By Qudsia Farhat
Politicians the world over have an uncanny habit of making preposterous statements to hide their own inadequacies or being challenged for their inadequacy. Pakistani politicians are no exception. The recent drought in Thar, which resulted in the loss of hundreds of precious lives, mostly children, appears more gruesome since it could have been prevented. While the provincial government was singing and dancing in the much touted Sindh Festival, mimicking “Nero fiddled while Rome burnt”, the people, infants and cattle were dying of starvation.
To rub salt in the wound, a leader of the Pakistan People’s Party, currently Deputy Speaker of the Sindh Assembly, when confronted with the gross negligence of the provincial government on a private TV channel, tried to confuse the issue by making a preposterous statement that the popular slogan adopted by the Muslim League during the Pakistan Movement: “Pakistan ka Matlab Kia, La Ilaha Illallah” is not associated with Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah or the struggle for Pakistan. Unfortunately, the PPP leader Shehla Raza went on to claim that this slogan was never part of Pakistan movement and that she was ready to debate the issue at any forum. She argued that Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in his address had said that all sects are free to offer prayers according to their religion.
The facts must be put in their correct perspective. Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who was initially a proponent of an independent India and a staunch member of the Indian Congress, soon realized that after the departure of the British, when India gained freedom, the Muslims, being outnumbered by the Hindus, would only have a change of masters. He thus changed his stance to seek a separate homeland for the Muslims of the Indian Sub-Continent. During his historic Presidential address to the All India Muslim League on 23 March 1940, where the Pakistan Resolution was adopted, the Quaid’s clarion call: “Come forward as servants of Islam, organize the people economically, socially, educationally and politically and I am sure that you will be a power that will be accepted by everybody” leaves no ambiguity to his vision.
Perhaps Ms. Raza is confusing history with the Quaid’s speech to the Constituent Assembly where the he stated: “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed. This has nothing to do with the business of the State.” This speech was made when the emergence of Pakistan had become a reality and the Quaid wanted to reassure the minorities that they were equal citizens of an independent Pakistan to practice their religious rites with freedom. Ms. Raza remains oblivious to the Quaid’s declaration that “Pakistan is the Castle of Islam. Pakistan should one day serve as platform for renaissance of the Caliphate System across the Muslim world.”
As far as the catchphrase “Pakistan ka Matlab Kiya La Ilaha Ilallah” is concerned, it is true that it was never endorsed formally as a slogan of the All India Muslim League but it was the embodiment of the rallying point for the Muslims of the sub-continent for an independent Pakistan. The idea became a quintessence that fueled the Muslim sentiments exponentially and thereby escalating the ideological movement of Pakistan.
Politicians of the ilk of Shehla Raza would be better advised to read upon the principles, which our founding fathers based the creation of Pakistan, rather than distorting history and in the bargain hurt the feelings of patriotic citizens of Pakistan. National slogans and symbols are representation of the collective national will. At the time of partition, when the Muslims of the Indian Sub-Continent were down trodden and oppressed, leaders like the Quaid-e-Azam, Allama Iqbal and Liaquat Ali Khan led them to rally around the Kalima and strive for an independent nation; the same Pakistan, where these politicians are playing the game of politics, feathering their own nests but ignoring the downtrodden masses. On top of it they have the temerity to divert the attention of the media and the citizens by challenging the vision of the Quaid.
Certainly, Ms. Shehla Raza is also a Muslim and she should not shy away from the home truth that Pakistan was created on the basis of two nation theory which clearly explained that Muslims and Hindu were two different nationalities and Muslims needed a separate homeland to follow their Islamic norms and traditions. This is the gist of what the slogan “Pakistan ka Matlab Kia, La Ilaha Illallah” represents. It was true in the eventful years of 1940s and is true today.
The very name of Pakistan expresses its Islamic character. It was impressed into the 1956 Constitution, and is formally an integral part of the 1973 Constitution, which bears the signatures of every political party, whether secular, religious or otherwise. The Islamic identity of Pakistan remains carved into stone and cannot be challenged or changed by politicians, even to cloak their misdeeds or gross neglect.
Even at the time of the partition of India, there were Muslim leaders like Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, who opposed the creation of Pakistan and advised the Muslims residing in post partition India, not to migrate to the promised land of Pakistan. The rationale for their actions could have been not to dilute the strength of the Muslims in independent India or earn brownie points with the Hindus, is not clear.
Politicians like Ms. Shehla Raza are a chosen icon of Pakistan. They have been entrusted with the noble task of serving the people of Pakistan, which they must undertake with sincerity and dexterity. It is not becoming of them to speculate about Pakistan instead they should defend the ideology of the country, which was created for the Muslims of the Sub-Continent. Such politicians must concentrate on good governance and resolve the basic problems faced by people of Pakistan and Sindh especially the masses at Tharparker.