Origins and Development of the Pakistan Movement
Pakistan Movement really started with the proceedings and ultimate adoption of the Lahore Resolution in the now famous session of the All-India Muslim League held on 22-24 March 1940. In his presidential address on 22 March to an enthusiastic, responsive gathering of thousands of Muslims drawn from all parts of India, Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, after highlighting the Muslim sufferings and difficulties in the recent years, declared that the only way the Indian Muslims could get out of their distressful situation and could indeed free themselves both from the British and the now imminent Hindu rule was to have their own “homelands, their territory and their state”.
Desire of the Muslims of India
They could not accept any system of government which must necessarily result in a Hindu-majority government. The differences between the Hindus and the Muslims, he stressed, were “fundamental and deep-rooted”, and thus there was no way the two communities could “at any time be expected to transform themselves into one nation merely by means of subjecting them to a democratic constitution and holding them forcibly together by unnatural and artificial methods of British Parliamentary Statute”.
The experience of the past clearly showed that it was “inconceivable that the fiat of the writ of a government so constituted can ever command a willing and loyal obedience throughout the subcontinent by various nationalities except by means of armed force behind it”. Jinnah thus went on to claim that the problem in India was not “inter communal” but an “international” problem, involving two ‘nations Hindus and Muslims. The Muslims were not a “minority”. They were “a nation, according to any definition of a nation”, and thus, like all other nations, had the right to self-determination.
The difficulty with the Hindu leaders, he lamented, was that they “fail to understand the real nature of Islam and Hinduism”. The two were so “different and distinct”. As he explained:
“They are not religions in the strict sense of the word, but are, in fact, different and distinct social orders, and it is a dream that the Hindus and Muslims can ever volve a common nationality…
The Hindus and Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies, social customs, literatures. They neither intermarry nor interdine together and, indeed, they belong to two different civilizations which are based mainly on conflicting ideas and conceptions. Their aspects on life and of life are different. It is quite clear that Hindus and Musalmans derive their inspiration from different sources of history. They have different epics, different heroes, and different episodes. Very often the hero of one is a foe of the other, and likewise, their victories and defeats overlap. To yoke together two such nations under a single state, one as a numerical minority and the other as a majority, must lead to growing discontent and final destruction of any fabric that may be so built up for the government of such a state.”
The only way out of this predicament, Jinnah suggested, was the partition of India. In the process, he hoped, the perennial conflict between the Hindus and the muslims would be resolved, leading ultimately to the cherished goal of peace and freedom for all. The Muslim League leaders endorsed the call on 23 March, and in a resolution adopted on 24 March, the League demanded ‘Independent States’ in Muslim-majority areas of India. This demand had an irresistible appeal for the Muslim masses. Facing agony and frustration at the hands of Hindus, the promise of their own separate homeland, named Pakistan soon after, not only provided them “a reassuring anchor” in a climate of turbulence and uncertainty but also, more importantly, gave them “a sense of purpose and worth”8 and power, political power, which they were fast losing in the face of India’s advance towards self-government and freedom, with its inherent bias towards the majority community. They will be safe and secure too.
The Muslims rallied in their thousands of thousands to support the demand and the resultant movement for Pakistan. Thus, this movement was not an ordinary movement. Nor was it a movement started in a fit of anger or in a flurry of excitement. It was a well-founded movement, based on religion, culture, history, and political aspirations, all formulating Muslim nationhood, and sought a separate homeland of Pakistan for the Muslims to enable them to live their lives in their own way with freedom, power, and security. The sense of urgency was of course provided by the distressful situation of Muslim India which, in turn, was both a cause and consequence of a host of factors affecting the Muslim politics in India in general and the Muslims in particular. The purpose of this chapter indeed is to highlight all those factors. How did the movement for Pakistan start? What was its rationale? Why did the Muslims who had lived with the Hindus for centuries in India felt compelled to charter their own separate course, leading ultimately to the creation of a separate state of Pakistan? Who were the principal leaders of the Muslims? How did they struggle to protect and secure Muslim interests in India before they got convinced that the only way they could save the Muslims from their present predicament was to have their own separate state of Pakistan? What was the Hindu majority community’s attitude towards the Muslims and their particular interests? How did the system of
representative government introduced by the British in India affect the Muslim interests? How did the Muslims respond to it, and how did the system ultimately fail to satisfy their demands and interests? How did Jinnah and Allama Muhammad Iqbal break from ‘Indian nationalism’ and emerge as the fiercest champions of Muslim nationalism? How did Jinnah mobilize and organize the Muslims under the banner of the Muslims League? How did he finally wrest the initiative from the British (and the Hindus) and force them to concede Pakistan if they did not wish to leave India in a civil war and bloodshed? These, and many related issues are the subject matter of discussion here. The historical setting is provided by the cataclysmic events of 1857 affirming the fall of Mughal Empire and ascendancy of the British rule in India. The Muslims found themselves in a very difficult situation. The defeat in the ‘War of Independence’ made them villains. The British came to regard them as their arch enemies, who had converted a “sepoy mutiny” into a “political conspiracy aimed at the extinction of the British Raj”. Substitution of English for Persian and Western education for traditional learning deprived them of their positions of influence and authority in the country. The doors of civil and military services were closed to them. The British indeed put a seal on the decline of the Muslims in all walks of life. To compound their difficulties, Hindu-Muslim relations had touched their lowest ebb. Religio-cultural differences together with communal distinctions on the one hand contending with an instinct for communal separateness nurtured by centuries of contact and conflict on the other, had left the two communities completely alienated from each other. Different responses of the Hindus and the Muslims to the British rule politically, socially and economically, in fact, went on to affect radically the final outcome of events in India’s modern history. While the Hindus welcomed the change of ‘masters’, and reconciled themselves with the
new rulers without much consternation, the Muslims proclaimed a sort of war against the British. In their reluctance to accept the new order, the Muslim masses followed the traditions of Shah Waliullah and Sayyid Ahmad Barelvi in terms of resistance to the concentration of power in non-
Muslim hands in India. The implications were quite obvious. Realizing the gravity of the situation, Syed Ahmad Khan, born in Delhi, in a traditional noble family, with links both to the Mughals and the British, stepped into the political arena to save the Muslims from political decay
and destruction. He reckoned that there was no way out but to adjust to the realities of new life in India. He devised a three-pronged strategy. First,he strived to reconcile the Muslims to the British rule. He was convinced that the Muslims should cooperate with the British if they did not wish to be left out in government services and professions and indeed marginalized completely. He assured them that their lives and properties were safe under the British and no restrictions had been placed on theirreligious freedom. Jihad, he reminded them was incumbent on the Muslims only if they were denied peace and could not practice their religion without the fear of persecution. Since none of these conditions prevailed in India, he insisted, it was obligatory for the Muslims to be ‘loyal’ to the British rulers. Indeed he warned them that, with the ultimate reprisals that followed, there was no other way to recover except by cooperating with the British. Secondly, Syed Ahmad Khan wanted the Muslim community to take to Western education. The Hindus had already taken advantage of the new system of education. The Muslims must not lag behind. The connection between education and government was too obvious for him to emphasize.13 In emphasizing the need for Western education, however, Syed Ahmad Khan was by no means suggesting that the Muslims should ignore their traditional subjects of interest. He wanted them to acquire Western education in addition to traditional curriculum.