A Continuation of Gandhi's Misleading Attitude and Pattern of Twisting of Facts during the Pakistan Movement (1937-1947)
Despite the fact that Pakistan was established on August 14, 1947 as a result of understanding reached between Quaid-i-Azam, Gandhi, Nehru, Baldev Singh, Lord Mountbatten and others on June 3, 1947 India has never accepted Pakistan from the core of its heart. Seventy years have passed, yet the Indian leaders, who have been at the helm of affairs, believe that a time will come when Pakistan will no longer be on the world map. They have been encouraged in this regard from the events of 1971 when East Pakistan was converted to Bangladesh because of follies of Pakistani rulers and Indian machinations. Indian rulers want to repeat the same story in the case of present Pakistan. Keeping in view the long historical background of the present Pakistan, this is their misconception. It would be better for the Indian government and the intellectuals to understand the realities of Pakistan otherwise, they will be living in a fool’s paradise. They do not understand that the Pakistanis of the Indus region are different type of people who have been maintaining their traditions, history, culture and heritage for more than five thousand years. Their attitude of life and on life is different from what the Indians believe. The Indian governments also believe that Pakistanis are actually Indian, which, as a matter of fact, is not the case. For the last two thousand years, Pakistanis have always been a martial race who ruled or dominated many parts of present India or Hindustan. That is why the Muslim historians always divided India into two regions – Hind and Sindh. The present structure of Pakistan and Hindustan is a creation perfectly in accordance with the perception of Muslim rulers and historians for the last one thousand years.
Pakistan is the cradle of old Indus Valley Civilization. The Aryans came here during 2000-1500 BC and settled by pushing the Dravidians southward. This is the land which provided atmosphere to the third Aryan generation to compile first Hindu religious book – Rig Veda, followed by three other books of the Hindu religion in the areas of the present Hindustan region. This is the land where Alexander the Great came and left his long lasting influence. It was from here that these influences spread to various regions of Hindustan. Gandhara Civilization is another milestone of the history of Pakistan. This is the land which accepted political Islam immediately after its rise in the Arabian Peninsula. This is the land where Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni (997-1030) established his great empire which included the present countries of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and four present Central Asian countries: Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. The old Gandhara Civilization was merged into the Ghaznavid Civilization which provided special bent to the Muslim civilization. This is the land where the Muslim culture and civilization flourished under the Ghaznavid rulers for about two hundred years (997-1192) with its Persian flavor in the Central Asian direction. This is the land wherefrom Sultan Shahabuddin Ghori extended the Muslim rule to the whole of Northern India in 1192 up to present Bangladesh. This is the land which provided base to Sultan Qutbuddin Aibak, first Sultan of Delhi during 1206-1210 to establish his rule from his base of Lahore. This is the land wherefrom the Delhi ruling dynasties – Khaljis, Tughlaqs, Sayyids, Afghans, and lastly the Mughals – emerged to dominate Delhi and the whole of India. These are the facts which the present rulers of India should understand and extend their hand of friendship towards Pakistan who genuinely believe in building good relations with India. India should stop bickering, which it is doing both internally and externally to destabilize Pakistan. Otherwise the Indians would be in trouble if they do not understand the arguments of logic, culture, civilization and facts of history.
What the Indians are doing presently is not a new thing. The founders of India like M. K. Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, and others have also been doing the same despite the fact that Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan, made them realize a number of times about the genuine feelings of the majority Muslims of the subcontinent, especially with reference to areas of the present Pakistan. But all these efforts were in vain. In this article some of the facts that depict the twisting and misleading the attitude of Gandhi during the Pakistan Movement and while dealing with Jinnah have been pointed out. These are the facts which should open the eyes of the intellectuals and writers on modern Pakistan and India.
In this direction, first instance was witnessed after All-India Muslim League (AIML) was able to organize the biggest Muslim Conference at Lucknow on October 15-17, 1937 in which not only the Muslim League leaders but the Chief Ministers of all the majority Muslim provinces of Punjab, Bengal, Assam, and Sindh also participated, and entered into contract with Jinnah that, from henceforth, the whole of Muslim India would be one against the coming Hindu Raj. Leaders from NWFP (now KP) were also present in this session and stood in support of this stance. Gandhi, Nehru and other Hindu leaders felt threatened by this biggest gathering of the Muslims. Gandhi and Nehru, who thought of themselves as the Godfathers of Hindu India, entered into dialogue with Jinnah in order to get an explanation as to why the Muslim League is going on this drive of a separate path. Gandhi’s dialogues and correspondence were the most misleading and against many facts. In his effort to befool Jinnah, Gandhi tried to give twisted assurances to Jinnah, but Jinnah could not be deviated from his path. As a matter of fact, Gandhi had felt antagonized by Jinnah’s address at the Lucknow session of AIML of October 1937 which he, in his letter of October 19, 1937, described as “a declaration of war”, but which Jinnah, in his reply to Gandhi on November 5, 1937, called his statement “purely in self-defence” of the Muslims of British India.1 Gandhi also cajoled him that “it is the cry of a friend, not of an opponent”.2 This was another effort to sidetrack Jinnah from the path of saving the future of the Muslims. Describing his acquaintance with Jinnah since Gandhi’s return from South Africa in 1915 when Jinnah welcomed him, Gandhi tried to twist the facts. In this way Gandhi expected that Jinnah would have blind faith in Gandhi and not worry about the future of Muslims in India. But Jinnah was the leader who could not be fooled by Gandhi.
The next effort was when, at the start of Second World War (1939-1945) in September 1939, Jinnah started his drive of terming the Congress Raj in the six Hindu majority provinces as the Hindu Raj. Gandhi vainly tried to plead to Jinnah that things were not as such. Jinnah, in a number of research reports prepared by independent observers and Muslim League leaders, established that Congress rule, as a matter of fact, was a Hindu Raj, thus leading the Chief Ministers to their resignations in November 1939. When the Indian National Congress, under Gandhi, tried to twist the facts projected by Jinnah by starting a non-violent movement, Jinnah managed to arrange Day of Deliverance on December 22, 1939 in which not only the Muslims but Sikhs, Christians, Scheduled Caste Hindus and other minorities participated equally. Jinnah’s viewpoint was also proved by the British Government. In November 1939, a hectic debate took place on the alarming situation in British India in the House of Lords in which a number of members of the House participated. Giving the policy statement in this connection, Lord Zetland, the Secretary of State for India, explained that in terms of its political behavior the Indian National Congress functioned as if it was a “Hindu organization”. Thus it were not only the Muslim League or other smaller parties representing various minorities which termed the Congress as a Hindu body, but the British Government also termed it as such. Mahatma Gandhi took a strong note of this and said that he was shocked at Lord Zetland’s statement by which the Congress was termed as a Hindu organization. Gandhi expressed his amazedness about these expressions emanating from the responsible position of the Secretary of State.3 Thus the Muslim viewpoint was substantiated by the British Government in the British Parliament. By observing Day of Deliverance, history was put on a different path, which led to the road to Pakistan.
There is a long list of misleading efforts by Gandhi, especially since March 23, 1940 when the Pakistan Resolution was passed at Lahore by All-India Muslim League under Jinnah’s guidance and leadership. Hindu press, wrongly led by Gandhi, tried to mislead the Muslim person which was not allowed by Jinnah and his colleagues in the AIML. There are a number of instances in this regard with reference to the Cripps Offer 1942, Gandhi-Jinnah Talks 1944, Simla Conference 1945, Cabinet Mission proposals, and others.
I will content myself only to the last days of the transfer of power. Even when under the 3rd June 1947 Partition Plan, things were settled on how to establish Pakistan in August 1947. Gandhi chose a different way to mislead and misrepresent the Muslim case of Pakistan. On June 7, 1947 Lord Ismay submitted his note to Lord Mountbatten in which he conveyed results of his talk with Gandhi the night before.4 Ismay felt that these suggestions of Gandhi were “different” from what Mountbatten had previously thought of them.5 Gandhi had suggested to the Viceroy that the latter should “speak to Mr. Jinnah in the following sense” on these four issues: 1) Referendum in the NWFP (now KP) should be abandoned because of forthcoming bloodshed; 2) Provincial government of Dr. Khan Sahib should not be dismissed; 3) Action on the 3rd June Plan should be suspended; and 4) New tri-partite agreement between Congress, Muslim League and the British Government should be concluded by replacing the Partition Plan.
This plea of Gandhi, as a matter of fact, was a deviation from what had already been accepted under the 3rd June Plan of Mountbatten which required sincere and honest implementation. The purpose of Gandhi’s new suggestion was to confuse the issues and to avoid the referendum in the NWFP because the Khan Sahib Ministry was not ready to hold the referendum on account of the emergence of pro-Pakistan popular sentiments in the province. Instead of accepting the popular verdict of the people of NWFP, the Congress wanted to postpone or resort to different recourse so that some time could be gained until the pro-Pakistan sentiments subsided. Gandhi also encouraged Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan to float his idea of a Pathan state.
Mountbatten wanted to proceed according to the Partition Plan of June 3 in an honest way, but Gandhi demanded that this Partition Plan should not be fairly implemented, because, according to him, in politics fairness does not exist. For this purpose Gandhi wrote a letter to Mountbatten on June 27/28, 1947 and complained that it was a “mistake” on the part of Mountbatten that he treated the Congress and League on an equal basis in settling the 3rd June Plan.6 Gandhi even charged: “I pointed the initial mistake of the British being party to splitting India into two.”7
All these suggestions were dismissed by Jinnah and the British Government. By implementing the Partition Plan in most of the manners, Pakistan was established on August 14, 1947.
Gandhi has passed away and so have other Hindu leaders of partition days. But their policy of not accepting Pakistan from the core of the Indian heart is continuing. The present Indian leaders, intellectuals and historians are advised to come forward and accept the reality of Pakistan so that good relations between the two countries are built up, and so that the cause of peace in the region is well served. If the Indian Government does not realize their misconception and does not accept the fact of Pakistan as a reality, the region as a whole will be affected.
The writer is Ex-Director, National Institute of Historical and Cultural Research, and Professor at Quaid-i-Azam Chair (NIPS), Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad.
E-mail: [email protected]
1. Times of India, June 16, 1938.
2. Indian Annual Register Jan-June 1938, 360.
3. Indian Annual Register 1939, Vo. II, 38-39.
4. Transfer of Power, Vol. XI, 285.
5. Transfer of Power, Vol. XI, 285.
6. Proceedings of Viceroy’s 16th Miscellaneous Meeeting, Thursday, 5 June 1947, in MSS. Eur. Mountbatten Papers, F. 200/106, British Library (OIOC), London.
7. Times of India, June 28, 1947.
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