“You are free to go to your temples; 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 caste or creed — that has nothing to do with the business of the state.”
made on 11 Aug 1947 regarding the attitude of the state towards non Muslims, Hoodbhoy feels is a valiant but insufficiently grounded attempt to project Jinnah as a secularist.
I think it is pointless to seek a consensus on the nature of the state that Jinnah wanted for Pakistan. He certainly did not want a theocracy or a Taliban state, nor one in which the non-Muslim minorities would be persecuted and harassed (as they are today). But Jinnah’s statements at different times and circumstances are far too widely spread out to conclude anything substantial beyond these truths. Not being sufficiently wellversed in Islamic history or theology, Jinnah’s allusions to establishing an Islamic state in Pakistan cannot be taken seriously. The future of Pakistan – how secular or how Islamic it is to be – can only be decided by the citizens of the country that Jinnah made.
In a related post comparing the speeches of Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Jawaharlal Nehru, this blogger had observed:
Anti- Nehruvians who currently dominate the Indian scene blame Jawaharlal for the statist model of development that India followed, his perceived “softness” on Kashmir and for “pampering the minorities”.
In the same vein, Jinnah may also be held responsible for some of the faults in Pakistan today- for creating a State based on religion, and also for not having reared the next line of leadership.
But death deprived Jinnah the time and possibility of leading Pakistan- something that he shares with Mahatma Gandhi, which is probably the reason for the adulation that the Quaid e Azam still gets in Pakistan, like Gandhi gets in India, compared to the rather beleagured stature of Jawaharlal Nehru in India today.
In Pakistan, the view is that the country did not live up to the ideals of the Quaid e Azam.
In India, it is Jawaharlal Nehru who is blamed for not living up to the possibilities of India.
Hoodbhoy’s article just goes to underline how onerous the task for liberals in Pakistan is, with a very fragile defence for secularism in the speeches and writings of Pakistan’s last Congressman.