Jinnah’s record as a legislator tells us a different story altogether. He was an indefatigable defender of civil liberties. He stood for Bhagat Singh’s freedom and condemned the British government in the harshest language when no one else would
In the recent debate over the blasphemy law, a group of Jamaat-e-Islami-backed right-wing authors have come up with an extraordinary lie. It is extraordinary because it calls into question the professional integrity of the one man in South Asian history who has been described as incorruptible and honest to the bone by even his most vociferous critics and fiercest rivals, i.e. Mohammad Ali Jinnah. The lie goes something like this: ‘Ghazi’ Ilam Din ‘Shaheed’ killed blasphemer Hindu Raj Pal and was represented by Quaid-e-Azam at the trial who advised him to deny his involvement in the murder. ‘Ghazi’ and ‘Shaheed’ Ilam Din refused and said that he would never lie about the fact that he killed Raja Pal. Quaid-e-Azam lost the case and Ilam Din was hanged.
To start with, the story is entirely wrong. First of all, Jinnah was not the trial lawyer. Second, Ilam Din had entered the not guilty plea through his trial lawyer who was a lawyer from Lahore named Farrukh Hussain. The trial court ruled against Ilam Din. The trial lawyer appealed in the Lahore High Court and got Jinnah to appear as the lawyer in appeal. So there is no way Jinnah could have influenced Ilam Din to change his plea when the plea was already entered at the trial court level. Nor was Ilam Din exactly the ‘matchless warrior’ that Iqbal declared him to be — while simultaneously refusing to lead his funeral prayers. Indeed Ilam Din later filed a mercy petition to the King Emperor asking for a pardon. …
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