11 August - Our Magna Charta
10 August, 2015
By Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd)
The essence and the substance of the Quaid's Presidential address of August 11, 1947 to the ever first Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, which should have been in fact our Magna Charta has not only been forgotten and lies buried gathering dust in some national archive's shelf, but has also become a taboo to quote from. It was time that someone did some digging and apprised the people – especially the younger generation who are mostly ignorant - of the past true facts. For that you must read the full text of his speech fortunately still available in books and on the net to gauge its historical and national importance. An abridged version is produced below:
The great Quaid said:
Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen!
I cordially thank you, with the utmost sincerity, for the honour you have conferred upon me - the greatest honour that is possible for this Sovereign Assembly to confer - by electing me as your first President. ---- ----
The Constituent Assembly has got two main functions to perform. The first is the very onerous and responsible task of framing our future Constitution of Pakistan and the second of functioning as a full and complete sovereign body as the Federal Legislature of Pakistan. ----- -----
Dealing with our first function in this Assembly, ----- ---- I shall say a few things as they occur to me. ---- --- the first duty of a government is to maintain law and order, so that the life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects are fully protected by the State.
The second thing that occurs to me isbribery and corruption.----- ----- ---
Black-marketing is another curse. ----- ----The next thing that strikes me is the evil of nepotism and jobbery. ----- ------
(Then the Quaid goes on to ask those who had opposed creation of Pakistan to accept it now that it had become a reality)
I know there are people who do not quite agree with the division of India and the partition of the Punjab and Bengal. Much has been said against it, but now that it has been accepted, it is the duty of everyone of us to loyally abide by it and honourably act according to the agreement which is now final and binding on all. ----- ---- ---
(The following is the most important part of his speech)
I cannot emphasize it too much. We should begin to work in that spirit and in course of time all these angularities of the majority and minority communities, the Hindu community and the Muslim community - because even as regards Muslims you have Pathans, Punjabis, Shias, Sunnis and so on and among the Hindus you have Brahmins, Vashnavas, Khatris, also Bengalees, Madrasis, and so on - will vanish. ------ ------ ----- Therefore, we must learn a lesson from this. You are free; you are free to go to your temples. You are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed - that has nothing to do with the business of the State. ---- ----- ----
We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State. ------- ------ ----
Now, I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual,but in the political sense as citizens of the state.
Well, gentlemen, I do not wish to take up any more of your time and thank you again for the honour you have done to me ---- ---- My guiding principle will be justice and complete impartiality, and I am sure that with your support and co-operation, I can look forward to Pakistan becoming one of the greatest nations of the world.
(and, then he read out the letter from the President of the USA to him felicitating him on being elected as the President of the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan)
Dear readers, now let's briefly analyse the import and the impact of this address.
1. It is the first ever OFFICIAL address of the Quaid and that too to a SOVERIEGN body – the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan. Every word that he uttered is, therefore, legal, constitutional and binding. All his previous addresses were political.
2. His major concerns were just the following matters and issues upon which he emphasized:
- Maintenance of Law and Order
- Black marketeering and hoarding
- Nepotism and Jobbery
- Acceptance of Pakistan by those who had opposed its creation.
- Protection of the rights of minorities as equal citizens of Pakistan.
- Freedom for all to worship in their places of worship.
- Faith and Religion to be a personal matter that had nothing to do with the business of the state.
Now my dear dear readers, please read and read again the full text of his speech and find me a word like Islam, Qura'n, Hadees, Islamic heritage culture, civilisation, values or history etc. etc. Not that the Quaid was any lesser Muslim than you and me – in fact probably better than most of us, but now that the Pakistan had been achieved it had to be a free country for ALL its citizens with equal rights. Everyone had the right to worship according to his/her beliefs. Nothing official could be imposed by way of religion or any Shariah upon any body. What and which Shariah would our Islamists like to impose in Pakistan that would be equally acceptable by the Shias' and the Sunnies' 72 or 73 sects. Would the Brelavies even offer their prayers behind a Deo Bandi and vice versa, let alone both of them praying behind a Shia imam. So this talk of Imposing Shariah in Pakistan is in fact the most fertile breeding ground for sectarianism whic! h in turn promotes nothing but division and mutual hatred.
So please let religion remain a personal matter as the great Quaid had said and let all work as ONE nation for the betterment and the progress of the Pakistan.
Pakistan Zinda Bad.