Historical reality
underpinning creation of Pakistan



May 15, 2022

Historical reality

M Ali Siddiqui emphasises the historical factors resulting in the advent of Pakistan

The Historical reality is hardly any doubt that the physical difficulties experienced by Pakistanis over the last half a century have created doubts about the inevitability of the creation of Pakistan as a separate state for the Muslims inhabiting the subcontinent. This disaffection is required to be allayed as it is not based upon reality and arises out of temporary considerations that will be ameliorated by time and adequate utilisation of physical resources. The sheer fact that Pakistan was the ultimate destiny of the Muslims of India is amply certified by the unique communal history of the subcontinent where two alien nations lived side by side for a millennium without accepting each other as equal partners in life. This was a unique alienation and became the essential basis for the separate ways both communities went their way though belatedly in the frame of time. While the late separation may have some sentimental value but in historical terms it is of no consequence as there are countless examples where such decisions were taken after considerable time has elapsed.
One cogent reason for this time warp could be that the historical change during the early modern age was very slow and Muslims had no desire to change as they were the dominant rulers. The land-based traditions, climate and their superior ruling status in the subcontinent blunted the intense mobility of Muslims coming from Central Asia but these conditions did not dampen their strong religious and cultural affinities. The ruling factor determined their conduct from 1206 up to 1737 when the foundations of Muslim rule were badly shaken by the invasion of Nadir Shah. Still they had enough dominance let to live their lives according to the devised patterns of life they had predominantly designed and implemented. However when they lost the essence of power then it took Muslims almost two hundred years to reclaim their separate ruling status after losing effective power as rulers but throughout the British Raj they had the satisfaction of not being subjugated by the majority they ruled.
The Muslim separatist movement was inherent in their very composition. They were a race apart and a community having completely reverse sets of belief than the majority they inhabited with. The apprehensions of the Muslim minority were primarily focused on the fact that the concept of majority rule introduced and practiced by the British would result in them being overwhelmed by the ruthless Hindu majority that, being subjugated for centuries, would not grant any quarter to the minority. This inevitable reaction was an existential threat to the Muslims and no degree of cooperation with the majority community could have saved them from facing the fatal consequences of Hindu majority rule that subsequently proved to be a stark reality and still is present in strong shape and form.
It was this intense apprehension that compelled Muslims to approach the British rulers for providing them a much needed safeguard in wake of the growing intransigence of the majority community. The British by then had also woken up to the high-handed attitude of the Hindus who were quite confident that the British rule will not last longer and hence were creating chaotic situation. The violent reaction to a simple administrative measure, the partition of Bengal in 1905, convinced the British that the majority community could not be trusted any more. The Muslims were convinced that similar partition of Punjab into Punjab and NWFP did not arouse such passionate reaction as the Bengal division. They were greatly disappointed when their Hindu compatriots in politics simply refused to listen to reason and allow some concessions to them.
The 37-member delegation of Muslims welcomed by Viceroy Lord Minto in Simla in 1906 was carrying with it proposals that highlighted the joint concerns of both the British and the Muslims. The British always tried to remain within the ambit of lawful possibilities and justified the Separate Electorate proposal presented by Simla delegation on the grounds that they recognise Muslims as being the legatees of Muslim rule and by virtue of it owning, per capita, decisively large land-holdings. As the subcontinent was a land-revenue generating entity therefore such a qualification immensely. The British also took into account the high percentage of Muslims serving in the army because of their status as former rulers. Moreover, the British were aware of the existence of Muslim nation due to their contact in Crusades, six hundred years earlier then they started interacting with Hindus in 1600 AD.
The concerns of Muslims were further exacerbated when they noticed that Indian Congress most of the time denied either that the communal problem existed or that it was serious enough to warrant special safeguards for Muslims. The Congress believed in a roller-coaster policy as it believed that after British withdrawal the Muslim minority will be left with no option but to depend on its goodwill. There is no denying the fact that prejudices based on cast and creed were deeply rooted in Hindus and were at their extreme manifestation against Muslims during the entirety of the British rule.
The apparent manifestation of the hard line attitude of the Hindu majority was clearly visible during the litmus-test Congress ministries formed after the victory of the Congress in 1937 provincial elections. Congress refused to share power with Muslim League despite many protestations revealing their ultimate intentions. The hardships experienced by the Muslims during the short Congress rule convinced both the British and Muslims that there were starkly low chances of any future coexistence between the majority and minority communities. That the Muslims came to the conclusion of obtaining separate homeland after Congress Rule was not something out of the blue. It was the only solution available for a beleaguered nation. The reason for the creation of Pakistan was not to promote religious extremism but to defend the people’s right to freedom of belief and to save them from oppression and discrimination on that count.
The inevitability of Pakistan could be gauged from the fact that even the acceptance proffered by Muslim League for Cabinet Mission Plan aimed at preserving geographical contiguity of the subcontinent came unstuck as Hindu intransigence again rocked the boat denying the British of their cherished desire of keeping the country united. It again proved the point that self-serving intentions of the Congress overrode the concerns for keeping the country in one piece. The Muslim demand for Pakistan was once again vindicated as symptomatic of the rationale and object for the creation of Pakistan aimed at saving the persecuted Muslim minority from persecution by the Hindu majority.
Further proof of Pakistan’s inevitability lies in the extreme division in the interim federal government the British installed prior to their departure. It was very clear from the outset that both the representative parties could not get along as there was no unity in the cabinet and both parties employed their power in settling scores with each other. The intense rivalry between both the communities, given yet another chance to work together, failed at the altar of inflated opinions of the majority party that was absolutely unwilling to work out a joint formula for coexistence. Resultantly Pakistan became inevitable in the final analysis. It remains inevitable as there is no alternative to a vibrant Pakistan for Pakistanis and they realise the inevitability of their country. TW

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M Ali Siddiqi is a writer who contributes to leading periodicals


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