Tag Archives: Ataturk

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. Continue reading


Filed under History, Jinnah, Jinnah's Pakistan

Was Jinnah secular?

By Yasser Latif Hamdani 

(In wake of the national debate on ideology and textbooks, Mr. Raza Rumi, the founder and editor of Pakteahouse, recently asked me to revisit the issue of Jinnah’s secularism through a comprehensive blog-post. This blog post is written for PTH exclusively and may be reproduced by giving PTH credit.)

Many people (though not all) on all sides of the ideology divide in Pakistan take umbrage with the description of Mahomed Ali Jinnah – the anglicized founder of Pakistan- as a secular leader or a secularist. Islamists in Pakistan say that he wanted an Islamic state. Islamic modernists say he wanted a modern Islamic democratic state (whatever that means), some people from the left say he was a communalist who was not secular because he championed Muslim separatism (albeit only in the last 11 years of his life). All of these groups agree that if Jinnah had been secular, it would not have been necessary to make a separate state. All of them – unconvincingly and inaccurately- claim that those who lay claim to a secular Jinnah are basing it on a solitary speech of Jinnah made on 11 August 1947. A slightly different claim is made by the Wali Khan group- which is ideologically consistent if historically errant- which claims that Jinnah wanted a secular state and that his push for Pakistan was the result of British manipulation and divide and rule which made him utilize Islamist rhetoric for the creation of Pakistan. While respecting all these points of view, I disagree with all of them and through this article I will explain why. Continue reading


Filed under Jinnah, Jinnah's Pakistan, Liberal Democratic Pakistan, liberal Pakistan, Pakistan, secular Pakistan

Jinnah Was The Most Secular Statesman Produced By The Muslim World

Liaqat Ali Khan with Mahomed Ali Jinnah

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

It is amazing that given the confusion created about the word “secular” in Pakistan by both the right and the left has so thoroughly disoriented the thought process of our intelligentisia, especially that which is christened by the state,  that it has failed to capitalize on the fact that Pakistan’s founding father was not just unambiguously secular but was the most secular statesman in the history of the greater Muslim world,  even more so than the great Kemal Ataturk, who is justifiably hailed as the father of secularism in the Muslim world.   Even Kemal Ataturk through an amendment to the constitution of the Republic of Turkey in 1923 instituted Islam as the state religion [1], which remained in the constitution till 1928 when Ataturk had it removed.   Jinnah never instituted a state religion and blocked every resolution or move whether in the Pakistani Constituent Assembly or the All India Muslim League Central Working Committee [2].  Continue reading


Filed under Jinnah's Pakistan, Pakistan, secular Pakistan

Bitter Realization for Musharraf

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

Chaudhry Shujaat, the president of the Pakistan Muslim League Q which was created by Musharraf himself,  has started to bad mouth Musharraf publicly.  How ironic! Continue reading


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A Pakistani’s view of Turkey and the Turks

By Ayesha Ijaz Khan
It is my third trip to Turkey but my first to the Bodrum peninsula in the southwest of the country. Bodrum was first marketed to me in the mid-nineties by a Turkish friend, who described it as a summer retreat for domestic tourists, a Nathiagali of sorts. In the last few years, however, Bodrum has become a popular international holiday destination for Europeans and Americans and several airlines offer direct flights from London to Bodrum.

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Ataturk’s Turkish Republic in Danger

Kemal Ataturk

Kemal Ataturk

Turkey is in the middle of a political crisis that has pitted the Islamic-rooted civilian government against the military, following reports of an alleged move by military leaders to overthrow the government. Ameen Izzadeen, who was in Turkey last week meeting journalists, civil society leaders and political activists, reports on the country’s changing socio-political scenario. Continue reading


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Jinnah and Ataturk: Comparison in leadership models

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

Reading through pages of history one is struck by the remarkable similarities between two leaders, contemporaries to each other, one from South Asia and the other from the frontier between Europe and Asia that is known as Turkey, but both of whom had the distinction of conjuring up nation states from a multitude of disorganized and demoralized people(s) whose only common bond was shared religious culture and a memory of a glorious empire of yesteryears.  What is more is that both these leaders were in their outlook European and shared a world view which was more western than that of their own people.  Both these leaders had to make hard choices and were plagued by the controversy that is the role of religion – in particular Islam- within the state.   These two leaders were Mahomed Ali Jinnah, hailed as “Quaid-e-Azam” or the great leader and the founding father of Pakistan and Mustapha Kemal Ataturk, the founder of Modern Turkey, Ebedi Sef (Eternal Leader) and the “father of the Turks”.

Mahomed Ali Jinnah was born MahomedAli Jinnahbhai in Karachi, a vibrant provincial town in British India, in 1876,  whereas Kemal Ataturk was born Mustapha in Salonica in Ottoman Turkey in 1881.  Both Jinnah and Ataturk had parents who were deeply religious, though Jinnah was born into the Ismaili community – the followers of the Agha Khan- and a subset of the Shiite Branch of Islam.  Ataturk’s exact religious origins are unknown.   There is a claim that he was an Alavi Shiite. Others claim he was from the “Donme” or the Jewish converts to Islam.   Ataturk himself identified with mainstream Hanafi Sunni Islam- the state creed of the Ottoman Empire- in his days in Army.   Both were educated in High Schools run by Muslim modernists in the tradition of finest European education.    Jinnah’s alma mater was the “Sindh Medressah-tul-Islam High School” (despite the name it was a school modeled on the lines of British Public school system – medressah means a school) and the Protestant Bombay Mission High School.  In contrast young Mustapha was initially sent to learn the Holy Quran in madrassah but his father,  Ali Reza,  thought him too good for simple religious education and had him transferred to a modern school. Continue reading


Filed under History, Jinnah