A video clip of Chief Justice Saqib Nisar speaking on the occasion of a ceremony to mark the anniversary of attack on Quetta’s lawyers fraternity is doing rounds on social media. “Two Nations Theory was the basis of Pakistan’s creation”, he said. While explaining what the theory meant, Justice Nisar went on to say, “Sir Syed Ahmad Khan was probably the first thinker who conceived the Two Nations Theory, that there were two nations; one was Muslims and the other — well, I don’t even want to utter the word”. The journalist who posted this was boasting it off, as a ‘tight slap on Nawaz Sharif for having views contradicting Two Nations Theory’. Most young Pakistanis might not have even noticed the rottenness of this pervasive view.
Someone needs to put the record straight and present some alternative views to further the debate that is crucial to Pakistan’s quest for fighting the xenophobic radicalism, while keeping its identity distinct from the neighbour-turned adversary.
If the Pakistan movement was such a crusade against non-Muslims, especially the Hindus, why did Jogendra Nath Mandal preside over the first session of the first Constituent Assembly of Pakistan — where Mr Jinnah was being sworn in as the first Governor General of Pakistan?
My Lord, most respectfully, I regret to inform that it was nothing romantically ecclesiastical or pertaining to some apostolic purpose. It was rather, about the kaleidoscope of political happenings, the constantly refining understanding of the reality around, and gradual cultivation of a worldview that matured into the idea of Pakistan. Perhaps a peep into Jinnah’s fascinating political voyage would help. From being the ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity to the harbinger of minorities’ rights, Jinnah championed the cause of safeguarding the political and social rights of, particularly, the biggest minority of united India — the Muslims.
Similarly, Sir Dr Mohammad Iqbal’s transformation within the first decade of twentieth century is quite instructive. I’m sure a person of your literary interest would have noticed Iqbal’s ideological transmogrification from ‘Tarana-e-Hindi’: mazhab nahiN sikhata aapas main ber rakhna; Hindi haiN hum, watan hay Hindustan hamara (religion does not teach us to bear ill-will among ourselves; we are of Hind, our homeland is Hindustan), to his later ‘Tarana-e-Milli’: Cheen-o-Arab hamara Hindustan hamara; Muslim hain hum, watan hay sara jahan hamara (the entire continent spread from China to Arabia is ours, Hindustan is ours; we are Muslims, the whole world is our homeland).
These differences of the interpretations of historical events aside, the CJ’s statement was disturbing on many other levels too. The basis of the Pakistan movement was a tad more complex than the simplistic and intellectually lazy religious argument. Giving it a purely communal colour is not only unfair to the Quaid but a huge disservice to the people who were part of the struggle for Pakistan — not Muslims only. It might serve us well to revisit the list of founding fathers and the comrades of the Quaid who made the creation of Pakistan possible.
If Pakistan movement was such a crusade against non-Muslims, especially the Hindus, why did Jogendra Nath Mandal preside over the first session of the first Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, where Mr Jinnah was being sworn in as the first Governor General of Pakistan? Later, the Quaid included M. Mandal in his first cabinet as the Minister of Law and Labour. But before that, Mr Mandal had represented All India Muslim League in the 1946 set-up. What was he if not among our founding fathers?
How come the Quaid commissioned Jagannath Azad to write a millitarana (official song) for Pakistan in 1947? So popular the tarana became and so frequently it was aired by Radio Pakistan that many people confused it as the first National Anthem of Pakistan.
The contribution of Pakistan’s Hindus to nation’s economic, social, cultural and political life is so pronounced that the historian would find it more than herculean to write Pakistan’s history if asked to follow Your Lordship in not mentioning the word Hindu.
Could our history of cricket be complete without the mention of Anup Ravi, Anil Dalpat, Rajesh Ramesh, Lal Kumar and Danish Kaneria? What is Pakistan’s fashion industry without the mention of Deepak Perwani? It is impossible not to include Ashok Chandani and Surendra Valasai in Pakistani nation, among hundreds if not thousands others, who are making contribution as journalists and writers. This space doesn’t suffice to name thousands of brilliant Hindus working in medical profession who are healing fellow Pakistanis.
Forget everyone. How could you delete Justice Rana Bhagwan Das from nation’s memory, your senior on the bench who served in your chair in an acting capacity before you. Think, My Lord, think for a moment that your speech was being heard by Amar Lal, Lala Amernath and scores others who are inalienable part of the Bars.
Finally, the flag bearers of the independence of judiciary ought not to demonstrate bias against the people of Pakistan, the primary stakeholders of the justice system. The people of Pakistan, who belong to different religions, make this country a lovely bunch of beautiful flowers with diverse colours and genus. That word you could not utter, My Lord, is ‘Hindus’, and 11th August is the national day of minorities in Pakistan.
I’d leave you with a question, can a Bench be called independent if it is not impartial?