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Friday, August 28, 2009

Jaswant, Jinnah Jam

On Aug 14, commenting on Nehru, Patel 'conceded' Pakistan to Jinnah: Jaswant Singh I quoted from the article:
Mohammed Ali Jinnah did not win Pakistan as Congress leaders Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel "conceded" Pakistan to the Quaid-e-Azam with the British acting as an ever helpful midwife, says senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh. According to Singh both Jinnah and Nehru wanted special status for Muslims. "It is ironical that among the great constitutionalists of those times, Jinnah and Nehru became the principal promoters of 'special status for Muslims'; Jinnah directly and Nehru indirectly. "...The irony of it is galling when sadly, we observe that both of them, these two great5 Indians of their times were either actually or in effect competing to become the 'spokesman of Muslims' in India."
and made the following observation:

The argument that Jaswant Singh puts forward is a rehash of the one many scholars have already written about including Dr Ayesha Jalal in The Sole Spokesperson.

March 23rd is celebrated as Republic Day in Pakistan. On this day in 1940, the Qarardad e Pakistan (or the Pakistan Resolution) was passed at the General Meeting of the All India Muslim League at Lahore. The resolution was moved by A K Fazlul Haq on March 23 and unanimously adopted the next day.

This resolution mentions the words states.

No constitutional plan would be workable or acceptable to the Muslims unless geographical contiguous units are demarcated into regions which should be so constituted with such territorial readjustments as may be necessary. That the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in majority as in the North-Western and Eastern zones of India should be grouped to constitute independent states in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign.

Later there was an attempt made at Delhi on Apr 7, 1946 at the Convention of the members of the Central and Provincial Legislatures belonging to the Muslim League [link] to drop the 's'.

Jinnah at first took the plural 's' of the Lahore Resolution as an 'obvious printing mistake'. But when, on Abul Hashim's insistence, the original minute book was checked, Jinnah found under his own signature the plural 's'. Abul Hashim claimed that he had suggested for erasing the word 'one' and replace it with 'a'. Jinnah is said to have accepted Abul Hashim's suggestion. According to Hashim, Suhrawardy placed in the open session of the Convention a modified form of the resolution on Jinnah's advice. It may, therefore, appear that even after the Delhi Convention of the Muslim Legislators Jinnah was not thinking in terms of amending the Lahore Resolution. [link]

It can be argued that Jinnah the tactician and constitutionalist, demanding Pakistan, wanted to extricate maximum possible guarantees and rights for the Muslims in an independent Indian federation or confederation. And from his papers left behind it can also be argued that a meticulous and well organised Jinnah had no working plans for an 'independent' Pakistan as late as early 1947.

In this high stake poker game, what gave? What broke the agreement between the Muslim League and the Congress to the Cabinet Mission? Was it Jinnah's obstinacy? Was it his single minded pursuit? Was it his gamble? Was it his bluff called by Mountbatten? Was it Patel's conviction that a truncated Pakistan could not survive and would come crawling back?


There was a British documentary some time ago. (I do not have the links and am recalling from memory.)

Lord Mountbatten had arrived in India to extricate Britain out of India. The deadline Attlee gave him was 1948. Attlee also dangled before Battenberg nee Mountbatten the First Lord of the Admiralty. The then First Lord was due to retire in 1948. [Mountbatten's father was a First Lord during WWI.]

Mountbatten in his hurry moved the date forward. Some say this single act caused the partition holocaust. With no defined and delineated borders people thought they would be part of India/Pakistan and when the Cripps Report came out they found themselves on the wrong side of the border. (Khulna was a Hindu Majority district, Gurdaspur was a Muslim Majority one.)

Saradar Vallabhai Patel was the first one to give in to Jinnah's demands, followed by the new Congress President Jawaharlal Nehru. Gandhi remained adamant but they convinced him of the 'futility' of arguing with Jinnah and Gandhi finally relented.

Jinnah who had only argued the case for Pakistan to ensure the maximum possible rights for the Muslims in an Indian political federation or confederation was aghast when informed he can have his 'truncated' Pakistan.

In that documentary I referred to earlier, Mountbatten was informed by Nehru that Congress had accepted Jinnah's demand for an independent Pakistan. He met with Jinnah alone and informed him of the Congress decision. An ashen faced Jinnah had no words to utter. Mountbatten recognised Jinnah's dilemma and told him that he would call a meeting of all the leaders the next day and then he would announce that Mr. Jinnah had accepted the offer. And coming to Jinnah's rescue, he told him that he expects Jinnah to endorse his announcement with a nod. In that documentary, the next day after Mountbatten spoke, a sober Jinnah is shown with a nod.


From all the quotes I have read so far Jaswanth Singh has not said anything that was not known already. It is a pity that only people who have nothing to lose can speak up the truth. Jaswant Singh is a brave man for sharing his convictions. He must be aware of the knee jerk reaction to his words. After the election defeat BJP appears to be reeling and rudderless. Jaswant Singh "gets expelled for writing a book, and Varun stays put, for spewing venom!"

History is a cruel task master. It is also written by people wearing prisms of different hues. And it is also mostly written by victors. Look at 1947. Partition, the great divide, azadi, independence, division - different words to describe the same event.

Gandhi, Jinnah, Nehru, Patel, Azad were all great leaders. If they had toned down the rhetoric a tad, took a bite of the humble pie, sub continental history would have taken a different course.

There would be less hostility, less intolerance, and less enmity. Of this am sure.


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