67 years later the total population of non-Muslims has dwindled to less than 5 percent. Our Muslim politicians and political parties are deathly afraid of even this small number
It has been 20 days since the Chief Justice of Pakistan made those remarks about the Two Nation Theory and despite widespread criticism the CJP has refused to clarify what he meant by his comments. A statement, any statement, would have been better than the deafening silence by the chief judge of the country.
In a way this is to be expected. What more can one expect from a majoritarian state and society which has almost since inception failed to respect its minorities despite repeated pronouncements and promises by its founding father. It is instructive to read, in this regard, the resignation letter of Mr Jogindranath Mandal, Pakistan’s first law minister, who had seen the way the cookie was crumbling as early as 1950. In my article in this newspaper dated June 16, 2016, I had outlined the career of this extraordinary scheduled caste Hindu lawyer and politician who had not only represented Muslims of India in the interim government before partition but had also had the honour of presiding over the inaugural session of the Pakistan Constituent Assembly in 1947. Three years later he resigned citing discrimination against Hindus and the state’s propensity to ignore Jinnah’s promises to the minorities as his reasons for doing so.
Article 51 of the Constitution makes it clear that the non-Muslim reserved seats are to be gifted to the mainstream political parties in proportion to their general seats. How does this give Non-Muslims any representation?
He wrote: “After a few months, the British Government made their June 3 Statement (1947) embodying certain proposals for the partition of India. The whole country, especially the entire non-Muslim India, was startled. For the sake of truth I must admit that I had always considered the demand of Pakistan by the Muslim League as a bargaining counter.” This has been the contention of many who have studied the events leading upto partition. Indeed even Ayub Khuhro, one of the leading Muslim Leaguers from Sindh, admitted as much in a candid conversation with Sri Prikasa, the first Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan. The idea was to get the maximum share of power for the Muslims in the post independence India. Mandal had supported the Muslim League in Bengal through thick and thin because he believed that the Muslim League was actually aiming for a solution less than partition. Nevertheless Pakistan came and now that it was created, Jinnah was asked a straightforward question by Kiran Shankar Roy in the first session of the constituent assembly “Can you make clear your policy as to whether Pakistan will be a secular state?” Responding to this question Jinnah made his most famous and greatest speech on 11 August 1947. No one who reads this speech in entirety can dispute what Jinnah’s answer was.
Mandal continues: “I presumed that it would be set up in all essentials after the pattern contemplated in the Muslim League resolution adopted at Lahore on March 23, 1940… I was fortified in my faith in this resolution and the professions of the League Leadership by the statement Qaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah was pleased to make on the 11th August 1947 as the President of the Constituent Assembly giving solemn assurance of equal treatment for Hindus & Muslims alike and calling upon them to remember that they were all Pakistanis. Every one of these pledges is being flagrantly violated apparently to your knowledge and with your approval in complete disregard of the Qaid-e-Azam’s wishes and sentiments and to the detriment and humiliation of the minorities.”
This was in 1950. Mandal’s letter goes on to list the mass scale conversions and oppression against Hindus in East Pakistan. Remember this was before Pakistan became an Islamic Republic, before Pakistan began constitutionally discriminating against Non-Muslims. Mandal points out that unrepresentative Non-Muslims were being presented as representatives of minorities. His letter is scathing ending with “But I can no longer afford to carry this load of false pretensions and untruth on my conscience and I have decided to offer my resignation as your Minister, which I am hereby placing in your hands and which, I hope, you will accept without delay. You are of course at liberty to dispense with that office or dispose of it in such a manner as may suit adequately and effectively the objectives of your Islamic State.”
The first Prime Minister of Pakistan, Liaquat Ali Khan, lived more than a year after this letter but I cannot find a single statement from him on record about this letter or the resignation of Pakistan’s first law minister. How different things might have been had Liaquat Ali Khan refused to accept Mandal’s resignation and instead worked to ameliorate the conditions of minorities in Pakistan.
67 years later the total population of Non-Muslims has dwindled to less than 5 percent. Our Muslim politicians and political parties are deathly afraid of even this small number. The present constitutional scheme originally envisaged 5 percent of the seats in the National Assembly as reserved seats for Non-Muslims to allow them to have a voice. Through the Legal Framework Order 2002 that number has now been capped at 10 seats i.e. 10 seats against 330 other seats in the house. Article 51 of the Constitution makes it clear that the Non-Muslim reserved seats are to be gifted to the mainstream political parties in proportion to their general seats. How does this give Non-Muslims any representation?
CJP, therefore, is on sure footing. He has 69 years of precedent supporting his position i.e. make a statement prima facie prejudicial to a minority community and then simply ignore calls for clarification. If Liaquat Ali Khan could do it to a person of the stature of Jogindranath Mandal at a time when such attitudes were frowned upon, why would the feelings of the tiny Hindu community matter in 2017’s hyper-Islamic Pakistan? CJP is perhaps is the Chief Justice of Muslims exclusively. Who cares about the white part of our flag? It is as rudimentary as an appendix is to the human body. Indeed why not remove the white part altogether and be done with it? What right does any Non-Muslim have in this country anyway? Better they migrate somewhere else.
The writer is a practising lawyer. He blogs at http://globallegalforum.blogspot.com and his twitter handle is @therealylh
Published in Daily Times, August 28th 2017.