This is with reference to Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed’s “Jinnah’s Prerogatives” piece in which he claims that Jinnah never returned to theme of equality that he struck in his famous 11 August speech. This claim, repeated by a number of people of an Islamist orientation, is historically inaccurate. Unfortunately Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed and others rely on Jinnah’s invocation of Islam as evidence for endorsement of a religious state. On the contrary Jinnah’s invocation of Islam was always in terms of its compatibility with modern democratic values. As a leader of the Muslims, Jinnah wanted to convince his constituents that Islam was compatible with modern democracy. At no point during his 13 months rule did Jinnah allow any religious legislation to be introduced in the Constituent Assembly. This is why even Jogindranath Mandal in his resignation letter long after Jinnah’s death mentions that by passing the Objectives’ Resolution, Liaquat Ali Khan’s government had significantly departed from Jinnah’s ideas. Every single Non-Muslim member of the Constituent Assembly made the same point during the debate on the Objectives’ Resolution.Contrary to Ishtiaq Ahmed’s claims and that of others, Jinnah did return to the theme of equality for minorities several times. Here are just few of the references from many: “I assure you Pakistan means to stand by its oft repeated promises of according equal rights to all its nationals irrespective of their caste or creed. Pakistan which symbolizes the aspirations of a nation that found it self to be a minority in the Indian subcontinent cannot be ‘unmindful’ of minorities within its own borders. It is a pity that the fair name of Karachi was sullied by the sudden outburst of communal frenzy last month and I can’t find words strong enough to condemn the action of those who are responsible.” February 1948 speaking to Parsis Page 102-103 Jinnah Speeches and Statements 1947-1948, Oxford 1997“In any case Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic State — to be ruled by priests with a divine mission. We have many non- Muslims — Hindus, Christians, and Parsis — but they are all Pakistanis. They will enjoy the same rights and privileges as any other citizens and will play their rightful part in the affairs of Pakistan” Page 125 Jinnah Speeches and Statements 1947-1948, Oxford 1997 “We guarantee equal rights to all citizens of Pakistan. Hindus should in spirit and action wholeheartedly co-operate with the Government and its various branches as Pakistanis.” March 22 1948 speaking to Hindus Page 153 Jinnah Speeches and Statements 1947-1948, Oxford 1997“We stand by our declarations that members of every community will be treated as citizens of Pakistan with equal rights and privileges and obligations and that Minorities will be safeguarded and protected.” March 23, 1948 speaking to Schedule Caste Federation Page 154 Jinnah Speeches and Statements 1947-1948, Oxford 1997 “Although you have not struck the note of your needs and requirements as a community but it is the policy of my Government and myself that every member of every community irrespective of caste color, creed or race shall be fully protected with regard to his life, property and honor. I reiterate to you that you like all minorities will be treated as equal citizens with your rights and obligations provided you are loyal to Pakistan” Page 223 Jinnah Speeches and Statements 1947-1948, Oxford 1997‘We stand by our declarations that members of every community will be treated as citizens of Pakistan with equal rights and privileges and obligations and that minorities will be safeguarded and protected.’ March 23, 1948, speaking to Schedule Caste FederationEven in the bar association speech of 25 January 1948, quoted by Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed and Islamists as proof of Jinnah’s endorsement of a religious state, this is what Jinnah had to say:“Islam has taught Equality, Justice and fairplay to everybody. What reason is there for anyone to fear. Democracy, equality, freedom on the highest sense of integrity and on the basis of fairplay and justice for everyone. Let us make the constitution of Pakistan. We will make it and we will show it to the world.” Page 98 Jinnah Speeches and Statements 1947-1948, Oxford 1997“The basis of the central administration of Pakistan and that of the units to be set up will be decided no doubt, by the Pakistan Constituent Assembly. But the Government of Pakistan can only be a popular representative and democratic form of Government. Its Parliament and Cabinet responsible to the Parliament will both be finally responsible to the electorate and the people in general without any distinction of caste, creed or sect, which will the final deciding factor with regard to the policy and programme of the Government that may be adopted from time to time… The minorities in Pakistan will be the citizens of Pakistan and enjoy all the rights, privileges and obligations of citizenship without any distinction of caste creed or sect. They will be treated justly and fairly. The Government will run the administration and control the legislative measures by its Parliament, and the collective conscience of the Parliament itself will be a guarantee that the minorities need not have any apprehension of any injustice being done to them. Over and above that there will be provisions for the protection and safeguard of the minorities which in my opinion must be embodied in the constitution itself. And this will leave no doubt as to the fundamental rights of the citizens, protection of religion and faith of every section, freedom of thought and protection of their cultural and social life.” p.845, Zaidi, ZH (ed) (1993) Jinnah Papers: Prelude to Pakistan, Vol. I Part I. Lahore: Quaid-i-Azam Papers Project“Minorities DO NOT cease to be citizens. Minorities living in Pakistan or Hindustan do not cease to be citizens of their respective states by virtue of their belonging to particular faith, religion or race. I have repeatedly made it clear, especially in my opening speech to the constituent Assembley, that the minorities in Pakistan would be treated as our citizens and will enjoy all the rights as any other community. Pakistan SHALL pursue this policy and do all it can to create a sense of security and confidence in the Non-Muslim minorities of Pakistan. We do not prescribe any school boy tests for their loyalty. We shall not say to any Hindu citizen of Pakistan ‘if there was war would you shoot a Hindu?” p. 61, Jinnah Speeches and Statements 1947-1948, Oxford 1997A final point is about Ishtiaq Ahmed’s insinuation that Sir Zafrullah Khan, who happened to be an Ahmadi, was made the foreign minister under American or British pressure. Jinnah as it is well known was not amenable to US or British pressure. His letters to Churchill and Harry S Truman are on the record for all to read.It seems that many are influenced by the polemics of Majlis-e-Ahrar-e-Islam, who like to support intellectually the idea of a United India. Anyone who is familiar with Sir Zafrullah Khan’s career as Pakistan’s top diplomat at the UN knows the passionate advocacy he undertook on behalf of Palestine and other third world nations, often incurring the displeasure of both the US and Great Britain. These are matters of record and quoting hearsay from long debunked books is not going to change these facts.The writer is a practising lawyer. He blogs at http://globallegalforum.blogspot.com and his twitter handle is @therealylhPublished in Daily Times, December 13th 2017.