Correcting the Indo-Pak partition history: a step in the right direction

Former Indian Foreigner Minister and a front line politician Mr. Jaswant Singh has been sacked from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of India which he served more than 30 years after his retirement from the Indian Army. Mr. Singh’s misdeed was to praise Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan in his new book Jinnah – India, Partition, Independence.

After the launch of his book, when bombarded by the Indian media, Mr. Singh in his typical Army style tone replied that he would never regret on writing a book on Jinnah rather he would write more on the subject. He said the book on Mr. Jinnah was an outcome of his five years long search on the reasons of the partition of Indo-Pak. He said Mr. Jinnah did not create Pakistan rather Pakistan was given to him. Mr. Singh said when the people give-up reading and writing and unaware of their history then the nation goes in the dark ages. He said it is very important for the people of India to know the real reasons and mistakes done 60 years ago, which led to the partition of Indo-Pak. [1]

Mr. Singh in his stunning revelation of history of partition of Indo-Pak [2] said that the people of India must know why a man who in his 47 years of political life served 46 years in Indian politics and who achieved Lucknow pact of Hindu-Muslim Unity in 1916 and called as a ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity became the Quaed e Azam of Pakistan.

Referring to Jinnah’s character Mr. Singh said that we misunderstood Jinnah because we needed to create a demon… we needed a demon because in the 20th century the most telling event in the subcontinent was the partition of the country. Asked if he views Jinnah as a great man, Mr. Singh replied, Oh yes, because he created something out of nothing and single handedly stood against the might of the Congress Party and against the British who didn’t really like him. He further added that Gandhi himself called Jinnah a great Indian.

Mr. Singh called Jinnah as a nationalist leader who fought the British for an independent India and also fought for the interest of the Muslims of Indo-Pak. This is not the first time in recent years when someone from Indian frontline politics stood up and talked on those facts of Indian history which were either maneuvered or ignored by those factions of Indian politics who always rule the county under the slogan of Hindutva rather than Secularism. During his visit to Pakistan, in June 2005, while visiting Jinnah’s mausoleum in Karachi, Mr. L. K. Advani also described Jinnah as secular who had espoused the cause of secular Pakistan. On his remarks on Mr. Jinnah, later Advani had to pay the price as Hindu fanatic RSS and same Hindu ideologist asked Advani to resign as a President of BJP.

It is true that there are sections in Pakistan as well who have controversial views on the founder of Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Many interpret Jinnah’s mission for Pakistan in different perspectives. Some call him as a leader of secular thoughts who wanted to make Pakistan a secular country while some call him a true Muslim [3] who created Pakistan for Islam and Muslims. No leader receives 100% mandate on his/her political mission in any society. Even when we look Ghandi, Nehru and Patel, the people in India have very conflicting opinion about them. However, looking into Jinnah’s political differences with the personalities, like Ghandhi, Nehru and Patel, the historical political events validate that until 1937, Jinnah’s entire mission was to secure the social and political rights of the Indian Muslims the historical constitutionally.

To the integrity and unity of India, it is very important for the drivers of Indian politics particularly those ideologist who are now condemning Mr. Singh on his book that, first they should read the book and second they should ask question from themselves why a person like Jaswant Singh who served Indian Army, represented BJP 30 years at a frontline and held the important posts like Foreign Minister went into long research on partition and came out with the views about the founder of Pakistan which praised him as a person who always tried to unite the India rather than divide until decided took the option of painful partition. Mr. Singh book’s as he claimed as an academic book. This book talks about facts and finding. This book is not a new ideology of Mr. Singh.

For those who never tried to fairly go into the history and find out the reason why Mr. Jinnah finally had political differences with the Muslim personalities like Maulana Azad. Of course, Pakistan was not a joyful choice rather it was a painful decision but who brought Jinnah and his companions into that situation. Why more than 20 million Indian Muslims followed him and scarified their lives for Pakistan. The Muslims in India had been living with the people of other faith especially with Hindus, comfortably, for centuries until the British took over the control of India from the Mughal Emperors. The British ruled the Indian subcontinent for nearly 200 years – from 1756 to 1947.

Since the civil disobedience started by Indians in 1857, the British government abolished the powers of the British East India Company, which had ruled the sub-continent on behalf of the British Crown, and took on direct powers of governance. British Rulers launched political reforms allowing the formation of political parties in 1880s. The Indian National Congress, representing the overwhelming majority of Hindus, was created in 1885.

The Muslim League was formed in 1906 to represent and protect the rights of the Muslim minority. In the same year, Muslims met the Viceroy of India for grant of separate electorate in legislative assemblies for Muslims. In 1909, the British introduced constitutional reforms. The demand of Muslims of separate electorate was also accepted and in the process, in 1911 Bengal was partitioned on the basis of Muslim and Hindu majority areas.

The Muslim League was still facing frustrating hurdles in negotiating the constitutional arrangement with Indian National Congress. At that time, Muhammad Ali Jinnah was a leading figure of the Indian National Congress. He never talked about division between Muslims and Hindu at that time. Separate electorates and one-third representation in the Central Legislature, in accordance to the Muslims proportion in India’s population, were the two main Muslim demands from the Muslims leadership until late 1930s.

In 1924, when Mr. Ghandhi called all-Parties Conference in Bombay to find a solution of the Hindu-Muslim question. Muhammad Ali Jinnah attended the conference and asked for the safeguards for the Muslims. In 1926, Muslim League at its session in Delhi demanded the revision of the Government of India Act 1919 and asked for the immediate appointment of Royal Commission to place the Indian Constitution on a sound and permanent basis. From Delhi Muslim Proposal of 1927 to three amendments to the Nehru Report of 1928, then from Fourteen Points of 1929 and to three Round Table Conferences held in London from 1930 to 1932, Mr. Jinnah came up with many proposals. He even managed to convince his party (Muslim League) to drop the demand for Separate Electorates but insisted firmly on one-third Muslim representation in the Central Legislature. Hence, Mr. Jinnah from the Muslim League platform tried every possible political solution to secure the rights of the Muslims.

However, the Congress was found unwilling to separate Muslim representation in Central Legislature. These are same Hindu ideologists personalities who still carrying the slogan of Hindutva ignoring the demographic realities of India.

The fact of the matter was that yet there was no demand from Muslim League for the partition of Indo-Pak, as a matter of fact, when (then) Muslim student, Choudhary Rahmat Ali put forward the idea of a separate Muslim country in 1933, Jinnah and other Muslim leaders were unwilling to accept it. [4]

Mr. Jinnah understood the division of Indo-Pak means leaving behind the traditional centers of Muslim culture, as well as a significant number of Muslims, in a Hindu-dominated India. However, the Congress Rule from 1937 to 1939 became the turning point for Mr. Jinnah and his Muslim League to re-think their options. The Congress instead of taking everyone together went all out to impose Hindu political and cultural ideas on the Muslims. Many Muslims now feared the destruction of their way of life in a Hindu-dominated independent India and the discriminative attitude with Muslims during the Congress Rule. Hence, in 1940, a formal demand for Independent State for Muslim –” Pakistan –” was approved in the form of Lahore Resolution 1940 by the Muslim League. Now if the world sees a different face of Pakistan what was claimed by its founder then the founder should not be blamed for this. His demands and solutions were the ultimate choice in that situation.


[1]. Jinnah, Pakistan and Islamic Identity: The Search for Saladin
by Akbar S. Ahmed

[2]. The Great Partition: The Making of India and Pakistan
by Yasmin Khan

[3]. Secular Jinnah: Munir’s Big Hoax Exposed
by Saleena Karim

[4]. Now or Never :: Are We to Live or Perish forever? ::
by Mohd Aslma Khan, Rahmat Ali, Sheikh Mohd Sadiq and Inayat Ullah Khan, January 28, 1933