The whirl of events in Pakistan causes concern in an historical sense. Pakistan’s political transformation has unfortunately negated a legacy, the legacy of Jinnah, inheriting which would have allowed better mediations for peace and democracy in the region. The ideals cherished by Jinnah who believed that Pakistan will progress only if they “work together in a spirit that everyone, no matter what is his color, caste or creed, is first, second and last a citizen of this state with equal rights, privileges and obligations” has been completely undermined both in India and Pakistan.
Jinnah’s visions of a non-theocratic democratic Pakistan are in no way inferior to the aspirations shared by Indian National Congress (INC) leaders of the time in rest of British India. Indian textbooks probably provide an uncharitable account of his role in India’s freedom struggle. After all, he was a great leader of the INC who took a profound role in re-imagining Hindu-Muslim unity, shaping INC’s Lucknow pact with Muslim League (ML) and democratizing minority politics in the subcontinent. Torn with sectarian violence, State repressions and increasing human right violations, South Asian countries in general and India, Pakistan and Bangladesh in particular, would immensely benefit from a reassessment of Jinnah’s politics and ideals.
Jinnah’s image as an adamant fighter for a separate Muslim Homeland and hence as someone responsible for the division of India is often reinforced by Pakistan’s own constructions of his persona as father of the nation. An unkind fashioning of his politics as inherently sectarian obliterates the nuances of the strategic political positions held by Jinnah, his multiple subjectivities; the subtleties of the subaltern/minority politics he upheld and his visions of regional peace, cooperation and security. Continue reading