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naveen mishra

Mar 1, 2013
Splitting India - Viewpointonline

There are two philosophical standpoints from which one can support or oppose societal events and situations, one absolutist, the other utilitarian. The former stands for a categorical rejection of the principle of partition as a solution to national disputes while the latter has to do with pragmatism with regards to the pros and cons of partitioning territory to solve national disputes.

Let me admit that although partitioning territory to solve disputes between adversarial nationalist movements and parties is not something I am intellectually comfortable with because it validates tribalism rather than human empathy and solidarity for building community, at times it is the only solution which is morally and practically correct. Partitioning former Sudan to let the Black Africans escape genocide at the hands of the putative Arabs of northern Sudan was an appropriate solution; East Timor getting out of the clutches of the Indonesian state has also been the best option. I hope one day the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank are liberated from brutal Israeli rule.

However, I don't think the partition of India and of Bengal and Punjab belong to the category of intractable disputes that could not have been managed through appropriate democratic arrangements. The so-called Hindu-Muslim problem that dominated politics in British India from the twentieth century onwards till it culminated in the biggest forced migration of people in history and one of the most horrific cases of genocide and ethnic cleansing- 14-18 million forced to flee and between 1-2 million killed - left large minorities in both states. The only difference being that in India the Muslim minority could stay put after some three per cent of the Muslims from Muslim-minority areas migrated to Pakistan but Hindus and Sikhs had to leave almost to the last man in Punjab and the settled areas of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Very few could stay behind in the tribal areas and in Balochistan. It was only in interior Sindh that a community of some significance could remain behind. Not surprisingly, such upheaval bequeathed a bloody and bitter legacy of fear and hatred to India and Pakistan. The three wars and the Rann of Kutch and Kargilminiwars and constant tension along the Line of Control drawn in the former Jammu and Kashmir State has meant not only huge, wasteful expenditure on military and defence but also a profoundly vitiating impact on democracy, development and pluralism.

The Muslim League's demand for the partition of India was initiated by Viceroy Linlithgow in March 1940 when he instructed Sir Muhammad Zafrulla to convey to the League leadership that the government wanted them to demand separate states. The colonial government was hoping to checkmate the Indian National Congress's ambition to force a British withdrawal from India while WW II was raging and the British had suffered their first defeat in more than 200 years at the hands of an Asian power -the Japanese, who forced a humiliating surrender in Singapore in February 1940. It is not important who is the real author of the two-nation theory but there can be no doubt that the idea of separate states for Muslims was born in the viceroy's office. Let me say that the British were not at all thinking of partitioning India at that time nor was the Muslim League confident that such an idea could be realized without major upheavals taking place.

In these series of articles I am not going to present my version of how India and the two Muslim-majority provinces were partitioned or why. I am going to present some arguments to suggest that it was not necessarily the best solution for anyone, especially the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent. In this regard I must invoke MaulanaAbulKalam Azad's forebodings that a partitioned India would mean a partitioned Muslim community and it would help Hindu nationalism in India while creating a Pakistan that would get embroiled in sectarian conflicts and become easy bait to the West. The JamiatUlema-e-Hind had a similar standpoint. Consequently, important sections of the Muslim population of India had reservations against the partition, though by 1945 a large majority had begun to support the idea of Pakistan.

Let me list my objections and reservations on the three partitions:

The so-called Hindu-Muslim problem was not really solved by the partition: it simply converted it into an India-Pakistan confrontation with wars that resulted in disastrous consequences for democracy, development and pluralism. In India, it created a discourse of Muslim betrayal during the freedom struggle, which was then held against the Muslims who remained in India (nearly as many as were in West Pakistan, now Pakistan). In Pakistan, it generated the intractable controversy about who is a Muslim. As we know each attempt to define a Muslim has meant more people being excluded from that category on the basis of them holding beliefs contrary to the beliefs of a particular sect or sub-sect. In both cases it gave impetus to majoritarian nationalism, which has since then preyed on the minorities as unwanted, fifth columnists. Indian Muslims are routinely demonized in RSS, Shiv Sena and other members of the SanghPariwar of Hindu extremists while in Pakistan we have effectively been making life difficult for the miniscule Hindu minority. There is, however, a fundamental difference. The Indian constitution and legal system do not discriminate between religious groups when it comes to their political rights. In Pakistan they do.

The demographic structure of pre-partition India was such that no group had absolute majority. The rough percentage was 7: 4 Muslims (200 million Hindus 90 million Muslims). Now, the Hindu group was stratified into at least three caste compartments: the three upper castes of Brahmins, Kshytrias and Vaishyas (15-20 percent), and the other backward classes or castes (some 50 per cent at least), comprising various farming and other communities, quite powerful locally in different parts of India, and the so called scheduled castes and tribes (22.5 per cent).

Among the three Hindu caste compartments there were some shared religious and cultural features but also demarcations, so all Hindus somehow as one body oppressing all Muslims was very unlikely. On the contrary, it meant that Hindus needed to continue reforming and modernizing towards greater equality. The Muslims were at least 25 per cent of the population, dispersed everywhere and concentrated in two very significant geo-strategic zones of north-eastern and north-western India. The Muslims were not a compact group either. Differences of sect and ethnicity existed even among them. Then there were millions of Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and so on. Additionally, there were regional leaders and parties. All this prepared India for a grand experiment in pluralist democracy where it would have been in the best interest of the groups and sub-groups to work together in power sharing and sharing of resources.

Contrary to a widely held view that Muslims everywhere lagged behind Hindus and Sikhs in employment, the fact is that the Muslims (especially Punjabis and Pathans) constituted some 36-40 per cent of the British Indian Army. In the Muslim minority province of UP more than 50 per cent of the police were Muslims as compared to the 17 per cent of their population strength. In both Bengal and Punjab, which had Muslim majorities the police were Muslim in far greater numbers than their proportion of the population. Thus for example in the Punjab 73 per cent of police was Muslim as against only 57.1 per cent of their population strength. The British always employed minorities in the police and military, for obvious reasons. In other branches of the administration the Muslim percentage was increasing though Hindus and Sikhs were ahead of them. Sir Fazl-e-Hussain had introduced quotas for Muslims in some important educational institutions and that had helped the steady increase in percentage of educated Muslims .

Muslims who went to school and sought employment had a fair opportunity to find one. The problem was that the negative Muslim state of mind induced in the aftermath of the 1857 uprising which brought to an end even symbolic Muslim suzerainty over India, and the propaganda of the ulema that Western education would mean Muslims converting to Christianity prevented the Muslims from taking to education whole-heartedly. The British brought with them a new economic order based on banking, investments, stock exchange - all considered inappropriate in dogmatic Islamic terms. The Hindus and Sikhs made use of the new opportunities and moved ahead. I know many Muslim families of Lahore whose elders educated themselves and were as successful as Hindus and Sikhs in acquiring property and were part of the elite.

No doubt commercialization of agriculture resulted in the Muslim peasantry getting trapped in debts to moneylenders. The alternative was the landlord who extracted more out of the peasants through unpaid services on his lands and in his household and the Muslim peasants preferred to go to the Hindu karar or moneylender who was a local person who offered loans on quite reasonable terms. Some moneylenders were extortionists but not all. In any case, the debt burden was a problem in the Punjab and Sir Chhotu Ram, the leader of the Punjab Unionist Party introduced legislation in 1937 which cancelled past debts. However, that did not mean the needs of the peasants for capital also came to an end. Money-lending continued through Muslim front men but as an institution it was certainly greatly weakened and modern banks began to be established in the Punjab.

When the focus of the Muslim separatist movement shifted from northern India, (where the Muslim landed elite was its main protagonist) to the Muslim-majority provinces of north-western India in 1940, the creation of Pakistan began to be presented as a way of ending Hindu domination, at least in areas where Muslims were in a majority - i.e. the north-western and north-eastern zones of the subcontinent. The partition riots resulted in Hindus and Sikhs being expelled from the Muslim majority provinces of north-western India and thus a lot of businesses and property came into the hands of Muslims. It also meant that Muslims found space to make upward mobility which was obstructed while these non-Muslims were based there.

I sometimes wonder if those who consider this as a legitimate solution to Muslim poverty ever think of how it would affect Muslims and other immigrants in the West if anti-immigration parties succeed in expelling immigrants on grounds of property and jobs that ought to be made available to the indigenous white population to solve the problem of unemployment. I am sure no Muslim in Europe who has worked hard and made progress would consider it a fair and legitimate way of bringing relief to unemployed Europeans. Some people argue that the Pakistan movement was a class struggle between Hindu and Sikh haves and Muslim have-nots. This is at best vulgar Marxism. The landlord class was the mainstay of the Muslim League and to believe they were allies in a liberation struggle to establish a fairer society is sheer lunacy.

One thing more, let's suppose that the partitions of Punjab and Bengal had not taken place even if India had been partitioned. That would have meant the Hindus and Sikhs retaining their properties in Pakistan. How would that have solved the problem of Muslim economic backwardness in one go except by confiscating the properties of non-Muslims. The other way would be to help Muslims get interested in education despite their reservations. That was already happening in undivided India in the Muslim-majority provinces and would have continued had India remained united. India was never ever conceived as a unitary state. It was going to be a federation. Thus the partition of these two provinces only helped a quicker change of property ownership from Hindu-Sikh to Muslim hands by driving the Hindus and Sikhs out.

The fact is that the Hindus and Sikhs took to western education and adjusted to the modern capitalism economy with ease and thus progressed economically. They worked hard and acquired wealth. They did not steal it from Muslims who were negatively inclined towards modern education as well as modern business and commerce. The moneylender developed in the context of the new economy of commercial crops and since Muslims were not willing to move into it, the Hindus and Sikhs did. Sir Chhotu Ram's reforms of 1937 to a large extent weakened the moneylenders and with modern banking their relevance decreased even more. So, efforts were underway to rectify such lopsided economic relations. On the other hand, research shows that the landlords (mostly Muslims) used to lend capital informally to the peasants and exploit them even more completely by making them work for them on their lands and making their womenfolk serve in the household. The landlord, the true parasite never got identified as an exploiter the same way as the moneylender.

In my article dated 20 September 2012, I had inadvertently given February 1940 as the date for the fall of Singapore. It was February 1942. That mistake, however, does not detract from the fact that the British were determined from the very start of WW II, and especially after the Congress ministries resigned in September 1939, to crush any challenge to their hold over the Indian empire which was a matter of great pride for them and a major supplier of troops for the war. These resignations were a major Congress miscalculation whose damage to their political influence was second only to the even more disastrous Quit India movement they launched in August 1942. These two decisions greatly undermined their ability to influence the course of the freedom struggle as all their cadres were incarcerated from August 1942 to June 1945.

During that absence from the political arena the Muslim League swept the key north-western provinces of Punjab and Sindh and made inroads into NWFP with their message that the creation of Pakistan would bring to an end the tyranny of the caste system and the economic exploitation of the moneylender. Thus the creation of Pakistan appeared to be a rational choice to the Muslims and they expressed it in the 1946 provincial elections when they voted overwhelmingly in favour of Pakistan. The Congress got the general votes including those of Hindus, Christians, Jains and others for a united India and the Sikhs of Punjab voted for the Panthic parties that wanted the Punjab partitioned, if India was partitioned. Such polarization meant that negotiations on the future of India were headed for a deadlock and the failure of the Cabinet Mission Plan of May 1946 confirmed that. Nehru's ill-considered July press conference in Bombay saying that the Congress would 'enter the Constituent Assembly unfettered by agreements and free to meet all situations as they arise' provoked an angry reaction from Jinnah who gave the call for direct action. The violence that broke out in Calcutta in August 1946 followed by more violence in Bihar, Garhmukhteshwar in UP and then Hazara district of KP finally engulfed the Punjab in March 1947.

Under the circumstances, Viceroy Lord Louis Mountbatten's 3 June 1947 Partition Plan to which Nehru, Jinnah, Baldev Singh and others tamely acquiesced was premised on an entirely false assumption: that the transfer of power would be peaceful. The warnings of Punjab's Governor Sir Evan Jenkins did not warrant such complacency at all.

The whole thing was based on a woefully flawed concept: while civil and military officialdom would have the choice to opt either for India or Pakistan the ordinary people would stay put! Mahatma Gandhi alone among all the leaders could sense that rivers of blood would flow and warned about it. On the other hand, Sardar Patel was prepared to let the Sikh leaders have a free hand in driving the Muslims of East Punjab out, though he probably did not realize that they were planning to use it to create, for the first time in history, a compact Sikh majority in some parts of East Punjab. Later, the Khalistan movement, which emerged in the 1980s, came to haunt the Indian state. Equally, since March 1947, local and Punjab-level Muslim League leaders were complicit in the attacks on the Hindus and Sikhs in the western districts. Neither Jinnah nor Liaquat Ali Khan took any steps to warn the Muslims of East Punjab that on 23 June 1947 the Punjab Assembly had voted to partition the province and a grave possibility existed of rioting. It is impossible to believe that they were not in the know of what was happening in the Punjab. On the other hand, the Congress leaders kept telling Lahore's Hindus and Sikhs to stay put as that city would be given to India, even when the Muslims were in a majority of 60 per cent there. All these details, along with extensive interviews with survivors are fully covered in my book, The Punjab Bloodied, Partitioned and Cleansed (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2012).

In this regard, let me address a major criticism some readers have made of my argument that the partition of India was not necessarily the best option for Muslims. They have pointed out that the Indian Muslims have remained one of the poorest groups in secular India. Therefore the creation of Pakistan was necessary to save the Muslims from permanent Hindu domination. In principle this is a compelling argument in favour of creating Pakistan, but it needs to be put into perspective.

Mr Jinnah had prepared his brief on a separate Pakistan on the basis of categorical rejection that a Hindu-majority government could ever be fair to the Muslims. When he was asked what would happen to the most vulnerable, deprived and poor sections of Muslims from Muslim-minority provinces if they were left behind in India, he had asserted that one-third of Muslims should not prevent two-thirds of them escaping Hindu domination. It was a typical utilitarian argument deriving from the notion of the greatest good of the greatest number rather than the greatest good of all. However, in August 1947 when some reporters asked him before he left Delhi for Karachi as to what message he wanted to give to the Muslims who would remain behind he said that they should become loyal Indian citizens and he expected the Indian government to treat them fairly. His line of argument had thus changed fundamentally - it acknowledged that a Congress government (upper-caste Hindu dominated) could treat them fairly.

As I said in my previous article, only three per cent of the Muslims from the Muslim-minority provinces of northern India, mainly the intelligentsia migrated to Pakistan. The RSS, Hindu Mahasabha and many Hindu and Sikh refugees who had lost family and property in what became Pakistan wanted each and every Muslim driven out of India. Mahatma Gandhi's last fast-unto-death was not only to press the Indian government to pay Pakistan Rs 550 million as its rightful share of the colonial treasury, but also to insist that the campaign to expel Muslims should cease. It culminated with his assassination at the hands of Nathu Ram Godse, but it compelled the Indian government to adopt strict measures to prevent attacks on Muslims. I must give full credit to Jawaharlal Nehru that while he was prime minister he tried his best to protect the Muslims.

It is not possible to explain in detail in a media column why Congress governments after Nehru deviated from their protective policy towards Muslims. Suffice it to say that after Mrs Indira Gandhi came to power Nehruvian secularism became less of a matter of principle and more of expediency and electoral calculation. Later Congress governments were led by men of straw and the Babri Mosque attack by BJP goons in December 1992 could take place because the Congress government of MrNarasimha Rao remained passive. It is only after MrManmohan Singh came to power that the sad plight of the Muslim minority was given some attention. The Sachar Committee appointed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2006 submitted a 403-page report which stated that the status of Indian Muslims was somewhere between Hindu OBCs (other backward castes) and the scheduled castes and tribes. No doubt this has happened because discrimination takes place against the Muslims in a systematic manner even though formal (constitutional) secularism does not discriminate between citizens on the basis of their creed or ethnicity.

However, here too we need to consider some complications. The Muslims of northern India have always consisted of two distinct groups: the high-born ashraaf who claim descent from forbears of foreign origin and the vast majority who are converts from the lower rungs of Hindu society. I have seen reports which name Muslim zamindars and taalukdars of northern India who were active in the struggle for Pakistan, but when partition took place they stayed on to retain ownership of their properties. Some of them later sold off their land and other assets and then migrated to Pakistan or to the West. Some devised novel ways of having the best of both words. Nothing compares to the genius of Raja Sahib Mahmudabad, famous as the financier of the Muslim League and one of the closest associates of Mr Jinnah. He left his son and wife in Mahmudabad while he shifted to Pakistan with his daughters. The Indian government had impounded his vast property worth currently Rs 30,0000 million on grounds that it was 'enemy property' since he had migrated to Pakistan. His son contested the case saying that he was the rightful heir as his father had transferred his property to him before he shifted to Pakistan. In 2005 the Indian Supreme Court restored the properties to him. So, the rich and powerful were not hit by the calamity of the partition. NawabzadaLiaqat Ali Khan did lose his estate in eastern Punjab as did NawabMamdot but that happened because the Sikhs and Congress joined hands to force the partition of Punjab on the same lines on which the Muslim League had demanded that India should be partitioned - on the basis of contiguous religious majorities in some parts of the subcontinent and its provinces. The same happened to Muslim-majority Bengal.

It is therefore the Muslims from artisanal and landless working backgrounds - Muslim Dalits - who potentially would suffer most from a partitioned India. Historically they were always despised by the ashraaf. I have read both Barelvi and Deobandi texts where the superiority of the ashraaf has been justified on grounds that they alone represent true Islam. Of course there are exceptions especially in Deobandi writings. In this regard I might as well add that traditional Shia social and political theory is even more hierarchical than that of the Sunnis. In Pakistan we practice caste prejudices but pretend that since Islam has no caste there is no caste oppression among us. Moreover, caste-like discrimination and persecution in Pakistan has also taken a sectarian form and our wrath is directed against all those we classify as non-Muslims.

At any rate, when the Muslim intelligentsia left for Pakistan the ulema, whose standard refrain has always been that Muslims should not integrate into mainstream society because that would dilute their Islamic identity, took over the leadership of the poorer sections of Muslim society. Instead of encouraging them to get a modern education they fostered a siege mentality and tried to insulate the Muslims from modernizing social trends. Consequently the level of education among these poor Muslims is very low, even lower than the Dalits, who because of the reservation system, have been helped to get education and jobs. A movement has now started gaining pace among Muslims of artisanal and Dalit backgrounds demanding that they too should be included in the reservation system. It remains to be seen if the Indian government would extend them that 'privilege'. The Sachar Report stopped just short of recommending it; it instead recommended special educational inputs from the government to help the Muslims. I need not overemphasize that the RSS and other Sang Parivar groups are always opposed to Muslims being included in the reservation policy. The attacks on Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 were also masterminded by these groups.

Here, I pose a moral question: are we in Pakistan prepared to help such vulnerable Muslims? All I know is that we have not even accepted the Biharis who sided with Pakistan during the 1971 civil war in the former East Pakistan. Unlike Israel which welcomes all Jews from anywhere in the world to settle in Israel, because it is a state created for the Jewish people, we have no open-door policy for oppressed Indian Muslims. So our moral concern for them is hypocritical. There is a way to bring to an end their agony: let us open our arms and welcome them. Let us declare that the 180 million Indian Muslims are entitled to enter Pakistan and become its citizens because Pakistan was created to protect them from Hindu domination and discrimination. The fact is many won't because I know the secular-minded Muslims find Pakistan a difficult proposition as they are used to a less conformist lifestyle than what exists in contemporary Pakistan. Still millions might want to migrate to Pakistan because they may believe that as an Islamic state it would be fair to them.

The Sindhis would assail my solution, saying that they have had bitter experience with an open embrace to the Mohajirs - it resulted in them (Sindhis) effectively being sidelined and marginalized in the towns and cities of Sindh, including Karachi and Hyderabad. On the other hand, the Mohajirs now realize that given their smaller numbers they would in the long run be swept away by the much bigger nationalities of Pakistan. They feel beleaguered and threatened. Consequently, if there is no scope for Indian Muslims to find refuge in Pakistan then we can only hope that enlightened Indian rulers would protect the Indian Muslims just as Mahatma Gandhi wanted and Nehru tried. I see no other option to this sad legacy of a partitioned India. ?

A reader has pointed out that in my first article dated 20 September, I had given the wrong Hindu–Muslim ratio: 7: 4. I regret this error and it should be 9: 4, though even that is questionable as the official statistics from the 1941 census for the whole of India including the hundreds of princely states return 24.9 percentage of Muslim population. In the British administered areas the Muslim percentage went up slightly. In any case, the Muslims were between one-fourth and one-third of the total population of India.

Another reader has argued that Mr Jinnah was an ardent nationalist and it was Gandhi and Nehru who antagonized him and therefore they bear the responsibility for what happened later. This type of blame-game is the favourite haunt of nationalist historians whose heroes and villains are all too well-known. I am a political scientist and although I am examining the history of the partition of India I am not doing it as a historian. I do feel a bit sad when I am described as a historian. For me the partition of India and of Bengal and Punjab are processes with both intended and unintended consequences. No doubt leaders at the top and the games going on at the level of high politics played a very important role in determining the direction history would move in and it moved towards partition. But leaders are embedded in social and political webs and are trapped by their own doings and moves. This is what I proffer in the theory I have propounded to explain the partition of the Punjab in my book, ThePunjab Bloodied, Partitioned and Cleansed. For me the partition of India, Bengal and Punjab is inexplicable without British strategic interests being brought into the analysis.

Let me state my case very, very candidly – the demand for the partition of India and the creation of Muslim states was originally masterminded by Lord Linlithgow who had his views conveyed to the Muslim League in great secrecy through Sir Muhammad Zafrulla, who was a member of the Viceroy Council and one of the most trusted friends of Great Britain. From 23 March 1940 onwards, the Muslim League never wavered even for a moment from its demand for separate states for the Muslims of India (which soon afterwards crystallized around one state, Pakistan) and anyone who seriously reads the speeches of Mr Jinnah would have no problem in identifying that he consistently and constantly laid stress on the Hindu-Muslim dichotomy. He was always ready for a peaceful settlement, but for him that was to partition India on a religious basis.

The truth is that two Congress decisions proved to be colossal mistakes: resigning the ministries in September 1939 and then the ill-fated Quit India movement of August 1942 whose chief merit was that the Congress was nowhere around to make a difference while the Muslim League filled that space and secured a mandate from the Muslims of India for a separate state. Had the Congress not earned the contempt and wrath of the British who considered the lack of support during the war as a betrayal that was tantamount to treason, the course of history would have been very different.

However, we need to step back some years to understand where things began to go wrong before they became impossible to repair. In this regard, I would like to draw attention to the 1928 Motilal Nehru Report. There was broad participation in its preparation. From the Punjab, Maulvi Abdul Qadir, grandfather of ex-foreign minister MrKhurshid Mahmud Qasuri, took part in its preparation. It had three main elements: there will be no state religion; men and women will have equal rights as citizens; and India will be a federation with a strong centre. The conflict between Mr Jinnah and the Congress leaders was over weightage and separate electorates. Such problems can be made sense of only if one assumes that the right to vote would be restricted on the basis of property ownership and education. Till 1947 roughly only 11 percent had the right to vote in India. But if instead universal adult franchise had been adopted, as the Congress proposed – I have not seen any Muslim League document supporting universal adult franchise – the Muslim majorities in north-western and north-eastern India would have been permanent and irrevocable and thus the advantage the Hindus enjoyed in these areas because of greater ownership of property would have become redundant and obsolete. Scholars have not looked into this aspect of the conflict between Mr Jinnah and the Congress leadership.

Now, once all men and women are given equal citizenship writes theological Hinduism becomes a dead horse. It is the end of the dreadful Manusmriti, which apologetic Hindus now tell me was never the only social code that defined stratification of Hindu caste hierarchy. To them I say other regional codes were even worse (except some anti-caste remnants of the Bhakti-inspired and other such non-conformist movements) such as those in some areas of South India where to see an untouchable meant one got polluted. So, those unfortunate creatures had to come out only when night had fallen to the villages, if they had to. Hinduism has over the centuries lost members to other religions which in principle offered greater equality to them and that include Islam, Christianity and Sikhism and then Buddhism after DrAmbedkar in 1956 decided to convert with thousands of his followers to that religion.

But was the Congress Party at any stage making a case for a Hindu India based on the caste system? I have not found any evidence of it but would welcome any corrections. In this regard the most vilified Congress leader on the caste question is undoubtedly Gandhi. As Perry Anderson has pointed out he did speak about the righteousness of the caste system on a number of occasions. But, there is the counterfactual too. In 1920, Gandhi spoke at the Harijan Congress and this is what he said:

‘We describe the government (British) as Satanic because of some of its policies but what restraint have we exercised in oppressing our untouchable brethren? We force them on their knees. We make them rub their noses in the dust. With red-shot eyes indicating our anger we force them out of railway compartments. We have become untouchables for the British because we have created untouchables in our own midst. The fact is that those who make others slaves, suffer the most themselves because of slavery. If I am to be born again then I would like to be born an untouchable so that I can experience and share their pain, problems and humiliation and then an occasion may come when I can convince them to struggle for their liberation.

The original book is in English and I have it in Stockholm. Here I have translated it from the Urdu translation,GandhijikeeGhairMamuliQyadat’ by Ambassador Pascal Alain Nazereth, Delhi: Urdu Academy, 2013. Here I find Gandhi practically subverting orthodox Hinduism, and it is not surprising that the Hindu extremists made three attempts on his life before getting him finally in January 1948.

There is no doubt that DrAmbedkar was very suspicious of Gandhiji. He felt Gandhi had blackmailed him into accepting that his community was an integral part of the Hindu social system and thus deprived the Dalits of separate electorates. I would not challenge DrAmbedkar’s assertion, but would like to add the following, once again from my vantage point of a political scientist. Unlike the Muslims who could press for separation from the rest of India in places where they were in majority – in north-western and north-eastern India the Dalits were everywhere but nowhere in a majority. They were roughly 15 to 20 per cent in all the regions of India. In political terms, for such a community the only way to find relief is through vertical movement upwards and not horizontal movement in a separatist direction. Therefore the 1932 Poona Pact between Gandhi and Ambedkar was the best option for them – unless one believed that the British would remain in India forever and take care of their interests.

People who assail Gandhiji have to explain something else too. DrAmbedkar was never a member of the Congress Party and in fact remained hostile to Indian freedom under the leadership of that Party. However, he was made the chairman of the Constitution Committee. How? First of all the Constituent Assembly elected in 1946 had a clear Congress majority which became even greater when the Muslim League members shifted to the Pakistan Constituent Assembly after the partition. Reportedly Gandhiji suggested Ambedkar’s name to chair the constitution committee. Nehru reacted by saying it was not possible to make him the chairman when he was not a member of the Congress Party, but had opposed it all his life. Gandhiji then said, ‘Jawaharlal, are we making the constitution for India or for the Congress Party?’ That settled the matter. Now even if this story is a fabrication someone has to explain how DrAmbedkar could have become the chairman of the constitution committee if the Congress Party had opposed him.

But Gandhi’s greatest passion was Hindu-Muslim unity. Here again I have found both rightwing critics and left-liberal detractors saying that he was a fraud. I have with me a recorded interview with Syed Ahmed Saeed Kirmani who attended one of the Morning Prayer meetings of Gandhi which began with a recitation from the Quran, followed by similar reading from the Bible and the Gita. MrKirmani said that he was profoundly touched by that experience and he found it very genuine. I need not remind the readers that MrKirmani was a student leader of the Muslim Student Federation which was the student wing of the Muslim League. He has remained convinced that it was important for Pakistan to come into being. That is his right and I respect it.

Gandhiji was simply trying to establish the equality of all faiths and one God at the centre of their worship. If he was doing this all as a trick to make the Muslims agree to keep India united then that façade should have ended when despite his best efforts India was partitioned and India and Pakistan emerged as two antagonist neighbouring states. All his efforts had been in vain. There was no need then to go on fasting to ensure that Pakistan should have its due share of common colonial kitty and that Muslims who wanted to remain in India be given all the protection that any Indian citizen was entitled to. The homage paid to Gandhiji after his assassination on 30 January 1948 in the various Pakistani provincial legislative assemblies and in the Constituent Assembly is there for all to read. In Aftar Singh Bhasin’s 10-volume collection of India-Pakistan documents, India-Pakistan Relations, 1947-2007: A Documentary Study, New Delhi: Geetika Publishers; 2012, those proceedings can easily be read. Even Mr Jinnah called his sacrifice a great act of humanity and in the Constituent Assembly reference he graciously did not describe Gandhi as a great leader of the Hindu community. Gandhi died for the rights of those Muslims who had remained in India and there are very few examples in world history where someone gives his life for the community he is supposed to have been an enemy of.

I therefore do not find the Congress Party at any point in time seeking to impose a Hindu state on India. Once when Gandhi was asked what really Ram Raj was he said that there was no historical record of a government run by Ram, so it was only a metaphor for a good and chaste government. The only example he could think of a government based on Ram Raj was the governments of Hazrat Abu Bakr and Hazrat Umar. This statement is mentioned by AllamaShabbir Ahmed Usmani in the debate on the Objectives Resolution of 7 March 1949. I will be looking at that debate too in a forthcoming article in this series. Furthermore, Gandhiji said categorically that India would be a secular state with equal rights for all men and women. In fact the introduction of reservations in the Indian constitution for the Dalits and Adivasis (aboriginals) in my opinion is a major contribution to constitutional theory. It was all because of the the Gandhi-Ambedkar Poona Pact of 1932.

A Dalit, ShrimatiMayawati, has been elected four times as the chief minister of the biggest Indian state of Uttar Pradesh – the same population strength as Pakistan. From an orthodox Hindu point of view this is sacrilege; this is blasphemy. A Dalit should never have a right to vote and to have it on a par with a Brahmin is effectively a negation of the logic of the caste system. Imagine if all the Indian Muslims were also in a united India. It would have hastened the end of the caste system even quicker. No doubt the RSS and other rightwing Hindus, while hypocritically condemning Gandhi and Nehru for agreeing to the partition of India, are quite pleased that a very large portion of Muslims opted out of it and therefore their system of oppression can continue somewhat longer.

There is a philosophical debate as to whether by bringing religion into politics Gandhi created the basis for different sorts of religion-based nationalism. I shall be looking at it too, but once again all this is based on a flawed premise, which is that before he brought religion into politics, it was excluded from it. This is not true at all. The Hindu, Muslim and Sikh revivalist movements predate the emergence of Gandhi by at least 40-50 years. The Arya Samaj, BrahmoSamaj: Deoband’sReshmiRumal movement, the emergence of the Ahmadiyya movement with its theology radically breaking with Sunni and Shia beliefs and the response of the Sunni and Shia ulema to it; the conflicts within Sikhism over the control of the Gurdwaras and between the Sikhs and the Arya Samajists – all are pointers towards religion having very much arrived in Indian politics and in a very big way. The revivals were in fact religious nationalisms entering politics but in divisive ways. Gandhiji tried to convert such developments into an inclusive, essentially secular platform which sought to bring all faiths into a shared humanity.

As I argue my thesis that the partition of India, Bengal and Punjab was not necessarily the best option for Muslims – a point of view that in Pakistani nationalist historiography is inadmissible, to my very great surprise it has elicited quite bizarre reactions from some Indian readers. One of them, writing in the comments section after the publication of my second article dated 27 September 2013 considers me arguing my case in the same vein and wave-length as Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the head of the Jama’at-ud-Da’wah and formally of the defunct Lashkar-e-Tayyaba who advised Bollywood megastar Shahrukh Khan to migrate to Pakistan to rid himself of the cloud of suspicion he was under in India, despite being one of their most admired and loved artistes! This commentator asserts that the Indian constitution suffices to protect the rights of Muslims.

May I add that ShabanaAzmi and Javed Akhtar went public some years ago over their vain attempts to buy an apartment in Mumbai, the reason being that they are Muslims. The great thespian Dilip Kumar has been hounded by Shiv Sena for years. I need not say that these are very high profile Indian Muslims. The partition of India rendered every Indian Muslim a suspect for rightwing politicians. I have explained this at length in my earlier essays on this theme.

Another gentleman found my article accusative because I drew attention to the vulnerable position and depressed status of Indian Muslims. To my third article in the series dated 5 October 2013, one commentator alleges that “the article reeks of hatred and prejudice against Hindus. Don’t know where to start.” He goes on to claim he has never heard about Manusmitri!

I can help him to start with the mid-1940s, with a scene described vividly by Mr Dina Nath Malhotra, son of the publisher of the notorious tract, RangeelaRasul. The scene is from Nisbet Road Lahore, an upwardly mobile middle-class Hindu locality close to the heart of pre-partition Lahore’s cultural centre: Lakshmi Chowk and Royal Park:

“During the summer months in Lahore, young Hindu volunteers from good families used to haul trolleys of cool water, scented with kewraand sandal, on Nisbet Road and other areas, offering water in silver tumblers to every passer-by with courtesy. But it was limited to Hindus only. When any Muslim, even if decently dressed, came forward to get a glass of water, he was given water in a specially reserved inferior glass, the water being taken out from a bamboo funnel more than a yard long. This was most humiliating and repulsive. Such acts effectively made the Muslims feel discriminated against. Under the circumstances, it was inevitable that the exhortations of Jinnah had a telling effect on the mind of the Muslim community” (Malhotra, Dare to Publish, New Delhi, 2004: 59).

With regard to the Indian constitution let me say that a gap between a constitution as a theoretical instrument of rights and the actual practice of states has always existed, though over time if the political system adheres to constitutionalism then that gap narrows or even closes. I will give only a few examples. The US constitution (1787) famously declared that all men were created equal and endowed with equal rights, but till the mid-1960s racism was endemic in the southern states. African-Americans had to wage a protracted struggle to be included in the category of equal citizens. The French Revolution (1789) and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen ushered in the first democratic revolution in Western Europe, but it was not until 1945 that French women were granted the right to vote. The English arrogate themselves over the Magna Carta (1215) as the first constitutional instrument limiting the power of the king, which in 1769 was further strengthened by the English Bill of Rights but it was not until 1928 that the right to vote was granted to all men and women in Britain. As late as the 19th century a child of 12 caught stealing a loaf of bread could be hanged under British law.

The Indian constitution is indeed a great document and it goes to the full credit of the government of Jawaharlal Nehru that he helped get the evil practice of untouchability declared a penal offence in 1955. However, it would be naïve to imagine or believe that more than two thousand years of socialization into the doctrine of pollution and caste which divides Hindus into strict hierarchy no longer informs social attitudes and behavior. Attacks on Dalits take place all the time. There is a documentary film by K. Stalin on how widespread is the persecution and humiliation of Dalits in India. It is available on You Tube and anyone can see it. Prime Minister DrManmohan Singh has observed:

Even after 60 years of constitutional and legal protection and support, there is still social discrimination against Dalits in many parts of the country… Dalits have faced a unique discrimination in our society that is fundamentally different from the problems of minority groups in general. The only parallel to the practice of untouchability was apartheid. (28 December 2006, The Guardian, UK).

With regard to Indian Muslims, no doubt there is nothing in the Indian constitution which disqualifies them from enjoying citizenship on an equal basis with other Indians, but what do the facts tell us? In my article I have referred to the rabid anti-Muslim propaganda of Hindu extremist organizations such as the RSS and Shiv Sena, and I might as well add to that list the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal who together form the notorious nexus of SanghParivar, who constantly demonize Muslims as fifth columnists.

I also referred in my earlier article to the 2006 Sachar Report which found that Indian Muslims as a whole were a depressed community. It also reported that the Indian Muslims felt that they were subjected to systematic discrimination. Further, I drew attention to the infamous attack on the Babri Masjid in 1992 and the carnage of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002. Then what about the massacre of Sikhs in Delhi in 1984? It is clearly reminiscent of scenes that were enacted in Nazi Germany in the 1930s. An Indian friend of mine, a Sikh who served in the highest position in the Indian Foreign Service had to run for his life and sought refuge in a foreign embassy to save his life. I believe that the celebrated Sikh writer Khushwant Singh had to do the same. Let me develop this point even further. Attacks on Christians have also been taking place of and on. The horrendous attack on Father Staines and his family is one such case but not the only one.

Of course one can make a case about the slaughter of Muslims in 2002 and of Sikhs in 1984 as reactions to terrorism that some Indian Muslims, possibly with the backing of the Pakistani ISI, and of Khalistani Sikhs had carried out, but in civilized societies there is no scope for mob revenge attacks and with the state being complicit in it. Those guilty have to be put on trial and if found guilty, punished in accordance with the law of the land.

Once again, I set forth my argument: the partition lent legitimacy to religious nationalism. Pakistan succumbed to it rather easily and naturally despite the famous 11 August 1947 speech of Mr Jinnah. The situation today is so bad that the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan who till recently were being damned by the Pakistani media and politicians as RAW agents have now been conferred respectfully as “stakeholders” in the Pakistani state project! India will touch nadir if voters elect NarendraModi to the same office which was once occupied by Jawaharlal Nehru who led India towards democracy, secularism and progressive social reform.

I am convinced that in India most people are good and decent and common folk are able to accommodate religious and ethnic differences if given a chance. In fact one of the greatest strengths of Hinduism is that it has always let other religions go on with their belief systems. It has even tried to co-opt religious and spiritual leaders into its own traditions. The whole world can learn from this great capacity of Hinduism. On the other hand, Hinduism and Hindus must understand that the caste system effectively defeated any serious sense of community amongst them and it is because of that weakness that a handful of foreigners could come and exploit the divisions within Indian society and establish their rule. M J Akbar’s Siege Within (1985) has a long history and pedigree extending far back in time. It is the genius of Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru that they opted for secular democracy and thus a foundation was laid for not only formal democracy but also substantive democracy. A reformed and progressive Hinduism, just like Western European Christianity would be a lovely cultural system, but before that happens a great deal of effort is needed to move in that direction.

Let me take up another matter on which people want my response: the Khilafat Movement (1919-24) and Gandhiji’s support for it. It was launched by anti-imperialist Sunni Muslims to protest the ruthless policy of the victorious allies, especially British Prime Minister Lloyd George, to dismember the Ottoman Empire. When the war broke out, Indian Muslims were confronted with a veritable moral and religious crisis: how to continue associating themselves religiously with the caliphate while simultaneously maintaining good relations with their British rulers. A way out was found by agreeing to remain loyal to the British on the understanding that the caliphate will be spared and sovereignty over Muslim holy places in the Middle East continue to be vested in the Ottoman sultan.

However, an Arab revolt in 1916, masterminded by British agents such as the legendary Lawrence of Arabia, under the leadership of Sharif Hussein of Mecca hastened the defeat of the Turks – they would have lost otherwise too, but that is another matter. Indian Muslims felt cheated. Consequently many stepped forward to mobilize support for Turkey. Gandhiji was looking for an opportunity to bring Muslims into the fold of the nationalist movement – since the 1909 separate electorates system Indian Muslims were alienated from the freedom struggle; exceptions were of course there too. On the other hand, the Muslim felt that without the support of Hindu leaders and masses they could not challenge British authority. Gandhi declared the Khilafat cause just and offered his support. He was invited to join the All-India Khilafat Committee that was set up in 1919. He served for a while as its president.

Consequently, a genuine nationalist upsurge took place in which Muslims and Hindus joined ranks at all levels against colonial rule. SomAnand, a Lahori Hindu remembers its positive effects in the following words:

“[T]he first current of change was felt during the Khilafat movement in the early twenties. Though the spirit of Hindu-Muslim amity received many reverses in later years, at the social level the urban elite had changed its code of conduct for the better. This was due, in part, to Western education. What this change meant was evident in my father’s attitude. When he was young, my mother used to recall, he would come back to change his clothes if a Muslim had touched him while walking in the bazaar; but during my childhood in Model Town, my father had several Muslim friends and he considered my mother’s inhibitions a sign of backwardness” (Lahore: A Lost City, Lahore: Vanguard 1998: 3-5).

I therefore pose this question: Did support for the Khilafat movement generate Mullah power? Not that I know of. For a while radical Muslims were in the streets and some commotion took place, but it petered out on its own. Gandhiji’s politics was meant to bring Hindus, Muslims and all other communities into one fold. To support a cause that was dear to Indian Muslims was to act in the best spirits of solidarity with a community he wanted to be part of a grand Indian nation of equal men and women.

I think I should be winding up this series, or else it will go on and on. So, other aspects and details will have to wait for another round of essays. However, I feel obliged to explain, one, how British policy impacted the partition process; and two, where do we go from here. As a social and political scientist I am always interested in proposing measures that can be useful to policy makers.

I do apologize for addressing Madam Mayawati as Shrimati, which is a designation for a married lady. It was just a slip. I knew she never married. I was just trying to be respectful.

Another inaccuracy in my last article occurred with regard to the issue of universal adult franchise. It now seems that both Congress and the Muslim League were in its favour. This then renders the issue of separate electorates all the more meaningless because that would have effectively ensured Muslim majority in the north-western and north-eastern zones of India, so Hindu domination would become impossible. Even under the 11 per cent restricted vote the Muslim majority was never in danger, but with universal adult franchise any disadvantage to it deriving from property and educational qualifications was out of the question. The Motilal Nehru Report was thus the best solution for everyone.

Since I have shifted recently to Lahore from Stockholm all my books have been left behind except those I need to teach some courses; hence the mistake in not checking the Muslim League position. In any case, it is interesting to note that the British had granted universal adult franchise to its Sri Lankan colony already in 1931. Not granting it to India then must have been determined by other considerations.

After facing a tirade from Indian readers I must now confront an even more powerful onslaught from within Pakistan. The point which has generated most commotion is that I did not mention that the Pakistan demand goes far beyond 1940. For an informed public, as I believe The Friday Times readers are, to be reminded of the long pedigree of the idea of Pakistan is an insult. Some imaginative writers date the origins of the Pakistan idea to the arrival of Muhammad bin Qasim; on the way Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi, Aurangzeb Alamgir, Shah Waliullah and then in the 20th century the Kheiri brothers and so on. Many other protagonists of such an idea figure in histories of the Pakistan idea. In the chapter entitled ‘Genesis of the Punjab Partition 1900-1914’ (ibid, pages 52-53) of my Punjab book, Iqbal and Rahmat Ali are quoted verbatim because they were the most important before the March 1940 resolution. By saying that the idea of Pakistan originated in the office of the viceroy, I was dramatizing an important transformation: from merely an idea of aspirants to a political project sanctioned by the main power in India: the British. I should have made that point clear.

However, the main body of criticisms and attacks on the Internet – emails, Facebook and Twitter – has been launched by the hero-worshippers and admirers of Sir Muhammad Zafrulla Khan, Pakistan’s first foreign minister. To informed Pakistani readers it should not be surprising that Sir Zafrulla is demonized by some and lionized by others. In my book, The Punjab Bloodied, Partitioned and Cleansed (Oxford 2012, pages, 271-2), Zafrulla emerges as an outstanding counsel who pleaded the Muslim League’s case before the Punjab Boundary Commission pertaining to claims to territory in a partitioned Punjab. I have also presented the views of two leading Muslim Leaguers, Syed Ahmed Saeed Kirmani (Sunni) and Syed Afzal Haider (Shia) who attended the proceedings of the Boundary Commission. They give full marks to Zafrulla for presenting the Muslim League case with great competence and conviction. I even quote the counsel for the Congress Party, MrSetelvad, who paid glowing tributes to Zafrulla for his excellent brief. I did this not as a favour to Zafrulla, but as a scholar I have to be faithful to the findings of my research.

The problem of Zafrulla’s followers is that they are fostering a myth about him that does not stand the scrutiny of objective research. Let me begin with the most superlative eulogy to Zafrulla by Mr Hussain Nadim who wrote under the title, ‘Do we really need Jinnah’s Pakistan’ in the Daily Times dated 22 December 2012:

“[T]here needs to be a realisation that Jinnah was the ‘lawyer’ for the case of Pakistan. He argued for it, and won. However, Jinnah was never the visionary or a revolutionary strategic thinker to guide the course of the nation. If anybody at all in Muslim League was a strategic thinker, it was Sir Zafarullah Khan, who was also the author of the Lahore Resolution, which for the first time chalked out the idea of Pakistan. Khan, however, belonged to the then Islamic sect of Ahmadis and thus his role over the years was kept secret, until recently when documents and letters written by Lord Linlithgow revealed the centrality of his role. Hence, there should be a little less stress on ‘Jinnah’s Pakistan’, because honestly, there is none; and scratching out Jinnah’s vision forcefully has only served to confuse the people and obfuscate the roadway to progress”.

In an overall homage to Sir Zafrulla on his death anniversary by Moahmmad Ahmad: ‘A forgotten hero: Mohammad Zafrullah Khan’ in the Daily Times of 1 September 2013, he describes Mr Khan as ‘one of the greatest heroes of Pakistan’. He goes on to list his services to Islamic countries and takes up his historic speeches on Kashmir and Palestine. With regard to the Lahore Resolution he writes: ‘Mr Khan’s greatest contribution to the cause of Indian Muslims is his drafting of the Lahore Resolution, which is the rallying point of our nationalism as our founding document’.

However, one commentator wrote the following in the comments on my last article:

(The comment has been edited for clarity –TFT)

“Professor Ishtiaq Ahmed needs to read the correspondence between the Viceroy of India, Lord Linlithgow, and Secretary of State for India, Lord Zetland, that took place in the year 1940. I read that correspondence, preserved in the Viceroy’s Journal about 8 years ago at the British Library in London (which now houses the All India Office Library). The first letter on the Lahore Resolution was written by the Viceroy to Lord Zetland on the 26th of March. He mentions very clearly that he did not want an All India Muslim League meeting in Lahore to go ahead in the wake of the Khaksar tragedy which had taken place just a few days before. Sir Sikander Hayat, Premier of Punjab at that time, tried to persuade the Viceroy to convince Jinnah to postpone the session but made it explicit that it should not be disclosed to Jinnah that the suggestion had come from Sikander, because if Jinnah learnt of the source of the suggestion he would not accept it. The Viceroy sent Sir Zafrullah Khan to persuade Jinnah to postpone the Lahore session in the wake of the law and order situation prevailing in the city. The viceroy in his letter of 26th May clearly states that ZK went and tried to persuade Jinnah who listened to him patiently but refused to postpone the meeting. So much for the influence of Viceroy or ZK on Jinnah that Dr.Ishtiaq mentions in his article”.

It is to be noted that Mr Mohammad Ahmad has not mentioned the source on which he is basing his claim that Zafrulla drafted the Lahore Resolution. However, while MrNadim depicts Zafrulla as the “strategic thinker” who masterminded the Pakistan demand while Jinnah was merely the lawyer who pleaded the case of Pakistan, the commentator’s intervention effectively negates any role of Zafrulla and Linlithgow in the framing of the Lahore resolution. If at all these two played any role, according to the commentator, it was an unsuccessful attempt to dissuade Mr Jinnah from going ahead with the Lahore session of the Muslim League. The commentator gives the credit exclusively to Jinnah for the drafting and passing of the Lahore Resolution. Both claim to have read the same recent primary source material. So, who should we believe? Either Nadim or the commentator is dead wrong, or, both are. One can even wonder if this new information which the two gentlemen claim to have read is credible in its own right.

With regard to the source material I have used, it is WaliKhan’s,Facts are Facts (New Delhi: Vikas, 1987, pages 29-30). Wali Khan too has claimed that he sat in the British Library and researched the material on partition and found out that Linlithgow sent Zafrulla to tell the Muslim League to demand separate Muslim states.

If now, as many of his followers and admirers claim that Zafrulla did play the key role in the formulation of the Lahore resolution the question is, did he do so as a free agent? He was a member of the Viceroy’s Executive Council and such a position should effectively preclude him saying something that would jeopardize British interests. If not Linlithgow then some other British agency must have given him a nod to go ahead.

Another possibility is that the spiritual leadership of his Ahmadiyya community approved of such an idea and not the British directly? Such a possibility poses serious problems if one relies on available primary source material on it. Consider the following report of the Punjab Governor Sir Henry Craik, which he sent to the Viceroy Linlithgow two days after the Lahore Resolution, was moved:

I had an interesting talk this morning with Pir Akbar Ali, a Unionist member of our assembly, who belongs to the Ahmadiyya community…Pir Akbar Ali gave me two items of information, which may interest you. The Ahmadis, he said, have always considered the Khaksar Movement a dangerous one and not a single Ahmadi has joined it. The second item was that the Ahmadis as a body have not been allowed by the religious head of their movement to join the Muslim League. Akbar Ali himself has been allowed to join as a member of the Unionist Party for a term of six months only. The question whether his followers should be allowed to join the League is, I understand, shortly to be considered by the head of the community” (Carter, Punjab Politics, Strains of War, New Delhi 2005, page 101).

We can step back some years and consider another claim. It is that it was the efforts of the Ahmedis that Jinnah was brought back from Britain where he had settled and established a flourishing practice. There are counter claims that assert that Liaquat Ali Khan convinced Jinnah to return. Then we have those who say that it was Allama Iqbal who persuaded Jinnah to come back and lead the Muslims. Whose supplications actually convinced Mr Jinnah to return can be nothing more than mere speculation. With regard to the Ahmadi claim that they were in the forefront of the Pakistan movement the Munir Report does not uphold it. It states that the Ahmadis were wary and reluctant of the movement (presumably out of fear that they could be persecuted, which I think was a perfectly justified reason to hesitate) and after much prevarication it was only just before partition that the Ahmadi community reached the decision to support it (Munir Report, Lahore: Government Printing Press, 1954, page196).

I now present some additional criticisms of Zafrulla. Jinnah appointed him as the foreign minister of Pakistan. I am sure such a choice was based on his competence and brilliance, but the fact that he had powerful connections to Western leaders must also have played an important role. He was known as the Pet Indian. However, when Jinnah died on 11 September 1948, Zafrulla did not participate in his funeral prayers. The Munir Report testifies to that (page 199). Revisionist apologies have explained away Zafrulla’s decision by saying that since Shabbir Ahmed Usmani did not consider Ahmadis Muslims Zafrulla could not have offered prayers led by Usmani (Sunni-Deobandi).

From what I have heard, all sorts of Muslims took part in the public prayers arranged by the government and among them were Barelvis, Deobandis, Ahl-e-Hadith, Ahl-e-Quran and Shias, who ordinarily would prefer an alim of their own denomination to lead funeral prayers. They had no problem in standing behind Usmani because it was a very, very special occasion. Yet Zafrulla remained steadfast to the Ahmadiyya community’s practice of not taking part in such ceremonies because non-Ahmadis are not considered “Muslims” by the Ahmadis (Munir Report, page 199).

On the other hand, in the famous debate in the Pakistan Constituent Assembly on the Objectives resolution in March 1949, Zafrulla supported its Islamic features. I have read the whole text of the debate. AllamaShabbir Ahmed Usmani spoke after Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan. Zafrulla’s speech followed in which he deferred to the authority of Usmani. This happened at least half a year after the death of Jinnah. So Zafrulla has no problems speaking in support of a man behind whom he did not stand during the funeral rites of Jinnah! This was all politics. At that time the Cold War was raging and the Pakistani elite, which included Zafrulla, wanted Pakistan to take a categorical anti-secular stand and thus make credible its co-option in the anti-Soviet alignment in international politics.

If it is true that Zafrulla had no meaningful role in the drafting of the Lahore Resolution then the myth of Zafrulla as the great hero of Pakistan effectively bursts. A proper study of the role of Sir Zafrulla is needed in which all sides who have an opinion should be given a fair chance to present their views and the relevant official documents are examined and analysed.

A scathing criticism of Sir Zafrulla’s role as Pakistan’s foreign minister exists among Pakistani Leftists. He is accused of having served imperialist interests rather than that of progressive Muslims during the Cold War. This is what MianIftikhar-ud-din said in the Pakistan Constituent Assembly:

”I am pleased to announce that Sir Muhammad Zafrullah Khan is leaving us. The House will join me in congratulating Sir Muhammad Zafrullah Khan on a rumoured Eisenhower Prize and Churchill Medal to him for having successfully and finally committed his country, in private at least if not in public, to the permanent slavery not only of British Imperialism but also of the rising powerful imperialism of the U.S.A. He has no need now to control our foreign affairs as in future we shall have no foreign affairs. Our foreign affairs will be dictated and controlled by Britain and even so by America. Sir Zafrullah will now, I understand, be entrusted to these great powers with the task of enslaving other Islamic countries…

It is hoped that as a practised hand and one who has acquired great prestige by having represented the biggest Muslim State of the world in international affairs, he will perform this task to the satisfaction of his employers and no doubt to the full detriment of the future of the Islamic and Asiatic States and will succeed in enslaving as certainly and permanently as he has enslaved his own unhappy land”(Abdullah Malik (ed), Selected Speeches and Statements of MianIftikhar-ud-din, Lahore: Nigarishat, 1970, pages 103-104).

Indian and Pakistani historiography, nationalist and revisionist, tends towards the blame game. Perhaps the most successful work up to now has been Ayesha Jalal’s, The Sole Spokesman (1985). Its fundamental argument is that Jinnah never wanted partition. Rather, it was the Congress which forced the partition on Jinnah. While ultra-nationalist Pakistani historians were exercised by the fact that it severely undermined the originality of the demand for Pakistan, in India critics of Gandhi and Nehru in general and pro-BJP authors in particular relished it because it could be used ideologically to build a case against Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi. Indeed the Congress is not without blame and I have pointed out some major blunders such as the resignation of the Congress ministries in September 1939 and even more crucially the Quit India movement of August 1942 which effectively removed it from the political arena till June 1945. However, that Jinnah never wanted Pakistan is most certainly a myth. Any honest content analysis of his speeches from March 1942 till Pakistan came into being would not allow such an inference. Also, if one brings in British geostrategic interests in the partition into the analysis then one cannot tell a credible story without focusing on the complete picture. Intellectually such an approach is untenable. Another problem confronting serious research on the partition has been that the 12 volumes of the Transfer of Power, published by the British between 1970 and 1983, have been used selectively by Indian and Pakistani historians to tell a story suiting their script. These volumes are available only in a few universities and those too essentially in the UK. I spent a fortune in buying my own 12 copies, and what I found was very different from what the historians have been telling us.

With regard to the British writings on the partition, the aim has been mainly to highlight the role of their men as honest brokers wanting to close a deal between the Congress and the Muslim League that would leave India united in some form. The Cabinet Mission Plan of May 1946 is an example of that. However, of late a perverted British specialty has been to peep into bed chambers in search of new material. The famous Nehru-Edwina Mountbatten liaison has served that purpose well. A variation of it has been to ‘shed light’ on the alleged homosexual indulgences of some actors in the partition drama, thus adding more spice and scandal to it. All such literature makes for very interesting reading but is woefully inadequate at explaining the role of the British as the paramount power in the Indian subcontinent in the final outcome of the partition of India, Bengal and Punjab. To believe that the British would leave India without trying to ensure that their interests were safeguarded in the region is quite incredible when it comes to serious academic research. In fact the role of the United States and the former Soviet Union is also of great interest but in this series I shall focus only on the British role.

In this regard the publication of Narendra Singh Sarila’s, In the Shadow of the Great Game: The Untold Story of India’s Partition (New Delhi: HarperCollins and the India Today Group, 2005), is an exception. He brings into the picture the role of Britain as an imperial power in decline and the USA as the future leader of the Western world in ascent in relation to the partition. His thesis is that the British had been planning to partition India for a long time. My understanding is that they had been considering it as an option for a long time but remained opposed to it till at least March 1947. The reasons for it I have explained in my two recent books. My contention is that the decision to partition India was arrived at very late and it was the British military which was the main force behind it. I have already said in earlier articles that Viceroy Lord Linlithgow had encouraged the Muslim League’s separatist posture and Sir Zafrulla was the one who conveyed that to Mr Jinnah. The 23 March 1940 Lahore resolution was a product of that communication. I also said that at that stage it was only a pressure tactic. The fact is that the British military favoured a united India till at least May 1946. On 11 May 1946, Field Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck prepared a top secret note on ‘The Strategic Implications of the Inclusion of “Pakistan” in the British Commonwealth’. In a long and detailed study of the pros and cons of partitioning united India he concluded that it would not serve British interests in the Indian Ocean because Pakistan would be an economically and militarily weak state whereas a strong and independent Indian state (post-1947 India), estranged from Britain, could move closer to the Soviet Union. In the end of his report he summed up his position: If we desire to maintain our power to move freely by sea and air in the Indian Ocean area, which I consider essential to the continued existence of the British Commonwealth, we can do so only by keeping in [it] a United India which will be a willing member of that Commonwealth, ready to share its defence to the limit of her resources. (Transfer of Power, vol. VII, 1977: 806).

However, such a view was not necessarily shared by his peers. General Officer Commander-in-Chief of the Eastern Command, Lieutenant General Sir Francis Tuker took up cudgels on behalf of Pakistan. He opined: There was much therefore to be said for the introduction of a new Muslim power supported by the science of Britain. If such a power could be produced and if we could orient the Muslim strip from North Africa through IslamiaDesertia, Persia, Afghanistan to the Himalayas, upon a Muslim power in Northern India, then it had some chance of halting the filtration of Russia towards the Persian Gulf. These Islamic countries, even including Turkey, were not a very great strength in themselves. But with a northern Indian Islamic state of several millions it would be reasonable to expect that Russia would not care to provoke them too far. (While Memory Serves, London: Cassell and Company,1951 edition: 26–27). After the Cabinet Mission of May 1946 failed, the next move towards partition was the 20 February 1947 statement of Prime Minister Attlee that power would be transferred to Indians by June 1948. Attlee chose a cousin of the King, Lord Louis Mountbatten, as the last viceroy to India—to oversee and manage the transfer of power. Since the passing of the Lahore Resolution in March 1940, the Sikhs had insisted that, if India was divided on a religious basis, the Punjab should also be so divided so that areas where the Hindus and Sikhs were in a majority would be separated from the Muslim-majority parts of the Punjab. The Congress Party supported this Sikh demand in a resolution dated 8 March, 1947. The Congress also insisted on the partition of Bengal. Once the Congress had decided that it must accept a partitioned India it wanted to keep the international border as far away from Delhi as possible and therefore the partitions of Bengal and Punjab made crucial strategic sense to its leaders.

Mountbatten had been specifically tasked to ensure that, united or divided, India remained in the British Commonwealth. One of Jinnah’s confidants, the Nawab of Bhopal, sent a telegram to Mountbatten in which he suggested that, if Pakistan was granted, Jinnah could be persuaded ‘to remain within the Commonwealth’ (Transfer of Power, vol. X, 1981: 36). However, the viceroy tried to convince Jinnah not to demand the division of India because a united India would be a strong and powerful nation whereas Pakistan would be economically and militarily weak. Jinnah remained unimpressed. Rather, he insisted that a separate Pakistan would seek membership of the Commonwealth, which should not be denied to it because: All the Muslims have been loyal to the British from the beginning. We supplied a high proportion of the Army which fought in both wars. None of our leaders has ever had to go to prison for disloyalty…. Not one of us had done anything to deserve expulsion from the Commonwealth…. Mr Churchill has assured me that the British people would never stand for our being expelled. (ibid: 541). At this stage, there was a dramatic change in the attitude of the British military on partition and the creation of Pakistan. Thus, senior military and civil officers—RAF Marshal Lord Tedder (in the chair), Admiral Sir John H.D. Cunningham, Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, Lieutenant General Sir Leslie C. Hollis, Minister of Defence, A.V. Alexander, Chief of the Viceroy Staff, Lord Ismay, and Major General R.E. Laycock—in a memorandum prepared at the meeting of the Chiefs of Staff Committee in London on 12 May 1947, strongly supported the assumption that it would be good for Britain if Pakistan remained in the Commonwealth. It was noted: It was feasible that Jinnah . . . might well announce a Moslem application to remain within the Commonwealth. A number of Princes might do the same thing. On the other hand, Hindustan might well stick to the declared intention of Congress to be a free Sovereign State, although there were signs that some Congress leaders had doubts of their ability to continue without some British advisers and administration (ibid: 788). After considerable deliberation, the Chiefs of Staff agreed that their views should be submitted to the Prime Minister. They agreed: From the strategic point of view there were overwhelming arguments in favour of Western Pakistan remaining within the Commonwealth, namely, that we should obtain important strategic facilities, the port of Karachi, air bases and the support of the Moslem manpower in the future; be able to ensure the continued integrity of Afghanistan; and be able to increase our prestige and improve our position throughout the Muslim world. . . . There was therefore everything to gain by admitting Western Pakistan into the Commonwealth. A refusal of an application to this end would amount to ejecting loyal people from the British Commonwealth, and would probably lose us all chances of ever getting strategic facilities anywhere in India, and at the same time shatter our reputation in the rest of the Moslem world. From a military point of view, such a result would be catastrophic’ (ibid: 791–2). Mountbatten finally announced the Partition Plan to divide British India between two states, India and Pakistan, on 3 June 1947.It drastically expedited the transfer of power from June 1948, as had been announced on 20 February 1947 by Attlee, to mid-August 1947—that is, in less than eleven weeks. It envisaged a Pakistan comprised of two separate geographical entities, East and West Pakistan, where the Muslims were in a majority. Moreover, the Partition Plan stipulated that the legislative assemblies of Bengal and Punjab would vote on partitioning their provinces. On 20 June, the East Bengal Assembly voted to divide Bengal and on 23 June the Punjab Assembly returned a similar verdict (Ahmed 2012: 215-219). During 21—31 July, territorial claims by the conflicting parties were presented before the Bengal and Punjab boundary commissions. The arguments put forth were based on zero-sum tactics that nullified any consensus on the distribution of territory. Even the judges nominated by the two sides made partisan recommendations. Therefore, the Chairman of the Boundary Commission, Sir Cyril Radcliffe, prepared an award which, although ready on 13 August was not made public until 17 August—that is, after India and Pakistan had become independent! It created considerable bitterness on both sides. In Pakistan, particularly, it was assailed as a conspiracy hatched by Nehru and Mountbatten to compel Radcliffe to award Muslim-majority areas to India. I will be looking at the Radcliffe Award in the next article.

The actual partition process proved to be one of the bloodiest as the machinery that Mountbatten put in place proved to be woefully inadequate to stem the rising tide of violent rioting and terrorism. Some 14-18 million were forced to flee their homes – it is the biggest forced migration ever recorded in history. The fatalities that took place are counted between 1 -2 million (Ahmed 2012). Naturally the worst casualties took place in the Punjab and Bengal, but what happened in the Punjab dwarfed the human suffering that took place elsewhere. In the divided Punjab anywhere between 500,000 – 800,000 were killed. There is good reason to believe that the biggest loss of life was that of East Punjab Muslims even when for months – March to June 1947 – most of the attacks took place in the Muslim-majority districts and the non-Muslims, especially Sikhs, were the main victims. Why did the British military make a complete turn within a year – from 11 May 1946 to 12 May 1947 precisely? The answer must be because it was felt that future Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru may resist becoming an appendage of the Western policy of building a front against Soviet Communism. On the other hand, the Muslim League leadership had been marketing Pakistan as a frontline state and many in the British military establishment were convinced that a smaller Pakistan would be far more dependent on Western help and aid and in lieu of that serve a very important geo-strategic role in the future. Ironically, British ambition of remaining a major power in South Asia proved to be delusional. American influence increased rapidly. I have also shown that the Americans were against the creation of Pakistan for the same reason Field Marshall Auchinleck had given – a divided India would be vulnerable to Communist expansionism, but in the American analysis it was China and not the Soviet Union that needed to be kept out of South Asia. The partition of India was not something the British as an entity had planned in 1940 and then promoted. On the contrary, it was a very late decision which had some early proponents.

One of the bitterest and most enduring controversies surrounding the partition is the Radcliffe Award.ViceroyLinlithgow had ruthlessly smashed the Quit India movement, but his successor Viceroy Wavell believed that it would not be possible to control another wave of protests and, therefore, preparations had to be made to pull out of India if such an emergency arose. In a top-secret communication of 27 December 1945 he sent a “Breakdown Plan” to the Secretary of State for India, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, in which he noted:

We should base ourselves on two points of principle:

If the Muslims insist on self-determination in genuinely Muslim areas this must be conceded.

On the other hand there can be no question of compelling large non-Muslim populations to remain in Pakistan against their will (Ahmed 2012: 73-75; TOP, Vol. VI: 700).

On 7 February 1946, Wavell submitted to Pethick-Lawrence a “Breakdown Plan”. His idea was that if compelled to give an award, the demarcation of ‘genuinely Muslim areas’ (ibid: 912) should include:

1. Sind, North West Frontier Province, British Baluchistan and Rawalpindi, Multan and Lahore divisions of Punjab; minus Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts.

(b) In Bengal, the Chittagong and Dacca divisions, the Rajshahi division (minus Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling), the Nadia, Murshidabad and Jessore districts of Presidency division; and in Assam, the Sylhet district.

2. In the Punjab, the only Moslem-majority district that would not go into Pakistan under this demarcation is Gurdaspur (51-per cent Moslem). Gurdaspur must be attached to Amritsar for geographical reasons and Amritsar, being sacred city of Sikhs, must stay out of Pakistan. But for this case of importance of Amritsar, demarcation in the Punjab could have been on divisional boundaries. Fact that much of Lahore district is irrigated from upper Bari Doab canal with headworks in Gurdaspur district is awkward but there is no solution that avoids all such difficulties.

With regard to Calcutta (23 per cent Muslim population) in Bengal, it should also remain in India or be made into a free port if negotiations between the parties could successfully reach such an arrangement (ibid: 913).

The Partition Plan of 3 June 1947

The final drama in the partition saga began with the arrival of Lord Louis Mountbatten as the last viceroy. His negotiations with Indian leaders led nowhere. From 19 May onwards, Mountbatten was in the UK for consultations with the British Cabinet and the India Office and did not return to India until 30 May. He met the Indian leaders on 2 June. They were handed copies of his partition plan at 10 a.m. with the request that they give their replies and comments by midnight, but that the statement was final. Much of the text had in fact been shared with the Indian leaders in various revised forms, but the early date of the transfer of power had not been mentioned. Both India and Pakistan were to be accorded dominion status.

Nehru and Patel had already been taken into confidence about an early British withdrawal from the subcontinent and were themselves in favour of it. However, the exact day of withdrawal being brought forward from June 1948 to mid-August 1947 may not have been intimated to them. There is no doubt that the Muslim League, the Sikhs and possibly other Congress leaders learnt about it only on 2 June. The Viceroy remarked: ‘The severe shock that this gave to everyone present would have been amusing if it was not rather tragic’ (Ahmed 2012: 214; TOP, Vol. XI 163).

Announcement of the Partition Plan

Mountbatten announced the Partition Plan over All-India Radio in the evening of 3 June 1947. The British government also issued a statement from London on 3 June. It stipulated among other things:

5. The Provincial Legislative Assemblies of Bengal and the Punjab (excluding European Members) will … each be asked to meet in two parts, one representing the Muslim majority districts and the other the rest of the Province. For the purpose of determining the population of districts, the 1941 census figures will be taken as authoritative.

9. For the immediate purpose of deciding on the issue of partition, the members of the Legislative Assemblies of Bengal and the Punjab will sit in two parts according to Muslim majority districts (as laid down in the Appendix) and non-Muslim majority districts. This is only a preliminary step of a purely temporary nature (emphasis added) as it is evident that for the purposes of a final partition of these provinces, a detailed investigation of the boundary question will be needed and, as soon as a decision involving partition has been taken for either province, a Boundary Commission will be set up by the Governor-General, the membership and terms of reference of which will be settled in consultation with those concerned. It will be instructed to demarcate the boundaries of the two parts of the Punjab on the basis of ascertaining the contiguous majority areas of Muslims and non-Muslims. It will also be instructed to take into account other factors. Similar instructions will be given to the Bengal Boundary Commission. Until the report of a Boundary Commission has been put into effect, the provisional boundaries indicated in the Appendix will be used (Ahmed 2012: 216-217; TOP Vol. XI:90-1).

The Appendix was based on district-wise majorities as recorded in the 1941 census. It showed that Muslims were in the majority in three of the five administrative divisions of the Punjab:

1. Rawalpindi Division: Attock, Gujarat, Jhelum, Mianwali, Rawalpindi, Shahpur.

2. Multan Division: Dera Ghazi Khan, Jhang, Lyallpur, Montgomery, Multan, Muzaffargarh.

3. Lahore Division: Gujranwala, Gurdaspur, Lahore, Sheikhupura and Sialkot districts (Ibid: 94).

Amritsar, which belonged to Lahore division, had a non-Muslim majority (emphasis added) and was, therefore, not included among the Muslim majority areas in the appendix. Besides Amritsar district, Hindus and Sikhs were in a majority in the following division and their districts:

4. Jullundur Division: Ludhiana, Ferozepore, Jullundur, Hoshiarpur, Kangra.

5. Ambala Division: Gurgaon, Rothak, Hissar, Karnal, Ambala, Simla.

The Partition Plan stipulated that the members of the Punjab Legislative Assembly, organised separately into a western and an eastern bloc, would vote on the issue of partitioning the Punjab. Accordingly, members of the Western Section of the Assembly (presided over by the Speaker DiwanmBahadurS.P.Singha) and that of the Eastern Section (presided over by the Deputy Speaker SardarKapur Singh) voted on 23 June 1947 (Ahmed 2012: 219)

With regard to the voting, 72 members from East Punjab met in a separate session. They rejected by 50 votes to 22, a motion by the Muslim League leader the Khan of Mamdot that the province should remain united. On the other hand, in the West Punjab section a motion to partition the Punjab was rejected by 69 votes to 27. In communal terms, 88 Muslims, including KhizrTiwana and seven other members of the Unionist Party, two Indian Christians (Diwan S. P. Singha and FazlElahi) and one Anglo-Indian (Mr Gibbon) voted for a united Punjab; Hindus, Sikhs and representatives of the scheduled castes, numbering altogether 77, voted for partitioning the Punjab (Ibid: 567). With regard to Bengal, the voting took place on 20 June. The Muslim majority eastern bloc voted 106 against the partition of the province and 35 for it; the non-Muslim majority western bloc voted 58 for partition and 21 against it.

A British lawyer, Sir Cyril Radcliffe, who had never stepped on Indian soil before was appointed as chairman of the Boundary Commission. Four more members, two nominated by Congress (of which one was to be a Sikh) and two by the Muslim League were added. It heard the arguments of the counsels representing the disputing parties: the Muslim League, the Congress, the Sikhs as well as a number of minor groups. The Commission met in Lahore during 21 July -31 July 1947. The counsels representing the two main adversarial blocs – the Muslim League, on the one hand, and, the Congress-Sikhs, on the other, put forth maximalist claims. The four nominated judges took equally partisan positions. The Muslim League’s stand was that contiguous Muslim and non-Muslim areas were the main term of reference and “other factors” applied only to extraordinary situations demanding deviation from it. Arguing that the tahsil should be used as the unit to determine contiguity the Muslim League counsel could claim that such contiguity continued as far in the east as the Sutlej River in the vicinity of Ludhiana.

On the other hand, Congress and Sikhs insisted that “other factors” were equally important. The other factors, according to them, referred to greater ownership of land and other forms of property (75 per cent agricultural land and other types of property belonged to the Hindus and Sikhs). Both sides stuck to their respective stances. The Sikh counsel insisted on the zail (a revenue unit of 12 villages) as the correct unit for determining contiguity. With such an approach he could claim contiguity right up to Lyallpur in the west. The Congress supported the Sikhs. Therefore an agreed formula of partitioning Punjab could not be agreed upon. The same happened at the Bengal Boundary Commission’s hearings in Calcutta. Consequently, instead of an agreed settlement a government award became necessary (Ahmed 2012: 253-273).

The Radcliffe Award

The Radcliffe Award was ready on 13 August but was revealed to the political leaders on 16 August and made public on 17 August – two days after India and Pakistan had celebrated their independence! The most controversial aspect of the boundary award was that three of the four tahsils of Gurdaspur district on the eastern bank of the Ujh river (which joined the Ravi a little further down) – the tahsils of Gurdaspur, Batala and Pathankot – were awarded to India and only one, Shakargarh, was assigned to Pakistan. Curiously enough, however, instead of choosing the Ujh-Ravi rivers as the cut-off point for the border, ‘The tahsil boundary and not the actual course of the Ujh river shall constitute the boundary between the East and West Punjab’ (ibid). Such an arrangement gave both India and Pakistan some foothold on the other side thus making the border quite erratic.

There is considerable literature available alleging that Mountbatten had the original text altered so that the whole of Gurdaspur in which Muslims formed a very slim majority would not be awarded to Pakistan. The reason he did so, it is alleged, was to provide a land route for India into Kashmir through Pathankot. Notwithstanding the controversies, the Radcliffe Award relied essentially upon the principle of Muslim and non-Muslim majority contiguity and did not recognize claims to property as a valid basis for awarding territory. Therefore, these areas in which Sikhs in particular owned much of the land, and Hindus and Sikhs together owned most of the urban property, went to Pakistan. In this sense, then, the Radcliffe Award was more sympathetic to the claims of the Muslim League than to those of Congress and the Sikhs.

Had the tahsilbeen used as the unit of contiguity Pathankottahsilof Gurdaspur, which had a 60 per cent Hindu-Sikh majority would have been awarded to India even if Gurdaspur and Batalatahsilswhich had Muslim majority would have been given to Pakistan. Wavell’s reasons for giving the three tahsils of Gurdaspur to India was to protect Amritsar from being surrounded on all sides except the east by Pakistani territory. This is easily understood by looking at the maps. The most interesting point to note is that the Radcliffe Award was almost identical to Wavell’s Boundary-Demarcation Plan of 7 February 1946. Only a very tiny portion of Kasur tahsil of Lahore district was given to India to make the international border equidistant between India and Pakistan.

There is no doubt that the Congress Party was determined that if India is divided so must Bengal and Punjab. Therefore it had on 8 March 1947 came out in support of the Sikh demand for a partition of the Punjab. Similarly it exerted its influence to have Bengal partitioned as well. The main consideration was defence and security. The international border that was drawn in Bengal and Punjab was far away from Delhi. Had Bengal and Punjab, as a whole, been given to Pakistan, as Jinnah wanted, Delhi would have become a frontier city.

Herein lies the security problem that beset Pakistan from the very onset. With Lahore, Sialkot and other major towns in West Pakistan bang on the border and East Pakistan lacking any military infrastructure worth the name, Pakistan was a security nightmare.

My point of departure in this series has been that the partition of India was not necessarily the best option for solving the so-called Hindu-Muslim problem. A secular-democratic state based on universal adult franchise and regional autonomy would have served well to integrate the different peoples and communities constituting the Indian ethno-cultural mosaic into a grand nation. The Muslims would have had as much a stake in it as any other religious community. Permanent Hindu domination through the Congress Party or “Islam being in danger” was not possible if one keeps in mind the demographic composition of the population of the subcontinent and the fact that the Muslims were concentrated in two strategic regions – the north-west and north-east of India. Even when the Muslim presence in India has gone down by two-third the 180 million who remain in India are too important a group for an electoral democracy to ignore. Only once did the BJP come to power with a massive mandate on patently anti-Muslim propaganda. That was in 1998 but Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee quickly realized that such a campaign cannot be repeated without India being plunged into anarchy and chaos with terrorism and civil war emanating as a result.

The Muslims were, however, economically not at par with Hindus and Sikhs during the colonial period and that was the strongest reason for creating a separate Pakistan. I have explained in my earlier articles how and why it happened that the Muslims lagged behind others and there is no point repeating the explanation here again. Suffice it to say that many contemporary Muslims have a serious problem adjusting and working within the modern economy and democracy that exists universally. Even now when colonialism (at least not in the literal sense) and all other excuses are no longer applicable no Muslim nation has excelled as an economic power or as a democracy. Islamic banks and Islamic economy are not very different from what banking generally is all about, and Turkey which Ataturk saved from medievalism is slowly being encroached upon by the Islamists – at the moment only in small ways but we know how small, apparently harmless things suddenly become a major force, converting from a nuisance to a menace and then finally a scourge.

There is no doubt in my mind that Mr Jinnah never wanted to create an Islamic state based on either the Iranian or Saudi model. However, I believe once the decision to use Islam to rouse mass passion was taken and the ulema given a free hand to propagate their vision of an Islamic state in which Sharia laws would reign supreme, and through this the foundations of a confessional Muslim state laid. I have given ample proof of it in a long chapter, ‘Punjab Elections and Coalition Government, 1945-46’ in my book, The Punjab Bloodied, Partitioned and Cleansed (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2012: 73-106). The ulema and pirs told the Muslims that if they did not vote for the Muslim League their nikah (marriage) would become null and void and they would be refused an Islamic burial. They also told the Hindus and Sikhs that in such a state they would have to come to the mosque with their disputes and Islamic law would apply. It proved to be a spectacularly successful mobilizing ideology and campaign, but once Pakistan had been achieved a utopian vision laced with Islamic symbolism, values and aspirations were part of the collective consciousness of Pakistani Muslims. Once you create a particular mindset it assumes a life of its own. It may hibernate and remain dormant but comes back to life whenever conditions are ripe. Its latest manifestation is that number plates of many cars in Pakistan now bear the name “Al Bakistan”, which upon enquiry I found to my complete shock is because in Arabic there is no ‘p’ sound and the closest to it is the ‘b’ sound: hence we are now in transit from Pakistan to Al-Bakistan. These decorative changes are actually symptomatic of a deep identity crisis. Much worse are the target killings which go on and life in Peshawar and Karachi has been made expendable as Christians, Shias, Ahmadis and from time to time Barelvis are brutally killed.

Nations have to make a complete about turn if they want to rid themselves of such characteristics. Nazism, fascism and Japanese militarism went away only after overwhelming defeat was inflicted upon them. On the other hand, South Africa could make the transition because the leadership of the white minority realized that it had no future in a world where racism was no longer acceptable. Israel remains the last bastion of white colonial domination in the occupied territories, but many Israelis know that occupation and domination of a defeated people in the long run is not sustainable. Shall we in Pakistan begin thinking how to turn the corner and become a normal state?

Returning to the partition and the deep wounds and scars it inflicted, when the Muslims of East Punjab and the Hindus and Sikhs of West Punjab crossed the international border in 1947 and religious cleansing had been completed on both sides there was no doubt left that Pakistan was a state of the Muslims. From Khyber-Pakthunkhwa too all Hindus and Sikh had to flee. Of the 29 per cent Hindu population of Sindh only a fraction remained behind. In Balochistan too, a handful could remain. Mr Jinnah’s speech of 11 August 1947 could not have reversed the underlying rationale of the Two-Nation Theory. He did have a vast following in Pakistan, but amongst them not more than a handful believed that Pakistan had to be created to establish two secular states in the subcontinent instead of one.

For Pakistan to switch from religious nationalism to civic nationalism was never going to be easy. With Jinnah dying soon after he founded Pakistan it will always be a matter of speculation as to what would have happened if he had lived longer. He ridiculed the suggestion that his 11 August 1947 speech was about a secular state. His basic argument was that Islam was democratic and democracy was in the blood of Muslims. From the point of view of most ulema and let me say honestly, most Muslims, the ideal state is one where the legendary first four caliphs of Islam ruled. But it was not a secular state by any stretch of the imagination, even when good government and chaste and honest leadership were provided by the pious caliphs.

Perhaps, even more importantly, the social or class basis for a secular state in Pakistan was too weak. The Muslim landlords were the main support base of the Muslim League in the UP and after 1944 in the Punjab. If we now add the powerful ulemaof the Barelvi persuasion and the pirs to the Muslim League support base, then both democracy and secularism hold little or no attraction for them. One only has to remember that when in the early 1950s MianIftikharuddin and MianMumtazDaultana tried to carry out land reform they were rejected by their colleagues in the Muslim League. In Sindh, the dissenting note penned by MasudKhaddarposh on the Sindh Hari Report (which spoke of the Waderas (landlords) as the protectors of the Haaris (tenant- cultivators and landless peasants)), resulted in him being accused of being a communist and an atheist. Ironically, but not at all surprisingly, both MaulanaMaududi and the head of the AhmadiyyaJamaat, MirzaBashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad came out in favour of landlordism.

It was Field Marshall Ayub Khan who could muster enough authority to carry out a land reform, which aimed at creating a strong class of commercial farmers instead of absentee landlords. Mr Bhutto’s land reforms did not achieve any great success because he secured a ruling that in Islam ownership of property was individual. Through such a subterfuge the landlords retained most of their land given by the British to their ancestors. In Sindh where the biggest landholdings existed, the reforms were even less effective. Because of the Islamic law of inheritance those holdings are shrinking but the landlord class remains powerful locally and this can be easily established by looking at the membership of the Pakistani legislatures. Even in India the land reforms were not all that radical but they were much better than what we could achieve in Pakistan. Far more people from humbler backgrounds are elected to the Indian legislatures. To cut a long story short, history, ideology, culture, class – all were poised against Pakistan becoming a secular-democratic state. In my book, The Concept of an Islamic State in Pakistan: An Analysis of Ideological Controversies (Lahore: Vanguard, no date given but 1991 or 1992), I had written:

Pakistan meant different things to different people. To the landlords it meant continued leadership; to the doctrinal-minded Muslims, a unique opportunity to create an Islamic state in the light of their ideas; to the Muslim intelligentsia and the poorer classes, a state where social and economic justice would prevail and their dignity established according to Iqbalite teachings; to the peasants, freedom from the yoke of the Hindu money-lender; to the regional leaders, greater autonomy than was expected in a united India dominated by the Congress; to the Muslim bourgeoisie, the necessary environment where they could develop their potential, which seemed choked in a united India due to the many times greater strength of Hindu and Parsee capital based in Bombay and Calcutta; to the bureaucrats and the military an excellent opportunity to secure quick promotions; and to the military establishment it brought a central role in a country where the civilian political process was dependent from the beginning upon its support and active participation (page 80-81).

These lines were written in 1984 for my doctoral dissertation. At that time I had no clue that Great Britain or rather the British military was another stakeholder in the Pakistan state project, and it is with its cooperation that the Muslim League succeeded in bringing about the partition of India. I have now provided proof of it by quoting verbatim from the horse’s mouth. No doubt the Congress Party and the Sikhs retaliated by demanding the partitions of Bengal and Punjab. Did any of the main leaders understand really that havoc would be wreaked upon millions of millions of innocent people whether Hindu, Muslim or Sikh? I don’t think fully but they could not have been completely unaware of the consequences a disputed division of India, Bengal and Punjab would entail. However, if the British military had stuck to its assessment of 11 May 1946 that a united India served their purpose better, notwithstanding Nehru’s anti-imperialism, history would have taken a very different direction. Therefore there was nothing inevitable about the partition, but it happened. And now we need to show maturity and accept the facts.

I toured India recently and spoke to many audiences. I got the distinct feeling that nobody wants Pakistan to merge into India. In fact rightwing Hindus are quite pleased India was partitioned. Equally, in Pakistan there is no will or desire to amalgamate into India. However, culturally, historically, and geographically the truth is: “There is an Indian in every Pakistani and a Pakistani in every Indian”. Ex-president Asif Ali Zardari made this fantastic remark and it is true. Culture unites but politics divides. Here I am using culture as a much larger concept than religion. Music, poetry, food, so many habits and hang-ups, prejudices and aspirations are the same. The Lahore film industry and film industries elsewhere in pre-partition India attracted talent from all religions and regions and the beauty they created was shared by all and sundry. The late General Zia was an avid watcher of Indian films and could sing as well. His most famous protégé Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is also a film buff yet both were keen to pander to the most reactionary Islamic constituencies and our only successful Islamic socialist, ZA Bhutto initiated Islamic measures that paved the way for General Zia’s comprehensive Islamization measures.

In 1947, we missed a great opportunity to build together a progressive, secular and democratic united India. I am afraid that in 2013 we may miss a great opportunity to claim our right and share in economic development by not whole-heartedly taking part in converting South Asia into a zone of peace and prosperity through trade and commerce. We should not be a nation which specializes in missing opportunities. I do not for a moment doubt that in India too there are powerful forces, which do not want the people of these two nations to live in peace, trust and solidarity. Defeating them is the responsibility of Indian humanists, Gandhians, pacifists, internationalists, Marxists, South Asianists and just good people from all religions and indeed poets and writers and others. Pakistani peace lovers of similar varieties have to do the same. India and Pakistan can through SAARC build a bright future for their people.

The partition of India, Bengal and Punjab is not the only partition which has bequeathed a bitter legacy of territorial disputes and forced migrations and so on. After WW I the map of the Middle East was redrawn and when the mandates ended it looked very different from what existed when the Ottoman Empire was the ruling power in that region. The creation of Israel is a case in point. However, I am always willing to accept that reality, provided the Israelis agree to accept an independent and sovereign Palestinian state next to it. In Africa particularly colonization and decolonization took a very heavy toll of life as tribes and clans were divided and new states came into being. So, two or three states emerging instead of one on the Indian subcontinent is not all that strange.

Yet I am convinced British colonialism laid the foundations of modern society in the colonies. The railways, telegraph system, roads, bridges, and modern ideas of the rule of law and overall peace and stability were its outstanding contributions. Indian had stagnated since many centuries and oriental despotism prevailed all around. The British came with a more advanced civilization but they had to go because modern consciousness rejected foreign rule. Once upon a time that was not a problem. The truth is that the Congress Party’s claim to represent all Indians was an overstatement. Till the end large numbers of Indians, of all religions and of many regions, remained loyal to the British. There is a school of thought which believes that we would have been better off as a British Dominion than as two independent states.

The truth is that the British were not planning to grant independence to either a united India or a divided one, but WW II broke the back of the Raj and US pressure to grant independence to this region became irresistible. The salaries of the British military were being paid by the Americans and in the new world order there was no scope for colonies. The Cold War however polarized the world and instead of colonies a system of dependent or neo-colonial/post-colonial states came into being in which instead of direct rule by an imperial power the system of control was through economic and military pacts. India successfully kept out of it but we could not. I have explained fully why this happened in my latest book, Pakistan: The Garrison State – Origins, Evolution, Consequences (1947-2011), (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2013).

(Posted here with author’s kind permission, this working paper was first serialized by The Friday Tim
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naveen mishra

Mar 1, 2013
In a nutshell: Muslims who remained in India are being protected and uplifted. Minorities in Pakistan , even Muslim minorities are being tormented. Pakistan was a mistake
Maulana Azad in his speech at Jama Masjid in 1948 addressed to the Indian Muslims predicting the challenges the new state of Pakistan would face in coming years due to regional identities, emphasizing that the new state would not solve the problems facing Indian Muslim left a lasting impression

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