Pakistan’s creation: a British conspiracy? – Yasser Latif Hamdani

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A certain political scientist, a writer of 700-page ideologicalpolemic against Jinnah trying unsuccessfully to disprove Ayesha Jalal’s thesis in her book The Sole Spokesman, has been bent uponlabelling the creation of Pakistan as a British conspiracy and Jinnah as their collaborator. Many have resorted to this slander against Jinnah without any supporting evidences even before.

It takes us back to Majlis-e-Ahrar-e-Islam (known in short as Ahrar), Khaksar Tehreek (established by Allama Mashriqi in 1931) and other Islamist religious movements in the 1940s who were fearful of Jinnah’s ascendancy as a modern Muslim leader of the Muslims of South Asia. In these movements, the bigoted Congress backed fundamentalist and sectarian Ahrarthat had special ire directed atJinnah because he repeatedly refused to declare Ahmadis Non-Muslims. The said political scientist’s animus towards Jinnah is also exacerbated becausethe good doctor is the son of a famous Majlis leader who believes that having Zafrullah Khan,a leading Ahmadi, (who wrote Lahore Resolution), as his right-hand man was Jinnah’s biggest crime.

Before going back to this, let us see how Jinnah’s contemporaries viewedhim. Gandhi, his arch-rival, considered him incorruptible andhisdeputy, Jawahar Lal Nehru believed he had no lure of office. His incorruptibility could not be called in question even by his worst enemies. In his book Pakistan or Partition of IndiaB. R. Ambedkar said that “Jinnah could never be suspected to be a tool in the hands of the British”. He further said, “Jinnah is the one politician in the subcontinentto whom the word incorruptible most fittingly applied” and that “Jinnah’s relations with the British were always adversarial”.

Harry Hodson, the author of The Great Divide, writes: “One thing is certain; it was not for any venal motive that he changed. Not even his political enemies accused Jinnah of corruption or self-seeking. He could be bought by no one, and for no price. Nor was he in a least degree a weathercock, swinging in wind of popularity or changing his politics to suit the chances of the times. He was a steadfast idealist as well as a man of scrupulous honour.”

Let us come back to the point of the said political scientist about the creation of Pakistan as a British conspiracy. The basis of this claim seems to be that the Viceroy of India had asked Jinnah to present his counterproposal to Congress’ demand for complete independence and Zafrullah Khan was assigned the task by the British to pen down this document. Had the said political scientist read the memorandum, he would have realised that there was nothing conspiratorial in it. It lays down two possible futures for India: two different states or a federal India with the stress on the latter. Lahore Resolution had kept both options open by using the word constitution in singular in clause 3 of the document.

The far-sightedness of the Two-Nation Theory is now self-evident. Seventy years of practical experience of the Republic of India – with its tall claims of secularism -havevalidated that the Hindu-Muslim binary continues to plague it.Modi has removed the mask entirely vindicating Jinnah’sstance. Thoughthe Two-Nation Theory did not say that the Hindus and the Muslims could notlive together, it insinuated the improbability of their fusion as a nation. Hence, any constitutional arrangement had to be consociational (the cooperation of different social groups on the basis of shared power) in nature as per the Lahore Resolution.

The British desire ofa buffer state against the Soviet Union seems a far-fetched idea!The division of India was at cross-purposes withthe war ambitions of the Britishresulting in the Cabinet Mission Planas a last-ditcheffortfor a united Indian Army. Finally,the partition of the Punjab and Bengal was entirely a choice of the Congress. The Muslims in both the Punjab and Bengal voted overwhelmingly for keeping these provinces as whole. Sikhs were offered a blank cheque in the Punjab by the Muslim League. Most Sikhs regret their refusal of that blank cheque given the anti-Sikh pogrom of October 31 to November 4, 1984 causing the death of nearly 3000 Sikhs and the fact that they are forcibly grouped together with the Hindus under the Constitution. In the East, Muslim League even offered an independent United Bengal, outside of Pakistan, which was rejected by Jawahar Lal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel and the Congress. Congress also rejected the Cabinet Mission Plan because Nehru wanted a centralised state for the foundation of his dynasty.

Thus, those who consider Pakistan a British conspiracy are either completely ignorant of the facts or say so with mala fide intent. This popular and fashionable narrative of, certain “refuseniks” in Pakistan is entirely false. The political scientist I have alluded to writes in bad faith.

The writer is a barrister of Lincoln’s Inn and the author of the book Jinnah a Life published by Pan Macmillan India