Why Was Jinnah’s 11 August Speech Censored In Pakistan?
“You are free. You are free to go to your temple. You are free to go to your churches, You are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed. That has nothing to do with the business of the state.” Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s speech to Pakistan’s first Constituent Assembly in which he made it clear that state and religion will be kept separate in Pakistan was censored for years. It was deliberately excluded from our textbooks and the bureaucracy at the time made sure that these words by the Quaid were not telecast or shown anywhere. It says a lot about the state of affairs in a country when its founder’s words are censored and concealed in this manner.
So why did the authorities at the time decide to keep people in dark about Jinnah’s views pertaining to the relation between state and religion? The purpose of those who practiced this censorship was clear: they wanted Pakistan to become an authoritative nation state where religion is used as a tool by governments to keep themselves in power. An insecure state which can use this religiosity as a weapon to justify its undemocratic steps.
This systematic censorship of such an important speech about the foundation of Pakistan affected how successive governments formed their policies. Religious minorities were sidelined time and again. The elements who had opposed the creation of Pakistan appeared to have hijacked the country after its formation. Unfortunately, Pakistan continued to mistreat its minority citizens and our state allowed this injustice to take place. Even today, any effort towards reclaiming Jinnah’s Pakistan is met with fatwas and allegations of peddling ‘anti-Islam’ agenda. It is deeply saddening that we have forgotten that Jinnah wanted a Pakistan where all religious minorities had the freedom to practice their beliefs. Today as Pakistan celebrates National Minorities Day, ask yourself if our religious minorities are able to practice their beliefs without the fear of being killed. We have failed our minorities. We have lost Jinnah’s Pakistan.