Did Jinnah Wrong Us in Making Pakistan
Ayesha Jalal in her book ‘The Sole Spokesman’, first published in 1985, has presented a sharp scrutiny of the personality of the Quaid, Muhammad Ali Jinnah; alleging him to have made such political decisions that suited his personal ambition of making Pakistan, while in doing so, he had deliberately set aside the interests of the Muslims who were not to be a part of the Pakistan-to-be.
According to her, Jinnah claimed to be the sole spokesman of all Indian Muslims, not only in provinces where they were in a majority but also in provinces where only a minority was represented; and that the political geography of the subcontinent guaranteed that there would always be as many Muslims outside a specifically Muslim state as inside it.
In the first chapter of her book, she asserts, “The Cabinet Mission sought to solve the problem of British strategic interests in India by ‘giving both the claimants (Hindus and Muslims) some part of what they wanted…’; a Pakistan trimmed to the bone (Scheme B), or a central government stripped of most of its real powers, and not ‘worth much’ (Scheme A)… Once the Cabinet had given the go-ahead (in March-April 1946), the way was clear to offer Jinnah the alternatives of a small Pakistan with sovereign rights and treaty relations with Hindustan, or a larger Pakistan… inside a federation with Hindustan.”
She furthers her argument by counting the many merits that would come with a Pakistan inside a larger Hindustan, pointing out that: there was to be no union legislature, and any question at the center on which the two federal units failed to agree would be referred back to their respective group legislatures; agreement would not be imposed by central dictate, but by agreement between two federated governments; the Muslim-majority areas would have complete control over all their affairs except those specifically given to the center; and at the center ‘they would meet the Hindus on a level where it was States which counted and not the number of individuals in them.
Ayesha argues that in making an East and West Pakistan with ~95 million Muslims inside, the Quaid had left the same number or more, helpless at the hands of the Hindus in Hindustan.
The rhetoric embraced by Ayesha Jalal seemed attractive to many, and her stance has been widely quoted by those who hold the liberal and secular ideology in Pakistan; who aim to advance their interest of denouncing the very need of Pakistan’s existence and to build the idea that a secular India has been better off in safeguarding the interests of its multiple minorities than a ‘mutilated’, ‘moth-eaten’ Pakistan spree with divides and decadence, has been.
But there are some serious issues that have to be taken in regard, about her work. Most ironically, Ayesha has based her full analysis from within the bookish accounts of official correspondence between the select elite representatives of the Hindus, Muslims and the British. Secondly, her towering conclusions are extracted from all that had happened between 1946 and 1947, i.e. from the Cabinet Mission to the making of Pakistan. Was history made in two years and between three men? Could Jinnah have been the sole spokesman without the consent of all the learned members of the League, from all over the Subcontinent, behind him?
It is an irony that the writer can talk about provisions offered in the legislation, disregarding the hard fact that in a democracy, legislation is a continuously evolving phenomenon, depending upon no other factor more than that of ‘Majority’. One cannot blindfold oneself of the reality that legislature does not give the provision of rioting, apartheid and war, but these things still happen. That if the Quaid would had secured all the rights that the Muslims of the subcontinent may not even have deserved as a minority; the Congress could have voted those rights off in its first session. A writer, who can fancy for a federating unit within a larger India, might have some explanation then, as to how India has federated Kashmir so far or how it has not turned the province of Hyderabad that it forcibly snatched from Pakistan, at the event of the Partition, into a Naxalite Center of Terror.
Perhaps if the writer would have taken her reference from only as early as the 1937 Elections, she would have known the reasons for the Quaid to forsake the Congress in the first place and the reasons why the Muslims from throughout the subcontinent denied the Congress as their representative and gathered around the Muslim League and hence around the Quaid as their sole representative and their sole spokesman.
The history of the birth of this nation-state Pakistan, conceived in the name of Islam, was not written in closed rooms, as the writer might have presumed; but the fact is that it was written by the vehement commotion stirred throughout the Muslim community of the subcontinent. It is an irony to note that the provinces that were eventually not to be a part of the separate Pakistan were the ones most vigorously active in the political and public support of this state-to-be. The United Provinces of Agra and Oudh (present Uttar Pradesh) are considered as the place of origin of the Pakistan Movement; Bombay, Aligarh, Delhi, Patna, Lukhnow, Calcutta, Allahabad and many central cities saw grand processions around the Quaid and other leaders of the League.
The question is why where all these Muslims so enthusiastic for Pakistan and the answers for this question are two; firstly the Muslims of the subcontinent were knit in the dream of a separate homeland which was to become a fortress of Islam, wherein their worldview of a pure practicing Islamic culture was to become a possibility and they did not care which parts would eventually not make it into the final map. Secondly the Pakistan that was in the perception of the League was not at all compromising the Muslim majority states that are within India now. The map for a Sovereign Islamic State presented by Chaudry Rehmat Ali as far as 1940 shows the vision harbored by the leaders:
The Map given by Choudhary Rahmat Ali, M.A., L.L.B., and Barrister-at-Law; on 8 March 1940, he proposed a new scheme for the establishment of Pakistan, Bangalistan East Bengal and Osmanistan.
Ayesha argues that the British and the Congress went forth to every step to make a compromise with the League but every time they moved forward Jinnah would raise the bar higher and demand more. She draws a picture of a vicious, stubborn man, lacking the foresight required to see the ‘hell’ he was pushing his people towards. In her ending notes, she says:
“But Pakistan’s founding fathers were so imbued with the politics of rancor against India that they failed to realize that in giving up all say in India’s affairs by becoming a separate state and simultaneously choosing to foster enmity with India, they willfully created a dangerous situation for Pakistan.”
Does she mean to say that by staying inside India as a province, Muslims would have been safer and would have enjoyed more civil liberty then they do in Pakistan? Yes they could have been, but only by subsiding into an identity of Indian-only and by disowning the Islamic identity. In fact, Ayesha makes it clear that in her sight, for Muslims to seek an identity on the basis of their religion, was their gravest misdoing and they would have been better off in being ‘Indian’ then being a majority in Pakistan. She says:
“Before 1937, Muslim politicians made sense (to me); they were Indians who wanted safeguards as Muslims against Hindu majority rule. After Jinnah, the two nation theory formulation and demand for parity took center-stage; after 1937-38, many Muslim politicians became Pakistanis and stopped making sense.”
The truth is that both schemes prepared by the Hindu-British connivance, were devised to leave the Muslims in a calamitous position; Scheme B: ‘a Pakistan trimmed to the bone’, meant freedom and sovereignty at the cost of a miserable economy and a compromised army; OR Scheme A: ‘a central government stripped of most of its real powers’, meant to give all possible concessions to the League on paper now, and once they are part of India, India would be the real sovereign and not any of its minority.
Does it suit a people to choose meager Resources over Freedom; does it suit the Mard e Momin to forsake his Kuddi and Kuddari, for the fear of food and comfort? Ayesha sees the same events with a different angle; for her an Indianized Islam, which really means amalgamation into the Hindu culture, was not a heavy price to be paid; she therefore expresses confusion over why the Muslims turned into Pakistanis after 1937; for her, after seeing all the atrocities that the Hindus were capable of, the Muslims should have still kept fighting for more legislature, declaring the Hindus as their permanent kings for the were permanently going to be superior in number.
It is ultimately upon the reader now to decide if Jinnah wronged us for making an independent sovereign Islamic Pakistan; or is it the likes of Ayesha Jalal who want to wrong us of our freedom and our sovereignty, and who think that after 3 wars, Kashmir and conniving interference into our soil, we should seek safe-haven in the laps of Cruel Mother-India, Again!!