Pages

Thursday, 30 December 2010

National anthem: fact and fiction

For some time now, some secularists in Pakistan have been suggesting that (a) Jinnah was in favor of secularism, and therefore (b) he commissioned a Hindu poet to write the national anthem of Pakistan but it was replaced by the present anthem after Jinnah’s death.

Therefore, it is rather serendipitous that two well-researched books should come out at the same time, each addressing a different half of this statement separately (and both having long titles, but that is beside the point):
  • Secular Jinnah and Pakistan: What the Nation Doesn’t Know by the British Pakistani writer Saleena Karim is a 317-page study about whether Quaid-i-Azam Jinnah wanted Pakistan to be a secular state.
  • Pakistan Ka Qaumi Tarana: Kiya Hai Haqeeqat, Kya Hai Fasana by Aqeel Abbas Jafri is a 104-page analytical presentation of archival resources about the national anthem of Pakistan. 
The first book is in English, and the second is in Urdu, and let’s begin with the second. Although he is little known abroad, Jafri ‘s name has become synonymous with archival research in Pakistan. One of his most recent crowning achievements is the Urdu Chronicle of Pakistan, which presents a chronological illustrated history of the country since 1947.

In Qaumi Tarana (allow me to refer to the book by this short title), Jafri shows with conclusive documentary evidence that:
  1. Pakistan did not have a national anthem in the lifetime of Jinnah.
  2. The present national anthem was the first to be officially adopted by the state.
  3. There is no evidence to show that any poem by Jagan Nath Azad was played from radio on 14 or 15 August at all.
Some of the findings of this book were earlier shared by Jafri in his curtain-raiser article in Urdu press (covered here in a previous post, ‘Jafri reveals the truth). The book offers much – much – more: a fantastic trip of time travelling to the early days of Pakistan, and inside the secret vaults of classified information, all in a light and refreshing manner.

I strongly recommend it to everybody. Being a basic document about a key symbol of our sovereignty, i.e. our national anthem, it should be kept in every household (Imagine losing your domicile certificate, passport, identity card and personal documents?). The book is modestly priced at Rs.200, which is roughly the same as a full plate of Biryani plus cold drink (and minus the TIP) – so, please do not “starve” your souls.

Now, very interestingly, while explaining that his purpose is just to keep the record straight, Jafri clarifies in the preface that it would not have been unexpected if the Quaid had actually got the national anthem written by a Hindu poet, but facts are facts and history needs to be respected. In the same vein he admits: “I do not have any doubts about Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah being secular, liberal and enlightened… Since Islam is the very name of tolerance.”

This brings us to the second book, which addresses the question: Did Quaid-i-Azam want Pakistan to be a secular state (and is secularism the same thing as the “tolerance” preached by Islam)? In the next post we shall see what Saleena Karim has to say about this in Secular Jinnah and Pakistan: What the Nation Doesn’t Know.
Next: Secular Jinnah

4 comments:

Connie L. Nash said...

Hello,

I was going to skip this as being way beyond me...

However, your engaging manner in this post has me on the edge of my seat --

Esp. with this "The book offers much – much – more: a fantastic trip of time traveling to the early days of Pakistan, and inside the secret vaults of classified information, all in a light and refreshing manner...I strongly recommend it to everybody." and your ending...

Ahmad Safi said...

It seems very clear now that there was a consorted effort by the media to push Jagan Nath Azad saheb's anthem as the first national anthem of Pakistan commissioned by the Quaid himself. This is indeed a timely book for dispelling this controversy and restoring our faith. I salute Aqeel Abbas Jafri Saheb for his painstaking research on the topic.

I would like to reiterate in your words: [... Being a basic document about a key symbol of our sovereignty, i.e. our national anthem, it should be kept in every household (Imagine losing your domicile certificate, passport, identity card and personal documents?)]

ReeBz said...

Very very interesting and intriguing topic.I always wanted to get some authentic information about it.I m more interested in quaid being secular.Right now,my personal views are that he did not want a Secular Pakistan.
just before an hour in a discussion some one said that Quaideazam was himself a secular person as he said:

‎"""You are free; 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"

I cant understand how this quote shows that he was a secular and he wanted a secular Pakistan?Its one of the basic teachings of Islam that let everyone feel free to follow his/her religions.Its a fact that Pakistan was formed on the name of Islam.

"Pakistan ka matlab kia,La ilaha Illalah"

those who think the otherwise, kindly tell me why was this slogan most important during the time of Quaid then?

anyways,thats only my opinion and belief. Waiting for your reviews which are worthy of quoting everywhere.

Sohail said...

Its good to know that we as a nation are maturing. Bringing all aspects of history in light and debating is one way to reach consensus. We as a nation has to redefine the "secularism". As you identify it can be the ".. the "tolerance" preached by Islam". With our nation indulge in "non-issues" as related to Islam (31 Dec shut down is one example) that we fail to understand such issues in the history.
Thanks for the posting.