Jinnah and Minorities. By Prof. Kamran James

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Quaid-i-zam Muhammad Ali Jinnah while depicting the outline of the future constitution of God gifted state of Pakistan in the first constituent assembly of Pakistan under the president ship of a minority representative jogender Nath Mandal very frankly said:
“Pakistan is not a theocratic state we would treat the people of other religions with tolerance. We welcome all persons irrespective of caste, color or creed as being the equal citizen of Pakistan”
This was a reaffirmation of what Jinnah had told Don Campbell, Reuter’s correspondent in New Delhi in 1946
“The new state would be democratic state with sovereignty resting in the people and the members of the new nation having equal rights of citizenship regardless of their religion, caste or creed”.
After being elected the first president of the constituent assembly on 11th August 1947, Jinnah delivered his memorable presidential address. It is one of his most important speeches in which he clearly outlined the ideal and concept of Pakistan. The first duty of the government, he declared was maintenance of law and order and protection of life, property and religious beliefs of the citizens.
He called upon the majority and minority communities in Pakistan, Muslims and Hindus respectively, to bury the hatchet, forget the past and cooperate with each other. He exhorted them to concentrate on the well being of the people, especially of the poor. He declared that all citizens of Pakistan regardless of their color caste or creed would enjoy equal rights privileges and obligations.
The Quaid Said:
“I cannot emphasis it too much we should begin to work in that spirit and in course of time all these angularities of the majority and minority communities, the Hindu community and the Muslim community- because even as regards Muslims you have Pathans, Punjabis, Sunnis, Shias and so on an among the Hindus you have Brahmans, vashnavas, khatris, also Bengalese, madrasis, and so on-will vanish. Indeed if you ask me this has been the biggest hindrance in the way of India to attain the freedom and independence and but for this, we would have been free people long ago. No power can hold another nation, and especially a nation of 400 million souls in subjection: nobody could have conquered you, and even if it had happened, nobody could have continued its hold on you for any length of time but for this. Therefore we must learn a lesson from this.”
He then proceeded to affirm the right to religious freedom in the following words:
“You are free: you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this state of Pakistan . You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the state”.
He further added Now, I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in course of time, Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the state.
It is evident from the speech that Jinnah’s prescription for the constitution of Pakistan included guarantees that: one, all citizens of Pakistan would be equal regardless of their belief, caste or creed: two, that all citizens would be guaranteed freedom to practice whatever religion they believed in : three, that all religious, sectarian, ethnic, linguistic and other similar distinction would cease no matter in political sense, and the constitution would ensure that the nation should progress regardless of such distinction and four that Pakistan would not be a theocratic state and religion would be a citizen’s personal matter.
Commenting on Don Campbell question (writer’s correspondent in New Delhi regarding the protection of the minorities in the new state of Pakistan.
Muhammad Ali Jinnah very clearly stated:
“There is only one answer. The minorities must be protected and safeguarded. The minorities in Pakistan will be the citizens of Pakistan and enjoy all the rights privileges and obligations of citizenship without any distinction of caste, sect. They will be treated justly and fairly .The government will run the administration and control the legislative measures by its parliament and the collective conscience of the parliament itself will be a guarantee that the minorities need have any apprehensions of any injustice being done to them. Over and above that there will be provisions for the protection and safeguard of the minorities which in my opinion must be embodied in the constitution itself. And this will leave no doubt as to the fundamental rights of the citizens ‘protection of religion and faith of every section freedom of thought and protection of their cultures and social life .
On another occasion Jinnah Said
“Pakistan does not merely postulates the freedom for the Muslims we want freedom for the both Muslims and Hndus.There cannot be Pakistan without securing freedom for Hindustan”( Speech at F.C College Lahore March 31,1946)
In short Jinnah visualized Pakistan as a modern progressive and democratic state whose energies would be harnessed towards the uplift of the people, especially the masses and the poor and evils such as corruption, bribery, black-marketing, nepotism and jobbery would be stamped out.

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