We celebrated the 75th Independence Day of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. It becomes very important to reflect on the decades of struggle to get a free nation. Pakistan was created on the basis of the Two Nation Theory. The theory states that both Muslims and Hindus are different from each other and can’t live together peacefully, as equals after the British leave the subcontinent.
Muhammad Ali Jinnah explained this Hindu-Muslims divide on March 22, 1940, in his presidential address at the time Lahore Resolution, said, “Hindus and Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies and social customs. They neither intermarry nor inter-dine together and, indeed, they belong to two different civilizations which are based mainly on conflicting ideas and conceptions. Their aspect on life and of life is different.”
Understanding the matter better
Jinnah knew that in a united India, Muslims will be marginalized and treated as second-class citizens by the Hindu majority. He had said that one day British Raj will turn into Ram Raj. He further mentioned that “Hindus and Muslims derive their inspiration from different sources of history. They have different epics, different heroes, and different episodes. To yoke together two such nations under a single state, one as a numerical minority and the other as a majority, must lead to growing discontent and final destruction of any fabric that may be so built for the government of such a state.”
The Congress Ministries formed in 1937 were an eye-opener for Muslims regarding their future in India. Congress proved itself as a Hindu party and the 27 months of their rule became a nightmare for Muslims. After taking charge of the government, it declared Hindi as the national language and Deva Nagri as the official script. Its Flag was given the status of the national flag; slaughtering cows was prohibited; it was made compulsory for children to worship pictures of Gandhi and sing Band-i-Mataram.
In short, religious intolerance was the order of the day
Muslims were not allowed to construct new mosques. Hindus would play drums in front of Mosques during prayer times. Additionally, Congress introduced a new educational policy in the provinces “Warda Taleemi Scheme”, whose major objective was too ideologically corrupt Muslim children into believing Hinduism was superior faith.
Congress rule was criticized by prominent British personalities. The Marquees of Lothian, in April 1938, termed Congress rule as a “rising tide of Hindu rule.” Likewise, Sir William Barton, in June 1939, it was termed as “the rising tide of political Hinduism.”The 28 months of Congress rule were a nightmare for Muslims. There were 57 serious communal riots in which 1700 casualties were reported in Congress-ruled provinces.
Read more: The quest for independence in Pakistan
Winston Churchill said that during this short period, Congress had resorted to police firing on civilians so much that it killed more people in comparison to 200 years of British rule. It was a severe indictment but well deserved. These events confirmed the worst fears of Muslims. Jinnah had said in October 1937, “On the very threshold of what little power and responsibility is given, the majority community has clearly shown their hand: that Hindustan is for the Hindus“
In fact, Congress was always a Hindu body from the start. In 1914, it had a total of 856 delegates, in 1915 there were 2190 and in 1916 there were 2249. Of these, Muslims were less than 1% in 1914, 2% in 1915 and 3% in 1916. In 1937, 97%, of members of Congress were Hindu. Dr Ambedkar said: “It is foolish to take solace in the fact that because the Congress is fighting for the freedom of India, it is, therefore, fighting for the freedom of the people of India and of the lowest of the low. The question whether Congress is fighting for freedom has very little importance as compared to the question for whose freedom is Congress fighting?”
After seeing what a Hindu rule in independent India would look like, in Lahore, a group of men in Lahore resolved to create a separate homeland for their people in 1940. Jinnah took the stage in Minto Park, laying down the unequivocal demand for Pakistan. The Lahore Resolution, signed the next day, became the bedrock on which Pakistan was built. Later, in the general elections held in 1945, Muslim League secured 425 out of 496 seats reserved for Muslims (and about 89.2% of Muslim votes) on a campaign promise of creating an independent Pakistan.
Jinnah’s resolve was so rocked solid that on one occasion, Lord Mountbatten said, “There was no argument that could move him from his determination to realize the impossible dream of Pakistan.” Renowned American historian, Stanley Wolpert famously wrote, “Few individuals significantly alter the course of history. Fewer still modify the map of the world. Hardly anyone can be credited with creating a nation-state. Jinnah did all three.”
Lord Mountbatten told Jawahar Lal Nehru in 1947 that Pakistan was not economically viable and would come begging to rejoin India within six months. Today after 75 years, Pakistan has achieved strategic defiance, diplomatic relevance, economic vibrancy and political stability.
The writer has done MPhil in Peace and Conflict Studies from National Defence University. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.