Reflections on Jinnah – Part 10

Reflections on Jinnah – Part 10

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‘The Partition Plan was announced on the 3rd of June 1947, which entailed the division of British India into two separate dominions. The Muslim majority provinces were to form a federation which would be called ‘Pakistan’, while the Hindu majority provinces were to form India, with the Princely States given the choice of accession to either of the dominions or complete independence.

The Plan was followed by the creation of the Radcliffe Commission which was tasked with carving out the borders of the new states. Despite the sweeping victory of the Muslim League in the 1945-46 elections in all Muslim majority provinces of India, the Radcliffe Commission felt it necessary to divide the provinces of Punjab and Bengal in order to cater to their non-Muslim minorities. Fair enough, but a point of contention arises when one considers the significant Muslim populations that had lived in Kerala, Bihar, Assam, UP (then the United Provinces), Madhya and Madras for generations. No such arrangement of partition was made in those provinces for the Muslims. Such was the constitutional problem of India.

The politically motivated partition robbed Pakistan of many crucial districts in both Punjab and Bengal, most of which not only carried military importance (i.e. Murshidabad in Bengal, Ferozepur and Pathankot in Punjab) but also formed significant natural boundaries (i.e. Gurdaspur, Fazilka, Kapurthala in Punjab, Malda in Bengal). It also swelled the flow of refugees into the new state. Even after Independence, India continued to press its unjustified claims on East Pakistani districts (i.e. Lakshmipur, Chittagong, Khulna, Hilli etc). Additionally, a referendum was ordered in the Muslim majority North West Frontier Province, and also in the Assamese district of Sylhet. Both referendums resulted overwhelmingly in favor of accession to Pakistan.

The Princely States of Kashmir, along with Junagadh, Manavadar and Hyderabad had Muslim majority populations as well. While Junagadh and Manavadar opted for accession to Pakistan, Kashmir was signed over to India by its Maharaja, and Hyderabad opted for independence on the same footing as India and Pakistan. The aforementioned states had a common fate, whereby all of them were forcibly annexed by India via military conquest.

Pathan tribesmen, on the call of the Kashmiri rebellion leaders descended on the valley soon after and managed to resist complete annexation by Indian occupying forces. The Pakistani Army did not enter the conflict until early 1948, when the Quaid e Azam’s orders of defending Pakistani territory were finally accepted by its British commanding officers. The Indian Army was pushed out of Rawalakot, Bagh, Poonch and Neelum. Further north, the Balti people of Gilgit, Skardu and Ghanche overthrew the Indian political establishment and forced Indian troops out of the area.

Video Credits: Jamil Dehlavi & Akbar S. Ahmed

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Reflections on Jinnah – Part 9

Reflections on Jinnah – Part 9

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‘Coinciding with the years of WWII, Jinnah would embark on the arduous task of reorganizing the Muslim League which was by then gaining prominence in India due to its lobbying in the interests of the Muslims.

Jinnah’s greatest struggle would be to reconcile the divisions that existed within the Muslim communities of India. When the British crushed the 1857 uprising and spread their rule across India, many Muslims withdrew into obscurity because of the apparent disintegration of their ‘beloved’ Mughal Empire.

New, ‘westernized’ methods of governance were introduced which were readily embraced by many Muslims, Hindus and other communities. There was however an orthodox reformist group of Muslims that called for a return to the ‘puritanical’ roots of their faith, which they perceived to be in contradiction to western ideals of society and politics. Over the years, this group grew larger, attracting people due of its ‘anti-western’ rhetoric.

These people shut themselves away from ‘western’ education, decried interaction with the ‘firangis’ and subsequently the other communities of India, and also advocated non-indulgence in politics. When Jinnah emerged as a leading member of the Congress Party in the early 1900’s, they branded him as an impostor and a stooge of the British. This was the same group of people that was easily lured into the Khilafat Movement/Civil-disobedience by Gandhi due to his appeal to communalism.

Jinnah maintained a dignified stature in the face of their criticism, and continued his realistic political work. Their fundamentalism inspired a young man to talk his way into Jinnah’s home and attack him with a knife in July 1943. Jinnah would survive the attack thanks to his Pathan driver who subdued the attacker. Sharifuddin Pirzada reports that Jinnah immediately instructed him to issue a press statement clarifying that the attacker was indeed a Muslim, lest the aftermath of the incident be marred by communal violence and rioting.

The incident is also significant because it moved Jinnah’s daughter Dina to visit him at his home. They had not spoken or met in person since Dina married Neville Wadia, a Parsi businessman who resided in Bombay.

Video Credits: Jamil Dehlavi & Akbar S. Ahmed

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Reflections on Jinnah – Part 8

Reflections on Jinnah – Part 8

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‘The independence movement had weathered many a storm by the time the Mountbattens would arrive. Mr. Jinnah was by then regarded as the sole spokesperson of the Muslims in India, unchallenged in his political struggle and unwavering to pressure from his rivals.

Jinnah was also being accorded titles such as Quaid e Azam (The Greatest Leader), Baba e Qaum (Father of the Nation) etc. by the public. Gandhi had started referring to him as ‘Quaid e Azam’ as well. Jinnah had insisted on being known only as Mr. Jinnah and nothing else, lest he be accorded the same God like status that Gandhi enjoyed. He had a dislike for personality cults, which was evident from his refusal to accept British Knighthood in 1925.

The Mountbattens had been to India previously during WWII, when Lord Mountbatten served as the Allied Commander fighting the Japanese in Burma. After the war ended, his reassignment as Viceroy raised many eyebrows as he was primarily a military leader unaware of the political and religious fault lines in India.

Upon his arrival, he was accorded a royal welcome and was immediately drawn into a personal friendship by the leader of Congress, Jawaharlal Nehru. Nehru was to be the future ‘Prince’ of India and Mountbatten looked for ways with which to share some of his glory.

Mountbatten had been known to desire a similar relationship with Jinnah, but was always put off by Jinnah’s principled stance on justice and fair play. Jinnah’s refusal to acquiesce to the Congress’s demands for a United India lead to more antagonism from Mountbatten. Despite Mountbatten’s uncivilized behavior and unprofessional demeanor, Jinnah accorded him the respect befitting a Viceroy.

When the plan to partition the Subcontinent was finally announced, Lord Mountbatten felt it necessary to change its date in order to ‘prevent massacres and loss of life’. He also personally oversaw the division of land, military and government assets, and monetary funds between the two new countries. It was also under his supervision that the newly formed Indian Government took the matter of Kashmir to the United Nations.

While Gandhi would fast against the many injustices being done to Pakistan by the Indian government after independence, Nehru and Mountbatten readied their troops to forcibly annex the rebellious Kashmir which had erupted in protest after its Dogra Maharaja signed the state over to India. The British Officers who had volunteered to serve in the new Pakistan Army would also refuse to obey the Quaid e Azam’s orders to defend Pakistani territory.

Video Credits: Jamil Dehlavi & Akbar S. Ahmed

#Jinnah
#PakistanAt70′