The Objectionable Resolution

Originally published in Newsweek Pakistan in the issue of March 21, 2011

The Original Secular Jinnah - Picture by AFP via Newsweek Pakistan

Those who believe Pakistan was created in the name of Islam are plain wrong.

History is never without its distortions, and depends on whose perspective it is written from. The murder of history becomes an even more heinous crime when it is done to serve and advance the interests of a few at the cost of all others. Some 63 years after independence, our poor, terror-pocked Pakistan remains a country in search of an ideology.

It has become institutionalized through sheer repetition that Pakistan was created in the name of Islam. This is a myth we are all being held hostage by.
The creation of Pakistan was rooted in fear, not religion. Indian Muslims feared subjugation by the Hindu majority—even in Muslim-majority states—in a post-Raj India. In fact, until 1945, “Pakistan” wasn’t even a real plan. In The History of the Idea of Pakistan, K. K. Aziz writes that our country’s founding father, Jinnah, reportedly said that the Lahore Resolution of 1940, which put forth the demand for a separate homeland for Indian Muslims, was a pressure tactic to have the wishes of the All India Muslim League respected. There’s also the fact that India’s Islamists didn’t want a new country even if it was founded “in the name of Islam.” Like other Indian Muslim leaders, Jinnah was modern and secular. And he was loathed by the religious right, especially Maududi’s Jamaat-e-Islami, which resisted the idea of Pakistan because they said it would divide the subcontinent’s Muslims.
The religious credentials of some Muslim leaders who supported the Congress were stronger than of those leading the Muslim League. Today’s mullahs would be hard pressed to cite the Islamic credentials of our revered founding fathers. When the Khilafat Movement was launched in 1919 to save the Ottoman Empire from collapse after its defeat in World War I, it was supported by Gandhi, who wanted to win over Muslims. Jinnah and Iqbal both opposed it, strongly. As Husain Haqqani has argued in Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military, after the consolidation of British power in the late 19th century, India’s Muslim leaders often did not define themselves in terms of religion, but rather through territorial nationalism.
For those seeking a common thread to frame the story of Indian Muslims, religion was a convenient tool. Never mind that the Two Nation Theory—which held that Hindus and Muslims could not coexist in a single country—did not pan out and ignored the fact that Indian Muslims were never a homogenous group. Muslims in Bengal and Deccan, for example, were viewed by their coreligionists as potentates, usurpers, and invaders.
As negotiations for the creation of Pakistan intensified, Islam did not figure in the talks among the Muslim League, Congress, and the British. Even in the fieriest of speeches at the Muslim League session in Lahore on March 23, 1940, concerns were aired to save not Islam per se, but Muslims. Fazl-ul-Haq argued in his address that Muslims could not count on the constitutional safeguards provided for minorities, that they must stand up for their rights. Indian Muslim leaders were concerned about political—not religious—rights, and were seeking parity with the non-Muslim majority.
Pakistani nationalism relies on the myth that our country was founded on the basis of saving Islam. This myth was given a life of its own when the Constituent Assembly passed the Objectives Resolution in March 1949, ensuring that mosque and state would never be separate in Pakistan. From there flowed the rebirth of Pakistan as the “Islamic Republic,” the outlawing of Ahmadis, and those miserable Zia years. This myth has allowed the jaundiced worldview of the religious right—which opposed the creation of Pakistan—to become the mainstream narrative. It encourages those who aim to suppress, persecute, maim, and kill in the name of Islam to carry on with impunity and preach their poison because we all continue to falsely believe that Pakistan’s raison d’être was to rescue Islam.
It is said that serious damage is done when nations distort and deny their past, vowing not to learn from history. As Pakistanis, we are witnessing a most painful illustration of this axiom.
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54 thoughts on “The Objectionable Resolution

  1. sanjithmenon says:

    You can save Jinnah Saheb, Marviji, but How about, your National poet and philosopher Iqbal. Here is what he rights in reconstruction of religious thought in Islam “I confess to be a pan-Islamist. The mission for which, Islam came into this world will ultimately be fulfilled, the world will ultimately be purged of infidelity and the worship of false gods, and the true soul of Islam will be triumphant. This is the kind of pan-Islamicism that I preach”. “Islam as a religion has no country”. He was a great friend and helper of Jinnah, hope you have read the letters exchanged between, them. Its like, in India we can deny Tagore and accept Gandhiji!

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    • Lhori says:

      Iqbal was not member of any islamist party at that time, neither in Ahrar, nor in Jamiat ulma hind..why
      he did not support khilafat movement…ur gandhi was suporter of khilafat movement…..in his 1930 speech he stressed on role of majority muslim provinces The Punjab and Bengal, after 1947, power circles tried to made iqbal an islamist but they failed to deduct his poems in grace of RAM, NANAK, etc

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      • abc says:

        @Lhori, I do not think that quoting Iqbal’s praise for nanak or ram or neitzche answers the argument that menon sahib has raised. Iqbal was very open and accepting towards the views of all original thinkers before him and around him. This does not prove that he was not a staunch believer in the finality of islamic philosophy. He clearly was, as elucidated by what mr. menon quoted from ‘reconstruction’ and the same references can be found throughout the book. Specially the seventh chapter.

        However a more appropriate answer to menon sahibs question would be the idea that iqbal did not think of islam as a mere religion with doctrines. He did not believe in the common man’s idea of religion, specially when concerning islam. Well illustrated by this excerpt from his diary (now published by the slow and incompetent people at iqbal academy); he says that when asked the question “do you believe in the existence of God”, he usually asks the inquirer to first define the words “believe”, “existence” and “God”, before elaborating any further on the answer.

        Iqbal was clearly an agnostic, if you try to judge him with the common-mind’s understanding of religion. The islam that he talks about is more of an ideological thought-process to achieve certain spiritual objectives. And his devotion to islam is a devotion to that particular thought-process, not to the commonplace religious doctrine.

        And hence the humble suggestion to read ‘reconstruction’ as a book and not as excerpt.

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  2. Ali says:

    @sanjithmenon
    Iqbal died even before the Lahore resolution was passed. And he always talked about the whole Hindustan not just Pakistan. He is well respected in India as well due to the anthem “saray jahan say acha Hindustan humara”. So, he cannot be held responsible for the partition of India

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  3. BA says:

    Author is correct to point out Objective Resolution 1949, denial of basic human rights to Ahmadis and miserable Zia years as completely opposite to Jinnah’s ideas.

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  4. sanjithmenon says:

    Excerpt From, Inam Aziz`s Book, Stop Press,
    Jinnah became governor-general of Pakistan and untouchable Mandal was his law minister, and when he made his famous August 11 speech about giving the non-Muslims the full right of practice of their religion, information officer Col Majid Malik phoned Dawn and told journalist FE Brown that the portion relating to citizens’ rights and religious beliefs should be omitted. The first ‘press advice’ had arrived. The instruction had come from Chaudhry Muhammad Ali, the secretary general. Editor Altaf Hussain put aside the advice and published the full speech (p.21).

    Later, under President Yahya Khan, information minister General Sher Ali was so put off by this speech that he wanted it taken out of records and burnt.

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    • Lhori says:

      altaf hussain was one of the key players and advisers with ch muhammad ali and most of the crimes of liaqat ali khan atributed with these two players. it was civil and military gazette who was not ready to published edited version. then Dawn of Altaf, Pakistan times of Faiz, Nawa e waqat of nizami all jointly lanched a campaign against CMG in 1948 and then it was banned for three months…read press in chains

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  5. Khurram Ansari says:

    Well for what ever reason it was created, we all should feel blessed that it was created.

    Even prophets were not perfect as humans, so there is no point in blaming leaders.

    Emotions apart history proves Jinnah was the only great leader we had in Sub-continent which gave us a homeland even if he was not fact remains India remains divided today.

    Fact also remains that it is because of this homeland that people like you Marvi.. have a voice and you can speak and express (still not perfect). Whether for religion or for civil liberty,or for separate identity, fact of the matter is Pakistan exists today… so lets talk less and walk more, criticize less and contribute more, its easy to write sizzling article lets also try another easy thing try to produce ideas solutions.

    There is another hard and unfortunate aspect of partition and that is millions lost their lives on both sides of the isles ( how about remembering those people) and others left begging on the shore for a life to start from scratch and to add more spice, people got separated from kith and kins -families. Lost their identity, some even saw Abbu Jan staying back in India and Ammi Jan moving to Pakistan with big one family system!

    Just a thought has any one tried to research actual real life problems of north Indians in India.

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