August 11: We are Sorry, Mr. Jinnah

Posted on August 11, 2009
Filed Under >Adil Najam, About ATP, History, Society
45 Comments
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Adil Najam

Today is August 11.

Sixty-two years ago, on this day, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Founder of Pakistan, made one of the most important speeches of his – and of Pakistan’s – life. A speech in which he laid out – in the most unambiguous terms – his vision for Pakistan and the rationale for that vision.

In this speech Mr. Jinnah laid out a detailed case for his argument and famously proclaimed:

…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 [Pakistan].

Read full text and a detailed analysis of the speech here.

Today is August 11.

Barely ten days ago in Gojra, in Mr. Jinnah’s Pakistan, over 50 houses belonging to Pakistani Christians were burnt down by a mob and at least half a dozen Pakistani Christians were murdered for still unproven charges under a draconian law neither whose intent nor whose vigilante implementation Mr. Jinnah could ever have tolerated.

Today is August 11.

Our government has declared today to be ‘Minorities Day,’ but neither our government nor we as a people are willing to repeal the draconian laws that enable the bigots amongst us to persecute the vulnerable and the marginalized amongst us.

Today is August 11.

Today, once again, we will shower platitudes on Mr. Jinnah’s vision of a tolerant Pakistan and then conveniently ignore that vision. A Pakistan for all Pakistanis, irrespective of, as he would say, “caste and creed.” A Pakistan where neither Mr. Jinnah’s vision nor our Pakistaniat would be high-jacked by the sanctimonious custodians of righteousness, the self-styled gate-keepers of morality, and the arrogant arbiters of patriotism.

We are sorry, Mr. Jinnah.

We are sorry that we have not been able to actualize the Pakistan of your vision. At least, not yet. Cursed by the very intolerance that you had warned us of, we have not only failed to bridge the divisions that existed already, we have worked hard to create new divisions. We have not only failed the minorities that were, we have created new ones by legislating exclusion.

We are sorry, Mr. Jinnah.

We are sorry for being so drunk in intolerance that we made ourselves the arbiters of who was Muslim enough to be Muslim, or Pakistani enough to be Pakistani.

We are sorry, Mr. Jinnah.

We are sorry not only for the Gojra that happened ten days ago. We are sorry for the Gojra that happens every day in the Pakistan you created.


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45 responses to “August 11: We are Sorry, Mr. Jinnah”

  1. Iqbal says:

    Well I am sorry that Mr. Jinnah had such grandiose visions that had no basis in reality. Did he actually believed that just by declaring his own good intentions he will change the character of the entire nation? In fact a nation build on religious segregation and intolerance…

    South Asia has been plagued for centuries with problems of illiteracy, superstition, and racial/ethic/religious intolerance. Of course the partition, where millions died because of their religious affiliations, never helped either. With this backdrop, it is a bit naive to expect everything to be fine. I am afraid we will continue to see repetitions of Gojras and Gujrats unless there is a fundamental shift from dogma and religion to rationale and education.

  2. Bangash says:

    @Midnight

    There are enough Muslims in India today for a well-organized and powerful community. But that is not what we see in India. I doubt adding a couple of hundred million more to the mix would have much of a difference. This is just a fantasy that in Hindustan, Muslims would be doing great.

  3. Ghiasuddin says:

    Like others can I also comment you on this line specially: “We are sorry for being so drunk in intolerance that we made ourselves the arbiters of who was Muslim enough to be Muslim, or Pakistani enough to be Pakistani.”

    Every Pakistani should be made to read this. I am not an Ahmedi and not a Bengali. But what we did to both this communities will be a shame on all of our souls. May we have the wisdom and the courage to learn from our mistakes. Ameen.

  4. Ghiasuddin says:

    Love the post. Thank you for expressing what all of us feel.

    What is so speical about how you have written this is to make clear that the fault is ours in not making this country what it could be. After 60+ years it si silly to talk about what could or would have happened. What we do know is that what has happened. Much has been achieved but so much more could have been done.

  5. Midnight's Child says:

    It is very difficult to know what would have happened but a minority of of half a billion people, give or take a few ( Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Indian Muslims) well run and well organised, should have been able to make a difference. There were those Muslim politicans who had suggested that perhaps a Federal State such as Germany might have been the solution, but their view point was not considered seriously. Anyway, it is too late now and we have to muddle along as best we can and sort out the mess. I personally believe that too much weight was given to religion and not enough to the ethnic differences that both bind and separate in both Pakistan and India. Anyway. I was born in India, brought up in Pakistan, educated in the United Kingdom, and now live in the Middle East. And where do I really feel I belong ? Everywhere and nowhere.

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