Pakistan was pushed into a throes of ideological confusion soon after the death of Pakistan’s founder Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in 1948. MAJ’s passing into eternity ushered in a period of chaos with no national leader carrying enough weight as heavy as MAJ’s. At his demise there were only two leaders who could carry the national load on their shoulders—Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan and former Chief Minister of United Bengal Husseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy.
Unfortunately this conflict among the top two leaders was taken advantage by the Punjabi leaders in West Pakistan no better than pygmies but no doubt past masters in intrigues and intra-provincial politics. With Pakistan’s overbearing Punjabi Defence Establishment and Punjab- dominated civil bureaucracy calling the shots in decisive state matters created pockets of vested interests. Besides, the Punjabi Feudal class, the Muslim Mashaikhs, the Pirs and Gaddi Nasheens- became collaborators in arranging a chessboard according to their own compulsions. Obviously, the Punjabi vested interests put their weight in Liaquat’s support thereby capturing the Prime Ministerial house. Husseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy was out-manoeuvred in intrigues and causing deeper conflict. For the time being Suhrawardy Sahib was kept isolated in East Pakistan. This conflict of interests provided a golden opportunity to Praetorian forces to strike. Disagreement with Liaquat over the handling of Jammu & Kashmir issue with Muslim born dominating Kashmiri generals made them join in an failed attempted coup against Liaquat. However failure in the attempted coup led to the assassination of Liaquat Ali Khan by Kabuli Pahtoon Sayeed Akbar in Ocober 1951.
Liaquat’s dastardly assassination paved the way for Ayub Khan to get into prominence into a role that made emergence of a new power sharing game with Governor General Ghulam Muhammad, Finance Minister Choudhy Mohammad Ali, Mohammad Ali Bogra as imported Prime Minister to provide a proactive role for the American geo-stragic interests. Interior Minister Mushtaq Ahmed Gurmani was kept no doubt as Federal Interior Minister but had an aura of suspicion of having a hand in Liaquat’s murder conspiracy. Many years later unveiling of classified American papers disclosed how Liaquat was made to pay by the Americans for opposing anti-Premier Dr Mossadegh policy to deprive cheap use of Iranian oil by the Anglo-Iranian oil cartel. The famous author in his book “All the Shah’s Men” Journalist Stephen Kinzer hints at a linkage between the two conspiracies. As a matter of fact Kinzer has drawn out perfect similarities in the two conspiracies to get rid of nationalist leaders Dr Mossadegh and Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
Reading it in retrospect, one would recall the notoriously known Indian state of Gujarat for leading the way in sowing seeds in communal riotings festering communalism. Irrespective of the demolition of ancient Babri Mosque or killing thousands of Muslims later—-has the unique distinction of sowing the seeds of secular India’s divide.
The first recorded communal riot occurred in 1854 in Godhra in Gujarat followed by Mumbai’s in 1893 against the militant cow protection movement. These proved to be wake up calls for the Muslims who had gone to sleep into mire of despondency and decadence as a consequence to the end of Mughal rule when last of the mogul emperors Bahadur Shah Zafar was despatched into exile in Rangoon.
At this critical juncture when all seemed lost there emerged on the scene a Messiah for the Muslims—Sir Syed Ahmed Khan (1817-1898). He had a vision and he ushered in a renaissance for the Muslims of India. Though he was opposed tooth and nail by the theocrats he pursued the mission of providing western education to the Muslims who had been rendered into “hewers of wood and drawers of water” as described by the historian Sir William Hunter. They were outnumbered by a better educated Hindu majority that had geared itself according to the changing needs of the time with the onset of industrial revolution.
Sir Syed was perhaps the first political thinker and visionary among Muslims after the debacle of 1857. He could foresee the future course of India under Indian National Congress. He advised the Muslims not to be part of its game. He perceived the Congress’s demand for a wider role for the Indians in the government as the “thin end of the wedge for monopolising absolute power.”
As member of Viceroy’s Legislative Council visualising the sub- continental scenario when the British would leave India, he raised a pertinent question-pregnant with the genesis of partition: “Now, suppose that the English community and the army were to leave India, taking with them all their cannons and their splendid weapons and all else, who then would be the rulers of India?” “Is it possible that under these circumstances two nations – the Mohammedans and the Hindus – could sit on the same throne and remain equal in power? Most certainly not. It is necessary that one of them should conquer the other. To hope that both could remain equal is to desire the impossible and the inconceivable… But until one nation has conquered the other and made it obedient, peace cannot reign in the land.”
According to him Muslims would not get equitable share in jobs and other areas of socio-economic endeavours. Their best of the brains would be outnumbered by the better educated Hindus. This observation was a manifestation of increasing polarisation on grounds of economic disparities between the two nations despite the fact Sir Syed believed that “Hindus and Muslims are two eyes of the beautiful bride that is Hindustan”.
During the British Raj all the religious communities living in India enjoyed equal rights. They could practice their faiths in full freedom. Where they did not have equitable opportunities were the fields of employment and economic enterprise. And this friction got adequately postulated in Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s 14 points rejected by the Nehrus.
Had the Indian National Congress accepted his proposal a unified India could have been free much earlier and without long struggle and blood-shed. Like Sir Muhammad Iqbal who did not talk of independent Muslim state in his historic Allahabad Address of 1930, the Quaid did not believe in dividing India as the Lahore Resolution of March 1940 specifically wanted recognition of Muslims within Hindustan and not as an independent state. It was much later after thought that Lahore Resolution became Pakistan Resolution.
Until 1946 Quaid had agreed to be part of confederal India as outlined in the May/June 1946 Plan. It envisaged a united India in line with Congress and Muslim League aspirations. The Jinnah-Nehru consensus ended when Jawaharlal Nehru told a journalist that Congress would be in majority and as such it would decide the future of India negating the basis of Muslim demands of ‘political safeguards’ built into post-British Indian laws so as to prevent absolute rule of Hindus over Muslims forcing Jinnah to opt for independence as a last resort. Husseyn Shaheed Suhrwardy was the dominant Bengali leader who had a totally different vision.
Many pseudo-historians in Ziaist mould have ever since tried to paint a life-long secular Jinnah into a theocratic crusader misconstruing his linkage of Islam and modern concept of democracy. Quaid in the right-earnest— believed it as an Islamic concept when he said that democracy is in our bone marrow and in our blood since the advent of Islam. Could there be anything more explicit than Islamic concept of Ijtihad, debate, discussion and consensus—for decisions of the state strictly under Huquq Ul Ibad—rights of human beings on each other based on Islamic social justice guarantying egalitarian principle of greatest good of the largest number? Most certainly not!
The Quaid spelled out his vision in his speech of August 11, 1947 in the mother legislative assembly –rightly described as his Magna Carta for Pakistan, that:
According to Jinnah’s Pakistan—all its citizens will be equal, they will enjoy equal rights—irrespective of caste, creed, colour or gender; they will be free to practice their religions, go to their temples, mosques and churches etc.
Islamic socialism and secularism—according to the Quaid— were not contradiction of Islam but are its true manifestation.
That Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) was Rehmatul Lil Alameen—blessing and leader of all human kind—irrespective of caste, creed, colour or gender—an essentially secular concept; while God was Rabul Alameen and was not only God of Muslims.
That’s why Quaid separated religion from state management and declared categorically that Pakistan would not be a theocratic state.
However, after his death (Sept 11, 1948) his dream of Pakistan as a modern, democratic, liberal and secular state was supported by Suhrawardy Sahib while it was waylaid by the Punjabi power troika comprising of military, civil and judicial bureaucracy backed by the feudal class and clergy, Pakistan as such was converted at gunpoint into a garrison state.
Punjab had the biggest Muslim Sunni population, it had the largest share in the state of Pakistan’s civil bureaucracy, railway and postal services with a very powerful Sunni clergy dictating its agenda and identifying Ahmadis as not acceptable as part of the majority. To the extent that the Punjabi Mashaikhs put pressure on Jinnah Sahib to declare the Ahmadis as non Muslims. Jinnah Sahib put his foot down to oppose crushing the anti-Ahmedya campaign of Jamaat E-Islami and the Ahraris. Jinnah sahib’s straight mindedness was clearly manifested when he picked out from his talented colleagues Sir Zafarallah Khan to be made the most important member of his cabinet as Foreign Minister who established many records in performance in the comity of nations.
While observing the Independence Day of Pakistan we must understand the dynamics of history. We have before us the most recent example of the breakup of the Soviet Union. It had the biggest military in the world, with a nuclear arsenal second to none and its super spying agency KGB had the most dreaded overt and covert operational network world wide and yet none could save it from disintegration and collapse as it could not sustain its population, provide it succour and socio-economic well-being or bear the heavy load of a back breaking Praetorian establishment. When such institutions become larger than the state, then their existence becomes entirely dependent on external forces. They end up reaping the bitter harvest of the seeds sowed by self serving troikas and religious extremists just like the break up of the erstwhile Soviet Union. A deeper view of the role by troikas unfortunately indicates that the drift is towards that direction as that of erstwhile East Pakistan.
More or less much similar was the fate of East Pakistan ending up in Bangladesh. Had the West Pakistani leaders come to terms with Sheikh Mujibur Rehaman and had they accepted his Six Points programme and agreed to reasonable understanding on the division of power and sharing of resources, the break up of Pakistan could have been avoided.
While that could have been the most reasonable solution to the question of autonomy and distribution of power resources but then the stumbling block was overwhelming domination of Punjabi military, civil bureaucracy, the Jamaatis, Ahraris and other splinter groups. They forced Bengalis to accept the principle of Parity. However, Field Marshal Ayub Khan did not allow that to function. Husseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, most prominent and weight bearing leader in Pakistan was arrested by and treated very shabbily in prison in Karachi by Ayub Khan.
As the follow up of his arrest Suhrawardy Sahib wrote a very moving letter that was published in later years in Mian Iftikharuddin’s Leftist weekly Viewpoint—beseeching Ayub Khan not to destroy the bridge that was the mainstay keeping East and West Pakistan together. “Once he is gone it would mean swan song of United Pakistan.”
The letter said “Let me tell you, Mr President, what you do not know, that Pakistan is my life. I have, I believe, played a great part in bringing to existence …. and to make Bengal accept the Muslim League and align itself in the struggle for Pakistan, I had to work night and day, at the cost of my own living and heath and safety”.
So wrote a little before death Husseyn Shaheed Suharwardy, founder of Awami league and former Prime Minister of Pakistan in letter to President Ayub Khan challenging the charges on which Suhrawardy Sahib was placed in festoon…
”I claim my patriotism is above suspicion and cannot be tarnished . I have noted with great pain and you are alleged to have said in Dacca. ‘It was not beyond Him (i.e myself) to accept monetary assistance from those who are hostile to Pakistan. Pardon me, Mr President, what possible justification have you for making such a serious charge. What false and dirty reports must have been placed before you to induce
you make such a statement.’
SD/ H.S. SUHRAWARDY
In order to save Pakistan threatened with disintegration Suhrawardy Sahib opted for the principle of parity as a quid pro quo for national survival. As a consequence of this deal One Unit was established merging smaller provinces while East Pakistan was to remain as another Unit sharing equal powers and resources between East and West Pakistan.
It was followed up by Objectives Resolution is one of the most important documents in the constitutional history of Pakistan. It was passed by the first Constituent Assembly on 12th March 1949 under the leadership of Liaquat Ali Khan. While it laid down the objectives on which the future constitution of the country was to be based and it proved to be the foundational stone of constitutional development in Pakistan. However, its introduction also seems to be an afterthought. Its critics rightly say that the Punjbi feudal/military/bureaucratic/cleric community used Liaquat Ali Khan to out maneuver other vested interests and convert a secular Pakistan into a semi-theocratic state.
In conclusion I reproduce a Paragraph from late Syed Amjad Ali’s book “PRINTS AND IMPRINTS”—a rich catalogue of a diplomat/politician/executive’s memories.
“One day Prime Minister Suhrawardy sent for me. (He was Finance Minister) When I arrived at the Prime Minister’s House I was taken to his bedroom. He was in bed and asked me to sit near him. He told me that he had received an urgent demand from East Pakistan for additional purchase of rice and he wanted rupees one hundred million in foreign exchange. I reminded him that only last week rupees sixty millions was given to East Pakistan in Exchange for the purchase of rice and I could not understand why they required the additional sum so soon. The Chief Minister, who belongs to the Prime Minister Party, had sent him an SOS because the food situation in some areas was bad and it would be wise to order the rice now as it would take some time before it arrived. Officials of the Ministry of Finance who were in East Pakistan had sent us reports and those were certainly not alarming. I told the Prime Minister that we did not have an abundance of foreign exchange and we should wait a while. When he became insistent and dogmatic I told him I would not like to be finance minister of a bankrupt state. His rejoinder was that he would not like to be Prime Minister of a State where people were starving to death. We finally compromised, and I released another fifty million rupees in Foreign Exchange.