Understanding Pakistan Project Team July 23rd, 2007
By: Seyyed Vali Reza Nasr (Excerpt from: Nasr, Seyyed Vali Reza. The Vanguard of the Islamic Revolution: The Jama’at-i Islami of Pakistan. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994. http://ark.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/ft9j49p32d/)
Entering the Political Process, 1947–1958
After Mawdudi had unveiled the Jama‘at-i Islami’s political objectives in Pakistan for the first time in July 1947, he collected his troops and moved to Lahore on a truck, escorted by units of the Pakistan army. His first contact with the leaders of the new state took place soon after through the Muslim League ministry in Punjab. While he was still living in a tent in Islamiyah Park, Mawdudi met with the Muslim League chief minister of the province, Nawwab Iftikhar Husain of Mamdot. In that meeting Mawdudi asked for permission to begin work among the refugees, and he discussed the future of Kashmir. Mawdudi impressed upon the nawwab Pakistan’s obligation immediately to take the offensive in Kashmir and secure control of strategic locations there, and asked the chief minister to relay a message to that effect to Prime Minister Liaqat ‘Ali Khan. (Figure: Maulana Abul Ala Maududi: The Founder of the Jama’at-i-Islami)
The Nawwab of Mamdot was a powerful member of the landed gentry of Punjab and was at the time embroiled in a struggle with Liaqat ‘Ali Khan and his chief ally in Punjab, Mian Mumtaz Daultana, over the control of that province. The chief minister was eager to enlist the support of Islamic groups such as the Jama‘at to stave off Daultana’s challenge. Mamdot, therefore, not only welcomed the Jama‘at’s offer to assist with relief work among the refugees, but invited Mawdudi to deliver a series of talks on Radio Pakistan. All unwitting, Mawdudi had walked into the midst of a tug-of-war in Pakistani politics that was to determine relations between the Jama‘at and the central government.
Mawdudi quickly learned that, given the balance of power in Pakistani politics, the Islamic parties were bound to play the role of power brokers. Muslim League leaders, concluded Mawdudi, were not as inimical to sacralization of politics as their postindependence rhetoric may have indicated. In fact, as the central government in Karachi faced difficulties in exerting control over the new country’s wayward provinces during 1947–1948 and the crisis before the state grew, the legitimating role of Islam and the power of its spokesmen became more evident. Politicians who otherwise decried the political role of religion were under the circumstances not altogether indifferent to the entry of Islamic groups into the fray. The example set by Mamdot was followed elsewhere, in Lahore as well as in other provincial capitals. The relations between the Muslim League and the Jama‘at during the prepartition years were now expanded to encompass the relations between Islam and the state of Pakistan. The holy community found great strength in acting as a party.
Pakistan was founded in the name of Islam, but it had little else in the way of common national or cultural values around which to unite.