‘Western democracy is totally unsuited to India and its imposition on India is
the disease in the body-politic.’
Jinnah, Time and Tide (London), February 1940
As already mentioned, Jinnah believed that Western democracy was the second pillar of British imperialism (by Western democracy, he meant the form of constitution ‘under which the government of the country is entrusted to one or other political party in accordance with the turn of the elections’; instead he favoured a consensus-based democracy, essentially the same as advocated by Rousseau, Iqbal and Follett, among others).
He argued, firstly that the electoral process in India, starting from 1920, had benefited two classes: (a) ‘reactionary’ (pro-British) and conservative individuals who were utterly selfish and opposed to progress; and (b) equally selfish ‘careerists’, ready and willing to serve the former without any scruples. This much was stated in the election manifesto issued by the central parliamentary board of the All-India Muslim League in June 1936, and subsequently repeated by Jinnah on a number of occasions till the end of his life.
Western democracy in India, therefore, meant nothing more than a Mughal empire ruled by white men. Here are a few of the statements of Jinnah to this effect:
- ‘The government which has been in this subcontinent for 150 to 160 years … is a democratic system imposed on the Mughal system. Its sanction is the British bayonets, and not the sanction of the people.’ (November 9, 1942)
- ‘Mr. Amery [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][Secretary of State for India] has made a discovery of a historical nature and has been studying the pattern of Akbar’s government for the post-war reconstruction of India. The British government in India, too, is constituted like Akbar’s government … The present Executive Council of the Viceroy is on the same pattern as that of Akbar’s. There are Muslims, Hindus, Parsis and the Sikhs, all nominated by the Viceroy to do his job.’ (January 24, 1943)
- ‘The British statesmen know that the so-called democracy and the parliamentary system of government is nothing but a farce in this country.’ (Madras, 14 April 1941)
Secondly, he said that just like the One-India fallacy, Western democracy was also causing strife between the Hindus and the Muslims. By giving the Hindus a domination over unwilling Muslims, the two nations were pitted against one another and the foreign rulers took full advantage of that. Here is a tiny sample of his unequivocal statements to this effect:
- ‘This sort of game of dividing the two great sister communities by such methods has been the historical misfortune of India with the result that we are now saddled with a foreign domination and further efforts by the Congress in that same direction to divide and rule Muslims will only lead to an indefinite stay of that domination.’ (Bombay, 19 April 1937)
- ‘The leadership of Hindu India has, I regret to say, been fooled. They have been bamboozled by the policy and diplomacy of the British Government who are dangling in front of them a united all-India constitution and democracy – the two carrots before donkeys! The British Government know – and I say to the Hindu leadership, you have lost the last shred of statesmanship if you do not realize yet that the British Government know it – that Muslim India will never submit to an all-India constitution and one central government.’ (Presidential Address at the 28th Annual Session of the All-India Muslim League, Madras, April 14, 1941)
- ‘The British policy in this subcontinent has been for nearly 100 years based on their conviction that the Muslims and Hindus will never agree and if by some means or other they enter into an agreement by their influence or pressure then it will be nothing but a cockpit of feud beneath the umbrella of a United India with the Englishman on the top. Therefor the Britisher, with his far-sighted vision, has followed a policy and taken us on this line of a united democratic India – I don’t think they have given it up yet – the line of a United India and a democratic supremacy parliamentary system of government. The Britisher know that if we are kept on that line and are allowed to frame a constitution as a democratically united India we would never come to an agreement without their arbitration; it is the only way to prolong the lease of their supremacy.’ (Presidential Address at the 30th Annual Session of the All-India Muslim League, Delhi, April 24, 1943)
- ‘The British said – and mind you, I don’t take everything they say to be correct – they said: “In resisting the Congress we are really protecting you and safeguarding your interests, because if we were to surrender to the demands of the Congress it would be at your risk and sacrifice.” But the Mussalmans say, “We don’t believe that you love us so much.” We know it suits them and they are taking the fullest advantage of the situation, because if there is any agreement between Hindus and Muslims then they know the net result of that would be parting with power … They say they are ready and willing and in fact are dying to part with power … Having declared the Congress as an outlaw, what do the British say to others? They say: ‘How can we ignore Congress?’ In that case, don’t you see that not only is nobody going to believe you, but by your own admission, you are proclaiming that your anxiety, your desire, your ardent desire to move in the direction of handing over power provisionally, has been successfully held up by a rebel organization – the Congress … Is this an honest attitude?’ (Presidential Address at the 30th Annual Session of the All-India Muslim League, Delhi, April 24, 1943)
- ‘The British Government … say one thing at one time and another thing at another time. But the result is that they tell Mussalmans that “we are not against Pakistan, but it is the Hindus who are against it.” They tell the Hindus, “we are not against Akhand Hindustan, but it is the Mussalmans who are against it.” They are, it seems, only in favour of one thing – to see how their own Raj should continue.’ (Presidential Address at the 31th Annual Session of the All-India Muslim League, Karachi, December 24, 1943)
- ‘But the trouble is that if I go to grapple with John Bull [the British] the Hindus come to his rescue, and when the Hindus go to corner him to force their demands which are detrimental to us we cannot join them.’ (Aligarh, 9 March 1944)
- ‘Such a government as may be composed of Hindus and Muslims will be artificial and … If decisions will be taken as regards legislation and administration by poll-box, this will be disastrous, for they will not stand the shock of test and trial, and will in no time divide acre and acre the opinion of the two nations put artificially together in one government dominating the whole subcontinent of India.’ (Cairo, 19 December 1946)
Understandably, he was severely criticized by the Congress and its allies as an enemy of democracy. Then, a few months after his death, the Congress Party in Pakistan was struck with collective amnesia and, to suit certain interests of its own, it began chanting that Jinnah had been a champion of Western democracy (see, e.g., CAP Debates Vol. V No. 5, p.91).
This infant theory was perpetuated through the Munir Report, published in Pakistan in 1954 by the regime that had usurped power (the official title was Report of the Court of Inquiry Constituted under Punjab Act II of 1954 to Enquire into the Punjab Disturbances of 1953). The report’s main author, Justice Munir, apparently failed to find even a single quote from Jinnah to support the proposition. The only quote which he produced as evidence was a fabrication, as has now been shown conclusively by the Pakistani-British author Saleena Karim in her book, Secular Jinnah and Pakistan: What the Nation Does Not Know (pp.37-52). Here was perjury being committed by the bench.
In her book, Karim has listed more than ninety publications where this fabricated quote has been reproduced or mentioned.
This gigantic list, according to her, ‘is a tiny selection of writings out of what probably number thousands’ (p.387-395). In many of these writings, the false quote appears as ‘evidence’, quite often the only evidence, that Jinnah favoured Western democracy.
The myth has been accepted like an unquestionable dogma, especially by the academia. It has also appeared in such political documents as the Charter of Democracy signed by the leading politicians of Pakistan in 2006. The signatories tried to seek authentication for their predominantly Western conception of democracy by referring to ‘the democrat par excellence, Father of the Nation Quaid-i-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah.’
This is a modified version of the second chapter of Jinnah: The Case for Pakistan. Complete references for the facts and quotations cited here can be found in the printed book. Download PDF or find out how to purchase a hard copy.