Questioning the Idea of Pakistan – Karamatullah K Ghori

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Pakistani students carry a giant national flag at the mausoleum of the founder of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah during a ceremony to mark the country's Independence Day in Karachi on August 14, 2012.
Pakistani students carry a giant national flag at the mausoleum of the founder of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah during a ceremony to mark the country’s Independence Day in Karachi

Those whose mission is to tarnish Pakistan and its founder seem to have styled their own, vicious and snide, anti-Pakistan campaign exactly on the paradigm of Islamophobia. Its protagonists are going about their work with single-minded devotion to paint Jinnah as a misguided soul with no sense of history—exactly on the model of Jinnah, the sub-continental ‘villain’ as portrayed in the Indian and some of the British narratives on the Partition of 1947

KARAMATULLAH K GHORI | Special to Caravan Daily

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hat could be a more appropriate and opportune time than the Independence Day of Pakistan to get your perspective right on its history and genesis?

The marked exuberance and festivity of this, 69 th, Independence Day of Pakistan couldn’t be lost on anyone keeping a regular watch on the Pakistani scene. It was just unprecedented in its warmth and enthusiastic participation of the people, both at home and abroad.

The news media has, no doubt, been a huge catalyst in the triggering of mass awareness about the importance of the day. On their part, the people, knowing that a news-hungry media will lap up whatever show of festivity is staged by them, haven’t disappointed. They mustered the kind of resources rarely seen before to usher in a carnival-like spectacle to underline the significance of the day in their hearts. It was, in a convoluted sense, a team work of the media and the people of Pakistan that catapulted the event to unprecedented heights of celebration.

But while none could, now, have any reason to doubt how positively cued the people of Pakistan—including the world-wide Pakistani diaspora—are on the importance of the most notable date on their national calendar, it wouldn’t be irrelevant to pose the question: are they getting the right perspective on Pakistan and its history?

Am I being cynical in asking this question? Has it any reality with the times, or have it just plucked it out of the blue to come up with a rhetorical argument?

Not at all; I stand on solid ground.

What has forced me to ask a ticklish question—which may look odd to many, especially those accustomed to believing whatever is seen by their eyes as the only and whole truth?

Forcing me to wade into murky waters is the feedback I’ve been getting from the social media on the history and genesis of Pakistan, especially the Freedom Movement of the Muslims of India that ultimately spawned from its womb the sovereign State of Pakistan on August 14, 1947.

Those closely—or, in this case, not even so-closely—following the rise of Pakistan’s social media, in tandem with the public news media, would agree that the growth of social media is like mushrooms proliferating in the salubrious clime of the desert.

The cyber age has empowered the individual as never before. Gone are the days when even those with a flourishing pen found it hard to tap into the medium of news or information to get their message across.

No more that sense of helplessness—none at all. Anyone with a mouse and curser, and handy with a tablet, lap-top or a smart phone, is now his own master and free to get on to the scene like a party gatecrasher. No barriers, no censors, no one, absolutely no one, in a position to prevent an internet-savvy person from putting his message across the whole blue world of the cyber age.

But—and it’s a huge but—this unbridled freedom to say what one wants to say is also a dangerous thing. It’s dangerous because in the wrong hands—like any other invention of mankind—it can be used to corrupt minds and vitiate their whole thought process.

Pakistan Air Force cadets march at the mausoleum of Pakistan founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah in Karachi. AFP photo.
Pakistan Air Force cadets march at the mausoleum of Pakistan founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah in Karachi. AFP photo.

There’s no argument that cyber age’s connectivity is being abused with impunity by those whose message is hate, not love; brain-washing, not the flowering of healthy debate or cultivation of novel ideas.

According to surveys, there are at least 300 websites freely propagating their lethal messages of hate and terrorism in the name of their benighted take on religion. Isn’t that a thing much worse than trafficking in drugs?

Likewise there are cyber junkies and cyber criminals pouring out their bile against Islam. Suffering from the now-commonly-prevalent Islamophobia of the West, these hate-mongers are targeting the younger generation of global Muslims because it’s easier to brain-wash a young, callow an uninitiated mind than an old and jaded one.

The tool most commonly wielded by Islamophobes is to conjure up fantasies and tales with no relevance to history of Islam. The object is to sow doubts in the minds of their targets. It’s clever, it’s disingenuous. Create doubts about the foundations of a building, or its architect, and it becomes easier to induce the target to agree to raze the whole structure. That’s why there has been a well-oiled and well-funded campaign in the West, since 9/11 in particular, to target the Holy Prophet of Islam (PBUH) and caricature him in colors that are, to say the least, disparaging.

The tool most commonly wielded by Islamophobes is to conjure up fantasies and tales with no relevance to history of Islam. The object is to sow doubts in the minds of their targets. It’s clever, it’s disingenuous. Create doubts about the foundations of a building, or its architect, and it becomes easier to induce the target to agree to raze the whole structure

Those whose phobia is to tarnish Pakistan and its founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, seem to have styled their own, vicious and snide, anti-Pakistan campaign exactly on the paradigm of Islamophobia. Its protagonists are going about their work with single-minded devotion to paint Jinnah as a misguided soul with no sense of history—exactly on the model of Jinnah, the sub-continental ‘villain’ as portrayed in the Indian and some of the British narratives on the Partition of 1947.

The anti-Pakistan and anti-Jinnah campaign is also subtle, fine- tuned to make it hard for the novice to see through the Satanic spirit of the game.

I was horrified, recently, when I came across a long-winded petty intellectual, claiming to have boned into the freedom movement that spawned Pakistan, and stridently ridiculing the Pakistanis for celebrating their Independence Day on August 14. To him the real date was August 15 of Pakistan’s independence.

The logic for August 15 being the real date of independence is that the so-called Instrument of Transfer of Power, from the British Govt. to the new Dominions of India and Pakistan, became effective from mid-night between August 14 and 15. A clever logic, its proponents might think and give themselves a pat on their back because it can’t be refuted on technicalities.

But Muhammad Ali Jinnah was sworn in as Governor-General of Pakistan on August 14, in the presence of Lord Mountbatten, who had aspired to head both the new dominions but was brow-beaten in his clever and nefarious game by Jinnah. So why shouldn’t Pakistanis celebrate August 14 as their Day of Independence? Didn’t they say good-bye to the oppressive British yoke, as personified by that mischievous Mountbatten, on that day, August 14? Why should anyone dispute or ridicule their right to mark the anniversary of their country on the day they got their Quaid proclaimed as their leader and ruler?

Back at the core of this ‘intellectual’ offensive against the citadel of Pakistani belief in their history is to sow doubts in their mind about the very genesis of Pakistan.

Imagine, you make a person diffident or doubtful about his date of birth and a train of questions sets off in his mind about a lot of other things related to his life. It opens up myriad avenues for his critics and detractors to knock the bottom out of his faith in life.

The persona and character of Jinnah has been in the sights of these rogues for some time. Jinnah not walking into Mountbatten’s trap on the issue of GG hurts these mealy-mouthed partisans of the Raj a lot. Instead of complimenting Jinnah for standing up to Mountbatten’s shenanigans, they have been slinging mud on him for being ‘obstinate’ and ‘unbending.’

Jinnah wasn’t obstinate; he was resolute and firm because he had the vision to see through the British game. What a mockery of sovereignty of the new state it would have made if the last standard-bearer of the heinous and exploitative Raj were its first head. Jinnah was far too astute and upright to be led down the garden path by the likes of an Indian National Congress-aficionado Mountbatten.

A similarly snide and vicious vilification campaign has also been on against the rulers and denizens of the Muslim-majority Princely states of British India, which were technically free to decide their own future under the law that had subjected them to the British Raj. But, as known to all, the rulers of those states whose political leanings were a matter of doubt had their arm twisted by Nehru and Mountbatten to bend in favor of Hindu India. Character-assassination of those working for these princely states has been fodder to the grisly cannons of these detractors of Muslim Pakistan.

It was serendipity that led to me a wonderful book, Evocative Epistles, which, in its historical contents, forcefully nails this persistent canard of perceived perfidy committed by the princely states. The book is based on letters exchanged between Khan Sahib Mahmood Ahmad Faruqui and some ex-British civil servants in UK who, during their illustrious careers, had served in various distinguished capacities in the administration of the Raj.

MA Faruqui had served on commission in the Royal Indian Navy but made his mark as a civil servant. He was Development Minister in the princely State of Tonk on the eve of the 1947 partition, whence he moved to Pakistan and served in the Foreign Office with dedication.

Evocative Epistles is a compendium of letters exchanged between MA Faruqui and mainly three retired British civil servants in India—Sir Arthur Lothian, who had served as Resident of the Raj in Hyderabad State, the largest of India’s Princely States but later acquired great fame as author of The Kingdoms of Yesterday ; Sir Duncan Mackenzie, who was Resident in Jodhpur, among other prominent assignments; and Sir Conrad Corfield.

Corfield had the distinction of being Political Advisor to Mountbatten but fell out with him with regard to the uncouth last Viceroy’s openly pro-Congress shenanigans that crudely twisted the arms of many a prince to fall in line behind Nehru. The most blatant abuse of the Viceroy’s exalted position was witnessed, of course, in Kashmir—the poisonous fallout of which we are still saddled with.

MA Faruqui distinguished himself in the letters he wrote his former English superiors and colleagues—by then comfortably nestled in their retirement groves in England—as a forthright advocate of Pakistan’s position in regard to the tangled issues of the partition, especially the palpably unjust and dishonest deal given to Pakistan.

Faruqui had a powerful pen, no doubt. His crystal-clear and lucid English prose is delightfully evocative of the mastery civil servants in India had acquired, through their brains and dint of labor, in the alien ruler’s language.

But what should impress any student of Pakistan’s history, especially its formative phase of the Freedom Movement, is the boldness of Faruqui’s conviction that Pakistan was dealt a very rough deal in the garb of the Boundary Award of Cyril Radcliff. He doesn’t mince words or pull any punches in hammering the disgusting cloak-and-dagger tactics deployed by Mountbatten and some English civil servants to tailor the award in favour of India.

What the deadly-duo of Nehru and Mountbatten—who were in an unholy axis and, more than that, in an immoral partnership—pulled off with success at Pakistan’s expense is history too well known to need any repetition here. But kudos to Faruqui that he boldly pointed out to his British friends the abiding shame Mountbatten, in his lust, had brought to the traditional claim of British fairness.

Credit is due also to Faruqui’s interlocutors that they conceded his masterly expose of Mountbatten & Co.’s unholy shenanigans, though doing so with characteristic English trait of understatement.

Books like Evocative Epistles should be read with scholarly interest by those keen to refresh their knowledge, or memories, of the Pakistan Movement and the birth of Pakistan as a sovereign state. If nothing else, they are useful in seeing through the mischief of those whose mission—inspired by their pay-masters—is to heap scorn on Jinnah’s sterling character and make light of the historic struggle of Muslims of India for their own independent state.

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All opinions and views expressed in columns and blogs and comments by readers are those of individual writers and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Caravan Daily

 

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