Editor’s Comment: In this article Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed continues to explore various political issues that led to the unfortunate partition of India whose consequences have proved to be only negative from the point of view of the common people on both sides of the border. The events leading to the partition and the role of Muslim and Hindu leaders are presented in a judicious manner, without the usual bravado we often meet in writers who surpass in embellishing their narratives with emotive rhetoric while consigning historical authenticity to some dark corner.
Some of the facts the author presents are known to old historians and observers but the younger generations in Pakistan and India are hardly aware of these historical facts. In a clear and methodical way, the author shows the true picture of the role of the Muslim League, the Congress and their leaders. In Pakistan it may also come as a surprise to some that what they have learnt in their history books was so different from what Dr Ahmed says!
Clearly our iconic figures do not seem to have been so far-sighted or great minds, whose concern was the interest of the masses and the downtrodden. They represented elitist classes and power politics that was to ensure the domination of feudal and propertied classes over the vast majority. And in the new land but with ancient historical and cultural roots, politics was to become a power game in the hands of a tiny minority, civil and military. And they all played the ‘Islam Card’ for their personal ends but pushed the country into the abyss of ignorance and darkness. That’s where we find us now.
Splitting India II
In my article dated 20 September 2012, I had inadvertently given February 1940 as the date for the fall of Singapore. It was February 1942. That mistake, however, does not detract from the fact that the British were determined from the very start of WW II, and especially after the Congress ministries resigned in September 1939, to crush any challenge to their hold over the Indian empire which was a matter of great pride for them and a major supplier of troops for the war. These resignations were a major Congress miscalculation whose damage to their political influence was second only to the even more disastrous Quit India movement they launched in August 1942. These two decisions greatly undermined their ability to influence the course of the freedom struggle as all their cadres were incarcerated from August 1942 to June 1945.
During that absence from the political arena the Muslim League swept the key north-western provinces of Punjab and Sindh and made inroads into NWFP with their message that the creation of Pakistan would bring to an end the tyranny of the caste system and the economic exploitation of the moneylender. Thus the creation of Pakistan appeared to be a rational choice to the Muslims and they expressed it in the 1946 provincial elections when they voted overwhelmingly in favour of Pakistan.