from Saleena Karim's interview at Pakistan Ka Khuda Hafiz,
18 September 2009 (Full version is at
Q) The readers want to know what is it that Justice
Munir has said in his book that is either wrong or controversial
A) In short, there is a statement that the late
Chief Justice Munir quoted in his book From Jinnah to Zia.
“The new state would be a modern democratic state with
sovereignty resting in the people and the members of the new nation
having equal rights of citizenship regardless of religion, caste
or creed.” Mr. Munir claims that these are the words of the Quaid
from an interview to Reuters’ Doon Campbell. In reality these words
appear nowhere in that particular interview, and in fact they appear
nowhere at all (I spent years checking). In the first edition of
my book I explained that since 1979 (when Mr. Munir’s book was released)
right up until the present no one had spotted that the quote was
a fake. Since then I have learned that the quote has its origins
not in 1979, but in the famous Munir Report of 1954. That’s the
short story, but in my book I went into much more detail about how
this quote has became the favourite amongst even the best-known
commentators on Mr. Jinnah to try and undermine his stated cause.
Q) What inspired you to write a rebuttal to Munir’s
A) It may sound trivial to go after just one
fake quote, but I was inspired to write my rebuttal because of it.
When I first encountered the Munir quote in From Jinnah to Zia,
I did for a short time wonder whether the Quaid was a true secularist
after all. I pursued the original source of the Munir quote purely
to find out the truth. But this was before I obtained the original
transcript of the interview. If the Munir quote had turned out to
be real, I would definitely have accepted and argued that Mr. Jinnah
was a secularist – but that would still have had no bearing on my
personal thoughts regarding the Pakistan idea. In the beginning
I intended to write just a short article detailing the finding,
but my research soon showed that Mr. Munir’s quote (which I now
call the ‘Munir quote’) has had an astonishing impact on scholarship.
Admittedly, I myself found it difficult to believe at first, but
I knew I had to write a book.
Q) Tell us about your book. How come it got such
high praise from various sections of the readers’ community?
A) Other than exposing the damage done by the
Munir quote, my book argued in favour of a ‘Muslim’ rather than
a ‘secular’ Jinnah. I have put quotes around these words because
I’m aware that they tend to mean different things to different people.
The biggest problem in fact, is the meaning and use of words like
‘secularism’, ‘Islam’, ‘sovereignty’, ‘ideology’, etc. But insofar
as there are two broad camps arguing over Mr. Jinnah, my research
convinced me to side with the much-misunderstood ‘Muslim Jinnah’
camp. To my mind Quaid-i-Azam does not fit into the ‘secular’ category,
and I explained why in the first book. I also discussed some of
the myths surrounding Mr. Jinnah. The number of people actively
backing the ‘Muslim Jinnah’ argument is currently dwindling. This
I suspect is part of the reason that my book was well-received by
the readership, who probably felt that a new entry from this side
was long overdue.
Q) Did Quaid-e-Azam want to create a secular Pakistan
or a Pakistan based on Islamic principles?
A) This is the big question. Mr. Jinnah certainly
did not tire of talking about Islamic democracy and Islamic socialism.
In my book I showed that there are literally hundreds of references
to Islamic terminology and principles in Mr. Jinnah’s speeches.
Additionally, whilst he stressed the absolute equality of non-Muslim
citizens in Pakistan, he never once used the word ‘secular’ to describe
the country. There is also some evidence lying around which shows
that there were non-Muslims who properly understood Mr. Jinnah’s
view of Islam, if you know where to look. These facts should really
speak for themselves. People arguing for ‘secular Jinnah’ tend to
get upset by this argument because they assume that I, or whoever
else, is trying to imply that the Quaid was pro-theocracy. They
think for instance that we support a class distinction between religious
minorities and majorities, or that we advocate the idea of legislation
either being written or authorised by ulema. Yet, as every sensible
Muslim and especially Pakistani Muslim knows, a state truly guided
by Islamic principles is as far removed from theocracy as is an
ideal secular state (I might add that there is not one example of
either of these states in existence today). The Quaid himself made
this point about theocracy versus Islam, which again I showed in
my book. The few people who do support such ideas – taken, unfortunately,
from fundamentalist literature, rather than the Quran – usually
belong to parties that historically were opposed to Partition and
Pakistan. So why give their views special attention, and why assume
that every ‘non-secularist’ agrees with them?
Q) How would you describe Quaid-e-Azam’s Pakistan?
How far are we today as a nation from Quaid’s Pakistan?
A) ‘Quaid-i-Azam’s Pakistan’ as such never had
a chance to establish itself. At any rate, it is not right to speak
of ‘Quaid’s Pakistan’ when Mr. Jinnah said that it was up to the
people and the Constituent Assembly to decide the form of their
constitution. But we can safely say that the main difference between
Mr. Jinnah’s time and now is that back then, a majority of people
truly believed that they would rise out of poverty, be given the
chance to educate themselves and then make a positive contribution
to the international community, in the name of Islam. Pakistan appeared
on the map at a time when the Muslim world was facing a political
identity crisis, following the abolition of the Caliphate in Turkey.
The end of the Caliphate was necessary, but this left the Muslim
world in a void. Many people saw the creation of this new Muslim
country as a laboratory where Islam would be established afresh,
so to speak, taking account of contemporary political and sociological
conditions. For this reason Islam in Pakistan was described as the
‘third way’, representing neither capitalism nor communism, but
a form of socialist democracy conforming to Islamic (and thus universal)
principles of liberty and justice. There was no question therefore,
of recreating an early form of Islamic state which may have had
merits in its time but could not be made to work in the twentieth
century. Again, exactly how this would work was left up to the people
and the Constituent Assembly. The Quaid’s sheer integrity and strength
of personality was enough to keep the early leaders of Pakistan
together – just. Within a few years of his death however, personal
rivalries and a lack of intellectual unity between these same politicians
came out into the open, marking the end of ‘Quaid’s Pakistan’ practically
before it had begun. Today we see nepotism, despotism, jobbery,
and discrimination running rampant in Pakistan – all qualities of
the worst type of secular state (not to mention the worst of a theocracy).
To even begin to undo all of this, will require first and foremost
that the people look within themselves and make a concerted demand
that they want things to change. Unity must come first.