Imran Khan’s State of Medina – V
As I write these lines, Imran Khan is preparing to fight for his political life. I wrote a year ago that if economy and governance did not improve by December 2019, his Naya Pakistan could fall. The build-up for an onslaught on Khan is getting momentum, but whether it can bring the government down is a million-dollar question. Some players at home and abroad would give anything to know the answer.
Since this assault is slightly premature, people in the know are hedging their bets on the ‘government-falls’ or the ‘government-survives’. It is difficult to predict either consequence because all runners and riders in this altercation lack credibility. Most analysts, however, are not considering this scenario as a sucker punch where the government survives, but gets floored by a knockout punch next year.
I have sympathy with Shehbaz Sharif’s viewpoint that the government would actually get stronger afterwards. In case the alternative prevails, the dream of a State of Medina, beyond Khan’s langars and Shelter Homes, would move further into the distance.
All this is unfolding while we are still in the pre-partition period in my chronicle, where Jinnah alone is fighting the British, Indian National Congress, nationalist Mullahs, and the hypocrites within his party, for Iqbal’s dream of reviving the Sate of Medina. This might feel familiar to Imran Khan, if he is in an altered state of mind.
Around the time of the Pakistan Resolution (1940), Sir Sikander Hayat Khan, Chief Minister of Punjab, was advising the students of Islamia College Lahore, “Whatever you aspire for in life, never support a scheme which leads to division of India for a separate homeland for the Muslims. Because this act would be against the fundamental principles of Islam”. His close associate, Sir Chotoo Ram confirmed, “Sir Sikander would never accept any position in an Islamic government including a Prime Ministership. Punjab will only be governed by the Punjabis.”
On the other end of India, Moulvi Fazlul Haq was giving his view, “We are asked why we did not support Jinnah. Our reply is that we cannot support a leader who is not a Bengali.”
Jinnah (1941) was standing firm, “We presented a resolution for Pakistan in Lahore, and I want to reiterate from the same platform that Pakistan is our destination and no one can stop us from reaching there”. He had burnt his boats, “We have no friends. We can neither trust the British nor the Hindus. We will be fighting against both even if they join each other”. This was when Cabinet Mission (1946) arrived in a last-ditch effort to keep India together.
The British government announced that the party which accepted Mission’s proposals, would be asked to form the next government. The Congress was non-committal but Muslim League accepted the proposals. The British backed out, leaving Jinnah to declare, “Muslim League India is shocked by the British government’s behaviour… we are left with no choice except to ignore the constitutional means and prepare for direct action…”
Iqbal’s vision of the State of Medina (Pakistan) came into being on 14th August, 1947, despite Boundary Commission’s injustice and a bloodbath of emigrating Muslims. However, it did not finish the enemies of Pakistan. Lord Attlee said, while presenting the Independence Bill, “India is partitioning but I am convinced that this division would not last long, and the divided countries will come back together”.
The remnants of the Unionists, nationalist Ulema, Red Shirts, and Jamiat-e-Islami also arrived in Pakistan unashamedly to carry on with their unfinished business. Only the Ahrar-ul-Islam had the decency to apologise for their stance, and committed themselves to Pakistan.
Unsurprisingly, it did not take long for these Ulema, who had opposed an Islamic state for the Muslims, to start demanding that their vision of Islam be implemented in Pakistan. Maududi was even given a contract with Radio Pakistan (courtesy Ch. Muhammad Ali) to spread his model of Islam.
Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah was mindful, and monitored his nemeses from his death bed. He had sworn that even if our enemies threw us in the Arabian Sea, we would not give in. He had vowed to fight alone to protect Pakistan till the last drop of blood in his body. Fighting lung cancer, he breathed his last in a broken-down vehicle on a deserted road leading to Karachi. His vision of Pakistan, however, lives on.
In 1964, Muhammad Munir, the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, wrote an article “Days to Remember” in the daily Pakistan Times (Lahore). He wrote that when Muslim India gained independence, it was never in anyone’s mind that Pakistan would be an Islamic state.
In 1979, he published a book From Jinnah to Zia and repeated that Quaid-e-Azam intended to make Pakistan a secular state. Allama Parwez, an old lieutenant of Jinnah, pounced, and took Munir to task for this brainstorm.
Parwez referred to hundreds of his own articles to prove that neither Jinnah nor Iqbal wanted Pakistan to be a secular state. What they actually wanted was a revival of the State of Medina (without naming it as such), which was neither a secular nor theocratic state. The confusion arises due to the lack of alterative vocabulary for this concept. There was so much opposition precisely because Jinnah sought to establish such a state, whilst his opponents (i.e. the Hindus and the Muslim nationalists) were in favour of a secular state.
The bottom line is that in such a state no human being has the right to govern another. Jinnah had said at the Osmania University in Hyderabad (1941): “There is a special feature of the Islamic state that must not be overlooked. Here obedience is due to God, and in practice this means observing Quranic principles and injunctions. In Islam, authority belongs neither to a king, nor to a parliament, nor to any individual organisation. Quranic injunctions determine the limits of our civil liberties and obligations in the political or social context.
In other words, the ‘Islamic state’ is the name of the authority that enforces Quranic principles and injunctions, and this in turn requires a territory.”
Parwez wrote that Munir had constructed his imperfect claims on three pieces of evidence: Jinnah had repeatedly said that there would not be a theocracy in Pakistan; Jinnah’s speech of 11th August 1947; and Jinnah’s interview to Reuters on 21st May 1947.
Jinnah was just as opposed to secularism as he was to theocracy. In his broadcast to the people of the USA (1948), quoted earlier in this series, Jinnah had clarified that theocracy is a system in which political control is handed over to the religious elite to fulfill what they believed to be God’s mission. He was opposed to it because this political system was un-Islamic; and indeed, the Quran was revealed for the very purpose of abolishing theocracy.
The sad part is that Justice Munir had cited the same broadcast but only up to the sentence “We are the inheritors of these glorious traditions and are fully alive to our responsibilities and obligations as framers of the future constitution of Pakistan.”
The very next sentence, in which Jinnah had clarified the definition of theocracy, was conveniently omitted – perhaps to bolster his argument.
Justice Munir made the same mistake about Jinnah’s speech of 11 August 1947. He manipulated the speech to create a biased evidence for secular state, and also implied that Jinnah had defied the Two-Nation Theory. The reality is that Jinnah, as President, was describing the events leading to the partition of India. In India, the Muslims were a minority and the Hindus in the majority, and for this reason Muslims were frequently targeted.
In Pakistan, the situation was reversed; and there was apprehension among the Hindus that they might be subjected to the same treatment. Jinnah was reassuring the Hindus that they had no reason to fear.
Then he had addressed the Pakistanis with these words, “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.… We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one state… our ideal and you will find that in [the] course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, …but in the political sense as citizens of the State.”
These words of Jinnah are often abused to justify that he abandoned both the Two-Nation Theory and the concept of an Islamic state. Had Jinnah arrived from a different planet, made this speech and went away, it might have been possible to draw this conclusion. However, his record chronicling ten years of the Pakistan movement, and hundreds of articles and speeches before and after this speech prove his dedication to the Two-Nation Theory and Islam beyond any doubt.
It is sad that whenever people like Munir are confronted, they have the nerve to suggest that Jinnah’s claim for an Islamic state was a political strategy. Whosoever has any idea of Jinnah’s character, would reject such ludicrous accusation without any hesitation. Jinnah’s integrity was appreciated even by his enemies.
To comprehend Jinnah’s speech, we need to examine the milieu at the time. Hindus and Sikhs in the East Punjab, and Muslims in West Pakistan were killing one another. Escorted caravans and trains had proved unsafe means of transport as they arrived in Pakistan with more people dead than alive. This had caused a backlash in parts of Pakistan, and subsequently non-Muslims, particular Hindus, were uncertain about their future.
A new country with limited functional institutions had skint resources to deal with this enormous challenge. This is when some newspapers in India were spreading disinformation about systematised brutality against the Hindus. Hence, it was vital for Pakistani minorities to be assured that they were safe and would be protected from harm. The speech was, therefore, styled to reassure the public and prevent civil unrest.
It was uncharacteristically emotional though, which was understandable considering the state of the nation and the enormous responsibility on Jinnah’s shoulders.
This speech, nonetheless, was not Jinnah’s last testimony. He made several speeches after this speech – all affirming his commitment to Pakistan as an Islamic state. As if this was not enough for Munir; he objected that Jinnah never mentioned the word – ideology of Pakistan.
If the basic premise of Jinnah’s ten-year campaign (as he stated repeatedly) was to establish an Islamic state, the question of whether or not he used the phrase ‘Ideology of Pakistan’ was rather childish. However, some would be pleased to know that Jinnah did use these words.
He said during an interview with the Associated Press of America on 8th November 1945 that Pakistan would be ‘a Muslim State’. In the same speech, he also referred to the ‘theory of Pakistan’. Similarly, on 15th June 1945, he addressed the Frontier Muslim Students Federation:
“Pakistan not only means freedom and independence but the Muslim ideology, which has to be preserved, which has come to us as a precious gift and treasure and which, we hope, others will share with us”.
Munir also mentioned an anecdote where Jinnah was supposed to have said something which supported his argument. But the narrator was biased and none of the characters were alive to verify it when the book was published.
His last evidence was Jinnah’s interview to the Reuters on 21st May 1947 (dated incorrectly in Munir’s book as 1946). In this interview, Jinnah supposedly said that he envisioned Pakistan as a ‘modern democratic state with sovereignty resting in the people’. Munir stressed that the words were at odds with the Objectives Resolution, which states that ‘sovereignty rests with Allah’.
This quote, along with the two pieces of evidence discussed above, had become a formulaic argument copied verbatim time and again by journalists and historians, and accepted blindly as a fact. No one ever thought about checking the original source.
Saleena Kareem (2005, 2010) in her two books has destroyed Munir’s evidence because this quote is fake. She initially thought that the quote came from the book but learned later that its origins were in another publication by Munir: The Report of the Court of Inquiry Constituted under Punjab Act II of 1954.
It is better known as the Munir Report, and made Munir a celebrity. He became Chief Justice soon after the inquiry ended. Following the Munir Report, the first time that the fake quote was used as supporting evidence for a secular Pakistan was in Pakistan’s Constituent Assembly in August 1954. This quote had never been cited before, simply because it did not exist.
Jinnah wrote to Parwez on 14th June, 1947 to send him “…names of those who you think will be true servants of the future secretariat of Pakistan”. When he presented those in person, Jinnah asked him what post would he like in the new secretariat. He was not amused when Parwez insisted on having the same seat he occupied in India.
G.A. Parwez, an Iqbal protégé, never received the distinguished recognition he deserved for his role in the Pakistan movement. He died writing tirelessly about the Quran and Iqbal’s State of Medina (Pakistan) on 24th February, 1985.
Manzil Unhain Milee Jo Shareek-e-Safar Na Thay
The writer is a Political Psychiatrist based in London.