Quaid and Insurgents by Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi

The debate continues on how to deal with insurgency in FATA and KP. Insurgency in Baluchistan and organized crime in Karachi are also serious issues but they have a different dynamics that require different set of solutions. Although there are loose linkages in all these issues but these are mostly to facilitate each other rather than have a common agenda.

In some talk shows it has been mentioned that Quaid-e-Azam withdrew military from tribal areas and using this as a justification to offer blanket negotiations to insurgents. My position should be clear to all of you by now. I believe in principled negotiations and no compromise on accepting the writ of the government within the jurisdiction of Pakistani state.

Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah was one of the best leaders produced by 20th century. In my view with each passing decade the fascination of the world with Gandhi will fade as the star of Jinnah shines brighter. It does not mean Gandhi was not a great leader. Gandhi knew that to keep India united she needs a figure that can transcend religiously sanctioned racial divide and cultural diversity of the nation. He rose to address that issue. Jinnah on the other hand did not have to deal with it. Islam provided an ideology around which all Muslims can come together to form a community. He did recognize though that Pakistan will have to deal with ethnicity to build a Pakistani identity. It was for this reason he made the August 11th speech. Both these leaders adopted different approach to politics. Jinnah showed principled approach to politics that will be recognized as the world around us gets into chaos and anarchy which we witness today in Europe, Asia, Middle East, South America and Africa.

I don’t think there is anyone in Pakistan right now that can match the intellectual capability of Quaid. But we still have to make an effort to steer ourselves to normalcy by trying to learn lessons from the political life of Quaid. It is difficult to pick incidents that are exactly related to today’s environment. Following ideological approaches should give you an idea about his mindset in dealing with situations:

  1. Quaid-e-Azam refused to support the non-cooperation movement of Gandhi. His argument was that this movement has the potential to turn violent resulting in deaths as well as loss of property. He was proven right and Gandhi was arrested when he tried to enter Punjab because of clashes between police and civilians.
  1. Quaid-e-Azam was promoter of Union of Indian States until as late as 1945. He changed his position after he understood the motivations and ambitions of Indian National Congress. By that time it was clear to him that the Indian National Congress was not interested in keeping India united as it could have given Muslims a numerically strong democratic voice. So Quaid decided to demand for a separate nation rather than continue advocating for a union. The formula presented by All India Muslim League was later adopted by Lebanon with slight variation.
  1. Quaid-e-Azam was one of the staunchest supporters of power of the constitution and his belief that solution to all political problems can be found in the constitution. So if he was alive today I doubt that he would accept negotiations with any group until they agreed to accept Constitution of Pakistan as a legally binding social contract.

Some of the politicians have stated on television that Quaid accepted the advice of the British commander and decided to close down the military installations in the tribal areas. Why would he decide to take that route when we know he would not have accepted duality of constitution inside Pakistan? We need to look at the environment of the time. Quaid was a pragmatist. He had following challenges to deal with:

  1. An influx of over 5 million refugees from India that needed to be settled and accommodated without a functioning economy to fund it.
  2. There was no regular army in place to secure all the borders of Pakistan. So he had to economize on his resources. That does not mean that he would hesitate to impose the will of the state in the tribal areas. But he relegated it to a lower priority to be handled at a later date.
  3. There was no bureaucratic machinery to run the government. So introducing government infrastructure in the tribal areas was not his top priority at the time. China and other developing countries have adopted similar approach. First develop urban centers to produce a surplus. And then this surplus is invested to improve quality of life in villages and other rural centers.

Quaid’s decision to withdraw from tribal areas was pragmatic. But I have no doubt Quaid would not wait for situation to go out of hands as it has today to act and impose will of the state. He did not succumb to the pressures of British government and All India Congress to ensure rights of Indian Muslims are preserved. After independence in almost all his speeches he always referred to building Pakistan as an Islamic Social state. But his idea of an Islamic state was more in tune with Allama Iqbal than JUI Hind and Jamat-e-Islami. It was for this reason that these two entities opposed the creation of Pakistan. Quaid would also not accept any other identity except a Pakistani identity. It was for this reason that nationalist leaders like Bacha Khan opposed him and sided with All India Congress.

If we want to create the Pakistan envisioned by the Quaid then we can not succumb to the pressures of militants. We have to offer them clemency if they agree to lay down their arms and accept the legitimacy of Pakistani constitution.

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