"No country can preserve it's independence without a clean and strong political culture supported by equally strong economic and military muscles." Raja Mujtaba
By S. M. Hali
Pakistan was created amidst adversity. In 1947, as the British chose to relinquish their hold over the Sub-continent and grant independence to India, for the Muslims it would have been only a change of masters—the Hindus for the British. With prescience to foresee the predicament of Muslims in undivided India, Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and his compatriots renewed their efforts for independence for the Muslims of the Sub-Continent. The Hindu leaders of that era opposed partition and considered it to be a desecration of “Mother India”. Mahatma Gandhi’s opposition to the creation of Pakistan is chronicled by D.G. Tendulkar, in his book Life of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi; quoting from his argument presented after the adoption of the Lahore Resolution: “The ‘two-nation’ theory is an untruth. The vast majority of Muslims in India are converts to Islam or are descendants of converts. They did not become a separate nation, as soon as they became converts….”
Indira Gandhi claimed to have sunk the “Two Nation Theory” in the Bay of Bengal, following Pakistan’s defeat at the hands of Indian forces and the dismemberment of its Eastern wing, which became Bangladesh. Today, Jaswant Singh, former BJP politician and author of Jinnah – India, Partition, Independence has us believe that Congress leaders Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel "conceded" Pakistan to Jinnah with the “British acting as an ever helpful midwife.” Ironically, even some Muslim leaders of the Sub-continent had opposed Pakistan’s creation. For example, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, a Muslim leader of the Congress, in April 1946, during an interview to renowned journalist Shorish Kashmiri, had predicted that religious conflict would tear apart Pakistan and its eastern half would carve out its own future. He foretold that Pakistan’s incompetent rulers might pave the way for military rule. Azad opined that Muslims of the Indian Subcontinent are a minority but to maintain their collective strength and safeguarding their rights, they should not divide India. Unfortunately, most of his predictions came true. The Muslims in India remain downtrodden but the plight of Pakistan is no better. In 1971, East Pakistan was wrested free with Indian support and it became Bangladesh, as mentioned above. Military rule has plagued Pakistan for most of its existence, while corruption, bad governance, ethnic and sectarian strife have wreaked havoc in Pakistan. The common man has been totally ignored by subsequent military rulers, who were more intent in extending their own rule or corrupt civilian leadership, which has been bent upon lining its own nest, resultantly, the military is dictating both the defence as well as the foreign policies of Pakistan leaving the masses tottering and starving.
It was perhaps in this scenario that Faiz Ahmed Faiz, in his memorable poem “Yeh who seher to nahin”, commented on the partition:
This blighted dawn, this darkened sun.
This is not the dawn we had waited for…
The night's burden has not diminished,
The hour of deliverance
for the eye and the heart has not yet arrived.
Face forward! For our destination is not yet in sight
Pakistan’s detractors and some of our own citizens find fault with Jinnah for having accepted a “moth-eaten” Pakistan and praise Maulana Azad’s foresight. History however, must be viewed without the help of a myopic prism. The partition was promulgated in the Indian Independence Act 1947 and resulted in the dissolution of the British Empire. The partition resulted in a mass exodus of humanity, displacing up to 12.5 million people in the former British Indian Empire, with estimates of loss of life up to a million, since marauding bands of Hindu and Sikh fanatics set upon the Muslim refugees with equally depraved Muslims retaliating this side. The violent nature of the partition created an atmosphere of mutual hostility and suspicion between India and Pakistan that plagues their relationship till this day.
The partition of India included the geographical division of the Bengal province of British India into East Pakistan and West Bengal (India), and the similar partition of the Punjab province into West Punjab (Pakistan) and East Punjab (India). The Radcliff Commission also amended the approved plan to award Gurdaspur to India, providing it with a land link to the Valley of Kashmir, which enabled India to physically occupy the Valley, resulting in the First Kashmir War of 1947-48, creating the core issue of Kashmir, which has become a festering sore and flashpoint between the two nuclear weapons equipped states. The partition deal also included the division of state assets, including the British Indian Armed-Forces, the Indian Civil Service and other administrative services, the Indian Railways, and the central treasury. Pakistan received only a fraction of the assets assigned to it which led to major problems for the fledgling state. In the aftermath of Partition, the princely states of India had been left by the Indian Independence Act 1947 to choose whether to accede to India or Pakistan or to remain outside them. The choice for states with a Muslim or Hindu majority but the ruler being of a different religion was to be decided through a plebiscite. India did not wait for the plebiscite, but forcefully occupied Kashmir, Junagadh, Manawadar and Hyderabad compounding the problems for Pakistan.
Sixty five years since partition, if one were to take a pragmatic look, despite having been orphaned as a fledgling state, with the demise of the Quaid and Liaquat Ali Khan, having faced three wars, numerous trials and tribulations,been plundered and ravaged, torn and dismembered, Pakistan has survived. There are many merits to its populace, who are resilient and have the capacity to bounce back. Numerous social scientists have painted Pakistan as a picture of doom and gloom and written its obituary and epitaph as a failed state. Indeed any lesser nation would have succumbed to the adverse circumstances. For the past decade, the civilian population and military has been a target of hundreds of terror attacks, which have left 39,000 dead, the economy is in shambles, acute power shortage, mass unemployment and poor governance have amplified the difficulties, yet the country is intact. It continues to be nuclear-weapons-equipped state, whose nukes may appear to be a millstone around its neck, but they have saved it from adventurism by would be assailants. Its scientists, engineers and technicians have crafted, designed and developed marvels of ingenuity. Its labour is one of the most enduring and hard working, its soldiers, one of the bravest and most valiant; what it needs is sincere and selfless leadership, which can steer it through the stormy and treacherous straits ahead and make Pakistan realize its true potential. A leadership, which can shun corruption, sleaze and graft, unite the masses and bridge the divide of religious intolerance, will be able to mould the inchoate mass of Pakistanis into a true nation, which can protect its independence from detractors and hostile elements within and without. Our independence should not be comprised for if we lose it this time, no Quaid will return to restore it. The sacrifices of our founding fathers and pioneering Pakistanis must be revered. Let us pay heed to the poet philosopher Allama Iqbal’s message:
A nation’s life gets much prolonged
By lofty aims and ideals high:
If dwellers here some zeal possess,
They can explore the heights of the sky.