Pakistan and her people - I (19th Feb 1948)

Broadcast talk to the people of Australia recorded on 19th February, 1948

It is common talk these days that the world grows smaller: its peoples know more about each other, and their interests are becoming increasingly interlocked. Yet, I wonder what the people of Australia know of Pakistan. Is it, I have been asking myself, more than a name to them? Is it merely an old and not quite comprehensible experiment by those unpredictable persons, the Asiatic? Well, today I am very glad to have the opportunity of telling you something about Pakistan and what it means to sixty-five million people.

Pakistan is made up of two blocks of territory. One in the NorthEast, and one in NorthWest of the sub-continent of India. In the East, it is a land washed by great slow-moving rivers, and it is dependent for its prosperity largely on the monsoon rains. The west is a land of greater variety of desert of fertile irrigated plains, of mountains and valleys. The people are mostly simple folk, poor, not very well educated and with few interest beyond the cultivation of their fields. As I say, they are poor; but they come of hardy, vigorous stock, and I think without boasting I can claim that they are brave. They made good soldiers, and have won renown in many battles. They have fought side by your side in two world wars.

For the present, agriculture is our mainstay. With a population of about 22 per cent of what was formerly British India, Pakistan produces about 33 per cent of the total tonnage of rice about 40 per cent of the total tonnage of wheat. In essential foods we are, therefore, comparatively fortunate. We also have some important commercial crops, such as jute, cotton and tobacco. The greater part of the world’s jute is grown in East Bengal and it gives us the great benefit of earning large sums of foreign exchange. Foreign exchange will be very valuable to us in setting up and expanding our industries.

As yet we have very few big Industries. I believe that at least one of the distinguished sons of Australia. I mean Mr. R.G.Casey could tell you that our country offers immense opportunities for development and enrichment, and that we ourselves, the people, are restless to take advantage of them. For the present, however, we are short of capital and technical knowledge; but given a little time, and here and there a friendly hand, these deficiencies should be made good. In this matter of industrialization capital development, we have no prejudices or false pride. We know our present weaknesses in these directions and we should certainly welcome any investment, which would be likely to strengthen our economy. I do not believe that anyone from abroad who gives a helping hand would have reason to regret it.

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 ask 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. But I can see that people who do not know us well might have difficulty in grasping the implications of so short an answer. Let me, for a moment, build up the background for you.

The great majority of us are Muslims. We follow the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed (may peace be upon him). We are members of the brotherhood of Islam in which all are equal in rights, dignity and self-respect. Consequently, we have a special and a very deep sense of unity. But make no mistake: Pakistan is not a theocracy or anything like it.

Islam demands from us the tolerance of other creeds and we are themselves willing and ready to play their part and loyal citizens of Pakistan.

Not only are most of us Muslims but we have our own history, customs and traditions and those ways of thought, outlook and instinct which go to make up a sense of nationality. We have had a place in India for many centuries. At one time it was supreme place. This was when the edict of the Moghuls ran from shore to shore. We look back on that period merely from historical point of view. Now we have got a comparatively small place comparatively although four times the size of England. It is ours and we are content with it. We have no aggressive designs upon our neighbors. We wish to live in peace and friendship, and to work out our destiny quietly in our own way and make our rightful contribution in the affairs of the world.

Our people have not achieved their ambition to have a place of their own without great suffering. You will have read in the newspapers of the appalling events that have taken place in Northern India. To us, it is not a newspaper event: it is the suffering and life-blood of our kith and kin. None of us, whether we be of Pakistan or India, can speak of it without the deepest grief. Men, women and children have been massacred in their thousands millions are homeless. The trouble once having started, the people of both sides have hit back at each other, and I would hope that they are ashamed of it.

I speak for my Government when I say that we have done everything in our power to hold in check the lawless spirit of revenge. It has not been easy, but I am thankful that we have succeeded in so large measure. Above everything else, we need peace and good fellowship. Also, I would believe that I speak for everymen of us in Pakistan when I say that our suffering, terrible as they have been, have only strengthened us in our resolve to preserve our State and to count it as our greatest blessing. In my speeches and in every sphere of the Government in which I have influence, I have emphasized and enjoined that Pakistan must not sit back and brood over its injuries. Our people must work and work hard to repair and enrich their country. We are determined to go ahead, and God willing, we shall succeed.

In the setting up of our new State, I would expect a special understanding of our problems by the people of Australia. After all, it is not so long ago that your forebears were breaking new ground, organizing the administration, scheming to develop the riches of the earth, safeguarding the future of you, their children, and, most important, achieving their sense of identity as Australians, which you have inherited. We are in much the same stage. Doubtless, we shal1 make mistakes just, perhaps, as you have made mistakes. But just as you have succeeded, so too, we shall succeed.

There is another reason why I think you should not regard Pakistan merely as another name on an already overcrowded map. Pakistan is, in fact, a very important addition to the long line of Muslim countries through which your communications pass to the Mediterranean and to Europe. We are naturally in very close association with these countries.

There is, I would believe, a good measure of fellow feeling between Muslims and the British people. It comes, perhaps from a practical way to thinking and an aversion from mere theorizing and sentiment. There are of course, rubs and difficulties and misunderstanding now and then; but these are not so important as the friendships. Certainly we in Pakistan who know the British people well have nothing but good feeling in our hearts. In the somewhat electric atmosphere of the last decade we have said bitter things of them about British domination and their system of rule. That is now past and forgotten in the achievement of our freedom and establishment of Pakistan and in the friendly handshake and association of equal peoples.

In this short talk I hope that I have given you some impression of Pakistan, of our people, and what Pakistan means to all of us. It has been suggested to me that in conclusion I should send a greeting to the people of Australia. I do so gladly; and I can think of no better greeting than one which is traditional amongst us; “Assalam-o-Alaikum” which is, “may peace be on you”.

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