“Bring Back Jinnah’s Pakistan” II


Secular And Nationalist Jinnah (Cover of a book by Dr. Ajeet Jawed, published JNU Press)

Ardeshir Cowasjee writing in Dawn:

There has to be something seriously wrong with a country in which many of its citizens are still arguing as to whether it should or should not have been made, or debating as to whether it came into being by accident, intent, design or even intrigue. All possible accusations have been levied against the logic of Pakistan’s making.

The fact is that Pakistan exists and has existed for 62 years — in what shape is quite another matter. Arguments on that score will never cease, and they should not as it failed initially to take off in the right direction.

A valid argument has been made by a few of the many who responded to last week’s column against the exhortation ‘bring back Jinnah’s Pakistan’ — that we should be looking and moving forwards rather than retreating.

A counter argument to this is that from shortly after its birth the nation retreated 300 years placing itself in mindset and religious-political intent back in the age of the Emperor Aurangzeb. (Had it chosen to retreat 400 years to the age of Akbar the Great it would have been on the correct and proper path.)

With the relatively recent advent of the Taliban we have retreated even further in time, back to the 11th century and the Hashishi who considered murder a religious duty and who dreamed up ecstatic visions of paradise before setting out to face martyrdom.

Having retreated and firmly embedded itself, if the country is put at the take-off point of Jinnah’s Pakistan we will have in fact advanced. There is no latter day Mohammad Ali Jinnah to lead us but we do have his words and his example to look to. The fact is that, for whatever reasons and through whatever circumstances, Mr Jinnah managed to do what few men have done — he created a country and in doing so changed the course of history. Professor Stanley Wolpert’s opens the preface to his book Jinnah of Pakistan with this reminder.

All great men are controversial, so Jinnah, is highly controversial both in his own land and particularly in the country out of which Pakistan was carved (some 940,000 sq.km.). He learnt his politics from Dadabhoy Naoroji, Phirozshaw Mehta, Motilal Nehru, Gopal Gokhale and other men of substance. His alleged motives for having done what he did vary from the simple accusation of a grab for power to the suggestion that he was caught in a vice of his own making and against his inner will the creation of Pakistan was forced upon him. My belief and that shared by many is, knowing what we all know, that the Muslims of undivided India were a subjugated minority, Jinnah’s feeling was that in an independent India they would become even more downtrodden and face even more discrimination and thus have difficulty as a community in making much of themselves.

Jinnah’s intent was to create a homeland turning the minority into a majority, not subject to discrimination and challenges. He expected the Muslims of his country to rise above themselves, to join the modern world, work and prosper, in a land free from bigotry, imbued with tolerance for their fellow human beings of no matter what creed or race. Such was his intent, of this I have no doubt. What he subsequently had to work with after the birth of Pakistan caused him grief. His motive and intent being honourable, no blame can attach to him for where Pakistan find’s itself today.

He may have failed, as all others did, to anticipate the horrors of partition, and the mass migration and slaying that took place, but three days prior to the birth of his country he was still optimistic, he still had hopes that he could sway the hearts and minds of the men who would be the future law makers.

Apart from that most famous of quotations from his Aug 11, 1947 speech to the constituent assembly, when he made it abundantly clear that religion, caste or creed have nothing to do with the business of the state, a passage that most fortuitously is quoted with frequency in our press and media and in all books written about Jinnah, we must also remember the words he spoke back in February 1935 to the Central Legislative Assembly when he told the members that “religion should not be allowed to come into politics … religion is merely a matter between man and God”.

A year later, he announced at a Muslim League session that the question of constitutional safeguards for Muslims “was not a religious question, but purely a political problem”. All this was put paid to in March 1949 by the men who followed him.

What else did he tell these men to whom he was bequeathing a country? He told them that the first duty of a government is to impose and maintain law and order to protect the lives, properties and religious beliefs of the citizens. Not an impossible task, but one which successive governments have failed to achieve. We are today paying heavily for their corruption and incompetence.

Jinnah came down hard on bribery and corruption — he called them “a poison”. Again he was thwarted. In his very lifetime the men who would lead the country were scheming and stealing, falsely declaring properties owned in India so that they could grab what was left abandoned by the Hindus who had fled. Dishonesty, graft and robbery were part of Pakistan’s birth pangs and with the years they have blossomed exponentially.

The rot and ruin can only be retrieved if we have the will and ability to heed the words of the man who made us.




Filed under History, Jinnah, Jinnah's Pakistan, Pakistan, Partition, Rights

79 responses to ““Bring Back Jinnah’s Pakistan” II

  1. yasserlatifhamdani

    Jinnah’s Pakistan lives on …

  2. Milind Kher

    The greatest tragedy that could have befallen Pakistan was to have on its soil a blatant obscurantist like Maududi.

    This man actively sabotaged whatever liberal values Mr Jinnah tried to infuse.

    That baton was taken up by later fundamentalists and that is what has caused the terrible situation today.

    To add to it, conspiracy theories are putting people into a state of denial. It is going to be very difficult. all right thinking people will HAVE to unite.

  3. kashifiat


  4. Luq

    Apne aap ko future jannatee maante hain, – toh kya galt kiya jo thodi obscenity yaheen se hi shuroo kar di? 🙂

  5. yasserlatifhamdani

    Yes. Plus this Kashifiat fella doesn’t know that Ardeshir Cowasjee … now well into his 80s… knew Jinnah as a family friend… indeed it was Cowasjee’s father who helped Jinnah set up Pakistan’s first shipping company.

    That a follower of that crook Maududi can jump up and down and abuse Cowasjee is unthinkable and unacceptable.

  6. Bloody Civilian


    that was a typical hashishi trait, of course.

  7. yasserlatifhamdani

    Irony upon irony that Hashiyoun were from Ismaili school of Islam.

  8. stuka

    “There is no latter day Mohammad Ali Jinnah to lead us but we do have his words and his example to look to. ”

    Let us be honest. Don’t the Islamists also quote Jinnah speeches to prove their point? Let us be honest here and admit that Jinnah made many speeches and his words can today be twisted to mean anything. That is one issue.

    Secondly, as I said earlier, no country can be held hostage to the views of one person, however instrumental he was in the shaping of the country. I am not saying this for Pakistan alone. I would not want Washington’s America or Gnadhi’s India either. If Jinnah stood for middle class values of modernity, secularism and education, I would prefer Jinnah’s India over Gnadhi’s India. Why should I be held hostage?

    I think Pakistani liberals make a mistake to hearken back to old words. Better to give your vision of solutions today, than to bemoan what the founder wanted then.

  9. swapnavasavdutta

    If you follow Mohammad’s Islam,
    would not you follow Jinnah Pakistan
    And who knows Mohammad’s Islam

  10. Bloody Civilian


    make a mistake to hearken back to old words

    if you read the article, again, you’ll see that the author has posed himself the same question and answered it. do you disagree with his answer?

  11. swapnavasavdutta

    “Jinnah’s intent was to create a homeland turning the minority into a majority,
    not subject to discrimination and challenges.”

    “He may have failed, as all others did, to anticipate the horrors of partition, and the mass migration”

    Why was mass migration not anticipated if the intent was to turn minority into majority so it does not have to face

    It is not possible and if it was not anticipated, the scheme hatched was indeed insane.

  12. Bloody Civilian

    It is not possible


  13. Vajra


    You made an observation which does not reflect the discussions on this forum, sufficiently detailed and sufficiently factual and evidence-based to be credible and convincing. It is not clear, therefore, why you are saying this, towards what not-very-transparent ends of your own.

    A clear explanation was available in summary form while putting a sequence of events together for a poster called ‘Amit’, and is reproduced here so that it should not appear that some vague or diffuse reference has been made, which is quite untraceable in reality:

    a secular democratic constitution with a minimalist central authority, and three strong constituent portions, two aggregations of British Indian provinces with Muslims in the majority, one very large one with Hindus in the majority; no physical partition of the country, no exchange of populations was sought;

    In the face of overwhelming facts and data, and in the face of frequent discussions on this precise point, it appears either that you do not have the patience to read through what is already there, or, having read through the material, you have a reason for not acknowledging that you have in fact read it.

    Please let us do our homework before bursting into eloquent patriotism.

  14. swapnavasavdutta

    I have no idea how a Muslim in TamilNadu was going to be saved from majority Hindu discrimination by any scheme but not by moving to Pakistan
    or these Muslim majority constituent units!

  15. yasserlatifhamdani


    That Jinnah made ambiguous appeals to Islamic Principles to reinforce his own vision and outmaneuvre the Mullahs is obviously true.

    But I can assure you… that if everything is read in entirety, the Mullah case falls flat on its face, because Jinnah was quite clear on what his vision of state actually translated to – 1. equal rights for all regardless of religion, caste or creed 2. religious freedom 3. rule of law 4 faith as personal matter.

    That said… ofcourse we still suffer from the selective quoting out of context that Jinnah is subjected to by the Mullahs and their allies.

    As for why we hark back to Jinnah… I am not sure why you keep making this point when you’ve been to Pakistan yourself and interact with Pakistanis of all kinds on chowk. You should know better.

  16. yasserlatifhamdani

    Also… people …. the Great Imran Khan is in bad health …. and is being operated upon.

    Let us pray, send positive thoughts or whatever… because the great man -as much as we disagree with him- has a lot to do for Pakistan… such as education and health. We need those cancer hospitals, we need those education cities, we need those linkages.

    So whatever anyone might think of his political ideas…. we must pray for him.

  17. Allah Unhein Sehat Ataa Farmay…Aameen

  18. gv

    Jinnah, who may have been a stalwart proponent of secular democracy during his long and distinguished career as a freedom fighter in United India, set the stage for the next 60 years of autocratic rule in Pakistan by:

    a) Retaining all executive powers as the Governor General,
    b) Dismissing two popularly elected governments in the NWFP and Sindh
    c) Failing to come up with even an exegesis for a state constitution (incidentally it took ZA Bhutto, a much lesser light by any standards, a mere six months to create the current constitution.)

    The man in his later years comes across as a borderline megalomaniac. If my memory serves me right, the first (or one of the first) acts passed by Pakistan’s constituent assembly in 1947 was to formalise his title as ‘Quaid-e-Azam’???????

    While I am aware of his considerable contributions to the Indian freedom struggle and the Pakistan movement I think we need to seriously analyse(criticise?) his inability to put in place even the most rudimentary measures for ensuring continuity and form to this much trumpeted ‘democratic/secular/muslim’ state of his.


    “if you read the article, again, you’ll see that the author has posed himself the same question and answered it. do you disagree with his answer?”

    The Aurangzeb/Akbar cliché is not much of an answer I’m afraid… forget what Jinnah wanted. He has been dead and gone for three decades. Let’s please focus on what the people who have a stake in the future of this country want.

  19. YLH


    While there are many genuine criticisms that maybe levelled against Jinnah, each of the ones you’ve levelled are historically inaccurate and completely wrong.

    I’ll respond to each one of them when I get some time.

  20. yasserlatifhamdani


    I hope that this discussion will remain within the parameters and doesn’t become a match in skills of an anal retentive nature.

    With that note… let me say that the issue of Jinnah as governor general is as old as Pakistan itself. It is also one of the most misunderstood issues where people who bring up this issue themselves lack clarity on what they are arguing. I am sorry to say that you are one of them. I hope that you will respond with facts and not a mere repetition of these points … and if you can’t bother to read what I am writing down below, then please spare all of us the unnecessary back and forth.

    a. Your criticism that Jinnah retained executive powers does not make any sense. Jinnah is actually the only Governor General of any dominion before or since in the British Empire and its successor the British commonwealth who actually gave up a chunk of his powers constitutionally … i.e. that power being Section 93 – the dreaded and much detested power to dismiss a unit’s legislature. In contrast India retained the power and used it on several occasions (so much for setting the stage for “autocratic” rule). Jinnah therefore retained less than those powers that the Governors Generals of India had under GOIA 1935 … and certainly far fewer powers than the governor general of Ireland for example… and when compared to the President of the United States of America, the French President, or even the over-riding powers concentrated in the Pakistani Prime Minister in the original 1973 constitution, the Governor General of Pakistan was a very weak office under Jinnah.

    The legitimate criticism would have been that Jinnah concentrated in his person three different roles – which according to Ayub Khan (in his diaries) set a bad precedent for Bhutto who did the same. (I leave it to you to determine whether you are going to allow a military ruler to make that judgement call on two popular civilian leaders of Pakistan… in other words it was alright for a military ruler to be the president, prime minister, the grand legislator and constitution giver… but a civilian leader could not simultaneously hold the office of president and party leader). Jinnah ofcourse did wear three caps… that of the governor general, president of the constituent assembly and till December 1947 only the president of the Muslim League.

    An even more legitimate point than this would be that Jinnah- being a strong party politician – ought to have opted for the office of Prime Minister. Even a cursory look at Jinnah papers will establish quite clearly that Jinnah had – in the immediate aftermath of June 3rd declaration- no plan of moving to Pakistan and taking up a post in the Pakistani government.

    He had accepted the office of GG only as a stop gap measure to stall Mountbatten’s demand for a joint governor general of Pakistan and India… the only other person who the British government would have reluctantly accepted (and who was Jinnah’s original candidate) as the governor general was Nawab Hameedullah Khan of Bhopal, who was unavailable – Much of this can be ascertained from the Princess Abida Sultan’s Memoirs as well. But whatever the case… Jinnah chose to be the GG and not the PM.

    b. First let us deal with Sindh. Jinnah did not dismiss any popular government in Sindh. The government of Sindh continued as before with a Muslim League ministry. Ayub Khuhro however was replaced by Ghulam Hidayatullah as Premier… on charges of corruption. It is alleged that Ayub Khuhro’s dismissal had something to do with Karachi becoming a federal territory. Well even if that was the case, the constituent assembly of Pakistan had voted to make Karachi a federal territory. Constituent Assembly was sovereign and had the democratic right to do so under law. So this is not a valid charge by any means.

    Now coming to NWFP… BC will be able to guide you better… but conventionally it was neither a popular government nor was its dismissal in the least bit unconstitutional or undemocratic. Infact the actions taken by Jinnah and his governor were perfectly constitutional, legal and keeping with the requirements.

    It was generally accepted… by the Premier of NWFP Dr. Khan sb himself … that if even 30 percent of the population voted for Pakistan he would resign. The referendum itself showed 50%+ vote against Dr. Khan sb … contrary to what some people from NWFP have tried to prove, this referendum was widely held to be free and fair… and was accepted as such by the top Congress leadership including Nehru and Azad. It was that at their behest that Olaf Caroe had been replaced by Rob Lockhart… to ensure just that. The convention held that if a ministry was defeated on a key point in a referendum or otherwise, it would resign the office.

    Now… by agreement between all the parties, Mountbatten undertook to dismiss the ministry by 14th August, 1947. Mountbatten wanted to use the nefarious Section 93… but it was Jinnah who asked him not to dismiss the legislature. Meanwhile Bacha Khan and his brother started their “Pakhtunistan” demand backed by the Afghan government and Mohandas Gandhi. Mountbatten wanted Jinnah to inherit this problem and he went back on his promise leaving Jinnah stuck with a hostile ministry in one of his constituent units with Afghanistan threatening war on the issue of Durand Line.

    Jinnah used 51(5) of the interim constitution to advise his governor to dismiss the ministry (not legislature) and ask a suitable person from within the legislature to form a ministry subject to vote of confidence by the next budget session. This was perfectly constitutional. (The Canadian Governor General in December 2008 prorogued a session because the Prime Minister was about to lose majority – thereby allowing the Prime Minister to bring together a coalition by the next session. I frankly don’t see how George Cunningham’s actions in 1947 were any different… or are we saying that the Canadian Governor General is setting an authoritarian precedent?). Let us be very clear again … the issue is not whether the GG had the power or not but whether the action was justified. In my opinion it was perfectly justified.
    Did it set an authoritarian tone? How is it that India imposed governor rule in several states on several occasions under Section 93 and its modern equivalent (128 is it?) and yet no authoritarianism exists there? Could it be that this criticism has been manufactured by the Army to discredit the one politician who told them in clear terms that in Pakistan civilians would order and the military shall follow orders?

    c. is just plain wrong (seems like you’ve copied and pasted this from Tarek Fatah’s comment on Facebook). India framed its Objectives Resolution in October 1946 and its constitution was completed in 1950. That is 4 years. As for Zulfikar Ali Bhutto… could you tell me how you came to the 6 months figure? Zulfikar Ali Bhutto became the president and chief martial law administrator in January 1972 …and the constitution was not unveiled until mid 1973. And what an unbalanced and utterly unstable constitution it is… given that it has been mutilated beyond recognition and given that it has been under emergency or in abeyance most of its life. That said… in the still classified portions of the Jinnah Papers, there exists a constitution prepared by Jinnah himself… which either resembles somewhat the French 4th Republic (according to Jahanara Shahnawaz) or loosely the Canadian constitution act that existed at the time (according to Shaista Ikramullah). First 9 of Jinnah’s 13 months as governor general were spent in dealing with one crisis after another… and the last 4 were spent bedridden.

    About Jinnah’s title of the Quaid-e-Azam…. Jinnah never referred to himself as Quaid-e-Azam and never used it in his letters, writings etc… surely if he was such megalomaniac, he would have signed “Quaid-e-Azam”… instead we have the well known incident where he cut off “brother of the Quaid-e-Azam” off the visiting card of his brother Ahmed Ali Jinnah.
    Jinnah probably couldn’t even pronounce Quaid-e-Azam. Jinnah preferred to be called Mr. Jinnah … and said so in his famous letter where he said that he would live and die as plain Mr. Jinnah. You are right ofcourse that the assembly did pass an act – on Liaqat Ali Khan’s insistence- to officially refer to Jinnah as Quaid-e-Azam… just as Turks referred to Ataturk as Ataturk. However I am not sure what Jinnah had to do with this. Ofcourse… the people didn’t need an act of parliament to call him Quaid-e-Azam… they had been calling him that for 10 years and Jinnah had suffered this appellation because it was needed to balance out the Mahatmafication of Gandhiji… kind of like Drummond’s honorary elevation to Col in “Inherit the Wind” because Brady was a colonel too.

    “his inability to put in place even the most rudimentary measures ”

    Looks like you imagine history in your head. The Government of India Act 1935 was the adapted interim constitution of Pakistan… read with the Independence of India Act 1947. That on Jinnah’s demise, contrary to expectations of everyone, Pakistan had constitutional continuity quite clearly shoots down this point abundantly.

    Now I’ve spent a long time writing this post… because I respected what you had to say. It is hoped that you will do the same… though I know that when you posted your comment, you were not in the mood for a serious debate (which is why you simply copied and pasted what one Tarek Fatah from Canada had written on my facebook a year or so ago) … but it is hoped that you will respect me and respond after giving what I have written some thought before trying to indulge me in a meaningless debate which you actually have no interest in.

    Otherwise ofcourse, I too have constitutional powers to expunge your response from the record… which I shall most definitely use. 🙂

  21. AZW

    Good answers Yasser. Let me make two quick points here:

    1) The allegation that Jinnah did not have any concern for the future constitution of Pakistan is completely unfounded. From his biography by Stanley Wolpert, the constitution of Pakistan was the single most concern for Jinnah during his last year, even as his health was rapidly failing him. As you said, he even prepared draft versions based on the exisiting models at that time. However, Jinnah’s health had started deteriorating right after the creation of Pakistan and for the last few months, he was mostly bedridden. The only substantive trip he took was to East Pakistan in summer of 1948, and that was against his doctor’s advice and upon insistence of the Liaquat Ali Khan’s government

    2) There was a large disconnect that had developed between LAK and Jinnah and a few statements towards the end attributed to Jinnah (where he “congratulated” the LAK government on their “good” work, broadcasted on August 14, 1948) were mostly crafted in the government offices with a weakened and dying Jinnah having nothing to do with that. If I remember correctly, Jinnah had stopped seeing LAK towards the end, widely disliking him for the haphazard way the government was run (again my source here is Wolpert).

    However, as much of a great personality Quaid is, he was human. I believe there are two areas, where Quaid got it wrong:

    a) declaring Urdu as the only national language of Pakistan, while the clear majority was Bengali speaking. I am born into an Urdu languange family (and I do believe it is one beautiful language). However in a country as diverse as Pakistan (and especially the 1947 Pakistan), it was wrong of Quaid to endorse one language alien to all of its geographical entities as the national language

    b) While Quaid’s August 11 speech, as well as other clear references for a Muslim democratic state where citizens are Pakistanis first and foremost, are there in his speeches, Quaid did talk about Future constitution not be against Sharia (January 1948) and Islamic system as salvation (July 1948, State Bank), among other religious references. We can argue that context matters a lot, yet he unnecessarily mixed theocratic leaning principles, that contradicted his clear pronouncements about the Pakistan not being a theocracy, and his ideas about the secular credentials of the newly formed state.

    But no one can ever say that he was not a constitutionalist. Reading about the volatile NWFP situation in the 1947, I am struck by the fact that he still opted for dismissal of the ministry and not the whole legislature. It is quite hard to comprehend right now the uncertainty Pakistan faced in its initial months. The state was expected to collapse in a matter of month, its coffers were dry, Kashmir was becoming a major issue, and now Khan Brothers were beginning to work actively to undermine the newly formed state. Yet he stayed within the confines of the powers and did not transgress. That says a lot about the stature of that person.

  22. Bloody Civilian

    of course YLH’s rebuttal is as total as can be.

    AZW, i wonder if India had had a military takeover and been hijacked by the parivar.. if someone even as clearly secular as nehru could not have been shown to have left a window or two not as clearly shut and secured from hindutvadis as the victims of such a hypothetical totalitarian india would have liked, in hindsight. the clearly ‘religion=politics’ gandhi of course might have been even more celebrated, and more misrepresented (e.g. religion=sectarianism), in such an india.

    on another note, MAJ did use to sit in on cabinet meetings… no matter how LAK saw it, it might have made his job as the chairman of the cabinet, a bit tricky. perhaps the ‘quaid-e-azam’ ought to have deliberately allowed LAK more room to be the PM.. to the extent of resisting/refusing his requests for MAJ to do his job for him, at times. YLH pointing out the constitutional continuity at MAJ’s death, is proof enough. and the genuine shock and horror of the non-muslim MCA’s at the introduction of the OR, and their frankly expressed opinion of how no one would have dared do it in MAJ’s lifetime.. says it all.

    how much can one read into a period of less than one year? i believe in blaming the criminal rather than the victim. ghulam muhammad knew what was legal and what was not. ayub khan knew about the sanctity of his oath that he violated. the mullahs knew perfectly well that they were hypocrites lying through their teeth, stooping even as low as inciting sectarian violence. but then you cannot be a very successful criminal if you start worrying about these things.

  23. gv


    First of all apologies for the delayed response. Secondly I retreat tail between my legs in the face of your far superior grasp of historical detail. I am admittedly very rusty on the precise nature of events related to Jinnah post partition. The last time I read anything relevant to the era was while I was still at university.

    Let me re-phrase my criticisms slightly so we can discuss the actual issues at hand.

    – Jinnah as GG – as the prime mover in Pakistani politics why take a supposed back seat? Either become prime minister or allow the junior politician to be pm – even if the role was forced upon him as you say. He seems to overshadow the PM and his cabinet far too much for what was supposed to be a Westminster model. (e.g. Kashmir, refugee issues, Urdu, Baluchistan)

    – Const. of Pakistan – I am not suggesting that Jinnah should have written it personally but the failure to appoint a constitutional committee immediately post Aug 14th appears negligent We suffered from no dearth of legal experts who could have been delegated the responsibility (the six month Bhutto figure is from a wiki entry on the 1972 const which states that the PPP govt appointed a committee on April 1972 which came up with an acceptable draft approved by the NA in oct 1972 ) This did not come into effect until Aug 1973 anyway the point is that there was no committee assigned to form a constitution.

    – Sindh: I’m being a bit lazy and need to dig up precise references but by my recollection khuhro along with the sindh provincial assembly voted against the granting of federal territory status to Karachi – after which he was dismissed

    – NWFP: I’ll concede to you on this as I have read little and heard many superficial accounts on bacha khan’s dismissal and subsequent incarceration and obviously do not know it as well as you do but what do you have to say about the military annexation of Baluchistan?

    I am not trying to belittle Jinnah in anyway – I think that AZW has made a far more balanced critique than i have but i just detest cults of any kind – and Jinnah’s cult tends to airbrush some of his actions which to me appear far more autocratic than Nehru across the border..

    How else do you explain the absymal state of the legislature 1948 onwards…

  24. yasserlatifhamdani

    Now that you’ve rephrased your criticisms …. let me respond again because you are still making statements that are not historically true and are completely wrong on some counts.

    1. Why and how Jinnah came to the GG-ship is already mentioned above. If Jinnah overshadowed the PM, he did not do it in his capacity as the Governor General but rather his towering position within colleagues.

    2. Who said a constitutional committee was not appointed? There was a constitutional committee that started working mid August. Could you tell me the source of your information that it wasn’t? On Bhutto you are mixing the interim constitution of 1972 and the constitution of 1973 together. We’ve already discussed what kind of a constitution either of them were… but if interim constitution is what you are talking about Pakistan had a fine dominion constitution (GOIA 1935) in 1947…one which had it been followed would have kept all Pakistanis happy. Infact one of the first things the constituent assembly did was to adopt the GOIA 1935 as its constitution.

    3. I’ve already answered the Sindh issue above. Let us assume that Khuhro was indeed removed for this reason … but can you tell me whether the constituent assembly’s resolution had more legal force or the provincial assembly? Khuhro’s dismissal wasn’t as clear cut as Hameeda Khuhro wants everyone to believe…. Hameeda Khuhro obviously has her own agenda.

    4. On NWFP … the little you’ve heard is also historically inaccurate because Bacha Khan was not dismissed…it was his brother Dr. Khan Sb who was dismissed very constitutionally as I wrote above.

    5. Kalat State (which you are calling Balochistan) signed an instrument of accession ceding foreign affairs, defence and currency to a Pakistani center in March. Perhaps you can enlighten me on the “military annexation” of Balochistan. Somehow pages of history are missing when it comes to this “military annexation”.

    Now we come to your last point… just shows how little you’ve actually bothered to read about either …

    Now I don’t mean to belittle Nehru who was no doubt a very enlightened leader but your claim that his actions were somehow less autocratic is just so blatantly wrong that I don’t know where to begin.

    Let us begin with the issue of “dismissal” of “popular governments”…. Remember Nehru retained the Article 93 of GOIA 1935 (Also Article 356 of the Indian constitution) …

    Well let us start with the dismissal of state government of Kerala… The Communists won a large mandate in Kerala in 1959. It was dismissed by Nehru’s government at Nehru’s behest. Some argue (not very logically) that Indira Gandhi, as the head of All India Congress Committee, was behind this dismissal … but if that were true it makes things look even worse for Nehru given the bad precedent he was setting for personalized family rule. Compare this to the events in NWFP or Sindh… in NWFP there was no Governor Raj… the ministry replaced constitutionally by another ministry… In Sindh Khuhro was dismissed as the Chief Minister and the government of the popularly elected party continued. But in Kerala, they were sent packing lock stock and barrel. Feroze Gandhi, the son in law of Nehru, famously declared “”A murder has been committed today. Democracy has been killed in Kerala.” And what about Shaikh Abdullah’s dismissal in Kashmir?

    How about imprisoning political opponents and lying about it? Since you spoke about Bacha Khan’s incarceration in 1948 in which a legal charge was brought against the man… what about Nehru’s imprisonment of his old friend and comrade Shaikh Abdullah? Nehru even denied it till it was proven… Shaikh Abdullah whose popularly elected government Nehru dismissed and then tossed Abdullah in jail for good measure… what do you make of that?

    You spoke of a “military annexation” of Kalat that did not exist . How about the military annexation of Junagadh, Hyderabad etc… and the trouble created in Tripura leading to that state’s surrender? How about the military annexation of Goa? Nehru’s military annexations are endless.

    So for each count you level against Jinnah, I can show you 3 or 4 much stronger cases against Nehru. Perceptions are not everything. I know it is cool to abuse Jinnah… but atleast one should make statements that have some basis in history?

    And then you say “how else do you explain the abysmal state of legislature since 1948″… I am not sure what this is supposed to mean… Pakistan had a vibrant legislature… the problems that were created were because the majority decided to bring religion into the objectives resolution in 1949. However it functioned in a parliamentary fashion.. and there was constitutional continuity. And I am not sure even if there was something abysmal about the legislature from 1948 how you are going to lay it at Jinnah’s doorstep.

    I am still waiting for something concrete… something substantial. Surely Jinnah maybe blamed for – as AZW and I have blamed him- his ambiguous use of Islamic vocabulary… or for his tactical blunder of declaring Urdu as the lingua franca (which though logically right was politically a huge blunder) or his refusal to accept Maldives as part of Pakistan in exchange for Andaman Islands…

    But the allegations you are levelling don’t hold any ground I am afraid… especially when a comparison is made with Jawaharlal Nehru. Were Nehru and Jinnah autocratic to a certain extent in their political style … they both were to the extent that was needed for their young nations. Had Jawaharlal Nehru not maintained his deeply personalized rule perhaps India would not have been the democracy that it is today. Had both Nehru and Patel not taken the attitude they took vis a vis the states… India might well have balkanized. Similarly had Jinnah not used 51(5) to bring about a change in government of the NWFP, the border of Afghanistan might well have been at Attock (perhaps a relief for some today)… had Jinnah not enforced the constituent assembly’s decision to make the capital a federal territory, the migrants from India would have gotten a very bad deal (though this may not go down well with the Sindhis).

    All new nations have had to contend with either a constitutional strongman (Nehru) or a military strongman (Nasser)… or in the case of Turkey and South Korea… a military strongman who became a constitutional strongman (Ataturk and Park)… or in Pakistan where the early demise of the constitutional strongman (Jinnah)paved the way for a military strongman (Ayub)… this is how it is. Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, South Korea and Singapore are all beneficiaries of this…
    Even the United States of America went through three constitutional strongmen – one in each century- who stabilized a faltering system … Washington, Lincoln and FDR…. the latter two flouting almost every known constitutional convention in the US history between them.

  25. yasserlatifhamdani

    PS: It was not without reason that Aitzaz Ahsan- himself an admirer of Nehru in many ways- claimed in his famous rebuttal to government’s lawyers in front of that full bench… that Musharraf was trying to become “Nehru” in 2007.

  26. PMA

    Yasser: A very nice outlay of the post-independence events. You should write a book of your own. I’ll buy a copy. I promise. And by the way in 2007 I had the privilege to attend the proceedings of the Musharraf case in the Supreme Court as a guest. Barrister Ahtezaz Ahsan, whom I have known of since his Cathedral High School days was simply brilliant. Yasser, sincerely, why don’t you also go to UK and get a law degree. You will be a great addition to the top echelon of the legal and constitutional minds in Pakistan.

  27. Vajra

    On reading this thread, I felt a warm feeling of self-satisfaction at having the intelligence to have begun frequenting this blog some time ago.

  28. yasserlatifhamdani

    Thanks PMA… it means a lot despite our increasingly frequent disagreements. 🙂

  29. PMA

    No problem YLH. It is my job to keep you on your toes, on track. We are all here for our beloved homeland; Pakistan. Keep it up.

  30. Bloody Civilian

    Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, South Korea and Singapore are all beneficiaries of this…

    how do we know that democracy would necessatily have failed to deliver what these despots did? a military dictator not delivering is 1000x worse than an elected govt not coming up to the mark, since he destroys rule of law.

    ‘constitutional strongmen’ i can respect, ie i can listen to their argument. cowasjee once used the term ‘benign dictator’ for jinnah! i remember taking issue with him and him agreeing that jinnah was a man of rules and the law who did not believe in rules any more lax than the people and the situation had shown itself deserving of, but he did not believe in arbitrary power. it is quite understandable why a responsible and able constituional leader at a crucial and critical time in a nation’s life would not let unduly open and liberal democracy to allow pygmies to distract from the important job of nation building. tightening the rules is one thing, brazenly flouting them quite another.

    so there is a difference between constitutional and unconstitutional authoritarianism. and civilian and military dictatorships (which brings the institution into politics, like it or not). and the day democracy returns is when the democratic education of the people starts. indeed, first they have to unlearn much before the learning can even begin. the first crop of choice of leadership offered to the electorate is absolute pygmies… and worse. little wonder that people quickly tire of the democratic experiment. where the strongman had not been ousted through popular resistance, the people prefer his progeny over the pygmies. and it’s not unusual for strongmen to foresee this and prepare there kids for it.

  31. stuka

    “As for why we hark back to Jinnah… I am not sure why you keep making this point when you’ve been to Pakistan yourself and interact with Pakistanis of all kinds on chowk. You should know better.”

    I honestly do not. The Islamists in fact do not quote Jinnah at all. They either quote Islam or they talk about “social justice”, in whatever form. The Jinnah reference is once in a while and it is often reactionary. Maybe because the Islamists know in their true hearts that Jinnah was not one of them.

    Mr. Cowasjee states that …

    A counter argument to this is that from shortly after its birth the nation retreated 300 years placing itself in mindset and religious-political intent back in the age of the Emperor Aurangzeb. (Had it chosen to retreat 400 years to the age of Akbar the Great it would have been on the correct and proper path.)…

    Well, whereas there may be similarities to Aurangzeb the fact is that Aurangzeb’s personality is never used by Islamists. If they did, it would actually present a weakening of their propaganda by making it static in time. OTOH, the rhetoric of Islam is timeless. Heck, I am not even a Muslim and I sometimes find the Islamic rhetoric of social justice and honor very appealing, what of people who are born in the religion?

    IMO, theere are only two alternatives, either to argue back from the realm of Islam itself or to be upfront and honest and talk of secularism as a need for today in human terms. Jinnah, however great, cannot counter Islam.

  32. stuka

    “or his refusal to accept Maldives as part of Pakistan in exchange for Andaman Islands… ”

    What??? I had no awareness of this?

  33. gv

    ouch.. i think i need to go get some burnol for myself…. before i prepare for my super villainous comeback… (interjected by much impotent fist shaking!!)

  34. Gorki

    “IMO, theere are only two alternatives, either to argue back from the realm of Islam itself or to be upfront and honest and talk of secularism as a need for today in human terms.”

    Which and whose version of Islam?

  35. Bloody Civilian


    i think, in the final analysis, it must be and often is couched in ‘democratic’ terms… that is, the pros and cons of democracy. where secular itself is, somewhat conveniently, subsumed within democracy as a necessary feature. as much to prevent sectarianism (the pakistani equivalent of the indian communalism argument), as to ensure sovereignty of the people and yet prevent one majority to tie the hands of a future one. now the latter is difficult to understand by people living in a milieu where elementary civics is no longer taught at school, and fewer and fewer of those with a voice and an interest in any of this have any training in humanities. and no one has much experience of living in an uninterrupted democracy and the education that that is for a people.

    an attempted compromise could be that in the present constitution’s ‘sovereignty belongs to god and given as a trust to the people’, the ‘people’ can and must only mean the people, and no one and nothing else (through their democratically elected representatives etc). indeed, that is the current legal and constitutional position.

    the otehr part – ‘no law should be repugnant to quran and sunnah’, automatically follows. but even without the question of who decides what is quran and sunnah, and what is or isn’t repugnant to either (it is ultimately done by parliament under current law), the clergy already have a ‘justification’ to claim supremacy even within the chain of indirect assignment of sovereignty. the cleric is more sovereign than the voter, since he claims to be closer to god and a more suitable holder of god’s trust than the common man.

    Liaquat Ali Khan’s assertion that ‘but there is no clergy in islam’ is as ridiculous in real-life today as it was in his own time.. and going back many centuries too. indeed, the clerical class is stronger and more confident today than it has been ever before (thanks to the zia years).

    this, in my view, is the gist of the message that needs to be brought to the people… that is, the need for them to be ever vigilent in protecting their sovereignty and that of future generations being usurped by a minority group or class – the so-called mullahs.

    even though people are quickly going off this particular class, ie becoming more discerning of the conmen, they are not the only class that people have a gripe with. there are the feudals, the elite, and real and/or perceived others… e.g. the ‘treacherous’ (westernised) liberals as described by popular talking-heads like zaid hamid (conspiracy theories sell well due to the democracy deficit). add to that the military regimes. military control of or over peiods of democracy ie pols. the somersault from zia’s islamism to musharraf’s ‘enlightened moderation’. people are confused. for long periods they haven’t even felt the minimal relevance to anything that a voter feels in even a sham democracy.

    so the battle is on many fronts, at many levels… and none can be ignored or forsaken.

  36. YLH


    We hark back to Jinnah because the Islamists claim that Pakistan was created to establish an Islamic theocracy which is not true.

    You are right. But the little sanity you see in Pakistan is all because liberals keep harking back to Jinnah.

  37. YLH

    Also Akbar and Aurangzeb are symbols…otherwise if you honestly analyze their reigns you will realize that Akbar was not always the tolerant secular Emperor he is portrayed as and Aurangzeb was not consistently the Hindu hater he is made out to be… Both were medieval Emperors…one in the tradition of Muawiyah …the other Umar bin Abdul Aziz.

    Ofcourse the Islamists don’t necessarily use Aurangzeb…that despite the fact that Aurangzeb brought together the most complete compilation of precedents and juristic opinions of Islamic law to date ie Fatawa-ul-Alamgiri.

  38. Majumdar


    or his refusal to accept Maldives as part of Pakistan in exchange for Andaman Islands…

    This is news to me. You have an authentic source?

    the border of Afghanistan might well have been at Attock (perhaps a relief for some today)…

    Well, I quite agree with you on the relief part.


  39. vajra


    Once it became clear fairly early in these exchanges that you were not one of those mindless Yasser-bashers that make themselves nuisances around this site, it became an anticipated treat to wait for your next post, and to try and guess YLH’s parry and riposte.

    In all fairness, Yasser is a horrible adversary, since he usually has the entire map of the discussion clear in his head while we are still finding its dimensions and exploring its borders. He has also been bitten badly both on Chowk and on other blogs and websites, and bares his fangs defensively as an automatic reaction. That is to be ignored; once it is clear that his interlocutor has a genuine enquiry or a point of view which is not hostile to humanity in a very broad sense, leaving aside an occasional jibe in excess or an adjective du jour which might be better employed doing the dishes, his responses are a treat to the intellect.

    As far as the superfluous jibes and the truant adjectives are concerned, your rueful, wry, self-deprecatory response seems exactly right, and will resonate to those many of us who have like you suffered glancing blows and minor injuries (I know that this phrase has occurred before).

    Please do not give up the good fight. You have a large and hopeful band of fans in your corner (Yasser needs none, he travels like the snail, fully self-contained) and we cannot but benefit, if only to the extent of our impoverished, desiccated, invective-filled vocabularies, from the vibrant exchanges that we see hanging tantalising in the air.

  40. vajra


    I cannot help but agree with your much-needed re-evaluation of both Akbar and Aurangzeb.

    Of Akbar, it was remarkable that he turned out to be as progressive as he did, considering his immediate antecedents, and his upbringing and milieu during childhood and early youth. Of Aurangzeb, it was remarkable that he turned out to be as regressive as he did, &c, &c. Myths tend to accrete around characters, and they have formed entire coral reefs around these two very colourful figures, much to the detriment of an objective historical evaluation.

  41. Majumdar

    There is still hope though. My friend Moin Ansari sahib has a useful suggestion apart from some comments about the recent developments in Maldives- Indian interference, revolt against Brahminical imperialism etc


    Muslim Maldives should join Pakistan. As Pakistani citizens they could build cities in Pakistan when the level of the sea rises. Pakistan can also provide resources like rocks, land-fill, trash, and soil to raise the level of the islan above the sea. The Maldive islands are fast disappearing under the sea. The Maldives should formally join Pakistan. As Pakistani citizens they would carry Pakistani passports and would be able to travel to Pakistan. There is plenty of land available in Pakistan. The Maldives should pass a resolution in parliament requesting Pakistani citizenship. Rupee News recommends that Pakistan give the 350,000 residents a home in Pakistan in exchange for facilities (airport, base) in the Maldivies ’till their island is still above sea level. The Maldives want to buy the land–350,000 would be a small city which could be built from scratch on the Karachi-Gwader freeway. Adequate security and basic facilities should be provided to them. The Maldive citizens should be required to fund a similar city for the stranded Pakistanis in Bangladesh who sill fly the Pakistani flag on their shanty huts.


  42. gv


    tell me about it… here i was happily skipping along through the blogosphere dishing out quaint little homilies about rational thought to either ends of the right and the left to warm the cockles of my heart and BANG!!! I get my rear end handed to me wrapped up in a neat little bow by this precocious prodigy…..

    as i slink off back to the library…. i think of poor old Tom (of tom & jerry fame) when he feverishly works out using those old fashioned angular bar bells to prepare for his next fight with jerry with the usual inevitable outcome……

  43. vajra


    If this is the quality of your daily scribble, you will sooner or later find a little train of petitions going up to Raza Rumi and to YLH, asking them to get you to write a leader.

    I hope it is sooner than later.

  44. PMA

    YLH: I agree with your comments of November 11, 2009 (at 8:07 am) regarding Emperors Akbar and Alamgir. Both figures are highly exaggerated in Indian minds. The sad part is that we in Pakistan have left the Mughal history to Indians and Westerners, who give it a color of their own. Pakistan is a successor state of the Great Mughal Empire. We need to own our history; all phases of it.

  45. yasserlatifhamdani

    Well gentlemen thank you for your fullsome praise… though I am merely regurgitating what I have said for a long time.


    You should certainly write for us. It would be a welcome addition to PTH community.

    The train of petitions has reached us already.

  46. yasserlatifhamdani


    On strongmen… constitutional and otherwise…

    No doubt. I think however that Turkey for example was emerging out of the Ottoman Empire and therefore Ataturk’s achievement was to build the system ground up and then hang up his uniform very early on. South Korea I suspect was similar. Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia fall under civilian strongmen category.

    Pakistan’s coup-makers end up thinking of themselves as Ataturk or more recently President Park… but what they don’t understand is that whereas Ataturk established a new system which would evolve into a form of secular democracy, where there was none…. our coup makers have only overturned democracy always.

    Ayub sadly imagined himself to be Ataturk in a country which already had an established tradition of constitutional democracy on western lines. He herefore turned the clock backwards constitutionally . The other three did not even have a vision… and their coups were direct.

    Then the 1962 constitution- framed by the brilliant Manzur Qadir on Ayub’s orders- could have survived and evolved into a more democratic constitution had Ayub not rigged the 1965 elections. It may still have survived agitation etc, had Ayub not gone to war… and finally it still had an opportunity to redeem itself had Ayub not handed over power to Yahya unconstitutionally.

  47. vajra


    At a rather mundane level, to have a movement like Ataturk’s, one needs an Ataturk. The snotty-nosed, immature, nitrogen-inflated little tin soldiers who strutted and goose-stepped their little charades were not fit, in my humble opinion, to wipe the backside of Mustafa Kemal (I hasten to add that it is quite sure that he could do that unaided). Quite apart from his achievements in times of peace, none of these blowhards came close either to his gallantry and cold-blooded courage, or to his chivalry to the dead of the enemy.

    I sometimes feel making his life compulsory reading would be a welcome corrective to Bonapartist traits: the Bonapartist hopefuls would realise how far they were from this chevalier.

  48. yasserlatifhamdani

    Ataturk was an extraordinary man… in an interview which reveals as much about Jinnah himself as it does about Ataturk, Jinnah said:

    “He (Kemal Ataturk) was the greeatest Musalman in the modern Islamic World and I am sure that the entire Musalmans world will deeply mourn his passing away.

    It is impossible to express adequately in a press interview ones appreciation of his remarkable and varied services, as the builder of modern Turkey and an example to the rest of the world, especially to the Musalmans States in the Middle East. The remarkable way in which he rescued and built up his people against all odds has no parallel in the history of the world.

    He must have derived the greatest sense of satisfaction that he fully accomplished his mission during his lifetime and left his people and his country consolidated, united and a powerful nation. In him, not only the Musalmans, but the whole word, have lost one of the greatest men that ever lived.

    (Interview to the Press November 1938- quoted on Page 15 of “Quaid-e-Azam and the Islamic World” First Impression on the occasion of the Islamic Summit in Mecca 1981… Second Impression on the occasion Foreign Ministers of the Islamic World conference in Karachi 1993)

    Jinnah’s admiration for Ataturk and the inspiration he drew from “Greywolf” by H C Armstrong in 1932… during his self imposed exile is well documented. He also spoke about Ataturk in some detail in his Patna Address in 1938…. and the League celebrated “Kemal Day” under his guidance. But what is most significant is that Jinnah always described Modern Turkey as an example and an ideal state for Muslims….

    This should give us an idea about what Jinnah’s ambiguous Islamic rhetoric was all about…

  49. Bloody Civilian

    YLH, absolutely: atatturk had nothing to work with; pakistan had the GoIA 1935 and the legacy/experience/continuity of british rule of law.

    ‘nek’ badshahs, btw, should only be celebrated once they’re no more. this is as it should be. leaders, perhaps, potentially as good as ataturk and just as patriotic, but greater lovers of freedom, probably were relatively less known prisoners in ataturk’s turkey. yet that does not mean they would not have appreciated, looking back, all that he has done for turkey. but it should only ever be retrospective approval.

    i know that history has not passed a very generous verdict on tito. imagine, for a moment, that his project had not unravelled the way it did, after him. would it have justified the denial of political space to people like izetbegovic and others (i don’t know)? would these democrats have been able to do less or more for their country? there can be no definite answer to this question. so all we can say is sift out relative giants like ataturk and ‘good’ dictators mahathir, park etc. from the saddams, ayubs, francos, pol pots, mobutos, mugabe’s…………… a very very long list indeed – a bottomless pit in terms of how low their credentials can and do go.

    with that kind of odds, how can one ever do anything but oppose a dictator from day one, no matter how benign he might seem. since we don’t judge people but only their acts, one has to condemn a dictator’s illegitimate claim to power, for as long as he stays in power, even as one approves everytime he puts it to good use in the right cause. giants like ataturk will still pass with flying colours, relatively speaking.

  50. Milind Kher

    Ataturk was good, but he went overboard. Having the azan in Turkish is a bit much.

    The rendering in Arabic has a barkah which is to be found in the very sounds and reverbarations, which a translation can never have.

    Mr Jinnah was a secularist, but never upset the Islamic fabric

  51. Bloody Civilian

    ..my post above was in response to your earlier comment. i read your latest one after posting mine. but the comparison is interesting.

  52. Bloody Civilian


    The rendering in Arabic has a barkah which is to be found in the very sounds and reverbarations

    is that a personal view?

  53. vajra

    @Bloody Civilian

    You might like to look up Milovan Djilas. If you haven’t already done that multiple times and aren’t writing a small monograph on the similarities between Djilas and Dubcek. Much of the gloss on Tito rubbed off on reading Djilas.

  54. Milind Kher

    It is not a personal view. It is the view of Seyyed Hossein Nasr, one of the greatest authorities on Islam.

    I will give you an example of the barkah. Take the words “Muhammadan Rasool Allah”

    The “h” in Muhammadan has an intonation of forceful striking which the Quran does to the human heart when it is heard.

    Rasool has an expansive intonation, akin to “inshirah ul sadr” or the expansion of the heart referred to in Surah Alam Nashrah (a.k.a. Surah Inshirah)

    Allah has a very r-e-l-a-x-e-d feel to it which happens when a quranic recital is heard.

  55. Bloody Civilian


    nope. i must confess ignorance. i’ve read izetbegovic though. many years ago. so there might be a secondhand ‘rubbing off’, that i am not aware of, through izetbegovic.

  56. Bloody Civilian

    thanks, MK.

    now had i been a turkish speaker, i bet i could match you word for word, sound for sound and ‘barakah’ for ‘barakah’ with the turkish translation of the same.

    it’s all subjective… and no scholar – no matter how well regarded – cannot change the subjectivity of it all based on a subjective argument of the kind you’ve given examples of above.

  57. Bloody Civilian

    last para first line: *cannot* should have be *can*.

  58. Milind Kher

    Take what Pickthall has to say about his OWN translation of the Holy Qur’an. He says that the result is NOT the Quran, “that inimitable symphony, the very sound of which moves men to ecstacy and tears”

    Turkey could have continued with Ataturk’s dictate. Yet, they voluntarily reverted to the Arabic azan.

  59. Bloody Civilian

    thanks, MK. neither example changes the subjective nature of the thing. it would be odd, to say the least, for pickthall to say that his translation was better than the original or even as good. faiz’s, rumi’s, tolstoy’s translators don’t claim anything much different that pickthall… so why would he claim any different translating the divine author.

    i’m more interested in the fact that the turkish move was a voluntary one.

  60. gv

    @vajra, ylh

    You are both far too kind.. I fear I shall have to first brush up on my reading (and debating skills)before I even dream of putting pen to paper…

    I shall now skulk back to my corner to wait for an opportune moment to return to my gad fly tactics…

  61. vajra


    Yup, right on schedule: CCEM – 1.

  62. Gorki


    You lost me somewhere in the translation.

    What is the purpose of language?
    To express ideas or to express the beauty of the spoken word?
    Does the idea lose its validity if spoken in another tongue?

    More importantly should a secular mind feel inferior since they have no such lyrical expressions to match their words?


  63. karun1



    Art is closer to spirituality/religion than ideas.

    When you think of religion think in terms of art.

    I Cannot agree more with MK, what he is saying is very beautiful and very delicate, even without a knowledge of arabic i can appreciate what he is getting at.

    Some times language can touch the heart/soul directly without being interpreted/understood( just like music). what is the meaning of music?

    Please do not decide a purpose for language. then you might as well decide a purpose for music and dance.

    If a secular mind is sans the ability to appreciate beauty, yes its inferior. A secular mind should voluntarily sees beauty in as many places as he/she can without fear or bias. Secularism for me is richness by accepting/appreciating all that contains beauty

  64. Gorki


    “When you think of religion think in terms of art.”

    I think of art and it evokes freedom;
    I think of religion and it evokes confinement.
    Hence for me, art is liberating and religion is oppressive.

    Therefore I am sorry I can’t seem to accept your above interpretation.
    Then again, maybe I am too dense in this regard.


  65. Milind Kher

    Why are slokas recited in Sanskrit? There are so many Indian languages. Yet, in recitation, it has a meter and rhythm that is difficult to match.

    Attempt, for instance, to recite the Gayatri mantra in Hindi or Gujarati. Will you find the same grace?I am not the right person to comment on this, this is a judgment I would leave up to you.

    Individual thoughts and supplications are fine in any language, but there is a reason why liturgical prayers are in the same language

  66. Milind Kher

    What I meant is, in the prescribed language.

  67. Gorki

    Why are slokas recited in Sanskrit?

    I don’t know.
    What do they say?


  68. Milind Kher

    Sanskrit for the Hindus has a similar role as Arabic has for the Muslims. Canonical prayers are said in that language.

  69. Gorki

    What is the purpose of the slokas and what do they say?
    What percentage of Hindus today understand Sanskrit?

  70. vajra

    @Milind Kher

    This is about Bring back Jinnah’s Pakistan, I thought. Was he advocating learning Arabic or something? Learning Sanskrit, then?

  71. yasserlatifhamdani

    Contrary to the myth… it was Ismet Inonu in 1940 and not Ataturk who banned the Azan in Arabic.

    Ataturk did institute the Friday Homily in Turkish (which actually was keeping with Hanafi Jurisprudence) and did suggest on several occasions that the prayer and the call to prayer should be in Turkish… two perfectly valid positions…. however he neither banned the Azan in Arabic nor ban the headscarf.

    President Ismet Inonu took his views to the next level. Interestingly President Ismet Inonu (a great friend of Pakistan btw) was known to carry a pocket Quran in Arabic with him everywhere.

  72. Milind Kher


    I will trace the links for you. The comparison of Jinnah with Ataturk arose. From there, it went on to Ataturk’s experiments. This then moved to an assessment of his viewpoints versus the traditional viewpoints. The Sanskrit reference came in to provide a perspective to the people who would have understood in clarity a frame of reference for their culture.

    I do not believe Jinnah had anything to do with recommending Sanskrit..

  73. karun1


    this discussion was started by MK and is relevant bcos it seeks to ask:

    to what extent Kemal.A could have gone with his plan for modernisation till it came in conflict with the identity of people.

    does reciting in Turkish would have created a friction with the basic religious identity of common muslim people thereby creating resentment?

    Even reformers/nationalists cannot cross some ‘line’ when it comes to religious identity. what is that line?

  74. karun1


    and you will agree that Turkey is far from Utopia, though it certainly is a shining beacon in the Muslim world.

    The current problems in Turkey with the Far right political parties, relation with Israel/USA, Headscarf, Armenian Genocide, Muslim ghettos are all manifestations of some incongruities which were swept under the carpet

  75. karun1

    @ Gorki

    I think of art and it evokes freedom;
    I think of religion and it evokes confinement.
    Hence for me, art is liberating and religion is oppressive.

    Where did you get that definition for religion?? 😉

  76. Milind Kher


    Thanks. I think you have understood the issue very well.

  77. vajra

    @Milind Kher

    Interesting, but factually incorrect. If you will kindly refer to the post from YLH immediately before yours, you will find that Ataturk in fact had nothing to do with this step, of the azaan being uttered in Turkish.

    That is with regard to the connection between this thread, about Jinnah, and your reference to the azaan and Ataturk, which we have already seen is dubious; it does not explain your excursus into the virtues of Arabic and its unique association with the azaan (implicitly, from your citation of Pickthall, of the Quran as well).

    There are very interesting consequences that follow from this claim, that the Quran can be read only in Arabic, and the azaan uttered only in Arabic. These themes have already been explored deeply on PTH, which of course does not preclude a further discussion, especially one which adds a new element. Perhaps you will proceed to add such an element; that is not yet clear.

    Apparently your view is that no creation in one language can survive translation. An interesting viewpoint, if you are actually making that yours.

  78. Milind Kher


    I will leave the tracking details aside and cut to the chase.

    Yes, it is very difficult for translations to have the same charm as the original.

  79. Gorki


    It is not a definition, only my own subjective feelings evoked by the term religion.

    I too wonder where they come from, perhaps something to do with the Fatwas against one thing or another by one or another of its practitioners; the singing of VM, reading of Rushdie, the origin of species, the taboo against transfusion of blood into dying patients for some, the questioning of Copernicus by others the boycott of Nirankaris in Punjab or the gays in USA…..

    I admit I am too dense to either understand or to define or describe religion. 😉