Jinnah Envisioned An Inclusive Pakistan, Equating Him With Hindu Extremists Is A Historical Fallacy
Yasser Latif Hamdani challenges the myth that Jinnah demanded a Muslim-majority state similar to the ‘India for Hindus’ demanded by Hindu extremists. He further writes about how Jinnah kept majoritarian impulses at bay following partition.
Pakistan was meant to be a Muslims-only country. This is a myth about the logic on which Pakistan was demanded. And it needs to be challenged. Many scholars have noted that Jinnah demanded Pakistan as a Muslim-majority state mirroring what the Hindu extremists wanted – an India for Hindus only.
This is historically untrue. Jinnah did demand Pakistan on the basis of Muslim-majority areas but he did not want the Hindus and Sikhs to be thrown out of Pakistan nor did he want all Muslims in Indian regions to move to Pakistan.
The Lahore Resolution read:
“That adequate, effective and mandatory safeguards should be specifically provided in the constitution for minorities in these units and in these regions for the protection of their religious, cultural, economic, political, administrative and other rights and interests in consultation with them; and in other parts of India where the Mussalmans are in a minority, adequate, effective and mandatory safeguards shall be specially provided in the constitution for them and other minorities for the protection of their religious, cultural, economic, political, administrative and other rights and interests in consultation with them.”
The Lahore Resolution and by implication, Jinnah, envisaged a super constitution of India above Hindustan and Pakistan which would secure safeguards for Hindus and Sikhs living in Pakistan and for Muslims living in Hindustan. These would then come together as a super or treaty Union of India. It is well known that Jinnah himself wanted to return to Bombay and live out his retirement in what was to be Hindustan.
It is worthwhile to remind ourselves that Jinnah was not demanding a theocratic state. In fact, the idea that his position was not consistent is also invalid. He was a political strategist who had to ally himself with causes at times which were antithetical to his own political ideas and beliefs as is evident in his long career as the Best Ambassador of Hindu Muslim Unity.
Jinnah had realised as early as the 1920s that a consociational compromise was required to keep at bay the essentially majoritarian politics of Nehru and Gandhi which neither Panditji nor the Mahatma realised would unleash a Hindu majoritarian current which India finds itself in grips of.
After having been saddled with an independent, partitioned Pakistan that Jinnah had rejected, he tried to keep the majoritarian impulses at bay. His attempts to secure Hindus in Sindh, his efforts to get Khushwant Singh to become a judge at the Lahore High Court and his appointment of a scheduled caste Hindu as the law minister of Pakistan are all indicative of this.
As a symbolic gesture, the first-ever chairman of the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on 10th and 11th of August 1947 was none other than Jogindranath Mandal. When Jinnah was elected as the president of the Constituent Assembly, he appointed a committee with an equal number of Hindus and Muslims to preside over the session in his absence.
Jinnah’s vision for Pakistan was of an inclusive democratic state. It is a tragedy that we did not follow that idea, but it is important to reiterate his memory for the future direction of the country.
The writer is a lawyer and commentator. He is also the author of the book ‘Jinnah: Myth and Reality’.