his election as the first President of the Constituent Assembly
of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah (Quaid-i-Azam) delivered the following
Presidential Address to the assembly at Karachi on 11 August 1947.
It is in this speech that the famous words occur, which have often
been quoted by those who favor a liberal social setup in Pakistan:
"You may belong to any religion or caste or creed - that has
nothing to do with the business of the State..."
- Address to the nation, August
- Condolence message
on the death of Gandhi, 1948
- Reply to the American
Presidential Address to the Constituent Assembly
of Pakistan at Karachi
August 11, 1947
Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen!
I cordially thank you, with the utmost sincerity,
for the honor you have conferred upon me - the greatest honor 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 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 our
future constitution of Pakistan and the second or 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
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.
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.
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.
The next thing that strikes me is this: Here
again it is a legacy which has been passed on to us. Alongwith many
other things, good and bad, has arrived this great evil - the evil
of nepotism and jobbery. This evil must be crushed relentlessly.
I want to make it quite clear that I shall never tolerate any kind
of jobbery, 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.
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 everyone of us to loyally abide by it and honorably
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. 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 judgment there
was no other solution and I am sure future history will record its
verdict in favor of it. And what is more it will be proved by actual
experience as we go on that was the only solution of India's constitutional
problem. Any idea of a united India could never have worked and
in my judgment it would have led us to terrific disaster. May be
that view is correct; may be 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 everyone
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 color, 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.
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, Vashnavas, 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 peoples 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. 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
of 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 State 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 when
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 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 no 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.
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.
Well, gentlemen, I do not wish to take up any
more of your time and thank you again for the honor you have done
to me. I shall always be guided by the principles of justice and
fairplay without any, as is put in the political language, prejudice
or ill-will, in other words, partiality or favoritism. 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.
I have received a message from the United States
of America addressed to me. It reads:
I have the honor 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 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.
Soucre: Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Speeches
and Statements as Governor General of Pakistan 1947 - 48. Published
(1989) by Government of Pakistan, Ministry of Information &
Broadcasting, Directorate of Films & Publications, Islamabad
Back to Top
Search the Republic of Rumi