Stories about Jinnah

‘How could you serve breakfast to a Hindu?’

Early one morning, a few days ago, I left my hometown Umerkot for Mirpurkhas with some friends. On the way we stopped for breakfast at a roadside cafe. What followed was an incident that left me shaken, although it involved no violence. While we were eating, a man with a long beard approached the café owner. We could clearly hear the conversation. He was telling the owner off for having served breakfast to us: “Tum Hinduon ko bhi nashta karwate ho?” (So, you serve breakfast to Hindus too?) The owner responded: “Kisi ke maathay pe likha hua nahi hota ki koi Hindu hai ya ...

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Obama-Osama dilemma: I choose Edhi

The news of Osama Bin Laden’s death was broken to the world by US President Barack Obama on Sunday. However, the covert operation to kill Bin Laden was undertaken thousands of miles away in an upscale town of Pakistan. On paper, it seems fitting that the country where Bin Laden was hiding should have taken part in the secret operation, but with regards to this particular incident, the US simply did not trust Pakistan.  CIA director Leon Panetta said on Tuesday that Pakistan could jeopardise the mission and “alert the targets” if Islamabad took part in the mission. Many will ...

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1947: A teenager’s memories of Independence

After all these years I can still smell the stench of death and half burnt timber. I still see mountains of rubble as if it was August 1947 in Lahore. I was 13 years old, tense and worried. I could see columns of smoke rising over the city’s rooftops. Speculations were ripe. They said Lahore was going to be a part of Pakistan but the inclusion of Gurdaspur, the area where my relatives lived,  was doubtful. I did not know what would happen to the rest of the Muslims all over India. My own relatives lived in East Punjab, and I anxiously ...

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Pakistan (Studies) Zindabad!

“You know what really bothers me about India? Not their stupid ‘Incredible India’ slogan or their weird item songs or that ‘Licence to wear Black’ ad,” says a friend during Pakistan Studies class one day. “The Taj Mahal! Everybody wants to see it. It’s on every postcard. Even that stupid French guy wants to see it. It’s the first thing everyone wants to see!” When I ask why she’s bothered by the Taj Mahal, her answer is simple: “Because it’s really ours.” That is, Pakistan’s. Five years of Pakistan Studies class, hours of learning dates and battle names, of revising lists ...

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Was Jinnah’s Pakistan ‘Islamic’?

Whether the country that came into being on August 14, 1947 was actually intended either for the Muslims or Islam is a matter that still invites enormous room for debate. This question has always meddled with our ideological roots; but even after 64 long years, we are not anywhere close to the answer. This confusion can be held for transforming our country into a mighty farce. Jinnah the liberal Jinnah, as it comes out, was a liberal to his bones. Why, he dressed up in sleek, hip western suits, drove imported cars, conversed in a foreign language and never sported a ...

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Blasphemy: Pakistan’s descent into anarchy

The widow of Bantu Masih hurls her pet hens inside the cage as she prepares dinner. Her only son Bagga, a scavenger, will return sometime after a full day’s tedious labour. The family lives in a remote locality 65 km from Lahore. They had to shift here overnight, after an enraged crowd killed Bantu Masih, the sole breadwinner of the family, over alleged charges of blasphemy in court premises. Human rights organisations and secular circles in Pakistan have been condemning the abuse of blasphemy laws in the country for the last many decades. Introduced by military dictator General Zia, the ...

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Solidarity versus resentment

At a Press Conference at New Delhi, on July 14, 1947, Jinnah was grilled by a correspondent who wished to inquire as to whether Pakistan would be a secular state or a theocracy. Jinnah hinted at the absurdity of the question, adding, quite tactfully, that he did ‘not know what a theocratic state’ meant. The correspondent had then fervidly suggested that it was ‘a state where only people of a particular religion, for example, Muslims, could be full citizens and non-Muslims would not be full citizens’. Apprised with this vision of a theocracy, Jinnah aptly stated that ‘when you ...

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The Pakistan Jinnah envisioned

I have been reading the Dawn newspaper  since I was a child and it helped form a clear, balanced image of the founder of Pakistan in my mind. This year as I read an article by Jinnah expert Shariful Mujahid  article, entitled return to Jinnah’s Pakistan’ I saw with dismay and pessimism , a picture so grey and small. Gone were the beautiful bright colours of the people of Sindh, Baluchistan , Frontier and Punjab. Gone were the dreams and promises. The style in which he has addressed the readers shows how hopeless and petty our issues have become. How ...

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An alienating identity

The cold-blooded murder of Baloch nationalist Habib Jalib, suicide attacks on Ali Hajveri’s shrine and last month’s brazen strikes on the Ahmedi places of worship in Lahore are three seemingly separate incidents. Yet they point to a harsh reality that we have to live with – there is no room for dissent in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Dissenters, whether religious or on other important questions that challenge the hegemony of the small Punjabi-dominated establishment, get exterminated at will. Groups like Khatam-e-Nabuwat and Jammat-Ahle-Sunnat (an offshoot of the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba) openly issue statements condemning Ahmadis and Barelvis respectively, guarding their narrowed and ...

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Pakistan history, distorted by the literalists

Recently released, the Brookings Institute report claims that the real cause of militancy in Pakistan is the public education system, and not religious schools (madrssas) because the majority of Pakistani students attend public school whereas only ten per cent attend madrassas. It states that Pakistani public schools disseminate militancy, hatred, jihad and distort history. Until 1970, despite bureaucratic and military dictatorships, the Pakistani educational curriculum and textbooks, for example, had included the history of the Maurya and Gupta dynasties of the sub-continent conforming to the secular ideals of Pakistan clearly expressed by Mohammad Ali Jinnah in his speech to the constituent ...

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