A Pakistani’s Perspective
What We Gained, What We Lost
Building a state and a nation based on faith and ideology cost us dear
Dr. Mazhar Abbas
Ideology has been central to state building and nation building in Pakistan since day one. Referring to the historic speech of the country’s founder and father of the nation, Muhammad Ali Jinnah (known as the Quaid-i-Azam), which he delivered on 11 August 1947 while addressing the first Constituent Assembly, some claim Some say that Pakistan should be a theocratic (religious) state while some others believe that it should be a secular state.
The conflict and conflict of ideological tendencies has caused many talented and capable people to refrain from playing their role in the building of the state and the nation. For example, a non-Muslim cannot be elected Prime Minister or President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, no matter how talented he is.
Jogendranath Mandal (a Hindu by faith) and Sir Muhammad Zafarullah Khan (an Ahmadi, who was later declared a non-Muslim) were among Quaid-e-Azam’s most trusted associates. That is why he chose him as the Law Minister and Foreign Minister respectively in the first cabinet of the newly formed country.
Several analysts and writers argue that these developments indicate the progressive nature of the nascent state. In other words, it means that talented and capable people, irrespective of their religion, should be given space, opportunities and responsibilities. As a result of Quaid-e-Azam’s death, not only did both of them have to resign from their ministries and positions, but they were also forced to go into exile. And this happened simply because of their conflicting beliefs.
Jogendranath Mandal, despite belonging to a Dalit (lower caste Hindu) family, has the distinction of representing the All India Muslim League as a minister in the pre-partition political setup of India in 1946. Mandal not only became Pakistan’s first Law Minister, but also voted in favor of the resolution conferring the title of Quaid-e-Azam on Muhammad Ali Jinnah (although all other minority members opposed the resolution).
In addition, he urged the untouchables of Sylhet district to vote in the plebiscite to join Pakistan instead of India. The Mandal also has the distinction of supporting the resolution objectives on the one hand and campaigning for a separate constituency for the untouchables on the other. He was praised for Aul Dhakr. While for the latter, he was removed from office. He was so disappointed that he left the country and returned to India in 1950.
A graduate of Government College Lahore and King’s College London, Sir Muhammad Zafarullah Khan, a distinguished jurist and diplomat, met a similar fate. Controversy over his faith eclipsed his ability. Khan was labeled anti-Pakistan and traitor.
He was one of those politicians who left the Unionist Party to join the All India Muslim League in the early 1930s and dedicated himself to the cause of the Muslims of India. Zafarullah Khan was the president of the League from 1931-1932 and represented it at the Round Table Conferences held in London between 1930 and 1932, where he did his best to advocate and defend the demands of Indian Muslims. He is also credited with drafting the famous Lahore Resolution (later called the Pakistan Resolution) of 1940. Zafarullah Khan also represented the Muslim League in the Punjab Boundary Commission.
Khan became a member of the Viceroy’s Executive Council in 1935 and served as Minister of Railways for two years. He also represented British India in the League of Nations in 1939. He was the only Indian to represent India in both the League of Nations and the United Nations. In addition, he served as a judge of the Federal Court of India from 1941 to 1947.
After the establishment of Pakistan, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah appointed him as the first foreign minister of Pakistan. Khan led the first Pakistani delegation to the United Nations. He presented Pakistan’s case for Kashmir in the United Nations and opposed the establishment of Israel. Addressing the meeting in 1949, Zafarullah Khan insisted on demilitarizing the state of Kashmir and holding a free referendum. “It shall be the duty of the poll administrator to establish such conditions as to ensure and guarantee that the poll is free and impartial in all respects,” he asserted.
Despite being one of Jinnah’s most trusted soldiers and rendering invaluable services to the Pakistani state, Sir Zafarullah was forced to resign in 1954 and go into self-imposed exile. While in exile, he had the honor of serving as a judge, vice-president and president of the International Court of Justice.
Moreover, he was also the President of the United Nations General Assembly during 1962-1963.
After the death of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, some cunning bureaucrats of the nascent country started using tactics to seize power. They specifically targeted non-Muslim politicians and officials who could potentially challenge their authority or power and question their policies.
Together with the religious and political leaders of the right wing, he started questioning the faith and patriotism of such leaders. The then Secretary General of the Cabinet Secretariat Chaudhary Muhammad Ali (later Finance Secretary, Finance Minister, and Prime Minister) stopped showing some Cabinet documents to the Law Minister, alleging that Mandal was untrustworthy and unpatriotic.
Pakistan could not capitalize on the talent of people like Jogendranath Mandal and Sir Zafarullah Khan and this election has cost the country dearly ever since.