Pages

Monday, August 9, 2010

Dialogue with a Giant


 Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan.

In December 1943, Quaid-e-Azam, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, gave an interview to a British journalist, Beverley Nichols. On returning to England from his tour of India, Nichols wrote a book, “Verdict on India” (publisher: Jonathan Cape). One of the chapters in this book has the title “Dialogue with a Giant”, a reference to Quaid-e-Azam. Extracts from this chapter are presented below. On the occasion of Pakistan’s Independence Day this month, we would do well to reflect on how far we have moved from Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan as a nation united under the banner of Islam, not so much a religion as a Code of Conduct. What this interview - and several of the Quaid's speeches - show is that, the Quaid was neither secular (as claimed by the so-called liberals) nor was he a religious demagogue in the sense that so many of Pakistan's self-styled religious leaders are.  

Nichols:
How would you describe the ‘vital principles’ of Pakistan?

Jinnah:
In five words. The Muslims are a Nation.

Nichols
When you say the Muslims are a nation, are you thinking in terms of religion?

Jinnah:
Partly, but by no means exclusively. You must remember that Islam is not merely a religious doctrine but a realistic and practical Code of Conduct. I am thinking in terms of life, of everything important in life. I am thinking in terms of our history, our heroes, our art, our architecture, our music, our laws, our jurisprudence …… [pause]
.... [continuing]:
In all these things our outlook is not only fundamentally different but often radically antagonistic to the Hindus…….  Take one example, the eternal question of the cow. We eat the cow, the Hindus worship it. A lot of Englishmen imagine that this ‘worship’ is merely a picturesque convention, an historical survival. It is nothing of the sort. Only a few days ago, in this very city, the cow question became a matter for the police ……. But the cow question is only one of a thousand.

Nichols:
Are the Muslims likely to be richer or poorer under Pakistan?

Jinnah:
Supposing you were asked which you would prefer, a rich England under Germany or a poor England free – what would your answer be?

Nichols:
It’s hardly necessary to ask.

Jinnah:
Quite. Well, doesn’t that make your question look a little shoddy? This great ideal rises far above mere questions of personal comfort or temporary convenience. What conceivable reason is there to suppose that the gift of nationality is going to be an economic liability? A sovereign nation of a hundred million people – even if they are not immediately self-supporting and even if they are industrially backward – is hardly likely to be in a worse economic position than if its members are scattered and disorganized, under the dominance of two hundred and fifty million Hindus whose one idea is to exploit them.

….. the Muslims are awake …  they’ve learnt, through bitter experience, the sort of treatment they may expect from the Hindus in a ‘United India’. A ‘United India’ means a Hindu-dominated India. It means that and nothing else. Any other meaning you attempt to impose on it is mythical. ‘India’ is a British creation, it is merely a single administrative unit governed by a bureaucracy under the sanction of the sword. That is all. It is a paper creation, it has no basis in flesh and blood.

Nichols:
The ironical thing is that your critics say that Pakistan itself is a British creation – that it is an example of our genius for applying the principle of ‘divide and rule’.

Jinnah (with some heat):
The man who makes such a suggestion must have a very poor opinion of British intelligence, apart from his opinion of my own integrity. The one thing that keeps the British in India is the false idea of a United India, as preached by Gandhi. A United India, I repeat, is a British creation – a myth, and a very dangerous myth, which will cause endless strife. As long as that strife exists, the British have an excuse for remaining. For once in a way, ‘divide and rule’ does not apply.

Nichols:
What you want is ‘divide and quit’.

Jinnah:
You have put it very neatly.

Nichols:
You realize that all this will come as something of a shock to the British electorate?

Jinnah:
Truth is often shocking. But why this truth in particular?

Nichols:
Because the average, decent, liberal-minded voter, who wishes Britain to fulfil her pledges, and grant independence to India, has heard nothing but the Congress point of view. The Muslims have hardly a single spokesman in the West.

Jinnah [bitterly]:
I am well aware of that. The Hindus have organized a powerful Press and Congress – Mahasabha are backed up by Hindu capitalists and industrialists with finance which we have not got.

Nichols:
As a result they believe that Congress is ‘India’, and since Congress never tires of repeating that India is one and indivisible, they imagine that any attempt to divide it is illiberal, reactionary, and generally sinister. They seriously do believe this. I know that it is muddle-headed, but then a democracy such as ours, which has to make up its mind on an incredible number of complicated issues usually is muddle-headed. What they have to learn is that the only liberal course, the only generous course, the only course compatible with a sincere intention to quit India and hand over the reins of government  ….

Jinnah:
And the only safe course, you might add, is …

Both: PAKISTAN!


To appreciate Islam more as a Code of Conduct and less as religion (as commonly understood), you might like to click on the following link:

http://sakibahmad.blogspot.com/2009/10/islam.html

Search This Blog