Date: 13 Feb 2010


COURTESY: THE PIONEER, FEB 12, 2010/////////////////// Dreamland as Pakistan////////////////// Prafull Goradia///////////// A fractured state that could not have remained united///////////// Bangladesh and Pakistan are both in the news lately. The first in the light of Prime Minister Hasina Wajed’s recent visit to India and the other for Pakistani cricketers not being engaged by any of the teams playing in the Indian Premier League.///////////// Until Sheikh Hasina’s visit I had not realised that the March 23, 1940 Lahore Resolution of the Muslim League had proposed not one but two Muslim homelands. One comprising the north-west and the other consisting of the eastern zone which is now Bangladesh. In Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s expositions of his resolution, West Pakistan and East Pakistan were to be “independent states, autonomous and sovereign”. In his message to the Bombay provincial Muslim League conference held at Hubli on May 26 and May 27, 1940, Jinnah described, “the basic and fundamental principles of the Lahore resolution namely to create independent Muslim states in the North-Western and Eastern zones of India”. The All-India Pakistan Muslim League in its Madras session held on April 12-15, 1941 spoke of two zones being grouped to constitute independent states and which were to be ‘Muslim Free National Homelands’. (History Today 2009, published by the Indian History and Culture Society). //////////////// It is clear that Jinnah was conscious of the incompatibility of the two regions, the north-west and the eastern. Sadr Ayub was much later quoted by Prof Muhammad Quddus to have said: “East Bengalis who constituted the bulk of the population probably belong to the very original Indian races. It would be no exaggeration to say that up to the creation of Pakistan, they have not known any real freedom or sovereignty.” He considered them as a downtrodden race... some even called them kafirs. Sir Feroz Khan Noon, a future Prime Minister of Pakistan but in 1952 the Governor of the eastern wing called the Bengalis half-Muslims. He went on to add that they were not circumcised, did not eat beef and called Hindu priests for ceremonies. ////////////// Well in time, however, in 1944 Abul Mansur Ahmad, president of the Bengal Provincial Muslim League, cited by Ian Talbot’s Pakistan in Modern History, had said: “Religion and culture are not the same thing; religion transgresses geographical boundaries but tamaddun (culture) cannot go beyond the geographical boundary… Here only lies the differences between Purba (East) Pakistan and Pakistan. For this reason the people of Purba Pakistan are a different nation from the people of the other provinces of India and from their ‘religious brothers’ of Pakistan.” /////////////////// No doubt Jinnah would have taken note of all these factors. He had turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to the negotiations held in 1946 between the popular Bengali leader Fazlul Rahman, then already a member of the Muslim League, on the one hand and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s elder brother Sarat Bose. The endeavour was to ensure an independent united Bengal which would join neither Hindustan nor Pakistan. Due to the Muslim majority, it was understood that the Prime Minister of Bengal would always be a Muslim. It was assumed by the Muslim League that, as a result, Bengal would side with Pakistan whenever it was in conflict with Hindustan. Netaji, however, could not get much Hindu support for his scheme except from the Communist Party of India then led by PC Joshi. The CPI considered Bengal as a separate nationality. ///////////////// In 1942 came Sir Stafford Cripps to negotiate a truce with the Congress. The conciliatory attitude indicated the British willingness to devolve power to Indians. The Congress, however, continued to be insistent on complete freedom; the Quit India call of August 9 was a signal. With the progress of 1943, the tide in the World War II turned in favour of the British and its allies. On the other hand, British Indian POWs in the custody of the Japanese had broken their vow of loyalty to the crown and joined Bose’s INA. This was ominous in the light of the British policy of governing India with limited expatriates and most Indians, whether officers or other ranks. /////////////// Jinnah knew that if he wanted partition it had to be before British rule ended. Which probably explained why he and Mahatma Gandhi had a series of meetings at his Malabar Hill house in Bombay during September 1944. Records of the discussions made it clear that Gandhi wanted to let the British go and then the two could divide India. Whereas Jinnah was firm on partition first, independence later. In 1945 the war ended; the Labour Party had come to power in London. Prime Minister Clement Attlee soon declared his policy to give India freedom. Then took place the general elections of 1945-46 wherein Jinnah’s Muslim League achieved a resounding victory. It acclaimed Jinnah as the uncrowned king of all Muslims in India. //////////////// In order to convince the British that Hindus and Muslims could not coexist, the Muslim League called for Direct Action on August 16, 1946 which led to the Great Calcutta Killing and widespread riots thereafter. The two-nation theory, the bedrock of the demand for partition, meant that all the Muslims were a single nation. If that be so, how could Jinnah now remind anyone that his original resolution had contemplated two Pakistans and not one? If he did so, his bedrock would crack. He became a prisoner of events. Which explains why such a clumsy two distant-winged Pakistan was born; only to be separated in bloodshed 24 years later. ////////////////// -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 000000000