As Pakistanis celebrate Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah's birthday today on Christmas Day, there are some who are questioning the founder's wisdom in seeking partition of India to carve out Pakistan as an independent nation. The doubters justifiably point to the rising tide of intolerance
and increasing violence
and a whole range of problems and crises Pakistan is facing. They wonder aloud if it was a mistake to demand a separate country
for Muslims of undivided India.
|Wax Statues of Quaid-e-Azam Jinnah and Mahatma Gandhi in Islamabad
Are the critics correct in their assessment when they imply that Muslims in Pakistan would have been better off without partition? To answer this question, let us look at the following facts and data:
1. Muslims, the New Untouchables in India:
While India maintains its facade of religious tolerance, democracy and secularism through a few high-profile Muslim tokens among its high officials and celebrities, the ground reality for the vast majority of ordinary Muslims is much harsher.
An Indian government commission headed by former India Chief Justice Rajendar Sachar confirms that Muslims are the new untouchables
in caste-ridden and communal India. Indian Muslims suffer heavy discrimination in almost every field from education and housing to jobs. Their incarceration rates are also much higher than their Hindu counterparts.
According to Sachar Commission report, Muslims are now worse off than the Dalit caste, or those called untouchables.
Some 52% of Muslim men are unemployed, compared with 47% of Dalit men.
Among Muslim women, 91% are unemployed, compared with 77% of Dalit
women. Almost half of Muslims over the age of 46 ca not read or write.
While making up 11% of the population, Muslims account for 40%
of India’s prison population
. Meanwhile, they hold less than 5% of government jobs.
2. Upward Economic Mobility in Pakistan:
In spite of all of its problems, Pakistan has continued to offer higher upward economic
and social mobility
to its citizens over the last two decades than India. Since 1990, Pakistan's middle
class had expanded by 36.5% and India's by only 12.8%, according to an ADB report titled "Asia's Emerging Middle Class: Past, Present And ...
Miles Corak of University of Ottawa calculates that the intergenerational earnings elasticity in
Pakistan is 0.46, the same as in Switzerland. It means that a difference
of 100% between the incomes of a rich father and a poor father is
reduced to 46% difference between their sons' incomes. Among the 22
countries studied, Peru, China and Brazil have the lowest economic
mobility with inter-generational elasticity of 0.67, 0.60 and 0.58
respectively. The highest economic mobility is offered by Denmark
(0.15), Norway (0.17) and Finland (0.18).
The author also looked at Gini coefficient of each country and found
reasonably good correlation between Gini and intergenerational income
More evidence of upward mobility is offered by recent Euromonitor
market research indicating that Pakistanis are seeing rising disposable incomes. It says that there
were 1.8 million Pakistani households (7.55% of all households) and 7.9
million Indian households (3.61% of all households) in 2009 with
disposable incomes of $10,001 or more. This
translates into 282% increase (vs 232% in India) from 1995-2009 in
households with disposable incomes of $10,001 or more. Consumer spending
in Pakistan has increased at a 26 percent average pace
the past three years, compared with 7.7 percent for Asia, according to Bloomberg
3. East Pakistan Debacle:
Critics love to point out Pakistan's break-up in 1971 as evidence of failure of Jinnah's Pakistan.
They lavish praise on Bangladesh and scold Pakistan as part of the annual ritual a few days before Quaid-e-Azam's birthday every year.
Economic gap between East and West Pakistan
in 1960s is often cited as a
key reason for the secessionist movement led by Shaikh Mujib's Awami
League and the creation of Bangladesh in 1971. This disparity has grown
over the last 40 years, and the per capita income in Pakistan now stands
at more than twice Bangladesh's in 2012 in nominal dollar terms, higher than 1.6
Here are some figures from Economist magazine's EIU 2013:
Bangladesh GDP per head: $695 (PPP: $1,830)
Pakistan GDP per head: $1,410 (PPP: $2,960)
Pakistan-Bangladesh GDP per head Ratio: 2.03 ( PPP: 1.62)
4. Poverty, Hunger, Other Socioeconomic Indicators:
Pakistan's employment growth has been the highest in South Asia region
since 2000, followed by Nepal, Bangladesh, India, and Sri Lanka in that
order, according to a recent World Bank report titled "More and Better Jobs in South Asia"
employment in South Asia (excluding Afghanistan and Bhutan) rose from
473 million in 2000 to 568 million in 2010, creating an average of just
under 800,000 new jobs a month. In all countries except Maldives and Sri
Lanka, the largest share of the employed are the low‐end self-employed.
Pakistanis have higher graduation rates in education
and suffer lower levels of hunger and poverty than Indians and Bangladeshis.
Pakistanis spend more time in schools and colleges and graduate at a
higher rate than their Indian counterparts in 15+ age group, according
to a report on educational achievement by Harvard University researchers
Robert Barro and Jong-Wha Lee
Here is a summary of Barro-Lee's 2010 data in percentage of 15+ age group students who have enrolled in and-or completed primary, secondary and tertiary education:
According to the latest world hunger index
rankings, Pakistan ranks 57 while India and Bangladesh are worse at 65 and 68 among 79 countries ranked by International Food Policy Research Institute in 2012.
|World Hunger Index 2012
The latest World Bank data
shows that India's poverty rate of 27.5%, based on India's current poverty line of $1.03 per person per day
, is more than 10 percentage points higher than Pakistan's 17.2%
Assam (urban), Punjab and Himachal Pradesh are the only three Indian
states with similar or lower poverty rates than Pakistan's.
Clearly, Pakistanis have not lived up to Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah's vision
of a tolerant and democratic Pakistan where the basic rights of all of its citizens, including religious and ethnic minorities, are fully respected. Popular Pakistani columnist Ardeshir Cowasjee
put it well when he wrote: "Fortunately for him, Jinnah did
not live long enough to see his dream betrayed by men unworthy even to
utter his name. He died before total disillusionment could set in
(though he had his suspicions that it was on its way) and broke his
heart. From what we know of him, he was that rare being, an
incorruptible man in all the many varied meanings of the word
corruption, purchasable by no other, swayed by no other, perverted by no
other; a man of honor, integrity and high ideals. That the majority of
his countrymen have been found wanting in these qualities is this
I do think, however, that all of the available and credible data and indicators confirm the fact that Muslims in Pakistan are not only much better off than they are elsewhere in South Asia, they also enjoy higher economic and social mobility
than their counterparts in India and Bangladesh.
Upwardly Mobile Pakistan
Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah's Vision of Pakistan
Rising Tide of Intolerance in Pakistan
Muslims-New Untouchables in India
Violent Conflict Marks Pakistan's Social Revolution
Economic Mobility in Pakistan
Poverty Across South Asia
Graduation Rates in Pakistan
Introspection of Pakistan's Creation