The title of the post is the motto of Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah, ”Unity, Faith, Discipline”. Stirring words that would be adopted after his death by the State he founded as its national motto, a motto that changed Jinnah’s saying into, ”Faith, Unity, Discipline”.
The only difference is the order of two words, but what a difference it has made to Pakistan. Gone is Jinnah’s emphasis on Unity: on the oneness of mind and feeling among a number of persons, as the dictionary defines the word. In its place is Faith: which can mean trust in a person or thing, or a belief not based on proof. And last but not least, Discipline: which means the rigour or training effect of experience or adversity, behaviour in accord with rules of conduct; behaviour and order maintained by training and control, or punishment inflicted by way of correction and training. Unity, Faith, Discipline or Faith, Unity, Discipline are by themselves no more than words; but like all words they are given meaning by the men who speak and hear them.
When the Pakistani State changed the order of the motto so Faith comes before Unity it was done to imply a commitment to Islamism that Jinnah had always been against. Jinnah was a staunch secular Muslim and he meant faith to mean a faith in the righteousness of the Pakistan movement and the secular progressive State it would create; not a blind faith in Islamic rule and Sharia law. Jinnah meant the former when he talked of faith but the illiterate masses heard the latter.
It makes perfect sense that Jinnah put an emphasis on Unity, most of his political career was spent unifying the Muslims of India into a single Nation and creating a State for them to rule. Yet how could Jinnah call for Unity after spending decades preaching division? This paradox lay at the heart of Jinnah’s legacy. For in order to unify Muslims and give them a State of their own he had to divide India. It is not surprising that Jinnah’s brief rule from Independence on August 14th 1947 till his death on September 11th 1948 was spent wielding the repressive laws of the British Raj against opponents who sought greater autonomy for ethnic and linguistic minorities, (or in the case of East Bengal, majorities).
At the end of Jinnah’s motto is Discipline. No doubt Jinnah saw Discipline as being a positive concept: the rigour of adversity, the adherence to a code of conduct. Jinnah himself was a man of tremendous self-discipline which enabled his successful legal and political career. Yet the word Discipline itself rarely comes with positive connotations. I think for most people Discipline has an edge of force to it in that whether it is imposed by others or by ourselves there is an element of implicit coercion involved.
Discipline suggests that Unity and Faith are to be maintained by force if necessary; which has tragically proved to be the case many times in Pakistan. And what institution by its very nature focuses on Unity, Faith, and Discipline? The Army, which has played a destructive role throughout Pakistan’s 66 year history.
It is instructive to compare the national motto’s of Pakistan and Indonesia which is the most populous Muslim country in the World. Its motto is, ”Unity in Diversity”. What a different path Pakistan may have taken if Unity in Diversity has been its creed. And what of India the ancient civilization which Pakistan was carved out of not so many years ago? It’s motto is, ”Truth alone Triumphs”. One of the many tragedies of Pakistan has been how easily and often Truth has been thrown aside.
The Pakistan of today is not Jinnah’s Pakistan. Jinnah’s conception of Pakistan as a secular State never truly existed but the Nation-State he founded managed to last 24 years before repression gave way to rebellion. The Pakistan that has existed ever since is one where Unity, Faith, and Discipline are only found among the soldiers of the Puppet Masters of the land. As Pakistan heads towards a frightening future it becomes clear with hindsight what Pakistan’s national motto should have been. ”As you sow so shall you reap”.