By A. G. Noorani
THERE is an aspect to L.K. Advani’s comments on Jinnah at Karachi which has been overlooked. A month or so earlier, Qazi Hussain Ahmed, the rabid Jamaat-e-Islami leader of Pakistan, had denounced Jinnah’s famous presidential speech to Pakistan’s Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947. Advani’s praise and quotation from the speech has boosted the morale of Pakistan’s secularists who always cited it.
The speech has been quoted in bits and pieces; never analysed as a whole. Nor for that matter the entire and considerable corpus of Jinnah’s record from 1906 to 1948. There is no single complete series of his Collected Works. One such effort ended in 1931. Historians in India, Pakistan and abroad propound fanciful theories from their own standpoints; never mind the record. The speech was neither an act of contrition or repentance nor a reflection of two Jinnahs. He had unwisely used the poisonous two-nation theory to promote under the slogan of Pakistan, his real objective – a power-sharing accord. Gandhi, Nehru and Patel sabotaged the Cabinet Mission’s Plan of May 16, 1946, for United India which was done in complicity with Stafford Cripps (vide “Cripps and India’s Partition”, Frontline, August 2, 2002).
OPINION – Jinnah’s speech was a crie de coeur. He had not changed his outlook. In 1919 he gave evidence before the Joint Select Committee of the British Parliament on the Government of India Bill. His answers to questions by one of its members, Major Ormsby-Gore, bear recalling today.