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
The Objectives Resolution had the effect of giving Pakistan a-permanent reorientation towards Islam though it was not said that Pakistan was an Islamic state or that Islam would be the ideology of the state. The reorientation was largely a response to the need to give continuity to the two-nation theory and to emphasise that Islam was the raison-de-etre of Pakistan. It was intended to serve a binding’ function.
Bonding Role for Islam
The binding function was greatly relevant to Pakistan since it was not yet a nation state but was actually a state nation. Stalin had defined a nation as a historically evolved, stable community of language, territory, economic life and psychological make-up manifested in the community of culture.5 The subjective factor of identity also plays a role in defining a nation. Pakistan, at its inception, consisted of ethno linguistic groups, which did not share many of those characteristics, which could identify them as one nation. Pir Pagara was an exponent of Sindhi nationalism whose political objectives for Sindh differed widely from those of Jinnah.
The Pakhtoon and Baluch tribes had long enjoyed a sovereign or quasi-sovereign status in the British as well as pre British period. The Punjabis had not been converted into supporters of the Pakistan idea until the close of the 1940s. The Bengalis were manifestly different from the people who lived in the western segment of what became Pakistan. Religion was the only connecting link. There was, ‘thus, a compulsive need to use Islam to define Pakistan as a nation.
Islam never became an issue in popular perception. The people of Pakistan, by and large, displayed secular tendencies, differentiating between the roles of religion in personal life and political life.
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 anomaly can be explained in several ways.
Firstly, Islam means different things to different people in the absence of consensus on interpretation of its texts and history. Islam itself creates neither ecclesiastical authority nor accords to the class of Ullemas a defining role. Shias and Sunnis differ widely among themselves and Sunni doctrines are variously applied by the four independent schools that have sprouted from them. Declaration of Qadianis as a non-Muslim minority was an eloquent commentary on the spirit of tolerance of the self-appointed guardians of Islam in Pakistan.
Secondly, Islam never became an issue in popular perception. The people of Pakistan, by and large, displayed secular tendencies, differentiating between the roles of religion in personal life and political life. In elections, the results always showed that the religious groups exist in the margins of political consciousness of the people.
Thirdly, certain Islamic concepts, while integral to Islam, cannot be reconciled with the evolving modern universally accepted principles of relationship between state, polity and governance.
The influence the religious groups were able to wield was far in excess of their political support in the country. They could do so because the ruling military, bureaucratic and feudal establishment in the country recognised early that with Islamic groups on their side, they would be able to dominate governance of the country. Islam, therefore, became a pillar of the state, the preservation of one being synonymous with the preservation of the other.
The influence the religious groups were able to wield was far in excess of their political support in the country.
This also gave a continuity to the sentiments of those who had been in the vanguard of the movement for Pakistan, and who were now members of the elite of the new nation, who had felt the non Muslims to be a threat to their interests then and who now believed that such threats had assumed even more dangerous overtones after Pakistan’s formation!
The Pakistan idea had been developed on the communal plank of “negative non Hinduism”. The League leaders had targeted Congress as a representative of Hindu interests. The adversarial approach had become a matter of principle and faith and was to be seen in operation at every turn and twist of politics in the country. Days before India was partitioned, as members of the Viceroy’s executive council, the League’s objective, as noted by one scholar was “to fight rather than cooperate” and its next step was to boycott the Constituent Assembly.6
The Pakistani establishment relied on the two-nation theory and Islam to sustain a combative mood against India.
With regard to the Princely States which were to be forbiddingly the Independence Act to declare themselves independent and sovereign, “the League did not show as much eagerness to persuade the states within the borders of Pakistan to join the new state as to dissuade Indian states from joining the Indian Union it was one of their major tasks to prevent the consolidation of India, to Balkanise it, if possible, in order to make the inevitable contrast between India and Pakistan in size and population look unimportant”.7
Other events relating to the partition and episodes thereafter augmented Pakistan’s suspicions and hatred against India, which was identified as Hindu rather than secular by the League leadership. The communal massacres of 1947, creating a refugee influx, the division of assets notably the military stores between India and Pakistan after the departure of the British, the Indus water dispute, and the incorporation of Junagarh into India (November, 1947) and Hyderabad (September, 1948) were cited in Pakistan as instances of malevolent intentions of India against Pakistan.
The tensions, which grew out of this forcible application of the two-nation theory, set the tone of all future relationships between India and Pakistan. The establishment in Pakistan felt that India had now also become a military threat to Pakistan.
The Radcliffe Award, giving Gurdaspur, the district that provided Indian access to J&K state to India, had elicited severe condemnation from Jinnah himself. Following this award, he was to describe Pakistan as moth-eaten and truncated. Some statements in India nostalgically hoping for reunification of the two countries or giving expression to the majority view in the Congress that partition was unfortunate, were seized upon in Pakistan to claim that India would try to undo Pakistan. The Pakistani establishment relied on the two-nation theory and Islam to sustain a combative mood against India.
Jinnah might have hoped that the truncated and moth-eaten structure of Pakistan would be somewhat rectified by the incorporation of J&K state into Pakistan but the simple logic behind his ordering a tribal incursion into the state, followed by infiltration of regular military troops, was the two-nation theory. Being a Muslim majority princely entity, he wanted to make sure that it became a part of Pakistan. As has been noted earlier, the influential Muslim political leaders in the state, like Sheikh Abdullah had no belief in such a theory. Accession of the state to India that inevitably followed, became in the Pakistan eyes a fraud by India.
The tensions, which grew out of this forcible application of the two-nation theory, set the tone of all future relationships between India and Pakistan. The establishment in Pakistan felt that India had now also become a military threat to Pakistan. Frequent recourse to Islam became one of the ways to combat the psychological pressures of such perceptions. There also commenced a drive to strengthen the Armed Forces, which have since grown into one of the largest in the world. Islam and Armed Forces have thus become the bedrock of the foundation of Pakistan.
Moves towards Islamisation
Pakistan, however, did not move full throttle towards Islamisation until General Zia-ul-Haq arrived on the scene in 1977 as a military dictator. The earlier period marked a tug of war between liberal politicians and western oriented bureaucratic-military hierarchy on one hand and the Islampasand orthodox parties and Ullemas on the other, over how much polity and governance could be Islamised. The former wished to keep the levers of power in their own hands but could not publicly go against the increasing Islamic demands of the latter. The latter, using Islam as an instrument, were anxious to get a foothold in the structure of power.
The first Pakistani Constitution of 1956 declared the country Islamic but gave no legislative or policy role to Islamic groups.
There often was a compromise between the two, which allowed the former’s political, economic and social interests to remain intact by and large, while at the same time not obstructing growth of orthodoxy. A demand for declaring Qadianis as non-Muslims in 1953 was thus not effectively countered by the establishment. The first Pakistani Constitution of 1956 declared the country Islamic but gave no legislative or policy role to Islamic groups. Only a Muslim could be the Head of the State but the Prime Minister was to be the fountainhead of all executive power. The constitution provided that no law contrary to the injunctions of Islam could be enacted but took away the power of the Judiciary to intervene if such a law actually got passed by the National Assembly.
Nevertheless, the role of the Ullema had increased in the body politic of Pakistan and it became all too evident during the 1965 election campaigns for the office of the President under the 1962 Constitution. The candidates were Fatima, Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s own sister, and General Ayub Khan who had seized power in 1957 and fathered Pakistan’s second Constitution of 1962. The elections were indirect and the voters were the basic democrats, members of the Village and Union Councils, known as basic democracies. Fatima was supported by JI, Ayub took recourse to Islam to neutralise her. At his instances several Islamic clerics issued fatwas against a woman becoming the head of a state in an Islamic country. Ayub Khan’s use of Islam for political purposes marked the beginnings of a relationship between the military as an institution and orthodox groups, which was to lead to greater Islamisation of the country.