Adjustment and Accommodation: Indian Muslims After Partition
Death is final, inevitable, yet every time someone dear to us passes away, human sentiment protests, revolts, bursts out in a flood of tears. How does one mourn the death of a country, one's country?
Khwaja Ahmad Abbas1
India's independence in August 1947 was the culmination of a sustained historical process. This cannot be said about the creation of Pakistan, founded on the principle of the 'two-nation theory'. True, one can uncover the roots of and unfold the events leading to its birth. But such an exercise cannot lend historical legitimacy to the cause or the movement connected with it. Nor can one view Jinnah's ability to rally round Muslims as a vindication of his theoretical postulates. At best, it reflected his political acumen and vindicated his judgement that the India of the 1940s offered him a God-sent opportunity, denied to him by the obdurate Congress leadership in the mid-1930s, to be the 'sole spokesman' of the Muslim constituency. The new nation he thus created was the result of a process, set in motion by the conjuncture of events in a specific historical context. It was most certainly not embedded in what is described as the 'historical logic' of the 'two-nation theory'.
In the 1930s, there was no blueprint of a future Pakistan. Iqbal's scheme, outlined at the Muslim League session in 1930, did not envisage a separate Muslipr state: it merely made out a case for provincial autonomy, especially in Muslim-majority areas. Rehmat All's vision, nurtured in Cambridge, was dismissed back home as 'chimerical and impracticable'. And Jinnah's own scheme in the 1940s was vague, tentative and open to diverse interpretations. Linlithgow, the viceroy, regarded it 'as very largely in the nature of a bargaining'. He felt that 'half the strength of his (Jinnah's) position is that he has refused to define it'.2 Linlithgow's successor, Wavell, informed London in October 1945 that Jinnah was arguing for something which he 'had not worked out fully'.3
4 Department of History, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.
Social Scientist, Vol.18, Nos. 8-9, August-September 1990