Home > Britain, History, India, India-Pakistan Relations, Pax Americana, Politics > The ‘idea’ of Pakistan-II

The ‘idea’ of Pakistan-II


Of nearly 10 crore Indian Muslims in 1941, a mere 5 lakhs voted for Jinnah, the Muslim League and Pakistan.

With time, India could see a future beyond Jinnah and Pakistan! (Cartoon - Artist: David Low (1891-1963) Published by Evening Standard, 21 Sep 1945)

With time, India could see a future beyond Jinnah and Pakistan! (Cartoon – Artist: David Low (1891-1963) Published by Evening Standard, 21 Sep 1945)

Britain has often been taunted with employing “divide and rule” tactics in India, but the cleverest attempt at dividing and ruling is that of Jinnah. Moslems number only 94.5 millions according to the census of 1941. Compared with the 255 million Hindus, they will always be in a minority in any system of democratically elected bodies.

To counter this disability the Moslems, as long ago as 1909, pressed for and secured the electoral device of separate Hindu and Moslem electorates, with seats “reserved” in the legislature on a communal basis. This procedure ensured to Moslems a political representation in excess of their numerical proportions. But it did not satisfy them for long.

When Congress ministries took office in seven out of eleven provinces in 1937, Moslem Leaguers (who had polled only 4.6 per cent of the total Moslem vote) were denied any share in the spoils of office. Moslem League propagandists have represented this situation as a denial of their legitimate rights, and as proof of a Hindu determination to dominate India. Tactically, it may have been unwise of Congress, but under a party system of government it is difficult to see how it could have done otherwise. Congress did not refuse office to Moslems as such, but to Moslems who were not members of Congress.

The experience of one election convinced Jinnah that his party could never hope to enjoy a ruling majority. In 1940 he accordingly resurrected the theory of Pakistan, claiming that Hindus and Moslems are two separate nations.

Before 1940 no one outside the Moslems, and few among them, took Pakistan seriously, but by persistent advocation in season and out, Jinnah has made of it the central issue before India today. He has made of the League a real political party, and in the recent elections to the Central Legislative Assembly it won all the Mohammedan seats (30), polling 86.6 per cent of the total Moslem votes. These elections were based on the extremely restricted franchise of the 1919 Act, and the total number of votes cast was only 586,647, representing almost exclusively the propertied classes. (text highlight supplied)

The real problem starts from this point the League is pledged not to make the new Constitution work unless it starts from the basic assumption of Pakistan. There must be not one but two constitution-making bodies, says Jinnah -one for Hindustan and one for Pakistan. Hindus naturally are not willing to submit, in advance of the elections, to the dictation of a minority.

Jinnah wrecked the Simla Conference – called by the Viceroy, Lord Wavell -in July, 1945. He can wreck the elections. All he has to do is to stall, and the longer he stalls, the stronger he grows.

Jinnah’s growing power and prestige have only made him more obdurate. Would he have dared to go so far if he had not felt assured of outside backing – that is, from Britain? At all events, his attitude has caused Jawarhalal Nehru, the most modern and internationally-minded Congress leader, to declare that Congress will negotiate no further with the League under its present leadership.

Britain’s offer of August, 1940, guaranteed minorities against forcible inclusion in any future Indian Union or Federation; the undertaking was reiterated in the Cripps offer of March-April, 1942, and at the Simla Conference.

Jinnah asks the British government to guarantee his Pakistan scheme; he does not ask the people of India, and is quite oblivious to the 30 millions who would be a Hindu minority in the six provinces which he claims: Sind, Baluchistan, the North-West Frontier Province, the Punjab, Bengal, and Assam. Of these, only the first three have a decisively Moslem population.

If Britain backs Jinnah in his intransigence, she will be accused once more of utilizing the communal divisions to delay a settlement and final handing over of power. But what if Britain calls Jinnah’s bluff? What if he is bluntly told that the question of Pakistan is not for Britain or Moslems alone to decide, but must be settled by the whole Indian people through their elected assemblies?

Britain’s Labor Party … has, since it came to power, gone little further than the Tories. Current pronouncements, … have been confined to the old formulas, with emphasis on the necessity for prior agreement among Indians, and warnings against attempts to secure results by violence. They have not dealt with the fundamental question of what the British government will do to break the stalemate.

Failure to grasp this nettle firmly has already led to suspicions that the leopard has not changed its spots, and that despite the change of government, Britain is still more interested in word-spinning than in action. Even the moderate and liberal sections of the Indian press speak of an “Anglo-Moslem conspiracy to keep India in perpetual subjection.” But so long as there is doubt about Britain’s intentions, communal differences will be accentuated, simply because each community wants to secure the best possible terms far itself before Britain “quits India.”

Moslems to this day are the weaker community financially and educationally. Of male Hindus, 14.7 per cent are literate, compared with 10.7 per cent of the Moslems; for women the percentages are 2.1 and 1.5 (1931 census). Separate electorates have merely accentuated communal differences.

The rice-eating Moslem mopla of Malabar has far more in common with his Hindu neighbors than he has with the wheat-eating Punjabi Moslem. Only the most confused thinking could produce a two-nation theory in India, where there are dozens of distinct races and languages.

Jinnah, who is far from being confused in his thinking, knows all this. It is plain, therefore, that the Hindu-Moslem conflict should be seen, not as a religious one, but as a straightforward political and economic struggle for power, with the spoils of office as prizes.

The principle of self-determination, which is of the essence of democracy, applies to nations, not to the fortuitous divisions of a subcontinent conquered by an alien power. The mutinies in the Royal Indian Navy and Royal Indian Air Force are no mere protests against pay or conditions but are political mutinies directed against foreign rule. Whatever the attitude of her political leaders, the people of India are united as never before in vehement opposition to foreign rule. (via India – Magazine – The Atlantic).

Britain 'saved' India from Japan - with the Great Bengal Famine - 40-50 lakhs of people dead! (Cartoon - Artist: Sidney 'George' Strube Published: Daily Express, 07 Aug 1942).

Britain ‘saved’ India from Japan – with the Great Bengal Famine – 40-50 lakhs of people dead! (Cartoon – Artist: Sidney ‘George’ Strube Published: Daily Express, 07 Aug 1942).


The ‘facts’ behind the emotion

This post excerpted from The Atlantic, written in 1946, a year before India’s Independence, makes a few points that are unclear to most Indians.

The ‘innocent’ Indian Muslim

Indian Muslims did not chose the Muslim League. British policy in India made it seem that Indian Muslims had chosen the Muslim League. Of the nearly 10 crore Muslims, less than 5 lakhs voted for the Muslim League. Jinnah’s claim and bravado sprang from the backing of half a per cent of India’s Muslim Population.

Popular leaders like Sheikh Abdullah of Kashmir or the Deoband Seminary rejected emphaticallyJinnah and his Pakistan theory. The ordinary Muslim had no truck with Jinnah or Pakistan. Meanwhile, Sachar Committee report notwithstanding, the ‘ordinary’ Muslim before Independence was behind the general population.

And remains so.

A wolf in wolf’s skin

The British created (through their separate, limited electorates) the ‘idea’ of Pakistan, reiterated the role of this ‘idea’ in 1940, 1942 and the Simla conference of 1946 – and many times in between.

Had Jinnah decided not to get used by the British masters, someone else would have filled Jinnah’s shoes. It would have taken any two-bit politician, no time at all, to fill the void,  had Jinnah declined this role. The leopard has not changed its spots.

The State of Pakistan continues to be used by Western powers for their own ends.

Britain expected 20 lakh Indian soldiers to shed blood for the British Empire. The 'disloyal' Indian leadership did not see it that way - especially Subhash Chandra Bose. (Cartoon - Artist: Illingworth, Leslie Gilbert, 1902-1979 Published - Daily Mail, 6 April 1942).

Britain expected 20 lakh Indian soldiers to shed blood for the British Empire. The ‘disloyal’ Indian leadership did not see it that way – especially Subhash Chandra Bose. (Cartoon – Artist: Illingworth, Leslie Gilbert, 1902-1979 Published – Daily Mail, 6 April 1942).

Now that it is over …

The Congress is taking the easy way out. It demonises Pakistan, which while being counter-productive, also increases the stakes and decreases the ability to engage Pakistan. 60 years is a long time – a long enough time for the Pakistani State to deliver on its self-defined mandate.

In the meanwhile things have changed. Joseph Stiglitz, in April 2010, indicated that Bangladesh and Sri Lanka could become the next export-production centres for the US, specifically and generally the West. After China. A decade down the road, with Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh as US clients, India’s may see itself encircled by Anglo-Saxon client states.

Not a happy thought.


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  1. July 24, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    Take a look at this write up on “East India Company”
    http://www.portraitofindia.com/liberal1.htm

    Or you can check the summaries on my blog

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