be considered as the very basis of the constitution.”
The question is whether other honourable judges on the full bench also subscribe to his views. Or are they as divided as the nation on the issue? That point aside, it appears that the religious parties who had opposed Pakistan had persuaded Allama Shabbir Usmani to get the OR passed by the constituent assembly. The question remains: why was this resolution not passed during the Quaid’s lifetime? Unfortunately, Pakistan lost the Quaid and other founding fathers too soon, and a conglomerate of a privileged few, feudals, the bureaucracy and nouveau-riche industrialists devoid of political acumen and vision took over the state. Political parties in Pakistan remained involved in internecine conflicts, and when they failed to deliver, the civil and military bureaucracy thought they could efficiently and effectively run the state. This thus opened the door to the imposition of martial laws. It has to be said that people have suffered during military dictatorships as well as during civilian dictatorships in equal measure. In fact, Pakistan has never been a true democracy, and at the most it was a plutocracy. Even today, the top leadership of major political parties are dynasts and do not practice democracy in their parties. Through the 18th Amendment they have amassed unprecedented powers and control over the members of the assemblies, who cannot vote in the assemblies according to their conscience.
The writer is a freelance columnist. He can be reached at email@example.com