Muslim feudal leadership was convinced that Pakistan movement could only succeed when Hindu-Muslim divide and feelings of hatred against each other were exploited to the optimum
We celebrate 14th of August as our independence day. However this was the day when we succeeded in dividing India, while independence was being granted even without Partition, as Muslim League’s agenda was never-- freedom from the English. It had tried to politically establish an independent Islamic cultural identity, forming the basis of a separate nationhood. As a consequence, politics of hate and violence emerged as necessary evils to achieve the stated objectives; as this would entail so much chaos among followers of various religions that the English, Hindus and Sikhs would be forced to subscribe to Partition.
Initiating violence was against the interest of the Hindus and Sikhs, as they were dead against the division of India while this was their homeland for thousands of years. They had an upper hand in business, agriculture and quantum of wealth even in the Muslim majority areas of Punjab. Muslims were living with them side by side, so why should the Hindus and Sikhs be interested in abandoning their ancestral lands, property and businesses. Hence Partition and violence were relevant to Muslims. It is also interesting to note that as long as Muslims were rulers of India, they never felt the desire to be considered as a separate nation, but as the sun dawned on the Muslim empire, they suddenly realized that they were a separate nation who could not live alongside the Hindus and Sikhs. Hence Muslims can live with non-Muslims as long as they are the rulers, whereas they cannot live with non-Muslims when the later become the rulers, even if the land belonged to the non-Muslims for thousands of years.
In today’s world we find that wherever Muslims are living in lands which belonged to non-Muslims, they are engaged in separatist movements or they are trying to baptize the non-Muslims.
In the initial blueprint of Pakistan, there was no provision for the division of Punjab. So much so that our elitist Urdu-speaking class even wanted Delhi to be part of Pakistan as it remained the centre of Muslim heritage and the throne of Muslim rulers. How could it be left to the Hindus? That was the reason why Pakistan establishment kept dreaming of hoisting the flag with a crescent on Delhi’s red fort in collaboration with Jamaat-e-Islami and Hafiz Saeed & Company.
Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs were living together in Punjab for centuries. One community was in a majority at one place while at another it would form the minority. By and large they would live in harmony and had feelings of goodwill towards each other. Creation of Pakistan was never the brainchild of the Muslims of Punjab, but an initiative of Urdu-speaking Muslims of UP and Bihar which could never become part of Pakistan. Hence gangs of volunteers came from UP and Bihar who instigated the Muslims of Punjab against Hindus and Sikhs.
One naked truth is that from March 6th to March 13th, 1947, a massacre of Hindus and Sikhs took place in the districts of Rawalpindi, Attock and Jhelum in which 5000 members of Hindu-Sikh community lost their lives. This was the impetus which led to mass scale violence and migration in most parts of East and West Punjab. The second big incident was setting on fire of Shah Aalmi market Lahore which was also the residential area of Hindu and Sikh traders. The Muslim feudal leadership was convinced that Pakistan movement could only succeed when Hindu-Muslim divide and feelings of hatred against each other were exploited to the optimum. Muslim League began civil disobedience movement against the government of Khizer Hayat in Punjab and then transmutated it into a bloody battle between Hindus and Muslims. All politicians, feudals, molvis and pirs supported the riots both morally as well as materially; a war of attrition thus began. Gangsters and criminals then joined in and crimes such as premeditated attacks on each others’ areas, massacres, loot, plunder and rape of women were perpetrated on a very large scale by all sides. One thing is however clear. Both Gandhi and Nehru tried their best to save Muslims in Delhi and Mumbai. Gandhi was later murdered by a fanatic Hindu for being too sympathetic towards Muslims. Jinnah and Liaqat Ali were nowhere to be seen in such an activity.
The argument that Jinnah was never for the division of Punjab and he even tried to convince Hindus and Sikhs to be a part of the new Muslim state is nothing but the utopia of Jinnah. The ground reality was that a mass scale murder of Hindus and Sikhs had already begun in Punjab whereas the dislocation of these communities was in the interest of Muslims. Hindus and Sikhs were land lords, businessmen, bureaucrats and owners of huge property and that was the right time to displace them and grab all their wealth and property. So much hatred and Islamic fanaticism was injected into the Pakistan narrative that at what guarantee Hindus and Sikhs could have felt secure to be part of the new state.
We can safely assume that even if the Hindus and Sikhs of Punjab had consented to be a part of Pakistan, within the province of Punjab, another bloody division of Punjab had definitely taken place within a couple of years later, as in Muslim narrative there is no concept of living with non-Muslims with equal rights in a pluralistic society. Pakistani Muslims favor a highly pure form of Islamic society. Muslims even desire to convert the Europeans and Americans, how could they have tolerated Hindus and Sikhs in their midst in such large numbers.
Now a word about Cabinet Mission Plan: Barely one year before Partition, Mohammad Ali Jinnah had consented to form a confederation with India while the Congress rejected the plan. One inference drawn can be that Jinnah was not completely in favor of the creation of Pakistan. The rightist Mr.Safdar Mahmood contradicts that. He is of the opinion that Cabinet Mission Plan envisaged a loose confederation where the centre did not even have finance as an exclusive subject. Second, after a lapse of ten years there was provision for secession. So Jinnah wanted to accept the plan till such time that it failed. That is true; as Congress and Sardar Patel had realized it then that the Muslim League would not let the Confederation function. Hence it was right time to get rid of the separatist Muslims or they would act as a major obstacle to peace and stability; the two main goals of the Indian state.
Apparently Pakistan was created to rid the Muslims of the so- called unending hostility between the various communities, yet what happened was exactly the opposite. Hatred towards the Hindu became the lynchpin of Pakistan’s national security doctrine and four inconclusive wars were fought with India.
Presently the unstable state of Pakistan has transformed into a hub of religious extremism, terrorism and proxy wars. Today we have surpassed hostility towards the Hindu and have now graduated to hatred towards the Jewish and the Christian.
Today Pakistan stands alone on one side of the fence while on the other side all our neighbors and the developed nations of the world stand together, perplexed as to how to handle the state gone awry.
|Arshad Mahmood is a columnist,freelance writer and a social activist.