The Creative Process of Founding a State




This paper suggests that the creation of a State by its very nature is not the work of one man. It is a joint product of a number of historical forces. The great man –the Quaid-i-Azam – who played a dominant role was himself conditioned by certain historical forces. There was not one Jinnah but at least two. There was the Jinnah of the early phase, which lasted until late thirties or even very early forties. The Jinnah of this phase was almost entirely constitutional or the rational or the westernized and aloof Jinnah. Jinnah in his second phase has been transformed by the current of Muslim mass support for the idea of a separate Muslim state.

The other major conceptual component of this paper is the idea of the founder of a state as distinct (analytically) from a leader of a nationalist movement like Gandhi or a visionary or a dreamer or a philosopher like Iqbal. These qualities of combining values and institutions are demonstrated in the personality of the founder of a state like the Quaid-i-Azam. Finally, we should try to distinguish between creating a new state on the structures of old or existing institutions, and creating a revolutionary state. In the former certain new values are grafted on the old or existing institutions. The result is dialectical struggle between the power of entrenched institutions in absorbing or subverting new values and the capacity and vigour of new values in transforming old or existing institutions. In the case of a revolutionary state, new values create new institutions.


Ever since the Quaid died in September, 1948 and even before, we have been showering him with praise and adulation as a man who singlehandedly outwitted the combined craft and adroitness of Gandhi, Nehru, Patel, and a whole host of Indian leaders. Some of us have said that there could not have been a Pakistan without him. Others have said that he alone answered the deep and historical urges of the Muslim community for earthly power – for an Islamic state. But all these praises, whether exaggerated or accurate, seem to miss the point that I would like to emphasize and that is what qualities did this leader possess or display as a founder of a state?

A founder of a state is not just a great leader. Nor can he be compared to leaders of national movements of liberation like Gandhi and Nehru. Nor is he just a man of great vision and philosophical insights as Iqbal was. It seems to me that a founder of a state has to bring together all these qualities in his personality. He has to have ideas and a vision because no state can be founded without a master idea or a dream. But a visionary does not become a founder. He has to possess rare organizational capacity so that with ideas and organization, he brings together relatively unorganized groups or clans of people and tries to instill in them national consciousness. Fortunately, Muslims in India, despite their disunity and diversity, had a considerable amount of national consciousness based on their common religion. But we must remember that Muslim leaders indoctrinated by British education had started thinking along secular lines and indeed Jinnah had been one of them who, before a parliamentary committee, had said that nothing would please me more than Hindus and Muslims coming together as a untied nation. Indeed, the Jinnah of the twenties was a great lawyer who could tie anybody in knots in constitutional law or outclass the best parliamentarian in a debate or in piloting a bill. Mrs. Sarojini Naidu, who has been quoted here paying tributes to his singleness and sincerely of purpose, commented on his limitations as follows:

“Like others of our generation, he suffers from a system of education so widely separated from the familiar traditions and culture of our race, and lacking the magic of a common medium he may never perhaps hope to establish between himself and his people that instinctive and inviolable kinship that makes the internal Mohamed Ali for instance, a living hero of the Mussalmans and Mahatma Gandhi a living idol of the Masses.”

This was in 1917. But noting his lack of mass appeal which Mohamed Ali and Gandhi had, Sarojini Naidu in 1917 went on to provide this rare prescient comment:

“Who can foretell the secrets of tomorrow? Who foresees the hidden forces that sometimes work to build our destiny higher than our dream? Perchance it is written in the book of the future that he whose fair ambition it is to become the Muslim Gokhale may in some glorious and terrible crisis of our national struggle pass into immortality as the Mazzini of the Indian Liberation.”1

We know that he did not become the Mazzinni of the Indian liberation but he became the Quaid-i-Azam of Muslim liberation and the founder of Pakistan.

What happened to this cold-blooded logician? I want you to think about this because a brilliant lawyer, a top notch economist or a professor or a great scientist may be great in his particular calling but does not establish a state. There has to be present that missing quality which Iqbal keeps reminding us that the Western-educated Muslim does not have:-

This quality one can imbibe if one goes on the masses and appreciate not only their degradation and deprivation but also the great qualities that they are capable of, if they can be properly organized and inspired. This is what true leadership is all about. Paulo Freire2 in his Padagogy of the Oppressed has observed: “The more sophisticated knowledge of the leaders is remade in the empirical knowledge of the people, while the later is refined by the former”. Mao characterizes this kind of leadership as “from the masses to the masses.” When you go to the masses, a twin process of conversion starts. You try to convert them and in order to succeed, you have to appreciate what they are and in this process you also get converted. True leadership is this twin process of conversion because human beings are not an inanimate matter who are just there to receive your orders and follow your wishes. It is through such contacts that Jinnah found out the fervour, the burning passion of a Muslim faith. He knew that an Indian Muslim was not perfect by any means but he had a great desire to be better than what he was. When Khizar Hayat Khan Tiwana, the Premier of Punjab, said to the Quaid, Sir, how can I accept the two-nation theory when my distant cousins are non-Muslim Sikhs? And I am quoting Khizar Hayat Khan. “Khizar”, said the Quaid, “it is all a matter of faith, Khizar. My forebears were probably Hindus. It is a matter of faith, Khizar.” And Khizar Hayat said to me, “What could I say after this?” Again, let me offer you another glimpse into the development of Jinnah. Iqbal is reported to have told Nehru, you are a patriot and Jinnah is only a politician. But the same Iqbal, writing to Jinnah later, “Muslim India hopes that at this serious juncture your genius will discover some way out of our present difficulties.”

I find the concept of " " from Iqbal’s famous verse most helpful in understanding the qualities of a founder. Indeed, all great leaders through their creative and imaginative roles suggest to us that there is creativity in politics as there is in art. Politics is not mere pursuit of power. If it is, then politics is even a more dark and dismal science than the old economics was. Politics is not mere Watergate. The purpose of power is to promote a social program, to promote human good, to eliminate or diminish the curse of poverty. Since a political leader creatively uses this power to promote human good, he brings together vision and organization in pursuit of his goal. Even this combination of vision and organization is not enough. There has to be a creative leap. In this sense a politician or a political leader who establishes a great movement or a state is an artist. The founder of a state is even a greater artist. As I have emphasized, Jinnah was not just a visionary or just a master craftsman or just a politician. He was all these things rolled into one. He was an artist and the creation of Pakistan was a work of art.

In order to appreciate what kind of a creation Pakistan was one has to see it in our own historical perspective and in world perspective. Palestinians had a homeland of their own and now they have none. Obviously they had no Jinnah to safeguard their cause. Jinnah established a state without any army and his successors halved it in spite of a great army and a great state organization. It is in this perspective that you have to appreciate the true greatness of Jinnah. Of course, some people would say, times were different. But I ask you to read history and tell me whether Jinnah’s times or the circumstances in which he operated were more easy or manageable.


A founder of a state does not only have a great vision but he has a large heart. In his attempts to bring together warring or factious elements, people speaking different languages, living in far flung territories, he had to emphasize the common qualities that bind them. But remember that he is also a man in a hurry. He has to pursue his goal and he is completely convinced that his goal is noble. But how should this commander of the faithful keep his people together? Should he give them only orders and expect them to be carried out without any questions or criticism? Jinnah had this great capacity to value sincere and constructive criticism and hold in contempt the praises of sycophants. He was prepared to respect and pay heed to his honest and constructive critics. He understood what Dag Hammarskjold in his diary, Markings, described the true essence of leadership:

“Your position never gives you the right to command. It only imposes on you the duty of so living your life that others can receive your orders without being humiliated.”3

When no contradiction or helpful suggestions came in the working committee of the Muslim League, Ismail Chundrigar told me “the Quaid used to send for me and would say, Chundrigar, you argue with me, you take the position of the Congress because I want to find out how they will make a counter-move”!

Year after year in every Council session of the All-India Muslim League Maulana Hasrat Mohani criticized him. In the last session of the All-India Muslim League he said that the Quaid in recommending the acceptance of Mountbatten’s compromise plan was asking the Council to accept what he himself had called a truncated Pakistan. In December 1941, in the Madras session of the All-India Muslim League I myself heard Nawab Bahadur Yar Jung, President of the All-India States Muslim League, saying:

This criticism was not even reasonable because the Muslim League had been reorganized by Jinnah in 1937 and how was it possible for him to have looked after the interests of all the Muslims in every nook and corner of India? Again, in the Karachi session of the All-India Muslim League in December, 1943 Nawab Bahadur Yar Jung declared that he was a Communist, “if Communism means to efface poverty, class distinctions, and to provide bread and clothing to the poor.” He made it clear that he did not draw his inspiration from Karl Marx but from the Quranic justice. Addressing the Quaid-i-Azam, he said, “We have understood Pakistan in this light. If your Pakistan is not such, we do not want it.”4

Jinnah was not just being tolerant in accepting some of these criticisms. He himself had thundered against the exploitation of the common people by landlords and capitalists “There are millions and millions of our people who hardly get one meal a day. Is this civilization”? Is this the aim of Pakistan?... If that is the idea of Pakistan, I would not have it.”5

In the same Karachi session of the All-India Muslim League Nawab Bahadur Yar Jung pointed out:-

No wonder that when Nawab Bahadur Yar Jung died and when the resolution condoling his death was moved, even the usually imperturbable Quaid had tears in his eyes.

Another moving instance of his tolerance of criticism and interruptions, particularly from students was when giving his convocation address in Dacca University in 1948. He was interrupted by students when he declared that Urdu alone would be the national language of Pakistan. The Vice-Chancellor of Dacca University told me that perhaps that was the only occasion when a Pakistani leader did not ask him who the students were or order him to report the matter to the police.

To say that Jinnah was a man of principle and complete integrity is to state the obvious. But do we know to what ends he would go in sticking to his principles or following a path which he considered as correct and honest? When Mountbatten produced the compromise plan accepting the partition of India and asked Jinnah to give him a categorical assurance that he would accept this on behalf of the League, he was told that he would not give such an assurance without obtaining the prior acceptance from the Council of the All-India Muslim League. Mountbatten tried several times but Jinnah would not relent. Finally, Mountbatten threatened and I quote, “If that is your attitude, then the leaders of the Congress Party and Sikhs will refuse final acceptance at the meeting in the morning. Chaos will follow, and you will lose your Pakistan, probably for good.” What must be, “was his only reaction, as he shrugged his shoulders.”6 What do you make of such a man? How many of us would have the courage to face the prospect of our heart’s dreams being destroyed but not budge an inch from our principles?

Let me give you an example of how completely correct and honest he was in his public office. In his last dying days when the doctors advised him to move from the heights of Quetta to Karachi, he pleaded that he did not want to go to Karachi on crutches. He would like to go to Malir near Karachi but he did not have a house there. The doctors said that this could be arranged as the Nawab of Bahawalpur’s house could be vacated for the use of the Governor General. He told his doctor, “You know, in the old days, when any practicing lawyer was appointed a Judge of High Cout in Bombay he gave up going to clubs and social functions, in fact some of them did not even read the local newspaper in case they might be prejudiced against any individual who was going to be tried before them. As Governor General of Pakistan I cannot ask His Highness the Nawab of Bahawalpur for the loan of the house. I am afraid this is impossible. ”The sheet anchor of a country is the basic honesty that its people practice in their private and social activities. The best defence in the last analysis are not F14 planes or even the nuclear capability. It is this hard core honesty and integrity.

The Quaid-i-Azam walked erect, holding his head high. His people came to trust and revere him not because he was the President of the All India Muslim League – there had been many presidents; not because he was the Governor General; we have had other Governors General: they trusted him, revered him and loved him because he was so completely honest, so sincere and dedicated. I think this is the greatest message that comes through his life.

And the other point that I would like to leave with you to consider is this: before establishing the state, from the limited resources at his disposal, the Quaid set up a number of Study committees dealing with such diverse aspects as social, economic, political or minority affairs which show that he attached a great deal of importance to new ideas. In order to become something we have to know what state we are in. And the greatest monument that Pakistan could erect in the Quaid’s memory would be to set up these kinds of permanent commissions of inquiry which would come up with bold, detailed and constructive criticisms of the government’s policies. I am sure the Quaid would have done so had he been alive.

By Khalid Bin Sayeed ( Professor of Political Science at the Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.)

  1. Mrs. Jarojini Naidu: Mahomed Ali Jinnah: An Ambassador of Unity. P. 20.
  2. Paulo Freire: Pedagogy of the Oppressed, New York, 1968, p. 183.
  3. Dag Hammarskjold: The Markings, p. 105.
  4. Khalid bin Sayeed: Pakistan The Formative Phase, p. 225.
  5. Ibid., p. 226.
  6. Campbell Johnson: Mission with Mountbatten, p. 103.

Source: World Scholars on Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Edited by: Ahmad Hasan Dani, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan, 1979.

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