Saturday, July 31, 2010

Wolpert on the Delhi Muslim Proposals

Wolpert (in Jinnah of Pakistan) tells us:
Jinnah sensed well before the end of February 1928 that Hindu Mahasabha pressure had persuaded Congress to back off from its acceptance the previous May of his new constitutional compromise.
To see what happened,  we need to see what happened in the Indian National Congress meeting,  in December 1927.  Subsequents posts will do the needful.

PS: The Congress, in its Madras, December 1927 session, carried a resolution unanimously that seems to have accepted the Delhi Muslim Proposals.  I'll post the proceedings later.  The question now is what happened after December 1927 but before February 1928 for Jinnah to feel that the Congress had backed away from the proposal?

PPS: What Wolpert does tell us is that the Muslim League had a split and held parallel sessions in Calcutta and Lahore.  What Wolpert does not tell us is that while the Calcutta session, attended by Jinnah, reaffirmed the Delhi Muslim Proposals (except that Sind, Baluchistan, N.W.F.P. reorganization had to be completed before joint electorates with reservations would come into effect), the Lahore session rejected the proposal.
This meeting of the All-India Muslim League declares that neither the proposals formulated by some Muslims in their individual capacity at Delhi on March 2nd 1927 {sic, should be March 20th 1927}, in their original form nor in their amended form as passed by the Congress at Madras are acceptable to the Mussalmans of India.
The next step in this examination will be the All Parties Conference in Delhi, February 12-22, 1928.
After that, Wolpert tells us that in March 1928,
Jinnah convened his League council, which officially "regretted that the Hindu Mahasabha has practically rejected the Muslim League proposals."
IMO, this is a way of backing out that Jinnah used later: when he inadvertently came to accord with Rajendra Prasad in 1935, he then demanded that the Hindu Mahasabha leaders must accept the accord, and that was the end of that.  Of course, that is my guess - let us see what happened as recorded in the Indian Annual or Quarterly Register.

Congress response to the Delhi Muslim Proposals

Source: The Indian Quarterly Register vol 1 (1927)
New Digital Library of India.

Summary of the Proceedings of the Working Committee which met at Taj Mahal Hotel, Bombaby, 15th May 1927 and the following days.

Initial Congress reactions to the Delhi Muslim proposals

Source: The Indian Quarterly Register vol 1 (1927)
New Digital Library of India.
Congress Working Committee's Views.

The above decision in respect of joint electorates in the forthcoming constitution was considered by the Congress Working Committee at its meeting in New Delhi on the 21st March and it appointed a sub- committee to discuss details ; but the Committee recorded satisfaction on the whole at the resolution of the Mahomedans. The Working Committee was attended by Messrs. S. Srinivasa Iyengar and A. Rangaswami Iyengar, President and Secretary, respectively of the Committee, Pandit Nehru, Mrs. Sarojini Naidu, Dr. M. A. Ansari and Mr. Prakasam.

The following resolution was unanimously passed on the electorate question :—

"The Working Committee considered the report of the informal conference of the representative Mahomedan gentlemen from nil parts of India together with the proceedings at the meeting of the Hindu Members of the Congress Party during the last week. The Committee cordially appreciates the decision arrived at the Muslim conference to accept the institution of joint electorates all over the country with reciprocal concessions in favour of the minorities. The following sub-committee was constituted to discuss details with the representatives of the Muslim conference and of the Hindu community :—Mrs. Sarojini Naidu. Pandit Motilal Nehru, Mr. Srinivasa Iyengar and Maulana Mahomed Ali. The Committee trusts that upon this basis a satisfactory settlement of the differences between the Hindus and Mahomedans will be speedily effected."


The Delhi Muslim Proposals

Source: The Indian Quarterly Register vol 1 (1927)
New Digital Library of India.

This is the one time the Muslim League agreed to joint electorates but hedged with conditions.

Prelude to the Delhi Muslim proposals

Source: The Indian Quarterly Register vol 1 (1927)
New Digital Library of India.


The Hindu members of the Congress Party in the Assembly met on the 17th March in New Delhi to exchange views on the directions in which modification of the existing system of communal representation was desirable. The meeting was of a private nature and no decision was arrived at though there was unanimity of feeling on the broad aspects of the question.

Some Muslim leaders also met at Dr. Ansari's house on the same day and felt their ground on the same subject. The Nationalist Party too discussed the same question in the light of their party's view on the subject. Lala Lajpat Rai's party also proposed calling a meeting of all the Hindu members of the Central Legislature, both elected and nominated, on the 23rd.

Council of State, March 16, 1927

 Source: The Indian Quarterly Register vol 1 (1927)
New Digital Library of India.

Council of State, March 16, 1927
Deliberations on the Hindu-Muslim problem.
These were referred to in arriving at what are called the Delhi Muslim proposals.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Another Wolpertism

Just came across another instance of Stanley Wolpert's creative approach to writing history.  In chapter 8 of "Jinnah of Pakistan",  Wolpert writes:
On February 12 {1928}, Jinnah attended the All-Parties Conference chaired by Congress president Ansari in Delhi.  Motilal and Jawaharlal were there, as were Lajpat Rai, Malaviya, Jayakar, and most of the other leaders of political India.   Gandhi did not attend; he remained at his Sabarmati ashram, placing as he did so little faith in constitutional planning.
Short version: Wolpert is wrong in why Gandhi did not attend.

Long version:

Thursday, July 29, 2010

From the Hindustan Times by the famous cartoonist Shankar (as found in "Tragedy of Jinnah", Kailash Chander, 1941) (click on the image to enlarge it)

What was the aim before Mr. Jinnah ? What did he want to achieve ? What for all this fretting and fuming ? Why did not the Muslim League have a policy, a programme and an ideal ? These were the questions asked in many sober quarters. * Shankar ' the great cartoonist of India, depicted Mr. Jinnah in a wrestling mood showing his fists to Congress, Mr. Savarkar and Lord Linlithgow. , A press representative was depicted asking him, " What are you fighting for, Qaid-i-Azam ? " And Mr. Jinnah was depicted replying " I shall find out when the fight is over !" This cartoon appeared in one of the most widely read papers in India namely The Hindustan Times, New Delhi, just before the Muslim League session at Lahore.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Muslim League Secularism

B.G. Kaushik, in "The House That Jinnah Built", tells us:
The Muslim League leaders positively disapproved of the statement when M. Atay, the leader of the Turkish press mission to India, in a press interview in Lahore on January 28, 1943, stated, "We are Turks first, Muslims afterwards.  Religion is an honourable institution but it is individual and personal and has no place in the politics of our country."
I would love to learn in what terms the Muslim League leaders expressed their disapproval.

China, too

This is from 1944, "The House that Jinnah Built", by B.G. Kaushik. 

[Jinnah] has not hesitated to align himself with the most reactionary forces in the country.......

Mr Jinnah is reported to have not even spared Muslims of another nation of his disruptionist message and "strongly disapproved of the Chinese Muslims' co-operation with the Hans, as the majority of the Chinese are sometimes called."

Footnote: John Kin in an article published in the American magazine "Asia" refers to the attitude of Chinese Muslims towards Pakistan and the Indian Muslim League.  Kin says in the article: "A written appeal, addressed to Mr. Mohammed Ali Jinnah, President of the Indian Muslim League, urging him to co-operate with the Indian National Congress, was drafted to be signed by General Omar Pai Chungshi, China's No. 1 Mohammedan general and Deputy Chief of Staff of the Chinese Army, in his capacity as President of the Chinese Islamic Salvation Federation, representing all of the Chinese Muslims."

Then Kin refers to the Chinese goodwill mission brought to India by Mr Othman K.H. Woo in 1941.  He writes, Mr. Woo's "mission in India, however was merely to inform the Muslims there of the activities of their Chinese co-religionists, and to gather information on the spot about Muslims in India.....In an interview, he (Mr. Woo) reported back to Chungking, the President of the Indian Muslim League was quoted as having strongly disapproved of the Chinese Muslims' co-operation with the Hans, as the majority of the Chinese population are sometimes called."

Majlis-i-Ahrar, Part 5

To summarize from earlier parts: the Majlis-i-Ahrar (MiA) broke with the Congress over the uncompromising attitude of the MiA on independence (Congress was happy to work for dominion status as an interim goal).  The MiA broke with the Muslim League over the same issue of independence, over the money required for standing for election, and last but not least, on the status of Ahmedis in the Muslim League.  This last was natural, since "Muslim League" provokes the question: "who is a Muslim?".

The above is not consonant with the version of history in the Munir Report.

Majlis-i-Ahrar, Part 4

Oxford University Press is due to release any day now, the following book:
A Socio-Political Study
Samina Awan
ISBN13: 9780199060115ISBN10: 0199060118 Hardback, 350 pages

In the meantime, one of Samina Awan's papers is available here.
J.R.S.P. (Journal of the Research Society of Pakistan, Vol 45, No 1, 2008)

Remember the Munir Report said that
(1) the Ahrar split from the Congress over matters of religion
(2) the Ahrar always execrated the Muslim League.

Samina Awan's paper tells a different story.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cartoon ~1941

From the Hindustan Times by the famous cartoonist Shankar (as found in "Tragedy of Jinnah", Kailash Chander, 1941) (click on the image to enlarge it)

Majlis-i-Ahrar, Part 3

From Part 2, note the following about the Ahrar: "In their dealings with the Congress, religion was a private affair to them and nationalism their ideology. When they were pitted against the League, their sole consideration was Islam of which they held a monopoly from God, and the League was not only indifferent to but an enemy of Islam."

It suggests that the Ahrar saw the Congress as purely a political party; but the Muslim League as competition in the religious realm.

Of course, the Munir report also says about the Ahrar: "They left the Congress on grounds of religion, and they opposed the Muslim League and Pakistan on that ground." 

The grounds for the Ahrar splitting away from the Congress need to be examined.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Majlis-i-Ahrar, Part 2

The Munir Report, issued as an investigation into the anti-Ahmedi riots in Pakistan, in 1953, have a good bit to say about the responsible party, the Majlis-i-Ahrar.  These are reproduced below, with some highlights emphasized by me.  Later, I will attempt a simple explanation.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


It is claimed (where else, on Pakteahouse) that Gandhi supported the Majlis-i-Ahrar. On Wiki (in a disputed article) it is claimed that the Congress "freely funded" the Majlis-i-Ahrar.   This needs to be checked.  What are the mentions of the Ahrar in Gandhi's collected works?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

October 1938

New Digital Library of India
The Indian Annual Register (1938) Volume 2
Page 17
Chief Events:

October 7th:  The proposal for a separate Moslem Federation to be discussed by the Working Committee of the All-India Moslem League.

October 10th: A resolution urging that India be divided into two Federations, one for Moslems and other for non-Moslem groups was adopted at the Sindh Moslem League Conference.


Page 352 onwards:

The Sind Muslim League Conference
Welcome Address-Karachi-8th October 1938

Sir Abdulla Haroon read the welcome address...As long as the the majority community failed to recognise the deep-rooted suspicion of the minorities that their interests were not safe in the hands of the majority, unless they were afforded adequate safeguards and protection there was no prospect of a solution of the problem and if the patience of Muslim India is tried to its utmost capacity it might have no alternative left but to seek their salvation in their own way in an independent federation of Muslim states.   Sir Abdulla sounded a note of warning that the recent happenings in Czecho-Slovakia would repeat themselves in India if the majority community persisted in their unreasonable attitude and stand in the way of Muslims realising their ambition.....

Sir Abdulla then referred to the happenings in provinces where the Congress is ruling and said that the very culture, religion and existence of the Muslim community were in jeopardy and they had despaired of getting any justice at the hands of the majority community.   We have nearly arrived at the parting of the ways and until and unless this problem is solved to the satisfaction of all it will be impossible for anybody to save India from being divided into Hindu-India and Muslim India both placed under separate federations.  .....


However, page 366, "Resolutions - Karachi - 10th. October 1938" does not contain an explicit demand for two federations.   What they have is:

"The conference adopted a resolution, recommending to the All-India Muslim League to review and revise the entire question of a suitable constitution for India, which would secure the honourable status due to Muslims and disapproving of the All India Federation embodied in the Government of India Act of 1935."

In 1940, in Lahore, (The Indian Annual Register, 1940, Vol 1), it is reported:

"Sir Abdulla Haroon, M.L.A. (central) said that it was a well known fact that the Muslims came to India through Sind.  Sind Muslims were the first to moot this question which was now before the League.   In 1938 the Muslim League passed a resolution for establishing 'independent states' in the north-western and eastern zones.  Since then various constitutional schemes had been framed and they were now being examined by a command that it was the duty of the Muslims to pass it without any hitch.  Sir Abdulla Haroon warned the Hindus that if the Muslims in Hindu province were not justly treated, the Hindus in the Muslim provinces would be treated in the same way in which Herr Hitler had treated the Sudetans.  The speaker hoped that the proposal embodied in the resolution would be acceptable both to the Hindus and the British as there was no better solution of the thorny problem."

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Muslim League Presidential Address, May 24, 1940

We tend to think of Jinnah as the sole spokesman of the All India Muslim League. Not true. In any case, it is time to accumulate more material. Here is the Presidential Address to the Bombay Presidency Muslim League Conference held at Hubli on May 24, 1940.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Governance in Pakistan

SouthAsian uses the ideas of Professor Ralph Russell to explain how Pakistan became the way it is with regard to religion and governance, in three excellent parts:
here, here and here.

There is nothing that you may not already know, if you're a Pakistan-watcher; but the essays are well-written and worth your time.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

LUBP looks at liberal blogs too!

With unhappy results.

Selective secularism

This is the second recent article from Pakistan, as shiv notes, that calls for tolerance towards Ahmedis and Christians, but not Hindus or Sikhs.  Is it a new trend?

A clear statement, but is it true?

At PTH, we have argued for the partition as a nuanced set of events that were characterized by extreme mistrust between the two major political forces of that time. These major parties harboured deep distrust against each other. The Muslim League politics increasingly focused on the idea of Pakistan as a bargaining chip to win the rights for the sizeable Muslim majority within the United India. The British hurry to leave the United India, emergence of Muslim League as the sole spokesman for the Muslims, and Congress unwillingness to recognize the Muslim nation demands within the United India resulted in a bloody and messy partition. We still live with the scars of the partition that resulted in one of the largest uprooting and human migration of modern times.... (AZW)

This is a highly disputable version of history.  If you have the patience, absorb the material on The Cabinet Mission Plan website.

If not, just remember that:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The culture of denial

I.A Rehman writes in the Dawn:

It should not have been difficult to see that the honourable parliamentarian was only elaborating one of the Pakistani elite’s main cultural traits — the culture of denial. This norm was adopted first by the elite in nearly all fields of life — politics, warfare, economy, academics and even theology — and has been turned, through centuries of practice, into an essential pillar of belief by the commoners too.

Thus, we the Pakistanis have never done anything wrong. If we ever lost a war the reason lay in the enemy’s perfidy or the duplicity of a traitor in our ranks. All our miseries in pre-partition India were the result of a malevolent alliance against us by the British and the Hindu and at the global scale we are innocent victims of the conspiracies continually hatched by ahle-Hunud-o-Yahood. We had no part in pushing East Bengal out of Pakistan; this was achieved by a ruler who drank and womanised and who was helped by the Soviets and India. Those who are killing people in mosques and shrines are not from us, they are aliens unleashed by hostile external forces.

Pakistanis do not even hesitate to deny their part in their biggest accomplishment, the creation of Pakistan, and blame Congress for this, and this theory gathers more and more supporters as the people see their condition becoming increasingly unbearable. No, we are not responsible for people’s poverty and for making a mess of almost everything. And apart from a distorted interpretation of the belief in a pre-ordained world, there is great material advantage in blaming Providence for all our follies, excesses and misadventures.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Digression - the Christians and the Romans

The issue of the relations between the first Muslims and the pagans of Mecca quickly morphed into a discussion of the Romans and the Christians.

Below is an excerpt from Prof. Balagangadhara's book - The Heathen in His Blindness.  A very rough summary is that the Romans saw religion as tradition, practices handed down by the forefathers; and in that framework they honored all traditions.   The Jews and Christians posed a challenge to the Roman conception.  The Jews however claimed a long history, and so the Romans could "understand" them.  The Roman pagans, however, never really understood the Christians (part of the reason Balu invokes the blindness of the Heathen).

Re: Afghanistan - a welcome admission

The Leader of the Opposition in Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, has called his own policies towards Afghanistan, which were in force when he was Prime Minister, a mistake.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan should stop trying to influence affairs in Afghanistan, the opposition leader said Tuesday, while admitting that the pro-Afghan Taliban policy he pursued when he was prime minister in the 1990s was a failure.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Muslimizing Calcutta

Excerpts from a letter from Raghib Ahsan to M.A. Jinnah, 25 January 1947 follow.   This is from the Zaidi collection of Jinnah papers.  There is no reply from Jinnah to Ahsan in the Zaid collection.  Ahsan's ideas are not in any way binding on Jinnah.  This letter however illustrates the mood of the times.  Demographic engineering was in the air.  The refugees driven from Bihar by Hindu rioters presented an opportunity.

Because of imperfect imaging from my iphone, there are lacunae.

Emphasis added.

The contradiction within Pakistani nationalism

Prof. Ishtiaq Ahmed describes the contradiction within Pakistani nationalism crisply.

Pakistan is not able to shed its foundational idea so easily.  After claiming Pakistan on the grounds that the Muslims of British India were a separate nation by virtue of their religion, it has proved to be impossible to turn around and say that religion is irrelevant to the state.   And if Pakistan is a Muslim state, the question immediately arises - just who is a Muslim?   In fact, this becomes the central question.  So instead of an inclusive nationalism, there is a religion-based nationalism with gradually narrowing answer to this question.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The shape of the Pakistan to come

Excerpts from Jinnah on the nature of the proposed independent, sovereign state or states of the Lahore Resolution.
The Mussalmans should not be afraid of being crushed by the Hindu majority provinces. Let us in the minority provinces, Mr Jinnah said, "face our fate, but free the Muslim Majority provinces to live and form their own government in independent states in according with Islamic laws." (A.P.) {emphasis added}

Speech at a public meeting
Ahmedabad, Dec 27, 1940.
The Civil & Military Gazette, Dec 29, 1940

(Post started on July 5, 2010).

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Genesis of Pakistan

Jinnah on the origin of Pakistan:

The only solution therefore was "Pakistan", which was already there and was not of his own creation.

Speech at the Sir Lesli Wilson Muslim Hostel
Karachi, Dec 25, 1940
The Star of India, Dec 26, 1940
Pakistan, went on Mr Jinnah, had existed for ages.  Their homelands were in the north-west and the east where the Mussalmans were even to-day in a majority of 70 percent.

Speech at a public meeting
Ahmedabad, Dec 27, 1940.
The Civil & Military Gazette, Dec 29, 1940
"It was after mature consideration that the Muslim League passed the Lahore Resolution popularly known as Pakistan.  Pakistan has been there for centuries.  It is there today and it will remain till the end of the world.  They are our homelands.  They were taken from us, {by the British} and we want them back."

Speech at the meeting of the Muslim University Union
Aligarh, March 10, 1941.

(Post started on July 4, 2010).

Saturday, July 3, 2010

India unsuited for democracy

Another recurrent theme in Jinnah's speeches is that a united India was not suited for democracy.  Nor were the Hindus suited to democracy.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Fate of Muslims in Partitioned India

The J-Man, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, generously was willing to sacrifice the Muslims who would remain in a partitioned India, as the quotes that accumulate here will show.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

What counts?

In the "J-Man and his Pakistan" published in the Daily Times, we are given the number:

Three dozen.
All of these groups, of course, use the same arguments and the same selective quotes out of context from Jinnah.  Jinnah’s ambiguous references to Islam, Islamic ideals and Islamic unity are used to demolish his vision of the state which he clearly expressed on — as per last count — at least three dozen occasions.
To which I add some more numbers:

In my book I showed that there are literally hundreds of references to Islamic terminology and principles in Mr. Jinnah’s speeches. Additionally, whilst he stressed the absolute equality of non-Muslim citizens in Pakistan, he never once used the word ‘secular’ to describe the country.
Prof Abdul Waheed Siddiqui has counted 90 speeches made by Jinnah between 1940 and 1947 in which he spoke of an Islamic State.
 I think Hoodbhoy has it right:
Decades after the horrific bloodbath of Partition, the idea of Pakistan remains hotly debated. It did not help that Jinnah died in 1948, just a year after Pakistan was born, with his plans still ambiguously stated. He authored no books and wrote no policy paper. He did make many speeches, of which several were driven by political expediency and are frankly contradictory. These are freely cherry-picked today, with some finding in them a liberal and secular voice; others, an embodiment of Islamic values. The confusion is irresolvable.