Quaid-e-Azam and Pakistan's Foreign Policy

This paper suggests that Pakistan’s foreign policy under Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah represented a confluence of three variables: the Quaid’s world view or cosmology, the security compulsions of the new State of Pakistan and the cold war international system in which Pakistan had to conduct itself after its inception on 14 August 1947. Despite his failing health, the Quaid could find time to define the strategic parameters of Pakistan’s foreign policy according to his own predilections. Pakistan “did not have a full time Foreign Minister until December 1947” and “in practice all papers were put up to Quaid-i-Azam for information or decision.”1

The basic tenets of the foreign policy of the new State of Pakistan were outlined by Quaid-i-Azma at a press conference in Delhi on 14 July 1947. He remarked that the new state “will be most friendly to all nations. We stand for the peace of the world. We will make our contribution whatever we can.”2 These ideas were further explicated on 15 August, when as Governor-General of Pakistan, the Quaid observed:

Our objective should be peace within and peace without. We want to live peacefully and maintain cordial and friendly relations with our immediate neighbours and with world at large. We have no aggressive designs against any one. We stand by the United Nations Charter and will gladly make our contribution to the peace and prosperity of the world.3

Prefiguring the doctrine of non-alignment, the Quaid-i-Azam, in his broadcast talk to the people of the USA in February 1948 said:

Our foreign policy is one of the friendliness and goodwill towards all the nation of the world. We do not cherish aggressive designs against any country or nation. We believe in the principle of honesty and fair-play in national and international dealings, and are prepared to make our contribution to the promotion of peace and prosperity among the nations of the world. Pakistan will never be found lacking in extending its material and moral support to the oppressed and suppressed peoples of the world and in upholding the principles of the United Nations Charter.4

Quaid-i-Azam World View

World views are those core elements of human belief systems which act as organizing principles for ordering the universe of our perceptions of the social environment. They are stable but historical in nature and always reflect subjective understanding of the objective reality. World views provide fundamental assumptions about knowledge and action. World views are of two types: rationalistic and non-rationalistic. The former emphasize order, clarity, empiricism and logical analysis while the latter revolve around “novelty, incongruity, intuition and subjective awareness.”5 At the heart of the rationalistic world view is the dualistic notion that reality is both fundamentally orderly and empirically available. Thus, “all things can be completely understood and explained by means of logical analysis and empirical inquiry…..Life can be shaped and directed in accordance with human objectives and aspirations.”6

The Quaid-i-Azam’s worldview may be characterized as rationalistic. Such a characterization is warranted by the fact that “Jinnah’s appeal to religion was always ambigious, certainly it was not characteristic of his political style before 1937, and evidence suggests that his use of the communal factor was a political tactic, not an ideological commitment”. (emphasis added).7 It undoubtedly had a normative component in that it was geared towards the realization of the idea of Pakistan. What type of state did Jinnah have in mind? His address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on 11 August, 1947 offers a perspective:

If you change your past and work together in a spirit that everyone of you, no matter what community he belongs, no matter, what relations he had with you in the past, no matter what is his colour, caste or creed, is first, second and last a citizen of this State with equal rights, privileges and obligations there will be no end to the progress you will make. You should begin to work in that spirit and in course of time all these angularities of the majority and minority communities, the Hindu community and the Muslim community because even as regards Muslims you have Pathans, Punjabis, Shias, Sunnis and so on and among the Hindus you have Brahmins, Vashnavas Khatris, also Bengalese, Madrasis, and so on – will vanish. Indeed if you ask me this has been the biggest hindrance in the way of India to attain freedom and independence and but for this we would have been free people long ago….. You are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State. We are starting with the fundamental principle that we all are citizens and equal citizens of one State….8

The same ideas of justice, equality and fairness also informed the Quaid’s thinking and politics regarding international issues. For example, on the emotionally charged issue of the Khilafat in Turkey in 1920, Jinnah as a true constitutionalist, “derided the false and dangerous religious frenzy” of the zealots, both Hindu and Muslim” since it threatened the stability of the existing political structures and orderly progress along moderate and nationalist lines.9 In 1937, following the rejection by the Arabs of the Peel Commission proposal that Palestine should be divided into Arab and Jewish State, leaving Britain with a mandate over a reduced area which would include the holy place of Jerusalem, Quaid-i-Azam expressed strong support for the Arab position and called upon London to honour its pledge of total independence to the Arab people. In his Presidential address to the All India Muslim League delivered at Lucknow on 16 October 1937, the Quaid stated:

Great Britain has dishonored her proclamation to the Arabs which had guaranteed to them complete independence of the Arab homeland and the formation of an Arab Confederation under the stress of the Great War….May I point out to Great Britain that this question of Palestine, if not fairly and squarely met, boldy and courageously decided, is gong to be a turning point in the history of the British Empire…..The Muslims of India will stand solidly and will help the Arabs in every way they can in their brave and just struggle that they are carrying on against all odds.10

The Quaid-i-Azam vehemently opposed the partition of Palestine and the establishment of Israel in 1948. In an interview to Mr. Robert Stimson, B.B.C. correspondent on 19 December 1947, the Quaid said,”…. Our sense of justice obliges us to help the Arab cause in Palestine in every way that is open to us.”11 Similarly in his reply to a telegram from the King of Yemen on 24 December 1947, Quaid-i-Azam expressed his “surprise and shock” all the UN decision to approve of the partition of Palestine. Describing the division of Palestine as “outrageous and inherently unjust” the Quaid assured “the Arab brethren” that “Pakistan will stand by them in their opposition to the UNO decision.”12 Later, Quaid-i-Azam sent a cable to President Truman urging him to “uphold the rights of the Arabs” and thus “avoid the greatest consequences and repercussions.”13 The Quaid-i-Azam gave open and unflinching support to North African Arabs in their struggle to throw off the French yoke. He considered the Dutch attack upon Indonesia as an attack on Pakistan itself and refused transit facilities to Dutch ship and planes, carrying war material to Indonesia.”14 Similarly, Pakisan provided all possible “diplomatic and material assistance to the liberation movement in Indonesia, Malaya, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, Nigeria and Algeria.”15

Pakistan’s Security Compulsions

Soon after its emergence as an independent nation on 14 August 1947 Pakistan was faced with a hostile security environment. The most serious threat to Pakistan’s security emanated from India which never reconciled itself to the idea of the partition of the subcontinent. Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah too had strong reservations about the Radcliffe award which he characterized as “unjust, incomprehensible and even perverse.”16 This was mainly because the Punjab Boundary Commission had deprived Pakistan of “territories which, by all cannons of justice, should have gone to [it] – territories the possession of which enabled India to annex the Muslims majority states of Jammu and Kashmir.”17 Notwithstanding its unjust character, Quaid-i-Azam agreed to accept the decision of the Boundary Commission since as “honourable people” the Pakistan “had agreed to abide by it.”18 After the acceptance of the partition plan, Quaid-i-Azam expressed to the new India his friendly feelings and desire for full cooperation, even to the extent of “wishing for a joint defence plan.”19 Speaking at a Press Conference in New Delhi on 14 July 1947, he said that relations between India and Pakistan “will be friendly and cordial” since “being neighbours” “we can be of use to each other, not to say the world.”20 On August 15, 1947, as the first Governor General of Pakistan, the Quaid declared: “We want to live peacefully and maintain cordial relations with our immediate neighbours and with the world at large.”21 But the Indian inablilty to accept the ineluctable reality of the partition of the British India ensured that these early Pakistani hopes for friendly ties with India were cut short giving rise to the pessimistic belief that Pakistan, in the words of Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, had “been surrounded on all sides by forces which were to destroy her.”22 That the Indian leadership harboured grave reservations about the Partition Plan was evident from Jawaharlal Nehru’s following remarks: “The proposals to allow certain parts to secede if they so will is painful for any one of us to contemplate”.23 Expressing the similar view, the resolution of the All-India Congress Committee on the Paritition Plan, adopted on 15 June 1947 stated:

Geography and the mountains and the seas fashioned India as she is, and no human agency can change the shape or come in the way of her final destiny. Economic circumstances and the insistent demands of international affairs make the unity of India still more necessary. The picture of India we have learnt to cherish will remain in our minds and hearts. The A.I.C.C. earnestly trusts that when present passions have subsided, India’s problems will be viewed in their proper perspective and the false doctrine of the two nations in India will be discredited and discarded by all.24

In October 1947, Field Marshal Claude Auchinleck reprted to the British Prime Minister Attlee: “The present Indian cabinet are implacably determined to do all in their power to prevent the establishment of the Dominion of Pakistan on a firm basis.”25 In line with the policy of implacable hostility towards the new state of Pakistan, India forcibly occupied some Princely States in Kathiawar, which had acceded to Pakistan and secured accession of the State of Jammu Kashmir by manipulation. Further, it discontinued the supply of coal and withheld a part of Pakistan’s share in the cash balances, arms and equipment. The Indian Government failed to protect the lives and properties of a large number of Muslims and there was a heavy influx of Muslim refugees into Pakistan. In 1948 Pakistan fought the kashmir war and was faced with the prospect of Indian trying to “throttle and choke” it “at birth”.26 The conflict between India and Pakistan over Kashmir stemmed mainly from the selective application of the principles on which partition was based. British India had 562 princely states which on the eve of the British departure were given the option to join either India or Pakistan in keeping with their geography and the will of their inhabitants. With the exception of three princely states Junagarh, Hyderabad and the State of Jammu and Kashmir the choice was a simple one as they had to simply follow the dictates of their Muslim or Hindu heritage. In each of these three states the ruling family belonged to one religious community and the great majority of the population to the other. And this anomalous situation posed special problems. In Junagadh and Hyderabad, Muslim princes rules over the Hindu majority.

Similarly, Pakistan was confronted with the security problems in the North-West also where Afghanistan had made irredentist claims. As early as November 1944, the Afghanistan Government, anticipating that the British would have to relinquish power in India, made the representation to London that the people of those areas of North-West Frontier which had been annexed to Indian during the last century should be offered option of becoming independent or rejoining Afghanistan. The Afghanistan Government was pressing for the acceptance of its demands when in 1946 the Khudai Khidmatgar Movement, which was an ally of the Indian National Congress, raised the slogan of “Pakhtunistan.” The slogan then “signified an agitation or demands for independence of the Pathans of the North-West Frontier – Independence that is from Pakistan, should such a state come into being.” The Partition Plan provided that a referendum would be held in the North–West Frontier Province to ascertain whether the population of the area wanted to join Pakistan or India. The British Government rejected the Red Shirt proposal that there should also be an option for independence in the referendum as per coordination of 3 June 1947 plan.

The referendum was held in the NWFP in July 1947 without the requested addition of independence as an option for the Pashtuns. Out of the total electorate of 572,798 the valid votes cast for union with Pakistan were 289,244 while the remaining 2,074 were for union with India.27 The NWFP became part of Pakistan, on the basis of the referendum. The frontier States of Swat, Chitral, Dir and Amb also acceded to Pakistan, and the Tribal Jirgas of the frontier region opted for “attachment of the Tribal Agencies to Pakistan.”28 Afghanistan did not accept this arrangement whereas the British had to proceed to the Pakistan Plan agreed to between the British, Indian National Congress and All-India Muslim League. As follow up of the referendum the Quaid as Pakistan’s first Governor-General sacked Dr. Khan Sahib’s Ministry in the NWFP in the first week after the independence.

Afghanistan’s non-recognition of the NWFP and the Tribal Agencies as part of Pakistan coupled with the fact that Afghanistan was the only state that cast a negative vote on Pakistan’s application for membership to the UN in September 1947, caused a sense of deep resentment in Karachi. In November 1947, Najibullah Khan, special envoy of King Zahir Shah of Afghanistan, made three demands on Pakistan: “creation of free sovereign province’ comprising the tribal region; establishment of a corridor aeries West Baluchistan to give Afghanistan an access to the sea or, alternatively, granting a ‘free Afghan Zone’ in Karachi; and conclusion of a Pakistan Afganistan treaty specifically providing that either party could remain neutral in case the other party was attacked.”29

The hopes raised by Karachi talks of an amicable settlement of the Pakistan-Afghanistan difference proved to be unfounded. In June 1948 the Government of Pakistan arrested Abdul Ghaffar Khan and a score of other Pushtun leaders as a result of their subversive activities. These arrests were followed by the “intensification of Pakistani military action in the tribal areas (including the use of the air force against their tribal opponents.”30

The dilapidated condition of Pakistan’s armed forces31 and concern for its borders in the face of territorial disputes with its neighbours, India and Afghanistan, forced Karachi to turn away from South Asia for security assistance. Several other factors induced Karachi to look in the directions of the Western block, particularly the United States First. Pakistan’s ruling elite “hailing from the feudal and to some extend, commercial classes, the bureaucracy and the military” had a liking for the West due to its Western education and cultural outlook. The Quaid-i-Azam himself represented the best of Western education, throughout, cultural values and rationality. Secondly, Pakistan’s economy was integrated with the West, particularly Britain, during the colonial era and it would not have been easy to transform it along the socialist lines. Pakistan “preferred to have trading partners in the West because they were in a position to supply consumer goods at very competitive prices for local requirements and provided almost assured markets for Pakistan’s raw materials.”32 Thirdly, Pakistan expected strong Western diplomatic and political support from the United States and Great Britain in the settlement of its disputes with India. Finally, “the transfer of power by the British in the subcontinent to the Government of India and Pakistan had not brought about any immediate change in the Soviet opinion and, since the Soviet Union had apprehensions about the role of the decolonize nations in the world affairs, its own attitude was somewhat cool.”33

Barely two weeks after its inception, Pakistan’s Finance Minister, Ghulam Mohammad, during his informal talks wit the U.S. Charge d’Affairs, Chairles W. Lewis, Jr., sought capital and technical assistance for Pakistan on the ground that funds were needed to “meet the administrative approximately $2 billion over a period of five years. Immediately thereafter Pakistan submitted to the State Department the following breakdown of Pakistan’s requirement: $700 million for industrial development, $700 million for agricultural development and $510 million for building and equipping defense services. Further breakdown of the defence expenditure showed $170 million for the Navy and $205 million to meet the anticipated deficits in Pakistan’s military budget.34

These Pakistani appeals for urgent financial aid from Washington were greeted with vague promises bordering on ‘wait an see’ attitude. Several consideration underpinned this American reluctance to assume the role of a military benefactor for Karachi. The first was a continuation of Washington’s pre-independence desire to consult with London on matters of importance in South Asia. The second was Washington’s insistence on taking a regional approach to the areas which called for an evenhanded approach vis-à-vis controversies between Pakistan and India. The third factor was the American preoccupation with the European affairs and the consequent denigration of South Asia as an important strategic region. It was not until the fall of China to the Communists in 1949 and the outbreak of the Korean War a year later that the U.S. began to pay any serious heed to the South Asian region in terms of its emergent global strategy of the containment of the Communism.

Notes and References
  1. Saeeduddin Ahmed Dar, “Foreign Policy of Pakistan: 1947-48,” in Ahmed Hasan Dani, ed., World Scholars on Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Islamabad, 1979, p. 364.
  2. Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah: Speeches and Statements As Governor General of Pakistan 1947-1948, Islamabad, 1989, p. 29.
  3. Ibid. pp. 55-56.
  4. Ibid. pp. 157-158.
  5. Miriam Steiner, “The Speech for Order in a disorderly world: Worldviews and Prescriptive decision paradigms”, International Organization, 37:3, 1983, p. 37.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ayesha Jalal, The Sole Spokesman: Jinnah, the Muslim League and the Demand for Pakistan, Cambridge, 1948, p. 5.
  8. Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah Speeches, p.46.
  9. Jalal, pp. 8-9.
  10. Rizwan Ahmed, ed. Saying of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah (Karachi: Elite Publishers, 1947), p. 86.
  11. Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah: speeches, p. 11.
  12. Ibid.
  13. Saeeduddin Ahmed Dar, “Foreign Policy of Pakistan: 1947-48,” in Ahmed Hasan Dani, ed., p. 362.
  14. S. Raza
  15. Ibid.
  16. Quoted in G.W. Choudhry, Pakistan’s Relations with India, 1947-1966, (London: Pall Mall Press, 1968), p. 56.
  17. Ibid.
  18. Ibid.
  19. Ibid., p. 40.
  20. Saying of Quaid-i-Azam, op. cit., p. 80.
  21. Choudhry, Pakistan’s Relations with India, p. 41.
  22. Ibid., p. 41.
  23. Latif Ahmed Sherwani, ed, Pakistan Resolution to Pakistan, 1940-1947, Karachi, 1969, p. 235.
  24. Ibid., pp. 247-248.
  25. As cited in Saeeduddin Ahmad Dar, “Foreign Policy of Pakistan 1947-48,” in Ahmed Hasan Dani, ed., p. 363.
  26. 7 November 1947, Mountbatten’s Personal report as cited in Stanley Wolpert, Jinnah of Pakistan, New York, 1984, pp. 352-353.
  27. Abdul Samad Ghaus, The Fall of Afghanistan: An Insider’s Account, Washington, 1988, p. 67.
  28. Ibid., p. 68.
  29. Mahboob A Popatia, Pakistan’s Relations with the Soviet Union 1947-49; Constraints and Compulsions, Karachi, 1988, p. 27.
  30. Ibid., p. 70.
  31. Mohammad Ayub Khan, the first Muslim Commander-in-Chief of the Pakistan Army (1951-1958) and later Pakistan’s president (1958-1969) recalled Pakistan’s defence capability at the time in the following words:
    “Our army was badly equipped and terribly disorganized. It was almost immediately engaged in escorting the refugees who streamed by the million into Pakistan, and not long after that it was also involved in the fighting in the Kashmir. Throughout this period we have no properly organized units, no equipment, and hardly any ammunition. Our plight desperate. But from the moment Pakistan came into being I was certain of one thing Pakistan’s survival was vitally linked with the establishment of a well-trained, well-equipped, and well-led army. I was determined to create this type of military shield for my country”. See Mohammad Ayub Khan, Friends, Not Masters: A Political Autobiography, New York, 1967, pp. 20-21.
  32. Popatia, p. 29.
  33. Ibid.
  34. M.S. Venkataramani, The American Role in Pakistan, 1947-1958, Lahore, 1984, pp. 15, 19-20.
by Syed Rifaat Hussain 

Gandhi and Jinnah - a study in contrasts

An extract from the book that riled India's Bharatiya Janata Party and led to the expulsion of its author Jaswant Singh, one of the foun...