AIR help sought on Jinnah ‘secular state’ speech

Mohammad Ali Jinnah with Gandhiji.   | Photo Credit: HINDU PHOTO ARCHIVES

Taking advantage of the improved climate between the two countries, Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) has requested All India Radio (AIR) for a copy of founding father >Mohammad Ali Jinnah's August 11, 1947, speech in which he said “religion or caste or creed… has nothing to do with the business of the State''.

>Download PDF: Jinnah’s speech from the pages of The Hindu

Director-General of PBC Murtaza Solangi wrote to his AIR counterpart last week after verbal requests to various functionaries of the Government of India including Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar yielded no results. Last week, he requested Pakistan's High Commissioner in India Shahid Malik to take up the matter with AIR and has since been told the request would be looked into.

Mr. Solangi told The Hindu that if a copy of the >speech of utmost importance to Pakistan was given to PBC, due acknowledgement would be given to AIR and a ceremony would be organised to celebrate the handing over.

This is one recording of Jinnah's that PBC does not have; primarily because it was done by a team sent from Delhi just ahead of Partition. At the time of Partition, what was to become Pakistan had three AIR stations: one each in Lahore, Peshawar and Dhaka. However, the Lahore and Peshawar stations were Class B stations without recording facilities. As a result, AIR sent a team from Delhi to record the August 11 address of Jinnah to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan in Karachi after his election as its first President.

The speech is of great significance to Pakistan as it battles to reclaim the nation that Jinnah had envisaged. In fact, according to historian Mubarak Ali, the speech was censored because it caused great discomfort within the Muslim League and the bureaucracy. A serious attempt was made to censor the speech before it was published in newspapers. After >Jinnah's death, the direction given in that speech was replaced with the Objectives Resolution that laid the foundations of an Islamic state.

Subsequently also, various attempts have been made to black out the speech. Former Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto claimed that attempts were made to burn the speech and a concerted effort was made during the regime of military dictator Zia-ul Haq to remove all reference to that historic address from textbooks. Given the circumstances, securing a copy of the speech is more than just a case of getting access to a recording of archival importance to Pakistan.

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Printable version | Apr 17, 2021 11:49:28 AM |

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