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Pakistan: Objectives Resolution and Secular Deceptions

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By Tarik Jan

Whoever said it has said it well that you cannot deceive all the people all the time. Our secularists think they can do it because they dominate the media. This time they are twisting facts to undermine the Objectives Resolution Article 2-A of the constitution.  The lady columnist of the Daily Times in response to my rejoinder says “it was just a document to please the ‘ulama.” I refuse to accept her comforting words. To me and our nation it is the single most important document that sets the direction of the state. Besides, if it is really that unimportant, as she says, then why she and her secular lobby fumes and frets over its presence in the constitution, digging something as ancient as 62 years back in time, which had the national consensus and which all constitutional drafts carried, including Mr. Bhutto’s 1973 constitution?  She herself declares the passage of the Objectives Resolution in 1949 as “the demise of Jinnah’s Pakistan.”

To know whether it was really the result of pleasing the ‘ulama, she should have probed into the following areas: What was the role of the Constitution Assembly in the post 1947 Pakistan – to preserve its spirit or squander it away?  What was the caliber of the Constitution Assembly or who made its composition? Did the Constitution Assembly have the obligation toward the Pakistan movement and thus to have sketched the constitutional template in a way that it gives word to the ethos of the Pakistan movement, its sentiments and its aspirations? Was the Pakistan movement led by the ‘ulam? that the Constitution Assembly had to please them by passing the Objectives Resolution? Were the prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan, Sardar Abdur Rab Nishter, Sir Zafarullah Khan, Dr. Ishtiaq Husain Qureshi, Dr. Fazal ur-Rahman, Maulvi Tamizuddin Khan, Dr. Mahmud Husain, Begum Shahnawaz, Shaista Suhrawardy Ikramullah, Nur Ahmad, Ch. Nazir Ahmad Khan, Dr. Umar Hayat Malik, A.K. Fazal Haq and others like them — a string of glitterati – belonged to the ‘ulam? class? Did they not constitute the entire Muslim League leadership? Were they less in their intellectual stature?

To have looked for answers to such questions would have given the exercise an academic face suitable to those who care for truth and objectivity. But where we have hatred-driven ideology like secularism against Muslims and Pakistan, then history becomes plastic to be tampered and molded. Why is she doing it? She herself gives us a peep into her mind that may provide us the answer   — she did not like the Qur’anic recitation before the Assembly’s session.

To say that it lacked representational character shows the author’s malevolence, an accusation that smothers facts. That an assembly populated by almost the entire leadership of the Muslim League that led the Pakistan movement could be described as not representational is something that only the secular brigade has the nerve to say.

Equally absurd is the assertion that the Objectives Resolution was contrary to the Quaid’s wish. This is what precisely the Hindu members said in the Constitution Assembly which the secular lobby is parroting today. Needless to say the Assembly refused to buy it. A person no less of Sardar Abdur Rabb Nishter’s caliber responded to the Hindu member’s contention. His expression uncluttered – a clarity that comes from someone who knew his leader’s thought and was familiar with the idiom of the Pakistan movement, Nishter’s tone is seemingly transcendent:                                                     

Another remark which was made by one of the members was that soon after the Quaid-i Azam’s death you have confronted us with this resolution as if we have done something against the wishes of the Quaid-i Azam. It is correct Quaid-i Azam had given pledges to the minorities but Quaid-i Azam had also given pledges to the majority. Pakistan was demanded with a particular ideology, for a particular purpose and this Resolution, that has been moved, is just in accordance with those solemn pledges which Quaid-i Azam  and the leaders of the Muslim League gave to the majority as well as to the minorities. We have done nothing and none of us dare do anything which goes against the declarations of Quaid-i Azam  (see Constitution Assembly Debates, March 10, 1949, p. 62).

To the minorities’ demand, voiced by Mr. Chakraverty, that the Objectives Resolution should say it clearly that their rights would be consistent with the UN charter, Nishter said:

He (the Hindu member) read out certain portions of that Charter but when I went through one of the clauses in this Resolution, it contains much more than what was read out by my friend, Mr. Chakraverty.

In fact, in the constitutional debates the Hindu members had clearly voiced their dislike against the making of Pakistan. They also desired that the Muslims should set aside their religion and proclaim the new Pakistani state as secular. They also wanted that Islam should have no role in the nation-building. When the Quaid in his August 11 speech reiterated the minorities’ rights and their equal status as citizens in the political sense, they thought Pakistan was going to be a secular state.

Sris Chandra Chittopadia, the Hindu delegate from East Bengal, expressed the secular state impression in these words:     

We thought that religion and politics would not be mixed up. That was the declaration of Quaid-i Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in this house. But the resolution before us has a religious basis (see Debates, March 7, 1949, p. 9).

Setting aside their wrong impression, Liaquat Ali Khan rose to intervene. His voice had the ring of authenticity that for sure came from his being the trusted associate of Mr. Jinnah. In unmistaken terms he proclaimed that the establishment of Pakistan had behind it the Muslim desire to live under the shade of Islam. Extolling the Objectives Resolution, he placed it in importance next to the emergence of Pakistan. Yes, these are his words.

Sir, I consider this to be a most important occasion in the life of this country, next in importance only to the achievement of independence, because by achieving independence we only won an opportunity of building up a country and its polity in accordance with our ideals. I would like to remind the House that the father of the Nation, Quaid-i Azam, gave expression to his feelings on this matter on many an occasion, and his views were endorsed by the nation in unmistakable terms. Pakistan was founded because the Muslims of this Subcontinent wanted to build up their lives in accordance with the teachings and traditions of Islam, because they wanted to demonstrate to the world that Islam provides a panacea to the many diseases which have crept into the life of humanity today (see Debates, March 7, 1949, p. 2).

When the Hindus began to sing in unison with the secular beat of a non-Islamic state, Dr. Ishtiaq Husain Qureshi rose to silence their chant. His words were vibrant and his tone was laced with powerful emotions that come with true convictions:

Of course, if the word secular means that the ideals of Islam, that the fundamental principles of religion, that the ethical outlook which religion inculcates in our people should not be observed, then I am afraid, Sir, that kind of secular democracy can never be acceptable to us in Pakistan (see Debates, March 9, 1949, p. 41).

The Assembly clapped. (Hear, hear)                                                 

To say that along with the minority members “some secular Muslim members” also opposed the Objectives Resolution is a claim asking for proof. Never mind the expression “secular Muslims,” which is a contradiction in terms (because a Muslim cannot be secular in the same breath), the author should have named those secular Muslims – the alleged opponents of the Objectives Resolution. And even there were some, what difference does it make in the democratic processing of lawmaking? Perhaps she is referring to Mian Iftikhar uddin, a known communist and of course a secularist. Ironically I do not find him opposing the Objectives Resolution in the proceedings of the Assembly. Although he does make elliptical suggestions of abolishing the princely states and adult franchise which he says if not incorporated in the Resolution would make it “incomplete.”

Interestingly enough when the voting was obtained on the Hindu amendments to the Objective Resolution, Mian Iftikhar Uddin withholds his consent to them. His courage wanes in the face of overwhelming support for the Resolution inside and outside the Assembly.hat is amazing is that despite being a communist he did not have the courage to oppose the Resolution openly. The constitutional debates ironically hear him praise Islam’s egalitarian impulse and its sense of justice.

It has also been said that in the discussion leading to 1940 Lahore Resolution “no reference to an Islamic system or theocracy could be traced.”

For what generated the 1940 resolution one must read, for instance, Mr. Jinnah’s speech before the 1940 resolution in which he dealt at length with the demand for a separate homeland. So stunningly sharp is Jinnah’s grasp of the makeup of the Muslim persona and the Islamic civilization that shapes it that it leaves the readers spellbound. With his acute sense of history, he is seemingly reaching the conclusion that Muslims and Hindus were never a nation nor would they be now or in the future, for as he says “the fundamental Islamic conception of society” is opposed to the Hindu vision of society. His speech is well worded and well articulated:

Notwithstanding thousands years of close contact, nationalities which are as divergent today as ever, cannot at any time be expected to transform themselves into one nation merely by means of subjecting them to a democratic  constitution and holding them forcibly together by unnatural and artificial methods of British Parliamentary statutes, What the unitary government of India for 150 years had failed to achieve cannot be realized by the imposition of a central federal government . …

The problem in India is not of an inter-communal character, but manifestly of an international one, and it must be treated as such. It is extremely difficult to appreciate why our Hind friends fail to understand the real nature of Islam and Hinduism. They are not religions in the strict sense of the word, but are, in fact, different and distinct social orders and it is a dream that the Hindus and Muslims will ever evolve a common nationality and this misconception of one Indian nation… it will lead India to destruction if we fail to revise our notions in time. The Hindus and Muslims belong to different religious philosophies, social customs, and literature. They neither intermarry, nor inter-dine together and, indeed they belong to two civilizations which are based mainly on conflicting ideas and conceptions. Their aspects on life and of life are different. It is quite clear that Hindus and Mussalmans derive their inspirations from different sources of history. They have different epics, different heroes and different episodes. Very often the hero of one is a foe of the other and, likewise their victories and defeats overlap. To yoke together two such nations under a single state, one as a numerical minority and other as a majority, must lead to growing discontent and final destruction of any fabric that may be so built up for the government of such a state (see Speeches, Statements, and Messages of Quaid-e-Azam, collected and edited by Khurshid Ahmad Khan Yusufi, 1996, pp. 1179-1181).

 In this part of his speech he uses four distinct expressions though all linked and interchangeable:

  • Islamic conception of society.
  • Islam is not religion but a distinct social order.
  • Islam is a civilization.
  • Muslim sources of inspiration in history are different.

Does one need a lesson to understand this four-layered use of Islam?

Not a word in Jinnah’s phraseology of his intent is obscure, farfetched, or uncommon. For instance, Islamic conception of society means its fundamental beliefs, its worldview – how it perceives the world and how it views humans in it. It also involves individual-societal relationship and how society can have control over the social dynamics so that it realizes its objectives.

When he says Islam is not a religion but a distinct social order, he gives embrace to life in all its aspects – something that should bother our secularists.

Likewise, when he puts Islam in the civilization context, he goes beyond the political concept of state. Civilization as academically understood is how people live together – from shared beliefs and values to moral, social, and political ordering of their lives, their sense of esthetics as expressed in their architecture, town planning, arts and literature that facilitate life to grow with a certain stamp on it. In other words, it a cumulative environment that a people’s genius create within the parameters of their moral values as shaped by their primary sources of inspiration.

Similarly, his using the words of “the Muslims’ sources of inspiration in history” is important to understand his vision of the coming Pakistan. Here the word history is of special significance, for he perceives the life of the Muslim peoples stretched over time and space, their evolution, their makeup, their beliefs and motives, and how they acted and reacted in the decisive moments of their life.

Without that supreme moment in time when Islam appeared on the world scene with earth- shattering impact, there would have been no Muslims in the existential sense, no Islamic social ordering or Islamic state, or for that matter Islamic civilization.

Here in this speech Jinnah comes out as a philosopher, a seer, and a statesman. If someone fails to see Islam or say Islamic system in it, then it is his or her problem. The text is transparent and the speaker’s intent known.

So what is the secularists’ problem? It is their fanaticism, their blinkered vision, and their maddening desire to make other believe what they want them to believe. No, that may not happen. It is fascism in the name of freedom of expression.


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  1. The author's bitterness belies conviction..

  2. Ali Akbar Khan says:

    It must not be forgotten that Jinnah also wanted rapid conversion of the Bangalis in the East to the superior West Pakistan culture and ethos. Had the Bangali language been stamped out in the East quickly, within the first 5 years of Pakistan's creation, we would not have the problems we faced in 1971. Sunni domination on the Saudi model was also his ultimate aim: had we looked inwards, and purged our own society of Qadianis, Shias, Hindus, Sikhs and Christians quickly rather than follw a falsely secular democratic values, Pakistan would have now become a world leader.

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