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Partition was a blessing indeed

Second Opinion/Vinod Kumar

The Pioneer June 10, 1998

This is apropos of the article "Of the many ifs of history" (June 4), by

RK Murthi in these columns. The ifs of history are indeed difficult to

ponder but not always. India’s Partition is one such case. Partition was

one of the few good things that happened to India in this millennium but

sadly it was not carried to its logical conclusion.

Partition was rooted not only in the bloody and bitter history of the

subcontinent but also in the theology of the two dominant groups. Jinnah

dealt with this admirably in his interview with Beverly Nichols in 1943.

He said: "You must remember that Islam is not merely a religious

doctrine but a realistic and practical code of conduct. I am thinking in

terms of life, of everything important in life. I am thinking in terms

of our history, our heroes, our art, our architecture, our music, our

laws, our jurisprudence....In all things our outlook is not only

fundamentally different but often radically antagonistic to the Hindus."

He also said: "To yoke together two such nations under a single state,

one as a numerical minority and the other as majority, must lead to

growing discontent and final destruction of any fabric that may be so

built up for the government of such a state." For Jinnah Pakistan was

created the day the first Muslim landed in India. Only that he did not

mention that the two cannot live together even as neighbours, let alone

together in the same house.

No doubt, Jinnah was a nationalist to begin with and so was Muhammad

Iqbal when he wrote, "Hindi hain hum watan hai hindostan hamara", but

subsequently their views changed. Iqbal went on to write: "Muslim hain

hum watan hai sara jahan hamara". He was no longer "hindi" and Hindustan

was no longer his "watan". Jinnah too underwent a similar change. His

famous speech to the Pakistan Legislative Assembly on August 11, 1947,

when he said, "You may belong to any religion or caste or creed—that has

nothing to do with the business of the state", is mere pretense of

virtue. To make such a statement on August 11, 1947, when Hindus and

Sikhs were being massacred, converted or driven out of Pakistan, was

sheer hypocrisy. Jinnah’s statement fooled no one other than a few Hindu

"liberals", many of whom were themselves victims of Islam’s fury in

Pakistan. Even if one ascribed the conversions and atrocities of Muslim

invaders to medieval madness, how can one explain the actions of

Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Taliban, to mention a few, at the fag end

of the 20th century when non-Muslims in these countries are at best

second class citizens?

Partition was indeed one of the few good things that happened to India.

The past 50 years have been more peaceful than the first 50 years of

this century. Scientific and educational progress, on hold for a

millennium, has taken off once again. Prior to 1947, routine

Hindu-Muslim conflicts had enervated the masses. The first 25 years

after Partition were almost riot-free and Hindus got a chance to devise

their own destiny. However, of late, increased tension between Muslims

and Hindus, frequent bloody riots, and insurgency in Kashmir, only go to

show how right Jinnah was.

While Pakistan, heeding Jinnah’s advice, solved the problem of

minorities, Hindus under the impractical policies of Gandhi and Nehru

failed to take appropriate action. Has anyone ever heard of Hindu-Muslim

riots in Pakistan or Zoroastrian-Muslim riots in Iran? Partition was a

blessing for both Hindus and Muslims but unfortunately it was not

carried to its logical conclusion, as Jinnah had proposed, by exchanging

the population of the two communities. Jinnah’s proposal shows that he

was a pragmatic person, committed to protect the interests of both

Hindus and Muslims by creating a separate country for the Muslims of

India.

Imponderable: The If of history—only if our leaders had come out of "the

cocoon of Hindu-Muslim unity at any cost" and possessed even a fraction

of Jinnah’s wisdom and foresight!

 

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