Comment of the Day

Since BP in general lacks positively-inclined Pak-nuanced voices; I thought this was an important comment to highlight.

There was more than Jinnah involved in the ‘Pakistan Movement’ even if it was a one man show when it came to actual negotiations with the British.

Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Usmani was instrumental in mass mobilization (using Islam khatray mein heh! naturally) and countering Congress’s anti-Jinnah propaganda campaign orchestrated by Maulana Husain Ahmad Madani of the JUH. This was the so called Muttahida Qaumiat movement that held that Jinnah and Aligarh Islamic Modernism was more dangerous than an independent India dominated by the Hindus.

In a nutshell, the insurmountable problem was simply this. Jinnah and some others (non-caste Hindus) wanted absolute safeguards for minorities before independence; Congress and caste-Hindus wanted independence first and then would decide whatever safeguards the minorities would get. As a part of this, Jinnah and others wanted a weak Centre and power devolution to the provinces/groupings while Congress (Nehru and Patel but not Gandhi, who was a hopeless romantic when it came to actual politics anyway) wanted a strong Centre and the provinces to have whatever powers the Centre didn’t want.

If you look at the Cabinet Mission Plan, that is EXACTLY what is being offered: a weak Centre. Of course Congress rejected it and Jinnah embraced it.

What must always be remembered is that the Pakistan Movement meant many different things to many different people.

26 thoughts on “Comment of the Day”

  1. The best decision nehru made in his life was rejecting the cabinet mission plan. What jinnah and the league wanted was the creation of political units based on religious majoritarianism, i.e a muslim dominated western and eastern block and a hindu dominated block in the middle.

    For starters carving up political units and landmass based on religious majoritarianism is itself a highly contestable and might i say a dangerous idea, what this meant in real terms was that either the hindus had to agree on a pakistan within india or outside india. That really is not much of a choice.
    what in jinnah’s view would have kept the peace between these units (kept the fundos in check) was the hostage negotiation theory. Need i remind you how quickly things fell apart after the first fires were lit after direct action day.

    Ambedkar as early as the 1940’s had prophesied that the muslims in a punjab heavy army cannot be trusted and in a case of war with an islamic nation would side with their islamic birathers in an attempt to take over india. As for the likes of maulana madni and their ilk, their principal opposition to partition was not based on some love for india or sense of common nationhood with the hindus, but on the notion of the weakening of the ummat e muslimah. The idea then, and it still has salience in muslim intellectual circles, was that once the british left, they would easily defeat the hindus and take over india once again. As far as dalits go, compare ambedkar to joginder nath mandal.

    The other option on the table was the model in place in India, where political units for the most part are based on linguistic ethnicity and religious majorities in their respective states offer minority rights to the religious minorities. Now nobody would say that its worked out perfectly for us, but given the options, i’d back nehru over jinnah anyday.

    1. Pandit Nehru also at first accepted the CMP. It was only when he said something like “groupings would be open for renegotiation in 10 years” that Jinnah decided he wasn’t negotiating in good faith and called for Direct Action Day. There didn’t have to be a Pakistan. No one knew that “Pakistan” meant Partition until June 3, 1947. It was all very haphazard.

      Philosophically, I am much more in support of a secular nation-state. But I don’t think India is actually a secular nation-state. The calls for “Hindu Rashtra” basically mean that people want India to turn into a mirror version of the “Islamic Republic” to its West. Even Bangladesh has enough sense to just be the “People’s Republic of Bangladesh” even though it is basically a Bengali Muslim country.

      If India had to be divided in 1947, it could have been divided on the grounds of language, ethnicity, geography, whatever. Division based on religion was very problematic.

      1. Philosophically, I am much more in support of a secular nation-state.

        if that is the case kabir, then rejecting the cabinet mission plan with its demand for creating political units based of religious majoritarianism was a good idea.

        1. It may have been a good idea or a bad idea, but it was the last chance to keep British India together. Once it was rejected, we were on the road to a sovereign nation state called Pakistan.

  2. Very nice article Zachary and I agree that few today have any idea what happened in South Asia between 1945 and 1947.

    The British should have left India far more slowly. A united India could have become a dominion under the Empire and very slowly and gradually gained more and more autonomy based on merit, capacity and competence. The very slow gradual withdrawal of the English should have been conditions based.

    The first few elections of a united dominion of India should have happened while the English were around. Over time the idea of a united Indian nationalism would have taken over and partition wouldn’t have happened. A united India would have inspired the rest of the world as a shiny city on the hill. A global superpower of love and greatness.

    A question for everyone; why weren’t Jinnah and the All-India Muslim League hurt more by the Bengal famine in the 1946 election?

    1. The British sped up their timetable for withdrawal by a year. This was bad. There would have been time to work out the logistics of Partition and avoid ethnic cleansing. Announcing Partition in June and implementing it in August is pretty unforgivable.

      “United India” (meaning British India) was only going to last if the Muslim League was kept happy. Since the Hindu party calling itself the Indian National Congress did not keep the Muslim League (the sole representatives of the Muslims) happy, we decided to leave. I don’t think we can be blamed for realizing that life with 80% Hindus was not going to work for us. At least we now rule ourselves, no matter how messed up our country is.

      1. Kabir, as you have probably figured by now; I blame the English and Nehru for partition far more than I blame Jinnah and the Muslim League. I am not a Jinnah hater. To the degree that Indians have a soft spot for Jinnah they are more likely to be RSS/BJP types. I mostly agree with your comment.

        1. There is no point in “blaming” the British (when you say “English” you mean British). After World War II, they realized keeping their colonies was unsustainable. They couldn’t afford to stay in “The Jewel in the Crown”. Also, your INC had been running a Quit India movement even during the War. So the British were going to leave. Speeding up the departure from 1948 to 1947 and not properly planning Partition is all that Lord Mountbatten can be blamed for (that and skewing the map in favor of India. Pakistan should have Gurdaspur District).

          People in India who like Jinnah are generally those who thank him for ridding Bharat of so many “evil” Muslims. People in Pakistan who like Jinnah are those who thank him for saving us from the “evil” Hindus. All we can agree on is that people of the other religion are evil. If such is the case, Partition was a good thing. We need to go our own ways as countries. You guys look to your own issues and we will look West towards the Muslim world. We also have China in our corner which despises India as much as we do. So we will do OK. I have no interest in Bharat other than in making sure Kashmir is freed from Delhi’s rule and that the Muslim minority is not subject to lynching. Other that than, run the Rashtra the way you want. Be good Hindus. Destroy Secularism. Good luck to you.

  3. Dont know about Pakistan but Partition was the best thing to happen to India.

    “I advocated Pakistan because I felt that it was only by partition that Hindus would not only be independent but free… A merely independent India would not have been a free India from the point of views of Hindus…When the partition took place I felt God was willing to lift the curse and let India be one great and prosperous.” ~ B.R.Ambedkar

    1. How wonderful. Please send all the remaining Muslims in India to Pakistan. And we will send all remaining Hindus and Sikhs to India. Problem solved, everyone is happy!

      What are you even advocating? Ethnic cleansing?

  4. There is no evidence that Saurav is advocating ethnic cleansing. We don’t have to default to the worst possible motivations for others 🙂

    I do blame the English, but don’t want to explain why now.

    India willingly fought WWII for goodness and justice and to stop the Nazis from misusing what they learned from German Indology to harm humanity. India was 100% correct for doing so and the entire world owes India (including Pakistan/Bangladesh/Nepal/Bhutan/Sri Lanka/Maldives) for saving the world from Nazi and Tojo conquest.

    The Quit India Movement wanted the English to promise independence in return for India’s help to win the second world war. United States President Roosevelt supported the Quit India Movement. In any case many Congress leaders such as Nehru quietly wanted to focus on defeating Hitler and Tojo first.

    Who are these mythical people who think muslims are “evil”?

    Has it ever occurred to you that the RSS/BJP and friends respect for Jinnah is authentic and genuine? Many of them genuinely think that Jinnah might have been a better and more honorable man than Nehru.

    Jinnah is one of India’s greatest sons. He was a leader for all of India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sikhim, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh before the summer of 1947. He was also a leader of Afghanistan until 1919. He is one of the reasons that India’s capacity grew in the first half of the 20th century and one of the people who won India’s freedom. Jinnah doesn’t just belong to Pakistan.

    “We also have China in our corner which despises India as much as we do.” China does not despise India. China and India are natural allies and friends. In the long run China will value their friendship with India more than they value their friendship with Pakistan unless Pakistan wins her civil war with Islamist Jihadis. Of course if Pakistan wins her civil war with Jihadis; then Pakistan and India will also become friends.

    1. China despises India. They think Arunachal Pradesh (what they call South Tibet) is theirs. The whole reason China is so supportive of Pakistan is that we both hate India’s guts. Not that I think China does anything out of the goodness of their hearts. They need access to the sea in order to develop Western China and Gwadar is essential for that. It’s an added bonus that CPEC pisses India off. I think China holds India in contempt and thinks India’s dreams of ever catching up with China are ridiculous (but I’m not a China expert).

      Pakistan and India are never becoming friends. Stop dreaming. Unless Kashmir is resolved to Pakistan’s satisfaction, there will be no friendship and Wagah will remain a hard border.

      Indians and Pakistanis are friends in the West. We have many cultural bonds. We are all nice people. I don’t blame young Hindu-American guys for the Indian government’s actions in Kashmir. But your government’s policy is indefensible.

      1. Countries don’t even entertain the thought of allowing their parts to secede, or even have the choice (like Canada did with Quebec or the UK did with Scotland) unless they are internally serene and secure. And the less serene and secure they are, the less likely they will be to give any inch to secessionists.

        So if Pakistan (or China) really wants India to give its homegrown secessionists a choice to remain or secede, a military presence at the border, support for militancy, and harsh rhetoric all round are the worst possible moves. India is and will be militarily strong enough to hold on to Kashmir and (its parts of) Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim indefinitely, regardless of the human cost, so the best you all can hope for is that we have a change of heart. That’s not going to happen anytime soon if the Pakistan Army keeps turning to the same playbook it has been using since ’47.

        BTW……it’s not just the Indian government’s position. If you do any public poll, there’s likely to be 80%-plus support for holding on to Kashmir AT ANY COST. I’d imagine a similar poll in Pakistan would yield similar numbers when it comes to “supporting the Kashmiri cause.” Any Indian government that even dares to talk about giving Kashmiris a choice to secede will be out of office in a New York minute.

        TLDR….it’s not just the government….it’s the public (of both countries) that need changes of heart. It’s not surprising we get along fine in the West. We don’t have to struggle on a daily basis there the way we have to in the subcontinent, where nationalism and emotion substitute for material conveniences.

        1. Numinous,
          I know most countries don’t even entertain the thought of allowing secession. Even in Europe, which is supposed to be more civilized than our part of the world, Madrid clamped down hard on the supporters of an independent Catalonia. Canada and the UK are perhaps the exception that they allowed referendums. Pakistan fought a bloody war in order to keep East Pakistan (and lost) and we are still fighting a low-level insurgency in Balochistan.

          I understand why the Indian government wants to hold on to Kashmir. Symbolically, it is important that a “secular” India have a Muslim-majority state. It is also where all the water comes from. However, it was Pandit Nehru who promised the Kashmiri people a plebiscite. Even if Pakistan abandons the Kashmiri cause tomorrow and decides to make peace with India (not likely), Kashmiri Muslims in the Valley will continue to struggle for Azaadi. Too much blood has been spilled for them to abandon their struggle. The right to self-determination is a very powerful thing.

          However, it is unfair to blame Kashmiri “militancy” totally on Pakistan. There were long periods when Pakistan was not causing trouble and yet Nehru jailed Sheikh Abdullah. India has gradually whittled down the autonomy promised Kashmir when the Maharaja acceded. Kashmir started out with a Prime Minister and a Sadar-e-Riyasat. It now has a Chief Minister and a Governor– just like mainland India. Article 370 is basically meaningless. The insurgency arguably began after Delhi rigged elections in 1987. That was not Pakistan’s decision. Obviously as a country that doesn’t like India (and whose entire raison d’etre is based on being the “not India”), Pakistan was going to stoke the flames of separatism.

          Pakistan also has nothing to do with other parts of India that want out. For example, I don’t think anyone can make a case that Pakistan is somehow deeply involved in Nagaland.

          There is a problem in Kashmir and Delhi needs to recognize it and solve it. Prime Minister Vajpayee used to talk about “insaaniyat and Kashmiriyat” and “autonomy within the Indian Constitution”. If those are not empty words, than those proposals should be put on the table. The freedom struggle will otherwise go on indefinitely no matter how many Kashmiri youth the Indian Army kills.

          Both India and Pakistan need to stop looking at Kashmir as a real estate dispute and look at it from the point of view of the Kashmiri people on both sides of the artificial “LOC”. It is they who are the true owners of the land.

          We get along in the West because we are essentially culturally the same (At least North Indians and Pakistanis are) and we face similar struggles being “brown” in a white-majority country. At least in my experience, we don’t get into contentious debates about Kashmir.

          1. “Pakistan also has nothing to do with other parts of India that want out. For example, I don’t think anyone can make a case that Pakistan is somehow deeply involved in Nagaland.”

          2. Is it your contention that Pakistan is deeply involved in Nagaland? Do you have any evidence to back that up? Perhaps think about why there are so many parts of the Republic of India that don’t want to be part of the country?

            There is no shame in it. There are parts of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan that don’t want to be part of the country either.

    2. > China does not despise India. China and India are natural allies and friends. In the long run China will value their friendship with India more than they value their friendship with Pakistan unless Pakistan wins her civil war with Islamist Jihadis. Of course if Pakistan wins her civil war with Jihadis; then Pakistan and India will also become friends.

      Hate to break it to you buddy, but two large countries harboring ambitions of regional hegemony which happen to border each other are the antithesis of natural allies and friends. If it ever comes to deciding whether India is an ally or rival, China won’t choose the latter because it values Pakistan but because it values a neutral South Asia. And India, which jealously attempts to keep small South Asian countries like Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka in its sphere of influence and aspires to be the dominant naval power in the Indian Sea is anything but that.

        1. Man I feel bad when you reply to me because I’m a pretty mediocre poster and don’t really deserve any praise for regurgitating what I read on r/geopolitics.

          1. No, we need people like you to redress the rather Hindu-heavy and Indophilic commentariat on this site.

    1. Azadi ka matlab kya, la ilaha il Allah*!
      Bharat tayray tukday hongay, Inshallah*, Inshallah*!
      Hindu fauj kay tukday hongay,
      Inshallah*, Inshallah*!

      * (swt)

      1. I don’t think anyone actually says “Hindu fauj”. In any case, I don’t approve of that sentiment.

        The Kashmiri cause is not something to joke about.

        1. I am dead serious. You should see my face when someone mentions the K-word. It’s like I’m getting a cardiac arrest and loose motions at the same time … the injustice Kashmiri brothers have to undergo at the hands of the Kuffar is unbearable.

          Lashkari zaban isn’t my first language, though I love it to bits.

          (Damn! I wet myself again…)

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