Beginnings of the Blood-bath
British attempts to impose an unnatural sense of unity upon the Hindu and the Muslim did not cease in spite of apparent failures on the negotiating table – ‘the game continued, move by Machiavellian move’ straight into 1947 while India continued to slip into bloody chaos.
Wavell, though quite convinced that “Congress was only after power and wanted to get rid of the British after which they will see how to deal with the Muslim and the Princes… the former by bribery, blackmail, and propaganda, and if necessary force… and the latter by stirring up people against them”, was eager to see an interim government in place following the Cabinet Mission’s rather abrupt departure from India. Although Pethick-Lawrence instructed him to seek Jinnah’s participation in the set-up, especially in the wake of ML’s announcement of Direct Action, the Viceroy deemed it inadvisable to “send for Jinnah immediately” as that would only put Jinnah’s stock further up. Instead he resorted to inviting Nehru to form the interim government while also obligating him to seek collaboration with the ML. Nehru’s ambition was ablaze and relentless – unwilling to grant political parity to the ML and exclude Congress’ nationalist Muslims from the interim government – and Jinnah was not in the mood to continue another pointless ride on the merry-go-round of talks. Wavell’s indirect overture was therefore rendered a failure when Jinnah suggested to “defer all action for six months” – for quite as anticipated Congress was itching to take control of India’s executive power and not the least inclined to accommodate any delay.
On August 16, 1946 Muslims were to congregate for Direct Action Day – in Calcutta Hindus blocked their march while British forces were ordered to remain “confined to the barracks” thereby leaving India’s most communally volatile city ‘virtually naked’ for Calcutta’s underworld to take charge – the Great Calcutta Killing claimed the lives of thousands – slaughtered, maimed, burnt – the unofficial number stood at 16,000 murdered between August 16-20. Congress held the ML responsible for inciting violence but the Viceroy found no “satisfactory evidence to that effect” for clearly “appreciably more Muslims than Hindus were killed”.
The next round of killings occurred on the eve of Congress’ oath-taking barely a fortnight later – communal riots in Bombay and Karachi left 200 dead adding to the thousands murdered in Calcutta as Vice-President Nehru and his 13 colleagues were sworn in. The Viceroy’s “most unwise and un-statesman like” decision “fraught with dangerous and serious consequences” was met with the Mahatma’s exhilarated declaration – “the door to Purna Swaraj (complete freedom) has at last been opened” – unlocking the fury of communal animosity across India.
Rioting spread from Bengal to the North-western Frontier province with ‘roving Hindu mobs seeking to exterminate the Muslim population wherever they could find them’. And Wavell desperately sought ML’s participation in the interim government perhaps hoping that Muslim sharing power with the Hindu would help pacify widespread antagonism. Jinnah clearly affected by the seriousness of prevalent circumstance also deemed it wise to succumb to Wavell’s wooing and furnished names of 4 ML Muslims to sit in the government barring himself. Yet to Wavell’s great dismay, Jinnah’s stance remained unchanged – “the only solution to India’s present communal situation is Pakistan and Hindustan, anything else would be artificial and unnatural” – and he also refused to sit in the constituent assembly for he did not believe any political settlement was possible in an atmosphere so charged with hostility on both sides – the very reason Wavell had essentially risked the Hindu’s displeasure. Congress in fact would come to view Wavell as a “friend of the Muslim” and even petition London to remove the Viceroy.
By the end of 1946 Wavell admitted the British could no longer safeguard the minorities reinforcing his September 1946 assessment that said the British “could not govern the whole of India for more than a year and a half”. And the soldier viceroy was ordered home immediately. The next British move was to hold the India Conference in London with 2 representatives each from the Congress and the ML in a bid to discuss the current Indian panorama that only signaled intensified rioting, greater mayhem, more blood let, and rising death toll.
As perhaps anticipated by all parties involved, the India Conference in London failed at reaching an agreement. The British could not coerce Jinnah into joining hands with Congress in the constituent assembly and representing Muslim India in the framing of independent India’s constitution. “It would be unwise to plunge India into constitution making in the present atmosphere” he persisted. And it was also clear to the British from Nehru’s talk the Hindu and the Muslim would not be able to coexist on one platform or function harmoniously – ‘not in the same cabinet and probably not in the same country’. The prospect of instituting a constitutional Indian government that would represent the whole of India was fast disappearing – and the taunting question was who would take control of India’s executive power in the event of an eventual British departure.
On one hand the likes of Sir Norman Smith (Director of British Central Intelligence) inspired by ‘neo-Malthusian cynicism’ thought the British must begin to abrogate their control over the Indian civil service and commence an “orderly evacuation” allowing the Indian problem to rest in “its correct communal plane” and follow its natural course through anarchy – they opined regardless of how appalling the already volatile circumstance might become the British must not involve themselves in order to avert sparking anti-British sentiment. And on the other hand stood Churchill – agitated if the British washed their hands of their responsibility towards India or if they attempted to establish the reign of a Hindu numerical majority, India would be thrust into a “ferocious civil war”. The ex-prime minister rose in the House vociferously pointing out “more people have lost their lives or have been wounded in India by violence since the interim Government under Mr. Nehru was installed in office four months ago by the Viceroy than in the previous 90 years… this is only a foretaste of what may come… these frightful slaughters over wide regions and in obscure uncounted villages have in the main fallen upon the Muslim minorities”, while insisting “the word ‘minority’ has no relevance or sense when applied to masses of human beings numbered in many scores of millions”.
With the British government ostensibly unwilling to relent vis-à-vis the Cabinet Mission Plan while contemplating the question of transfer of power to ‘responsible Indian hands’ within a fixed time frame, the ML was due to reconsider its earlier rejection of the Cabinet Mission Plan and also its refusal to sit in for the framing of the constitution – the danger of the worst coming to pass under the perpetual threat of a “dishonorable agreement” between the British and Hindu appeared significantly real. Nonetheless the turn of events in Punjab put a halt to any such undertaking and the probability of putting Pakistan on hold was again disposed off swiftly by circumstance.
Trouble erupted in Punjab just a few days before the ML Working Committee was due to meet in Karachi on January 31, stemming from the British loyalist Muslim ministry’s crackdown on the League’s National Guard on the premise of violating the official ban. A decision that was defended by Sir Jenkins, the provincial British Governor. Jenkins went as far as portraying the League’s Guard as comparable to Mosley’s Blackshirts in England, and the party-armies in Germany and Italy especially the Nazi storm-troopers, in order to vindicate the government’s decision that stood quite betrayed by its timing. Essentially the Governor projected the ML National Guard as modern day militant Islamists – clearly exploiting the religious nuance inherent in the philosophy of Pakistan the British so derided. Arrests of chief ML political leaders in Lahore further incited the unrest which spread all over Punjab and soon spilt into the North-western Frontier province. Angry ML followers violently protested in the streets against the non-ML Muslim political elite – the British loyalist in Punjab and the Hindu’s comrades in the North-western Frontier – “invading courts and private houses and endeavoring to hoist ML flag in place of the Union Jack”. Clearly Muslims, who were viewed as having thrown away “their fundamental principles to the four winds”, were considered the most legitimate target of hatred by ML supporters – as much as the British and the Hindu if not more for they were partisan towards the oppressors of Muslim India.
Amidst terrible chaos came the Empire’s declaration to transfer power by June 1948 – on February 20, 1947 Indians were urged to “sink their differences” and intimated the British would be ‘taking measures’ to ensure power was transferred to ‘responsible Indian hands’. Independence for India was foreseeable but would this be true freedom for the whole of India or only that of the Hindu caucus?
Ironically, answer to that query was soon suggested during the India Debate which opened in the Commons on March 5. Without acknowledging the root causes of widespread anger that engulfed Muslim India Cripps sought to defend the government’s effort towards a possible settlement placing the blame of disrupting the process squarely upon the events in Punjab only to be told by Churchill “it was a cardinal mistake to entrust the government of India to the Caste Hindu”. In fact Churchill’s chilling comment, laden with tell-tale signs of clandestine scheming, was too prophetic to be termed mere political point scoring:
“India is to be subjected not merely to partition, but to fragmentation, and to haphazard fragmentation. A time limit is imposed – a kind of guillotine – which will certainly prevent the full, fair, and reasonable discussion of the great complicated issues that are involved. These 14 months will not be used for the melting of hearts and the union of Muslim and Hindu all over India. They will be used in preparation for civil war; and they will be marked continually by disorders and disturbances such as are now going on in the great city of Lahore”.
Churchill sounded more than suspicious the decision to partition India had been already taken with the intent to allow maximum advantage to the Hindu – and he did not shrink from more than alluding to where the responsibility of civil disorder would rest – most definitely not upon Jinnah as ‘feared’ by the British cabinet the previous month quite in line with Jenkins’ view of ML’s activities.
Within a few days Congress intimated the outgoing Viceroy the Hindu would want Muslim majority Punjab and Bengal partitioned in case the ML did not accept the Cabinet Mission Plan or sit in for constitution making. Congress was willing to concede Pakistan – although a “maimed, mutilated and moth-eaten” Pakistan that would comprise only of Muslim majority districts (not provinces) thereby imparting strong credibility to Churchill’s estimation.
Pakistan At Last!
Lord Mountbatten assumed charge of India in the latter half of March 1947 – he landed in Delhi supposedly with the directive to ‘obtain a unitary government for British India and the Indian states if possible within the Commonwealth through the medium of a constituent assembly’ and report back by October if he saw no prospect of fulfilling the task. The rapid pace of events following his arrival in India would however tend to suggest the idea of partition was already in the pipeline – albeit Mountbatten would make one attempt at seeking Jinnah’s compliance, almost like a formality that must be fulfilled for any number of reasons, before embarking on the mission of taking ‘necessary measures’ for transfer of power.
Starting with Nehru, the Viceroy set off on a spree of meetings with Indian politicians. He had “hit it off “ only too well with Nehru during their Malaya encounter in the days of WW2. And their fellowship soon extended to include Lady Mountbatten thereby shaping a rather unusual trio the personal dynamics of which would play a key role in the matters of transfer of power. Vice-President Nehru not only found himself in the very good books of the Lord but also the Lady’s. For the Lord he would serve as the ‘primary Indian sounding board for vital information’ and more, while for the Lady he would fill in the gaps left wide open by her celebrity marriage and her many extra-marital affairs. The Lady was known for her ‘wildly promiscuous’ character yet the dynamics of the Edwina-Nehru relationship suggested more of a bilateral tickling of intellects than plain lust. All the more reason why this well known Indo-British love affair immensely influenced the final twists and turns at the climax of British Indian politics.
Mountbatten’s discussions with the Mahatma resulted in concocting another temptation for Jinnah that only caused anguish to Nehru. As usual Gandhi’s proposition was designed to appeal to Jinnah’s ‘vanity’. It was presumed if Jinnah were offered to lead the interim set-up instead of Nehru and permitted to present the scheme of Pakistan “with an appeal to reason” and not “force of arms”, he would succumb to the conditions vis-à-vis the ML National Guard and nationalistic running of governmental affairs. The Lord and the Mahatma were terribly mistaken. Neither was Jinnah wooed by Gandhi’s lure nor did the Viceroy’s idealistic picture of an undivided India tickle the long-dead Indian nationalist in him. In fact he plainly told the Viceroy “the Begin-all and end-all of Pakistan was to have its own army”. Exactly the point that caused the British and the Hindu the most anxiety and still does after 71 years. Indignant, the Viceroy could not see why Jinnah gave “the impression of not listening” during his April 10 meeting and why he “offered no counter arguments”. Perhaps if Mountbatten were not as inclined to trust Nehru, who referred to Jinnah as a “mediocre lawyer” and the “reactionary-Muslim Baron of Malabar Hill”, he would have understood Jinnah was over and done with incessant attempts to convince the British-Hindu duo that indeed there was no political solution to India’s problem and that only Pakistan spelled India’s freedom. Instead the Viceroy would come to view Jinnah as a senile psychopath “who has not thought out one single piece of the mechanics of his own great scheme, and he will have the shock of his life when he really has to come down to earth and try and make his vague idealistic proposals work on a concrete basis”.
Mountbatten like his predecessors did not believe the essential principle laid out in the March 23, 1940 Pakistan Resolution would suffice in the face of geographical technicalities during partition or the standard of proportional division would adequately deal with procedural intricacies involved in splitting of joint assets. Whereas if partition were to occur in good faith the implied common sense of these principles would automatically render them sufficient for the purpose. Only if fair play was not envisioned to dictate the process, ethically correct principles would be mocked at as vague and idealistic and also manipulated up to the hilt causing maximum shock to Muslim India. The lack of desire for even-handedness among the British and Hindu therefore only led them to ridicule the plainness of the principles that Jinnah understood would prove sufficient – their cunning only saw the scope that would permit utmost swindling and they wondered if Jinnah had grip on the affairs. Interestingly Mountbatten’s rather infuriated criticism also seemed to suggest the Viceroy believed the notion of Pakistan was too ill-defined and optimistic to sustain in actuality – the reason why the future nation-state was commonly expected to fall back in Mother India’s lap within 2 years of its birth.
With communal rioting wreaking havoc in Punjab and the North-western Frontier province, Bombay and Benares under a dusk-to-dawn curfew, and communal hostility simmering in Calcutta, the rumor of partition continued to add fuel to the already raging fire of antagonism. The ML was continually depicted as the culprit behind the horrific civil unrest. And 5 weeks after arrival, on May 1, 1947 Mountbatten wrote to London “No one would ever induce me to agree to it (partition) were it not for this fantastic communal madness that has seized everybody and leaves no other course open”. Irrespective of how emotionally stirred the Viceroy might have wanted to sound to historians who would one day flip through his memoirs and commend his compassion and astuteness, fact was his April 29 statement that said “the princely states would have complete freedom of choice as to which successor entity to the British they could join independent of the geographical considerations” hinted at quite another story. The Viceroy was gearing up to override the principle of partition that rendered Muslim majority regions contiguous to the Muslim core of Punjab a part of Pakistan – fixated upon the Muslim majority princely state of Kashmir with its highly prized North-western frontier which Mountbatten was to secure for Hindustan in defiance of geography and demographics. Had not been the 3 or so weeks since Mountbatten’s April 10 meeting with Jinnah utilized fully to muse upon the geographical intricacies of partition, had not Nehru consented to “get rid of the headache” by “cutting off the head” for the fear of losing more support and territory to Jinnah’s strengthening voice, and had not been the resolve ‘to keep chopping down the original idea of Pakistan at all levels – provincial (Punjab and Bengal), district (Gurdaspur and Ferozepur) and state (Kashmir)’ reached, perhaps Mountbatten would not have delivered as revealing a statement on April 29. Not only that confidential government documents would be shared with Nehru and Menon vis-à-vis the scheme of partition, free hand with redrafting would be permitted, and the finalized Mountbatten plan for partition would indeed reflect the Nehru/Menon arrangement. While Jinnah would be kept in the dark until the end to avert argument against the truncated Pakistan permitted by the ancient Brahmin king-maker. No wonder Andrew Roberts remarked “Time and again carrots were dangled for Nehru, whereas Jinnah only ever experienced the stick”.
On May 19, 1947 following Jenkins line of argument, the Viceroy told London “it had become clear that the ML would resort to arms if Pakistan in some form were not conceded”. Mountbatten’s gross misrepresentation of the circumstance not only depicted the consistent British intent to prove Muslim India’s struggle for Pakistan was a potential Islamist militant movement in modern terminology but also reflected the great rush to avoid debate and delay. The reason why Jinnah’s suggestion to hold a referendum in Bengal and Punjab vis-à-vis partition of the two Muslim majority provinces was also dismissed – “it would merely result in delay” said the Viceroy. Jinnah feared the fateful consequences of partitioning the provinces – a strategy he earlier reckoned was only intended to frighten him off Pakistan but would indeed go into effect under the directive of the Nehru/Menon plan.
Within the next fortnight Mountbatten’s plan for partition was disclosed to the Indian political leadership – Mountbatten came armed with Churchill’s personal message for Jinnah that read “this is a matter of life and death for Pakistan”. The Viceroy was all set to threaten Jinnah into acceptance of the plan churned out by the Hindu and did exactly that – albeit he remained unable to extract a written acceptance from Jinnah before the formal announcement on June 3, 1947 and only succeeded in extorting a nod of his head to vindicate the declaration.
Mountbatten’s next battle revolved around convincing Jinnah that just like Hindustan the Viceroy must remain Governor General of Pakistan too since both would be British Commonwealth dominions. Yet ‘nothing Mountbatten could say made Jinnah budge from his resolve to take direct control of Pakistan’. Jinnah was simply not willing to turn over his unborn baby to the strong prospect of an abduction of sorts. Surrendering to the British demand would have laid waste the sweat and the blood let since 1937 and defied the principle of Pakistan outright.
Jinnah saved Pakistan from Mountbatten’s ‘guardianship’ however there was little he could do to rescue the territory of Pakistan from the blows it received via the final award of the Radcliffe Boundary Commission. The award was kept secret until the eve of partition quite in line with the geo-political objectives that were under consideration even before Mountbatten’s departure to London in May 1947. For the British the only geo-politically viable solution to the dilemma of the North-western frontier was to secure the Muslim majority Kashmir’s accession to India in spite of the geographical and demographic factors that rendered Pakistan as the appropriate successor dominion. With the only line of communication between Srinagar and Delhi running through the Muslim majority district of Gurdaspur in Eastern Punjab it was therefore imperative to deviate from the ostensibly agreed upon terms of reference. Nehru and Menon stayed on their toes ensuring the British did not forget there will be “dire consequences for Anglo-Indian relations if the State of Jammu Kashmir was allowed to accede to Pakistan” and Mountbatten dutifully manipulated the Commission in order to ensure India’s critical access to Jammu-Kashmir was not lost to Pakistan. A decision that ‘contributed to the death of some 500,000 people and the uprooting of millions more’ across Punjab – a verdict that earned the Hindu and the British geo-political supremacy but was dearly paid for by those who believed they were already in Pakistan only to find themselves confined within the borders of Hindustan at the mercy of Hindu and Sikh mobs while the Punjab Boundary Force created by the Viceroy remained ‘virtually useless’. Jinnah who landed in Karachi, the city of his birth and the first capital of future Pakistan, on August 7 amidst thousands of cheering admirers was left with little reason to rejoice once the Radcliffe Award was announced. The slaughter and the butchery that commenced with that fateful award burdened not only his soul but also his new-born nation-state with the massive weight of millions of destitute refugees scattered in countless camps while ‘India withheld the agreed share of Reserve Bank’s cash balances amounting to some Rs.550 million’. India was not ‘willing to part with substantial funds vouchsafed to Pakistan by the formula agreed upon for sharing all pre-partition assets of the British Raj’ and Pakistan was already under debt with 400 million to pay in bills and only 200 in the treasury. Not to mention the strong whiff of deceit rising from the Anglo-Indian game underway in Kashmir as well as the Muslim majority princely states in Baluchistan. Jinnah could smell war and ‘was full of wrath against the Congress saying that he could never understand these men’s hatred and was now beginning to feel that there was no alternative but to fight it out’. And before the end of September 1947 Jinnah appealed directly to Commonwealth for help in resolving disputes with the antipathetic Hindu – albeit his plea fell on deaf ears drowning with it any faint remnants of Jinnah’s faith in the nobility of western values. For him ‘it was quite clear that the dominion of India was out to throttle and choke the dominion of Pakistan at birth and that if they continued with their oppression there would be nothing for it but to face the consequences’. On October 30, three days after the Anglo-Indian conspiracy vis-à-vis Jammu Kashmir reached its climax point, he spoke in Lahore and did not hold back truth from his audience: “We have been the victims of a deeply-laid and well planned conspiracy executed with utter disregard of the elementary principles of honesty, chivalry and honor”. Little did he know at the time, his new-born would remain in the clutches of many such conspiracies in her life time not only at the hands of the West and the Hindu, but also the everlasting plenty of the treacherous among the Muslim while none among his successors would boast the potential to carry forward his legacy for a long time to come.
The common tendency of the human mind is to complicate what is simple. Perhaps our reluctance to see the naked truth so veils our perception that it almost renders us incapable of confessing the obvious. We so fancy the entanglement of monkey-chatter that we continually miss the rather concise bottom-line which reveals the reality in categorical terms – and so plainly that mere application of common sense demonstrates its authenticity. The contextual intricacies pertaining to the countless intrigues, which marked the dealings of the British and Hindu in pre-partition India are therefore not the least difficult to comprehend if current geo-political trends are not discounted and the goal is straightforward.
The arrival of British imperialists on the shores of India was one of the most significant watersheds in the long history of Hindu imperialism. The mutually beneficial ties that developed primarily through joint ventures in trade and temple administration between the Brahmin and the British East India Company in olden days aided the forward thrust of Caste Hindu’s (upper caste Hindu’s) hegemony in India in all walks of national life following the 1857 Rebellion. Scheduled Caste Hindus (the Depressed classes) were in any case marginalized under ancient caste laws and now the Muslim ruler of yesteryear was brow-beaten too, while other minorities including the Sikh were not considered too threatening for the Brahmin’s domination. British Raj was the only force to reckon with and that was tackled artfully through the founding of the All India National Congress in 1885. Congress was the new western-styled stage which was employed fully in impressing upon the British the Caste Hindu’s all-encompassing superiority upon other Indian natives while hiding behind the contemporary garbs of secularism and territorial nationalism at the dawn of modern age in India. A dynamic deep state connection between the British and the Brahmin quite like a love-hate relationship was thus established – substantially fueled by the anti-Muslim sentiment that always lurked underneath their good cop-bad cop kind of dealings.
From the first Muslim voice that cautioned Muslim India vis-à-vis Congress’ duplicity as early as 1887-88, following Congress’ very first demands to the British Indian Administration, right to the end of the long and twisted road to Pakistan, parity remained the essential point of Hindu-Muslim contention, and also the thorn that sat at the heart of Muslim grievance against British rulers. And three Muslim luminaries of British India, who earnestly believed in the ideal of communal unity and national harmony, were forced to realize the bitter actuality that parity with the Hindu was only an elusive dream under non-Muslim rule.
“A truce or understanding is possible with those who respect definite principles not with those who have no principles and are merely out for oppression and wickedness”.
The numerous vicious circles of fierce and convoluted negotiations, all resulting in failure to convince the Congress to recognize the Muslim demand for equality, justice, and fair play, only revealed to the seeing eye the Caste Hindu’s eagerness to fully undermine Muslim existence and enforce Hindu Raj in the land of their ancestors. After 700 years under Muslim rule the Brahmin was itching to take charge of undivided India unwilling to stomach the Muslim as shareholder entitled to equity. Yet Congress remained adamant it functioned on secular lines and characterized the whole of India in true nationalistic spirit – all the while pointing to Muslims in its ranks as testimony – when even the British admitted how tame the vast majority of the few Muslims in Congress was particularly so since Jinnah said goodbye to Congress in 1920. The terrible aftermath of the 1937 election finally laid threadbare Congress’ secular facade – widespread anti-Muslim atrocities and brazen violations of essential Muslim rights under Congress’ provincial governments even forced some voices in the British quarters to acknowledge the overwhelming Hindu character of Congress’ provincial ministries. Not to mention the ‘gentleman’s agreement’ between the Hindu and British that also stood exposed for the British Administration remained criminally mute through this blood-spattered Muslim ordeal. Over 50 years after its founding there remained little doubt Congress only spoke for the Hindu and its drive for full independence only implied freedom for Hindu India.
But the British were largely unwilling to confess Jinnah’s ‘mad’ Pakistan offered the only evenhanded solution to award true parity to 90-100 million strong Muslim India. The Empire refused to grant an entire people, who rightfully claimed nationhood in line with their religious ideology, the right to self-determination until the Hindu conceded Pakistan for the fear of losing more territory to Jinnah’s strengthening voice. The torch-bearers of the noblest values of modern western civilization stood in obstinate denial of the will of Muslim India for 7 long and bloody years owing to the Hindu’s threatening persuasion and their common fear of losing the North-western frontier to the potential threat of Muslim nationalism in South Asia. British wisdom went about portraying Pakistan as a nebulous and unworkable ideal all the while mocking the religious nuance of the notion to the extent of proclaiming the ML a clandestine militant organization with a political front – the tag of Islamist militancy handed over to Pakistan like a life sentence before birth would remain ever as manipulated and as maneuvered to her great disadvantage. Jinnah too was audaciously slandered and implicitly blamed for the civil disorder that engulfed India from January 1947 onward while the role of the British Administration, Nehru’s vice-presidency of the interim government and the Hindu RSS was little talked about all in a bid to obscure the truth and to shake Muslim resolve – not to forget the multitude of attempts directed at fanning dissent among Muslim ranks and the many endeavors that fueled the vile tradition of Muslim perfidy only to further the madness which seized India.
Neither the British nor the Hindu wanted to admit their judgment was truly unwarranted for it was not their place to write Muslim India’s fate. Perhaps they were too ‘heart-broken’ at the prospect of dividing Mother India and could not bring themselves to acknowledge the irony that Pakistan spelled – the explosive Hindu-Muslim problem of India did not have a solution other than one that rose out of Islam’s religious philosophy. Neither anticipated a barely awakened Muslim India could be stirred into such fierce motion by the power of Iqbal’s religious ideal under Jinnah’s compelling leadership.
Interestingly, the long tradition of maligning Pakistan, which is widely in vogue as a geo-political tool even after 71 years, reflects how hell bent imperialist powers still are upon undermining the existence of Pakistan. The chief reason why contemporary mainstream scholarship remains awfully fond of the British and Hindu versions of Indian history relying heavily upon the documented prejudice of the likes of Lord Mountbatten – ‘the first Paki-basher’. Paradoxically the unfailing determination exercised in smearing Pakistan, on this premise or that, only validates the anti-Muslim sentiment still common to the West and the Hindu – as unwilling to accept Pakistan as a sovereign entity or permit an environment of parity to Pakistan in international dealings and as adamant upon twisting Pakistan’s Islamic identity to fit the context of what is nowadays called ‘militant Islam’.
Had the geo-political considerations of the British in South Asia not stood unchanged after 7 decades, had the effort to balkanize Pakistan not been invested into so persistently ever since by the West and the Hindu, had the plight of Muslim Kashmir not been as alive a proof of an Anglo-Indian conspiracy and as bleeding a testimony of the veracity of the two-nation theory, and had Pakistan not been as singularly derided for holding onto the religious nuance in its national character, perhaps the benefit of doubt could still be afforded to the Paki-bashers in the walks of global politics and transnational academics. But with the Hindu Mahasabha philosophy of Hindutva fully revived in present-day India and the condition of Indian Muslim judged as having ‘scarred India’s post-independence history’ with widespread marginalization and over 10,000 killings in mass communal violence since 1950, notwithstanding the mealy-mouthed front of Muslim urban elite presented to the world, it would be unfair to not acknowledge today Hindustan even without Kashmir counted most definitely vindicates the two-nation affirmation that equitable Hindu-Muslim coexistence would always be a nonviable ideal.
The pitiable failure of the privileged and capable Muslim class in Pakistan – the numerous undeserving heirs to Iqbal and Jinnah – at carrying forward the true legacy of the last of notable visionaries in Islam’s history is continually employed for propaganda that Pakistan is still searching for a principle of unity greater than Hinduphobia. Whereas Pakistan was not conceived in fear only hope – an unparalleled leap of faith and the zenith of the first awakening of Muslim India. Imagined to draw upon the reserves of guidance offered in Islam’s dynamic religious philosophy in defining the goals of national life, Pakistan was to recapture the soul of early Islam in contemporary times thus creating a New Medina. Muslim failure to fulfill that duty owing to widespread lack of spiritual conviction and scarcity of intellectual clarity cannot negate the veracity of Iqbal’s thought nor render Pakistan Jinnah’s vain and irrational fascination with the sin the Mahatma would not commit. The lesson never evolved. But as long as Pakistan is alive on world map that probability remains. And Jinnah cannot be vilified for committing Gandhi’s sin only acknowledged for his unwavering faith in Iqbal’s philosophic religious ideal even when the circumstance was far more than despairing and the forces against him much more than daunting.
Glossary of References:
- Approaches to the Study of Conversion to Islam in India – By Richard M. Eaton
- A Historical View of Islam in South Asia By Barbra D. Metcalf
- Creating a New Medina By Venkan Dhulipala
- History of Hindu Imperialism By Swami Dharma Theertha
- Jinnah of Pakistan By Stanley Wolpert
- Jinnah, Pakistan and Islamic Identity – The Search for Saladin By Akbar S. Ahmed
- Kashmir: A Disputed Legacy By Alastair Lamb
- Now or Never – Are We to Perish Forever? By Chaudhry Rahmat Ali
- Reconstruction of Religious Thought In Islam – By Sir Mohammad Iqbal