By S. Razi Wasti
Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah became Governor General of Pakistan on 14 August 1947, but he had worked for the betterment of the Muslim world throughout his political life. In order to understand his views and policy about the Muslim world, a reference to the policy of Muslim India, before the birth of Pakistan, would be pertinent.
Many Muslims believed that India, became dar-ul-harb, after the Battle Plassey in 1757. According to them it was obvious that the British now possessed power to interfere with the religious observances of their Muslim subjects. It was, therefore, incumbent upon them to wage a holy war (Jihad) against the British to reconvert the country into dar-ul-Islam. Another school represented by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan declared that Jihad against the British was not desirable for the reasons that Muslims enjoyed peace and religious freedom under the British rule.
It was the former conception that provided the inspiration for the Mujahideen Movement, which was the first significant effort aimed at expelling the British from India. Syed Ahmed Barelvi died on the battlefield at Balakot in 1831 but he left behind a well established organisation and his followers stubbornly continued the fight. The War of Independence (1857) was also fought under a Muslim flag. Far from restoring the full power of the Mughal Emperor, the rising of 1857 resulted in his banishment and the complete British sovereignty over India. Until the close of the nineteenth century the Muslims of the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent evinced no keen interest in the politics of India.
At the opening of the twentieth century events outside India added to the concern of the Muslims. During Russo-Turkish War of 1877 the Indian Muslims for the first time demonstrated their sympathy for the Turks on a wider scale. All Turkish causes i.e. the 1897 war with Greece, the 1911 war with Italy and Balken War of 1912 evoked agitation in India. The situation became still more difficult when a few months after the outbreak of World War in 1914, it ended in Turkey’s defeat.
The British Foreign Policy towards Muslims States, especially Turkey, continued to add to anxieties of Indian Muslims. In 1907 British signed a Convention with Russia – the traditional enemy of Turkey. This greatly threatened the Independence of Iran as well. In 1911 Italy attacked and occupied Tripoli. Consequently, war broke out between Italy and Turkey. The war expanded, and in October 1912, the Balkan States also declared war on Turkey. As a result almost all of her European possessions except Thrace, Constantinople and the Straits, were lost to Turkey. These developments soon attracted the attention of the Indian Muslims. The Sultan of Turkey “was the Khalifa or Successor of the Prophet and Amir-ul-Momineen or Chief of the Faithful”.1 The plight of Turkey naturally caused tremendous amount of anxiety to the Indian Muslims. The news of inhuman atrocities perpetrated on the innocent Turks irrespective of sex or age by the Italians, the conquest and desecration fo the Holy Places of Islam, the French occupation of Morocco and the Russian hangings of Meshhad ‘ulama, deeply grieved the Indian Muslims. They attributed all those sufferings to Europens, especially the British, who in their opinion were out to destroy Islam everywhere in the world.2 A fire seemed to have swept over the entire country. Orators of great repute like Shaukat Ali, Muhammad Ali, Abul Kalam Azad and Shibli Nu’mani condemned in unequivocal terms the brutalities perpetrated on the Turks by the aggressors. They also severely denounced the British Government for the support it was lending to the belligerents. A number of papers critical of the British Imperial policy and in favour of the Pan-Islamic Movement began to appear. The most popular and vocal among these were the al-Hilal started by Abul Kalam Azad from Calcutta, Muhammad Ali’s Comrade and Hamdard and Zafar Ali Khan’s Zamindar. The Aga Khan and Syed Ameer Ali, Presidents of the All India Muslim League and the London Branch of the League respectively, conducted a similar campaign in favour of the Turkish brethren. They made earnest appeals to the British Government and public to effect that every possible effort be made to save Turkey from total disintegration. They also appealed to the Indian Muslims to sacrifice their all for the support of the wounded, sick and starving Turks, to form national help-committees, to pray for the success of the Turks and contribute Hilal-i-Ahmar Fund3.
The cumulative effect of all these campaigns was that huge funds were raised for the support of the Turks; branches of the Red Crescent were formed throughout the country; a Medical Mission was organized and dispatched to the scene of War under the leadership of Dr Mukhtar Ahmad Ansari. An association under the name of Anjuman-i-Khuddam-i-Ka’bah was formed by Mushir Hussain Qidwai in collaboration with Shaukat Ali and others. The association was to unite the Musalmans of every section maintaining in violate the sanctity of the three Harams of Islam at Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem.4 These were the beginnings of the Khilafat Movement which was to acquire unprecedented dimensions after World War I.
Ever since the change in British policy, the maintenance of the territorial integrity and independence of the Ottoman Empire had become the primary concern of the Indian Muslims. They apprehended that if Turkey too lost her independence, then the Muslims, like the Jews, would be reduced to a mere religious sect without any Government of their own.
The Muslims of India were deeply anxious that after the war the status of the Sultan both territorial and spiritual should remain undisturbed. Between 1912 when the first Balkan war began and 1922 when Turkey made peace with the European powers the Indian Muslims were completely absorbed in the fate of Turkey and Arabia.
With the abolition of the Khilafat, the Muslims of India lost the overseas rallying point for Muslim resurgence and increasingly began to feel that, as the most substantial body of believers in the world, it was more incumbent upon themselves than upon others to strive for the solidarity of Islam.
The Muslim League had been founded in 1906, but for many years it remained comparatively a small conservative organization, consisting of mainly upper class professionals and landed Muslims. It was not very active during the Khilafat Movement. On 24-25 May, 1924 the League met at Lahore under the Presidentship of Quaid-i-Azam. In 1925 suspecting that Iraq was about to be handed over the Britain as a mandatory power, the League passed a resolution, declaring that Iraq was a part of Jazirat ul Arab and as such should not be left under the control of a non-Muslim mandatory power. The League protested against the Mosul decision of Council of the League of Nations as a glaring injustice to Turkey and hoped that Britain would recognize the right of Turkey to the Mosul Vilayat and settle the question by peaceful negotiation.5 At the Delhi session in November 1933 the League placed on record its emphatic protest against the policy of the British Government in trying to make Palestine the national home of the Jews. The Muslim League depicted the views of Muslims India over matter concerned with Muslims outside India.6
Quaid-i-Azam was elected as the permanent President of the Muslim League in 1934. He was now able to direct the League’s action within and without the country according to his genius. In 1937 in his Presidential address he stated, “May I now turn and refer to the question of Palestine? It has moved the Musalmans all over India most deeply. The whole policy of the British Government has been a betrayal of the Arabs, from its very inception. Fullest advantage has been taken of their trusting nature. Great Britain has dishonoured her proclamation to the Arabs, which had guaranteed them complete independence for the Arab homelands, and the formation of an Arab Confederation under the stress of the Great War. After having utilized them, by giving them false promises, they installed themselves as the Mandatory Power with that in famous Balfour Declaration, which was obviously irreconcilable and incapable of simultaneous execution. Then, having pursued the policy to find a national home for the Jews, Great Britain now proposes to partition Palestine, and the Royal Commission’s recommendation completes the tragedy. If given effect to , it must necessarily lead to the complete ruination and destruction of every legitimate aspiration of the Arabs in their homeland – and now we are asked to look at the realities: But who created this situation? It has been the handiwork of, and brought about sedulously by, the British statesmen. The League of Nations has, it seems, and let us hope, not approved of the Royal Commissions’ scheme, and a fresh examination may take place. But is it a real effort intended to give the Arabs their due? May I point out to Great Britian that this question of Palestine, if not fairly and squarely met, boldly and courageously decided, is going to be the turning point in the history of the British Empire. I am sure I am speaking not only the Musalmans of India but of the world, and all sections of thinking and fair-minded people will agree, when I say that Great Britain will be digging its grave if she fails to honour her original proclamation, premises and intentions – pre-war and even post-war – which were so unequivocally expressed to the Arabs and the world at large. I find that a very tense feeling of excitement has been created and the British Government, out of sheer desperation are resorting to repressive measures, and ruthlessly dealing with the public opinion of the Arabs in Palestine. The Muslims of India will stand solidly and will help the Arabs in every way they can in the brave and just struggle that they are carrying on against all odds. May I send them a message on behalf of the All India Muslim League – of cheer, courage and determination in their just cause and struggle, and that I am sure they will win through?”7
In 1937 the League passed five resolutions and demanded the annulment of the British mandate in Palestine and warned the British Government that if it failed to alter its pro-Jewish policy in Palestine ‘the Mussalmans of India in consonance with the rest of the Islamic world will look upon the British as the enemy of Islam and shall be forced to adopt all necessary measures according to the dictates of their faith’.8
Again in his presidential address to the 26th session of the League held at Patna in December 1938, the Quaid stated, “Among the immediate issues we have to grapple with, which may come upon before the Subjects Committee, is the question of Palestine. I know how deeply Muslim feelings have been stirred over the issue of Palestine. I know Muslims will not shirk from any sacrifice if required to help the Arabs who are engaged in the fight for their national freedom. You know the Arabs have been treated shamelessly – men who, fighting for the freedom of their country, have been described as gangsters, and subjected to all forms of repression. For defending their home-lands, they are being put down at the point of the bayonet, and with the help of martial laws. But no nation, no people who are worth living as a nation, can achieve anything great without making great sacrifices, such as the Arabs of Palestine are making. All our sympathies are with those valiant martyrs who are fighting the battle of freedom against usurpers. They are being subjected to monstrous injustices which are being propped up by British Imperialism with the ulterior motive of placating the international jewry which commands the money bags. That question we will have to consider.”9
The League called for observance of ‘Palestine Day’, holding of protest meetings and for the offering of prayers.10 A deputation consisting of four leaders was sent abroad to promote the Arab cause. It remained overseas for nine months visiting Cairo, London, Geneva, Rome and Bairut.
In December 1938 the Muslim League passed a resolution that “the unjust Balfour Declaration and the subsequent policy of repression adopted by the British Government in Palestine aim at making their sympathy for the Jews a pretext for incorporating that country into the British Empire with a view to strengthen British Imperialism and to frustrate the idea of Federation of Arab States and its possible Union with the Muslim States”.11 Next year in 1939 the Palestine Fund was opened.
After the outbreak of World War II in September 1939, the League Council “resolved that in view of the repeated reports that have reached India recently that there is a probability of war flames spreading and aggression by foreign powers against the independence and sovereignty of the Muslim countries such as Egypt, Palestine, Syria and Turkey, the President is hereby authorized to fix a day for the purpose of expressing and demonstrating deep sympathy and concern of Muslim India with Muslim countries and also conveying to those who have any such design that in the event of an attack upon Muslim countries, Muslim India will be forced to stand by them and give all the support it can.”
In the course of his Presidential address at the historic Lahore session of the League in March, 1940, Quaid-i-Azam said that the Muslim wanted “that the British Government should in fact and actually meet the demands of the Arabs in Palestine”.12 It urged the British Government and its allies to declare unequivocally that the sovereignty and independence of those Muslim States would be restored as soon as circumstances permitted.
Addressing the Aligarh Muslim University Union on 9 March, 1944, Quaid-i-Azam warned that “if President Roosevelt, under the pressure of the powerful World Jewry, commits the blunder of forcing the British Government to do injustice to the Arabs in Palestine, this would set the whole Muslim World ablaze from one end to another”. He hoped that “the U.S. will revise their attitude toward Palestine.”13
In December, 1943, the League urged Britain and allied powers not to hand back to the Italian Government the territories recently released from the control of Italy namely Cyreneca, Libya and Tripoli but to constitute them as independent sovereign states. At the same time League demanded the abolition of the vicious system of mandates and the restoration of Palestine, Syria and Lebanon to the peoples of those countries and to enable them to set up their own sovereign governments. Finally in the same resolution the League demanded that the Allied powers press France to liberate Morocco, Algeria and Tunis.14 When the Netherlands landed fresh troops in Indonesia, the League in April 1946 resolution noted with regret that the right of the Indonesian people to independence had not been recognized, condemned delay in the withdrawal of British troops from Indonesia and sent a message of greetings and congratulation to the Indonesian people for their struggle for freedom against heavy odds and assured them of their sincerest sympathy and support of the Muslim nation of India for their just and patriotic cause.”15
In 1945 in a telegram to Prime Minister Attlee, the Quaid said, “President Truman’s reported Palestine immigration proposal is unwarranted, encroaching upon another country, monstrous and highly unjust. Any departure from the White Paper and Britain’s pledge will not only be a sacrilege and a breach of faith with Muslim India but an acid test of British honour. It is my duty to inform you that any surrender to appease Jewry at the sacrifice of Arabs would be deeply resented and vehemently resisted by Muslim world and Muslim India and its consequences will be most disastrous.”16
In a speech at a meeting held under the auspices of Baluchistan Muslim League at Quetta, on 10 October 195, the Quaid talked about the Palestine affairs and Indonesian struggle for freedom and said, “Jews are also suffering from the same disease as the Congress. Over half a million Jews have already been accommodated in Jerusalem gainst the wishes of the people. May I know which other country has accommodated them? I have great sympathy for them and have no ill-will against the Jews but the question is that they have entered Palestine with a set motive to reconquer Jerusalem (which they lost 2,000 years ago) with the help of British and American forces. I hope the Jews will not succeed in their nefarious designs and I wish Great Britain and America should keep their hands off from them, and then I will see how the Jews conquer Jerusalem. Every man and the women of Muslim world will die before Jewry seizes Jerusalem. Slave and a subject race as we are, still our hearts and souls go in sympathy with those who are struggling for their freedom and let us hope that the people of Palestine and Indonesia will survive their ordeals. Subjugation and exploitation, if carried now, there will be no peace and end of wars. And if such exploitation of small nations is to continue even after this bloody war then let us pray to God to send some more destructive force than the atomic bomb to do the work and job of this world.”17
Muslim causes other than the Palestine question equally evoked the League’s solicitude under the guidance and the Quaid. The Muslim League characterized the war time occupation of Iran by British and Soviet troops as “unprovoked aggression”, which would “alienate the sympathies of the Muslims of India and create bitterness in their hearts resulting in the withdrawal of every help by them to the Allied cause.” (1941)
In August 1947 the new State of Pakistan emerged on the map of the world. Now the Muslims of this State were to have foreign policy of their own. A country’s foreign policy is subservient to a number of factors. It is dependent, to a considerable extent, upon its defence requirements, history and geographical location, ideological consideration and exigencies of moment sway its orientation. There are only permanent interest in foreign affairs and no permanent friends. A country’s relation with others nations at a particular time reflect its economic and strategic needs. The results of a particular policy depend upon a country’s own importance in world affairs. Its size, economic strength, strategic position, industrial potentialities and of late its scientific achievements, all determine the weight it can exert to tip the scales.
Facts of the geography cannot be altered. They have to be accepted along with all permanents problems they raise. Geographical facts are great ingredients in shaping the habits and character of the people and the foreign policy of a nation is greatly moulded by its geographical environment. Pakistan at the time of Partition had a unique geographical position. It consisted of two wings separated from each other by Indian territory about a thousand miles. It had a common front of two thousand miles with India. West Pakistan consisted of West Punjab, North West Frontier Province, Baluchistan, Sind and the small States of Bahawalpur, Khairpur, Chitral, Kalat, Las Bela, Swat, Dir and some minor ones. West Pakistan was bordered on the East by India on the West by Afghanisstan and Iran, on the north China, and territory less than a score of miles with Russia and Kashmir, on its south lay the Arabian Sea. East Pakistan comprised of East Bengal and the fertile district of former Assam, it was bordered on the East, West and North by India with the Bay of Bengal in its South. Such a queer geographical position affected the foreign policy of Pakistan.
Besides economic and defence consideration, there is another fundamental principle which had influenced Pakistan largely in the determination of her foreign policy, that is her Muslim ideology. The very foundation of our country is based upon Islamic Ideology. Muslims of undivided India were determined to have a separate sovereign State of their own where they might be able to order their lives according to the tenets of Islam and could preserve their safety and tranquility, their religion, their culture, their way of life, and could ensure the advancement of their people. It were their ideological feelings which made mullions of Muslims in India to leave their homes and migrate to Pakistan.
During her early months Pakistan ‘s foreign policy amounted to little more than the will of her leaders and people that she should survive, Quaid-i-Azam’s statements about it were studiously platitudinous. Goodwill was professed for all countries, belief in international honesty and fair play, readiness to contribute towards peace and so on. Nevertheless certain learnings or attitude as contrasted with solid formulations of policy soon became discernible. One was warmth for Muslim countries.
Quaid-i-Azam expressing his views on Pakistan’s foreign policy said, “As a new born State, Pakistan desires nothing so ardently as the goodwill of the world. Its people are determined to work with heart and soul in the task consolidating their new liberty and while so engaged in this great task they will be deeply conscious of the help and co-operation extended to them by the other States of the world, particularly at this moment.”18
Quaid-i-Azam wanted to establish a strong and affective bloc consisting of all Muslim States of the world, to see that they were united with the banner of Islam as an efficient bulwark against the aggressive and evil design of their enemies. He vehemently opposed the Partition of Palestine and condemned the establishment of Israel as a dagger in the heart of the Arab world. He said “I do still hope that Partition plan will be rejected, otherwise there is bound to be the gravest disaster and unprecedented conflict….The entire Muslim World will revolt against such a decision…Pakistan will have no other course left but to give its fullest support to the Arabs and will do whatever lies in its power to prevent what in my opinion is an outrage.”
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.”19 He expressed feelings of thanks in his telegram on December 24, 1947 to the King of Yemen, Imam Yahya in reply to his telegram of thanks for Pakistan’s support to Arabs on Palestine issue. He stated, “I once more assure you and our Arab brethren that Pakistan will stand by them and do all that is possible to help and support them in their opposition on the U.N.O. decision which is inherently unjust outrageous.”20
In reply to the speech by Muhammad Pasha el Shuraiki, Jordonian Minister Plenipotentary, the Quaid emphatically stated “Islam is to us the source of our very life and existence and it has linked our cultural and traditional past so closely with the Arab world that there need to be doubt whatsoever about our fullest sympathy for the Arab cause.”21
In an Eid message Quaid-i-Azam said “My Eid message to our brethren Muslim States is one of friendship and goodwill. We are all passing through perillous times. The drama of power politics that is being staged in Palestine, India and Kashmir should serve an eye opener to us. It is only by putting up a United Front that we can make our voice felt in the Councils of the world.”22
Quaid-i-Azam gave open support to North African Arabs in their struggle to throw off the Fench yoke. He considered the Dutch attack upon Indonesia as an attack on Pakistan itself and refused transit facilities to Dutch ships and place, carrying war materials to Indonesia. He played an important role in the struggle of Muslim countries. He, therefore, provided all possible diplomatic and material assistance to the liberation movement in Indonesia, Malaya, Sudan, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, Nigeria and Algeria.
Pakistan’s relation with brotherly Muslim States of Jordan, specially Turkey and Iran, were most cordial and friendly. They contributed to the Quaid-i-Azam’s Relief Fund and exchanged missions and diplomatic representatives.
Thus under the leadership of Quaid-i-Azam, Pakistan took an active part to bring Muslim world together.
S. Razi Wasti is the Professor and Head, Department of History, Dean, Faculty of Arts, Government College, Lahore.
- Muhammad Ali, My Life: A Fragment, edited by Afzal Iqbal, Lahore, 1946, P. 57.
- See Vakil, Amritsar, 8 November 1911, Punjab Native Newspaper Reports, 25 November 1911, P. 1177; also Al-Hilal, Calcutta, 26 February 1913.
- Ameer Ali’s telegram to the daily Paisa Akhbar, Lahore, dated 22 October, published on 29 October, 1912.
- Muhammad Ali, op. cit., P. 67; see also al-Hilal Calcutta, 20 May, p. 67.
- Syed Sharif-uddin Pirzada; Foundations of Pakistan Vol II, 1970, p. 71.
- Ibid., P. 223, See Presidential address and pp. 225 and 226 Resolution, No. VII.
- Ibid., P. 272.
- Ibid., P. 278.
- Ibid., P. 307.
- Ibid., PP. 315-317.
- Ibid., P. 315.
- Jamil uddin Ahmad, Speeches and Writing of Mr. Jinnah, Lahore, 1960, vol. I, PP. 154-155.
- Ibid., 1964, Vol. II, P. 14.
- S.S. Pirzada, Op. cit., Vol. II, PP. 479-480.
- Ibid., PP. 525-527.
- Ibid., Vol. II. P. 214.
- Ibid., 1964 Vol. II, PP. 220-221.
- Reply to the speech made by the Afghan Ambassador at the time of presenting his credentials on 8 May 1948. Jamil uddin Ahmad, Vol. II, op. cit., PP. 554-555.
- M. Rafique Afzal – Selected Speeches and Statesman of the Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Lahore 1966, P. 452.
- Ibid., P. 453.
- Ibid., P. 454.
- Message to the Nation on the occasion of Eidul Fitar, August 27, 1948, Jamil uddin Ahmad, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 569.
Source: World Scholars on Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Edited by: Ahmad Hasan Dani, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan 1979.