By DR A. Z. HILALI
After 1857 the remnants of the Mughal empire were dismantled, and 500 years of Muslim supremacy on the Indian subcontinent came to an end. The rise of British empire become a watershed for the Muslims because the British imperialist undertook the genocide of Muslims and promoted Hindus to stabilise their suzerainty.
They benefited to Hindus in a way that they would never have under the Mughals. At that time, the Muslims were marginalised and retaliated unprofessionally and ultimately the British empowered the Hindus who spared no chances to damage Muslims in every possible way. Hindus acquired education and skills according to the criteria of ruling elites and were appointed in all administrative and bureaucratic institutions and eventually Muslims became the victims of British and Hindu imperialism. So, the British stabilised their empire and consolidated ideologically and politically with the help of Hindu majority who had accepted the British racial and cultural superiority to step down the Muslims.
On the other hand, the Muslims not only refused to accept the ground realities, they boycotted in learning of English language and new ethics of the market and eventually the impact were catastrophic. Muslims were one of the largest community in India but economically and socially backward in absolute terms. According to William Hunter, who was deputed by Governor General Mayo to conduct an enquiry into whether Indian Muslims were bound by their religion to rebel against the Queen or not. In fact, the British empire considered Muslims as potential rivals because from them they had taken over the reigns of India. Hunter denied that Islamic doctrine propelled Muslims to rebel against a non-Muslim ruler and written that facts are different than the British perceptions. He indicated that Muslims are a socially, culturally, politically and economically backward class of India and needs serious attention. They also lag behind other communities as far as their educational status is concerned. So, the history is witness that Muslims were among the most marginalised communities in British India in terms of economic and educational victimisation and also in terms of political empowerment. Moreover, Muslims were also denied equal opportunity in all public and private sectors. The British also deliberately ignored to recruit Muslims in the law and order machinery, whether state police, armed constabulary or central para-military and armed forces.
The Quaid had given serious concern to the socio-economic uplift of the Indian Muslims. Moreover, his vision for social justice and economic values was based on the Islamic welfare state and emphasis on the Islamic system of governance as existing in the western countries. Thus, when Pakistan ultimately came into being as a sovereign nation in the world, the Quaid categorically rejected the prevailing economic system as having failed to do justice with the human beings and indicated that the Western economic theory and practices will not be helpful to achieve the task of development and prosperity
He emphasised that the people must work for their own destiny in their own way and present to the world an economic system based on true Islamic concept of equality of manhood and social justice. In one of the occasion at Chittagong, the Quaid declared: “You are only voicing my sentiments and the sentiments of million of Muslims when you say that Pakistan should be based in sure foundations of social justice and Islamic socialism which emphasizes equality and brotherhood of man.” Moreover, he had a firm grasp of the basic notions, which constitute a welfare-oriented economic philosophy. He viewed the proper form of society as one in which the interests of the community as a whole transcended those of the individual and in which economic relationship motivated by goodwill and concern for the interest of other rather than by pure profit-seeking intentions. He envisaged a free, progressive, humane, and modern Pakistan, ruled by just laws, where everybody irrespective of religion, colour, creed or caste would be equal before law.
The Quaid’s grip on economic issues can also be seen when he established a 23 members Economic Planning Committee in 1944 and the committee prepared a comprehensive report based on Twenty-Year Development Plan for economic and social uplift, state industrialisation, free primary education, reform of land system, security of tenure, improvement in the condition of labour and agriculture and provision of welfare services. Most of the recommendations of the committee reflected Quaid-i-Azam’s notions of transforming Pakistan into a welfare-oriented strong economic unit rather a dependant country. In fact, the Quaid’s demand for Pakistan was not just freedom from colonial rule but no less importantly, liberation from the socio-economic domination of the majority (Hindu) community in business, education and public services. Quaid knew that the areas to be included in Pakistan would be economically and industrially backward. So, he encouraged Muslim entrepreneurs to enter into business.
In 1941, addressing the Punjab Muslim Students Federation at Lahore, he identified three main elements which go to make a nation – education, economy and defence. Addressing the Balochistan Muslim League Conference in July 1943, he reiterated: “So long as a nation is weak economically, it cannot hope to win the battle of life.” In October 1943, Quaid advised to establish a Federation of Muslim Chambers of Commerce, which did eventually, came into action in 1944. In this regard, he appointed Mr Ispahani to work on the Federation of Muslim Chambers of Commerce and encouraged him to buy the Moghul Lines Shipping Company as “a good channel for investment.” Moreover, Quaid also encouraged the establishment of the Muslim Commercial Bank, and ultimately the same bank has been established such as Muslim Bank in Singapore, and branches of the Habib Bank in Bhopal and Assam. In March 1944, the All India Muslim League passed a resolution and authorised Quaid to appoint a committee to “prepare a comprehensive scheme for a five-year programme for economic and social uplift, state industrialisation in Pakistan zones. The Quaid appointed a 23-member Planning Committee in August 1944 under the Nawab Ali Nawaz Jung as chairman and Prof Haleem as Secretary. By 1945, the Planning Committee had drawn up a Memorandum on Economic Development. The Memorandum which incorporated a five-year development programme highlighted “the great importance of education.” In January 14, 1945 the Quaid addressing the Gujarat Muslim Educational Conference advised: “We must galvanise our forces….for the educational, social and economic uplift of our people.”
He declared that education was a “matter of life and death for our nation.” In November 1947, the Quaid reiterated that greater attention had to be paid to promoting technical, vocational, and scientific education, which was a prerequisite to industrial and economic progress. He observed that the educational policies and programmes had to be tailored to suit the genius of the people and “having regard to the modern conditions and scientific and technological developments in the world.” Moreover, the Quaid in the hectic and turbulent months of 1947, just before partition strongly backed the project for an airline, Orient Airways, with personal equity participation by buying shares worth Rs 25,000.
Furthermore, in an address at the University of Dhaka in March 1948, the Quaid observed: “Our experience has shown that an MA earns less than a taxi driver and most of the so-called government servants are living in a more miserable manner than many menial servants and government cannot absorb thousands. There is no shame in doing manual work and labour. There is an immense scope in technical education for we want technically qualified people very badly. You can learn banking, commerce, trade, law etc; which provides so many opportunities.” In his broadcasts to the people of the US and Australia, the Quaid observed that Pakistan was short of both capital and industrial know-how. He also told the Australians: “We know our present weaknesses in these directions and we should certainly welcome any investment which would be likely to strengthen our economy.” On July 1, 1948, on the occasion of the opening ceremony of the State Bank of Pakistan, the Quaid clearly mentioned that the economic system of the West has created almost insoluble problems for humanity and to many of us it appears that only a miracle can save it from disaster that is not facing the world. It has failed to do justice between man and man and to eradicate friction from the international field. He further mentioned that the Western world, in spite of its advantages, of mechanisation and industrial efficiency is today in a worse mess than ever before in history.
The adoption of the Western economic theory and practice will not help us in achieving our goal of creating a happy and contended people. We must work for our destiny in our own way and present to the world an economic system based on true Islamic concept of equality of manhood and social justice. He indicated that the State Bank will have to play in regulating the economic life of our country. The monetary policy of the bank will have a direct bearing on our trade and commerce, both inside Pakistan as well as with the outside world and it is only to be desired that your policy should encourage maximum production and a free flow of trade. The Quaid also hoped that the State Bank of Pakistan will develop into one of our greatest national institutions and play its part fully throughout the world.
In the contemporary, Pakistan suffers from a number of social, political, and economic problems and its chief problem is a monstrous debt. Moreover, the greatest loss comes in the area of education which is a direct result of Pakistan’s economic problems, it is undoubtedly connected. In addition, the large portion of population lives in poverty and more than 40 percent of the population lives below poverty line. On the other hand, the country depends heavily on external capital flows and the country is lacking significant investment and development because of the War On Terror.
In the circumstances, Pakistan needs a coherent economic programme that tackles macroeconomic imbalances, as well as a long-term programme that leads to the modernisation of the economy. Moreover, the challenging task of economic progress cannot be achieved without political stability and harmony in the country. For this purpose, the ruling elites must windup the chapter of the War and should seriously concentrate on the economic development of the country. It would be a mistake to put too much emphasis only on the strategic dimension of the country and ignore the importance of economic which is the key of survival and existence.
The writer is a professor at the Department of Political Science, Peshawar University