Hopes were high when Jinnah presided over the Constituent Assembly in 1947 and declared without doubt that freedom of religion was to be respected. It was his wish to lift up the economic and politically deprived Muslims from their backwardness that led to the support of many non-Muslim minority activists as well, notably Christians. In a time where major Muslim political groupings allied themselves with the Indian National Congress, the Christians in their legislation secured Jinnah the desired support the All India Muslim League needed.
His close friends and those amongst the founding fathers of Pakistan also belonged to minority groups. The first Law Minister Jogendra Nath Mandal is a Hindu from Bengal; his secretary and later the Chief Justice of Pakistan Alvin Robert Cornelius belonged to the Catholic Church. The long time, highly admired Foreign Minister Mr Muhammad Zafrullah Khan belonged to the Ahmadi sect. In addition, Jinnah himself belonged to the Shia denomination and many of the top leaders of the Pakistan movement were from the Shia, Ismaili and Ahmadi camps. Continue reading
The United States Congress has blocked nearly $200m in aid for the Palestinians, threatening projects such as food aid, health care, and support for efforts to build a functioning state.
The decision to delay the payments runs counter to the wishes of the Obama administration and reflects Congressional anger at Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s so far unrealised pursuit of Fatah-Hamas reconciliation and statehood recognition at the UN.
The freezing of the funds, which were to have been dispersed in the US fiscal year that ends today, is the most tangible sign yet of the seriousness of Congressional leaders’ threats of an even wider halt to funding in the coming year if Mr Abbas continues with his actions at the UN. It was strongly condemned yesterday by the Palestinian Authority.
There have been persistent demands in Congress to withhold up to $600m – the average amount given by the US in bilateral assistance to the West Bank and Gaza every year since 2008 – in the next financial year over the issue.
The administration remains, as does Congress, opposed to the Palestinians’ application for full UN membership, which Mr Abbas submitted last week. But it argues that assistance to the Palestinian people is what a US official described as “an essential part of the US commitment to a secure future and two-state solution for Palestinians”.
Former President Bill Clinton, among others, this month warned legislators to leave the issue of aid to the administration, adding: “Everybody knows the US Congress is the most pro-Israel parliamentary body in the world. They don’t have to demonstrate that.”