Editorial | #ThankYouJinnah Narrative Is Devoid Of Empathy For Delhi Riots Victims
It would not be an exaggeration to say that the world has watched in horror as India’s capital descended into open pogroms against Muslims during the visit of US President Donald Trump. Fresh and painful questions have been raised about the survival of Nehruvian secularism in Prime Minister Modi’s India.
Pakistanis have watched these developments with alarm as well as an understandable sense of relief. It is not lost on anyone in this country that the rationale for the creation of Pakistan is strengthened as the gulf widens between India and its Muslims. In such circumstances, one can see why a stickler for secular constitutionalism like Mr. Muhammad Ali Jinnah went on to become the Quaid-e-Azam to millions of South Asia’s Muslims.
On viewing majoritarian violence in India, a common sentiment on Pakistani social media is expressed along the lines of “Thank you, Mr. Jinnah”. We would do well to examine in some detail this response to an unpleasant BJP-ruled neighbour.
Firstly, it goes without saying that the Pakistani people have a deep sense of gratitude towards their Founding Fathers, much like those of any other country. However, Mr. Jinnah is unlikely to have been pleased about being vindicated in such a manner. His political life was a series of evolving responses to the communal question in British India. The point to creating Pakistan was not to lock two countries into communal-majoritarian horror for the next century or two, but to underline the case for protecting minorities on both sides. It is hard to imagine Mr. Jinnah sharing the sense of delight that some in Pakistan express as India descends into communal chaos.
Secondly, we must ask ourselves whether it is appropriate to say “Thank you” to Mr. Jinnah at the exact moment when Muslims in India face escalating violence. Is it necessary for us to express a sense of smug satisfaction in Pakistan as India’s Muslims face the most terrifying moment since 1947? Any schadenfreude in Pakistan must be countered with the sober realization that centuries of physical presence and heritage of Muslims is under direct, frontal attack in Modi’s India.
Thirdly, the destinies of South Asia’s two nuclear-armed rivals are intertwined, whether they like it or not. As India lurches towards right-wing extremism, communal violence and an aggressive stance towards its neighbours, it unfortunately strengthens the case of some of the worst elements in Pakistan. An ugly India is likely to empower those in Pakistan who believe in fighting fire with fire. Modi’s India will not go into the abyss alone, leaving its neighbours to prosper in peace. Pakistan will be affected adversely by India’s slide.
And finally, we must ask ourselves whether our thanks to Mr. Jinnah is sincere or merely an affectation meant to taunt the neighbouring country. Have we followed the vision laid out by the Quaid in his 11 August 1947 speech, or have we strayed so far from it that the Founding Fathers would have been appalled by what our society has become today? Are we free to go to our mosques and temples, and has our personal religious devotion been separated from the business of state, as the Quaid envisioned? If the honest answer is in the negative, then we must admit to a sense of hypocrisy as we sneer at Modi’s terrifying new India.