Birth of two nations or two states?

Ayesha Jalal asserts Partition was of two states, not two nations

Photo Athar Khan/Mehr Khan February 13, 2017
According to speakers, Jinnah was not very pleased with Pakistan and the Partition did not have his consent. PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN/EXPRESS

KARACHI: The panellists of the session, titled ‘The Birth of Two Nations’, at the 8th Karachi Literature Festival on Sunday were posed with the question: Was Partition the birth of two nations or two states?

Reasons for Partition were pondered upon at the session. Historian Ayesha Jalal, political and peace activist Syed Hasan Khan and history professor Roger Long spoke at the event.

Democracy has not served the masses in South Asia: Ayesha Jalal

According to Jalal, the Partition was of two states, not nations. She said that Muslims are a nation and more than half of them were left behind in India - a mistake the Congress is responsible for as well. “It is a diverse nation state,” said Jalal.

Khan quoted Mohammad Ali Jinnah as saying “What is Bengal without Calcutta?” According to him, Jinnah was not very pleased with Pakistan and the Partition did not have his consent. “It was a birth of three nations with a pregnant Bangladesh.” He added that Jinnah had no option but to accept the Partition. He went on to humorously add “Pakistan actually came [into being] when Mohammad bin Qasim arrived.”

According to Long, ‘there are many founders of Pakistan’. He was of the view that there were quite a few reasons that led to Jinnah’s movement, most important of which was ‘the sole spokesmen and the blunders made by the Congress’. ‘The seed of Pakistan’, said Long, bore fruit when the Muslim League wanted equal power with the Congress. This would not have been possible if the Congress did not have power-sharing issues.

The struggle for Pakistan: Pakistanis have no choice but to keep up hope, says Jalal

Jalal stated that to say Pakistan is an Islamic nation is incorrect. According to her, Pakistan is a state made for the Muslims of the Subcontinent out of ‘murderous hatred’.

She called Pakistan ‘an umbrella for the Muslims’.

Khan was of the view that the Partition was of a nation, the Muslims, which was imposed on Jinnah. ‘A Partition of Muslims’, he called it.  “This is our homeland, a land given to just us, so we should be grateful,” said Jalal. As for politics, she added, it is the art of the possible.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 13th, 2017.


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