Yaqoob Khan Bangash in his article “The ghosts of Partition”(August 14), cited the work of Professor Gurharpal Singh while suggesting that violence is intrinsic to Pakistan’s polity since it was created through violence. One wonders what country in history gained independence without an armed uprising. If a violent protest can supposedly radicalise Pakistan then the wars fought by American, Belgian, Dutch, Irish, Spanish, Chilean and Greek nations for their independence should have caused their self-destruction owing to the violent streak embedded in their structure.
Bangash also mentioned Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s legacy of intolerance vis-à-vis the two-nation theory. Was Jinnah not the biggest proponent of Hindu-Muslim unity initially? Did he not reject Sir Syed Ahmad Khan’s two-nation theory and join the Congress instead of the Muslim League? Did he not broker the Lucknow Pact of 1916 where he was able to secure a separate electorate for Muslims and was termed the ‘architect of Hindu-Muslim unity’? So what changed his mind?
Jinnah left the Congress in 1920, while opposing its civil disobedience movement. He believed that independence could only be achieved through constitutional means. What also alienated him was Gandhi’s pseudo-religious approach to politics, after which he started fearing political marginalisation of Muslims. This also convinced him that the Congress would renounce its support for separate electorates for Muslims, which indeed it did in 1928. It was then that Jinnah contended that Hindus and Muslims would eventually have to part ways politically, if Muslims were to obtain political representation.
More importantly, the Lahore Resolution incorrectly referred to as the Pakistan Resolution, never made any demand for Pakistan. The resolution only called for ‘separate states’ for Muslims within the Indian federation and didn’t explicitly call for partition. Until 1946, Jinnah only used Pakistan as a tool to bargain for autonomous provinces. Proof: when the Cabinet Mission Plan of 1946 proposed a united India with religion-based provinces, Jinnah readily agreed but the Congress rejected it because it was simply not willing to share power with a party which incidentally had won 90 per cent of Muslim seats in the elections. Nehru himself admitted in 1960 that having autonomous Muslim-majority provinces as part of India was not worth the loss of having a powerful centre.
It was exactly this arrogance which resulted in partition being the last resort and so the call for the Direct Action Day was made. However, attributing Pakistan’s creation to this protest, while ignoring Jinnah’s brilliant politicking preceding it, is very amusing. That protest was just a means to an end and the end justified the means, for people always fight for rights denied to them. It was but a consequence of that denial.
There was a time when Pakistan was one progressive society — a booming economy, a popular tourist destination, foreigners galore and a hub of entertainment and cultural activities. If violence was so entrenched in our fabric, why was the Pakistan of that time such a peaceful place?
The answer is in the overbearing role that the religious right assumed in Pakistan’s polity where General Ziaul Haq regularly used the “Islam in danger” slogan for political gains, resulting in a paranoia-stricken, radicalised nation in self-destruction mode. Jinnah understood this six decades ago and thus strongly opposed the role of mullahs in politics. That was the brilliance of Jinnah.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 19th, 2012.
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