Jinnah’s first Presidential Address: You can go back to your mosques, temples

Muhammad Ali Jinnah's first Presidential Address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, August 11, 1947

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: August 12, 2017 7:39 pm
Jinnah: We have to do the best we can in adopting a provisional constitution for the Federal Legislature of Pakistan.
(Photo by Kulwant Roy (1914-1984) and photo credit : Aditya Arya Archives, Chairman & Trustee, India Photo Archive Foundation)

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen!

[[1]] I cordially thank you, with the utmost sincerity, for the honour you have conferred upon me — the greatest honour that is possible for this Sovereign Assembly to confer — by electing me as your first President. I also thank those leaders who have spoken in appreciation of my services and [thank them for] their personal references to me. I sincerely hope that with your support and your co-operation we shall make this Constituent Assembly an example to the world.

The Constituent Assembly has got two main functions to perform. The first is the very onerous and responsible task of framing the future constitution of Pakistan and the second of functioning as a full and complete sovereign body as the Federal Legislature of Pakistan. We have to do the best we can in adopting a provisional constitution for the Federal Legislature of Pakistan.

You know really that not only we ourselves are wondering but, I think, the whole world is wondering at this unprecedented cyclonic revolution which has brought about the plan of creating and establishing two independent Sovereign Dominions in this sub-continent. As it is, it has been unprecedented; there is no parallel in the history of the world. This mighty sub-continent with all kinds of inhabitants has been brought under a plan which is titanic, unknown, unparalleled. And what is very important with regard to it is that we have achieved it peacefully and by means of an evolution of the greatest possible character.

Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Muhammad Ali Jinnah speech, pakistan, Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Pakistan history, latest news, indian express Photo by Kulwant Roy (1914-1984) and photo credit : Aditya Arya Archives, Chairman & Trustee, India Photo Archive Foundation

[[2]] Dealing with our first function in this Assembly, I cannot make any well-considered pronouncement at this moment, but I shall say a few things as they occur to me. The first and the foremost thing that I would like to emphasize is this: remember that you are now a Sovereign Legislative body and you have got all the powers. It therefore places on you the gravest responsibility as to how you should take your decisions.

The first observation that I would like to make is this: You will no doubt agree with me that the first duty of a government is to maintain law and order, so that the life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects are fully protected by the State.

[[3]] The second thing that occurs to me is this: One of the biggest curses from which India is suffering — I do not say that other countries are free from it, but I think our condition is much worse — is bribery and corruption. That really is a poison. We must put that down with an iron hand, and I hope that you will take adequate measures as soon as it is possible for this Assembly to do so.

[[4]] Black-marketing is another curse. Well, I know that black-marketeers are frequently caught and punished. Judicial sentences are passed, or sometimes fines only are imposed. Now you have to tackle this monster, which today is a colossal crime against society, in our distressed conditions, when we constantly face shortage of food and other essential commodities of life. A citizen who does black-marketing commits, I think, a greater crime than the biggest and most grievous of crimes. These black-marketeers are really knowing, intelligent, and ordinarily responsible people, and when they indulge in black-marketing, I think they ought to be very severely punished, because they undermine the entire system of control and regulation of foodstuffs and essential commodities, and cause wholesale starvation and want and even death.

Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Muhammad Ali Jinnah speech, pakistan, Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Pakistan history, latest news, indian express Photo by Kulwant Roy (1914-1984) and photo credit : Aditya Arya Archives, Chairman & Trustee, India Photo Archive Foundation

[[5]] The next thing that strikes me is this: Here again it is a legacy which has been passed on to us. Along with many other things, good and bad, has arrived this great evil — the evil of nepotism and jobbery. I want to make it quite clear that I shall never tolerate any kind of jobbery [corrupt employment practices], nepotism, or any influence directly or indirectly brought to bear upon me. Whenever I will find that such a practice is in vogue or is continuing anywhere, low or high, I shall certainly not countenance it.

[[6]] I know there are people who do not quite agree with the division of India and the partition of the Punjab and Bengal. Much has been said against it, but now that it has been accepted, it is the duty of every one of us to loyally abide by it and honourably act according to the agreement which is now final and binding on all.

But you must remember, as I have said, that this mighty revolution that has taken place is unprecedented. One can quite understand the feeling that exists between the two communities wherever one community is in majority and the other is in minority. But the question is, whether it was possible or practicable to act otherwise than what has been done.

Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Muhammad Ali Jinnah speech, pakistan, Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Pakistan history, latest news, indian express Photo by Kulwant Roy (1914-1984) and photo credit : Aditya Arya Archives, Chairman & Trustee, India Photo Archive Foundation

A division had to take place. On both sides, in Hindustan and Pakistan, there are sections of people who may not agree with it, who may not like it; but in my judgement there was no other solution, and I am sure future history will record its verdict in favour of it. And what is more, it will be proved by actual experience as we go on that that was the only solution of India’s constitutional problem.

Any idea of a united India could never have worked, and in my judgement it would have led us to terrific disaster. Maybe that view is correct; maybe it is not; that remains to be seen. All the same, in this division it was impossible to avoid the question of minorities being in one Dominion or the other. Now that was unavoidable. There is no other solution.

Now what shall we do? Now, if we want to make this great State of Pakistan happy and prosperous, we should wholly and solely concentrate on the well-being of the people, and especially of the masses and the poor. If you will work in co-operation, forgetting the past, burying the hatchet, you are bound to succeed. If you change your past and work together in a spirit that every one of you, no matter to what community he belongs, no matter what relations he had with you in the past, no matter what is his colour, caste, or creed, is first, second, and last a citizen of this State with equal rights, privileges, and obligations, there will be no end to the progress you will make.

[[7]] I cannot emphasize it too much. We should begin to work in that spirit, and in course of time all these angularities of the majority and minority communities, the Hindu community and the Muslim community — because even as regards Muslims you have Pathans, Punjabis, Shias, Sunnis and so on, and among the Hindus you have Brahmins, Vaishnavas, Khatris, also Bengalees, Madrasis and so on — will vanish.

Indeed if you ask me, this has been the biggest hindrance in the way of India to attain the freedom and independence, and but for this we would have been free people long long ago. No power can hold another nation, and specially a nation of 400 million souls, in subjection; nobody could have conquered you, and even if it had happened, nobody could have continued its hold on you for any length of time, but for this.

independence day, india independence, 1947, august 15, 1947, independence day photos Photo by Kulwant Roy (1914-1984) and photo credit : Aditya Arya Archives, Chairman & Trustee, India Photo Archive Foundation

Therefore, we must learn a lesson from this. 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 — that has nothing to do with the business of the State.

As you know, history shows that in England conditions, some time ago, were much worse than those prevailing in India today. The Roman Catholics and the Protestants persecuted each other. Even now there are some States in existence where there are discriminations made and bars imposed against a particular class.

Thank God, we are not starting in those days. We are starting in the days where there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle: that we are all citizens, and equal citizens, of one State.

The people of England in [the] course of time had to face the realities of the situation, and had to discharge the responsibilities and burdens placed upon them by the government of their country; and they went through that fire step by step. Today, you might say with justice that Roman Catholics and Protestants do not exist; what exists now is that every man is a citizen, an equal citizen of Great Britain, and they are all members of the Nation.

Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Muhammad Ali Jinnah speech, pakistan, Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Pakistan history, latest news, indian express Photo by Kulwant Roy (1914-1984) and photo credit : Aditya Arya Archives, Chairman & Trustee, India Photo Archive Foundation

[[8]] Now I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal, and you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus, and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State.

[[9]] Well, gentlemen, I do not wish to take up any more of your time; and thank you again for the honour you have done to me. I shall always be guided by the principles of justice and fair play without any, as is put in the political language, prejudice or ill-will; in other words, partiality or favouritism. My guiding principle will be justice and complete impartiality, and I am sure that with your support and co-operation, I can look forward to Pakistan becoming one of the greatest Nations of the world.

[[10]] I have received a message from the United States of America addressed to me. It reads: I have the honour to communicate to you, in Your Excellency’s capacity as President of the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, the following message which I have just received from the Secretary of State of the United States: On the occasion of of the first meeting of the Constituent Assembly for Pakistan, I extend to you and to the members of the Assembly, the best wishes of the Government and the people of the United States for the successful conclusion of the great work you are about to undertake.

Source: G. Allana, Pakistan Movement Historical Documents (Karachi: Department of International Relations, University of Karachi, 1969).  Kulwant Roy (1914-1984) was among a handful of photographers who documented the eventful years immediately before and after Independence. He gifted his work to Aditya Arya, who has since archived them under the aegis of the India Photo Archive Foundation. Arya can be reached at adityaarya@gmail.com

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  1. R
    Robert Mitts
    Aug 13, 2017 at 6:59 am
    Jinnah was the personification of the islamic principle of taqqiya...when he wanted to marry a Zoroastrian girl, he said to her father all religions are equal, he then converted her to islam. But when his daughter wanted to marry a Zoroastrian he opposed saying he is not muslim, what a fraud!
    Reply
    1. R
      RAKESH KUMAR
      Aug 12, 2017 at 10:34 pm
      Jinnah was contradicting himself. If Hindus and Muslims could live inc-existence in a country established in the name of religion they could have do so in a secular undivided india. His statement was a rehtoric which proved him wrong in his artificially created nation called Pakistan where not only Hindus sikha and other minorities have been eliminated his won community Shias are killed every day.this speaks of falicy.
      Reply
      1. L
        Logic Induction
        Aug 12, 2017 at 9:45 pm
        Everything Jinnah said, stan is not !
        Reply
        1. M
          MyTake
          Aug 12, 2017 at 1:26 am
          Jinnah, either did not know about the well known Al Taqiya concept in Islam or he knew it but fooled the people, like he fooled the Baloochis after defrauding them off his equivalent weight of gold in the name of "helping" them! He is one of the fraud Shia one would see anywhere and is the father of creating the torture machine called Pakistan that is even torturing its own citizen. And his "Pak"- Stan is still looking for iden y from Arab to china land!!
          Reply
          1. E
            Ehsan Habib
            Aug 12, 2017 at 12:17 am
            I am sure future history will record its verdict in favour of it. And what is more, it will be proved by actual experience as we go on that that was the only solution of India’s cons utional problem........Jinnah Now I know why was Pakistan inevitable.
            Reply
            1. I
              Indian
              Aug 11, 2017 at 8:09 pm
              DIRECT ACTION DAY? Blood on hand of innocent people? The great leader?. The MAHATMA?. These are Oxford Cambridge educated people who could not find peacefull solutions for par ion caused millions to displaced thousands died through communal violence. Hardly any minorities live in Pakistan. Still the greatest leader?. THINK.... Government's can fool us with their powerful p R.
              Reply
              1. B
                Bilal
                Aug 11, 2017 at 7:07 pm
                Muhammad Ali Jinnah what a leader. What a human being. And he has done wonders for his nation. He dreamed big and than make such a effort so it become true. LOVE YOU , Great Leader (Quaid e azam)
                Reply
                1. P
                  Prateik
                  Aug 11, 2017 at 6:44 pm
                  Jinnah was an excellent leader, just for the reason that he purged the last leftover Aryans from Newly formed P a k i s t a n, including weasels like L K Advani, on their last but one migration. The last and final migration is about to happen! Aryans can never mend their ways, even after being brutally kicked out 3000 years ago from Central Asia. All atrocities carried out presently in the name of beef, cow protection, veda, etc are by Arya brahmins.
                  Reply
                  1. R
                    Robert Mitts
                    Aug 13, 2017 at 9:35 am
                    Yeah right! Keep your madrassa mosque comments to yourself, and continue the genocide of Yazidi's, Christian's, Hindu's, Sikh's, Jews, Buddhist's like you have always done...
                    Reply
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