Jinnah’s Secular Approach:In the final analysis it was the religious sentiment that was exploited by the Muslim League to secure Pakistan but Pakistan was not intended to be a theocratic state in the perception of its founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah. He had emphasised on this fundamental point both before and after. Pakistan was formed. In a speech at a conference of Muslim legislators in Delhi on April 11, 1946, he had observed,. “What are we fighting for? What are we aiming at? It is not for a theocracy, nor for a theocratic state.”1
After Pakistan had come into being he had said, “Pakistan was not going to be a theocratic state, to be ruled by priests with a divine mission.”2
“¦the two-nation theory had no further role to play in Pakistan and he (Jinnah) wanted the animus against the Hindus, a valuable instrument for advancing the propaganda for creation of Pakistan, to be buried forever.
For Jinnah, religion was not unimportant, but social and economic development of the people, a state with sound political institutions, accountability and a just society were values of equal significance. Bred on concepts of Western liberalism, Jinnah wanted the new state to be guided by secular idealism, not narrow-minded religious orthodoxy. He indicated this point at the inaugural address itself to the Constituent Assembly:
“We are starting with the fundamental principle that we are all citizens of one state. We should keep that in front of us as our ideal. And you will find that in course of time, Hindus will cease to be Hindus and Muslims will cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense because that is the personal faith of the individual, but in the political sense as the citizens of one nation.”3
The above quoted statement of Jinnah also suggests that in the founder’s thinking, the two-nation theory had no further role to play in Pakistan and he wanted the animus against the Hindus, a valuable instrument for advancing the propaganda for creation of Pakistan, to be buried forever. But with his death in September 1948, Pakistan started treading a path, not charted out by him, and the question of religion as Pakistan’s ideology suddenly became a compelling issue.
The “˜unlslamic movement for Pakistan was now declared to have been a religious movement, which would enable the real Muslims to lead the country in the glorious ways of Islam.
The initiative was wrested by Islamic parties and groups led by Maulana Maudoodi, Amir Jamait-e-Islami (JI). Ironically, Maudoodi had stubbornly opposed the Muslim League’s plan for the creation of Pakistan on the grounds that such a demand went against the spirit of universalism of Islam. In Maudoodi’s eyes, Jinnah and his colleagues were not good Muslims as they were trying to split the Muslim Ummah and the agitation they were spearheading was un Islamic. In Maudoodi’s interpretation of Islamic political thought, there was neither a room for democracy nor for nationalism in an Islamic polity.
Conservatives to the Fore
Yet, soon after Pakistan’s birth, Maudoodi’s political philosophy underwent a dramatic change. Accepting the reality of the new state, he changed the focus of his activities towards justifying its birth. His earlier ideological opposition was transformed into efforts to give the new state a new ideology, the ideology of Islam. The two-nation theory was, thus, to be given a new lease of life. Maudoodi came out with fresh interpretations. The ‘unlslamic’ movement for Pakistan was now declared to have been a religious movement, which would enable the real Muslims to lead the country in the glorious ways of Islam. Jinnah became a good Muslim for having led such a drive. All such concepts as a Pakistani nation and Muslim nationalism stood legitimised. There remained, however, a deep-rooted reservation. Western style democratic values were still an anathema, even with the new prescriptions.
The orthodox and religious groups like the JI interpreted the Objectives Resolution as sanctifying Islam to be the ideology of Pakistan but there has been no official document till today, making a proclamation to this effect.
The objectives resolution adopted by the Constituent Assembly on March 7, 1949, moved the ethos of Pakistan away from the dreams of Jinnah and relocated its ideological centre of gravity in Islam. The resolution placed ultimate sovereignty over Pakistan in Allah’s hands. “The sovereignty of the people was exercisable only within limits prescribed by Him.” Islam would thus serve as the overarching fountain for constitutional values. “The principles of democracy, equality, tolerance and social justice as enunciated by Islam shall be fully observed.” Minorities were promised freedom “to profess and practise their religions and develop their cultures.” The context clearfy indicated that this freedom to the non-Muslims to order their spiritual and temporal lives would be within the concepts governed by the principles of Islam.4