In Pakistan, we just celebrated Quaid e Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s birthday on 25th December. On this occasion, I want to discuss some points Faisal Devji raised in his book, ‘Muslim Zion’ and later I will give my point of view on what Jinnah accomplished with the partition
“It is clear, nevertheless, that what he [Jinnah] accomplished was not simply the partition of India, but that of its Muslims also, whose demographic weight in the subcontinent was destroyed by Pakistan’s founding” is a quote from the Muslim Zion, a book authored by Faisal Devji in which he shines light upon the pressing issue that is the state of Muslims in the subcontinent.
The aforementioned statement has multiple facts and can therefore be divided into three sections which can then be analyzed to fully understand what Faisal Devji meant to say. The sections, based upon what the statement implies, are as follows:
- Jinnah accomplished the partition of India.
- Jinnah, in the process of accomplishing the partition of India, also partitioned its Muslims.
- The partition of India and therefore the partition of the Muslims of India destroyed the demographic weight of Muslims in the subcontinent.
Firstly, Faisal Devji was not entirely correct in implying that Jinnah had “accomplished” the partition of India. Jinnah did not aim to create a separate country for Muslims, he only wanted to ensure that Muslims did not end up becoming marginalized in a country where they constituted about one-quarter of the entire population. This, in itself, nullifies the notion of Jinnah having accomplished the partition of India. In-fact, the creation of Pakistan acted as a reminder of how Jinnah failed to do what he wanted which was to protect the interests and rights of Muslims and achieve increased autonomy and representation for Muslims. He, himself, was not prepared for the creation of a new country.
Next, while Jinnah managed to partition India with success he failed in partitioning it successfully. This is because Pakistan did not end up being created for those who wanted Pakistan; Pakistan, instead, was imposed upon those who wanted nothing to do with it. The 1946 election results prove this as they clearly show the support that the Muslim League had garnered for itself in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madras, Bombay, and the Central Provinces. It was them who wanted and voted for Pakistan, but the country was instead created in Sindh, Baluchistan, Punjab, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa who never asked for a separate state. Two pieces of information need to be considered to understand this perplexity. First of all, Pakistan was created away from those who wanted the country because of Cyril John Radcliffe who designed the Radcliffe line which became known as the India-Pakistan border and he did so with no prior knowledge of that area. Second of all, the people of modern-day Pakistan never wanted a Pakistan since they used their provincial languages as their binding force instead of religion. This can be seen throughout history in Punjab where Sikhs, Hindus, and Muslims peacefully coexisted, and in Sindh where Hindus and Muslims peacefully coexisted.
Secondly, Faisal Devji is correct in observing that the partition of India also divided India’s Muslims. The question which arises, however, is whether Jinnah intended for this to happen and the simple answer is no, he did not. He wanted to protect the Muslim interest and it became harder to do this once they were divided. This is further explained by Ayesha Jalal who poses the following question: “If the Muslims are supposed to be one nation – then how come they are living in three different states?” This question clearly illustrates Jinnah’s failure in protecting the Muslim population of the subcontinent and leads to the third facet of the statement made by Devji in the Muslim Zion.
Within the third layer of the statement, Faisal Devji claims that Jinnah destroyed the demographical weight of Muslims in the subcontinent and he is once again correct. Jinnah did not just end up dividing the subcontinent into three parts geographically but also divided the Muslims of the subcontinent into three separate places which are modern day India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. It is crucial to note that only the Muslims were divided into three states since no Hindus migrated to either Pakistan or Bangladesh in-fact, Hindus migrated from these places to India which strengthened them further. The partition, therefore, reduced the demographical weightage of Muslims as they were divided, and their bargaining power was reduced.
The term ‘bargaining power’ implies that if the subcontinent not been split up then the Muslims in India would hold a stronger position as compared to the one that they currently hold. Furthermore, this also implies that the Muslims in both, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, would also have been at an advantage. While this topic falls under the domain of counterfactual conditions, it is interesting to note that had the subcontinent not split up then approximately one-third of the population would consist of Muslims which would automatically imply increased representation in all matters of state which includes but is not limited to politics, media, education, and electorates.
Finally, the statement: “What he [Jinnah] accomplished was not simply the partition of India, but that of its Muslims” is one which is very complex due to the layers that it has. It can, however, be simply understood as meaning that Jinnah not only separated India into smaller portions but also its Muslim population into three separate parts. This statement acknowledges the human element of the partition and how the Muslims suffered more than they were benefited from the creation of Pakistan. It also shines light upon the intricacy of Islam and the subcontinent and this can be seen through another statement from Faisal Devji’s book which claims that a lot like Judaism in Israel, Islam in Pakistan has become a national religion in such a strong context that it has now replaced the notion of citizenship, however, at the same time, Pakistan managed to divide the Muslims of subcontinent upon its creation.
In conclusion, Pakistan was the first country to be made upon the basis of religion and one of the many who were made based on exclusion however it is the only country that managed to exclude people of the same religion that it was made for. Jinnah can be accredited for this however if Jinnah represented Muslims like a lawyer would his clients feel that it is clear that Jinnah lost the case.