Germination of Pakistan - II
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Issue Book Excerpt: Reassessing Pakistan | Date : 03 Jun , 2011

Separatism Triumphs

The British Government announced June 1948 as the deadline for its departure from India but partition or Pakistan was not yet mentioned. Lord Mountbatten was sent as the Viceroy in March 1947 to execute the mandate. Mountbatten advanced Independence Day to August 15, 1947. No protracted negotiations were now possible to work towards a political compromise. Congress leaders became resigned to accept partition since the British were considering transferring power province by province if an agreement on some kind’ of a federal structure for India still eluded them.

“¦latched on to Islam only when they discovered that it was the only tool they had to carve out an area where their personal ambitions of political domination could be fulfilled.

Pakistan, thus, came into existence on August 15, 1947. With the partition of India, Jinnah was later to claim that he achieved Pakistan for its people single-handed, with the assistance only of his typewriter and secretary.16 If Jinnah had not been born or if the whole of India had been converted to Islam following conquests by Muslim conquerors, perhaps there would be no Pakistan today. Was Pakistan the logical end of what has been called the two-nation theory? The Pakistan movement was neither a secessionist movement nor a separatist movement.

It was basically just an anti Hindu movement in its final phases. League leaders including Jinnah were by and large secular in personal outlook. They latched on to Islam only when they discovered that it was the only tool they had to carve out an area where their personal ambitions of political domination could be fulfilled. Prior to that, from the time of Syed Ahmed Khan, Muslim aspirations were limited to being a special interest group only, whose purpose was to give the Muslims a common identity and help it to claim a role in the unfolding arena of politics and self-rule.

Validity of Two-Nation Theory

To explain how an interest group developed dramatically into a state, the ‘two-nation theory’ was invented. It was claimed that Hindus and Muslims living in India constituted two nations. The theory stood effectively exploded when Bangladesh came into existence. Emergence of Bangladesh was entirely the result of Bengali nationalism and Islam had no role whatsoever in it. Furthermore, on achieving independence, Bangladesh jettisoned the notion that nationalism was religion based and adopted secularism as its creed. More shocks may be in the offing for Pakistan.

Pakistans claims to the J&K state can be traced to their belief in this theory. The two-nation theory has a built-in component of deep-rooted antagonism towards the other “˜nation, Hindus, now symbolised as India.

The Muhajir Quami Movement leader Altaf Hussain has said at a meeting in London, with support from Sindhi, Baluch and Pakhtoon leaders that partition was one of the biggest blunders of mankind.17 There is a vocal class of intellectuals in Pakistan who have not hesitated in expressing that the theory was an artificial creation.

Events in J&K state as a freedom struggle began within the state in the 1930s provide further proof that the two-­nation theory had no validity. The population of the Valley was predominantly Muslim. From 1931, Sheikh Abdullah had started championing their demands and spearheading a political movement based on their grievances. In 1932 Sheikh Abdullah founded the All Jammu & Kashmir Muslim Conference to fight for the establishment of responsible government in J&K. He realised that to secure this objective, all the communities in the state must have a united and non­-communal front. To facilitate this, in 1939, the Muslim Conference was converted into a National Conference, which then functioned as a secular party. In India the Muslim League was to adopt its Lahore Resolution just a few months later in March 1940. It was thus clear that the politics of communalism had little attraction by and large for the Muslims of the Valley.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Anand K Verma

Former Chief of R&AW and author of Reassessing Pakistan.

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