Date: Tue, 12 Aug 97 11:16:44 CDT
From: Altaf Bhimji <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Pakistan and India's 50th anniversary
Dear Public AFFairs Department (or whatever department the "morning show" belongs to) of KPFA (Pacifica Radio network)
Today, Aug. 11th you had someone on from the "South Asian Collective" to talk about the 50th Anniversary of India. Your guest talked about India as "still there" even though there have been various movements within the country for more autonomy, Punjab (the Khalistan movement) and Kashmir were two major ones. Your guest failed to mention the death squad like atmosphere that had been created in these two areas of India, only to say, in case of Kashmir that the movment has been "subdued" (maybe he forget to mention some 50,000 Kashmiris killed by Indian troops, in this effort to "subdue" the movment). More intreastingly he called the Hindu King who ruled Kashmir at the time of independence a "progressive"? And the movement for Pakistan "regressive", which is why supposedly Kashmir opted for India. What he failed to mention was that only in Kashmir was there no referendum held on whether it wanted to be part of Pakistan or India. And it was a decision made by the King, a monarch making a decision for the population is "progressive"? (Maybe you choose not to challange this statement given that KPFA now reflects this same authoritarian style rule, that passes for being "progressive".)
While I don't particularly care for an "independence" that resulted in a forced evacuation of millions, and killing of nearly a million persons in the "population exchange" during partition of Pakistan from India; Pakistan's creation was not exactly all that "regressive" -at least no more than the ensuing "regressiveness" that resulted in hundreds of thousands being killed in India. The idea was to create a land where people, regardless of religious backgrounds, would be equal citizens. (And this is one reason that the theocrats, the so-called "Islamic parties", of the then India were against the creation of Pakistan.)
Below is a recent article from the Pakistani daily Dawn that discusses the original vision of Pakistan and later corruption -the focus is obviously on Pakistan, a similar analyses could be done about India. Just replace Jinnah's words with those of Gandhi.
Altaf A. Bhimji
DAWN - the Internet Edition [INLINE]
10 August, 1997 Sunday 05 Rabi-us-Saani 1418
HAVING fulfilled his life's ambition, on August 7, 1947, Mohammad Ali Jinnah flew from Delhi to Karachi. Fifty years ago to the day, on August 10, 1947, he painstakingly worked on the speech he was to deliver the following day as president of the first Constituent Assembly of Pakistan.
This speech of August 11, 1947, was his creed. It is much quoted, bits of it trotted out by all and sundry on every possible occasion, at each hint of disaster or unrest or persecution, but never once has it been honoured or adhered to by any man who has subsequently had anything to do with the leadership of this country.
His priorities were correct, his apprehensions well-founded. He started off by defining the first duty, the primary duty, of any government of any country - "to maintain law and order so that the life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects are fully protected by the State."
He moved on to what he described as the "biggest curses" afflicting the sub-continent - curses suffered by other countries but, as he said, "our condition is much worse." The curses: bribery and corruption. Poison, he said they were, to be "put down with an iron hand." Then came blackmarketing, and the great evil of nepotism and jobbery, an evil he stated he would not countenance. As for the division of India, he was convinced that there was no other possible solution. A United India could never have worked. He urged his people to forget the past, to bury the hatchet, to work together no matter to which community or caste or creed or colour they belonged. When each man is an equal citizen of the state, with equal obligations, rights, and privileges, then only will progress be inevitable.
In his Pakistan, said Jinnah, there must be no majority or minority communities, all will be but one people. The fragmentation of India into multiple sects and creeds was the cause of its persistent failure to achieve independence. Had the peoples of India been united into one sole people, they would not have been continually subjugated. The new Pakistanis of the new nation must learn from past foolishness that caused such dire strife and division.
Then came the core of the speech, the core of his creed that he set forth that day. To his countrymen he said: "You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other places 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." "Keep that in front of us as our ideal," he urged his legislators. Justice and fairplay, were to be their guiding principles, the watchwords of their ethics, as they were his. During the eleven months he lived thereafter, dying of tuberculosis, he did whatever he could to see that lasting institutions were built in the country he had made. He failed, for want of time and for the competence lacking in his followers. The men he had with him and the men he left behind were not men such as he. Their minds were set, visionless. Devoid of largesse of spirit, they succeeded in only doing everything they warned them not to do. With prescience, Jinnah predicted that each successive government would be worse than its predecessor.
President Farooq Ahmad Khan Leghari and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif declared that on this August 14 they would address the nation from the podium of his stolid mausoleum. However, heavily guarded as they are, the anarchy that prevails in the city has made them change their minds. They will now merely drop in, offer a hasty fateha and, hopefully, seek Jinnah's forgiveness, and then drop out. What the Founder of this country will tell them, from the depths of his tomb, they will not hear:
You, all of you who have ruled, led, and administered the state of Pakistan, have collectively and dissolutely broken faith with your people. You have betrayed both them and me.
Neither surprised nor confounded am I now, for long ago I fathomed your genius (with hindsight, I now realize how exceedingly well). It was because of this failing that I deviated from my initial adherence to the concept of one nation, and set myself the task of carving out a separate homeland for you, a territory for you to tend and nurture, in which you could not only survive, but flourish, and build it into a country your successors would be proud to call their homeland. Given the circumstances and my short lease of life, I did the best I could. It will serve no purpose for me now to recount the multitude of your follies, your sins of commission and of omission, or your losses. The Master Referee exonerated me long ago. I rest upon my laurels. You, on your part, failed. You made no attempt to do better than you have done - you blundered along, robbing and looting, losing half the country, drowning in debt and corruption, lowering in the eyes of the world yourselves and the people you have purposefully kept in abject poverty and ignorance.
You, the false leaders, the men of straw, have made it a practice to remember me, but you remember me as I was not, as I never was; you remember me solely as you find it convenient or politic to remember me. You deny that I was a man free of bigotry, liberal, tolerant, progressive, endowed with political dexterity and a good deal of common sense, not given to flights of fancy, that I was a normal human being with faults, foibles and failings, that I was a man with the strength to take upon himself a mission which fortune and fate permitted me to accomplish. You conveniently forget that having done so, when my time ran out I died with much apprehension about what I was leaving behind, I died with little or no trust in those in whose hands I was bequeathing my legacy (though I had but few regrets for what I had done).
I do not wish to be sanctified and canonised, but I do resent being misquoted and misunderstood. I conceived and created a nation-state with the steadfast intention that it should be forward-looking, democratic and secular. Bigotry, theocracy, intolerance, hatred - they played no role in my ideology. At the very outset, three days before the countdown, I unequivocally and firmly declared this in my speech to your first Constituent Assembly, which I now feel fell on deaf ears. But, yet, a distorted, censored version of this speech was given to my official biographer, Bolitho, for his book commissioned by the government.
Whether you like them or not, whether they suit you or not, whether they be too liberal, humanitarian, tolerant and progressive for your warped minds and spirits to grasp and accept, these words of mine spoken that August day, embody my faith, my testament. You have negated both.
What is on the ground in my country today, a country rent by sectarian and ethnic killings, by intolerance and bigotry, by discriminatory laws? Never for a moment did I think that in the nation I created there could be an iniquitous law that has converted into a minority an entire community that was part of the majority, a law which prohibits, on pain of three years imprisonment, the members of this community from reciting Kalima Tayyaba.
What are you celebrating on this 50th birthday of the nation? Anarchy? Or the fact that you are left with only half the country given to you in 1947? In this half then you were 35 million; today you are bursting at the seams with 140 million. Of these, 40 million live below the poverty line, 70 million have no access to safe drinking water, 75 million are deprived of health facilities, 95 million survive with no basic sanitation, 0.8 million newborn die each year, many from malnutrition. And yet the population growth rate remains at 3 per cent, plus or minus, which means that by the year 2023, if the country survives as a whole, you will have to cope with a population of 300 million. How?
In my time, we bought a dollar for three rupees; now you are paying forty-two. And how do you spend what you do not earn? An amount of 2.7 billion rupees has been allocated in the national budget this year for health, to treat the hundred million poor and needy. An identical sum has been allocated to the prime minister to enable him to live and work in his secretariat, with vain pomp and undeserved glory. Is this fair play? Is it ignorance that forces the people to tolerate such glaring inequity? Just one-third of that amount, a paltry 0.9 billion rupees, goes towards education - and this with your literacy rate of less than 30 per cent. Should you laugh or weep? Celebrate or repent? I can but lie here helpless, bitterly disillusioned by the travesty you have made of your country and of me.
DAWN Group of Newspapers, 1997
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