Red, White and Black

If Jinnah were to return…
15 January, 2006, 4:16 pm
Filed under: Pakistan, Politics

Dr Ahmad Faruqui writes

What would happen if Mohammad Ali Jinnah were to return to Pakistan, the creation of which is considered his miracle, inspiring one biographer to compare him with Salahuddin and another with Moses?Jinnah’s death has spawned a myth that is now firmly entrenched in Pakistani culture. It asserts that, but for his early death, Pakistan would have been a brilliant success.

It is true that Jinnah died much before the necessary civilian machinery had fallen into place. After a rocky political decade, the army took over. Military rule brought a few years of stability but it did not allow for the development of an independent legislature, judiciary, bureaucracy or media.

But the converse — had Jinnah lived longer, Pakistan would have been a brilliant success — is a myth. By challenging it, one can lose friends quickly.

So here are my five doubts about the myth.

First, why did Jinnah choose to dilute the authority of the post of prime minister by not taking that position, like Nehru had done in India?

Second, would Jinnah have been able to prevent the conflict with India that would lead to half a century of armed conflict and drain Pakistan of much needed economic and financial resources?

Third, would Jinnah have been able to prevent the gradual estrangement of the eastern wing that ultimately led to its secession in 1971?

Fourth, would Jinnah have been able to resist US pressure to join the Baghdad Pact (which later became CENTO) and SEATO in the early-to-mid-1950s and keep Pakistan non-aligned during the Cold War?

Fifth, would he have been able to prevent the rise of the Pakistani Army as the country’s dominant political institution?

Being an honest man, Jinnah might conclude that he had opened a Pandora’s box by injecting religion into politics and that his August 11, 1947, speech had been unable to undo that. He might realise that by not leaving behind competent successors, he may have prevented the development of potent civilian institutions. And he might admit that by constantly reminding the Muslims of the threat posed by Hindu domination, he had established the primacy of the military.

Only a state that has succumbed to regimented thinking would fail to see the contradiction in calling for the people of Kashmir to be given the right of self-determination for 58 years, while continuing to deny its own people the right to elect their own government.

Jinnah would conclude that Pakistan had failed him. But will the barrister, who was once the ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity, call for the annulment of Partition? That is the $64 million question.

Historical conjecturing does not really help but nonetheless, these are interesting questions.


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

nice collection…perhaps this would allow me to figure out new stuff from you..

well im saad and new to blogging. I just wanted t have a skimmed view from you. See what can you suggest 🙂

aa one thing…there is a riddle section…. there on right clicks section…Do read a thread …”Aquarius Age…”. You’ll enjoy reading…

Comment by saad

What a thought provoking post!
Makes one think of ” If Gandhi were to return…?”

Comment by Id it is

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