Red, White and Black

On Jinnah and Partition
12 September, 2006, 12:45 am
Filed under: India, Pakistan

Over the last few days I have stumbled upon two things that have precipitated this post: one, I happened to watch Jinnah and two, I came across a series of articles by A.G. Noorani on Jinnah and Partition [Jinnah in Indian History, Assessing Jinnah and Jinnah and Partition].

Jinnah happens to be the most misunderstood personality of the Indian subcontinent. In Pakistan, we have turned Jinnah into a superhuman object – someone who is beyond fault. Much of this was evident in the movie Jinnah. While the movie did raise some tough questions [questioning and then justifying partition and the resultant carnage] but it only told one side of the story – more or less sticking to the Pakistan’s state’s version. What struck me the hardest was the fact that the most critical line from his August 11 speech was edited from the movie:

You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the State….

You will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State.

Yes, the state commissioned the making of the movie and thus it is not all that surprising. Though I will still go on to construe it as character assassination – maybe it is a bit harsh but the truth of the matter is that we haven’t done Jinnah any justice. His true ideals remais forgotten and the state here only continues to ensure that that they are buried deeper.

While in Pakistan we have idolised Jinnah, he has been made into the devil in India. He is the person who shed his secular credentials for ambitions of heading a Muslim state and caused the partition of India. Both these charges need to be refuted in the strongest words.

In my understanding Jinnah’s volte-face from being the ambassador of Hindu-Muslim Unity [an Indian nationalist] to a proponent of the Two Nation Theory [a Muslim Nationalist] can be explained by the events of the decade of 1935-1945. Jinnah returned to India in 1935. Two main events seem to have transformed his outlook into a Muslim nationalist one from an Indian nationalist one. One, there was increased discourse between him and Iqbal. They both shared a lot of correspondence through series of letters till Iqbal died. One thing that does make out of their discourse is that Jinnah gradually became aware of the nationalist Muslim strand in Indian politics and began to think more of the ‘Muslims’ of India, than of ‘Indians’. This is an interesting insight into the relationship shared between the two. But it is uncertain to what extent Jinnah agreed with Iqbal’s ideals- because prior to Jinnah’s return to India these two rarely did see eye-to-eye. Anyways, the other factor that precipitated his volte-face was the outcome of the elections of 1937 – the emergence of the Congress ministries and the excesses against the Muslims under governance.

But this in itself does not exonerate him of having caused the partition of the India. The popular belief in India [and Pakistan] remains that he was equivocal in his demand for a separate demand homeland for the Muslims of India. He was the stubborn uncompromising constitutionalist. On the contrary, Jinnah very much wanted to work within the framework of a United India. It was in this spirit that he had accepted the Cabinet Mission Plan of 1946, which provided for a Union of India with three units to the federation. The Centre was to maintain control over the areas of defense, foreign affairs and communications – the federations were free to formulate their own governments. But of course, that fell apart once Congress eventually rejected the terms of the Cabinet Misson Plan. A. G. Noorani provides a very comprehensive and neutral view of the event in this piece.

There is another critical aspect that Noorani discusses in his articles. Noorani believes that the blame for the eventual partition of the subcontinent lies with the Congress leadrship for it never really allowed a workable alternative to Pakistan develop. As Noorani notes:

The Governor of Punjab, H.D. Craik, wrote perceptively to the Viceroy on April 1, 1940: “It is reasonable at present to assume that Muslims would accept something less than partition, but the longer time that elapses without any concrete alternative being put forward, the more the support and favour partition proposals are likely to receive from the Muslim masses, who will now follow Jinnah’s lead blindly” (emphasis added, throughout).

In August Jinnah won the Pakistan he had demanded in March. He had now only to secure Muslims’ support in the Pakistan provinces. The Congress also accepted the principle of non-coercion. It made Pakistan inevitable by refusing to propound an alternative to it; by refraining from pointing out forcibly and at the outset that it entailed partition of Punjab and Bengal – and the loss of many a League leader’s lands – and by treating Muslim Congressmen as irrelevant.

So eventually, it was the lack of political space that compelled the partition of the subcontinent. Precious lessons from it are still to be leant.

It is slightly coincidental that I have ended up penning this piece around Quaid’s death anniversary. It is high time that we begin to respect and acknowledge Jinnah for the man that he really was – in contrast to what we have imagined him to be [on either side of the divide] in the subcontinent. We owe him that much.


44 Comments so far
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The history of Pakistan and Jinnah has been rewritten numerous times since its inception. The person who was born in Gujarat – India has had a body make over a period of time. Look at his official pictures today. The Gujarati Jinnah has acquired Punjabi looks; he has become more religious and is almost compared to the Messiah. The imaginative strengths of the man are ancient history. No time is given to recognize his inner might and beliefs. It’s sad but true that he is called the Quaid, but no one understands the meaning of the term.

Comment by Asif M. Mohammad

Ultimately, whatever be the personal qualifications of Jinnah as a leader, the fact remains that his legacy has been detrimental in many ways:

– a full division between Hindus and Muslims was not achieved (the Muslim population in India today is almost the same as that of Pakistan)
– Jinnah tried to do what was ultimately not do- able, Muslims in India are far less monolithic than what both Hindu and Muslim communalists imagine
– ultimately, the major support base of the Muslim Leage- the Muslims of Hindi heartland (United Provinces, Bihar)- were left behind to fend for themselves leaving them in a very unsavoury situation
– the creation of Pakistan, after over half a century has resulted in neither reduction of Hindu- Muslim tensions in India nor in the betterment of the Muslims in Pakistan, except perhaps those in the Army
– Pakistan has not been able to develop either a sustainable democracy nor a substantial middle class, the State is on the brink of being a ‘failed state’ unless the Army organises a ritualistic coup and grabs power

Again, this is not to deny the role of Hindu communalism during the course of the struggle for independence, as well as weaknesses on part of the Socialist/ secular forces withing the Indian National Congress and political mistakes on its part- specially the post- 1937 elections.

To be fair to Jinnah, it would be too much to expect any person to forsee events, but then that is what makes the difference between a politician and a visionary.

Comment by bhupinder singh

Bhupinder, a couple of points:

1. Hindsight is 20/20. So, looking back it is always easier to say that look they made the wrong choice. But in that heady decade the major problem was that the air of distrust had grown so thick that compromise was made difficult. As I have said, political space for a compromise was not generated – no effort was made to accommodate the grievances of the minority community.

2. Jinnah never asked for a full division of the Muslims and Hindus of India – for that was not practically possible. What he had continuously asked for constitutional guarantees for Muslim, which the Congress leadership was not willing to concede.

3. I think the secularism of India today owes a lot to the traumatic events of 1947 – and of course, Nehru’s legacy. We all know what happened after his death.

5. I will concede to you your point about the lack of leadership for remaining Indian Muslims following partition.

6. I also think that your comments that Muslims in Pakistan have not developed are greatly unsubstantiated. No, it is not just the ones in Army who have benefited. In fact, it is only the top brass that enjoys the real ‘spoils’ – but an average Pakistani army officer can at the best manage the lifestyle of a middle class family. I belong to one, and thus I am speaking from experience.

Moreover, contrary to your belief there IS a substantial middle class in Pakistan. In 1947, there was absolutely no infrastructure in the country with limited resources and manpower – yet Pakistan has come a long way in terms of development and growth. Last year, Pakistan exhibited a growth rate of nearly 8% – the second highest in the region. Latest ADP and WB reports corroborate the fact that macro-economic indicators have improved considerably. In fact there has been remarkable growth of the middle class over the last 4-5 years. You see more cars around the town, more mobile sets around, more malls opening etc. For example, the part of the Lahore my Nani resides in has been a residential area for a long time. There was one central market, but that was just it and that’s how I have always remembered it. But over the last four years, majority of the houses along the main road have been replaced by shopping malls, banks and a petrol pump. And more houses are being bought and replaced by plazas. And this pattern repeats in all major cities.

I don’t necessarily want to go in to comparison of Pakistan with Indian Muslims – but the Muslims of India tend to have poorer economic indicators in contrast to the rest of the country. Would the same have happened with a United India? We can only conjecture and I am not sure how accurately.

7. But yes, we do lament the absence of democracy in Pakistan – but how does that prove that Jinnah was so absolutely wrong with his convictions?

Comment by ayesha

There was a dialogue in that movie that struck me. The part where Old Jinnah was talking to his younger self. Young Jinnah was talking about the Indian muslims.
Young Jinnah says:

“What if they turn to Muslims after the British? We are not outsiders. We are part of this country. And besides we don’t have an England to go back to”

That says a lot about the insecurity the community faced back then, or even now?

Comment by BD

To BD’s point first, the insecurity remains, and has possibly increased. In that, the creation of Pakistan did not provide any solution for at least half of the Muslim population.

Ayesha: Thanks for the information in your response. I would really like to see an evaluation of Jinnah’s legacy- I see so much of adulation even in liberal blogs like Adil’s, but no real evaluation.

That I suppose was also your point in the post:
What exactly did Jinnah achieve and leave behind?

Comment by bhupinder singh

Bhupinder, any evaluation of Jinnah’s legacy will be based on your perception of the necessity of partition and which side of the border you are on.

For me, frankly, the jury is still out on this question. The carnage that resulted with the partition of United India forces me to question it, yet the India of today is strongly conditioned by the events that led to its birth. So as I said earlier, the question whether things would have been better in a United India is solely based on historical conjecturing. And how accurate could that be? I really don’t know.

Having said that I feel that one of the most glaring flaws of Jinnah’s legacy has been the absence of a strong second-tier leadership. One, the leadership of those days did not handle Kashmir properly and that’s has been one of the major hindrances in creating a US-Canada sort of relationship between our states – the kind that was envisioned by Jinnah. Number two, Jinnah did not transfer his vision of Pakistan to the second-in-command(s) and thus began the long tussle on what Pakistan really ought to be.

If I could hold Jinnah culpable of one sin, then this would be it.

Comment by ayesha

might i add, that although india is a so called secular nation the muslims and christians there tell a different story. 99% of indian public holidays are are based on religious occassions! at the enterance of most government (and private!) organization, stands a hindu god. my sister who wears a hijab(head veil) was denied enterance into recognized private schools in india, whereas sikhs with turbans have absolutely no problems. it’s all a drama, i tell u!

Comment by sheza

It is pure conjecture and wishfull thinking to debate what might have been. Both countries have come a long way, yes it could have been done better, but I say count the blessings and move on. Taking Ayesha’s sin point further, all influential leaders have left a vaccum in their absence where pettiness and greed thrives. I think the jury will be out on this debate for a long time to come, and the only thing that matters at the end of the day is what has been accomplished.
Due to the lack of stellar leadership in both countries since Independence, I think the plight of the muslims would be the same had Partition not taken place. Zia and Manmohan Singh had propelled each country a step further but the age old problem remains, as Ayesha puts it, the second tier leadership needs to wakeup and smell the coffee. Only then can both countries have substansive, sustainable growth on any plain of thought. Jinnah’s decision for partition is not the key deciding factor in the developments of both countries, it is simply the icing on the cake, if one wants to evaluate the progress then Partition is a cornerstone of the entire argument but without which the structure will still stand albeit weaker. This topic is such a complex multidimension subject that analyzing it with a two dimensional approach won’t do justice to the subject. We tend to breakdown problems at their fundamental levels to better analyze, and I think we need to talk about the psche of the people then and now to round out the discussion. I think this blog is an ongoing commentary on the pyche of both countries.

Comment by Afzaal

Jinnah Is the most misunderstood personality of the history. He was senior to Gandhi and he brought him from South Africa to India. Jinnah never wanted to partition India, though he had ambition to become the prime minister of United India. It dawned upon the congress leaders of the 40’s era like Nehru that congress could never come to power in any state or the union govt, that they started hatching the partition. Thus the partition is direct result of the power ploy and ambitions of the leaders of Indian National Congress. The congress leaders were the favourites of the English. Independence is the result of heroes like
Bhagat Singh, Azad , Rajguru , Chandershekhar ,Mangal panday , Navy Mutineers and the likes and not Nehrus.Had Jinnah had his way both geography and history would have been different and there would have not been any wars not even 1962 as I believe that Jinnah unlike stupid Nehru would not have given Tibet to china.

Comment by Javed Khan

It is sad to see people with a lot of free time wasting on an old debate which , will do no good to the country. On the other hand , I see Non Resident Indians going back to their country and investing unconditionally. So , instead of talking , talking and then again talking , work , work and work ; no one recalls this as Jinnah’s quote. Nevertheless, become somebody and then go into pakistan to make a difference. White sitting on chair and writing as in gossiping does not by any means reflect pen’s might. Without a podium pen is useless.

Comment by John Adams

I have noticed John Adams’ comments on this and Maria’s blog. It is a pity you guys even publish his thoughts. Dear John, what one needs before a pen or a podium is free thought, and yours is fettered.

The plight of Muslims in a united India would have been better is my take. For starters, add 300 Million muslims to the 160 already in India, and Muslims would make 35% of the population. Assuming a similar representaion in governance, it would have been far higher than what it is now, meaning all Muslim concers would be raised (prolly adhered to even) in the parliament.

Add the land area of Pak and Bangladesh to India and you have the 3/4th largest country in the world??!! I think the Brits had a far greater hand in leaving the country divided than Jinnah did. And I believe they did it to ensure a troubled and weak sub-continent as against a Military Behemoth(remember that in the 40’s military might had more to do with population than with technology).

Communal violence might have been as rampant as it is in modern India, but we wouldn’t have two countries on the brink of NUCLEAR WAR. What if a united India became nuclear? We would have been a far stronger Global power than what India or Pakistan is today!

But hey, we wouldn’t have the legendary India-Pak cricket matches :-)). Fantabulous Cricket v.s Global Super power … tough choice to make :-)). But I still vote for super power. We could have prolly picked on the Lankans, or better, the Brits for cricketing rivalry.

Back to Jinnah as a person, I do believe he is as selfish as they can come. Same goes with Neheru. The Indian National Congress favored neither for the PM’s post of India (their nomination was Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel). Somewhere in Neheru v.s Jinnah’s political struggle and Gandhi’s intrusion into leadership decisions, a country fell prey to the Brit’s moves. Although 1937 was a blemish, 1944-47 saw unprecedented unity and harmony between the Hindu’s and the Muslims. I believe the same good sentiment could have been carried over if not for the English spoiling the party.

Comment by IamMine

“… major hindrances in creating a US-Canada sort of relationship between our states – the kind that was envisioned by Jinnah”. This seems to me like a contridictory flow of thought on Jinnah’s part. “We cant live in the same country together, but we can be best of friends in seperate countries” is what that implies and to me, it sounds preposterous. Property disputes have never resulted in friends, be it pertaining to a house or a nation(s).

“What he had continuously asked for constitutional guarantees for Muslim, which the Congress leadership was not willing to concede.” This is not true, especially considering Gandhi was around, this could have never been the case. In fact, in 1947, Gandhi offered the PM-ship to Jinnah and also asked Muslims to head all important positions in the Government. Neheru was also willing to step down as a contender for PM on Gandhi’s request. But Jinnah had a history of differences with Gandhi and refused the offer on grounds of ego! Read Gandhi’s autobiography/biography for this piece of history.

“I think the secularism of India today owes a lot to the traumatic events of 1947 – and of course, Nehru’s legacy. We all know what happened after his death.” Yes, I do believe that the 1947 events were a good lesson in what not to do, but had no contribution to India’s Secular fabric. The prevailing mass sentiment preceeding the riots was that of Ahimsa and unprecidented unity!! Muslims and Hindus fought as one at the zenith of the freedom struggle. Hence, Indian secularism was born before the 1947 riots. In fact, the riots were a threat to secularism as millions of both communities’ deaths and a “Muslim” pakistan could have easily swayed India to become a Hindu state. Also, Neheru is not the reason for a secular India and nothing has happend to secularism in India after his death. As for Neheru, he is as much responsible for India’ partition as is Jinnah and both, as I have said before, are selfish above everything else. Often, I hear arguments from non-Indian’s on India’s failed secular mandate. Yes, we have communal riots but if they had a REAL impact on secularism, we would not have the congress at the helm and would have witnessed a mass migration of Muslims into Pak and Bangladesh. On the contrary there is rampant (illigal) immigration from Bangladesh and yes, they are muslims.

@Javed: “He was senior to Gandhi and he brought him from South Africa to India”. How on earth was Jinnah involved in bringing Gandhi to India?? Read Gandhi’s autobiography/biography and get your facts right. This is a classic example of Jinnah being portrayed beyond himself in Pakistan. Whats next Javed, Jinnah taught Gandhi Ahimsa? Jinnah nominated Gandhi for the Nobel Peace Prize?

Comment by IamMine


“He was senior to Gandhi” … In what way? Certainly not age. Gandhi was born in 1869, Jinnah in 1876.

“… and he brought him from South Africa to India” … Huh? Where do you get your information, man?

Comment by rayhan

Jinnah’s political stature was far tall than any other politician of the day. I consider him to be the father of the subcontinent.Dont anybody tell me to read what and what not. I have read Pyare Lal’s books and I know everything about Shradha Mata.
I hate Nehru for dividing the subcontinent and still my Hatred for N Priyadarsharni Indira Gadhay is greater because she divided Pakistan and propped up terrorism in all forms.

Comment by Javed Khan

Javed, you are blind with prejudice and hatred. I suggest you open your mind and cosider the possibility that there are no absolutes. You argue that Indira gandhi split pakistan, but for a Bangladeshi, she is the ultimate heroine, for she brought them freedom and saved them from the neglect and indifference of West Pakistan. As for Jinnah being the father of the subcontinent, you are free to hold your beliefs, but the rest of the subcontinent seems to think a LOT different. His own daughter (Dina Wadia) hates him for his selfishness that led to a split nation.

Comment by IamMine

@Javed: This is what your HERO said in a speech in 1941: “in order to liberate seven crores of Muslims where they were in a majority he was willing to perform the last ceremony of martyrdom, if necessary, and let two crores of Muslims be smashed”. Hmm, some Muslims are more valuable than the other. What a farce and what philosophy!

Comment by IamMine

Still I beleive that Jinnah was a thorough gentleman and the greatest statesman of his times. Still I hold Nehru responsible for the 1947 holocast, He gave away Tibet to china and N.Priyadarshani Indira Gadhay responsible for breaking up of Pakistan leading to all forms of terrorism in the subcontinent. No body seems to question me about the last name Gadhay thats because its her real name. Mohan Das Karam Chand Gandhi Changed the name of Feroze Gadhay the fiancee of Indira to Feroze Gandhi upon his marriage to Indira to avoid embarassment.

Comment by Javed Khan

Yaar, U ppl have so much damn time ! I cannot think of writing the cock and bull stories u just master in a day’s time. Ek taraf parhai , waqt hi nahi milta, are ur universities too laxed on u or the studies just don’t matter? By the way a message to IamMine. First of all,I know u r a waila admi (as in free looser). I can see that from the amount of vague and purposeless text you write. You have no idea who I am and what I am , U wud wet ur pents if u knew who I was and what I was studying/doing. Chaar cheeze angrezi mei likh kei donot take urselves as chaucer , ur text is not worth more than a porn novel and I can see how valueless ur time is. Talking , talking , talking , ahhhh Man U have no life .

Comment by John Adams

@ all: Please carry on this bickering elsewhere. The point behind this post was NOT to prove that Jinnah is better than Nehru or vice versa. All leaders have their faults and their actions have to viewed in the wider picture.

Of course, none of the recent comments would have been a necessity if anyone of you had the read the three AG Noraani [of the Indian magazine Frontline] pieces that I had linked at the start of my post.

Please use this space for constructive discussion and not a pointless Jinnah vs Nehru comparison. That would be much appreciated.

Comment by ayesha

There is no versus they were friends and they shared certain things. Jinnah is my Hero, I admire him.

Comment by Javed Khan

The day A Pakistani will see things from an Indian Hindu’s perspective who has left home from Sindh or West Punjab, Jinnah will turn into a demon.

We Sindhis were among the richest and we had land till we could see. That was the amount of fertile land Sindhi’s controlled since the Indus valley civilisation. Now, when you tell people to get out of their homes which have existed for centuries; the other party will be no less than a demon.

As in comment 2, Mr. Singh has rightly pointed out all the things. Pakistan has achieved neither secularism, democracy( atleast for namesake), nor a good economic growth rate – the first apparent reasons for the very creation of the state!!

Comment by Rahul Mulchandani

The Frontline is crap.

Comment by Rahul Mulchandani

Jinnahs wiked, all u crazy indians…jst shut it and go write ur rubbish sumwhere else. haha

Comment by Umar


Just shows you lack rationale. Plain simple

Comment by Rahul Mulchandani

Mr Jinnah was a shrewd politician, and he might have done his people a lot of good, but unfortunately, he chose to be a representative of Muslim separatist chauvinism, instead of progressive Indian nationalism.

The Muslim League remained, to the end, a party representing the interests of the upper-class elite which was instrumental in forming it in the early 1900s.

I admire Mr Jinnah for his secularism, but I am forced to admit that he followed a political policy which was nothing short of hypocritical. And I say that as a Pakistani, and a member of a family which was very much involved in that hypocritical joke of a struggle.

The fact remains that Mr Jinnah claimed that religion would have “nothing” to do with the affairs of state, as Ayesha quoted.

But, when he based his demand on a separate MUSLIM identity in India, when the very basis of his movement was a RELIGIOUS identity, its rather amusing that he expected Pakistan to be a secular state.

I see only two possibilities here:

1.) The Muslim League cynically used Muslim religious sentiment to produce a secular separatist state. In that case, Jinnah LIED to the teeming millions of Muslim Indians who chanted “Pakistan ka matlab kia? La-illaha il-allah!”.


2.) Jinnah was joking (or badly mistaken) when he talked about a state where “You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the State….”

It is highly amusing to hear Mr. Jinnah distinguish between Indians by dividing them into Muslims and Hindus on the one hand, and then claiming that in the newly-created state of Pakistan, religious differences will cease to matter.

Comment by kronstadter

Well at least Jinnah was very right when he correctly predicted that each government of pakistan will be worst than its predecesor!

Yes while Jinnah was secular , he was no Mustafa Kemal , he knew very well that the state of Pakistan has been created on secular lines.
and he should have expected the inevitable.

Yes as an Indian I have to admit , that he has been probably one of the most misunderstood leaders of the Partition era, Gotta blame the Indian History text books for that. But Imagine my Surprise after speaking to a few Pakistani students here in Canada, that they were taught the history of pakistan and the independence struggle without learning about Gandhi!

I think the current problems in Pakistan are more a legacy of Zia, Ayub and till a certain extent Bhutto. To make matters worse the Daughter of the East and her hubby followed by mian sharif sapped the Pakistani people of Billions of Dollars. I could understand Mianji doing that , Considering some things are more a matter of Culture and Education . What I have never understood till date is why did the Daughter of the East with her Harvard and Cambridge ( or is it Oxford) education and the Legacy of Bhutto would stoop that low and milk the people of pakistan like there is no tommorrow. ( I don’t know if this is true , but a pakistani friend once told me that the Bhutto’s have so much land in Pakistan that it takes an overnight journey by train to reach from one end to the other end)

Comment by cramasaur

It is sad to see an excellent discussion being taken hostage by fanatics from the Indian side of the border.

Comment by Eyes and Ears....

Reading Indian jurist H M Seervai’s “Partition of India: Legend and Reality” would make it plain to our Indian friends as to who did what and when.

As for Jinnah being senior to Gandhi in India’s struggle for freedom… it was Jinnah alone in the Imperial legislative council in India who had supported Gandhi’s struggle for Indian rights in South Africa … it was Jinnah who had nominated Gandhi as a candidate for Home Rule League – against advice from Gokhale who repeatedly asked Jinnah to take everything Gandhi said with a pinch of salt… it turns out that Gokhale was right.

Comment by YLH

I must say reading iammine’s comments based on ignorance as they are, forces one to see why indians and pakistanis can’t accept the facts.

As for Jinnah, even Gandhi spoke of Jinnah’s selflessness.

Now coming to more important things: a fully sovereign Pakistan was just one of the many outcomes which would have been acceptable. Therefore it is not the question of culpability but of the art of the possible.

Since Jinnah the ardent “partitionist” had accepted the Cabinet Mission Plan, what was stopping Nehru the ardent “unionist” to do the same.

There is nothing inconsistent about Jinnah’s secularism. He believed in the state’s impartiality to faith. How does it have any thing to do with his evolving conception of nationhood is beyond me. The distinction between state and nation is very important.

Comment by yasser latif hamdani

You say that partition was caused by politics between the Congress and the ML. Yet, you support Jinnah’s two nation theory. Please not that his 2-nation theory did not mention the politics between the Congress and the ML, but rather that Hindus and Muslims are two seperate nations with distinct cultures and so cannot remain as part of the same nation.

Comment by Prerna

jinah was a great leader…we love him so much…we today want same leader like himm…may Allah Almight grant hin jannat-ul-firdous..Ameen!! suma ameen

Comment by iloveislam

I wonder why is there a discussion about jinnah,nehru,gaandhi in the first place.They did their part and will stay as stalwarts of independence for their respective countries.Before commenting on wisdom of partition , keep present day,s scenario in focus. No where on globe can two communities be incited so easily to go up in arms against each other as indopak.They just repulse each other, socially,religiously,culturally n so on…The very root of conflict is religion, it would just not let these two communities live in peace.Muslims and Hindus are the root cause not indians and pakistanis.Fanaticism doesnt have nationalities,neither religious affiliations, its the mindset which says I am right each and evrytime you just listen.

Comment by revivepak

As an Indian, I think both Jinnah and Nehru were naive and wrong to a certain degree, but respectable in others.
Jinnah seems to have been more realistic in perceiving the gaps between Hindus and Muslims that had to be solved for a united India to work, gaps that many patriotic Indian students of history and even other secular students deny. Much of their idea of Jinnah comes from Freedom at Midnight or what their teachers tell them or (in the case of insightful NRI children) from what they saw on the Gandhi movie. But I think Jinnah was a bit naive in expecting the overly religious masses to do for Pakistan what he wanted, namely, build a progressive, secular Muslim-majority state. I think Jinnah fought for the country very much like a lawyer, using rhetoric and ideas that may have been a stretch or exaggeration or not even close to what he actually thought , to achieve what he needed to. And I think that his extreme struggle (in true legal fashion) held ramifications that he simply did not have time to consider during the struggle itself. I have a feeling he was already having second thoughts about the way he got Pakistan just before he died, when he was governor-general.
I think Nehru was right to fight for his own progressive ideal but I think often times he was out of touch with reality as to what was actually the case. He rebuked Jinnah several times on the basis of cooperation, due to his belief that the Muslims of India would inevitably choose the Congress who would accept both communities. I think he grossly underestimated the suspicions and tensions between both communities. I feel Nehru and Jinnah should have cooperated more in building a united Hindu-Muslim front. And no, he did NOT accept or promote Gandhi’s idea of giving him the PM’ship of India, as shown in the movie. He rejected it, and yet still many Indians believe he accepted it and use this as proof of Jinnah rebuking compromises from Congresss when it was really the other way around.
There is much more to say on this but I have to go now. I will return though.

Comment by Chetan

Here’s something else I thought might be worth mentioning:
Much has been said about how the British either united or divided one nation, how Jinnah destroyed a country by drawing an artificial line through one people who had lived in peace before. Sure, some are willing to concede that Nehru and Gandhi made mistakes but they continually insist (ex: Guha, Zakaria) that Jinnah bears most of the blame. This is the official story in India, one that is propagated by many intellectuals, educators and politicians, even by patriotic Muslims. And this digested almost unquestionably by most Indian children studying the event.
There is also a great deal said about another side of Jinnah, that of a righteous lawyer who was betrayed by the religious fanaticism of the pernicious Gandhi and the Congress party and who fought against Hindu nationalism and British oppression to found a homeland in South Asia for the Indian Muslims, who constitute one of two distinct civilizations in the region, the other being the Hindu civilization. Jinnah is viewed as a messiah, a savior, a latter-day Moses who used the law to achieve what was righteous by God. And, he was considered to be a true secularist, who promised no intervention between religion and state, as opposed to Gandhi’s “Hindu spiritualistic” movement. One who would give equal rights to Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and Parsis. A true secularist of the kind not found in India. This is basically the official story in Pakistan, though the bit about secularism is held by most moderate to liberal middle-upper class Pakistanis whereas a more extreme view of him as a Muslim savior interested in a building block for the caliphate is held by many of the more conservative elements of the population, particularly the fanatics. This is generally the basic image of the event propagated by Pakistani intellectuals, politicians, educators and other leaders. And it is accepted almost unquestionably by most Pakistani children.
Its hard to listen to both and determine the truth. To be honest, the truth in this matter is a matter of perspective. But I think here are some preliminary ideas that can be used to correct the Indian and Pakistani versions respectively. And mind you, they are, to a degree, colored by my own views.
Indian view corrections:
a.) There really was no such thing as an Indian nation before the arrival of the Europeans. India was more of a culturally connected region rather than a divided nation like Germany or Italy. It was always a collection of different ethnic provinces, kingdoms and principalities ruled by local rajas or chiefs, sometimes united by powerful autocrats from within or abroad, forming vast empires that ranged between specific areas (like north, south, west) to almost the entire region, from the Khyber pass to Bengal. This region of India was basically tied by a common religious Dharmic tradition that also varied from province to province (much like how Christianity varied yet remained similar from country to country in Europe excluding Russia) and a relatively common classical language for culture and education, Sanskrit (much like Latin in Europe excluding Russia and the other associated states). Hindi was never spoken in large numbers outside of the Hindi belt before 1947, aside from the lingua franca of Urdu. The Mughals or the Mauryas may have ruled a subcontinent but they did not culturally override the differences as much and when they weakened, the different areas rebelled to return to their original independent state. The British helped sow together the region culturally, socially, economically and politically to create the national consciousness among many Indians that led to the independence movement in the first place. And even so there were differences, leading in part to things like Muslim nationalism and, to a smaller extent, south Indian and Pashtun nationalism. Jinnah didn’t divide was an inevitable one-unit nation. The partition after the British Raj was the latest in a common pattern of violent break ups in the midst of decline of south Asian empires such as the Maurya empire or the regional rebellions following the decline of the Mughal empire. The act of partition in 1947 was not unprecedented. Its manner and style was. The fact that it was based on religion and not ethnicity/region was.

b.) Jinnah was a prominent nationalist fighting against all forms of religious euphoria in politics, even the popular Khilafat movement, which he saw to be mere fanatical frenzy. He was a dedicated advocate of secular united Indian nationalism up until 1939-1940. Even after this, he did not view partition as so necessary as to be a maintained policy even in the face of a power-sharing compromise, such as the 1945 cabinet mission plan. Indians are too quick to reduce his actions to 1946-47, that they mistakenly ignore the events before that the created the rationale behind his stubbornness in 1947, in the face of Gandhi’s proposition.
c.) Jinnah, contrary to many Indian assumptions, made several concession offers to Nehru between 1935 and 1945, including a power-sharing deal to fight the British together. This one was just before World War II. It was Nehru who flat out rejected these concessions stubbournly, feeling there was no need to give Muslims representation through the League when he felt the Congress could do it just as well if not better. He grossly and arrogantly underestimated the conditions and attitudes of millions of Muslims in India at the time, thus why he could make those assumptions. The rejection of the 1945 compromise was also an arrogant move on Nehru’s part. It is true that he initially accepted it but he did not effectively stand by it with much enthusiasm or dedication and would not compromise too much Congress power. It could be said that basis for the Congress Party’s strong bureaucracy and bloated power could be partly traced to the centralization of its authority being promoted Nehru at this time, but this is a rather large claim, one I make with caution and treat as merely a suggestion rather than as a fact. The centralization of the Congress party was very complex and several layers contributed to it, not insignificantly that of Indira Gandhi. It could also be said that Muhammad Ali Jinnah was too strict on some of the terms for the 1945 Cabinet Mission Plan, a claim I will detail and back up in my list of Pakistani correctives.
d.) Rajmohan Gandhi made this claim once in the 60th anniversary documentary last year. He and I feel that much of the mania behind partition as it was carried out had to do with the built in religious frenzy built over 20 years (since the 20’s) by Hindu and Muslim fanatical groups such as the RSS or the Khaksars. I would also make the claim that the Congress unwittingly created the environment for Muslim nationalism by endorsing and actively promoting the Khilafat movement, backing several major leaders who would later become prominent spokesmen and campaigners for the Muslim League and the Pakistan cause.
e.) Partition and the two-nation theory was NOT Jinnah’s idea, as many if not most Indians think. The concept/policy predated Jinnah’s acceptance of the idea of partition. It was thought of in the early 30’s with two independent yet ideologically akin individuals, Muhammad Iqbal and Chaudhry Rahmat Ali. Muhammad Iqbal, the famed Persian-Urdu poet and Islamic intellectual who had earlier written the fervently patriotic, enthusiastic, soulful “Saare Jahan Se Achcha”, had long changed his views and had written extensively about Islamic ideals, faith and political commonwealth. He often entertained and espoused the idea of Muslim brotherhood and political unity, wherever they were, to achieve equality for their community. This was the logic behind his 1930 demand that the Muslims of India needed religious community unification to achieve their needs rather than dubious alignment with the culturally foreign Hindus. This was the logic behind his then demand for an independent homeland for Muslims in the northwest of the subcontinent, where they formed a majority. He identified this as Punjab, Sindh, the North-West Frontier, Baluchistan and Kashmir. Note that he did not include or consider Bengal or Hyderabad or other Muslim localities in this conception. Just the Muslims of northwest of the subcontinent. He feels that the Muslims of northwestern India are the people who can realistically create a nation of their own, distinct from the Hindus of India. It can be said that his conception of Pakistan was far more clear and concise than that espoused by the Pakistan movement in the 1940’s. There are some (Indian admirers of Iqbal among others) who claim that this conception was not supposed to necessarily translate into the idea for a politically independent homeland distinct from India, but it should be made clear that it was Iqbal who wrote to Jinnah to return from England to India, who persuaded him consistently and unwaveringly of the necessity of the two-nation theory and the need for him to personally lead the movement for an independent country for the Muslims of India. Furthermore, his own son, who was fairly close to him, campaigned for this movement and saw it as being in line with the ideals of his father. His writings also point to Iqbal’s view that said Muslim nation should adhere to certain Islamic principles and retain the essence of the Muslim law in the old Muslim states. I think it is pretty clear from this what Iqbal would have wanted. Whether he wanted a secular state respective of Islamic ideals or a theocracy is another matter. The second conception for a Muslim homeland in India came from an Indian student at Cambridge named Chaudhary Rahmat Ali. The story varies among many but the common explanation (per his secretary Miss Frost) was that he was on a London bus when the idea occured to him for the need of an independent homeland for India’s Muslims. In 1933, 3 years after Iqbal’s famous address, he wrote a pamphlet, Now or Never, which gravely warned of the danger posed by Hindus to Muslims of India and the urgency with which Muslims had to fight to rid themselves both of the British and the Hindus to create a nation of their own. It was he, perhaps among others, who first publicly coined the term “Pakistan”, both as the Urdu-Persian “land of the pure”, and as an acronym for the five Muslim-majority homelands of northern India that would make up Pakistan. P for Punjab. A for Afghania (he could not use an artificial name like North-West Frontier to represent the Pashtun homeland other than they’re historic identity as Afghans). K for Kashmir. And finally, Stan for Baluchistan. The I was considered to link up the letters to form Pakistan, creating the idea of an acronym. Later on, he expanded the concept to conceive of associated Muslim countries for Muslims in Bengal (Bang-i-Islam) and “Usmanistan” for the state of Hyderabad (even though that was a majority-Hindu state with a Muslim elite based merely in the city of Hyderabad and the surrounding rural districts.) This is probably the idea of Pakistan closest to what was desired by the later Jinnah and many others fighting for Pakistan in the 1940’s. Thus the debate over what Pakistan meant and whether it was all the Muslims of India going to one nation and vice versa with the Hindus. Many Indians, including Nayantara Sahgal (though I like her), feel this concept was flawed because it asked for Muslims to all move to another part of the country, when in reality its most likely Jinnah did not mean “all Muslims” so much as “Muslims living as a majority in the specified regions needed to make up Pakistan”.
f.) Many Indians like to rely on the fact that there are more Muslims in India than in Pakistan to disprove the idea of two-nations. While the actual statistics vary and there are even disputes as to whether it is Pakistan or India who has more Muslims (they most likely have equivalent populations), this itself does not prove anything. Just because there is a large population of Muslims still living as a minority in the country who were not able to realistically move to Pakistan does not mean that partition was invalid, particularly for those who did campaign for it and believed in what the partition activists told them.
g.) While many critique partition for the loss of life, I think it is mistaken to critique the policy for this loss of life. I seriously think the Partition could have been much less violent and traumatic had the policy been carried out over a longer period of time and not just 3 months! The problem with the partition for me resulted from the way it was implemented rather than with the policy itself. What could have been a relatively smoothed transfer between two budding states turned out to be a bloodbath because Mountbatten was in a hurry to get his job done and go home with honor. It was he who preponed the date of independence from June of 1948 to August of 1947, 3 months after the famed Partition agreement meetings between the Congress senior authority, the League senior authority and Mountbatten and his immediate associates.

These are a few correctives I would add to the Indian view.
Now it may seem to some Indians that I’m treacherously defending the Pakistani view of history, but I don’t. I have many strong criticisms to make of the Pakistani version of events. And I that is what I will focus on next.

Pakistani view corrections:
a.) Gandhi and Nehru weren’t actively promoting a policy of exclusion against Muslims in or intentionally promoting a policy of Hindu spiritualism as defining the independence movement. While Gandhi’s rather Hindu tone to his movement may have fairly seemed alienating to many Muslims, Gandhi always did his best to integrate Islamic spirituality and ideals in his movement, often with his Islamic accolytes and colleagues such as Maulana Azad and Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, who is actually a surprising case, coming from the stereotypically violent North West Frontier as he does, and being a member of a martial Pakhtun tradition. He actively coined and followed a form of progressive non-violent Islam mixed with Pakhtun nationalism among the Pakhtun community with his own followers several years before meeting Gandhi, thus making him an independent Pakhtun-Muslim apostle of non-violence on par with Gandhi rather than merely his follower. Gandhi’s combination of his own ideas with Ghaffar Khan’s sought to widen the inclusiveness of his movement, even if it did not impress or convince everyone. Pakistanis are fairly mistaken to naively conclude that Gandhi was prone to Hindu fundamentalist or exclusivist tendencies. At the most, he may have given these impressions inadvertently or accidentally rather than on his own or through his own thought.

b.) Not all of Jinnah’s objections and dismissals of Gandhi’s methods were realistic. They may have been reasonable given his training but they reflect the environment from which he came and the environment from which Gandhi came and to which Gandhi sought to appeal. Gandhi’s methods of initiation into activism against the British based on religious ethics helped to spread the appeal of the independence movement among an otherwise weak and ineffectual segment of the population, the rural masses. Gandhi’s methods helped bring the independence movement to the world of the average Indian farmer and peasant, down from the rather restricted and elite world of the educated, westernized, constitutional Indian upper class, to which Jinnah belonged. If anything, Gandhi’s methods helped breath a realism into the movement, thus making Jinnah’s rigid constitutionalism a bit idealistic. This is ironic, considering the fact that many view Jinnah in this case as the realist and Gandhi as naive idealist though of course there were times when that was the case.

c.) The Hindu-Muslim divide wasn’t as clear cut as many Pakistanis perhaps imagine it to be. Nor was it as peaceful as many Indians make it out either. It was a mix of peaceful and divisive relations and only one of many other intersecting divisions in Indian society. Hindu and Muslim itself are broad categories merely denoting the religion of a diverse number of ethnic peoples across the subcontinent. A Punjabi Muslim is a Punjabi as much as he is a Muslim and is culturally distinct from the practices of a Muslim from Bengal, the Frontier, Kashmir or Tamil Nadu. A Bengali Muslim is likewise as distinct. Punjabi Muslims had more in common historically with Punjabi Hindus and Sikhs than they did with Muslims elsewhere though this doesn’t preclude tensions between the religious communities. A Pakhtun Muslim of the Frontier is also a very distinct person in culture and identity from the other Muslims in the subcontinent listed. In fact, historically and geographically speaking, a Pakhtun Muslim probably has less if anything to do with the Desi peoples across the Indus river and beyond and more in common with the Tajiks, Baluchis and Persians living to his west, on the Iranian plateau. The Pakhtuns are historically Afghans, the people of Afghanistan, from whom the North West Frontier was questionably separated in 1893 by the Durand line to be merged into colonial India. They constituted a nation distinct from all the others in India and perhaps regionally distinct from the entire cultural spectrum of the Indian subcontinent period, though of course there was overlap. Pakistan is probably not so much a nation as it is a Muslim country consisting of various nations. The Pakhtuns and Punjabis both constitute two distinct nations in the lingo of the two-nation theory, perhaps much more so than the two-nation theory as applied to Punjabi Muslims and Punjabi Sikhs. The Pakhtuns and Punjabis of Pakistan belong to two different regions, two different cultures and two different histories. They live differently, they historically acted differently, they prayed differently (despite being Muslim), they ate differently, they dressed differently and their surroundings were different. If anything there were not two nations or three nations in India based on race or religion but several nations based on ethnicity and regional association. India, to me, represents what the EU wants to be, but can’t, a regional association of all the different ethnic groups and nations to celebrate a common yet diverse regional heritage and history. Pakistan could have also been like this way too, had it not been for several disastrous circumstances following partition, such as Jinnah’s death, Liaquat’s assasination and the first military coup in 1958.

d.) Muhammad Ali Jinnah was no angel saint in the Partition scheme either. While Nehru was particularly irresponsible in his many of his actions between the 30’s and 1947, Jinnah also was irresponsible in the way he fought for Pakistan. His encouraging of anti-Khudai Khidmatgar propaganda in the Frontier and his dismissal of the popular ministry of the secular Khan Sahib following independence held disastrous consequences for the history of that province that have ramifications even today. That is just one of many things that he did. His encouraging of several divisive riots as well as backing a rigorous propaganda machine through the 40’s was also very detrimental. While I think the partition was inevitable, I think Jinnah and Nehru both did much to exacerbate and intensify the situation. I think Jinnah fought for Pakistan very much like a lawyer. Jinnah did not start the Pakistan movement so much as the movement wanted to be represented and get its case heard in a court before the departing British; they wanted to win their case, and they found the perfect attorney to do it for them, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Jinnah performed most if not all of his actions during the 40’s like a lawyer who will do anything to win the case the most for his clients, even if it may be a little too extreme. This is not to say Jinnah wasn’t devoted to the Pakistan cause nor that he was detached from it after independence. It does show that his tactics were very much like the brilliant legal tricks he pulled in the greatest of his legal cases. I do think its possible Jinnah may have exaggerated some extreme rhetoric during the struggle for effect rather than actually meaning (leaving many Indians with the idea that he was an irrational fundamentalist and cruel politician when he really was something else).

e.) I think the Pakistanis may be naively denying the fact that Jinnah also worked for Pakistan with a bit of faith rather than reason. I mean faith in the sense of mere hope that it will be like something rather than considering all of the realities. I feel Jinnah was in many ways incredibly naive over what he felt were loyal dedicated followers for the Pakistan movement. The movement accumulated many extreme, orthodox and corrupt upper class elements, and I think Jinnah may have too blindly advocated the state with his own progressive ideals rather than prudently keeping in mind who his followers were and what there ideas for Pakistan were to be. A little bit like the US and its backing of questionable leaders as Democrats in South Vietnam, though not the same.

There is much more I could say in criticism of Pakistan, but I have to depart for the moment. I will post more very soon.

Just a clarification, I do not endorse the two nation theory or one side over the other. I’m merely presenting both viewpoints and blindnesses of both while acknowledging how much if not most of the events surrounding partition could very arguably be left to interpretation and may not have a right or wrong answer.

Comment by Chathan Vemuri

Chetan and Chathan are me the same person. “Chathan” is the phonetical spelling of my name after my dad arranged it that way on my birth certificate, with the intention that people would pronounce it right. Chetan as “Chathan”, like “Nathan”.

Comment by Chathan Vemuri

I also think it would be worthy to add finally in criticism of the secular Pakistani view, that Jinnah’s stance on the Cabinet Mission Plan was also fairly inflexible, as it merely demanded the inclusion of the Frontier in its grouping when the demographics and following was clearly in favor of a Pashtun-nationalist backed Congress ministry. I also think Jinnah was a bit too deceptively unclear as to his committment to the Cabinet Mission Plan, whether he would back it as a form of maintaining and building up a united India or whether he would use it as a spring board from which he would jump to an independent Pakistan. Many can disagree with me but I think the facts can back up my concern.

Comment by Chathan Vemuri

Amazingly detailed presentation by Chetan….
I dont think i have seen something like this before… thanks chetan.

Thanks, also, as i feel more knowledgeable as somebody whose family across from Rawalpindi to Delhi. Also because most of your views concur my beliefs albeit your reasoning is more accurate. There is an article in the editorial version of Times of India, dated 31st October talking about partition and jinnah in particular. If time permits, its open for reading for everyone.

I feel the pain of my forefathers, of all punjabis who had to leave their lands, their mitti of 1000s of years. Punjabiyat has never been the same. It is localised and more fragmented and seemlessly a satellite to, now to a language which forms a new identity in both countries.

Comment by Finding Perdition

The article is published in today’s TOI….epaper avl online.

Comment by Finding Perdition

Interesting issue, didn’t thought this was going to be so great when I looked at your link!!

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best yet Here’s some thing to make you smile: Thought for the day? : It’s a thankless job, but I’ve got a lot of Karma to burn off.

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