The efforts of Late Cecil Chaudary and Shahbaz Bhatti to unearth the speech of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah from the dustbins of history was an effort to reboot an egalitarian and inclusive Pakistan using the populism of Bhutto. What resulted was a token Minorities’ Day of no consequence and further exclusion.

Similarly, the motivation of ideological PTI to dig out this recording and play it for the first time on 31 October 2011 at Minar-e-Pakistan was a quest for an original pathway for an egalitarian Pakistan.

Notably out of five parts of the speech only one pertains to minorities. The segments of rule of law and good governance are ignored because they hit the foundations of elitism. Therefore, Pakistan’s politics of elitism is intrinsically linked to suppression of egalitarianism and likely to plague Pakistan indefinitely.

The Secretary General of PTI Dr Arif Alvi must be complimented for his efforts in linking the Treaty of St. Catherine sealed by the hand of the Holy Prophet and the speech of 11 August as an inevitable continuation. It was his thesis that rejuvenated some Pakistani ideological cadres to secure the original recordings to be played at Minar-e-Pakistan. But he too succumbed to the onslaught of traditional and expediency politics. In PTI, the hunger of change for fifteen years gave way to exclusion. Hopes of Christian and Hindu Pakistanis turned to dismay when the party chose to exclude them into non-functional and non-performing minority wings. Egalitarianism and self-esteem, the cornerstones of a party of change were lost to desires.

For me, it is important to remind the nation of this glorious past lest the entire segment is lost to revisionists of history and narrow minded political aspirants of the minority communities. I made an effort to suggest to two major TV channels to highlight this forgotten history on 14 August. One, the custodian of 11 August Speech never responded. The other preferred to telecast national jingles.

It is generally understood that the Story of Pakistan is Muslims seeking to free themselves from the “British induced tyranny of Hindu domination”. However, this story has a second, more formative and much ignored caption central to Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s speech to the Constituent Assembly. Christians, Dalit Hindus and Parsi communities made remarkable contributions when they were needed the most. Without them, the birth and stabilisation of the newborn Pakistan would have never got the jump start it got.

It was this swinging effect of the choices made by Christians and Dalit Hindus that created the boundaries of Pakistan with India. Christians voluntarily chose to be part of Pakistan and tilted the balance in favour of the League in Punjab Assembly with two swinging and a casting vote of the Speaker. Dalit Hindus of Punjab, Sindh and East Bengal decided to become part of the Pakistani identity. This is how parts of Shylet, Pasrur, Narowal, Kasur and Chunian became Pakistan.

But the unkind cut came sooner than expected. After partition, the Christian tillers of Hindu and Sikh landlords were displaced by Muslim migrants and left with no home. Quaid-e-Azam’s assurances and resolutions in Punjab and National Assembly had no effect. These 400,000 people became Pakistan’s first group of displaced people that have swelled to 1.4 million. They live in slums of all major cities of Pakistan and have been reduced to the lowest social strata. They now form the biggest segment of Internally Displaced Pakistanis.

After being requested to vacate his seat for a Muslim Speaker, S P Singha the Speaker of Punjab Assembly was disillusioned with the politics of exclusion and displacement of Christians. His last speech in Punjab assembly was a dying man’s throes.

It was Samuel Martin Burke son of Master Khairuudin Burke from Martinpur who as Election Petition magistrate in 1945 ruled 17 seats in favour of League. Imagine if the League did not have these 17 additional seats. Samuel Burke later became Pakistan’s first Foreign Secretary, defended Pakistan in UN on Kashmir, wrote books on Pakistan’s foreign policy, was Pakistan’s ambassador to UN, USA, Canada and UK, got Pakistan its first nuclear reactor and died in obscurity in 2010. An Indian, rather than a Pakistani delegation attended his funeral.

Pakistan’s first law minister Joghendra Nath Mandal instrumental in securing Sylhet to Pakistan was very upset with the treatment meted to Dalit Hindus. He resigned and left for Calcutta to die a traitor of Hindus.

It is a myth that only Muslims migrated from India. There were many Anglo Indians and Christians who travelled to Pakistan. Today, most of these talented people have left in dismay. There is a little house in Venezuela atop a hill called Pakistan where Pakistan’s flag flutters 24/7.

From August 14, 1947 onwards, while Muslims were creating political intrigues and busy looting and claiming evacuated Hindu and Sikh properties, Christian and Parsees put their shoulders to the task of building Quaid-e-Azam’s Pakistan.

The biggest refugee camp was established in grounds of FC College. Christian hospital Taxila was another place for refugees. Parsees established the biggest camps in Karachi with assistance from Goan and Anglo Christians.

In 1948, the Catholic Church set up the first leprosy centre in Karachi, later to become Mary Adelaide Leprosy Centre. Through the efforts of Sister Dr Ruth Katherina Martha Pfau, by 1998, Pakistan was a leprosy free country.

Two communities that stand out for giving Karachi its face are Parsi philanthropists and Christian workmen. In the 1947 partition turmoil, they held the city together. When Karachi ceded to forces of intolerance, the architects with shattered dreams migrated.

Though Mr Ahmad G Chagla is credited for the composition of Pakistan’s National Anthem, (primarily because someone was averse to naming a Christian) it is a fact that the actual scores and compositions for each instrument were done by Chagla’s close Christian friend Tollentine Fonseca, the bandmaster of Pakistan Navy in a blend of Waltz and eastern music. The Officers March, Dewan-e-Khas and Barcelona Waltz played by the brass bands of Pakistan’s armed forces are his compositions. Most singers of Pakistan’s original Anthem belong to Christian choirs.

Hockey the ignored national sport was shaped in Pakistan by O B Nazareth. Milton D’Mello represented Pakistan in 1948 London Olympics as did the brilliant forward Jack Britto at Helsinki Olympics of 1952. Mathais Wallis, Antao D’Souza, Duncan Sharpe and Sohail Fazal played test cricket Pakistan. Mennen Soares represented Pakistan in the All-England Thomas Cup World Championships in 1950s. John Permal was Pakistan’s champion sprinter from 1964 to 1974. Raymond Brinksworth dominated the hurdles. Rose brothers Clyde, Nigel, Kevin and Brian were national boxing champions in their weights and represented Pakistan. Doors for sports are now closed.

Perhaps there could be no bigger devotion than the defenders. The first martyr of 1948 war in Kashmir was a Christian. Christian fighter pilots form the single largest bulk of gallantry awards and martyrdom in PAF. The Christian Community gave Pakistan four of the six Royal Indian Air Force planes they stole from Indian bases. Remember Władysław Józef Marian Turowicz, who set up PAF, Army Aviation, SUPARCO and Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission?

Christian officers ran Pakistan Police with efficiency. In judiciary, Charles and William Lobo, Constantine, Pinto and Justice Cornelius are legendary.

Since independence, Christian educational institutions have given Pakistan its choicest and elitist best.

In the services sectors, Christian provided the operating staff for the only hydroelectric power plant at Malakand and the nucleus for Warsak Dam. They also formed the major technical component of Pakistan Ordinance Factories. Christian Community gave Pakistan International Airlines the best Pilots at its start up.

Perhaps elitist Christians and Hindus are the biggest culprits.

Is someone in Pakistan awake to these realities?

Will some leader of Pakistan’s leading political parties wake up and muster courage to lead the way?

Will the Christians and Hindus of Pakistan be brave enough to join hands once again to provide the swing Pakistan needs to become an egalitarian country?

 

The writer is a political economist and a television anchorperson.

samson.sharaf@gmail.com