In the history of mankind, leaders have always played a very pivotal role in shaping and determining their destiny. The nations who follow the vision and guiding principles of their true leaders succeed in overcoming turmoil and challenges, whereas who flout their teachings and practices are doomed to face failures, decline, chaos, and anarchy.
Allama Muhammad Iqbal and Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah are two undisputed leaders in Pakistan’s history. Allama Iqbal envisioned a separate homeland for the Muslims of India whereas Quaid e Azam managed to create an independent state for them, despite unsurmountable odds and difficulties. He surmounted all such challenges through his strength of character, devotion and unflinching commitment to the noble cause of freedom from colonial masters and exploitation and coercion by Hindu majority.
Viewing Quid’s achievement of creating Pakistan, it is evidently clear that he was an outstanding and an unmatchable leader of his time. Undoubtedly, he surpassed all other leaders of ‘freedom struggle’, due to his intellectual honesty, excellent leadership qualities and profound understanding of the political realities of British India. He was truly a genuine leader who changed the course of history by leading a movement that transformed the fate and destiny of Muslims of South Asia.
For last seventy five years, many scholars have discussed as to what was Quaid’s vision of Pakistan. Many opponents have criticized him as well. Having failed to appreciate his views, which evolved over half a century’s changing political realities, many people have tried to interpret his vision as it suited their political, economic, social, religious, sectarian, community, or individual interests. More often, such self-serving interpretations have generated many controversies. Therefore, our young generations suffers from confusion and starts doubting the validity of Two Nation Theory, which was the main basis of creation of Pakistan. Most discussions have revolved around a fundamental question whether Quaid had envisioned a theocratic, religious and authoritarian state or a secular, liberal and democratic Pakistan. Unfortunately, due to overzealous and self-assumed puritan approach, Quaid’s real vision has been obscured.
Quaid’s vision of Pakistan needs to be understood through prisms of realism, pragmatisms and idealism. He joined the Indian National Congress in 1896 and started supporting Anjuman Himayat-i-Islam since 1897. Having joined All India Muslim League in October 1913, he became its President in 1916. Being an exponent of liberal democratic politics, he expected that Congress would lead India towards self-government through constitutional means. He, essentially, believed in progressive, democratic and evolutionary process of politics that would allow orderly transition from British colonial rule to Indian self-rule. However, when the Congress abandoned such principles, he left the Congress in 1920.
Though, he remained a supporter of Hindu – Muslin unity till very late, believing that the two major communities could share the power equitably after the freedom. However, realizing that it was not possible, his approach towards communal politics was transformed through a paradigmatic shift from 1937 onwards. Having realized that Congress was only interested in pursuing the Hindu majority interests and was not inclined to provide due importance for protection of minorities, he became an ardent supporter of Muslim cause in India. Meanwhile, Allama Iqbal had already envisioned a separate homeland for Muslims. On his persuasion, Quaid devoted all his abilities and energies for realization of distinct nationalism through collective Muslim consciousness.
Starting from adoption of Lahore (Pakistan) Resolution on 23 March 1940, Quaid dedicated his life for creation of Pakistan by attaining freedom from British masters and safeguarding Muslims from Hindu hegemony. Not caring for his health, he worked relentlessly, day and night, leading the ‘Freedom Movement’ all over the sub-continent, propagating political, social, economic, and religious freedom of Muslims of India.
If we read Quaid’s speeches and statements carefully, it is absolutely clear that he had an unflinching belief in constitutionalism, democratic values and Islamic teachings. He wanted Pakistan to be a modern welfare state that would not discriminate among its citizens on the basis of religion, colour, creed, language or ethnicity. He was also clear in his mind that all minorities, living in Pakistan, would not only relish equal rights and opportunities but will also enjoy complete security of their lives and properties. It is very unfortunate that we have badly faltered on this account.
Quaid’s most fiercely debated speeches deal with nature of the State of Pakistan and role of religion in the state. Since Quaid e Azam firmly believed in constitutionalism, rule of law and equality of all human beings, he always perceived Pakistan as a democratic and progressive state that was guided by the golden Islam principles of universal human equality and dignity. His training, as a legal expert, taught him significance of democratic political process whereas his deep reverence for the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) and his strong believe in the message of Quran convinced him about eternal validity and soundness of Islamic social and economic justice. Therefore, his vision of modern, democratic and progressive state that benefits from contemporary political concepts and ideas yet remains anchored in the teachings of Islam for equality, honesty, justice, compassion, and welfare of all, especially the poor and disadvantaged segments of society and minorities.
From March 1940 till August 1947, Quaid had only one purpose of life. It was to attain a separate homeland for Muslims of India. The objective of this state was socio-political equality, socio-economic justice and wellbeing of its citizens. Therefore, he used his all arguments to promote the case for Pakistan by invoking the universally recognized principle of self-determination and concept of separate Muslim nationhood. He never envisioned a theocratic state that is ruled by priests and mullahs. He talked of Islamic democracy, Islamic social justice and the equality of mankind (February 1948); raising Pakistan on solid foundations of social justice and Islamic socialism (March 1948); building democracy on the basis of true Islamic ideals and principles (August 1948); and for enlightened reawakening of Islamic culture and ideals (August 1947) by seeking inspiration and guidance from the Holy Quran (October 1947).
For Quaid e Azam, the creation of Pakistan was not an end per se. It was means towards developing a modern, democratic and welfare state according to the principles of Islamic social justice, freedom and equality of mankind. Therefore, he described Pakistan as the premier Islamic State. It is very unfortunate that he died just after a year of creation of Pakistan. Thereafter, the country was hijacked by opportunist politicians and greedy land lords in connivance with power hungry military and civil bureaucrats, and dishonest industrialist and businessmen. The religious clergy that had opposed creation of Pakistan and Quaid also joined in loot and plunder. The country was subjected to repeated military rules, judiciary joined hands with autocratic rulers, democracy was subverted, genuine political leaders were suppressed, and the country faced worst political polarization resulting into polarization, divisions and disintegration.
The subversion of Quaid’s vision still goes on uninterrupted and unchecked. Today, once again, we are at a cross road. The survival, integrity and sovereignty of Pakistan is in danger. The solution lies in following the vision of the Quaid – a truly democratic, progressive, and welfare state that is run by genuine representatives of people who are elected through free, fair, and impartial elections without any interference, meddling and sabotage.