Quaid-i-Azam and Provincial Affairs

Iqtidar Karamat Cheema

The Quaid-i-Azam had his eyes on every aspect of the structure of Pakistan, particularly the vulnerable parts. He was anxious to consolidate and strengthen the foundations of Pakistan even if it cost him his life. The affairs of the North West Frontier Province soon claimed the attention of the Quaid-i-Azam. In the N.W.F.P., Dr. Khan Sahib’s Congress ministry was still in office. The Quaid-i-Azam wanted the loyal cooperation of all citizens, regardless of political differences in the past, for the task of building up Pakistan. No one was to be victimized for having opposed the establishment of Pakistan. In keeping with this policy. Dr. Khan Sahib and his ministers would have been allowed to continue in office, but they refused to salute the Pakistani flag, and to take the new oath of loyalty to Pakistan and showed no sign of a change in their previous attitude of antagonism to Pakistan. Therefore, on August 22, 1947, the governor dismissed Dr. Khan Sahib’s Ministry on the Quaid-i-Azam’s order and Abdul Qayyum Khan became Chief Minister.

After the dismissal of Dr. Khan Sahib’s ministry, his brother Ghaffar Khan continued his activities for the creation of a separate Pathan State. The Governor reported to the Quaid-i-Azam that Abdul Ghaffar Khan and other “Red Shirt” leaders were busy in making speeches and hoisting the Pathanistan flag in public meetings” . Consequently Ghaffar Khan was arrested and promptly sentenced to three years imprisonment under the Frontier Crimes Regulation.

After the arrest of Abdul Ghaffar Khan, it was reported that Red Shirts were planning a Civil disobedience movement in August, 1948 . A large number of them collected at Charasadda and there was a violent clash with the police in which some people were killed . Simultaneously, Qayyum Khan’s autocratic ways and intolerance of any opposition alienated a number of Muslim League Leaders, in particular, the influential Pir of Manki, who had rendered outstanding services in the referendum for Pakistan. The result was that the Pir of Manki and others were driven out of the Muslim League. In April, 1948, the Quaid-i-Azam undertook long and arduous Journey to the N.W.F.P. In a public speech in Peshawar, on April 20, 1948, he warned the people of a grave national emergency that existed both internally and externally and adjured them “to avoid domestic controversies, petty quarrels and provincialism” Quaid-i-Azam made a fervent appeal to the eople of the Frontier Province to remain united under the banner of the Muslim League as they had been during their struggle for the achievement of Pakistan . He advised the people not to believe in new mushroom-like political parties organized by erstwhile anti-Pakistan elements.

Referring to “evil legacies” of the past, the Quaid said that these could only be eradicated if they stood united as one nation and fully supported their government. The Quaid continued “Do not be misled. You have seen, you have realized that it is the Muslim League and the Muslim League alone that has saved the Frontier Province from going into the clutches of Hindu Raj. That party has made sacrifices, and thousands have died in the achievement of Pakistan. Do you think that the Muslim League can give you the right lead against us. Those who were in the enemy camp or those are to look after Pakistan or we?” . Concluding, the Quaid observed, “I know we have got men who are guilty of jobbery, bribery and nepotism. I do not say that the Government is perfect. Believe me, we are wide wake; we are watching your Government, your Province, your Ministry and your Civil Services. It is under our searchlight and there is no doubt we shall soon be able to X-Ray it and throw out the poison from our body politics. But you must have patience and give us a chance and reasonable time”.

An instance of the Quaid-i-Azam’s dislike of inefficiency and apathy in high places was his dismissal of Muhammad Ayub Khoro, the Chief Minister of Sind. The tremendous influx of refugees into West Pakistan made it imperative that other provinces should play their part in the task of rehabilitating these unfortunate people. But the government of Sind showed a regrettable reluctance to help the refugees . It was also reported that serious differences had arisen between the Chief Minister and Sind Governor, Ghulam Hussain Hidayatullah. In the beginning of April, 1948, a public controversy started between Khuro and two of his ministers, Pir Ilahi Bakhsh and Mir Ghulam Ali Talpur. And even charges and countercharges appeared in the press. There was no harmonious working and no expeditious dispatch of business. The matter was, however, reported to the Quaid-i-Azam. The Governor placed before Quaid-i-Azam evidence of maladministration and corruption on the part of Khuro.

Considering these two disturbing factors, the Quaid-i-Azam suggested to the Chief Minister of Sind that he should tender his resignation as a face-saving gesture. Khuro refused to resign and the Quaid-i-Azam had no alternative but to instruct the then governor of Sind to dismiss Khuro from office . However, under the direction of the Quaid-i-Azam, who was determined to root out all such evils in Pakistan, the Governor dismissed the Chief Minister on April 26, 1948 . However, this incident was a further example of the Quaid’s ability to act swiftly when circumstances demanded it. This action was taken under section 51 of the adapted Government of India Act, 1935. This section provided that the Governor’s ministers” shall hold office during his pleasure”, and that in the exercise of his functions under this section the Governor “shall be under the general control, and comply with such particular directions, if any, as may from time to time be given to him by the Governor-General” . Quaid-i-Azam M.A. Jinnah was dissatisfied with the way the administration of west Punjab was being conducted by the Ministry of the Nawab of Mamdot. The Punjab Cabinet, instead of working as a united team presented a spectable of petty squabbles, sordid intrigues, and all the other accompaniments of an internecine was between factions. In addition, Iftikhar Hussain Mamdot, Premier of the Punjab, had never had any experience in administration. He was not very hardworking and disciplined in his habits. Nor did he have political finesse and a determination to succeed in his job. In committee meetings, he often said very little, and when decisions went against him, he gave blames to the Governor or his colleagues. Mumtaz Daultana, the highly ambitious and brilliant Finance Minister, on the other hand, was ranged against the slow and easy-going Chief-Minister, the Nawab of Mamdot. The Muslim League party in the legislature was split into two factions consisting of the followers of Mamdot and Daultana. High officials started taking sides. When the Quaid-i-Azam came to know of these feuds, he in April 1948, summouned the Governor along with Mamdot, Daultana, and Sardar Shaukat Hayat Khan, the Revenue Minister, to Karachi to sort out the ministerial tangle . At this meeting the Governor-General said that ‘he found Mamdot totally unfit to be Chief Minister of the Punjab….He had, therefore, decided that Mamdot must resign and that Daultana should take his place”. Daultana, faced with such an order from the Governor-General, suggested that it would be better if he was to get himself elected to that post by the party. The Governor-General was angry and surprised that Daultana had suggested such a course of action when the correct procedure should have been for Daultana to accept the Governor-General’s commission and then ask the party to support. After this episode, Quaid-i-Azam lost interest in the matter and probably wanted to wait until the situation deteriorated further that he would be forced to take action. The Governor who had been asked by Quaid-i-Azam to bring the resignations of his two Ministers with him to the meeting, was advised to return them. The Ministers were delighted to have their resignations back but were puzzled and alarmed as to what further course of action their Quaid-i-Azam was like to take . Soon afterward Daultana and Shaukat Hayat Khan resigned and Mamdot formed his second Ministry.

The Quaid-i-Azam’s Government inherited the tribes and the difficult frontier of the Indian Empire under trying circumstances. The Quaid-i-Azam and those around him believed that the key-note of the British policy in the Frontier had been a distrust of the tribes. The administration of the tribal areas was treated as a highly specialized function requiring an unusual insight into the seamy side of the human nature. The British rulers had evolved highly complex techniques for keeping their hold over the tribes. Subsidies, garrisons and punitive expeditions came to be regarded as to principal instruments of a successful frontier policy. The typical frontier officials was proficient in the art of fomenting trouble between the tribes. The tribes themselves lived in isolation and had little contact with the people of the settled districts. However, the British policy had made a mistake in looking on the tribesmen as an extraneous, largely hostile elements, to be excluded so far as possible from the life of the settle districts. By contrast, the Quaid-i-Azam’s Government proposed to treat the tribesmen as friends and, indeed, as potential Pakistanis and Muslims. The first step in this process plainly, to win their confidence and to make them feel that their traditional liberty would be respected. This entailed the withdrawal of the garrison which the British had installed a strategic points. In the middle of December, 1947, the Quaid-i-Azam took the unique step of withdrawing Pakistan’s entire army from the Frontier Tribal Areas and abolished the out-post of Razmak altogether . The Quaid-i-Azam told them, “The British have gone, it is now your country and state” . Little by little, however, the Pathans began to realize. The Quaid-i-Azam’s Government also decided to continue the payment of subsidies which the British government had been paying and the control of the tribal areas was handed over to the Civil Armed Forced composed of the locals. The Quaid-i-Azam left the responsibility for law and order in the hands of the Pathans themselves. However, the Pathans began to realize that the authorities now governing their neighbors in the plains were no longer the infidel British, but fellow Muslims.

When, the Quaid-i-Azam withdrew Pakistani Army from Razmak and other strategic points, it was understood by the Pathans to be a gesture of goodwill. This gesture had a magnetic effect in rallying the tribal sentiment on the side of Pakistan. Nevertheless, the Afghan backing Faqir of Ipi continued to preach hatred against Pakistan and the activities of the Indian propagandists continued unabated. But these did not make a serious impression on the tribes. Pakistan’s policy of trust elicited a magnificent response and Mehr Dil, close follower of the Faqir, left him and made his peace with Pakistan and came over with a couple of hundred well-armed warriors . Slowly, but steadily, the atmosphere in tribal territory changed and a sense of Identity with Pakistan was developed among the Pathans.

The Quaid-i-Azam tackled the tribal problem with sympathetic consideration and imaginations. His government undertook to spend over Rs. 100,000,000 every year in maintaining the economic, political and social structure of the inhabitants of the Tribal Areas . It revived the economic life of the region by constructing roads, hospitals and opening schools with the result that the barriers between the settled and unsettled districts of the province began to disappear.

However, the process of withdrawal and developments proved to be entirely peaceful and unmolested. All the chiefs and Jirgas acceded to Pakistan and Quaid-i-Azam was enthusiastically welcomed by the Maliks of the Afridi, Shinwari, Mohmand, Waziris, Mahsud and Orakhazi tribes. When he visited Peshawar in April 1948 , each one of them presented an address to him and in his reply enunciated the policy in the following words: “Keeping in view your loyalty, help, assurances, and declarations, we ordered, as you know the withdrawal of troops from Waziristan as a concrete and definite gesture on our part – that we treat you with absolute confidence and trust you as our Muslim brothers across the border….it is no longer a foreign government that is is now a Muslim government and Muslim rule that hold the reigns of this great independent sovereign state of Pakistan. It is now the duty of every Muslim, your and mine, and every Pakistani to see that the state, which we have established, is strengthened in every department of life. The Quaid-i-Azam made it clear that “Pakistan has no desire to interfere with your internal freedom. On the contrary Pakistan want to help you and make you self-reliiant and self-sufficient and help in your educational, social and economic uplift and not be left as you are dependent on annual doles….we want to put you on your legs as self-respecting citizens….Pakistan will not hesitate to go out of its way to give every possible help – financial and otherwise – to build up the economic and social life of our tribal brethren across the border”.

Quaid-i-Azam speeches and assurance produced a most favourable impression on the minds of the tribes who repaid trust with trust and friendship. The Quaid’s faith in the tribesmen was fully justified. They instinctively realized that it was now their responsibility to maintain the integrity and independence of Pakistan. They felt proud to be its citizens. They have stood solidly by Pakistan and have proved to be a source of strength to it. All the more, the principal causes of tensions in the N.W.F.P. were gradually removed.

At the time of independence, Balochistan comprised the following areas:

Baluchistan was not a full-fledged province and had no elected assembly or ministers. It was administered by the Quaid-i-Azam himself “acting to such extent as to think fit, through a chief commissioner to be appointed by him . The Quaid-i-Azam was keenly interested in the progress of Baluchistan, which in many ways was the most backward areas of Pakistan. In old regime Baluchistan was kept “divided in several part each with a different name and status, yet all bound together in backwardness”, and had to content itself” with a state of political and administrative stagnation” . The Quaid-i-Azam, therefore in a spirit of democratic political advancement, took the unique step of making the governance and administration of Baluchistan more directly the concern of the Governor-General himself, acting in a close collaboration with the acknowledgement of the people of the Baluchistan.

Announcing his decision to appoint an advisory committee the Quaid said: “I did not want the requisite legal and statutory provisions to be enacted in their full form. All that will naturally come in time. For the present, however, I have come to the conclusion that our immediate object can best be achieved by making the governance and administration of Baluchistan more directly the concern of the Governor-General acting close collaboration with the acknowledged representatives of the people of the Baluchistan”.

On February 14, 1948, the annual Durbar was held at Sibi, Sardars of Baluchistan and leaders and representatives of the people of Baluchistan assembled and Jinnah took the opportunity of attending it as he himself said, to fulfill his earnest desire of associating the people of Baluchistan with their own administration as far as possible and exchanging views with them in order to ascertain the ideas which they might have formed about the future form of government for their province. He said the final constitution was of course to be framed by constituent Assembly in consultation with the representatives of the people of all the areas, but as he anticipated some delay in this regard, he decided for the interim period “to constitute a Governor General’s Advisory Council, a body which will enable the people to play their full part in the administration and governance of their province, and which will enable me as Governor General to keep a close watch over affairs of Baluchistan and to make the probably problems of this great province my own special care as I am bound to do under the present provisional constitution of Pakistan”.

Although the members of the advisory Council would be nominated by the Governor-General, yet it would have the power to advise the Governor-General on any matter which in its opinion was connected with the good of the Province. The budget of the Province, for instance, would be checked and scrutinized, first, by the Advisory Council, and it would be free to submit its recommendations to the Governor General. The Quaid-i-Azam went on the argue: “Thus, Gentlemen, in some ways you will be better off than the other provinces of Pakistan. Here you will have in fact a Governor-General’s province and you will become my special responsibility and care and let me assure you that in this sphere of activities, the Governor General will adopt such measures as may be necessary in consultation with his Advisory Council from time to time”.

The Quaid-i-Azam again visited Balochistan on June 18, 1948 when he addressed a meeting in Quetta. In his first public speech at Quetta on 13 June he said that since the business of framing a constitution would take some time, perhaps two years, he could not wait that long for Baluchistan to be brought out of its feudal backwardness and given the same rights and privileges as the rest of Pakistan Provinces. The Quaid therefore announced that after consulting various elements of Baluchistan he had decided to take steps in the direction of political reforms in Balochistan. He told that he had decided to keep the affairs of Balochistan under his own direct control so that he would be able to give full attention to this neglected province.

The Quaid-i-Azam went again to Baluchistan and received a great ovation from the people. Replying to an address of welcome from the Quetta Municipality, the Quaid-i-Azam said, “Baluchistan is the land of brave independent people and to you, therefore national freedom, honour and strength should have a special meaning…. We are now all Pakistanis – no Baluchis, Pathans, Sindhis, Bengalis, Punjabis and so on….And as Pakistanis we must feel behave and act, and we should be pround to be known as Pakistani2, and nothing else.

Towards the end of his life, the Quaid-i-Azam assumed responsibility for the newly-created “ministry of states and Tribal Affairs”. His memorable achievement in this sphere was the smooth setting of the question of the accession of the huge border state of Kalat. The Khan, of Kalat, Mir Ahmad Yar Khan, announced independence in a public speech on 15 August 1947. Soon after the promulgation of constitution, elections were held and the Kalat State National Party won 39 out of a total 51 seat in Lower House. The rest of the seats went to independent candidates, who supported the cause of the National Party. On 13 December, the Khan summoned the Lower House to discuss, the official language the Sharia (Islamic Law), and the relation between the Khanate of Baluchistan and Pakistan, with special reference to accession.

It has been reported that the Khan of Kalat wanted to stake a claim to independence. He employed an Englishman, Douglas Fell, as Foreign Minister. It was reported that Mr. Fell was negotiating with foreign companies for oil prospecting and was, possibly seeking support through them. It was also alleged that the Khan’s brother and uncle sought aid in Kabul. Negotiations for accession dragged on, although the Khan provfessed the highest veneration for the Quaid-i-Azam, Meanwhile the rulers of the Lasbela, Makran, and Kharan, over whom the khan of Kalat claimed some sort of suzereignity, got restive and decided early in March 1948, to offer accession directly to Pakistan. The acceptance of their accession isolated Kalat, now entirely surrounded by Pakistan territory. Under these circumstances the Khan saw the path of wisdom and acceded to Pakistan before the end of March, 1948.

Another controversy that the Quaid-i-Azam was called upon to decide was that relating to the opposition of Sindhi leaders to the contemplated move of the Central Government to make Karachi the Capital of Pakistan. The Sind Assembly unanimously passed on 2nd February, 1948, a resolution opposing the ‘contemplated move of the Pakistan Government to remove the city of Karachi from the control of Sind administration and place it under its own immediate Jurisdiction as a centrally administered area . This controversy brought to light the conflict and tension that was brewing between the Punjabis and Sindhi interests in Karachi. Sindhis felt that being much less advanced and sophisticated than the Punjabis, they as the hosts, were being gradually elbowed out by their guests. A typical comment was that of M.H. Gazder. “But one defect in the Punjabi’s character is that however Punjabi goes, he establishes a Punjabi colony, Punjabi administration employs Punjabis, he would invite all his relatives and friends” . Even though the Constituent Assembly in May, 1948, decided by a resolution that Karachi should be made the capital of Pakistan. Sindhis, in general, and Sindh government in particular, were opposed to the transfer of the administrative control of Karachi, the capital of Pakistan as well as of Sind, to the Centre . The people of Sind were extremely proud of Karachi, an important sea-port and a great mercantile center. The Sind Muslim League Assembly party protested strongly against the proposal to make Karachi the Capital of Pakistan and to separate it from Sind. And even a threat of direct action was held out. There was a powerful agitation in the press, and there were demonstrations in streets of Karachi and elsewhere . All the more feelings ran high against the proposal separation and the Pakistan government was faced with a serious crisis.

However, the Quaid-i-Azam stepped in a mediator. He met a deputation from the Sind Muslim League Assembly Party and discussed the matter freely and fully. With his quick, logical mind, he smoothed out difficulties, cleared up confused impression and straightened out distorted facts. He explained the fears of the people of Sind were groundless and that they had no cause to feel apprehensive that he proposed change-over of Karachi would prove determental to their interests. Indeed, it would have quite the opposite effect and would have immense benefit to the people of Sind . It is interesting to note that a communiqué from the Governor-General’s House said: “The deputation submitted that they were anxious to know his views not so much as Governor-General but as Quaid-i-Azam”. The communiqué said that the Quaid-i-Azam’s advise and counsel to them finalywas that they willingly accept the proposal of the Central government which had been adopted by the Constituent Assembly, the highest and supreme body in Pakistan. However, the Quaid gave his verdict in favour of the moved of proposed separation with the result that the whole agitation died down as if by magic. Not a soul stirred not a word of criticism appeared in the press. The Capital of Sind government passed from Sind to Pakistan. Karachi was declared the capital of Pakistan by the Governor-General’s order on 23rd July 1948, and the peole of Sind, having implicit faith in the Quaid-i-Azam’s judgment accepted calmly the proposed separation of Karachi from Sind. Once again the Quaid-i-Azam’s wisdom and patience had averted a crisis which might have had grave consequences.

The geographical distance of East and West Pakistan made communication fitful and expensive. Misunderstandings arose easily and were difficult to dispel. Since the capital was in West Pakistan, East Pakistan felt neglected. The differences in language and background put obstacles in the way of national integration. All the more, the two blocs are inhabited by people who, though sharing fundamental affinities of Islamic faith, tradition and culture, differ in point of language, customs, habits, food, ways of living, etc. The situation at the start called for a leadership which could inspire equal confidence in the people of the two wings and weld them together into one solid whole. Such leadership could only be provided by the Quaid-i-Azam M.A. Jinnah, who, by virtue of having led the common struggle for freedom, symbolized their deepest hopes, yearnings, and aspirations for a fuller and richer life as a sovereign, independent united nation. He alone could inspire hope in moments of despair and galvanize the people to a mighty concerted effort overcome the odds and difficulties with which their path in the beginning was beset . The Quaid-i-Azam knew that the people needed him. He, therefore, scarified all chances of recovery of his health and assumed the responsibility of piloting the ship of the state through rough and stormy weather. From the earliest beginning, East Pakistan felt isolated from the West Pakistan and therefore it was suggested that some of the sessions of the Assembly should also be held in Dacca. Supporting this suggestion, Begum Shaista Suhrawardy Ikramullah said, “A feeling is growing among the Eastern Pakistani that Eastern Pakistan is being neglected and treated merely as a colony of West Pakistan” . But as every part of Pakistan was close to the Quaid-i-Azam’s heart and as he learnt that the people of East Pakistan had a feeling of isolation, he made up his mind to visit the province inspite of his weak health. In those days there were no fast and comfortable means of air transport. The Quaid traveled in an old Dakota whose tiring flight to Dacca took over ten hours. As a leader with democratic instincts he never flinched from direct contact with the people and even violent agitations were tackled by him by direct appeal to the reason and good sense of the people. He addressed a number of record public gatherings and also spoke over the radio. In his speeches which went deep into the hearts of the people he dealt with the numerous problems faced by East Pakistan and succeeded in turning public thought and feelings and stabilized the situation enabling the people of East Pakistan to devote their attention to the task of building up the life of the province. He told them, “Do not feel isolated. Many people have spoken to me that East Pakistan feels isolated from the rest of Pakistan. No doubt there is a great distance separating the East from the West Pakistan; no doubt there are difficulties; but I tell you that we fully know and realize the importance of Dacca and East Pakistan. I have only come here for a week or ten days this time but in order to discharge my duty as head of the State I may have to come here and stay for days, for weeks, and similarly the Pakistan’s ministers must establish closer contacts”.

In a broadcast talk to the people of Australia, on February 19, 1948, the Quaid said:

“West Pakistan is separated from East Pakistan by about a thousand miles of the territory of India. The first question a student from abroad should asks himself is – how can this be? How can there be unity of government between areas so widely separated? I can answer this question in one word. It is “faith”; faith in Almighty God, in ourselves and in our destiny”.

Islam had acted as nation-building force in the Indian sub-continent and it was on the basis of “Two-nation” theory that Quaid-i-Azam had demanded struggled for and achieved Pakistan as the homeland of the Muslims. The basis of nationalism in Pakistan, therefore, could only be Islam – particularly when the Muslims of Pakistan descended from different racial stock, spoke different languages and were geographically, non-contiguous. Hence, in order to secure national consolidation Quaid-i-Azam felt that the barriers of ragionalism provincialism and sectarianism must be demolished. At public meeting in Dacca, held on 21st March, 1948, he warned: “As long as you do not throw off this poison (provincialism in our body politics, you will never be able to weld yourself, mould yourself, galvanise yourself into a real true nation. What we want is not to talk about Bengali, Punjabi, Sindhi, Baluchi, Pathan and so on. They are of course units. But I ask you: have you forgotten that was taught to us thirteen hundred years ago? If I may point out, you are all outsider here. Who were the original inhabitants of Bengal – not those who are now living. So what is the use of saying, “We are Bengalis, or Sindhis, or Patans, or Punabis”. No, we are Muslim. Islam has taught us, and I think you will agree with me that whatever else you may be and whatever you are, you are a Muslim. You belong to a nation now; you have now carved out a territory, vast territory, it is all yours; it does not belong to a Punjabi, or a Sindhi, or a Pathan, or a Bengali, it is yours. You have got your Central Government where several units are represented. Therefore, if you want to build up yourself into a Nation, for God’s sake give up this provincialism”.

The East Pakistanis had rallied enthusiastically to Mr. Jinnah, and were prepared to accept any arrangement that he approved; but they were not happy about the influx of officials from the Western Wing. These officials did not know Bengali; they insisted that Urdu was the national language of Pakistan, and they were not always tactful in pointing out the administrative inexperience of the people whom they had come to help. The East Pakistani conscious that they make up more than half the total population of Pakistan, that their wing produces the bulk of the revenue of the country, and being besides, justifiably proud of their own culture and their own language, were sensitive to any suggestion that their wishes did not count for as much as the wishes of the peoples of West Pakistan. The mere choice of Karachi, as the new capital seemed likely, they thought to give West Pakistanis an advantage: being closer at hand, would not West Pakistanis be able to look after their own interests with the central Government better than the more distant East Pakistanis? And what, after all, the East Pakistanis complained, was West Pakistan? It was a strange mixture of separate races and heterogeneous administration – the Western Punjab, the N.W.F. Province, the hill territories, some princely states, Sind and Baluchistan. What a contrast to East Pakistan, where the people were mainly all of one race and culture experienced and adroit political leaders with long training in the testing atmosphere of the former Bengal legislature: or was the feeling on one side only. The West Pakistanis officials complained that they were being treated as intruders that they received inadequate cooperation, and that the East Pakistanis were not only unable to do anything for themselves, but in addition, were deeply resentful if someone else tried to help them. West Pakistanis thought the East Pakistanis clannish and incompetent more proud of being Bengalis than of being Pakistanis lacking in the national, as distinct from a provincial; outlook which Pakistan now required from her citizens. East Pakistanis considered West Pakistanis frequently over-bearing and often uncultured.

The interests of East Pakistan should rank equally with the interests of West Pakistani in the plans and policies of the central Government . In this effort to bridge the gulf Quaid was largely successful for the first few months of Pakistan’s existence. Moreover the difficulties; particularly the economic difficulties, which shortly arose between Pakistan and India, had the effect of drawing the two wings more closely together to meet a crisis which for some time threatened them both.

Quaid-i-Azam obviously desired that the Pakistanis should demolish the barriers which hindered their development as a single nation. It was with this object in view that he wanted Pakistan to have Urdu as its State Language. At a public meeting in Dacca held on 21st March, 1948, he declared: “But let me make it clear to you that the state language of Pakistan is going to be Urdu and no other language. Anyone who tries to mislead you is really the enemy of Pakistan. Without one state language no nation can remain tied up solidly together and function”.

He was aware that there were countries in the world which had two state languages; but all such countries were geographically contiguous. Therefore, in spit of two state languages, they remained tied up solidly and functioned. Pakistan, however, was geographical non-contiguous and in addition to it, was an ideological state. It had to have, according to him, only one state language. On 24th March, 1948, at the Dacca University Convocation, he again proclaimed: “There can be only one State language if the component parts of this state are to March forward in unison, and that language in my opinion, can only be Urdu”.

The Governor-General also knew that an agitation had been organized by the followers of Suhrawardy against the Provincial Government on the language issue. This agitation had also the support of a number of Muslim Leaguers who had been former supporters of Suhrawardy in undivided Bengal. Muhammad Ali Bogra and Tafazzal Ali were leading figures in the agitation. The Quaid’s technique was to weaken the agitation by depriving it of some of its leaders . Muhammad Ali Bogra who later became Prime Minister of Pakistan, was sent to Burma as the Ambassador of Pakistan. Tafazzal Ali was offered a post in the Provincial Ministry. But the agitation was soon taken up by the students. The powerful Hindu press of Calcutta fanned the flames of the controversy. In February 1948, when the Pakistan constituent Assembly was considering its rules of procedure, Dhrirendra Nath Dutta, a member of the Congress Party moved an amendment that the proceedings of the Assembly should be kept not merely in Urdu and English but also in Bengali, and suggested that the language spoken by the majority of people should become the state language . In a speech at the Dacca University Convocation of March 22, 1948, the Quaid-i-Azam said: “It is not significant that the very persons who in the past have betraying the Musalmans or fought against Pakistan, which is after all merely the embodiment of your fundamental right of self-determination, should now suddenly pose as the saviour of your “Just rights” and incite you to defy the Government on the question of language. I must warn you to beware of these fifth columnists. Let me restate my views on the question of a state language for Pakistan. For official use in this province, the people of the province can choose any language they wish. This question will be decided solely in accordance with the wishes of the people of this province alone, as freely expressed though their accredited representatives at the appropriate time and after full and dispassionate consideration. There can, however, be only one langua-franca, that is, the language for intercommunication between the various provinces of the State, and the language should be Urdu and cannot be any other. The State language, therefore, must obviously be Urdu, a language that has been nurtured by a hundred million Muslims of this subcontinent, a language understood through that length and breadth of Pakistan and above all, a language which, more than any other provincial language, embodies the best that is the Islamic Culture and Muslim tradition and is nearest to the language used in other Islamic countries. It is not without significance that Urdu has been driven out of the Indian union and that even the official use of the Urdu scripts has been disallowed”.

The tremendous weight of the Quaid-i-Azam’s authority suppressed the agitation for the time being, but the issue remained alive. Some years later it assumed formidable proportions. Finally, the controversy was settled when the 1956 Constitution recognized both Urdu and Bengali as the national languages of Pakistan. But, as the Quaid-i-Azam said in his farewell message to East Pakistan on March 28, 1948, “This language controversy is really one aspect of a bigger problem – that of provincialism. I am sure you must realize that in a newly – formed State like Pakistan, consisting moreover as it does of two widely separated parts, cohesion and solidarity amongst all its citizens, from whatever part they may come, is essential for its progress, for its very survival. Pakistan is the embodiment of the unity of the Muslim nation and so it must remain that unity. We as true Muslim nation and so it must remain that unity. We as true Muslims, must jealously guard and preserve that thing, If we begin to think ourselves as Bengalis, Punjabis, Sindhis, etc., first and Muslims and Pakistanis only incidentally then Pakistan is bound to disintegrate. Do not think that this is some abstruse proportion: or enemies are fully alive to its possibilities which I must warn you they are already bust in exploiting”.

So compelling was the Quaid-i-Azam’s sincerity and logic that before his tour had ended, harmonious relations between East and West Pakistan were completely restored. He had made the people of East Pakistan realize that they were a vital part of the State of Pakistan, an indispensable half of the whole. All the more, he succeeded in mollifying inflamed feelings and turning the people’s attention to constructive effort and nation-building tasks. He stabilized the conditions in East Pakistan and made it feel that it had an honoured place in the future of Pakistan.

Reference:     Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah as Governor-General of Pakistan
Author:           Iqtidar Karamat Cheema
Publisher:       Pakistan Study Centre, University of the Punjab, Lahore. 2006

Notes and References

  1. Ch. Muhammad Ali, The Emergence of Pakistan, New York and London, 1967, p. 251.
  2. K.B. Sayeed, Pakistan the Formative Phase, Karachi, 1960, p. 260.
  3. Ibid., p. 244.
  4. Ibid. 248.
  5. Ch. Muhammad Ali, op.cit., p. 367.
  6. Ibid.. p. 368.
  7. The Dawn, April 21, 1948.
  8. The Pakistan Times, April 21, 1948.
  9. Ibid.
  10. The Dawn, April 21, 1984.
  11. Ibid.
  12. R.M. White, The Great Leader: Quaid-e-Azam, Lahore, 1962, p. 118.
  13. Ch. Muhammad Ali, op, cit., p. 368.
  14. R.M. While, op.cit., p. 119.
  15. Ch. Muhammad Ali, op, cit., p. 368.
  16. Ch. Muhammad Ali, op, cit., p. 369.    
  17. Ibid., p. 367.
  18. K.B. Syeed, op.cit., pp. 268-269.
  19. Ch. Muhammad Ali, op. cit., p. 367.
  20. Rushbrook Williams, The State of Pakistan, London, 1962, p. 68.
  21. M.H. Saiyid, Mohammad Ali Jinnah a political study, p 461.
  22. M.A.H. Ispahani, Quaid-i-Azam has I knew him, Karachi 1966, p. 275.
  23. I.H. Qureshi, A Short History of Pakistan, Karachi, 1967, p. 231.
  24. Rushbrook Williams, op.cit., p. 69.
  25. The Eastern Times, March 11, 1948.
  26. M.H. Saiyid, op.cit., p. 461.
  27. The Pakistan Times, April 18, 1948.
  28. A.B. Awan Baluchistan: Historical & Political Processes, London 1985, p. 213.
  29. Ch. Muhammad Ali, op.cit., p. 252.
  30. M.H. Saiyid, op.cit., pp. 459-460.
  31. The Pakistan Times, February 15, 1948.
  32. The Eastern Times, February 17, 1948.
  33. Ibid.
  34. Aziz Beg, Jinnah and his times, Islamabad 1986, p. 830.
  35. The Dawn, September 11, 1949.
  36. Inayatullah Baloch, The problem of greater Balochistan, A study of Baloch Nationalism,
  37. Stallgart 1987, pp. 175-176.
  38. Ch. Muhammad Ali, op.cit., p. 236.
  39. Khalid B. Sayeed, op.cit., p. 269.
  40. Ibid.
  41. Ibid.
  42. S.M. Ikram, Modern Muslim India and Birth of Pakistan, Lahore 1970, p. 424.
  43. Ibid.
  44. R.M. White, op.cit., pp. 120-121.
  45. The Pakistan News, 23, 29 June, 1948.
  46. K.B. Sayeed, op.cit., p. 270.
  47. Fazal-ur-Rehman, The Quaid-i-Azam as I saw him.
  48. K.B. Sayeed, op.cit., p. 275.
  49. The Eastern Times, March 24, 1948.
  50. Khurshid Ahmad Khan Yusufi, Speeches, Statements & Messages of the Quaid-i-Azam, Vol.   IV, Lahore 1996, p. 2686.
  51. The Eastern Times, March 24, 1948.
  52. R. Williams, op.cit., p. 43.
  53. The Dawn, September 11, 1949.
  54. The Pakistan Times, March 25, 1948.
  55. K.B. Sayeed, op.cit., p. 277.
  56. Ch. Muhammad Ali, op.cit., p. 365.
  57. The Eastern Times, March 26, 1948.
  58. The Eastern Times, March 31, 1948.