Pakistan: Remembering Bhutto & Jinnah
December 26th, 2008
By SWARAAJ CHAUHAN, International Columnist
Pakistan media is paying tributes to two of its leaders this month — Benazir Bhutto who was killed this day last year, and Mohammad Ali Jinnah - described as ‘Father of Pakistan’ - who was born on December 25, 1876. Both these secular leaders gradually turned champions of peaceful co-existence with India.
The assassination of Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan’s most internationally recognised politician, shocked the country and the world, and devastated her supporters, reports the BBC.
In these uncertain times the sense of loss represented by Benazir Bhutto’s death has been compounded by “an Islamist insurgency threatening to spiral out of control, an economy in meltdown and dangerous tensions with India.” More here…
Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder and leader of Pakistan, is part of the undivided India’s pantheon of heroes. Jinnah and Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi were among the leading hundreds of Muslim and Hindu leaders who worked shoulder to shoulder to free the undivided India from the humiliating and exploitative colonial rule.
While the Pakistani establishment swears by Jinnah’s name, he has been effectively consigned to the dustbin of history. The high and mighty in India, too, have consigned Gandhi to a similar bin.
Both were giants among the pygmies that have flourished in India and Pakistan. The Pakistani and Indian leaders display these two leaders’ photographs in their offices and build memorials/institutions in their names, but do exactly the opposite of what these two great visionaries wanted their countries to be.
What was Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan? “Jinnah envisioned a secular state for Pakistan, a theme he repeatedly touched upon in his speeches. Nevertheless, this aspect of his ideology never materialised, possibly due to his death during the months immediately following Pakistan’s achievement of independence.
“Speaking to Constituent Assembly of Pakistan (Karachi August 11, 1947), he (Jinnah) said: ‘If we want to make this great State of Pakistan happy and prosperous we should wholly and solely concentrate on the well-being of the people, and especially of the masses and the poor…
“You are free - you are free - to go to your temples or mosques or any other place of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion, caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the state… in due course of time Hindus will cease to be Hindus and Muslims will cease to be Muslims - not in a religious sense for that is the personal faith of an individual - but in a political sense as citizens of one state’.”
Among a majority of thinking people, whether in urban or far-flung rural areas in Pakistan and India, Jinnah and Gandhi remain iconic figures of the 20th century who contributed a great deal to give the people of India and Pakistan freedom and honour.
For The Pakistani Spectator’s tribute to Jinnah please click here…