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Jinnah's 11th August speech

Muhammad Ali Jinnah's 11th August Speech

Introduction

Today there is hardly a more contentious issue in Pakistan than the issue of the vision of its founding father. While Pakistan was created as a result of what could be described as Indian Muslim nationalism, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founding father, was widely held as a secular liberal barrister who had once championed the cause of Hindu-Muslim Unity and a United India . When the Partition of India finally occurred, Jinnah gave expression to his vision of Pakistan in a monumental address to the constituent assembly of Pakistan, delivered on August 11, 1947. He spoke of an inclusive and impartial government, religious freedom, rule of law and equality for all. He also seemed to advocate the separation of church and state.

Move to make the speech part of the constitution

Pakistani MP Minocher Bhandara, in Feb 2007, moved a bill in the National Assembly of Pakistan seeking to make Jinnah's speech part of the Constitution of Pakistan. National Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Amir Hussain has referred the bill to a house standing committee after admitting it. Bhandara said: "The speech has been consistently downplayed by the government of Pakistan since 1949. Parts of the speech have been materially altered, or omitted altogether, in the past." He added: "On the one hand tremendous respect is shown for the memory of the Quaid-e-Azam (Jinnah), but on the other hand his political thoughts are desecrated to appease religious groups."

Minorities celebrate 60 years of Jinnah's speech

2007 being the 60th anniversary of Jinnah's speech prompted the Pakistani religious minorities, including Christians, Hindus and Sikhs to hold a large rally to celebrate Jinnah's legacy at the Minar-e-Pakistan calling for the implementation of Jinnah's vision in letter and spirit.

The speech and India

L K Advani, Indian politician, who was once named in a police report for an alleged assassination attempt on Jinnah's life, while visiting Pakistan, stoked off a huge scandal in India, when he referred to Jinnah as a great leader and described his speech to the constituent assembly as a truly secular charter, worthy of emulation. At Jinnah's Mausoleum, he wrote:

There are many people who leave an irreversible stamp on history. But there are few who actually create history. Qaed-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah was one such rare individual. In his early years, leading luminary of freedom struggle Sarojini Naidu described Jinnah as an ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity. His address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on August 11, 1947 is really a classic and a forceful espousal of a secular state in which every citizen would be free to follow his own religion. The State shall make no distinction between the citizens on the grounds of faith. My respectful homage to this great man.

Advani came under intense criticism from his own party, the Hindu Nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party which has long blamed Jinnah for being solely responsible for India's partition along communal lines. Ultimately, Advani was forced to quit as party chief, despite vindication from the media.

References

Further reading

  1. Ian Bryant Wells Ambassador of Hindu Muslim Unity: Jinnah's Early Politics (2005), New Delhi
  2. Naidu, Sarojini Advocate of Hindu Muslim Unity Bombay 1917
  3. Ajeet, Javed Secular and Nationalist Jinnah JNU Press Delhi
  4. http://www.pakistani.org/pakistan/legislation/constituent_address_11aug1947.html

External links

  • http://pakistaniat.com/2006/08/12/pictures-of-the-day-aazadi-mubarak/
  • http://www.cobrapost.com/documents/JinnahSecularist.htm
  • http://www.milligazette.com/Archives/2005/01-15July05-Print-Edition/011507200552.ht*
  • http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/52/006.html

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