Jinnah: The Case for Pakistan is my latest book. It has been published by Libredux UK, and can be purchased from Amazon. You can also download a free soft copy right here, or from the page about the book on this website.
A panel discussion on this book was conducted last month in Lahore (and I may correct a small error of some of the newspaper reports, where Mr. Suheyl Umar has been mentioned as a participant; this is not correct because he was unable to come due to some emergency).
The book is very short, just 48 pages. I have written it as a kind of preface to my entire work. It establishes the premise which I hope to develop further in all my future writings. I even intend to rearrange my previous books around it, or re-write them if necessary. So, I am “rebooting” my work and Jinnah: The Case for Pakistan is the new beginning.
In this book, I have tried to establish that Jinnah presented five arguments when he pleaded for the creation of Pakistan in the 1940s (including the territory of the present-day Bangladesh). I call them his ‘case for Pakistan’. Unfortunately, we do not know any of them now. Our most frequently consulted sources of information, including such luminaries as Dr I. H. Qureshi, Stanley Wolpert and Ayesha Jalal, have even failed to mention these arguments and have often replaced them with things that Jinnah had never said.
This kind of collective amnesia is not unnatural, nor is it restricted to this case alone. I would like to offer three explanations for this kind of thing.
In the preface of Saint Joan, George Bernard Shaw has explained in sufficient detail ‘the too little considered truth that the fashion in which we think changes like the fashion of our clothes, and that it is difficult, if not impossible, for most people to think otherwise than in the fashion of their own period.’
These words of Shaw are my first explanation. The fashion in which Jinnah used to think became obsolete soon after his death, and people found it very difficult, if not impossible, to follow his line of thinking.
The academics and subject experts are seldom an exception to such a difficulty, and the following is just one of the many available examples.
Mary Parker Follett shot to international fame with the publication of her book, The New State, in 1918, and remained one of the leading authorities on the subject of management till her death in 1933. She is now regarded as one of the pioneers in the field (Wikipedia even labels her as ‘Mother of Modern Management’). The cenetnary of her above-mentioned book is being celebrated this year.
Yet, in 1941, less than eight years after her death, when a young Peter F. Drucker entered the field and requested every expert to give him a list of readings, none of them even mentioned the name of Follett. One expert, who had her books in his library, produced a list of six or seven pages, and said that it contained everything ‘of the slightest importance.’ Follett did not appear even in that list.
This anecdote, narrated by Drucker himself, is just one of the many available examples to show that even experts, and especially they, are prone to this kind of amnesia. The parallel between this incident and my claim about Jinnah’s case is self-evident.
A second explanation is handy, and also comes from Drucker. Having heard about Follett eventually, he has suggested that the reason she was forgotten was not that she was a woman (as the politically correct presumption would be). ‘The only explanation,’ he says, ‘is that her ideas, concepts, and precepts were being rejected in the 1930s and the 1940s … What she had to say, the 1930s and the 1940s simply did not hear and, equally important, did not want to hear.’
I have already showed in Iqbal: His Life and Our Times that there was a direct connection between the ideas of Follett and the politics of the All-India Muslim League. Instead of repeating that evidence, I would like to add here that all the five arguments of Jinnah were based on ideas, concepts and precepts which the Cold War did not hear and did not want to hear.
His first argument was that India had never been a single country at any time in its history, and the myth of its unity was one of the two pillars of British imperialism.
The underlying logic was that countries are formed by ‘agreed consent’, and any attempt to forge a federation without seeking the consent of its constituent units will always lead to internal strife and instability.
This did not suite either the former Soviet Union or the United States in the 1950s and the decades afterwards, when each of those two super powers was attempting to draw and re-draw the borders of countries according to its own desires.
The second argument of Jinnah was that ‘Western democracy’ is the other pillar of British imperialism. He defined ‘Western democrcacy’ as party-government based on the rule of majority, and desired to replace it with a consensus-based democracy, practically the same as had been advocated by Follett in The New State.
This argument was presented on the ground that a system of government cannot be imported like a Christmas tree, but has to grow indigenously from the soil just like a tree in the jungle.
The same logic served as the basis of his third argument – his claim that the Muslim League demolished both pillars of British imperialism by demanding a partition, and was struggling for the independence of the entire subcontinent.
More than anything else, the Cold War was an attempt by each super power to export its own preferred system of government to the developing countries – exactly what Jinnah had prohibited.
His fourth argument was that Gandhi and his associates, contrary to their claims, wanted to keep the British in India because they were afraid of a Muslim takeover if the British left.
This accusation against Gandhi is proven quite easily if one disregards the Mahatma’s quotable quotes and the spectacles of his street power, and judges him only by what he delivered.
The Cold War, on the other hand, was the breeding ground of political leaders and political activists who did not want to be judged by the fruits of their actions. They demanded to be followed on the basis of their ideologies and asked to be measured by their ability to disrupt civic life.
The fifth argument of Jinnah was that it is possible to achieve freedom from fear and poverty in a very short span of time, if we follow the principles of Islamic Social Justice. He forbade his followers to indulge in any other pursuit until they had achieved a society where nobody was poor or tormented.
During the Cold War, people were led into believing that societies could only be improved by following one of the two ideologies preached by the two super powers, and the intelligentsia considered it their foremost duty to invest all energies in the learning and teaching of their chosen ideology.
And so, just as the 1930s and the 1940s did not hear and did not want to hear what Follett had to say, the 1950s and the subsequent decades did not hear and did not want to hear what Jinnah had to say.
We are past those times now, and the sooner we get rid of the hangover the better. To this end I would like to offer a third explanation of our oblivion, from none other than Iqbal.
In the fifth lecture of The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, he tells us that ‘the perception of life as an organic unity is a slow achievement, and depends for its growth on a people’s entry into the main current of world-events.’
By organic unity he means, among other things, the ability to create new values. We find an example in the history of the British people, who once considered it a national service to re-write the plays of Shakespeare according to the standards prevalent in other countries, and to stage them in the fashion of the French theatre. After they had gained an empire on which the sun never set, Shakespeare became their standard for judging the literature of other people.
I hope that these explanations suffice to show that it is not unnatural for us to have been unaware of Jinnah’s case for Pakistan and his arguments. Let’s re-learn.