I have considered from every possible
point of view the scheme of Pakistan as formulated by the Muslim League.
As an Indian I have examined its implications for the future of India as
a whole. As a Muslim I have examined its likely effects upon the
fortunes of Muslims of India.
Considering the scheme in all its aspects
I have come to the conclusion that it is harmful not only for India as a
whole but for Muslims in particular. And in fact it creates more
problems than it solves.
I must confess that the very term
Pakistan goes against my grain. It suggests that some portions of the
world are pure while others are impure. Such a division of territories
into pure and impure is un-Islamic and is more in keeping with orthodox
Brahmanism which divides men and countries into holy and unholy - a
division which is a repudiation of the very spirit of Islam. Islam
recognises no such division and the prophet says, 'God has made the
whole world a mosque for me.'
Further, it seems that the scheme of
Pakistan is a symbol of defeatism and has been built up on the analogy
of the Jewish demand for a national home. It is a confession that Indian
Muslims cannot hold their own in India as a whole and would be content
to withdraw to a corner specially reserved for them.
One can sympathise with the aspiration of
the Jews for such a national home, as they are scattered all over the
world and cannot in any region have any effective voice in the
administration. The conditions of Indian Muslims is quite otherwise.
Over 90 million in number, they are in quantity and quality a
sufficiently important element in Indian life to Influence decisively
all questions of administration and policy. Nature has further helped
them by concentrating them in certain areas.
In such a context, the demand for
Pakistan loses all force. As a Muslim, I for one am not prepared for a
moment to give up my right to treat the whole of India as my domain and
to share in the shaping of its
political and economic life. To me it seems a sure sign of cowardice to
give up what is my patrimony and content myself with a mere fragment of
As is well known, Mr Jinnah's Pakistan
scheme is based on his two nation theory. His thesis is that India
contains many nationalities based on religious differences. Of them the
two major nations, the Hindus and Muslims, must as separate nations have
separate states. When Dr Edward
Thompson once pointed out to Mr Jinnah that Hindus and Muslims live side
by side in thousands of Indian towns, villages and hamlets, Mr Jinnah
replied that this in no way affected their separate nationality. Two
nations according to Mr Jinnah
confront one another in every hamlet, village and town, and he,
therefore, desires that they should be separated into two states.
I am prepared to overlook all other
aspects of the problem and judge it from the point of view of Muslim
interests alone. I shall go still further and say that if it can be
shown that the scheme of Pakistan can in any way benefit Muslims I would
be prepared to accept it myself and also to work for its acceptance by
others. But the truth is that even If I examine the scheme from the
point of view of the communal interests of the Muslims themselves, I am
forced to the conclusion that it can in no way benefit them or allay
their legitimate fears.
Let us consider dispassionately the
consequences which will follow if we give effect to the Pakistan scheme.
India will be divided into two States, one with a majority of Muslims
and the other of Hindus. In the Hindustan State there will remain three
and a half crores of Muslims
scattered in small minorities all over the land. With 17 per cent in U.P,
12 per cent in Bihar and 9 per cent in Madras, they will be weaker than
they are today in the Hindu majority provinces. They have had their
homelands in these regions for almost a thousand years and built up well
known centres of Muslim culture and
They will awaken overnight and discover
that they have become alien and foreigners. Backward industrially,
educationally and economically, they will be left to the mercies to what
would become an unadulterated Hindu raj.
On the other hand, their position within
the Pakistan State will be vulnerable and weak. Nowhere in Pakistan will
their majority be comparable to the Hindu majority in the Hindustan
In fact, their majority will be so slight
that it will be offset by the economical, educational and political lead
enjoyed by non-Muslims in these areas. Even if this were not so and
Pakistan were overwhelmingly Muslim in population, it still could hardly
solve the problem of Muslims in Hindustan.
Two states confronting one another, offer
no solution of the problem of one another's minorities, but only lead to
retribution and reprisals by introducing a system of mutual hostages.
The scheme of Pakistan therefore solves no problem for the Muslims. It
cannot safeguard their rights where they are in a minority nor as
citizens of Pakistan secure them a position in Indian or world affairs
which they would enjoy as citizens of a major State like the Indian
It may be argued that if Pakistan is so
much against the interests of the Muslims themselves, why should such a
large section of Muslims be swept away by its lure? The answer is to be
found in the attitude of certain communal extremists among the Hindus.
When the Muslim League began to speak
of Pakistan, they read into the scheme a sinister pan-Islamic conspiracy
and began to oppose it out of fear that it foreshadowed a combination of
Indian Muslim with trans-Indian Muslims States.
The opposition acted as an incentive to
the adherents of the League. With simple though untenable logic
they argued that if Hindus were so opposed to Pakistan, surely it must
be of benefit to Muslims. An atmosphere of emotional frenzy was created
which made reasonable appraisement impossible and swept away, especially
the younger and more impressionable among the Muslims. I have, however,
no doubt that when the present frenzy has died down and the question can
be considered dispassionately, those who now support Pakistan will
themselves repudiate it as harmful for Muslim Interests.
The formula which I have succeeded in
making the Congress accept secures whatever merit the Pakistan scheme
contains while all its defects and drawbacks are avoided. The basis of
Pakistan is the fear of interference by the Centre in Muslim majority
areas as the Hindus will be in a majority in the Centre. The Congress
meets this fear by granting full autonomy to the provincial units and
vesting all residuary power in the provinces. It also has provided for
two lists of Central subjects, one compulsory and one optional, so that
if any provincial unit so wants, it can administer all subjects itself
except a minimum delegated to the Centre. The Congress scheme therefore
ensures that Muslim majority provinces are internally free to develop as
they will, but can at the same time influence the Centre on all issues
which affect India as a whole.
The situation in India is such that all
attempts to establish a centralised
and unitary government are bound to fail. Equally doomed to failure is
the attempt to divide India into two States. After considering all
aspects of the question, I have come to the conclusion that the only
solution can be on the lines embodied in the Congress formula which
allows room for development both to the provinces and to India as a
whole. The Congress formula meets the fear of the Muslim majority areas
to allay which the scheme of Pakistan was formed. On the other hand, it
avoids the defects of the Pakistan scheme which would bring the Muslims
where they are in a minority under a purely Hindu government.
I am one of those who considers the
present chapter of communal bitterness and differences as a transient
phase in Indian life. I firmly hold that they will disappear when India
assumes the responsibility of her own destiny. I am reminded of a saying
of Mr Gladstone that the best cure for a man's fear of the water was to
throw him into it. Similarly India must assume responsibilities and
administer her own affairs before fears and suspicions can be fully
When India attains her destiny, she will
forget the chapter of communal suspicion and conflict and face the
problems of modern life from a modern point of view. Differences will no
doubt persist, but they will be economic, not communal. Opposition among
political parties will continue, but
it will be based, not on religion but on economic and political issues.
Class and not community will be the basis
of future alignments, and policies will be shaped accordingly.
If It be argued that this is only a faith
which events may not justify would say that in any case the nine crores
of Muslims constitute a factor which nobody can ignore and whatever
the circumstances they are strong enough to safeguard their own
[India Wins Freedom, Orient Longman,
1997, pp. 150-152]