ARTICLE (December 25) : The “Quaid-e-Azam” says Frank Moraes, formerly editor, Times of India (Mumbai), “is assured of a place among the great Muslims of our times. Kamal Ataturk revived the ramshackle 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 tests 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 world-wide movement for Muslim revival and renaissance. More important, it was done on the basis of a transcendent ideal – the Islamic ideology. Theoretically speaking, Pakistan was not meant to be a mere territorial expression of the cherished yearnings of the hundred million Muslims of undivided India; it was meant to found a home in pursuit of 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 – that is, to enable the Muslims to live Islamically. Pakistan was thus visualised in terms of “free Islam in 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 sphere.
In incorporating the Islamic ideal within its concept, the Pakistan movement was, to a certain extent, pan-Islamic. But the concept was restricted to those areas in the sub-continent where the Muslims constitute a majority, in order to make it politically realisable.
Clearly, in this nationalist-oriented world and at the present juncture, 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 nation within Islam, strives to promote the solidarity, identity of outlook and close cooperation between the various Muslim nations on the basis of their religious urges and cultural coherence. Thus, while Indian Muslim nationhood was largely constructed on the basis of Islam and of an Islamic weltanschauung, besides certain allied factors, the Indian Muslims were yet pronounced a distinct nation not only in the Sub-continent, but in the world of Islam as well.
In a sense, this represented a translation in mundane terms of what Iqbal, the ideologue of Pakistan, had laid down earlier. After diagnosing the malaise of the Muslim world in his famous Lectures, he had come to the conclusion that “for the present every Muslim nation must sank 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.”
Likewise, in one the darkest hours of their history, Jinnah told Indian Muslims: “only on thing can save the Musalmans and energise them to regain their lost ground. They must first recapture their own soul and stand by their lofty position and principles which form the basis of their unity, and which bind them in one body-politic.”
Conceived, thus, as a movement to “energise” Muslims into a dynamic people with a view to making them a self-contained unit in what Iqbal calls a “living family of Muslim nations”, Pakistan represented a significant contribution towards Muslim renaissance in modern times.
Nor was the achievement of Pakistan as conceived by its founders, an end in itself. Rather, it was meant to be 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 fifty years of her existence, Pakistan, by the very act of carving out important territories in the north-west and north-east of the Sub-continent as a separate political entity, had checkmated the rise of a giant Hindu state in the Sub-continent. Thus by her 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 east and west of the Sub-continent. And but the Pakistan the successor Hindu regional power in India would have been too stupendous for the neighbouring small countries to resist: 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 claim 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, among others, of 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 and 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 in order not to arouse the suspicions of India’s neighbours.
Both before and after independence, Pandit Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister (1947-64), 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 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.
In the light of this Indian world-view, how significant was Jinnah’s warning in December 1946. During his sojourn, 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 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 the 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 it is because of existence of Pakistan; otherwise, it would have well claimed spheres of influence. Viewed in this perspective, 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 over the world and a broad-based policy of cooperation inspired by Islamic identity. In his last Eid-ul-Fitr 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 an 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, the Indian Muslim that taken an active interest in the affairs of the Muslim countries, especially, Palestine. On their behalf, Jinnah had demanded in November, 1939, the fulfilment of all reasonable national demands of the Arabs in Palestine as one of the pre-requisites for Muslim League’s cooperation in the British was 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 assurance from the Viceroy about the stoppage of Jewish immigration into Palestine after the quota stipulated in the White Paper of 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 in late 19th century, it had points of contact, it was striving for the transcendent ideal of Islam and for Muslim unity. Even so, the Pakistan movement was couched in modern political terminology, and employed terms like “nation”, “the right of self-determination”, “plebiscite”, etc and took resort to the modern techniques of hartals, slogans, boycott, and the passing of resolutions to build up pressure incrementally upon both the British government and the Hindu-dominated Congress party.
The Pakistan movement, thus, grows 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 foresight to recognise the dictates of these two concepts while laying the foundation of the state.–Courtesy The Muslim World)
Copyright 1999 The Muslim World