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Jinnah’s Pakistan: Formation and Challenges of a State Book Review

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Introduction

There are very few figures in history who have succeeded in not only creating a state from scratch but stabilizing it in a very limited time as Jinnah of Pakistan did. Although, the life of Jinnah has remained a famous subject of study for scholars on the partition of India, however, there is very little known to the public about the year and thirty days he lived after the creation of the mighty state for millions of Indian Muslims which freed them not only from the yoke of British imperialists but also emancipating them from the threat of Hindu Raj.

The study of Jinnah as a statesman is very limited and there was hardly systematic work one could find except in a few research articles until Farooq Ahmed Dar’s book made entry into the books shelves of libraries. Though Jinnah’s Pakistan: Formation and Challenges of a State was published originally in 2014, there is little discourse on the book as most scholars and the public alike are immersed in discourses of the pre-partition history of Jinnah. As the paperback of the book appeared in 2021, I thumbed through it very eagerly. The book is one the finest studies of Jinnah as a Statesman and can present an ideal to our national leadership of how bravely and valiantly Jinnah fought for the survival of the state by building an institutional setup from scratch and making the impossible, the possible. Only Jinnah could do that.

Farooq Ahmed Dar is one of the finest historians at the Department of History, at Quaid-e-Azam University. If we could deliberately disagree with Dar, the Great, as we students referred to him, he would keep continuing lectures while giving us ‘every right to disagree.’ Jinnah’s Pakistan is the result of his profound research which encompasses many years along with travels to access various archives not only in Pakistan and the UK but also in India. The book consists of an introduction, five chapters and conclusion. Let us divulge the inside of the book with incisive analysis.

The introduction of the book is a succinct summary of the movement of Pakistan under Jinnah and why he was compelled to demand a separate homeland. As this author also wrote elsewhere, it was not Jinnah who was responsible for ‘parting ways with Congress’, instead, Congress’s stubborn attitude led him to parting of ways and move towards reorganizing the Muslim League by idealising Iqbal’s concept of a separate state went on to demand the separate states via Lahore Resolution in on 23 March, 1940, trumped by Hindu press as ‘Pakistan Resolution.’ Jinnah clamored during the 1946 elections that if Muslims did not give a verdict for the Muslim League, that meant they did not want Pakistan. ML swept elections and Jinnah after a brief acceptance of the Cabinet Mission Plan (which envisaged loose federation and an inherent Pakistan in the longterm), rejected it hunkering down all the theories that he was bargaining for power. 

Formation of State

The first chapter deals with the formation of the state which mostly revolves around the last few years of the British Raj. Jinnah tried to negotiate a better deal for Pakistan while Mountbatten and Congress made every effort to subdue him. Jinnah was so adamant that he compelled them to throw in the towel in most cases. The major issue before the partition for Jinnah was of governor general. Most historians from the Indian and British sides allege that Jinnah was a power seeker which is why he did not accept Mountbatten as the common governor-general of both successor states. Although Khalid Bin Sayed briefly dealt with the issue, Dar makes it clear that Pakistan was sovereign and ‘Jinnah had to show the citizens of Pakistan as well as the rest of the world that Pakistan was a nation.’ It was the ‘symbol of their separate identity and independence’, that is why he choose to became governor general.

It is further alleged that Jinnah got too much power as governor-general which started arbitrary rule, however, Jinnah never abused power, he was an ‘embodiment of constitutionalism and the rule of law and all the powers he exercised were granted under the Indian Independence Act of 1947.’ As a captain of the team, Dar describes that Jinnah successfully dealt with the problems of forming a rudimentary setup for the state by forming an efficient team of able men and succeeded in stabilizing the state.

Accession of Princely States

One of the major problems Jinnah faced was of princely states and ‘there was no one in the league who could negotiate with Congress’ that is why Farooq Ahmed Dar argues that ‘Jinnah decided to take the issue as an additional responsibility.’ He was successful in solving most of the problems with princely states except for Jammu and Kashmir which relegated to complexity due to his health and Indian subordination.

The author shows Jinnah’s shrewdness and commitment to the cause of the states won him the confidence of these rulers. Jinnah granted full constitutional rights to the citizens of the states which were to be enjoyed by the citizens of Pakistan. His wisdom and patience helped win over the people of Kalat State as their brethren in Las Bela, Kharan and Makran acceded to Pakistan, they also decided on 23 March 1948 in the meeting of Sardars to be with Pakistan after Jinnah’s personal intervention in the issues of Baluchistan states. Many historians, however, contest this view point and posit that Jinnah compelled these states for accession.

Politics

Most of Jinnah’s life after Pakistan, Dar posits, was consumed by domestic politics where ‘ personal rivalries and group interests were main hurdles.’ He had to mediate between provincial leaders and also deal with provincial crises. The role of mediation sparked from his grand historical stature and charisma due to which his most avowed opponents also accepted his final verdicts.

Though many scholars argue that Jinnah concentrated so much power on himself but author contends that’ the extraordinary situation Pakistan was facing at that time demanded something special from Jinnah and his colleagues holding position at the centre and save the country and avert an early collapse.’ He was successful in most of the issues though a few problems remain unattended as he was restrained to influence due to his deteriorating health.

Society and Economy

Dar delineates Jinnah’s vision of society that was rooted in history and tradition. Dar describes Jinnah as a staunch supporter of Islamic norms of ‘liberty, equality and fraternity’ and constantly quotes Jinnah’s speeches and statements about Islam as the sole guide for the Muslims of Pakistan. While many still contest the nature of Pakistan’s Constitution, according to the author, he gave the right to determine the Constitution to the people of Pakistan via elected representatives. Jinnah firmly believed that society cannot develop if it is not founded on a strong economy.

 Jinnah was neither capitalist nor believed in the Soviet Model of economy, instead, the author posits that Jinnah envisaged the principle of Islamic economics where there would be equity and fairness and wealth would not be concentrated in few hands. He actively encouraged traders and industrialists to invest freely in the country and pushed the government to facilitate the industrialists by setting up different committees. He set up the State Bank of Pakistan at the earliest which became the cornerstone of Pakistan’s monetary policies. According to the author, it was the untiring efforts of Jinnah that won Pakistan’s praise by rapidly consolidating the economic condition of the country despite great hindrances and external treacheries by India.

Foreign Policy

Foreign Policy of Pakistan under Jinnah was primarily focused on the interest of Muslim Ummah as Jinnah was now not only the leader of Muslims of South Asia but was looked at with reverence among all Muslim states. It was Jinnah who sent Pakistan’s foreign minister to the United Nations and plead the case of Palestine. Jinnah was an avowed supporter of Palestinians’ rights and strongly repudiated two two-state solutions presented by the US. According to Dar, he tried to convince Truman via telegram till the last moment but the US was hell-bent on its plan. On Jinnah’s advice, Pakistan voted against the two state solution. Sadly, during current crises, the situation has arrived when Pakistan’s voice is neutralized due to United States pressure. Jinnah eagerly established relations with countries around the globe and sent a mission to introduce Pakistan to the world. He was sure that Pakistan could exploit its geographic location and become the pivot of the world. Although Jinnah envisaged a neutral Pakistan, the author argues that the latter leaders of Pakistan deviated from his vision and joined Western Camp in the 1950s which put an end to the policy of ‘positive neutrality’ of Jinnah.

Conclusions

While most studies are primarily focused on the movement of Pakistan, Dar’s ‘Jinnah’s Pakistan: Formation and Challenges of a State‘ elaborates on Jinnah’s statesmanship that steered Pakistan through troubled waters. In the words of the author, ‘he had a choice between his personal survival and the survival of Pakistan. He preferred Pakistan over himself.’ The current situation in Pakistan is reminiscent of Jinnah’s times. Unfortunately, no statesman has the stature of Jinnah that could lead Pakistan through challenging times. Leaders of Pakistan must learn from Jinnah’s year as a statesman and Dar’s book is one of the finest accounts of his statesmanship.

Azfar Khan
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Azfar Khan Niazi is Student of History, Quaid-e-Azam University Islamabad.
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