Was Jinnah A Democrat?

A continuation from “Was Jinnah secular?” and “Did Jinnah want Pakistan?”.

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

There are many people who criticize Jinnah – quite incorrectly in my opinion- of having laid the foundations for subsequent periods of authoritarian military rule. They allege that Jinnah’s decision to become the Governor General was the first blow to parliamentary democracy in Pakistan. Unable to distinguish the argument of constitutional purists pleading the ceremonial and executive roles of president and prime minister i.e. head of state and head of government from that of democratic argument about the sovereignty of parliament, these authors etc make the fatal error of not making an effort in understanding both the constitution in place and the environment under which Jinnah exercised his constitutional authority. By confusing the two, they make a mockery not just of the latter issue, but history itself. In the process they end up abusing the one person in Pakistan’s history who can truly be called a liberal democrat in every sense of the word.

There are many myths that are woven around Jinnah’s period as Governor General of Pakistan, one of which was erroneously forwarded by Campbell Johnson who inaccurately claimed in his book “Mission With Mountbatten” that Jinnah applied for powers under Ninth Schedule of the Government of  India Act 1935 (“GOIA1935”). This is significant since it was the Ninth Schedule of the GOIA1935 which strengthened the Governor General and gave him powers to ensure passage of bills in form that had been recommended by the Governor General. From 19 July 1947 onwards, the Ninth Schedule was no longer available (Sayeed, 1992). Meanwhile a point of divergence between the Dominion of Pakistan and Dominion of India was “Section 93” which empowered the central government to dismiss provincial legislatures. Most readers will be surprised to know that it was Pakistan that omitted Section 93 and India that adopted it. All of this will become relevant as I will discuss the issue of the dismissal of Khan Ministry in NWFP ordered by Jinnah himself.

First however we must consider whether Jinnah’s decision to become the Governor General in violation of established dominion constitution norms in the British Empire. It must be remembered that Jinnah had – in the immediate aftermath of June 3rd plan – hinted at retirement from public life and spending the rest of his life in his house in Bombay. The original name in circulation for Pakistan’s first governor general was that of Nawab Hameedullah Khan of Bhopal. It was not until July that Jinnah saw that Hameedullah Khan would not be available immediately and that the choice was between choosing a common governor general – which would have further hurt Pakistan’s chances after what was at best a moth-eaten compromise- or taking the mantle himself. The Round Table wrote:

“Mr. Jinnah said at the meeting of the Council of the League on June 9, when the plan was accepted, that he had ‘done his job’. It is not surprising that they refused to part readily with one who, though aging and lately ill, surpasses them and possibly everybody else in India, in practical political intelligence. From their point of view his recommendation as Governor General of Pakistan may be readily understood – though Mr. Gandhi thinks that a different decision was taken earlier, perhaps before the N-W.F.P. problem was presented in a new form and Lord Mountbatten visited Kashmir.” [i]

This was echoed in an editorial by The Times London which said: “Yet those who will be called to rule Pakitan may hold that relatively undeveloped qualities that make up much of its territory must be guided by a Governor General capable of exercising the functions of higher control and co-ordination which formerly vested in a Canning or a Curzon.”[ii]

Drawing a comparison with Kemal Ataturk, who also chose to be the head of the state instead of head of the government, Dawn wrote: “ Whatever the constitutional powers of the Governor General of a Dominion  may nominally be, in Quaid-e-Azam’s case no legal or formal limits can apply. His people will not be content to have him as merely the titular head of the government, they would wish him to be their friend, philosopher, guide and ruler, irrespective of what the constitution of a Dominion of the British Commonwealth may contain.” [iii]

It is not fair to compare Jinnah’s position with that of Nehru, who became the Prime Minister and ruled India and ruled with an iron rod (his liberal use of Section 93 and his treatment of his friend Shaikh Abdullah are just two examples) for as many as 17 years, in the end dying in office. Brilliant as Nehru was, he was just one party leader and at best a stalwart amongst at least three others. There was no question of Congress forwarding Nehru’s name for the Governor General given that he was not a neutral arbiter for the various party factions. He had a major rival in Patel and his position in Indian pantheon was by no means as absolute as Jinnah.  Jinnah was – as Nehru wrote himself in his book “Discovery of India”- the only Muslim League politician of noted ability and entirely without the lure of office. Nehru’s role in India was to be that of a respected party politician and not that of an impartial arbiter that Jinnah’s followers expected from him.

The truth is that in the British Empire’s constitutional history, a powerful politician like Jinnah taking over as the first governor general of a self governing dominion is the norm and not the exception. Sayeed quoted the example of Canada where Lord Elgin and Lord Dufferin both of whom were strong Governor Generals in the formative phase of that great democratic dominion- perhaps much stronger than Jinnah ever was. Australia too was similarly fortunate to find a firm early hand to guide it through the troubles before it. One may add Ireland to this list where the first Governor General of the Dominion who was an active party politician. Jinnah, it must be recalled, resigned from the presidency of the Muslim League soon after independence stating that he could not as Governor General remain at the head of an avowedly communal organization. In India Lord Mountbatten, who never made any effort to hide his ambitions, became the Governor General. He was handed – allegedly- a blank piece of paper by Nehru for cabinet selection. Mountbatten presided over not just every major decision of the Indian government, he even commanded and directed Indian troops in Kashmir.   

 In the original GOIA1935 admittedly all executive authority was vested in the Governor General who was in some matters would act on the advice of his ministers who he alone could choose in his discretion and in other matters such as maintenance of law and order, safeguarding of the financial stability and credit of the federal government, the rights of minorities, rights of Indian states etc in his individual judgment. Section 8 of the Independence of India Act 1947 (“IOIA1947”) radically modified this while simultaneously empowering the Governor General to adapt the GOIA1935 as he pleased. It may also be remembered that a specific provision that was found in British North America Act and other Dominion constitutions binding the Governor General to advice of the cabinet or council was missing in the provisional constitution order for Pakistan. Therefore Jinnah was constitutionally a more empowered Governor General in the Curzonian mold.

Other issues that are raised about Jinnah are with respect to his dismissal of the Khan Ministry soon after independence. To understand the context of this dismissal one must revisit the NWFP situation as it existed just before the creation of Pakistan. June 3rd Plan – agreed upon by Congress and Muslim League- envisaged a referendum in the NWFP to determine which constituent assembly the province will join.  Prior to this, Jawaharlal Nehru and the Congress had waged a successful campaign against Sir Olaf Caroe, the governor of NWFP, removed because he was deemed by Nehru and Dr. Khan Sahib to be partial towards the Muslim League. Perceptive historians on both sides of the border have since concluded otherwise.  In any event Sir Olaf was replaced by Rob Lockhart.   It was under the new governor, who enjoyed the confidence of the Congress Party and its ministry in the Frontier that the referendum was to be held.

Howard Donovan, the Counselor for US Embassy in Delhi, in his periodic report of 26th June, 1948 addressed to US Secretary of State George Marshall, points out that “observers in New Delhi believe that the Muslim League will win the forthcoming referendum and that it is a foregone conclusion that the NWFP will join Pakistan.  This is unpalatable to Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and his recent talks with Jinnah and Gandhi in Delhi were an effort to forestall… Gandhi has supported Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan… Nehru, Patel, and other Congress members of the Government are understood to be opposed to the idea of Pathanistan.  It is of course ridiculous for the Congress to oppose independence of Travancore and at the same time espouse the cause of independence for the North West Frontier Province… Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan’s action will further complicate the situation in the North West Frontier Province and it will in all probability lead to further strife and bloodshed”

On 27th June, 1947,  Ghaffar Khan announced that “we have decided to establish Pathanistan which will be an independent state of all Pathans”.  He also announced that the British were planning on making NWFP the base of operations against Russia and that the “arrival of Gen Montogomery and his meetings with Mr. M A Jinnah are significant”.  Taking a leaf out of Jinnah’s own political vocabulary, he told the Pathans  “Let us all organize ourselves and work under the discipline”.  He also announced the boycott of the upcoming referendum.   The editorial of the decidedly Indian nationalist newspaper “Statesman” for 28th June, 1947 stated that this amounted to an admission that the Frontier Congressmen who had been claiming that they had killed the Pakistan idea in the elections were now “afraid to meet its ghost”.  It went on to say “Nor can it be regarded simply as a provincial affair; it carries grave all India implications.  It is the first breach in the Mountbatten plan… To that plan the Congress was pledged by Pandit Nehru and AICC.  Frontier Gandhi’s boycott then suggests one of the two unpleasant things;  either the Congress High Command during the recent New Delhi confabulations possessed insufficient authority to get its decision accepted by its Pathan followers or else it abstained from exercising that authority to the extent which its June 3rd commitments morally required.  Perhaps, however, Mahatma Gandhi operating to some extent independently has been a complicating factor. This seems a reasonable deduction from recent comings and goings in the capital… his advocacy of Pathanistan with its Balkanizing implications has involved him in some logical difficulty because of his simultaneous strong denunciation of independence for the state of Travoncore.   Of the possible consequences of boycotting the referendum, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and his colleagues cannot be unaware.   Under June 3 plan it was to be the lynchpin of all future constitutional change in the province. Refusal to participate thus looks like an attempt to disintegrate the procedure before it has begun… That the difficult process of the referendum should be followed not long after by general election might cause grave disorder even chaos. Yet if the votes recorded next month result in the province joining Pakistan – as now seems inevitable- it is not easy to see how a ministry which has always opposed and derided Pakistan should remain in office.”

On 2nd July, 1947, Pakistan Times carried a story by API with Peshawar Dateline of 30th June which said that “The idea of an independent Afghan state between Punjab and Afghanistan is supported by the Kabul newspaper,  Islah, the semi-official organ of the Afghan Government which says there is no reason why these Afghans should be forced to live under the domination of Indians of Pakistan or Hindustan as slaves.”

Henry Grady of the US Embassy in Delhi in his report of 1st July to the Secretary of State  wrote: “Jinnah’s charge in June 28 statement that Frontier Congress’ resolution demanding free Pathan state is ‘direct breach’ of Congress acceptance [of] His Majesty’s Government’s June 3rd Plan seems fully justified.  Frontier Congress Resolution favored establishment of a ‘Free Pathan State of all Pakhtoons; constitution based on Islamic conceptions of democracy; and refusal by all Pathans to submit to any non Pakhtoon authority’.  Jinnah pointed out Gandhi speaking at AICC meeting urged acceptance June 3rd Plan which provided for referendum to decide whether Frontier should join Hindustan or Pakistan;  Frontier Congress was bound to honor agreement.  Gandhi, however, has encouraged Khan Brothers ‘to sabotage’ plan and sudden volte-face is ‘pure political chicanery’, Jinnah said only constitution which Pakistan CA could frame would provide for ‘autonomous unit’ but Khan brothers have made false charge that Pakistan CA would ‘disregard fundamental principles of Shariat and Quranic laws’… Gandhi’s decision to effect boycott of NWFP referendum appears to be deliberate effort to embarrass League… While the Afghan Government must realize it is not in a position to control the tribes, it might be tempted to annex the tribal territories and NWFP… Therefore while League will obviously win referendum current Congress campaign, based on wholly on party considerations with no regard for international angle, could produce conditions in NWFP more precarious than at present.”  Prophetic words for what we have been witnessing till today.

On 3rd July, in a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Atlee himself, the India and Burma committee met to discuss inter alia the situation in NWFP.  Here the League’s position as expressed to Mountbatten that the League was not ready to give any assurances regarding the continuation of treaty obligations of the British Raj was cited as irresponsible and it must be pointed out to the League that this would weaken its case on the NWFP considerably.  On 4th of July, the Indian Cabinet met with Nehru, Patel, Rajagopalachari and Liaquat Ali Khan amongst others where the Government of India refuted Afghan Government’s claims on NWFP declaring that it had no locus standi.  Thus both Muslim League and Congress high command were on the face of it aligned with each other on this fundamental question.   In private the Frontier Congressmen were already conceding that a fair referendum would yield a favorable result for Pakistan.  Yet their insistence on boycott of the referendum continued for public consumption.  Rob Lockhart wrote to Mountbatten on 3rd July, 1947 saying “Although the Ministers admitted that there was no question of the North West Frontier Province wishing to join the Hindustan constituent assembly and appeared to agree that there was no way of putting any other alternative before the people except Pakistan or Hindustan without changing the plan of 3rd June, 1947, they would not agree to modify their statement.”

Defending the indefensible, Nehru wrote, in a telegram addressed to one M K Vellodi on 4th July, ” no breach of pledge involved in abstention from referendum by Frontier Congress” but admitting that “quite clear that there is no demand for separate sovereign state as everyone realizes Frontier province too small and weak for such existence”.  Apparently Nehru sahib was not reading the resolutions tabled by the Khan brothers and their followers.

As had been predicted from every corner, the referendum, to decide between Pakistan CA and Hindustan CA, held under an impartial governor who enjoyed the confidence of the Congress, with a Congress government in the province, still resulted in a landslide victory for the Muslim League on the Pakistan question.  Even though, the Congress had itself expected this outcome, its Frontier leaders denounced it as being rigged, though without any real basis. The referendum was held to be largely fair by independent observers and reaffirmed what had been expected by all quarters – quite unlike the referenda that have followed in Pakistan under our military. 

At the time when referendum was being held, Dr. Khan Sahib had famously said that he would resign from his post if Pakistan got 30% of the electorate. As shown by the last piece, Pakistan ended up polling more than 50% of the total electorate showing that the Pushtuns were overwhelmingly in favor of Pakistan. It was in the aftermath of the resounding defeat for the Congress that Dr. Khan Sahib declared that he didn’t have to resign because he commanded a legislative majority.

As for claims about “impropriety” of “referendum”, Dr. Khan Sahib himself agreed that the referendum was as proper or improper as the election that had gotten Dr. Khan sahib into power and this was promptly reported to the Viceroy by Rob Lockhart, Congress’ governor of choice (Congress had campaigned for the removal of Sir Olaf Caroe and appointment of Rob Lockhart in his place). Lockhart went on to advise Dr. Khan Sahib that the right and proper thing to do was to resign immediately. The governor also expressed concern that the continuation of a ministry so utterly hostile to the new state would be untenable and that the Viceroy should consider dismissing the NWFP government under section 93 which would be the best course available. Jinnah was repulsed by the idea of dismissing the legislative assembly whole-scale and he and Liaqat Ali Khan suggested instead that if given a chance Muslim League could form a coalition government with non-Muslim representatives which would give the Muslim League legislative majority and thereby bypass the section 93 dismissal. Since there was no constitutional requirement for an assembly session before the budget session in 1948, the Muslim League would have ample opportunity to re-align politically and gain a legislative majority. Rob Lockhart was of the view that if a change was to be made in fitness of things, it had to be made quickly because he recalled the Dr. Khan Sahib had warned of a mass movement which he “would try and keep non-violent”.[iv]

Here it is pertinent to quote Kanji Dwarkadas, a staunch Indian nationalist in his own right, who writing D G Pole on 26th July, 1947 said: “… an American journalist, a very reasonable and sound man, who has returned to Delhi from the Frontier has told me that …the Frontier referendum was run on fair lines and not as Dr. Khan Sahib and Abdul Ghaffar Khan have explained it. He found Dr. Khan Sahib to be muddled headed and both Khan brothers are now rather sore with the Congress for having let them down. The Muslim Leaguers don’t want Afghanistan to interfere.” [v]

On August 1st, 1947, Mountbatten and Rob Lockhart had a meeting with the newly appointed Pakistani cabinet minus Jinnah. These included Liaqat Ali Khan, Ghazanfar Ali Khan, Jogindranath Mandal, Ch. Mohammad Ali, Abdul Rab Nishtar and Osman Ali in which Mountbatten stated that the only course of action left was to ask Dr. Khan Sahib and his ministry to resign, failing which he would dismiss the NWFP ministry and invite the leader of the opposition to form a new ministry. The second option was to use section 93 and bring NWFP under federal rule on or before 14th of August, 1947. [vi] Having made this solemn pledge, Mountbatten went back on his word and refused to dismiss the NWFP ministry as he ought to have done and which was part of his responsibility.

If there was any doubt about what Dr. Khan Sahib was up to, it must have been cleared up by his indiscriminate issuing of arms licenses to his party men- as many as 6000. Bacha Khan’s son Khan Abdul Ghani Khan (later awarded Sitara-e-Imtiaz by Zia government for poetry) was busy arming Pushtuns to the teeth. Almost a month before partition, Rob Lockhart had warned of unscrupulous activity by the Khan Sahib government in this regard. “There is no doubt that most improper things have been happening. Certain people have been issuing instructions for licenses to be issued on a party basis. Even Dr. Khan Sahib himself is said to be guilty on these scores. A prime offender in arms trade is Abdul Ghani, the son of Abdul Ghaffar Khan. I have given orders that if proof can be produced he is to be proceeded against… there are reports that the Nawab of Tank, MLA, Muslim League is guilty of similar practices. If he too could be proceeded against, it would be good”. Ghani Khan was the leader of “Zalmai Pakhtoon” an organization that was involved in systematic violence against Muslim League and which was planning on creating wide-spread disturbances in the event of the dismissal of Khan Ministry.[vii]

The police intelligence report of 5th August, 1947 reads as under : “MILITANT CONGRESS PREPARATIONS AGAINST THE MUSLIM LEAGUE: It is rumored in some circles that Congress and Red Shirt supporters might start civil disobedience after the 15th of August if the Congress Ministry is made to vacate the office. It is reported that the Faqir of Ipi will declare Jehad against the British and the Hindus after the Id and that the Zalmai Pakhtoon Party would fight the Muslim League for the attainment of Pathanistan. Two Muslim League supporters of Prang were shot dead by certain Red Shirts on 20 July.” [viii]

Faqir of Ipi was said to be a firm ally of Bacha Khan and his party. On 8th July, 1947, Shah Pasand Khan had informed Jinnah that he had heard that “Abdul Ghani son of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan , the Frontier Gandhi, who came to see Faqir of Ipi in connection with the resolution passed by the Congress in support of Pathanistan. Government authorities supported this move”[ix].

Given this situation the dismissal of Khan Ministry was logical and the proper thing to do. Dr. Khan sahib should have resigned as he had himself claimed he would be. And after he refused to, it should have been Mountbatten who should have dismissed the ministry as he had been advised and as he had himself agreed to do so. He ultimately went back on his word and the governor of NWFP was left with no option but to dismiss the Dr. Khan sahib ministry under the Government of India Act 1935 after the creation of Pakistan on Jinnah’s orders.

How was this achieved constitutionally also requires understanding. Jinnah used his powers under Section 51(5) and not Section 93 (which was omitted by Pakistan as mentioned earlier though a variant of it i.e. 92-A was introduced in July 1948, by which time Jinnah was already more or less bed ridden) to instruct the governor to dismiss the ministry and replace it with a Muslim League ministry. Pakistan – faced with tremendous odds and already cash strapped- could not hold a fresh legislative election in NWFP which in any event would probably have confirmed the result of the referendum.  In the circumstances Jinnah was of the view that constitutionally the NWFP legislature was not required to meet till the next budget session. Therefore Abdul Qayyum Khan, the Congress turncoat now in Muslim League, was given ample opportunity to show his majority and form a Muslim League government. By January 1948, Muslim League had won 7 of the Congressmen over and by the budget session, the League government was in place. While this action was entirely constitutional, several opinionated authors have attacked Jinnah for having violated the constitution. An example from recent constitutional history of Canada may be instructive to those authors:

“By late 2008, however, the Governor General had to return to Canada in the midst of a state visit in Europe to contend with a parliamentary dispute that endangered the stability of government, as a coalition of three opposition parties in parliament threatened to rescind their confidence in the Cabinet under the chairmanship of Stephen Harper. Choosing to follow constitutional precedent, Jean accepted, after two hours of deliberation, her prime minister’s advice to prorogue parliament until late January 2009. It was at the end of Jean’s viceregal tenure disclosed by Peter H. Russell, one of the constitutional experts from whom Jean sought advice, that the Governor General granted the prorogation on two conditions: parliament would reconvene soon and, when it did, the Cabinet would produce a passable budget. This, Russell said, set a precedent that would prevent future prime ministers from advising the prorogation of parliament for any length of time for any reason”. [x]

To elaborate further this is what the crisis was about:

“The 2008–2009 Canadian parliamentary dispute was a political dispute in the 40th Canadian Parliament. It was triggered by the expressed intention of the opposition parties in the House of Commons to defeat, by a motion of non-confidence, the minority government formed by the Conservative Party six weeks earlier, following the 40th general election on October 14, 2008.

The intention to vote non-confidence arose from the government’s fiscal update, which was presented to the Commons on November 27, 2008. It included several provisions that were rejected by the opposition parties. Though the government later withdrew several contentious elements, the Liberal Party and New Democratic Party reached an accord to form a minority coalition government, with the Bloc Québécois agreeing to provide support on confidence issues and, therefore, enabling a majority in the Commons. On December 4, 2008, Governor General Michaëlle Jean (the vice-regal representative of Queen Elizabeth II, the country’s head of state) granted the request of Prime Minister Stephen Harper (the head of government) to prorogue parliament until January 26, 2009, ending the first session of the 40th parliament and thereby delaying a possible change in government.

After the prorogation, the Liberals underwent a change in leadership and distanced themselves from the coalition, while the NDP and Bloc remained committed to the agreement to bring down the government. The Conservative government’s budget, unveiled on January 27, 2009, largely met the demands of the Liberals who agreed to support it with an amendment to the budget motion.”[xi]

Jinnah’s rule for 13 months, out of which he was in effective power for close to 8 months at most, has been described as a constitutional dictatorship. Frederick Watkins wrote:

“In periods of temporary emergency, the problem is to find an absolute regime (1) which will be just sufficiently absolute to safeguard the interests of an established constitutional order, (2) which will continue in existence only so long as those interests are actually in danger, and (3) which will then be followed by an integral return to the previous constitutional system.” [xii]

 Not only does this fit Jinnah, but one may even apply this model to Abraham Lincoln for example. Abraham Lincoln is described by many political scientists as being a civilian constitutional dictator. More recently, Ataturk, Ismet Inonu and Lee Kuan Yew are other such examples of successful constitutional dictators.

The reason why Pakistan is not a functioning democracy has nothing – in this author’s view- with Jinnah’s use of his constitutional powers or his decision to choose the office of the Governor General instead of Prime Minister. In fact it is precisely the opposite. Pakistan being mainly composed of regulation provinces – i.e. where the Chief Commissioner was excessively strong and elected institutions were weak- of British India and an undeveloped middle class and a feuding landed aristocracy, needed a strong Governor General to stay long than Jinnah’s 8 months.  Jinnah’s successors to the office did not have the stature or the caliber that he did, which is why Pakistan’s democracy soon fell victim to factionalism. Had Pakistan found another Jinnah, military dictatorship could have been avoided.

The issue of the precise form of parliamentary democracy is distinct from the issue of parliamentary sovereignty. While the former is discussion pertaining to executive powers v. legislative powers,  the latter issue deals with the people’s right to make their laws unfettered and unrestricted by any dogma. This is precisely why in the modern context, President Zardari – as the head of the PPP- champions the issue of parliamentary sovereignty. President Zardari, hardly as uncontroversial and towering as Jinnah, is nevertheless the right man in the president house for his party because that is where the party needs him. Pakistan’s parliamentary model cannot afford a completely figurehead non-party president. A strong presidency under the current dispensation is required to sustain parliamentary democracy because Pakistan has gone from crisis to crisis and its fractured polity demands it and Jinnah had it right.


[i] The Round Table, 1946-1947, Vol. XXXVI p. 372

[ii] Editorial “Indian Independence”, The Times, London, 11 July 1947, p. 5/.

[iii] Editorial “From Founder to Builder”, Dawn, Delhi, 13 July 1947.

[iv] Minutes of the Viceroy’s twenty third Miscellaneous Meeting Mountbatten Papers- also found in “Transfer of Power Papers, No 278, Volume XII, 405-409″ and “Jinnah Papers Volume IV Appendix IV.1

[v] US National Archives 845.00/8-747, also quoted as appendix to Jinnah Papers Volume IV Annex IV.1).

[vi] No. 301 Transfer of Power Papers, Volume XII, Pages 441-445″ also quoted as “Jinnah Papers Volume IV Appendix IV.3

[vii] Rob Lockhart to Mountbatten, 6 July, 1947, IOR, L/P&J/S/224 from India Office- also quoted as Annex II to Jinnah Papers Volume III Appendix IV.28

[viii] No. 220, National Documentation center, Islamabad, 1996, 263-264 “The Referendum in NWFP”

[ix] Jinnah Papers, Volume III, No. 68

[xii] Frederich and Mason, eds., Public Policy, Vol I. Cambrdige: Harvard University Press, 1940, p. 329.


Filed under History, Jinnah, Jinnah's Pakistan

30 responses to “Was Jinnah A Democrat?

  1. S.A


    I would be interesting in seeing a book from you on Jinnah from such multiple perspectives. Do you have any such plans?

    I would recommend that. We just dont have an analytical book on him from Pakistani liberals.

  2. Anoop

    You can defend Jinnah all his life, yet this world will question his integrity and his dedication to Secularism.

    His action, which stands out above all else, of implying that 2 set of people CANNOT live together at any cost is the clincher here.

    I understand Jinnah has made a few secular statements after Pakistani Independence from India! not from the British, ironically. But, those statements are dwarfed by his invoking of Muslim unity and his defence of Islam as the solution to everything that ails India.

    He compromised. He compromised in his approach to realize his ambition. You can never say Nehru compromised on any of his core principles. Muslims owe their constitutional rights in India to Nehru. Non-Muslims cannot say the same thing in Pakistan.

    India and Pakistan got the identities of their first leaders of Independent India.

    India knows what it is and should be, like Nehru, crystal clear- Secular, Pluralistic, Democracy.

    Pakistan, like its leader, for the past 63 years is stuck in a debate. Like with Jinnah, Pakistan keeps on debating what Jinnah wanted for Pakistan, rather than asking, what Pakistan wants for itself. Pakistan has to move beyond Jinnah and maybe, settle with Nehru.

  3. Watty

    @Anoop: You state “You can never say Nehru compromised on any of his core principles… India knows what it is and should be, like Nehru, crystal clear- Secular, Pluralistic, Democracy.”

    I was not aware that Nehru had any “core principles” worth bragging about. If he did then Sardar Patel would have been India’s first prime minister – having won most of the votes in the poll for Congress party president.

    India continues to pay a heavy price for the Nehrus. We have come a long way and it is time we honestly assess the Nehru-Gandhi family for all their blunders, dishonesty and hypocrisy. Indian democracy owes its strength to the billion-plus Indians, not to some Nehrus and their chamchas – your hero worship is pathetic.

  4. Pankaj

    Exactly my point.

    Pakistanis are just stuck in a meaning less debate.

    If the Kashmir jihad would have been successful and if ( that is a BIG if ) The economy would have been better then Gen Zia or Hammed gul would have been declared the Father of the Nation.

    The present intractable situation is driving this meaning less search for Jinnah ‘s thoughts ,ideas, dreams and desires.

    Give the poor man a BREAK .

    Neither Jinnah, Gandhi nor Nehru or Patel nobody was or is perfect

    He delivered to Pakistanis a brand new nation.

    Just as we remember Gandhi ONLY for him giving us independence That is ALL
    All his other ideas have been buried Just as Nehru’s socialism and Non Align ment have been buried

  5. YLH


    Not even your Nehru questioned his integrity.

    I am not sure why you Indians are obsessed with everything I write? This is not addressed to you. Get a life.
    *** This Message Has Been Sent Using BlackBerry Internet Service from Mobilink ***

  6. YLH


    Why are you commenting on a meaningless debate?

    Why are you wasting your time?

  7. Prasad

    YLH – Jinnah was just not yours. He was ours as well. There lies the point.

    Anyways, This man was the best you could ever get to start with. Highly articulate, precise, I guess we have a Subramaniam Swamy today to match him in terms of intellect and precision in oratory

    His tenure was too short to debate whether he aided democracy or killed in Pakistan. But you should notice, He became Gov Gen the way Chakravarty Rajagopalachari became one in India. Nehru on the contrary became a Prime Minister for the first term through consensus and thereafter through public support upto his demise

    Jinnah’s intention it seems now was to grow second generation talent in governance whilst he was sure of sustaining himself for only a few more years.

    People who killed democracy in Pakistan were a bunch of Army officers who over the last 6 decades ( have )time and again disappointed their people and (us Indians also) by inciting violence, terrorism, degeneration of political process and whatnot

    Shame that after 11 years, Kargil war heroes were recognised in Pakistan. The bosses f*** around and ordinary folks pay by their blood

    We need to now see who this Maj Malik is in this vicious establishment who aided Mumbai blasts…..

  8. ramesh

    secularism will not prevail as long as everything is faith bound,gloryfing jinah is pointless.

  9. YLH

    I just love how many Indians are obsessed with Pakistan.

  10. Prasad

    YLH – Do you leave us with a choice????? I wouldnt have ever entered this site if there was no Mumbai 26/11 do you mind Very intelligent lawyer Sir????

  11. YLH

    No Indians were on here long before 26/11 and millions of other Pakistani websites.

    Besides I am not sure why you are on some of the Islamist websites and why this.

    In any event my post was addressed to Ramesh.

  12. Subcontinental

    I don’t think Jinnah was a Democrat (big D)! He was a Republican.

  13. Pankaj

    American writer STEPHEN COHEN and other experts have written AFTER a lot of research That Mughal emperor AURANGZEB is the biggest and most favorite historical RULER of Pakistani people.

    So there is a AURANGZEB syndrome in Pakistani society and psyche.

    So please forget about DEMOCRACY and SECULARISM

  14. YLH

    God knows what Pakistani people he knows of but if anyone has read literature coming out of Pakistan knows this is just nonsense.

  15. bciv

    >AFTER a lot of research

    … in which parallel universe?

  16. Sardar KHAN

    Forget putting any sense in indians.Their minds are brainwashed by the total censorship imposed on indian free press.You read any article in one paper by one person on Pakistan,you will find exactly same article with same words written under an other person’s name.Iam not talking about down town papers but papers like Times of India and Hindustantimes(so called reputed papers).Indians will never admit,that partition was the biggest defeat for hindues led by congress and that is the hate of Quid-e-Azam and Islam they can not forget.Let indians get their anger expresse in our web sites while they deny the same right to us to express our opinion on their lies in their press.If they can not forget mumbai then what about burning of Samjhota Express,which was first blamed on LeT and now their own government accepts that indian terrorist army was involved in that massacre of Pakistani innocent people.
    I would,say SHAME on indians who are defending their terrorism not only in Kashmir but also against Pakistan.

  17. Samachar

    Sardar Khan,

    David Coleman Headley a.k.a. Daood Gilani, the half-American, half-Pakistani LeT operative, arrested by the FBI post 26/11, places the Samjhauta Express attack squarely on the LeT.

    But don’t let any facts get in the way of your beliefs.

  18. Hayyer

    It is a very well argued piece. I am a bit surprised with the following;

    “The editorial of the decidedly Indian nationalist newspaper “Statesman” for 28th June, 1947 stated that this amounted to an admission that the Frontier Congressmen who had been claiming that they had killed the Pakistan idea in the elections were now “afraid to meet its ghost”.”

    So far as we know in India The Statesman was never a nationalist newspaper. It was a mouthpiece of the British in India.

  19. ramesh

    @ylh,thanks for your,hospitality

  20. Bade Miyan

    I guess, short of walking on the water, the guy got everything absolutely down to a T. Cool.

  21. MilesToGo

    I am waiting for the next step. After establishing that Jinnah was secular and democratic. What is next? Where are we going from here?

  22. MilesToGo

    A good read:

    Ideology as ‘false consciousness’
    The writer is director at the South Asia Free Media Association, Lahore khaled.ahmed@tribune.com.pk
    Pakistan began describing itself as an ideological state when the word had been made respectable by the Soviet Union through its planned economy and rapid growth. Ideology in the case of Pakistan was its religion.

    The state is not supposed to be without a purpose. Our ideology, like most other ideologies, was utopian. It made us different from India. India was more ‘planned’ and ‘socialist’ but was not called ideological because it did not ordain coercion. Today India is de-Nehruising itself. Should we too de-ideologise ourselves?

    Ideology means that the state has an idea which it thinks is right, and will punish anyone who doesn’t believe the state. With the passage of time, and despite Section 123-A in the Pakistan Penal Code punishing anyone opposing the ‘ideology of Pakistan’, Pakistan has become relaxed about ideology. It is not like Iran; it is not like the Soviet Union either when it was run by the Communist Party.

    In an ideological state — if fascist and totalitarian — there are supposed to be no individual liberties. The state is coercive, as in Iran, and people don’t have the right to think freely. In that sense, one can say that Pakistan is an ‘incomplete’ ideological state, a hybrid distasteful to the Islamists. It upsets many minds. The liberals complain the state tolerates extremism; the orthodox detest the state’s reluctance to reach its religious fulfilment as a violent utopia.

    Where did ‘ideology’ come from?

    The word was born in the French Revolution but Marx did not refer to it in any meaningful manner. However, Engels did discuss it, but surprisingly called it ‘false consciousness’. He meant that it was false so far as the state tried to create it under duress. (There is no other way ideology can be embraced.)

    Alan Cassels says in his book Ideology and International Relations in the Modern World (Routledge, 1996): “The word ideologie came into use in the French revolutionary era in order to characterise the beliefs of certain anti-metaphysical philosophers who followed Locke and Condillac in contending that all knowledge derives from sensation.”

    The French Revolution was the dark underside of Enlightenment in Europe. Its ‘ideology’ dealt in distortion and illusion and thus deserved the title of false consciousness. Engels is quoted in the book: “Ideology is a process accomplished by the so-called thinker consciously, it is true, but with a false consciousness. The real forces impelling him remain unknown to him; otherwise it would simply not be an ideological process” (p.3).

    Today, there is a consensus against ideology: “Ideology is a doctrine whose special claim upon the attention of its believer rests much less upon its supposedly scientific or philosophical character than upon the fact that it is a revelation” (p.6).

    Interestingly, the ideology of the rationalist French Revolution — and later the October Revolution — replaced the dogma of the Church and demanded the ‘leap of faith’ the same way some of us want the ‘two-nation theory’ believed blindly. Distracted from other implications of ‘ideology’, we now take it to mean Islamic laws. But once we play on this turf, al Qaeda is more ideologically focused.

    In his rejection of the Pakistan constitution, al Qaeda leader Ayman Al Zawahiri questions Pakistan’s ‘incompleteness’. He wants the constitution to clearly ban bank interest, lotteries, insurance and stock exchange, etc, while clearly outlawing women as leaders of the state. His book The Morning and the Lamp is being distributed by the madrassas that agree with him.

    As long as we are ideological, we have no business calling al Qaeda’s suicide-bombers non-Muslims. In fact, they are better Muslims killing lesser Muslims.

    Published in The Express Tribune, November 21st, 2010.

  23. Kaalket

    Jinnah succeeded in establishing a new Medina, a new power centre for Islam and now whole world accept Pakistan as an example of pristine Islam in action . This son of a Hindu woman succeeded where even the Arab founding father of Pakistan MB Qasim failed. He was secular person with democratic principle as long vote of 4 kaffirs equals or less to one Muslim vote as well all toil under the rule of Musalman who by nature is the best creation of Allah allmighty. He was a great man of vision and thanks to him India and the whole world is now enjoying the fruits of his labor while he similingly look down on mortals from the window of his tent in jannat and ocassionally laugh at the practical joke he played while his stay on Earth.

  24. libertarian

    YLH: I just love how many Indians are obsessed with Pakistan.

    Too many Pakistanis too busy reading the one Book That Matters? Freakin’ kaafirs have too much time on their hands. Couldn’t resist … 🙂

    Great writeup – humanizes the person – biases notwithstanding. Seems like he felt the Pakistan he got was crumbs but was morally bound to try and make a go of it.

    To your point of a “legitimate dictator” in the Jinnah mould showing up – hard to see that happening except in the wake of an existential disaster like 1971 when the Army really has to go back to the barracks for a few years or is forcibly placed under an international receivership.

  25. Anoop


    “Not even your Nehru questioned his integrity.”

    –> He is your Nehru too. Pakistan has, like you, disowned most of its leaders from the 1947 era. Your unmindful statements reflects of a few ills in Pakistan. Its selective glorification of few selected leaders and in the process sidelining what Nehru, Gandhi, in spite of all their ills, stood for.

    India is no perfect, but its identity is greater than that of any one man now. Its identity is driven by the Constitution of India, if you look at it from a larger perspective.

    Nehru’s ideology did drag us down in terms of Economics, but India learned, adapted.

    “I am not sure why you Indians are obsessed with everything I write? This is not addressed to you. Get a life.”

    –> Only if you had spent more time advocating a secular constitution and a pluralistic society, not considering the wishes of one-man, who has been dead for ages, than explaining what Jinnah stood for and defending him(which will you have to do throughout your life), maybe you could have got your message across and contribute to what you consider is Jinnah’s dream for Pakistan- Secularism, Democracy.

    You are now, trying to advocate those principles giving example of Jinnah, who has a few gray areas. The principles that you stand for are strong enough to be not dependent on one man believing it or not.

    You invoke Jinnah, just like the Right-wingers, forgetting that he is only a man, and bound to commit mistakes like a lot of greats around him.

    Stop shooting from Jinnah’s shoulders.

    If you want Indians to stop contributing, ban Indian IPs. Better, ignore us or delete our comments.

    The Indian cultural invasion is not just restricted to movies, music and pop culture alone, we will drive Internet discussions too, for the simple fact that in a decade, more Indians will have access to the Internet than there are people in Pakistan.

    Dont hate the player, hate the game.

  26. Sardar KHAN

    So now you are blaming LeT for the CIA agents as well as Samjhota Express.Get your facts right even your own government has accepted the real vilion for this tragedy was the terrorist in the indian army who planed and executed this diobolical crime with help of RSS.
    You have proven my point,that your government deliberately missleads you and plants the stories in indian media under disguise writers.
    Get real and stop blaming Let for the mistakes of your own.I wonder
    ,when indian government will turn round and will start blaming Pakistan & LeT for the biggest bribery scandal going on in indian government.Because,it always happen,blame Pakistan for ills of india in the past and it will be done again soon.

  27. sardar saab.

    u say indians are angry bec they lost pakistn due to partition
    “Indians will never admit,that partition was the biggest defeat for hindues led by congress and that is the hate of Quid-e-Azam and Islam they can not forget”

    this is onloy half the story, most indian are now very very happy , and even during 1947 many indians supported the idea, that muslim majority area to be were seperated, and the reason are as below

    imagine indai now would be flooded with ak47, drugs would be wode spread
    there would be clamour for sharia law in many districts with muslim majority , let alone muslim majority states
    thae army would be 50% muslim as demanded by jinnah, and this would be a huge securiuty rish as the chances of them supporing a muslim country in case of war was high
    there would be no democracy, military would have taken over united india
    non muslim would be paying the mpost taxes, and muslim would get the benifit as 50% of all govt servants would be muslim yncluding the military,
    the provionce of bombay, bengal including contributed the most money to the centre, but hardly any surplus money was generated by punjab, sind NWFP ect, so hindu majorityu province would be subsidising muslim majority provionces
    bombay would be like karachi, target killings,
    pathans would be roaming the street of bombay and my state of goa ogling the girls, as they do in UAE,

    india would have been more backwards bec of muslim influnce, and over half od india would have no pubs, pork, co ed schools and colleges, ect ect
    by now ther would be civil war, and india would have been divided, and we would lose
    as due to the growth rate muslim population the entire punjab, bengal would go to pakistan, along with hyderabad, bordering district of rajasthan, gujrat, and many district of bihar and UP, and half of assam, kashmir would be in [[pakistn woth all its water sources
    even delhi would be dicey, could have gone either way
    it was one of the reasom jinnah was dissapointed as he thought he would get the entire punjab, bengal, assam, kashmir, and district upto almost delhi, and if he was lucky a corridor from east to west pakistn through UP nad Bihar where ther were sisable muslim population, who are now called mohagir in pakistan

    we would lose a lot, it was better we cut our losses during independence , because niow we would have lost more trying to keep pakistn against the muslim wishes

    so we have a lot to thank jinnah for,

    i would recomend u read a book on partition written in 1939 by ambedkar, he wrote it bef partition why it is a good idea to accept pakistn, and u will understand what a great favour jinnah did to us
    the hiudus wanted undted india mostly for sentimenatl reason, bec even if india was united hindus would hardly have any influnce in muslim majority provionces, it would only in namesake be and indian states, for all practical purpose it would be islamic like u have in malasia, nigeria, indoensea wher many provinces are declaring sharia as there law over secular laws of the central govt

    sardar saab let me be on record as sayonf thanks to jinnah saab

    you should be sad u lost more bec the muslim league did not have patiences

  28. YLH

    Rich mian read my article “Did Jinnah want Pakistan” and discussion on it. May be you’ll find a different point of view.
    *** This Message Has Been Sent Using BlackBerry Internet Service from Mobilink ***

  29. Kaalket

    Sardar Sahib is right . I think Hindus deserve one more defeat like this where they loose 99% of current Muslim population to Pakistan. If Pakistan open this poulation transfer front against india ,Insha Allah Victory wil be acheived in no time . Hindus will surrender without fight and Pakistan will get to double its Pure Momin population in seacrh of pristine Islam and establish Khalifat . Now that will be achievement rivaling Arabs of Holy Land.

  30. Subcontinental

    What Pakistanis have made themselves is a midway house – neither here nor there. Ayman Al-Zawahiri is correct in his Risala – The Morning and the Lamp..

    That is the corollary of the Two-Nation Theory. I’m afraid all this fascination with Jinnah, is all living in the past, afraid to see through the window. The Pakistan of today is a different place, and Jinnah is only good for some decoration on the walls.

    The choice for Pakistan is basically either an embrace of India in all her dimensions or to go the other way and embrace Al Qaeda. As long as Pakistan stays somewhere between, it would be in the middle of the road and Pakistan would keep on getting bumped and hit by the traffic all the time. Actually the choice of embracing India is a moot choice. The decision has already been made.

    No three or four letter acronyms be it PTH, YLH, PPP, PML-N, ANP, MQM, APML can stand up to the force of Islam. The Morning and the Lamp will guide you to your new Constitution – The Shariah! Embrace it.

    The Pakistani Nationalist is simply the Court Jester in the new dispensation, to perform some antics against India for the amusement of the Islamists.