Daily Times: Nationalism: inclusive versus exclusive — II —

By Ishtiaq Ahmed

When the Hindu members of the Pakistan Constituent Assembly expressed their worries about ‘sovereignty over the entire universe belonging to God’, Liaquat Ali Khan assured them that a Muslim state should have no problem in having a non-Muslim as prime minister. However, this was not true

Jinnah wanted to establish a Muslim-majority state, but not a Muslim-majoritarian state that would privilege Muslims over non-Muslims in their status and rights as citizens; hence he spoke of Pakistani nationalism and not Muslim nationalism when on August 11, 1947 he addressed the Pakistan Constituent Assembly:

“You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the state…We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one state…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.”

Stanley Wolpert, who is considered a sympathetic biographer of Jinnah, has noted that when Jinnah was delivering his address even his immediate disciples were visibly confused and shaken. What Jinnah was doing was repudiating the basis of nationhood on which he had demanded Pakistan: that Muslims were a separate nation from other communities of India. Now, he seemed to champion inclusive nationalism. Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur mentioned (‘Whose progeny? — I’, Daily Times, June 20, 2010) the 1928 Nehru Report as having made the same pledge. In fact, this was explicitly stated in the Nehru Report: “There shall be no state religion; men and women shall have equal rights as citizens.”

So, then, why first divide India on the basis of an exclusive nationalism based on religious criteria and then adopt an inclusive formula based on territorial criteria? Jinnah never explained. He simply employed a strategy that would deliver the objective: the creation of a separate Muslim state. Moreover, both before and after the creation of Pakistan he did refer to Islam playing a role in the polity. The letter to Pir Manki Sharif is testimony to that. Therefore, all sections of Pakistani society could pick and choose a statement of his or pledge given by him that suited their sensibilities.

His followers were less charismatic. They were products of the Aligarh Muslim University. They had been fed on the Romantic School of eclectic historical narrative associated with Syed Ameer Ali, Shibli Nomani and others. Iqbal greatly augmented such thinking with his poetic recital of the glory of Islam, especially that of its military exploits. Thus bringing Islam in the centre of Pakistani national identity was imperative for them to justify the creation of Pakistan.

Hence, when the Hindu members of the Pakistan Constituent Assembly expressed their worries about ‘sovereignty over the entire universe belonging to God’, Liaquat Ali Khan assured them that a Muslim state should have no problem in having a non-Muslim as prime minister. However, this was not true even when the wording of the Objectives Resolution was pompous and ornamental; there was a catch. Somebody had to translate God’s sovereignty into authoritative and binding commands. The framers of the Objectives Resolution attempted a caricature of the idea of the ‘sovereign’ that originally Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) had developed. The Hobbesian Sovereign was to be chosen by the people and was a tangible person or a body of persons. John Austin (1790-1859) had reinforced the same idea that the sovereign must be someone real. With God now being declared as sovereign, and such a sovereign not identifiable as a concrete individual (king) or as a body (national parliament), the will of the sovereign had to be determined by someone.

Since the two undisputed sources of ascertaining such will were the Quran and Sunnah, it meant that their authority would override all other wills. Such a pre-condition disqualified non-Muslims from effectively taking part in the constitution-making process. The discussions in the Constituent Assembly dragged on for years as the members tried to find a solution that was both Islamic and democratic. The 1956 and 1962 constitutions came up with a formula that said that all laws repugnant to Quran and Sunnah will be removed, and all laws brought into consonance with the Quran and Sunnah. Both declared that only a Muslim male could be president of Pakistan.

During the colonial period, inflating the Muslim percentage of the total Indian population was good for Muslim nationalism, so all those who had in the 1931 and 1941 Census of India entered their names in the records as Muslims were accepted as Muslims. So, Sunnis, Wahabis, Shias, Ahmedis, Communist Muslims, all were welcomed by the Muslim League. Now, when the will of God and representing the presidency was concerned, the problem of who is a Muslim could not be evaded for long. Historically, all Islamic states had been either the Sunni or Shia or Khwariji states.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, some new groups with drastically different theologies were claiming to be Muslims as well. Consequently the movement to make Pakistan an Islamic state based on Sunni-Shia dogmas emerged soon after independence. In 1951, Maududi proposed a 22-point Islamic agenda called theo-democracy — that is both a democracy and a theocracy. Only a mullah could formulate such a hyphenated contradiction.

The next on the process of exclusion were understandably the Ahmedis whose beliefs were irreconcilable with the Sunni and Shia doctrine of Khatm-e-Nabuwat or the Finality of the Prophethood of Mohammad (PBUH). This was formalised in 1974 when the elected members of the National Assembly declared the Ahmedis as non-Muslims. Bhutto indeed exploited this for political purposes, but he was by no means the first to exploit Islam for political gains; this was deeply rooted in the emergence of Pakistan.

The Pakistani Shia minority is too large — 10-20 percent depending on who you talk to — and too well-connected within Pakistan and regionally. Excluding them from the category of equal citizens may not be possible formally, but it is inherent in the nature of a confessional state to discriminate against those who do not comply with ‘correct belief’.

(To be continued)

Ishtiaq Ahmed is a Visiting Research Professor at the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS) and the South Asian Studies Programme at the National University of Singapore and a Professor of Political Science at Stockholm University. At ISAS, he is currently working on a book, Is Pakistan a Garrison State? He can be reached at isasia@nus.edu.sg

 

11 Comments

Filed under Democracy, Egalitarian Pakistan, History, Identity, Islam, Islamism, Jinnah, Jinnah's Pakistan, Liberal Democratic Pakistan, minorities, Pak Tea House, Pakistan

11 responses to “Daily Times: Nationalism: inclusive versus exclusive — II —

  1. AZW

    There are a few problems with Professor Ishtiaq Ahmad’s narratives. For one he is very lax with evidence and in previous articles he has insinuated Jinnah’s complicity in the tribal attack in Kashmir during 1948 (even though it was denied on multiple fronts, one of them none other than Miss Fatima Jinnah, the person closest to Jinnah during his last few months), Ahmadis reluctance to join the Pakistan movement (where YLH and others at the Daily Times pointed out fallacies in Mr. Ahmad’s arguments), and here in this article where he quotes Mr. Talpur to state why a Muslim nation state cannot be inclusive?

    For one, the concept of Muslim nation state to safeguard the interests of a very sizeable majority within the Indian nation is not exclusive towards other minorities within that nation. The concept of nation is based on a shared identity; in the case of 1940s politics, Muslims were forming their identity based on their religion. The Muslim apprehensions were rooted from the events of 1857 when Muslims were evicted from Delhi for almost three years, widely treated as sub-cast humans by the British for their role in the 1857 war of independence, and found themselves lagging behind the majority Hindus in most trades and professions.

    While we sit today in mostly comfortable sofas and proclaim that Muslim League should have worked towards a united India, we forget how the concept of Muslim nation within India was repudiated by Congress itself. Muslim nation within the United India (another term that people in the Sub-Continent were not aware of until a century and a half ago) was a reality; just as Bengali nation, Punjabi nation, and Hindu nation or so many that exist even today. As Yasser mentioned, nation is an imagined identity, and this identity rears itself quite vehemently when it is threatened one way or another. The Quebec nation in Canada was dormant for a few centuries until it started finding itself threatened by the Anglophones that were overtaking the French speaking Quebecers in most spheres of life. From 1940s onwards, Quebec nationalism reared its head as the French speaking people started saying enough is enough (interestingly one of the features of Quebec nationalism is their following of the Catholic faith, not the majority Canadian protestant faith, though the movement is overtly secular). To Canada’s credit, it worked towards ameliorating the Quebecers concerns. Quebecers are today recognized as a separate nation within Canada. As this identity was duly recognized and worked with, the concerns and the associated separatism cause withered away.

    The point is that suppressing any of the visible identities can propel events in rather unplanned consequences. Jinnah championed for Pakistan on the basis of Muslim nationhood, but he overtly rejected theocracy as the mode of governance for the new state. The Muslim statehood was not confessional as Dr. Ahmad implies in his long winded argument. Further, Jinnah kept invoking Islamic ideals as guidance for the future constitution of Pakistan, but he rejected theocracy. He chided Raja Sahib Mahmoodabad for calling for an Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Jinnah kept treading a fine line between Muslim nationalism based on a shared religion, but openly negating Islamic Pakistan. This fine line is what confuses many people to this day. They can’t get their head around a Muslim nation identity that exists, and formed the basis of Pakistan. But they complained when Jinnah stood on the floor of the new Constituent Assembly and called for all Pakistanis to be Pakistanis first, and Muslims and Hindus later.

    I note that he specifically said “in due time they will cease to be..”. His understanding of the Muslim nation and the envisaged inclusive Pakistan still fascinates me to this day. Here was a statesman talking to mostly conservative Muslims, championing a state for the majority Muslims, and realizing that the state was a result of Muslim nationalism demands, yet the state cannot tread in that undefined equilibrium between the Muslim nationhood and political Islam. This is exactly why he repeatedly and unequivocally said that Pakistan would not be a theocratic state ruled by the priest. This is also why he made this speech in the first Constituent Assembly where he called for separation of state and mosque completely in the newly formed state of Pakistan.

    We can fault him for not making it crystal clear to his stalwarts in the Muslim League, but his last year were beset with fighting cancer, and looking after a bankrupt state that India was waiting to fall and come back to the mother India. Although he was way ahead of all of his stalwarts in the Muslim League in recognizing the danger that political Islam posed to Pakistan, (almost all of whom went on to vote for the dreaded Objectives Resolution in 1949, thinking innocently that introducing Almighty in the affairs of the state was harmless), Jinnah never planned towards a leadership that was on the same page as him in recognizing the nuances of a modern nation with an identity derived from a shared religion. I have very low opinion of Liaquat Ali Khan due to catastrophic policy errors when it came to Kashmir war, Objectives Resolution, and promotion of Ayub Khan. Apparently from Wolpert’s book, Jinnah had reached the same conclusion towards the end of his life.

    A nation governed by the rule of law, with no distinction made based on faith or caste, but inhabited by majority Muslims is not exclusive. And for starters this is exactly what the founding founder called for.

  2. Voldemort

    For one he is very lax with evidence and in previous articles he has insinuated Jinnah’s complicity in the tribal attack in Kashmir during 1948 (even though it was denied on multiple fronts, one of them none other than Miss Fatima Jinnah, the person closest to Jinnah during his last few months)

    Same old nonsense repeated ad nauseum in the hope that repeated a thousand times, it would be (mis)taken for fact. Fatima Jinnah had a vested interest in preserving Jinnah’s honor and reputation. How one can consider her to be credible is beyond me. But perhaps that’s how it works in Pakistan.

    For one, the concept of Muslim nation state to safeguard the interests of a very sizeable majority within the Indian nation is not exclusive towards other minorities within that nation.

    Anything done in the name of Islam is quickly hijacked by Islam to the exclusion of everything else, which is why non-Muslims were the first to be targeted and reduced to second class citizens – notwithstanding a Danish Kaneria or Deepak Perwani here and there. Once the issue of Islam’s preponderance is settled, it then moves on to the purest form of Islam. No wonder everyone (including most interactors here) is so fixated on authoritatively claiming they follow the correct interpretation of Islam and discovering that the person they’re arguing with is not.

  3. YLH

    There is no good reason why Fatima Jinnah would have lied about it given that at the time she said it, Kashmir invaders were viewed as heroes and a legitimate strategy. When FJ told Sorraya this, she did so along with some other things which implied sheer disillusionment with Pakistan. For example she said that artists would have a hard time because everyone in the country is too caught up with Islam when that was just not the point.
    It is funny how Indians like voldemort consider themselves an authority without even bothering to understand the argument.

  4. Girish

    The Objectives Resolution was not passed with a mere innocent inclusion of the Almighty. It was a much discussed issue, with the entire minority membership of the Constituent Assembly voicing its opposition to it and several people pointing to the dangers inherent in that path.

    What is also forgotten is that the Pakistan of 1947 had one in four citizens as non-Muslims. This reduced after the partition violence, but remained substantial in the Eastern half of the country. The minorities proportion of the Pakistan of 1951 was higher than that in India, and higher than the India even of today (minorities as a proportion of the population has increased to reach pre-1947 levels again, after the dip between 1947-51 due to partition). That is what makes it so incredible that the Objectives Resolution was passed. It could not have been passed merely by default. It was likely the desire of a substantial majority of the members of the Constituent Assembly.

  5. Chote Miyan

    AzB,
    I am not going to raise objections to you well written post. I have read the various discussions and there is no point in going over the same thing again. I just have one big issue:

    “Hindu nation or so many that exist even today. ”

    That’s just wrong. Completely wrong. Just because India to you seems a country with Hindu overtones, it is NOT a Hindu nation. Don’t base your arguments on false premises. Something like Objective Resolution would never pass muster even in a local assembly, forget the Parliament.

    “looking after a bankrupt state that India was waiting to fall and come back to the mother India…”

    I think it’s high time you guys jettison that really silly canard. Once we went through Partition, only some woolly headed idiots were thinking on the lines of Akhand Bharat and all that nonsense.

  6. YLH

    Girish,

    Be that as it may the OR was a negation of the very principle on which Pakistan was founded : permanent majority would not impose its will on permanent minority.

  7. Voldemort

    Mister Know-it-all,

    There is no good reason why Fatima Jinnah would have lied about it given that at the time she said it, Kashmir invaders were viewed as heroes and a legitimate strategy.

    Maybe, but if you walked into a court with this as “evidence”, you’ be laughed out of it in no time. I’m sure as a lawyer you know that already.

  8. AZW

    Voldermort:

    Same old nonsense repeated ad nauseum in the hope that repeated a thousand times, it would be (mis)taken for fact. Fatima Jinnah had a vested interest in preserving Jinnah’s honor and reputation. How one can consider her to be credible is beyond me. But perhaps that’s how it works in Pakistan.

    Anything done in the name of Islam is quickly hijacked by Islam to the exclusion of everything else, which is why non-Muslims were the first to be targeted and reduced to second class citizens – notwithstanding a Danish Kaneria or Deepak Perwani here and there. Once the issue of Islam’s preponderance is settled, it then moves on to the purest form of Islam. No wonder everyone (including most interactors here) is so fixated on authoritatively claiming they follow the correct interpretation of Islam and discovering that the person they’re arguing with is not.

    If Fatima Jinnah was to be dishonest, she would have called for Jinnah to know the invasion and backing it wholeheartedly. Miss Jinnah died in 1960s, when India paranoia was at its apex, and Kashmir was the in-cause for Pakistan.

    Regarding your second point, you may want to take this argument up with Kashifiat and his cohorts. This forum stands clearly for separation of mosque and the state; whatever fascist tendencies that a political Islam or any other religion brings to the affairs of the state can only be contained by having an open democratic and inclusive society where Muslims and non Muslims have exact and equal rights. And your point being?

  9. AZW

    Chote Mian:

    That’s just wrong. Completely wrong. Just because India to you seems a country with Hindu overtones, it is NOT a Hindu nation. Don’t base your arguments on false premises. Something like Objective Resolution would never pass muster even in a local assembly, forget the Parliament.

    I think it’s high time you guys jettison that really silly canard. Once we went through Partition, only some woolly headed idiots were thinking on the lines of Akhand Bharat and all that nonsense

    Regarding Akhand Bharat, My point was time specific. I was talking about immediate post partition times when not only Indians, but many foreign observers were wondering whether the new state of Pakistan was viable or not. I remember vaguely in my readings that some Muslims were even thinking that this partition drama was going to reverse itself very quickly, and all will be as it was before.

    Of course the idea of an Akhand Bharat or green flag on Red Fort in the present day is confined to very few crazies on both sides of our borders.

    Regarding the Hindu nation, a Hindu nation is a manifestation of a shared Hindu identity. This manifestation will not occur if Hindus are not threatened by other nations living within India. And that’s why there is no Hindu nation today as we call it.

    I will however conjecture a hypothetical scenario; two hundred years later if Muslim population rate causes Muslim nation to surpass the Hindus within present day India, an idea of a nation may form to safeguard the Hindu nation that has lived within the borders of India for so many millenia.

  10. Zainab Ali

    This division of sects is perhaps a natural thing, but it should not be supported by violent struggle against a particular group. If we want to become economically strong then we would have to finish our differences and work for the country as a whole.

  11. Sher Zaman

    Formation of 72 sects was prophesized by the Muhammad (PBUH), however pursuing personal interests and destroying each other’s reputation is not acceptable.