Muhammad Ali Jinnah
Muhammad Ali Jinnah | Photo: Commons
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It’s time both Pakistanis and Indians in the 21st century see history for what it is. For Indian liberals and far-Right Hindu nationalists alike, it is axiomatic to abuse Muhammad Ali Jinnah and ascribe all sorts of myths to the man “who divided India”. Most recently Shashi Tharoor said that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019 is the victory of Jinnah’s thinking over Gandhi’s. I am sure that Tharoor himself knows that it is patently misleading not to mention that Pakistan does not have a confessional basis for citizenship even as it has moved away from Jinnah’s original secular vision for Pakistan.

There is a reason why Jinnah floated the demand for Pakistan, after spending most of his career fighting for a self-governing, united India — an effort that earned him the title of “best ambassador of Hindu Muslim Unity”. Jinnah’s transformation from an “Indian first second and last” to a Muslim separatist is a fascinating story that needs to be read impartially. We must remember a few salient facts: The Lahore Resolution, which did not mention the name Pakistan, had left the door wide open for negotiation and settlement. The opportunity for that settlement arose with the Cabinet Mission Plan, which would have delivered a united India. Cabinet Mission Plan’s critics say that it contained a clause for renegotiation of terms 10 years later. However, while this opened the door for possible separation, it also left the door open for greater integration of the three-tiered federation.


Also read: CAB protests a battle for India – either we are a secular state or we aren’t India at all


No confessional citizenship in Pakistan

While articulating the two-nation theory, Jinnah made it absolutely clear that citizenship would never be subject to any religious test. He said so in so many words to Gandhi and then repeatedly promised equal rights of citizenship to all communities in Pakistan. At the doorstep of independence when the interim government was formed, Jinnah nominated Jogindra Nath Mandal on a Muslim seat to the Council. Mandal later presided over the first session of the Pakistan Constituent Assembly and become Pakistan’s first law minister. Jinnah’s 11-August speech was very significant. He said:

“As you know, history shows that in England, conditions, some time ago, were much worse than those prevailing in India today. The Roman Catholics and the Protestants persecuted each other. Even now there are some States in existence where there are discriminations made and bars imposed against a particular class. Thank God, we are not starting in those days. We are starting in the days where there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State.

The people of England in course of time had to face the realities of the situation and had to discharge the responsibilities and burdens placed upon them by the government of their country and they went through that fire step by step. Today, you might say with justice that Roman Catholics and Protestants do not exist; what exists now is that every man is a citizen, an equal citizen of Great Britain and they are all members of the Nation. Now I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State.” (Emphasis mine.)

Jinnah was absolutely clear that citizenship in Pakistan will have no nexus with confessional identity. He explained this to Reuters correspondent Duncan Hooper in October 1947 when he said:

“Minorities DO NOT cease to be citizens. Minorities living in Pakistan or Hindustan do not cease to be citizens of their respective states by virtue of their belonging to particular faith, religion or race. I have repeatedly made it clear, especially in my opening speech to the Constituent Assembly, that the minorities in Pakistan would be treated as our citizens and will enjoy all the rights as any other community. Pakistan SHALL pursue this policy and do all it can to create a sense of security and confidence in the Non-Muslim minorities of Pakistan.

We do not prescribe any school boy tests for their loyalty. We shall not say to any Hindu citizen of Pakistan ‘if there was war would you shoot a Hindu?’

While Pakistan ignored his advice on a secular polity, Pakistan’s citizenship law has remained completely secular. Interestingly the proviso for Section 7 even opens the door for the return of those who left Pakistan in 1947 — the Hindus and Sikhs.

So, to suggest that the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is a victory of Jinnah’s ideas over Gandhi’s is absolutely wrong and dishonest. Jinnah was the antithesis of the communal confessional mindset that is being ascribed to him.


Also read: Do Muslims matter for Modi-Shah BJP, or India?


Two-nation theory

It is important to consider a few facts about the partition of India as well. The Muslim League’s demand was based on Muslim majority provinces opting out. Its two-nation theory was a consociational argument to ensure that the constitution had the consensus of all communities. The Congress denounced the two-nation theory, but it paradoxically insisted on the very same idea to divide Punjab and Bengal. While Jinnah was trying to woo the Sikhs of Punjab to keep Punjab united, Congress was busy scaring them with the evils of Muslim rule. Similarly, there was a scheme for an independent, secular and united Bengal that Jinnah accepted. Congress again used the two-nation theory to destroy that idea.

It is important to remember that Jinnah had told Louis Mountbatten very clearly that a Punjabi or Bengali was a Punjabi or Bengali before he was a Muslim, Hindu or Sikh. Jinnah certainly did not make the two-nation theory an article of faith. And he did not make religion the basis of citizenship in Pakistan.


Also read: Stop blaming Jinnah, Pakistan for India’s wrongs today


No Jinnah vs Gandhi

There is no reason to make Jinnah versus Gandhi/Nehru a zero-sum game. Jinnah stood for a secular Pakistan and the tragedy is that Pakistan has rejected his idea and become a theocratic state. Meanwhile, Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru stood for majoritarian democracy but they did not expect it to be reduced to blatant majoritarian communalism, which India is seeing. My appeal to people like Shashi Tharoor and Barkha Dutt is to stop dragging in Jinnah and Pakistan into every debate or discussion. Make secular liberals of Pakistan your allies, instead of making it an egoistical match of whose country is superior.

The fact is that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill offends the very ideals Jinnah cherished all through out his life, whether from when he was in the Congress or when he championed the Pakistan demand. It is about time both Indians and Pakistanis realised that Jinnah and Gandhi being humans could make mistakes and did make mistakes, but they were moved by the noble values of humanity and egalitarianism. Jinnah’s heirs and Gandhi’s heirs should be allies in the fight against extremism, intolerance and religious bigotry.

The author is an advocate of the high courts of Pakistan and his biography of Jinnah will be published by Pan Macmillan India soon. Views are personal

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23 Comments Share Your Views

23 COMMENTS

  1. What a wonderful article to create a biased view in favour of a biased man. Jinnah was great, he wanted a “secular” Pakistan, such that he can be its ruler. Fair enough? This article just wanted to test how many would ascribe to this idea. Unfortunately not many in favour…

  2. Let me believe whatever you are projecting in this article, Jinnah was a Secular, great, symbol of H-M unity blah-blah. Please answer, why was Pakistan created then?

  3. Joginder Nath Mondal, whom you refer to as symbol of communal Jinnah;s secularism, fled to India from Karachi in Oct 1950, accusing the Jinnah-Liaqat administration of carrying out liquidation and genocide of Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan.

    Pakistan has carried out genocide of Hindus and Sikhs and the greatest massacres were carried out under Jinnah-Liaqat administration in the 1947-1950 period. Please read the 17 page resignation leter of Joginder Nath Mondal as he fled to India to save himself from muslim killers.

  4. Jinnah was 100% right in creating Pak and eventually Bangladesh. Seeing how much Hindus and Muslims hate each other, if India was a united country there would have been sectarian riots daily all across India. South Asia is the home of Illiteracy and Hate.
    Every one knows that if a muslim is killed by a muslim , it is no issue and vice versa for hindus. In this animal kingdom of hate, religious bigotry, racist chauvinism, sense of caste superiority; every division of pak and india is welcome and quite right.

  5. Yasser bhai if Stanley Wolport’s Jinnah of Pakistan is right then the Quaid was ambassador of Hindu Muslim unity only so long as he , not Nehru, was made PM of independent India. By the way what happened to the lakhs of Biharis still stuck in “East Pakistan” who fought against Mukti Vahini, along side Tiger Niazi led blundering, plundering and surrendering Pak Army.

  6. why allow such stupids to write articles here.
    writer is following what Jnnah said..we are seeing what he DID.
    he did partition the nation on basis of religion..he did impose Urdu on bangladesh ppl (not letting them be bengali first)
    Jinnha invoked islam all te time..when did congres invoked Hinduism/sikh/islam ?
    in short, Jinnah is the mail culprit behind all these illgeal immigrats stuff..had he neither imposed urdu, imposed Islam, army-dictatorship in pakistan – neither there would have been heavy handed acts in E-pakistan..and neither would have been mass scale rapes,murder and displacement
    Jinnah is themail cuplrit behind secatian and religion issues in India/bangladesh/pakistan

  7. What nonsense this guy writes , read all paper statements made by Jinnah from 1940 onwards, he clearly very clearly stated that Pakistan will be governed by Sharia , read them just google them , under sharia Znon Muslims will be treated as third class citizens and that is what happening in Pakistan, Hindus need to first eliminate these liberals to regain their unity , just go and see in Kashmir and see any Hindus left over there
    Who wants a citizenship law when India will have only Hindus , that’s why Pakistan donot care about their citizen ship law

  8. BR PREPARED FOR THE RSS IT CELL TO ORDER THEIR CADRES TO RUBBISH THIS ARTICLE.
    WATCH THESE HALF EDUCATED CREATURES TO COME UP WITH THEIR OWN VERSION OF HISTORY.
    WITH THE FREEDOM OF THE INTERNET THE GAME IS UP, FOR THESE FAKE NEWS, FAKE HISTORY COMMUNAL STORYTELLERS.
    ANYONE CAN NOW READ THE WORKS AND STUDY THE SPEECHES OF BOTH JINNAH AND SAVAKAR AND MAKE THEIR OWN MINDS UP.
    ITS ALL RATHER PATHETIC REALLY, IF IT WAS NOT SO DANGEROUS, RSS THOUGHT LEADS TO MURDER AND LYNCHING, THOSE WHO MURDER IN COMMUNAL RIOTS THEN GO ON TO RAPE AND POLLUTE INDIAN SOCIETY

  9. Some may find it curious that we are still arguing about a Hindu Muslim squabble seventy three years after Partition.
    But this appears not so strange when one considers the RSS has kept this hatred alive all these years.
    Hatred for the Muslim is the oxygen that feeds this communal monster.
    It’s at the core of their ideology and writings of Savakar.
    It’s hatred for Muslims that these people win elections.
    As a Muslim citizen of India who has visited Pakistan I can say no such hatred exists the other side of our border.
    Without the Muslim bogey the RSS is finished. If all the Muslims vanished from India the RSS will have to invent some to target and get votes.
    This fascism started a long time before Jinnah made his appearance from london.
    Their Guru even justified rape as a weapon in an endless war against Muslims.
    Read a Savakar line by lime to understand what inspires these evil people, the RSS who threw children into the fire under their Savakar worshipping Parachark in Gujarat.

    • and who kept hatred towards other communities in india, pakistan, Bangladesh alive yet ?
      ethnic and sectarian issues in pakistan/Bangladesh.
      IM, SIMI cardes are from indian muslim..Al-Queda, ISIS sypathisers and joining from among India muslims..
      who started godhra rioting and planted bombs in Bombay in 93 ?
      wake to reality uncle..there are comunal figures among all groups/sects/religions

      • Given one hundred and seventy million Muslims in India, according to Ajit Doval less than a dozen have joined ISIS.
        The Muslim community in India is peaceful.
        Before RSS came about, people identified themselves by the region they belonged to, the language they spoke, their caste.
        It was never Hindu or Muslim identity.
        This RSS splitting people into Hindu Muslim is a relatively recent phenomenon from the decades pre partition.
        The RSS was started by Marathi Chitpavan Brahmins who initially wanted India too keep the caste structure in a united Hindu Rashtra.
        The Muslims in India do not have an engine of hate incessantly fuelling riots via a fascist communal ideology.
        Savakar wrote “The Status of Muslims must be akin to that of Jews in Germany “ this was before Jinnah came into the scenes.

    • Probably your opinion. One most people do not agree with. Look around and you will see that if Muslims has no one to rape or torture, they usually do it to their own.

    • “As a Muslim citizen of India who has visited Pakistan I can say no such hatred exists the other side of our border.”
      -Sau choohay kha kay billi haj ko chali.
      After reducing Hindus/Sikhs to 1% of the population ( from 27-30%), there is hardly anyone left to hate.
      Even Hindus in India would not hate Muslims if they had left for Pakistan and were only 1% of the Indian population

      • The Hindu population migrated during the time of partition.
        If you wish fo whataboutry!
        Then what about the 200,000 Muslim massacred in Jummu and the huge exodus of the Muslim population. Google it and educate yourself.
        I could go on.
        Bye the way you are an example of Muslim hate.
        You have been brainwashed by the RSS probably since very young and you do not know it.
        This is why a facist ideology is so dangerous.

    • why dont muslims leave india-ilive in danmark-nomasjids, burkhe banned, musslims r hated.some danes want to expeel muslims.

  10. ROFLMAO….. yeah, then why call yourself Islamic Republic, set up a capital called, what else, Islamabad, constitutionally bar non-Muslims from holding high office, incl the military.

    Pakistan was created with “god in every pocket” and since then it is a triple A country — Allah, Army and America!

  11. Jinnah demanded and Congress conceded, and Lo! we had Pakistan? Poor Savarkar took the blame for Two Nation theory. Though Dr.Ambedkar openly supported formation of Pakistan by writing a small book, none dare call him a supporter of Two Nation Theory!

  12. I draw an entirely different lesson from this. Leaders, in their misguided wisdom, will take nuanced positions on complex issues while making lawyerly (not sure if that is a word) , politically expedient arguments, coated with a dollop of moral positioning, but the reality on the ground will always be very different.

    Political positions very often unleash forces in society which are hard to control. They cater to the basest of emotions, prejudice, violence and ignorance which leads to unspeakable acts of cruelty in society. It is not as if people articulating these points of view are not aware of their consequences. Jinnah and the Muslim League knew what they were doing. Gandhi mixed religion with politics freely too. All of their nuances can be debated, but they were all recipes for disaster.

    Seventy years later, we are now “solving” the solution of that disaster by making more nuanced arguments. History repeats itself.

  13. The Article deliberately hides the fact and conveniently misrepresent the situation of that time.
    1. Write mention the name of Joginder Nath Mandal, but hide the fact that Joginder Nath Mandal had to run away from pakistan and took shelter in India later on. He on record admitted that it was a greatest mistake to rely on Muslim League. The riots of East pakistan just after creation of Pakistan where Namshudras community was massacred happened when Jinnah was head of Pakistan estate
    2. Direct Action Day which triggered “The Great Calcutta Killings” was conceived and executed by Muslim League headed my Mr Jinnah
    3. Duplicity on various things were shown by Jinnah. He accepted the accession of Junagarh (despite Hindu majority) but sent tribal invaders in Kashmir when India did the same ( as Kashmir was Muslim majority)
    you can not hide the history though you can misrepresent that. You can not take away the criminality of killings millions of peoples due to Partition from Jinnah. He was mail culprit for the massacre of 1947.

    There are ample

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