Friday, July 29, 2011
Jinnah: the leader of modern times
The period between March 23, 1940 and August 14, 1947 can play an integral part in helping Pakistanis realise the importance of certain ideas in life; whether it's the life of an individual or of an entire nation. To understand all of this, just reading about the steps that the Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah took during these seven vital years can be sufficient enough.
The Pakistan Resolution passed on this very day in the year 1940 bears testimony to the fact that the Quaid had a vision and he was fearless not only to declare it but also to work upon realising it despite numerous hurdles that came in his way. When Jinnah delivered his speech at Minto Park, Lahore and emphasised that by any definition of international law, Muslims of the United India were a separate entity; millions in India identified with his message. Only true leaders can expect to receive this kind of response from the masses.
In 1942, when the British initiated the Cripps Mission, Jinnah and his Muslim League associates were vigilant so as not to fall for the loopholes in that proposal. Through the Cripps Mission, the British had proposed that they would grant full dominion status to the Indian Union, right after the then ongoing Second World War ended. More importantly, it was also said that some provinces would be given the choice to opt out of this perceived Union. While the Congress rejected the proposal for giving this choice of withdrawal to some provinces, the Muslim League also resisted it. The reason for doing so was that Jinnah's men outrightly stated that the proposal was only suited to provinces and the choices they could exercise whereas the majority of Muslims in India were pursuing nothing less than a separate state.
A leader is one who has immensely powerful foresight. While Gandhi is known the world over for waging a civil disobedience movement against the British and starting the Quit India Movement in 1942, Jinnah was careful in taking sides at that time. Hence, the Muslim League preferred to neither support nor oppose the British and did not press for the British quitting India so quickly and haphazardly that the demand of the Muslims -- for a separate homeland -- remained unmet and neglected.
When the Gandhi-Jinnah talks took place in 1944, Gandhi put forward the idea that at that point in time, Congress and Muslim League should work together to make the British leave India first and later work upon the technicalities of a separate state for Muslims. However, he also stated that even when the British would leave, areas such as defence and foreign policy should remain with the central authority. Jinnah eyed this dual policy on the part of Congress and reiterated that Muslims demanded a separate country at all costs, and they were not ready to be the part of an Indian federation in future. The Quaid also told Gandhi explicitly that by initially stating that the creation of Pakistan could be worked upon and then talking of a central authority, Congress had itself clearly exhibited the low strength of its promise towards Muslims and Pakistan. In the 1945-46 elections in India, it took a man of unfazed dedication and strength such as Muhammad Ali Jinnah to obtain the overwhelmingly positive results for Muslim League. Election results showed that Congress had been able to obtain 91 per cent of the general votes whilst the Muslim League had won 87 per cent of the Muslims vote, grabbing every single Muslim seat in the Central Legislature. It must be noted here that people often tend to label Gandhi as the peoples' leaders while Jinnah is usually referred to as the legal-minded individual. However, this massive victory of the Muslim League shows just how popular he and his party were.
In 1946, it was the Cabinet Mission plan which tested Quaid-i-Azam's persistence again. The Cabinet Mission put two options in front of him: Either accept Sindh, West Punjab, North West Frontier Province, Balochistan and East Bengal as a separate state or agree to a loose federation constituting the whole of Punjab and Bengal provinces with portfolios such as defence, communications, and foreign policy lying with the centre. Jinnah had the courage to reject both these options. According to him, Pakistan would be mutilated from its very beginning if major provinces such as Punjab and Bengal were not included in their whole forms with Pakistan. The latter option of a loose federation was again totally unacceptable for Indian Muslims. It must have required a great deal of perseverance and a dash of risk-taking from Jinnah to keep refusing all these offers in order to acquire a Pakistan which was the exact replica of how he had imagined it to be for his people.
August 1946 arrived, with little hopes of anything concrete and positive happening for Muslims in the coming days. With every passing day, the feeling that the British might leave India without tackling Muslims' issues increased and thus created uncertainty among India's Muslim population. This was when Jinnah decided to use people's power as the last and final resort. Muslim League gave a call for Direct Action Day on August 16, 1946 with the fact that they would attain independence exactly a year from then unbeknownst to them. The Direct Action Day was observed to get Muslim force registered in the minds of Hindus and British alike. Demonstrations took place across India, with riots taking place in Calcutta, leaving thousands of people dead; of them more Muslims than Hindus.
This action immediately spelt trouble for the Muslims. The British government, just ten days after these protests, announced that an interim government was to be made within a month's time and it would not have any representative from Muslim League in it.
By May 1947, considerable progress had been made and Jinnah's Pakistan was slowly inching closer towards Muslims. The last Viceroy of India, Lord Mountbatten announced that India would be partitioned by June 3, 1948 and by default, the constitution of both separate states India and Pakistan would be the 1935 Government of India Act. It was announced that a Boundary Commission would be established for demarcating boundaries officially and princely states would have the liberty to join India, Pakistan or even stay independent.
Controversies abound to this day. The first one is that just a couple of days after the announcement of the June 3 Plan, it was suddenly announced that the British would leave India much earlier; as early as August 15, 1948. The demarcation of boundaries did not take place as had been formally planned, leaving Pakistan in a quite weak position strategically. The division of financial and military assets was not up to the mark as well.
Still, Jinnah took all of this in his stride and did not complain, for that would have lowered the morale of his followers. Instead, he insisted that Pakistanis must remain positive and look ahead. Despite all these injustices, there was never a streak of negativity in any of his speeches. In his words, it is evident that he wanted to give Indian Muslims a country of their own and at the same time never sound prejudiced against people of other religions. His demand appears clear: Give Muslims their due rights and let others coexist peacefully, whether in Pakistan or on the other side of the border.
It takes centuries to produce people who are so apt at exploiting time to its utmost potential. Jinnah was given just seven years to actualise the words he had spoken at Minto Park, Lahore and he showed us all that it was both possible and achievable.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Atif F Qureshi
“The world, but not self, thou canst see;
How long in thy ignorance wilt thou sit?
With thy ancient flame let the night be lit;
The hand of Moses is sleeved in thee!
Set forth thy foot from the circling skies;
Greater and older than these thou art;
Fearest thou death in thy deathless heart?
Death’s but a prey that before thee lies!
Life, once given thee, none can take; ‘
Tis for lack of faith men faint and die;
Learn to be sculptor, even as I,
And haply anew thy self-hood make!”
“In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand-fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers... we are ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.”
Pakistan’s arrival onto the world stage was nothing short of miraculous, a nation bursting into life through the sheer force of divine providence. Foreseen in the vision of Allama Iqbal and created with the perspiration of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the new nation was the fulfilment of a manifest destiny - arising to defend the Ummah in her darkest hour. But in the critical moments after independence, Pakistan was in difficult territory. A land of subsistence farmers and struggling immigrants, the nation’s position was precarious and her long term prospects were uncertain.
Yet even through those early days, even after the spilt blood, the lost wealth, and the broken ties, there was a sense of enormous anticipation. The Pakistani people were energised, aspiring and free, daring to strike out into a bright future no longer burdened by world war, religious insecurity or the shame of subservience to foreign masters.
But the optimism soon turned to ashes. The great tragedy of the Pakistani saga is the sense of frustration carried in the hearts of its people today. The people of Pakistan love their nation immensely, but they so richly deserve the Pakistan that should have been. Instead, betrayed by fate, they now witness a "terra incognita"- an unrecognizable land.
Pakistan was once only an inspired vision. In 1947, through great sacrifice, a miraculous new nation was born. With its people energized and free, it seemed there was no height Pakistan would not scale. Now, many decades later, as we look back on years of strife, division and poverty cultivated by generations of misguided leaders, we find ourselves wondering how this glorious inheritance became so spoiled.
Atif F Qureshi examines the causes of the calamity, in particular the explanation that trumps all others - the import of Western political, legal and economic systems. Detailing why these methods are wholly unworkable for an independent Muslim nation, he examines how Western concepts such as socialism and English Civil Law have led to crises ranging from economic stagnation to terrorist insurgencies. Yet the decline is not irreversible. Qureshi outlines policies that by returning to core Islamic values will revive, rejuvenate and revitalise this beautiful nation. From defence and the environment to education and banking, every aspect of national planning is explored. He shows how in spite of all the travails, Pakistan is well-placed for a glorious future. After all, a manifest destiny awaits…
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Iqbal Aur Quaid e Azam
“Endeavour to obey, O heedless one! Liberty is the fruit of obligation. By duty a man of no worth is made worthy; by disobedience his fire is turned to ashes. Whoso would master the sun and the stars, let him make himself a prisoner of Law!”
“Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you’re a man, you take it.”