By Tarik Jan

August 13, 2010 the Urdu daily Jang carried a news item in three-column space on its front page based on responses to its own opinion poll solicited from a number of intellectuals, bureaucrats, lawyers, industrialists on the advisability of having the Objectives Resolution (Article 2-A) in the constitution and whether it was in conflict with Mr. Jinnah’s speech of August 11, 1947. The news item was based on a questionnaire circulated to the respondents earlier.

We reproduce below the news item as splashed:

Leaving aside the first two headlines, we focus only on the third subhead. Translated it reads:

60 percent declared the Objectives Resolution (Q?r?r d?d maq?sid) in conflict with the Quaid’s speech of August 11, 1947 …”

It smelled foul, I thought. Either they were seeking answers from their secular pool and projecting it as majority opinion, which they often do, or they were up to some trick – hoodwinking people into believing something which were not true. After all, pro-India secularists have been trying to rewrite history by distorting facts, misreading into events, and foisting false images on their readers’ minds about the history of the Pakistan movement, Jinnah, and Iqbal.

The following day August 14 Jang printed the responses from their selected pool of eminent people answering to their questions. Since there was only one individual from the so-called segment of the ‘ulama and one from the minority (Baram d. Avari), six already declared secularists and the rest from the judiciary, academic, legal profession, business, bureaucracy, and the armed forces, they hoped they would swing the result to their favor. But they were heading for a surprise. Even Avari (my salute to him for his ability to read the wisdom behind the Objectives Resolution and its historical context) voted for Q?r?r d?d maq?sid.

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The truth is that if they had not included in the survey hardcore secularists like Ahmad Ali Kurd, Taj Muhammad Langa, Mannu Bhai, Munir Malik, Ashraf Nasir, and Moin Haider the number of the opponents to the Objectives Resolution would have reduced further.

The responses received spread over the Jang’s full four pages. For the sake of finding out the truth, I read the whole of their answers to this particular question. My suspicions came true. The Jang news desk was putting its words into the mouths of the respondents’ and manipulating their answers to serve the secular agenda. Jang was cheating and lying to their readers.

 According to my tabulation of the results, which I challenge daily Jang to dispute it, the following picture emerges contrary to what it splashed:

Total respondents: 29

Supporters of the Objectives Resolution (Q?r?r d?d-i maq?sid): 18 or 62 %

Opponents:  7 or 24 %

Those who did not answer the Objectives Resolution question: 3 or 10 %

Ambiguous answers: 2 or 4 %  

Evidently, a large number of 62 % favored the presence of the Objectives Resolution (Article 2-A) in the constitution. Looking at the answers from a certain angle one may say that the support for the resolution could have swelled further.

For instance, Moin Haider has a secular posturing. But after having declared the Objectives Resolution as the primary instigator for religious extremism, he says that since the Muslims are in majority “no law can be made against the Qur’an and the Sunnah.”

That he has created a problem for himself perhaps he does not know:  he opposes the presence of the Objectives Resolution for it talks of our nation’s Islamic essence and its future direction, which he thinks has caused extremism; in the same breath, however, he says there was no need for Article 2-A, for in a country where Muslims are in majority no lawmaking can be effectuated contrary to the Qur’an and the Sunnah. The contradiction he creates is entertaining: his views on lawmaking (whether the Objectives Resolution is scrapped or retained) would lead to the same “extremism” that he is so scared of.

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One may say he is a confused person for if he is not opposed to the Qur’an-Sunnah based legislation, then logically speaking he cannot be opposed to the Objectives Resolution for it articulates the same thing.

Interestingly enough he avoids declaring it in conflict with Mr. Jinnah’s speech. All he says is that the religious parties should not be participating in politics. Why would a democrat like him suggest proscription of politics for a religious party is a hard ball to catch.

Zial Haq Sarhadi, an industrialist, has conceded the necessity of the Objectives Resolution but then says that it did not ensure religious tolerance. Obviously, such a statement can only be made by a person who is not familiar with the text of the Objectives Resolution. Nevertheless he avoids declaring it opposed to Jinnah’s speech. One could have included his view as positive for the Objectives Resolution but being circumspect I would consider it as not clear.

Aqil Karim Dihdi, another businessman, is of the view that since Pakistan came into being as an independent state for the Muslims, the passage of the Objectives Resolution was proper. He however considers the subsequent changes made in the statutory laws “perhaps” (his expression) contrary to its spirit. To him, the Jinnah wanted all religious components of our society to be equally treated. As such, Dihdi is neither opposing the Objectives Resolution nor is he considering Jinnah’s speech in conflict with it. One can say he has a wobbly stance — not clear.

In this survey, there are two observations from our nation’s two prominent legal minds which make a gem of a study. Hafiz Lakhu has made a pointed observation. He supports the Objectives Resolution but while taking it as a touchstone of lawmaking considers Jinnah’s August 11 speech repugnant to it. He thinks August 11 speech has no constitutional merit for it lacked constitutional sanctity behind it. Lakhu’s point is very important for its legal validity and rectitude. His is a new voice in our legal discourse.

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Qazi Muhammad Anwar, former president Supreme Court Bar Association, while describing Islam as the basis of Pakistan has ruled Jinnah’s speech (especially the part quoted by Jang) repugnant to the Muslim sentiments. This is also an important observation for it affirms the Objectives Resolution as the primary constitutional clause to be respected.

Most important, the Jang survey violated the basic rules of such surveys as it was not randomly sampled – the responses were not taken from the general pool of the masses but deliberately included six known secularists whose views were already known about Islam and the Objectives Resolution. In all credible surveys, the questions framed are neutral so that the respondents are not influenced to a favored answer: leading questions are avoided. The survey was biased: it provided an excerpt from Mr. Jinnah’s speech to a question on the merit of his speech but avoided citing the Objectives Resolution and thus deprived the respondents for a fair comparison between the two.

As such, daily Jang violated all rules of public opinion polling universally known without any sense of shame, showing lack of professional integrity. It was a flagrant violation of everything associated with honest journalism. For sure, a subversive piece.