Sunday, October 19, 2008

Behind Pakistan's Islamic Ideology - 2

Islam was used ! So this whole Ideology Drama was a farce rather hoodwinking the whole Muslim Population

The strength of the Muslim League in the Muslim-majority provinces was going to be put to the test during the 1945-46 election campaign. Consequently in the public meetings and mass contact campaigns the Muslim League openly employed Islamic sentiments, slogans and heroic themes to rouse the masses. This is clearly stated in the fortnightly confidential report of 22 February 1946 sent to Viceroy Wavell by the Punjab Governor Sir Bertrand Glancy:

The ML (Muslim League) orators are becoming increasingly fanatical in their speeches. Maulvis (clerics) and Pirs (spiritual masters) and students travel all round the Province and preach that those who fail to vote for the League candidates will cease to be Muslims; their marriages will no longer be valid and they will be entirely excommunicated… It is not easy to foresee what the results of the elections will be. But there seems little doubt the Muslim League, thanks to the ruthless methods by which they have pursued their campaign of *Islam in danger* will considerably increase the number of their seats and unionist representatives will correspondingly decline. (L/P & J/5/249, p. 155).

“Two years ago at Simla I said that the democratic parliamentary system of government was unsuited to India. I was condemned everywhere in the Congress press. I was told that I was guilty of disservice to Islam because Islam believes in democracy. So far as I have understood Islam, it does not advocate a democracy which would allow the majority of non-Muslims to decide the fate of the Muslims. We cannot accept a system of government in which the non-Muslims merely by numerical majority would rule and dominate us.” [speech by Mr Jinnah delivered at the Aligarh Muslim University Union on March 6, 1940]

“Then, generally speaking, democracy has different patterns even in different countries of the West. Therefore, naturally I have reached the conclusion that in India where conditions are entirely different from those of the Western countries, the British party system of government and the so-called democracy are absolutely unsuitable.” [speech by Mr Jinnah delivered at the Aligarh Muslim University Union on March 6, 1940]

“Democratic systems based on the concept of a homogeneous nation such as England are very definitely not applicable to heterogeneous countries such as India and this simple fact is the root cause of all of India’s constitutional ills.” [speech by Mr Jinnah delivered at the Aligarh Muslim University Union on March 6, 1940]

Raja Sahib Mahmudabad, a Shia, wrote in 1939 to the historian Mohibul Hassan:

When we speak of democracy in Islam it is not democracy in the government but in the cultural and social aspects of life. Islam is totalitarian—there is no denying about it. It is the Koran that we should turn to. It is the dictatorship of the Koranic laws that we want—and that we will have—but not through non-violence and Gandhian truth. (quoted in Hasan, 1997: 57-8)

Raja Sahib was severely reprimanded by Jinnah, but the point is that such ideas were not altogether alien to Muslim League stalwarts. I think an additional reason why the Muslim League could not have allowed such ideas to be associated with its ideology and objective, at least at the highest formal level, was that they would have undermined its position as the moderate voice of Muslims vis-à-vis the Indian National Congress and the British government. The great skill of Jinnah was that until the last moment he did not explain what his idea of Pakistan was. It is not surprising that his 11 August 1947 speech to the Pakistan Constituent Assembly in which he spelt out the vision of a secular and democratic Pakistan surprised many of his followers. His sympathetic biographer Stanley Wolpert has recorded this point succinctly (Wolpert, 1993: 340).

The strategy not to discuss the ideology of Pakistan provided Jinnah with considerable flexibility and room to manoeuvre his campaign for Pakistan as and when the situation required. The task was formidable and the adversaries strong and well organised. Thus in late January 1947 when the Muslim League launched its direct action campaign in the Punjab against the government of Khizr Tiwana, the Punjab governor, Sir Evan Jenkins, met the visiting all-India Muslim League leader Khawaja Nazimuddin on 18 February and later wrote in his fortnightly report to the viceroy:

In our first meeting Khawaja Nazim-ud-Din admitted candidly that he did not know what Pakistan means, and that nobody in the ML knew, so it was difficult for the League to carry on long term negotiations with the minorities. (March 1947: L/P & J/5/250, p. 3/79).

Similar practices were prevalent in the campaigns in NWFP and Sindh. In his doctoral dissertation, ”India, Pakistan or Pakhtunistan?” Erland Jansson writes:

The Pir of Manki Sharif…founded an organisation of his own, the Anjuman-us-asfia. The organisation promised to support the Muslim League on condition that Shariat would be enforced in Pakistan. To this Jinnah agreed. As a result the Pir of Manki Sharif declared jehad to achieve Pakistan and ordered the members of his anjuman to support the League in the 1946 elections (p. 166).

Jinnah’s letter to to Pir Manki Sharif in which he promised that the Shariah will be applied to the affairs of the Muslim community is quoted in the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan Debates, Volume 5, 1949, p. 46. Thus from 1940 onwards, the distinction between a Muslim national state and an Islamic state became increasingly blurred, and in the popular mind such distinctions did not matter much. In any case, while the non-Muslims viewed with great apprehension the possibility of a Muslim state that would reduce them to a minority, the minority Shia and Ahmadiyya communities were fearful that it would result in Sunni domination. This is obvious from the correspondence between the Shia leader, Syed Zaheer Ali and Jinnah in July1944. Moreover, it is to be noted that the Council of Action of the All-Parties Shia Conference passed a resolution on 25 December 1945 rejecting the idea of Pakistan. Similarly the Ahmadiyya were also wary and reluctant to support the demand for a separate Muslim state (Report of the Court of Inquiry, 1954: 196). It is only when Sir Zafrulla was won over by Jinnah that the Ahmadis started supporting the demand for Pakistan. To all doubters, Jinnah gave assurances that Pakistan will be a modern Muslim state, neutral on sectarian matters.


Mushirul Hasan, Legacy of a Divided Nation, London: Hurst & Company, London, (1997).

David Gilmartin, Empire and Islam: Punjab and the Making of Pakistan, Delhi: Oxford University Press, (1989).

Erland Jansson, India, Pakistan or Pakhtunistan?, Uppsala: Acta UniversitatisUpsaliensis, (1981).

Political and Judicial Records L/P & J/5/249, p. 155, London: British Library, (March 1946).

Political and Judicial Records L/P & J/5/250, p. 3/79, London: British Library, (March 1947).

Report of the Court of Inquiry constituted under Punjab Act II of 1954 to enquire into the Punjab Disturbances of 1953 (also known as Munir Report), Lahore: Government Printing Press, 1954.

‘Resolution adopted by Council of Action of the All-Parties Shaia Conference’, held at Poona, 25 December 1945, in S.R. Bakshi, The Making of India and Pakistan: Ideology of the Hindu Mahasabha and other Political Parties, Vol. 3, New Delhi, Deep & Deep Publications, 1997.

Stanley Wopert, Jinnah of Pakistan, Oxford University Press London, (1993).

The Constituent Assembly of Pakistan Debates,Vol. 5, 1949, Karachi: Government of Pakistan Press, (1949).

Syed Zaheer Ali , ‘Letter to Quaid-e-Azam by Syed Ali Zaheer, July1944 and the Quaid’s reply’ in G. Allana, Pakistan Movement: Historic Documents, Lahore: Islamic Book Service, (1977).

Courtesy: The fundamentalist dimension in the Pakistan Movement : Article from Friday Times, Pakistan's First Independent Weekly Paper, Nov 22 - 28, 2002 by Ishtiaq Ahmed [The author is Associate Professor Department of Political Science at Stockholm University

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