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Nauman Sadiq l

Although secularism, pluralism, and multiculturalism are the accepted social axioms of the modern worldview, but a demand for separate nationhood on the basis of one’s ethnolinguistic identity is accepted in the Western discourse, and it cannot simply be dismissed on the premise that since pluralism and multiculturalism are the accepted principles, therefore, the creation of a nation-state on the basis of ethnolinguistic identity becomes redundant. The agreed-upon principles of pluralism and multiculturalism become operative after the creation of a nation state and not before it.

Before joining the Muslim League, Jinnah was one of the leading proponents of Hindu-Muslim unity. He attended the meetings of the inner circle of the Indian National Congress and reached a well-considered conclusion that the outwardly liberal and secular Congress is nothing more than a thinly-veiled Hindu nationalist party.

Similarly, even though secularism is an accepted principle in the Western discourse, but an ethnoreligious group cannot be denied its right to claim separate nationhood on the basis of religious identity; in this case also the principle of inclusive secularism becomes functional after the creation of a state and not prior to it.

The Muslims of Pakistan share a lot of cultural similarities with Hindus, as well, because we share a similar regional culture and lingua franca, Urdu or Hindi; however different ethnolinguistic groups comprising Pakistan, like the Punjabis, Pashtuns, Sindhis, and Baloch, have more in common with each other than the Hindus of India, because all of them belong to the same religious civilization, i.e. Islam.

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Before joining the Muslim League, Jinnah was one of the leading proponents of Hindu-Muslim unity. He attended the meetings of the inner circle of the Indian National Congress and reached a well-considered conclusion that the outwardly liberal and secular Congress is nothing more than a thinly-veiled Hindu nationalist party.

India: A thinly-veiled Hindu nationalist state

Even today, 70 years after the independence, Muslims constitute 15% of India’s 1.2 billion population; that’s more than 180 million Muslims in India. However, we do find a few showpiece Muslims in ceremonial positions; but excluding Bollywood, where they have been overwhelmingly represented, I would like to know that what is the representation of Muslims in India’s state institutions, their proportion in higher bureaucracy, judiciary, police and army, and their presence and participation in India’s civic and political life?

If the Indian and Pakistani liberals claim that Muslims would have fared better in an undivided India, then they must prove their assertion by tangible facts rather than facile theories.

The fact of the matter is that just like the Indian National Congress, the Republic of India is also nothing more than a thinly-veiled Hindu nationalist state. The Indian Muslims have lagged so far behind and they have been disenfranchised to such an extent that they need some kind of an “affirmative action,” like the one that had been carried out in the U.S. during the ‘60s to improve a miserable lot of Afro-American communities.

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Regardless of reductive theories, whether one nation, two nations or several nations, which are only subjective interpretations of objective reality by Orientalist academics, the proof of the pudding lies in the eating. If the Indian and Pakistani liberals claim that Muslims would have fared better in an undivided India, then they must prove their assertion by tangible facts rather than facile theories.

There are currently about 180 million Muslims in India’s 1.2 billion population that constitutes about 15% of the total Indian population, as I have already mentioned. The day we see that these 15% Muslims are duly represented in all the institutions of the state and India’s federal, provincial and local governance structure, that day we will accept the Indo-Pakistani liberals’ contention that the founding fathers of Pakistan were wrong and the Indian pundits were right.

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Pakistan: A country for all

Regarding the much-touted grievances of minority ethnolinguistic groups against the supposed Punjabi dominance in Pakistan, the Baloch are the only ethnic group that has lagged behind in Pakistan. The Sindhis have the second largest political party in Pakistan in the form of People’s Party and two of Pakistan’s prime ministers, Benazir and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, were Sindhis.

Moreover, the Pashtuns are no longer represented by a single political entity in Pakistan, a fact which has now become obvious from the parliamentary elections of 2013 in which the Pashtun nationalist, Awami National Party (ANP), had been wiped out of its former strongholds.

The Pashtuns also have a significant presence in Pakistan’s bureaucracy, judiciary, army and all other institutions of the state; and some of Pakistan’s presidents and army chiefs were also Pashtuns. We must give credit where it is due: Islam could be anything but it is an inclusive religion, which makes absolutely no distinction, whatsoever, between its adherents on the basis of race, language and other such parochial affiliations; in fact, Islam strongly discourages racism in all its forms and manifestations.

Moreover, the Pashtuns are no longer represented by a single political entity in Pakistan, a fact which has now become obvious from the parliamentary elections of 2013 in which the Pashtun nationalist, Awami National Party (ANP), had been wiped out of its former strongholds.

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Now, there are at least three distinct categories of Pashtuns in Pakistan: firstly, the Pashtun nationalists who follow Abdul Ghaffar Khan’s legacy and have their strongholds in Charsadda and Mardan districts; secondly, the religiously-inclined Islamist Pashtuns who vote for the Islamist political parties, like Jamaat-e-Islami and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, and are mostly concentrated in the southern districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa; and finally, the emerging new phenomena, i.e. the Pak-nationalist Pashtuns, most of whom have joined Imran Khan’s PTI in recent years, though some have also joined the Muslim League.

Aligarh Muslim University bred whole generations of educated Muslims who were acutely aware of the decadent state of Muslims in British India, and most of them later joined the Muslim League to make the dream of Pakistan a reality.

Leadership is a two-way street, a judicious leader is supposed to guide the masses, but at the same time he is also supposed to represent the disenfranchised masses; the detached and insular leadership that lives in a fantasy-world of outlandish theories and fails to understand the mindsets and inclinations of the masses tends to lose its mass appeal, sooner or later.

Additionally, although Orientalist historians generally give credit to Jinnah, as an individual, for single-handedly realizing the dream of Pakistan, the way I see it, Pakistan Movement was the logical conclusion of Aligarh Movement. This fact elucidates that how much difference a single educational institution can make in the history of nations. Aligarh Muslim University bred whole generations of educated Muslims who were acutely aware of the decadent state of Muslims in British India, and most of them later joined the Muslim League to make the dream of Pakistan a reality.

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Regarding the allegation that the Muslim League leaders were imperialist collaborators, until Lord Wavell, the British viceroys used to take a reasonably neutral approach towards communal issues in British India, but on the eve of independence, Gandhi and Nehru specifically implored the Attlee administration to appoint Lord Mountbatten as the viceroy of India.

Moreover, the independence of India and Pakistan was originally scheduled for June 1948, but once again the Congress leadership entreated the British Empire to bring the date of independence forward to August 1947. It was not a coincidence that on both critically important occasions, Her Majesty’s government obliged the Congress leadership because the British wanted to keep India within the folds of the British Commonwealth after the independence.

Lord Mountbatten served as India’s first governor general and he helped Pundit Nehru’s government consolidate the Indian dominion by forcefully integrating 500+ princely states.

Had the British not brought forward the date of independence by almost a year, the nascent Indian and Pakistani armed forces and border guards could have had an opportunity to avert the carnage that took place during the division of Punjab on the eve of independence.

Furthermore, Lord Mountbatten served as India’s first governor general and he helped Pundit Nehru’s government consolidate the Indian dominion by forcefully integrating 500+ princely states. He had also made a similar offer to Jinnah to serve as Pakistan’s governor general too, and when the latter refused, Mountbatten threatened Jinnah in so many words: “It will cost you and the Dominion of Pakistan more than just tables and chairs.”

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No wonder then, it was the collusion between the Congress leadership, Radcliffe, and Mountbatten that eventually culminated in the Indian troops’ successful invasion of the princely state of Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir by using the Gurdaspur-Pathankot corridor that was provided to India by the Radcliffe boundary commission. Thus, creating a permanent territorial dispute between two neighbors that have not been resolved 70 years after the independence despite several United Nations resolutions and mediation efforts.

Nauman Sadiq is an Islamabad-based attorney, columnist, and geopolitical analyst focused on the politics of Af-Pak and Middle East regions, neocolonialism, and Petro-imperialism. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.

Nauman Sadiq is an Islamabad-based attorney, columnist, and geopolitical analyst focused on the politics of Af-Pak and Middle East regions, neocolonialism, and Petro-imperialism.

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