Jinnah’s Worldview/Outlook on World Affairs

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A.G. Noorani[1]


(Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan’s foreign policy had elements of both idealism (joint defence with India) and realism (the need for alliances). The policies Nehru and he pursued rendered the ideal irrelevant. Both countries turned to realpolitik in pursuit of their respective national interests. Author).

“The worst kind of diplomatists are missionaries, fanatics and lawyers; the best kind are the reasonable and humane sceptics.”[1]

For four good reasons, a study of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s outlook on world affairs is relevant and necessary. First, for its sheer intrinsic interest; the fascinating evolution of the world view of a brilliant lawyer-politician who did not claim deep interest, let alone expertise, in the subject. He missed no opportunity to ridicule Jawaharlal Nehru for his “obsession” with it. “You very honestly say that your ‘mind is obsessed with the international situation and the terrible sense of impending catastrophe that hangs over the world’ so you are thinking in terms entirely diverse from realities which face us in India” Jinnah wrote to Nehru on 12 April 1938.[2]

Nehru did not conceal his disdain for Jinnah’s limitations in his Autobiography and his book Democracy of India. Immediately before and after independence the clash between the two gifted narcissists shaped the relations between their two countries with consequences that blight them still. Volumes have been written on Nehru. Jinnah remains neglected.

The second reason is that Jinnah’s world view shaped his vision of Indo-Pak relations. Thirdly, it is necessary to ask how far it affected Pakistan’s foreign policy. In India, a bunch of self-proclaimed “realists” joined hands with the Hindu-revivalist BJP to demolish “Nehru’s legacy” in foreign affairs. Lastly, the flaws in the notions entertained by the leaders of yore in this realm must be acknowledged to appreciate why they acted as they did.

Jinnah’s outlook cannot be discussed in isolation from the conditions of his times, especially the outlook of his contemporaries. In South Asia, the study of world affairs is affected by chauvinism and blighted by state patronage. The region has produced world class historians, economists, scientists and writers. Significantly, it has not produced to this day a single scholar of world class in international relations. Global affairs, the origin and course of the Cold War remain neglected by academics who produce works like court historians, or in sheer self-absorption, to support the nations’ case.

Jinnah was but a product of his times. The Indian National Congress of which he was a member till 1920 passed resolutions on foreign affairs, since 1885, condemning British expansionism in the region. The All India Muslim League, which he joined in 1913 became engrossed in the travails of the Ottoman Empire. In later years Nehru emerged as the foremost expert and drafted resolutions galore on foreign affairs. In a devastating critique justly titled “They were ignorant of international politics,” Nirad C. Chaudhuri wrote “The most unexpected aspect of the ignorance was its extent in the two Cambridge men in the Indian nationalist movement, Jawaharlal Nehru and Subhas Bose, who were always talking about the international situation. They were also regarded by their political colleagues as expert authorities on international politics. In spite of all that, not only their knowledge but also their approach were wholly unreal. Both of them saw it in the light of their personal predilections which were shaped by their temperaments and feelings. And their predominant feeling was hatred of British rule in India. In short, their ideas on international politics were only a projection of their nationalism, which prevented their seeing any international situation for what it was.”[3]

To think these men gave a call for “Quit India” in August 1942 after the US and the Soviet Union had joined the war against Hitler. Nehru told the Congress Working Committee at Allahabad (27 April – 1 May 1942) that “it is Gandhiji’s feeling that Japan and Germany will win. This feeling unconsciously governs his decision.”[4]

Gandhi did not expect to be arrested after the Quit India resolution was passed by the AICC on 8 August 1942. He told his Secretary, Mahadev Desai, “After my last night’s speech, they will never arrest me.”[5] After the boundary dispute with China erupted in 1959 Nehru repeatedly said that any war between the two countries “would mean a world war.”[6]

Evidently the literature on limited war had escaped his notice. Denis Healey’s seminal article, “The Bomb that Didn’t Go Off,” had appeared in Encounter in July 1955. Henry A. Kissinger’s book, Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy, published in 1957, aroused interest for its exposition of the concept of limited war – the war of 1962 was just that.

Jinnah’s limited intellectual equipment on foreign affairs and neglect of the military aspect proved as fateful. “He received his first shock upon discovering that Pakistan was militarily incapable of securing the accession of Junagadh.”[7] This is astonishing in a man who always took a keen interest in defence. As far back as on 18 March 1918 he said in the Imperial Legislative Council “it is absolutely essential that the Government and the military authorities should recognize that we should have a citizen army as soon as possible, because India must recognize that there are possibilities of external as well as internal danger.”[8]

The Sapru Report acknowledged Jinnah’s consistent advocacy of Indianisation of the Army and admiringly quoted his speech at the Round Table Conference in London in 1930. Britain was expected “to hand over the defence of India as soon as possible to India.”[9] He evidently did not anticipate that India would send its army to Junagadh or to Jammu & Kashmir, after the tribal raid from Kashmir; or to Hyderabad to foil its plans for independence.

This was particularly strange in a lawyer who, unlike most of the tribe, was alive to the play of power. In his presidential address at the Lucknow Session of the Muslim League in October 1937, Jinnah noted with the stark realism for which he was famous, that “all safeguards and settlements would be a scrap of paper unless they are backed by power. Politics means power.”[10]

This realism about power deserted him when he dealt with foreign affairs. By then he had become the advocate par excellence. Reckless assertions, false analogies and far-fetched precedents came handy to prove a point. Jinnah supported the Sudeten Germans of Czechoslovakia in 1938, comparing them to Muslims of India, at a session of the Sindh Muslim League on 8 October 1938. The notorious Munich Pact was signed on 30 September 1938. This is how he explained the upheaval. “It was because the Sudeten Germans were forced under the heels of the majority of Czechoslovakia, who oppressed them, suppressed them, maltreated them and showed a brutal and callous disregard for their rights and interests for two decades – hence the inevitable result that the Republic of Czechoslovakia is now broken up and a new map will have to be drawn. Just as the Sudeten Germans were not defenceless, and survived the oppression and persecution for two decades, so also the Mussalmans are not defenceless, and cannot give up their national entity and aspirations in this great continent.”[11] Khaled Ahmed recalled in The Friday Times of 1 November 2003 that Czechoslovakia abstained from voting in the General Assembly on Pakistan’s admission to the United Nations and in 1976 its President Gustav Husak refused to accept a commemorative medal issued by Pakistan on the centenary of Jinnah’s birth. As everyone knew, the Sudeten Germans’ campaign was fomented by Hitler. He marched into Prague on 15 March 1939.

Jinnah told Beverly Nichols on 18 December 1943 “when Ireland was separated from Britain, the document embodying the terms of separation was approximately ten lines … all the details were left to the future.”[12] That document, “Articles of Agreement for a Treaty between Great Britain and Ireland,” signed on 6 December 1921 far exceeded “approximately ten lines.”  It ran into 18 articles over 5 pages.[13]

During their talks in Bombay, Jinnah wrote to Gandhi on 17 September 1944 “by all canons of International Law we are a nation.” That is a misnomer. International law covers inter-State relations. It defines states, not nations. The concept of nation belongs to the discipline of political science. No lawyer familiar with this highly specialized branch of the law will speak of its “canons;” only of its rules or principles.[14]

Whatever led men of stature like Gandhi, Jinnah and Nehru to blind themselves to the realities?  What is it that drove a person of sterling integrity and high sense of responsibility like Jinnah to become so reckless in his advocacy of the cause of Pakistan? We must answer these questions but we do not. South Asians like to see such men either as saints or demons; not humans of great qualities and grave failings. Britain’s debt to Winston Churchill did not prevent Geoffrey Wheatcroft from tearing him apart, not least for his proneness to lying.[15]

As on domestic affairs, Jinnah’s rich, myth-studded record must be studied as a whole. Contrary to myth he was an ardent supporter of the Khilafat cause from the very outset. He parted company once Mustafa Kamal abolished the Caliphate and Gandhi and the Ali Brothers meshed the movement with Gandhi’s non-cooperation movement. Prof. Naeem Qureshi characterizes him as “a sincere Pan-Islamist.”[16] On 14 November 1946 Jinnah dismissed Pan-Islam as an “exploded bogey.” On 21 May 1947 he repeated “the theory of Pan-Islamism has long ago exploded.”[17]

Of a piece with his stand on Khilafat was his equally ardent espousal of the cause of Indians abroad from the outset of his political career till the partition and beyond; regardless of the religious divide. Palestine fitted in this scheme of things. The ardour on the Khilafat was manifest even in the days when he was an Indian nationalist of the front rank. Jinnah spoke at the Lucknow session of the League in 1916 with circumspection. His constituency was Muslim. He shared its sentiments but was careful not to stir up emotions. “May I, therefore, urge that the Government should have regard for their dearest and most sacred religious feelings and under no circumstances interfere with the question of the future of the Caliphate. It should be left entirely to the Mussalmans to acknowledge and accept their own Caliph. I do not desire to dilate on this grave and delicate subject, but much deeper currents underlie this exceptional exhortation of mine, which I have ventured to make both in the interests of the Mussalmans and the Government of Great Britain, than it would be expedient at present to discuss on a public platform.”[18]

This is where admirers and detractors alike went hopelessly wrong. Jinnah did not stride from Indian nationalism into Muslim “communalism.” He was a fervent Indian nationalist who espoused the Muslims’ genuine claims and sought Hindu-Muslim unity on this basis. He was not an Uncle Tom. Nor was he sectarian. Those who drove him to extremes in 1939 and who wrecked accord with him on a united India in 1946 bear a heavy responsibility. It is in this context that his vision of world affairs before and after 1940 must be judged.

Jinnah led the League’s delegation to present a Memorandum to Prime Minister Lloyd George on 17 August 1919. “For generations past the Muslims of India generally have recognized the Khilafat of the House of Osman and Constantinople as Darul-Islam and Khilafat (the seat of Islam and the Khalifa). For many centuries the Sultan of Turkey has been recognized as the Servant of the Holy Places of Islam and their custodian by all the Muslims of the world, including the Shareef of Mecca. Whenever Turkey has been in trouble a reaction of it has been felt in India, and the Muslims have done all to help the Sultan of Turkey as the head of Islam to maintain his spiritual and temporal honour and position. More than once the Government of India itself encouraged the Muslims in that sympathy. The greater the danger for Turkey the more concerned Muslims have felt. So much so that in modern times during the Balkan Wars, the Muslims of India organized a Red Crescent fund for Turkey at a very great cost.

“The relations between the Muslims of India and the Sultan of Turkey have always been a recognized and established fact. As late as 27th January 1909 when a deputation of the London Muslim league waited upon Lord Morely, the then Secretary of State for India, his reply contained these words: ‘I know very well that any injustice any suspicion that we were capable of being unjust to Mohammadans in India would certainly have a very severe and injurious reaction in Constantinople.’…”[19] He was a signatory to the address presented to the Viceroy on 19 January 1920.

In his presidential address to the League’s special session at Calcutta on 7 September 1920 he said “first came the Rowlatt Act – accompanied by the Punjab atrocities – and then came the spoliation of the Ottoman Empire and the Khilafat. The one attacks our liberty, the other our faith notwithstanding the unanimous opinion of the Musalmans, and in breach of the Prime Minister’s solemn pledges, un-chivalrous and outrageous terms have been imposed upon Turkey and the Ottoman Empire has served for plunder and been broken up by the Allies under the guise of Mandates. This, thank God, has at last convinced us, one and all, that we can no longer abide our trust either in the Government of India or in the Government of His Majesty the King of England to represent India in matters international.

“The Indian press is flooded by accounts of occurrences in the colonies which show but too well how India is sacrificed to the individual interests of these Englishmen who have settled in these colonies which India’s manpower and India’s work power have built.”

In one of the most important speeches Jinnah delivered, he said “One degrading measure upon another, disappointment upon disappointment, and injury upon injury, can lead a people to only one end. It led Russia to Bolshevism. It has led Ireland to Sinn Feinism. May it lead India to freedom… And what of the sacred land of the Crescent and Star and the blue and golden Bosphorus – its capital seized and the Khalifa virtually a prisoner, its territories overrun by Allied troops – groaning under the imposition of impossible terms. It is a death warrant, not a treaty.

“These are the enormities crying aloud, and we have met today face to face with a dangerous and most unprecedented situation. The solution is not easy and the difficulties are great. But I cannot ask the people to submit to wrong after wrong. Yet I would still ask the Government not to drive the people of India to desperation, or else there is no other course left open to the people except to inaugurate the policy of non-cooperation though not necessarily the programme of Mr. Gandhi.”  From a “purely Musalman point of view” the Khilafat question was “a matter of life and death.”[20]

At its Nagpur session in December 1920, the Congress endorsed Gandhi’s programme. Jinnah was a brave solitary dissenter; denounced by the audience, respected by posterity. But unlike Annie Besant, Jinnah was not fundamentally opposed to non-cooperation. “I see no other way except the policy of cooperation” he told the Congress session at Calcutta the very next day on 8 September 1920. But he counselled against “making a declaration which you have not the means to carry out.” Advocacy of the Khilafat cause continued. He told a London audience on 23 June 1921 “what must be the feeling of a Mussulman who poured out his money, who poured his blood, who willingly allowed his sons to go and fight in the different battlefields, when today he finds his Holy Places under – I do not speak disrespectfully of any religion – but under a Christian religion? What must be the feeling of a Mussulman when he finds today that those dear Turkish homelands are handed over to Greece, and Constantinople today stands as purely a mortgage security for the Allies, under the guns of Britain and her Allies?”  He met the Viceroy Lord Reading on 1 November 1921 who reported to London “he holds strong views about the acceleration of Swaraj, redress of Punjab wrongs and is in favour of Khilafat agitation.”[21]

One of Jinnah’s earliest reported speeches was at the Anjuman-e-Islam Hall in Bombay in July 1908 denouncing the Asiatic Law Amendment Act and the Immigration Restriction Bill of the Transvaal government. He began his innings in the Imperial Legislative Council on 25 February 1910 with a speech on Indentured labour for Natal in which he clashed with the Viceroy, Lord Minto, who was in the Chair. “I must call the Hon’ble gentleman to order. I think that is rather too strong a word, “cruelty.” The Hon’ble Member must remember that he is talking of a friendly part of the Empire, and he must really adapt his language to the circumstances.” Jinnah: “Well, my Lord, I should feel inclined to use much stronger language, but I am fully aware of the constitution of this Council, and I do not wish to trespass for one single moment, but I do say this that the treatment that is meted out to Indians is the harshest which can possibly be imagined, and, as I said before, the feeling in this country is unanimous.”

Jinnah’s record of support to Indians abroad is striking – in Kenya (August 1923), in South Africa (14 September 1925, and 25 March 1926), Ceylon (11 February 1930); Zanzibar (September 1937); Burma (1938); South Africa (24 May 1939); “sympathies with the Indian nationals who had settled down in Java, Burma, Malaya, and Singapore” who suffered “shameful discrimination;” South Africa (15 April 1943 and 10 April 1946); Ceylon (17 July 1946). The Lahore resolution on Pakistan in 1940 did not affect Jinnah’s stand. In some of these cases he got the League to pass resolutions.

The League’s Council which met in Bombay, on 27-29 July 1946 to withdraw its acceptance of the Cabinet Mission’s Plan and pass the resolution on “Direct Action” also adopted a resolution asking the Big Powers of the UN to accept “the demands for national freedoms and independence of Indonesia, Indo-China, Malaya, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Sudan, Egypt, Libya, Tripolitania, Tunis, Algeria, Riff & Morocco.” A separate resolution expressed “solidarity with the Musalmans of Iran and Turkey” then facing threats from Stalin in the Cold War that had begun in earnest. “The Council conveys its message to the Turkish and Iranian brethren that the salvation and security of Muslim peoples all over the world in particular, and of Asiatic peoples in general, lies in their unity and solidarity and it is time the Muslim peoples revive the spirit of Islamic brotherhood and rise as one man for the defence of the rights and interests of renascent Islamdom from the East to the West and from one corner of the world to the other.”

It was a blend of attack on colonialism with advocacy of Muslim unity that was to mark Pakistan’s foreign policy. On very many issues India and Pakistan spoke and voted in harmony in the UN General Assembly.

The cause of Palestine received support from the Congress as well as the League. In his presidential address to the historic League session in 1937 Jinnah said “The whole policy of the British Government has been a betrayal of the Arabs, from its very inception.” As Governor-General of Pakistan he sent a cable to President Truman on 8 December 1947 expressing his shock at the UN General Assembly’s decision “to enforce partition of Palestine.” It was “ultra vires” of the UN’s Charter and was immoral, besides.

In the intervening decade the criticism never ceased. The Viceroy was told on 5 September 1939, that London “should try and meet all reasonable national demands of the Arabs in Palestine.” At a public meeting in Bombay on 8 November 1945 he said “I have no enmity against Jews. I know they were treated very badly in some parts of civilized Europe. But why should Palestine be dumped with such a large number of Jews? Why should the Arabs be given a threat which will wipe them out of Palestine? If the Jews want to re-conquer Palestine, let them face the Arabs without British or American help.”

Jinnah’s perspicacity deserves praise. He foresaw the parlous plight to which Palestinians would be reduced if the US and the UK pursued those policies. Truman pressed the British “to allow 1,000,000 Jews into Palestine,” while he had agreed after a long period of vacillation to allow only 100 Indians to immigrate into the US “Why does not President Truman take 1,000,000 Jews into the U.S.?” he asked.

The two World Wars played havoc with the Muslim world. In October 1916, Jinnah denounced “Prussian militarism” – while demanding the Indianisation of the armed forces. In June 1940 the League denounced “Nazi aggression.” In their aftermath the European powers flouted the pledges made during the war. A long statement which Jinnah issued to the press on 3 June 1945 on Algeria, Syria and Lebanon testified not only to the depth of his commitment but his close attention to world affairs. General de Gaulle “should be dealt with in the same way as the war criminals.”[22]

Indonesia’s struggle for freedom received Jinnah’s enthusiastic support. He met its first Prime Minister Sultan Shahriar in New Delhi on 26 July 1947 and denounced the Dutch Government’s “resort to attack with armed forces.”

No Muslim leader won as much admiration as Mustafa Kamal Ataturk did. He read a review of H.C. Armstrong’s biography Grey Wolf in The Literary Supplement of The Times in London in November 1932 and bought a copy. Hector Bolitho writes  “For two days Jinnah was absorbed in the story of Kemal Ataturk: when he had finished, he handed the book to his daughter – then aged thirteen – and said, read this, my dear, it is good. For many days afterwards he talked Kemal Ataturk; so much that his daughter chaffed him and nicknamed him ’Grey Wolf.’ ”[23] On his death Jinnah praised him on 10 November 1938 as “the greatest Musalman in the modern Islamic world.” He pleaded for solidarity of Muslims when Pakistan was no more than a dream. He said on 2 November 1940 “It is duty to help our Muslims brethren wherever they are, from China to Peru, because Islam enjoins that it is our duty to go to the rescue of our Muslim brethren… We have not got arms and ammunition but we can in a thousand and one ways help our Muslim brethren if they are stricken.” Genuine sentiments; but expectation of reciprocal support could not have been absent altogether.

An interview to the Arab News agency on 7 November 1946 concerned the conference in New Delhi of Muslim countries – Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran and the Levant “and all other countries where Muslims predominate.” Jinnah met the Mufti of Palestine, Muhammad Amin El-Husseni, in Cairo in December 1946.

In the context of his policy towards Muslims states, Afghanistan’s cynical revival of its demand for Pakhtoonistan just as the British were about to transfer power in 1947 must have come as a rude shock to Jinnah. He did his best to avert a rift and sent Saidullah Khan to Kabul as his Personal Representative. The Prime Minister, Shah Wali Khan, met him on 30 September 1947 and asked him “to give us the whole of the North-West Frontier province and the tribal areas” as “a proof of your large-heartedness.” The course events took thereafter is outside the scope of this article as indeed, is Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan in its entirety or the place of Muslim minorities in India in that vision.

It is enough to say that from the outset he visualized joint defence between the two States of the sub-continent and cited the Monroe Doctrine. A.S.R. Chari, a noted Communist lawyer was correspondent of the British Communist daily The Daily Worker. His memoirs record Jinnah’s courtesy when he met him on 5 October 1944, Jinnah declared “We will say ‘Hands off India’ to all outsiders. Pakistan will not tolerate any outside design or aggression on this sub-continent. We will observe something like the Monroe Doctrine.”[24] The Doctrine was revived at a press conference on 14 November 1946.

The editor of The Statesman, Arthur Moore, was told on 22 January 1946 “We would cooperate in world affairs and have a common policy.” The Cabinet Mission was assured on 4 April 1946 that “he would agree to a defensive alliance.”[25]

That was not to be. India and Pakistan were born in acrimony and were instantly overwhelmed by disputes that grip them still. But Jinnah persisted in his vision of old. He told Eric Streiff correspondent of the Neue Zurcher Zeitung of Zurich on 10 March 1948: “it is of vital importance to Pakistan and India as independent sovereign states to collaborate in a friendly way jointly to defend their frontiers both on land and sea against any aggression. But this depends entirely on whether Pakistan and India can resolve their own differences and grave domestic issues in the first instance. In other words, if we put our house in order internally, then we may be able to play a very great part externally in all international affairs.”[26]

In contrast, Nehru was impatient to play a role in world affairs. There was something wildly unreal about his initial approach. On 11 March 1947, when the country, torn by strife and pressing issues of domestic concern, cried for attention, Nehru minuted: “India cannot be indifferent to the future of Germany.” In a note on India’s candidature in the elections to the United Nations Security Council, he wrote on 30 October 1946: “India can no longer take up an attitude other than that demanded by her geographical position, by her great potential and by the fact that she is the pivot round which the defence problems of the Middle East, the Indian Ocean and South-East Asia revolve.” This is far from true even now. In 1946, it verged on the ludicrous. To M.C. Chagla, a member of the first delegation he sent to the U.N. General Assembly in 1946, Nehru wrote (October 3): “We want to make a splash at this General Assembly meeting.”[27]

Nehru nailed his colours to the mast of non-alignment. He sought an alliance with the US in 1948 privately but was rebuffed.[28]

Pakistan did the same. It sought the US’ help but, till the military pact with the US, pursued a policy of non-alignment. Which brings us to the question: What was Jinnah’s outlook on alliances? The record shows that he very much had it in mind. His interview to Doon Campbell of Reuters on 21 May 1947 received much notice because Jinnah said “Yes” when asked whether he would “demand a corridor” between the two parts of Pakistan. But far more important were his remarks on foreign policy on the eve of the partition. Pakistan would be the weaker for the partition of Punjab and Bengal. “A weak Pakistan and a strong Hindustan will be a temptation for the strong Hindustan to try to dictate. I have always said that Pakistan must be viable and sufficiently strong as a balance vis-a-vis Hindustan.” That balance cannot be ensured without an alliance. Hence his remark “Pakistan cannot live in isolation, nor can any other nation do so today. We shall have to choose our friends and I trust, wisely.”[29] Donald Edwards of the BBC had been given the same line on alliances when they met on 2 April 1946.[30] The preferred ally was Britain. Jinnah told Lord Ismay, Mountbatten’s Chief of Staff, on 9 April 1947 who recorded: “Pakistan could not stand alone. They would require to be friends with a big power. Russia had no appeal for them. France was weak and divided; there remained only England and America, and of these the former was the natural friend. ‘Apart from anything else’ he added jokingly ‘the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.’”[31] A week later the stand with the same “joke” was repeated to Sir Terence Shone the British High Commissioner in Delhi.[32]

Jinnah was, however, too well aware of the Soviet Union’s interest in the region to overlook the worth of the Russian card. It emerged in an interview to Norman Cliff of the News Chronicle on 12 April 1946. “Inevitably, notes Mr. Norman Cliff, Russia came into our discussion, and Mr. Jinnah saw in this problem only another strong reason for Pakistan. “Russia means trouble as far as I can judge,” he said, “and I think the sooner you agree to Pakistan the better it will be for you and us. No Muslim state can look on with complacency if Russia establishes a stronghold in Persia and one thing is certain that the entire Muslim bloc will stand together in its own interests. As soon as we become self-governing and have Pakistan there will be powerful and friendly state.” Asked if secure defence was possible in terms of modern warfare, Mr. Jinnah said : “Even a mouse can free a Lion.”[33]

In a press interview on 3 September 1946 to a foreign news agency Jinnah said: “I do believe that Russia has more than a spectator’s interest in Indian affairs, and she is not very far from India either. It is a serious menace if Britain pursues her present policy of completely eliminating the Muslims not only in India but in the entire Middle East. In my opinion, it is a very dangerous policy to pursue.”[34]

During a cabinet meeting on 7 September 1947, Jinnah said: “Pakistan (is) a democracy and communism (does) not flourish in the soil of Islam. It (is) clear therefore that our interests (lie) more with the two great democratic countries, namely the UK and the USA, rather than with Russia.”[35]

The memorandum which the Government of Pakistan gave to the US State Department in October 1947 said, “In its external and defence policy …, the proximity and vulnerability of Western Pakistan to Russia, is the most dominant factor… If Pakistan yielded to any external threat, the defence of India will become almost an impossibility. If Pakistan is to become strong enough to defend itself, even with the generous assistance of and close collaboration with Great Britain and the United States of America, it will first need to be economically developed and extensively improved, the existing air and military bases modernized and expanded, and new ones established, the production of essential arms and ammunitions enlarged and speeded up….”[36]

Yet, when one reads the minutes of Jinnah’s talks with Hyderabad’s delegation in Delhi on 4 August 1947 the detachment from the realities is so stunning as to prompt one to ask whether he spoke as an advocate or as a statesman: “If it came to the worst, one should die fighting rather than yield on a point of fundamental principle. Mr. Jinnah gave the illustration of what he called the greatest martyrdom in history, the example of Imam Hussain standing for what was right and giving his life for it. All the sanctions in the world then existing were applied against him and his followers but they withstood them and suffered wholesale butchery. It was a moral triumph and they gave their lives for it. That should be the attitude which the Nizam and his advisers and people should adopt. If it came to the worst, rather than yield to coercion or to the surrender of what was right, he should be prepared to abdicate and go in the last resort and show to the world that he had fought uncompromisingly for right as against might. Mr. Jinnah said that, in our own times, England had done the same against the heaviest odds. Her people had fought till the end and had reversed the position, by perseverance and conviction, from defeat to victory…. If Hyderabad was short of petrol or kerosene, it would not matter if, on the other hand, Hyderabad had abundance of firmness, perseverance and courage. The Russians were threatened by a blockade against them but they won the war. If Hyderabad was similarly threatened, there would be other ways to fight, not necessarily with guns if there were no guns, and not necessarily with mechanized transport if there was no petrol.”

But he astutely refrained from giving any firm assurance of support. “As regards His Exalted Highness’ question as to how far Pakistan would be able to assist Hyderabad economically or politically or with troops or arms and equipment and the like, Mr. Jinnah said that it was not possible for him at present to give any specific undertaking but that, generally speaking, he was confident that he and Pakistan would come to the help of Hyderabad in every way possible. There should be no doubt on that point. He said that even countries with long-established Governments could not give specific undertakings of the nature desired except by reference to the situation as it developed.”

The unreal far-fetched analogies must be put down to the advocate’s zeal. Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan’s foreign policy had both elements idealism (joint defence with India) and realism (the need for alliances). The policies Nehru and he pursued rendered the ideal irrelevant. Both countries turned to realpolitik in pursuit of their respective national interests. The realpolitik as conceived by the masters they little understood. The national interest was narrowly defined. Still, Jinnah’s outlook on world affairs merits close study, closer than what this writer has attempted. His legacies of legalism and exaggerated reliance on tactical skills hampered Pakistan’s foreign policy. His vision was forgotten. Harold Nicolson would have disapproved of the legalism and Jinnah’s passion for tactics. He would have lauded Jinnah’s vision.

A.G. Noorani is an eminent Indian scholar, legal expert and a noted columnist.

[1] Nicolson, Harold; Diplomacy; Oxford University Press, 1969, p.24.

[2] Pirzada, Syed Sharifuddin (ed.); Quaid-i-Azam Jinnah’s Correspondence; East and West Publishing, Karachi, 1977, p.267.

[3] The Times of India, 28 February 1982.

[4] Congress Responsibility for the Disturbances 1942-43, Government of India, 1943, p.43.

[5] Tendulkar, G.D.; Mahatma; Vol. VI, p.216.

[6] Manchester Guardian, 23 October 1961; also in parliament on 6 December 1961.

[7]Jalal, Ayeshah; The State of Martial Rule; Cambridge University Press; 1990; p.44.

[8] Ahmad, Riaz; The Works of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah; National Institute of Pakistan Studies; Quaid-i-Azam University; Islamabad; Vol. IV, p.393.

[9] Constitutional Proposals of the Sapru Committee; 1945; p.278.

[10] Ahmed, Jamiluddin; Speeches and Writings of Mr. Jinnah; Vol. I. p.30; see also p.43: “a definite share in power.”

[11] Bolitho, Hector; Jinnah; p.118.

[12] Ali, Mehrunisa (ed.); Jinnah on World Affairs, Selected Documents 1908-1948, Pakistani Study Centre; University of Karachi; 2007; p.229. (This outstanding document will be cited hereafter rather than the primary sources it draws on. Other excellent compilations are: Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada (ed.), The Collected Works of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Vols. 1-3, Karachi; Waheed Ahmad, The Nation’s Voice, Vols. I-VII, Quaid-i-Azam Academy, Karachi; and the compilation by Riaz Ahmad noted earlier).

[13] Keith, Arthur Barriedale; Speeches and Documents on the British Domains, 1918-1931; Oxford University Press; 1932; pp.77-82.

[14] Jinnah-Gandhi Talks, Central Office, All India Muslim League, 1944, p.22.

[15] Vide “Churchill and His Myths,” The New York Times Review of Books, 29 May 2008.

[16] “Jinnah and the Khilafat Movement, 1918-1924,” Journal of South Asian and Middle East Studies, Vol. I No. 2, pp.82-107.

[17] Ali; pp. 326 and 378 respectively.

[18] Ali; p.68.

[19] Ali; pp.72-73.

[20] Ali; pp.90-91.

[21] Qureshi; p.97.

[22] Ali; p.252 (I advisedly refrain from citing pages from her compilation in some smaller matters in order not to clutter up the text. She has drawn from other compilations and the sources are easy to find out).

[23] Jinnah; p.102.

[24] Jinnah-Gandhi Talks; p.80.

[25] Ali; pp.277 and 289 respectively.

[26] Dawn; 12 March 1948.

[27] Vide the writer’s article, “Task of Democracy,” Frontline. 21 December 2007.

[28] M.S.Venkataramani, “An elusive military relationship,” Frontline, 9 April 1999, 23 April 1999, 7 May 1999 and 21 May 1999. They are based on archival material.

[29] Ali; pp.377-380.

[30] Ali; p.287.

[31] Ali; p.360.

[32] Ali; p.366.

[33] Ali; p.296.

[34] Ali; p.320.

[35] Kux, Denis; United States and Pakistan 1947-2000: Disenchanted Allies, Oxford University Press, p.20.

[36] Ali; p.583.