Pashtuns, in the process of partition were in a strange situation. They were Muslims but anti-imperialism and thus they cannot be supported by the Muslim League
A sizeable magnitude of literature and body of knowledge is available on the issue of Indo-Pak partition in shape of books, papers, articles and so on. With diversified views, many historians have written loads of pages for and against the process of partition of India that happened in the August of 1947. It is important to study the history so as to learn some lessons as the saying goes that “history repeats itself.” However, there is an equally valid statement that “history never repeat itself, it is only the historians who do that.”
“History, has no other way of answering old questions” says Karl Marx “other than putting new ones.” While E. H. Carr argues that “the function of history is to promote a profounder understanding of both past and present through the interrelation between them.” In short it is always not fair to judge the ‘past’ through the idiosyncratic goggles of ‘present’, moreover it more unfair to judge the present through the standards of the past.
The reason why the scribe of this article decided to write again on the issue of partition is that there has been writings from a ‘Pakistani” point of view, however from a Pashtun nationalist viewpoint, there needs to be some contribution towards the process of recording the history.
India’s importance in British Empire
It is an incontestable fact that the size and magnitude of British Empire was incomparable to the empires of the past all throughout the memory of human race. “The sun never sets on the Empire” was a famous and true saying. The “heart” of the Empire was India, the political center of the Empire, although, was Britain. India was no doubt the ostentatious crown jewel of the British Empire.
The Britons, apparently, devised a two pronged strategy to deal with India. The first part of it was to keep internal harmony through political moves, while on the other hand the Empire always tried to safeguard its “heart” from foreign invaders. In short, internally they tried to rule through laws while externally they tried to keep their fire-power to deter the potential invaders.
It is important to know that the Britons captured Bengal as their first foothold. Later they expanded through a strategy of “preemptive strikes.” They would capture an area and would then capture the nearby areas because they believed that the nearby states are a threat to the Empire. It was iterated after each annexation that the Empire did the preemptive strike just and only because of internal and external threat. Every year a part of India was bitten off and swallowed. In the beginning the threat was from princely states and small Rajas in India, when they were finished off, the threat was linked to Marathas, Sikhs and Rohila Pashtuns. And then there was threat from Afghanistan, and at last there was a threat from the Russian Tsar. In short, the Empire gradually extracted the military, economic and political teeth of all the neighboring countries of India. The best examples were Iran and Afghanistan.
To secure the international routes through waters between London and India, no powerful country was tolerated by the Empire. From London on the way to Bombay and Calcutta all the countries faced the wrath of the Empire, and the countries on the way from Calcutta to Sydney, the Far-eastern countries also faced the same fate.
The Ottoman Empire was supported against the Tsars of Russian who were trying to capture Istanbul through Caucasus and get an access to Mediterranean. The same Ottoman Empire was later denied support against the Italians in the war of Tripoli. The Jew Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli (Lord Beaconsfield) bought the shares of Suez Canal just and only to secure routes to India.
Lord Curzon in his famous speech at Edinburgh in 1909 spoke clearly of the importance of India in the “expansion of British dominion” towards the “east and south of Mediterranean” and “the historical rivalry and struggle against Russia” spanning almost a century was from the “supposed necessity to keeping her (Russia) away from the frontiers of India. Further Lord Curzon stated that capture of South Africa and expansion in Africa was only for the reason to secure Indian routes.
In short, securing India was one of the major reason for bringing death and destruction to many regions of the world at the hands of the British Empire.
Pashtuns: Winning to get Weak
Now we would take a look at the threats that Pashtuns posed to the Empire in its expeditions in the Afghan Land. It must be kept in mind that words like Afghan, Pashtun, Pakhtun and Pathan are almost synonyms and are used interchangeably in the relevant texts.
While Britons were busy in capturing Indian states from the east, Ahmad Shah Abdali with the support Najibullah Khan (Rohila Pakhtun) beat the hell out of Marathas at Panipat. The Company Sarkar and Ranjit Singh was also expanding in the region and they started fearing the Abdali. Thus the British and Sikh regimes joined hands to work against the Pakhtuns.
While after Abdali’s death his son, Taimur Shah, mostly dealt with the internal conflict and never focused on expansion of his frontiers. Taimur Shah’s son named Shah Zaman clung to the power after a long struggle between his twenty two brothers. He tried to get a grip on Lahore to expand east words, but Iranian King Shah Mohammad Qachar signed a treaty with Captain Malcolm of British Empire and created unrest for the Afghans on their southwestern borders at Heart to bar Shah Zaman from his expeditions towards Delhi.
Later Shah Mahmood and Shah Shuja, with their bad governance, made the situation so worse for Pashtuns that Sikhs, with the support of Britons, captured areas like Punjab, Kahsmir, Multan and lastly Peshawar, the summer Capital of Afghanistan, as well.
As a result the only two major players left in the game were Britons in India and Tsars of Russia and both were Christians. Iran tasted the bitterness of their own deceit, as her areas were continuously bitten off and swallowed by Tsars of Russia towards the north, and she kept on reminding the Britons their agreements, but to no avail. In the mean time, Ameer Dost Mohammad Khan held the reigns of power in Afghanistan. He was in dialogue with the British delegation (Sir Alexander Burns and Pandit Mohan Lal from Kashmir) over the control of Peshawar that an envoy of Tsar, Captain Vikovich, came also to Kabul with an offer of extending business relations. With this Kabul became the center of international politics and thus started a game where the Russians provoked Iranians to capture Afghan lands from the west, while British instigated Sikhs to capture the Pashtun lands from the East. The original quarrel between the British and the Russians was played in Afghanistan and this was named as “The Great Game” in the pages of history.
In 1938, the Britons, Shah Shuja (Grandson of Ahmad Shah Abdali) and Ranjit Singh signed a treaty that they all would attack and control Afghanistan. Shah Shuja would control the Afghan land and would give full support to the British Empire. In addition, the areas of Peshawar, Multan, Dera Ghazi Khan and Kashmir would be left over to Ranjit Singh. The capture of Afghanistan started without Ranjit’s support in 1938 and Shah Shuja was planted as a puppet king, as the original decision maker was Sir William Hay McNaughton, who was named as Political Advisor in Kabul.
Ameer Dost Mohammad first escaped to Uzbekistan, but later surrendered to the Britons, however, his son Mohammad Akbar Khan was the one who was continuously fighting the British forces that supported Shah Shuja. On December 22nd of 1841, Akbar Khan was invited by Mr. McNaughton to finalize an agreement. During the meeting McNaughton sought to create division among the tribal chiefs so as to weaken their position. The situation went worse when Sultan Jan and Akbar Khan grabbed McNaughton from arms and pulled out the dagger. McNaughton shouted thrice “Az Baroi Khuda” meaning “For God’s Sake” don’t kill me, but Lady McNaughton, who was also regarded as “Khonome Buzurg” or “First Lady” in Kabul was widowed by the Afghans and then started a story of slaughter and bloodletting thus ending the first Anglo-Afghan as a complete loss for the British Empire at the hands of Pashtun resilience.
As a result Governor General of India George Eden, the Earl of Auckland, lost his job and later the British Empire seized the power of Sind, mulled over Marthas and weakened the Nepalese. At last they also fought the Sikh regime after the death of Ranjit Singh and took control of the areas of Peshawar and the nearby tribal areas as well. Afghanistan and Iran were both taken in control by the British through different treaties and it was one of the major reasons that the 1857 War of Freedom in India that was fought mostly by the Rohila Pashtuns, was not supported in any form by the Pashtun lands. It must be stated at this point that though the resolve and faith of the 1857 freedom fighters was unmatchable, their aim and mission was below par, and that was why the results were not in their favor.
To conclude, it could be learnt from the history that only fight can never bring success. Inner unity for a nation is the bedrock one which a nation should lay the foundation for growth. Gun power and fighting are an important element in saving one’s face, but to grow and become powerful a nation needs leaders, who have vision and the will to take powerful initiatives and guide all the people to peace, tranquility and success.Afghans: An Earthen Pipkin between two Iron Pots
To further the discussion, we must understand the situation of Pashtun areas after the first Afghan-Anglo war and we must understand that how they were pressed or indeed suppressed between two powerful empires of the world. The result was more isolation and misfortune for the Pashtun masses, just and only for the reason of its strategic location.
On one side Ameer Dost Mohammad Khan died and his legatees started fighting for the throne, while on the other hand there were two opposing groups of policymakers on the British side. One policy was named as “Backward Policy” while the other one was “Forward Policy.”
The Backward policy was supporting the idea that Indus River should be kept as the natural frontier of India and the areas on the other side of the river must be given to Afghanistan. The followers of the Backward Policy believed that Russians would attack Afghanistan and with support from the British Empire, the Afghans would viciously fight usurpers and also the British enemies. This policy was also named as “Masterly Inactivity” by J.W. Willie in the monthly journal named “Edinburgh Review.”
The Forward Policy promoted the idea that the borders of India should be expanded till the River Oxus so that British can easily keep a check on the Tsars of Russia. The followers of Forward Policy won the race as Lord Robert Lytton was appointed as Viceroy of India in 1876.
With the appointment of Lord Robert Lytton, the Forward Policy was put to practice. A message was sent to the Afghan Ameer Sher Ali that he should allow the presence of a British envoy in Kabul. Ameer Sher Ali was a shrewd man as he “demurred to the proposal of a British Envoy being sent to Kabul, and desired to send an agent” to get to know the original thoughts concealed “in the generous heart of the British government.”
The situation get worst with the reply of the Ameer and the Muslim envoy of the British Government in Kabul named Atta Mohammad was thus called back to India. The reply letter to Ameer Sher Ali was quite harsh but it gain no grounds, and consequently the Empire started expansion towards the borders of Afghanistan by doubling their efforts to gain control of the Bolan pass. The situation is best explained in the book named “The Economic History of India in the Victorian Age: Trubner’s Oriental Series” as it says that Lord Lyttn was “annoyed this fresh check” and he said that “the British Government could only assist those who valued its assistance.” The Lord threatened that he can “pour an overwhelming force into Afghanistan” and our army can “break him (Ameer Sher Ali) as a reed.” The Lord further told the Envoy in Afghanistan that the Ameer is trying to hold balance between Britons and Russia but the Ameer in real is only “an earthen pipkin between two iron pots.”
The situation of Amir Sher Ali could be imagined without doubt. He was strained to have a British Envoy in Kabul from one end and to not oppose the Russians forces on its northern borders from the other. It was good that the conference in Germany, under Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck, went well and a treaty was signed. Thus General Stoletov pulled back his army and a potential war between Russians and Britons was avoided.
Although the Russians signed the treaty that they would not attack India, but as per the Forward Policy, Afghanistan was to be annexed. The second step was to divide the Afghan Lands into small emirates so that the grip of Britons on the Pashtuns could be strengthened. The Indian Viceroy asked the Amir to entertain a British delegation in Afghanistan through a letter. As the favorite son of Ameer Sher Ali died in the same days the response was delayed. The Delegation that was travelling through Khyber Pass was formally asked to take approval of the Ameer first. The British Empire started denouncing the Ameer and asked him that an official excuse is due to the Indian Viceroy for the derogatory statements that came forth while dealing with the British delegation at the Afghan Border at Ali Masjid area. Ameer asked through a letter that the delegation can come now, while kept a mum over the issue of official excuse. Thus the Britons tagged the Ameer as pro-Russian and started mobilizing its army.
The army attacked Afghanistan from three sides. General Samuel Browne was heading the forces that attacked through Khyber Pass. General Frederick Roberts was commanding the division that was offensive on the border through Kurram Agency. General Donald Stewart headed the forces through Bolan Pass, and thus started the second Anglo-Afghan War. Ameer Sher Ali fled towards the north and appointed his son Ameer Yaqub Khan as the new leader of Pashtuns. Russians didn’t let Ameer Sher Ali enter their borders and he died in February 1979 in the city of Mazar-e-Sharif. The English campaign went smooth and they captured major areas of Pashtun lands and forced the newly appointed Ameer to sign the disrespectful “Treaty of Gandamak” in May 1979.
Under the Treaty of Gandamak the foreign policy of Afghanistan was handed over to Britons, while envoys of the British Empire were to be posted in Kabul, Kandahar and Herat. The areas of Kurram Agency, Pishin, Sibbi, Bolan, Michni, Khyber and nearby areas were given to the Empire. It must be kept in mind that Gandamak was the ridge where the last British Soldier was killed in the first Afghan-Anglo war and thus the same spot was intentionally selected for the aweless treaty.Pashtuns: A petty Hurdle in the Great Game
Before we reach upon the issues of partition of the subcontinent, it is important to know in detail the issues that the Pashtuns of the region unknowingly created. They fought time and time again the British Empire. They resisted the expansionism of British and presented, not a threat, to capture the “crown jewel” but didn’t let the imperialists enjoy and reap the benefits in a relaxed manner. The Pashtuns, most probably, forgot or even didn’t know about the Newton’s law that “to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
As the Pashtuns learned about the disrespectful treaty, a hell broke loose and Ameer Yaqub lost his leadership. Like McNaughton of the first Afghan-Anglo war, the new Political Advisor named Sir Pierre Louis Napoleon Cavagnari, famously named as Major Cavagnari, was killed by the Pashtuns. The skirmishes between British Army and Pashtuns started and under the leadership of General Jan Mohammad Wardak and Mullah Mushk-e-Alam the British forces in Kabul were beaten so badly that they took refuge in the cantonment of Sher Pur in Kabul and were surrounded by the Afghan Militia. Later the Kabul forces were saved by the forces of General Stewart when they reached from Jalalabad.
In the southwest Ayub Khan, son of Ameer Sher Ali, was very strong and he was in complete control of Herat. He fought and beat the British Army to the ground in the famous “fight of Mewand” against Brigadier General George Burrows. Now the British knew that they must retreat to India before the start of winters. They supported Abdur Rehman Khan, who was in exile in Bukhara, to become the new Ameer and retreated to India.
The first and second Afghan-Anglo wars were part of the turbulent relations of Pashtuns with the British Empire. On the sides of lower Pakhtunkhwa (the eastern side of Durand Line) there are numerous stories of fight and disturbance for the Empire. Some of the famous people included Umara Khan of Jandol. Umara Khan as per some anecdotal information was also regarded as “Afghan Napoleon” by the Britons. Umara Khan fought the British during their campaigns of Malakand Division.
The next important person in the fighting history of Pashtuns is Mullah Powindah (Mohyuddin). His fight was against the British forces that were about to do the demarcation of the Durand Line between Afghanistan and the then British India. The line was regarded as a divide between the Pashtun heartland and thus Mullah Powindah retaliated with force. He sent letters to Mr. Bruce (The Commissioner of Dera Jaat) to stop the mission but had to attack the Tank cantonment at last. Powindah’s campaigns won him the title of “a first-class scoundrel” from Lord Curzon.
It is worthy to spell out a short history of the “Tribal Uprising of 1897” against the realization of Durand Line, a line dividing Pashtuns, at this point. Mullah Powindah along with Hadda Mullah (Najmuddin), Mad Mullah (Saadullah), Maulana Hamza Khan etc worked hard to instigate an army of almost 200,000 tribesmen to fight the British Army. H Woosnam Mills in his book “The Pathan Revolt in North-West India” described the situation as
“With astonishing rapidity the conflagration spread until in short period the whole frontier line from Malakand to Kurram was ablaze and all the tribesmen more or less were under arms”
Moreover Haji Fazl-e-Wahid alias Haji Sahib Turangzai was one of the person that need to be mentioned as well, while talking of the Pashtun fight against the imperial Britons. Although the British Chief Commissioner Ross Keppel along with Sir Sahibzada Abdul Qayum Khan selected Haji Sahib to lay the foundation stone of Dar-ul-Uloom-e-Islamia (Islamia Colleg) in Peshawar. On the occasion, Haji Sahib prayed for the Ottoman Empire’s success and denounced the role of British Empire in the “War of Tripoli” and Balkan Wars openly, to the utter dismay of the Mr. Keppel.
Haji Sahib went to Mohmand Agency and started the physical resistance. His fought many battles and one of the most successful was in 1915, when his army of Mujahideen attacked a British camp at Rustam, Mardan. As per the calculations of a historian named Ghulam Rasul Mohar the number of dead and injured in the series of attacks on Rustam was up to 600.
Another prominent fighter against the British Empire in the Pashtun history is Haji Mirza Ali khan aka Faqir of Ipi. The case of abduction of minor Hindu girl and her forceful conversion to the name Islam Bibi and another case of destruction of a Mosque in Lahore at the hands of Sikhs were the issues that were supported by the Britons against the feelings of the Muslims and thus Faqir sahib announced Jihad against the empire. He fought many wars inflicted heavy casualties to the army of the Empire. His extraordinaire was his ability to be everywhere and nowhere. Khan Abdul Wali Khan in his book “Facts are Sacred” quotes the letter of Viceroy to the Secretary of State for India in England that:
“He (Faqir of Ipi) is not only implacable but also completely incorruptible ---- who would rid me of this turbulent Priest!”
On the other side of the Durand Line, Ghazi Amanullah Khan is one of the persons who retaliated against the Britons with force. Amanullah Khan was the son of Ameer Habibullah Khan. During the First World War, Germany and Turkey tried a lot to get support of Afghanistan; however Ameer Habibullah’s tilt was towards the Britons. With Ameer’s death the reigns of power came to Amanullah’s hands. Now the Tsars were swept off by the October Bolshevik Revolution while Lenin and his friends openly declared that they would support anti-imperialist movements in the East. The situation in India was also not stable for the Britons as the promises made during the wartime were mostly forgotten by the usurpers. Haji Sahib of Turangzai was continuously fighting the Britons in the Tribal Areas, Bacha Khan (Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan) was working on the social, economic, cultural and educational growth of Pashtuns while the Nationalists in Afghan structures got support from the newly appointed Ameer. The situation seemed ripened and thus in 1919 Ghazi Amanullah Khan broke the treaty of Gandamak in a single-sided fashion and attacked the Britons through three channels. The Afghan Army attacked through Khyber Agency, Kurram Agency and Bolan Pass. The result was that Britons revised the policies towards Afghanistan and at last the country got emancipated from the influence of British Empire, however the Pashtuns on the eastern side of Durand Line were left under the influence of the cunning and usurping world power. Resultantly the tribal areas under the British influence were bombarded continuously through the British Air Force from 1919 till 1947.
The last and one of the most important person of the Pashtun Lands was Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan also named as Bacha Khan by Pashutns, who fought against the British Empire. The difference between Bacha Khan’s fight and others’ fight was that Bacha Khan fought with the “weapon of mass construction” named “non-violence.” Bacha Khan was successful in inspiring an army of 100,000 non-violent soldiers named as Khudai Khidmatgars from the Pashtun Lands. His mission was social, economic, cultural and educational reforms in the Pashtun lands, but he was tagged as a Bolshevik, his supporters were imprisoned, his fellows were butchered and his schools were forfeited by the Empire. It is an established fact that the non-violent soldiers played a vital role in emancipating the nation from the colonial rule and they “shouldered the responsibility diligently and unflinchingly to a conclusion, which seemed a vague dream to the hoi polloi until the last moment of its becoming a reality.”Pashtuns and the Partition
In the first part of the article we have discussed in detail how much India was important for the British Empire and to start with we must know that to let go the golden sparrow so easily was not an easy decision. Thus, in August 1947, the think tanks of British Empire tried their best to design the process of Indian emancipation in a manner that can best suit their interest in years to come.
The British Rule over the Indian subcontinent can best be defined by the Latin saying divid et impera or in English “divide and conquer.” The Britons grabbed the power from the Muslims and thus initially they joined hands with the Hindus to subdue the Muslims. Till 1857 the Hindus earned a lot socially, educationally, economically and politically and when they started to challenge the presence of Britons on their land, the tilt of support from the imperial forces was shifted towards the Muslims. In short, the British Empire always used the split between Muslim and Hindus to their benefit at best.
Initially the All India Congress (AIC) was established in 1885 by the British, however the AIC gradually evolved into a force that was against the British presence in the sub-continent. Here Sir Syed Ahmad Khan was used to divide the Indian mentality on religious grounds again and thus the famous Two Nation Theory was coined. Muslim League, which in Urdu can be best translated as Jumat-e-Islami, thus came into being.
During the same era, the Khudai Khidmatgars under the leadership of Bacha Khan gained strength and especially after the 1930 the Red Shirts joined hands with the AIC to make it an outfit with the sole mission of fighting for emancipation of India from the British clutches. Now the Britons had two things in their mind. One was that they should keep on sowing the seed of hate among the Hindus and Muslims to extend their rule over the subcontinent, while the second was that in case of emancipating India, the freedom should be through a process that no one should get total control of this crown jewel. Both the options were kept open while playing the game.
In 1890, Oil was discovered in Baku, Azerbaijan and thus started an international campaign for control over the oil. After the WWI the British Empire brought the Kurd areas of Sulaimanya and Mosul under its belt just and only because these areas were having oil, then Kuwait, Saudi, Bahrain etc were brought under the British influence to have access to oil. Later Israel was also conceived, inter alia, to have a check on the Arab’s control over oil.
Now the Britons had a challenging situation. Britons knew that if they leave India as it is, then the power would go into the hands of AIC and Khudai Khidmatgars. The Hindu businessmen of Bombay and Calcutta were quite mature and they could easily guide India to glory, thus bringing the Indian products in direct competition with the products of Briton. On the other side there were Muslim businessmen who were also wary of the Hindu businessmen and wanted markets that are easy to monopolize, the Muslim business community, which mostly shifted to Karachi and was represented by Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
Moreover, the Britons knew that if India is given into the hands of AIC, the country would grow very fast into a power and thus the Europeans would lose their bit of share into the region. India would thus gain influence over the Hot Waters, Central Asia, Middle East, Far East and all the important routes in Indian Ocean would get into their hands. The Oil from Arab countries would be hard to be taken away and secondly almost 90% of the raw-materials taken away from Africa to Europe can easily be linked to India as Africa is closer to the subcontinent. And lastly India if left united would be such a huge country that it would not bind itself to the international politics of the British Empire.
British thinkers knew that if left as united India, the country would be among the international “Super-powers” within 10 to 15 years of its freedom and can easily become a symbol for the poor and vulnerable countries in Asia and Africa. Britons already had the bad taste and bitter experience of USA. To have a realistic view, India was not acceptable as a super power to Britons and to the new world power after WWII, the Americans as well. Thus the Britons started to prepare Muslim League for the partition of India year by year. In short, it is a folly to regard partition as a brain child of the leaders of Muslim League. Partition was planned and implemented at a different level.
Secondly, the partition was planned to be based on hatred and thus the divided countries would feel threatened from one another and rather than working on the development projects, they would plunge into an arms race, while the arms were supplied by USA and European powers as well. Consequently, in the opinion of the scribe, after the WWII the Britons knew that they can not rule the India anymore and the preparation started for partition.
Then came the declaration of Britons that they wanted to divide the India. AIC under the leadership of MK Gandhi was initially against the decision predominantly because of the Khudai Khidmatgars, but the Hindus later realized that Pashtuns and their benefit cannot be placed into the politics of Britons.
Pashtuns, in the process of partition were in a strange situation. They were Muslims but anti-imperialism and thus they cannot be supported by the Muslim League, while on the other hand they were not ready to change their religion. Lastly, they were Pashtun nationalists and not Indian nationalists. In short, the Muslim League had its control of the religion of the Pashtuns, while the All India Congress had its control over the politics of Pashtuns. And more importantly, Pashtuns were geographically placed at the northwestern end of India and the “Scientific Frontier” of Britons was also on their heartland. Britons were in no position to let go the control of its Scientific Frontier unless AIC would’ve outright rejected the idea of partition. But AIC didn’t do the rejection and thus started a process of deceit against the Pashtuns.
Bacha Khan in his autobiography writes:
“When Lord Mountbatten was about to leave, he (Olaf Caroe) told the Viceroy that we should punish the Pashtuns in such a way that their grandchildren should also have the repercussions of it. It is because, 100 million Muslims are living in India and none have opposed us so viciously. They went on to join All India Congress to oppose us (the Britons)…”
AIC was asking for division of Bangal and Punjab provinces, while Mountbatten accepted this idea with the condition that they should hold a referendum in NWFP. The AIC played the game at the cost of Pashtuns and the major losers in the game were Pashtuns. Bacha Khan further writes in his book
We, the Khudai Khidmatgars, tried very hard to bring Hindus and Muslims of India close to each other. Whether I was at home, in NWFP or anywhere in India, I have always tried my best to create love, unity and wholeness into the two religions inhabiting the same land and to avoid the enmity and the religious splits. But with the decision of Partition, you can see the bloodletting and chaos and all my efforts are pushed to drown into the river of hatred.
By the way, one of the most important persons in the game of Partition was Lady Mountbatten. She was very shrewd and talented lady. She was the major reason for Mr. Mountbatten’s appointment as Viceroy of India. Later through her special relations with widowed Nehru, she was able to convince him on the issue of partition. All ended well for all except Pashtuns. Congress got what they want; Muslim League received what they asked for, while the Britons succeeded in getting revenge from the Pakhtuns.
It was a fact that Hindus served the Britons while they were establishing their rule on the subcontinent, and thus AIC was given the major portion of the India after partition including half of Punjab and Bangal, and complete Kashmir, Gurdaspur, Junagarh and Hyderabad. The Muslim League served the British masters and got Pakistan in return. The Pashtuns, who always fought the Britons were destined to be pushed into the deep hole of bedlam through the process of Partition, which was even regarded as “Shameful Flight” by the Winston Churchill.
Mr. Abdul Qayum Khan, who is famous to have banned his own book named “Gold and Guns on the Pathan Frontier” writes the view of Pashtuns regarding the emancipation of India in the book:
The (Muslim) League High Command, at present, is dominated by persons who hail from provinces where the Muslims are in minority. They have come to the forefront by playing on the fear complex among the Muslims and by raising the cry for Pakistan. Frontier Muslims have the greatest regard and affection for their co-religionists in that the Muslims should have a square deal in India, but they will not shrink from any sacrifice to secure that end. But they feel that you cannot have even Pakistan in India while a third party is in possession of the country. The prospects of a Pakistan subservient to British Imperialism does not, and will not, attract them. They are hundred percent for complete, unfettered self-determination for the Muslims; but equally are they convinced that there can be no self-determination either for Muslims or for any one else while India is not free.
To have the icing on the cake, Mr. Akbar S Ahmed writes in his book “Resistance and Control in Pakistan” the story that when the Britons openly announced that they are about to leave the country forever, what happened in Waziristan:
PT Duncan, who (also) served as PA (Political Agent) in 1943, was killed during a jirga at the Sararogha Scouts’ fort by a young Mahsud whose father had lost his life fighting the British. The Mahsud has been advised that if he wished to take badal (revenge), the primary law of the Pukhtun code, he had best get on with it and kill Mr. Duncan, for soon there would be no Englishmen left and London was a long way from Waziristan. The PA’s badragga (security force) shot the assassin on the spot.
In short, the disloyalty of Congress handcuffed the Pashtuns and handed them over to the Muslim Leaguers as a toy to play with all along the history of Pakistan. Khudai Khidmagars won the 1946 elections clearly in NWFP and were still forced to go for a referendum while in Punjab and Bengal only the elected legislature were asked that whether they wish to be with India or Pakistan. In short, the partition of India was indeed the partition of Muslims of India into many countries while unification of Hindus and Sikhs into one mighty India. And Pashtuns were “thrown to a gang of hungry wolves.”
(A long version of this article first appeared in The Frontier Post)
|The writer holds Master degree in Business Administration from Philippine Christian University Manila. Currently, he is working as program Coordinator at Afghan Management and Marketing Consultants (AMMC), Kabul, Afghanistan|