“The Quaid-e-Azam”, says Frank Moraes, one-time editor of “Times of India” and of “Indian Express”, “is assured of a place among the great Muslims of our times. Kemal Ataturk revived the ramshackled state, which was Turkey. But Jinnah’s achievement was in a sense more considerable. Out of next to nothing, he willed a state into being.” To most observers, as to Moraes, Jinnah’s achievement rests on his founding a state. But what is significant about it is that it was not just another state when several existing ones were disappearing in the wake of political turmoil and convulsion. It was Pakistan. And it represented the political expression of a religious community.
Actually, the Pakistan movement was launched as part of a worldwide movement for Muslim revival and renaissance. Above all, on the basis of a transcendent ideal – the Islamic ideology. Theoretically speaking, Jinnah strived not for a cut and dried Pakistan, for this territory or that (though in the final analysis, a territorial expression had to be given to this demand), but for this transcendent ideal.
And in taking up the cause of Pakistan, the primary aim was to gain power for Muslims in a particular region with a view to keeping the faith uncorrupted. Pakistan was visualised in terms of a “free Islam in a free India”. Power was sought not merely for material gains, but primarily to enable the Muslims to live as Muslims, both in their individual and collective spheres.
In incorporating the Islamic ideal in the concept of Pakistan, Jinnah was, to a certain extent, pan-Islamic. But in so far as he restricted this concept of Pakistan to those areas in the sub-continent where the Muslims dominated demographically, he was a political realist. Though he stood for the unity of the Muslim world, he yet recognised that in the nationalist-oriented world and at that juncture in history, it would be futile to strive towards pan-Islamism of an earlier age.
What, however, would promote the cause of Islam was to subscribe to the ideology of Islamic or Muslim nationalism as a via media between pure pan-Islamism and unalloyed nationalism. A blend of the two concepts, Muslim nationalism, while recognising the multiplicity of nations within Islam, strives to promote the solidarity, identity of outlook and close co-operation between the various Muslim nations on the basis of their religious ethos, cultural coherence, and civilisational heritage.
Thus, while the Indian Muslim nationhood was largely constructed on the basis of an Islamic weltanschauung, besides certain allied, critical factors, the Indian Muslims were yet pronounced as a distinct nation – not only in the subcontinent, but in the world of Islam as well.
Iqbal, the ideologue, had diagnosed the malaise of the Muslim world in his famous lectures and had come to the conclusion that “for the present every Muslim nation must sink into her own deeper self, temporarily focus her vision on herself alone, until all are strong and powerful to form a living family of nations”.
In this, the man of action found himself in complete accord with the ideologue. In one of the darkest hours of their history, Jinnah told Indian Muslims: “Only one thing can save the Musalmans and energise them to regain their lost ground. They must”, Jinnah emphasised again and again, “first recapture their own souls and stand by their lofty position and principles which form the basis of their unity, and which bind them in one body-politic.”
And Jinnah’s strivings to “energise” Muslims into a dynamic people with a view to making them a, self-contained unit represented a quantum leap towards creating a “living family of Muslim nations”, which Iqbal had conceived earlier. Thus, in perspective, Pakistan represented a significant contribution towards Muslim renaissance in modern times.
The achievement of Pakistan, as conceived by its architect, was not an end in itself, but the beginning of an end, the supreme goal being the emancipation of all Muslim peoples wherever they may be, and the re-birth of the Muslim world as a powerful force in the counsels of the world.
Apart from what Pakistan has done for the emancipation of the various Muslim peoples during the last 70 years of its existence, from Palestine to the liberation of the former North African Italian and French colonies, Pakistan, by the very act of carving out important territories in the north-west and north-east of the subcontinent as a separate political entity, had checkmated the rise of a giant Hindu empire in the subcontinent.
Thus, by its very creation, Pakistan had, as it were, constricted the tentacles of the Hindu “octopus” in India, which would otherwise have spread to the countries both to the east and west of the subcontinent. And but for Pakistan the successor state in the subcontinent would have been too stupendous for the neighbouring small countries to resist. And as a successor state to the British Indian Empire, it might as well have tried to fill in the vacuum created by the exit of the British. It would, moreover, have laid serious claims to those tacitly recognised spheres of influence, which the British had enjoyed by virtue of their occupation of India.
Corroboration of this viewpoint is contained in the writings, of, among others, Sardar Pannikar, former Indian Ambassador to China and Egypt, and the chief theoretician of India’s foreign policy.
“The Indian security policy in South East Asia sphere”, he wrote in 1945, “covers the entire Indian Ocean area. India’s interest in the security of the Persian Gulf, the integrity and stability of Persia and Afghanistan, the neutralisation of Sinkiang and Tibet and the security of Burma; Siam [Thailand] and the Indo-Chinese coastline, apart of course from Malaya and Singapore, is obvious enough to all.” “The strategic area in Indian warfare”; Pannikar explained on another occasion, “was not so much the Burmese frontier, as Malaya, Singapore and the neglected Andaman islands. What was of utmost importance in safeguarding India’s communication with Europe was not Bombay or Colombo, but Diego Suarez and Aden.”
Other Indian leaders have put forward the same idea, couched in more diplomatic terms, if only not to arouse the suspicions of India’s neighbours. In a letter to Clamenceu, the President of the Peace Conference of 1919, Bal Gangadhar Tilak wrote, “With her vast area, enormous resources and prodigious population she may well aspire to be a leading power in Asia. She could therefore be a powerful steward of the League of Nations in the East for maintaining the peace of the world.”
Pandit Nehru, both before and after independence, had often talked of the “compelling” factors of “geography” and “history” and of “the force of circumstances”, goading India “to play a very important part in Asia. If you have to consider any question affecting the Middle East, India inevitably comes in the picture. If you have to consider any question concerning South-East Asia, you cannot do so without India. So also with the Far East.” Shorn of its sophistry and euphemism, it meant that India, even in her constricted form, has inherited certain “inevitable” spheres of influence.
More explicit he was on another occasion: “India, constituted as she was, cannot play a secondary part in the world. She will either count for a great deal or not count at all”.
In the light of this Indian worldview, how significant was Jinnah’s warning in December 1946. During his sojourns in Cairo, he told his Egyptian audience, “It is only when Pakistan is established that we (Indian Muslims and the Egyptians) should be really free, otherwise there will be the menace of a Hindu imperialist Raj spreading its tentacles right across the Middle East.” “If India will be ruled by a Hindu imperialist power,” he added, “it will be as great a menace for the future, if not greater, as the British imperialist power has been in the past. Therefore, I think the whole of the Middle East will fall from the frying pan into the fire. The Middle East countries want to be free and self-governing, and not subject to spheres of influence.”
Seen in this context, could not the Pakistan movement be described as part of a larger movement for Islamic re-birth and revival? If today India is seeking the friendship of the Middle Eastern countries, instead of demanding spheres of influence over them, it is in part the sheer existence of Pakistan and its political and international clout. In a sense, then, had not the architect of Pakistan, in some respects, a profound influence on the present pattern of the Muslim world?
Once Pakistan was created, Jinnah stressed the need for cohesion among Muslims all the world over and a broad-based policy of co-operation, inspired by Islamic identity. In his last Eid message, he warned the Muslim world: “We are all passing through perilous times. The drama of power politics that is being waged in Palestine, Indonesia and Kashmir should serve as any eye-opener to us. It is only by putting up a united front that we can make our voice felt in the counsels of the world.”
Even prior to independence, he took an active interest in the affairs of the Muslim countries, especially Palestine, He demanded, for instance, the fulfilment of all reasonable national demands of the Arabs in Palestine as one of the pre-requisites for Muslim League’s co-operation in the British war effort in India; he threatened “to call out the Muslim ministries in the Provinces” on the issue of British injustice to Palestinian Arabs; he extracted assurances from the Viceroy about the stoppage of Jewish immigration into Palestine after the quota stipulated in the White Paper on Palestine (1939) had been exhausted.
Thus the movement that Jinnah headed was neither out and out pan-Islamic nor thoroughly nationalist. With Jamal al-Din al-Afghani’s movement (1880s-1890s), it had points of contact. Like the former, Jinnah’s movement was striving for the transcendent ideal of Islam and for Muslim unity.
One major difference was that it was couched in modern political terminology, with Jinnah extensively utilising universally recognised terms such “nation”, “the right of self-determination”, “plebiscite”, etc. Likewise, in his quest for the “political kingdom”, Jinnah put into service the modern techniques of hartals, slogans, boycott, and passing of resolutions, which had proved so effective and so rewarding in accomplishing political objectives.
Thus, the Pakistan movement grew out of a blending of the concepts of pan-Islamism and nationalism, and approximates largely to what Lothrop Stoddard defines as “Islamic Nationalism”. And Jinnah had the vision and the foresight to recognise the dictates of these two concepts while laying the foundation of the state.
Thus, on the one hand, he declared that Pakistan would be an Islamic State, on the other, he laid down that it would strive after modernity. On the one hand, he conceived Pakistan’s salvation in terms of establishing and strengthening Islamic values, on the other, he advocated and initiated democracy in Pakistan.
And in this attempt to harmonise Islamicness with modernity lies the greatness of the Quaid. Indeed, he was the first Muslim leader in the twentieth century to achieve it in however an imperfect manner, although several Muslim leaders have advocated such a harmony during the past hundred years and more.
Afghani in the nineteenth century and Iqbal in the twentieth one had called for such an attempt. But it was given only to the Quaid to lay the foundations for such a blending in the new dispensation, called Pakistan.