Modernists love to believe that since Jinnah spoke in most secular terms at the very inauguration of the constituent assembly of Pakistan which was going to emerge on the globe three days later — this is what must define Pakistan constitutionally. Conservatives have been of the view that just one speech from Jinnah can’t be used to decide what kind of state he envisioned for Pakistan, as there are numerous occasions before and after that speech where Jinnah invoked religious imagery of Quran and Sharia to define Pakistan. Jinnah’s brought up, education and personal lifestyle and worldview are witness to the fact that he was a secularist and of course averse to the idea of an Islamic state but a democratic state of Muslims. He was also fully cognizant however that the Muslim masses don’t necessarily visualise the new state of Pakistan in those very terms as he did. For Muslim masses, the new state was going to be a place where Sharia will run supreme although the Sharia meant different things to different sects within their religious folds. Jinnah knew that. At the time of independence, perhaps Muslim masses had no imagination as to what the status of non-Muslims in the new country will be. At the maximum, the non-Muslim minorities, especially Hindus, were a source of collateral to ensure that the 30 million Muslims left behind in India can enjoy a peaceful life there; à lathe hostage population theory. Though Hindus and Muslims in their respective geographic areas thought this collateral will work, it was already proving useless as months and weeks leading to the partition in August 1947 and those soon after were characterised with communal bloodshed that devoured hundreds of thousands of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs. The new country of Pakistan and its leadership including Jinnah owed immensely to the Muslims of minority provinces in India such as Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Behar. The Muslims from these provinces knew all too well that their geographic regions will not become the parts of Pakistan, yet they championed the cause of Pakistan. Muslim league was most organised and strongest in minority provinces than it was in Muslims majority provinces such as Punjab. Most prominent Muslim Leaguers like Mohsinul Mulk, Viqarul Mulk, the Ali brothers, Khaliquz Zaman, Raja of Mahmudabad, Nawab Ismael Khan, Liaquat Ali Khan, were all from UP, except for Jinnah and Aga Khan who were from Bombay. It would be a bit rich to infer from Jinnah’s August 11 speech if he really meant a secular state for Pakistan. Concern for Muslims in India, nebulousness about the national identity and the absence of consensus over Islam and Sharia must have been the factors behind the inaugural speech In this context, although pockets of Behar and UP saw bloodshed of Muslim population; worst ones being in Bhagalpur and Garhmukteshwar, yet a great majority Muslims was not ready to migrate to Pakistan as they thought the Muslims of Pakistan will ensure their security by treating the Hindu minority therein with respect and rights. Prominent Muslim League leaders from UP such as Nawab Ismael, Ch Khaliquz Zaman, ZH Lari and others had also decided to stay back despite ongoing communal strife against Muslims. The latter two although eventually migrated to Pakistan. In early August 1947, the Muslim leaders of northern India met Jinnah in the Imperial Hotel Delhi. There they raised some tough questions which Jinnah was not ready to respond. The questions were in the wake of how mistreatment and killings of Hindus and Sikh populations in Sindh and Punjab has infuriated the Hindu fanatics to throw the Muslim populations in UP and Behar into repeated bloodbaths. They reminded Jinnah of the selfless contribution and the sheet anchor role Muslims of minority provinces had played in getting a separate homeland for the Muslims of north east and north west India. The meeting ended in an unpleasant atmosphere. Jinnah left Delhi for Karachi on August 7, 1947. One can imagine that when he was preparing for his inaugural speech on August 11, his thoughts could not have been oblivious of the communal riots and the concerns of the Muslims left behind in India. It was imperative for him to calm down the religious frenzy on the street and among the Muslim leaders and legislators. He would also have wanted to send out a message to Indian government that minorities in Pakistan will enjoy all freedoms, where religion won’t be the business of the state, so that he can claim the same for Muslims left behind in India. It would therefore be a bit rich to infer from Jinnah’s August 11 speech if he really meant a secular state for Pakistan. Concern for Muslims in India, nebulousness about the national identity and the absence of consensus over Islam and Sharia must have been the factors behind the inaugural speech. The writer is a sociologist with interest in history and politics. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Published in Daily Times, December 7th 2018.