By Prof. Mohd. Hanif Shaikh.
Generally it is believed by the majority of people that the Muslims caused the vivisection of the motherland. But the real facts regarding the events leading to partition have not been given due attention or have been covered up.
First and foremost, Mr. Jinnah never wanted a separate country. Pakistan was a bargaining point for him. He was a stunch nationalist and secular in outlook. Recently the newsmagazine ‘outlook’ conducted an opinion poll in five major cities of India to fix responsibility of partition on the four leaders, 39% people blamed Lord Mountbatten for Partition, Nehru was held responsible by 30% of 21% of the people voted for Sardar Patel, held Jinnah responsible for partition.
All the nationalist Muslim leaders including Maulana Azad, Khan Abdul Gafar Khan, Asaf Ali, Dr. Zakir Hussain and scores of others had opposed partition till the end. Frontier Gandhi had remarked that they were thrown to wolves. Mahatma Gandhi had once declared that Pakistan would take place only over his dead body.
When in 1932, McDonald announced ‘Communal Award’ giving separate electorate to Harijans, Gandhiji, had declared fast unto death. He was afraid of split among the Hindus. But the same Gandhi did not undertake fast unto death to prevent the partition. Had he done so, partition would have been avoided. Maulana Azad in his autobiography ‘India Wins Freedom’ has squarely blamed Gandhi, Nehru and patel for the partition.
The Cabinet Mission Plan was the best chance to avoid the partition. All the parties had accepted it. But Nehru’s irresponsible statement in Bombay that Congress would reconsider the proposals forced Jinnah to change his stand.
The role played by various communal Hindu organisations like Hindu Mahasabha, RSS etc. has been completely overlooked. People like Savarkar coined the Slogan ‘Hindi, Hindu, Hindustan’, meaning India was meant for Hindus only. They had openly declared that alongwith the British Muslims should also be driven out of the country.
The national movement had a district communal tinge what with Pujas and Prayers and bathing in the river Ganges. Raj Mohan Gandhi in his recent biography of Mahatma Gandhi has contended that the country was partitioned to maintain ‘Brahmin hegemony’. Congress was basically a Brahmin Party and so were the other organisations.
These people were afraid of Muslim dominance in Indian Politics. Had the country been united Muslims would have formed about 35 to 40% of total population. It was feared that after the British withdrawal from India, Muslim rule would be revived.
It was feared that Civil War would have taken place had Pakistan not been created. If the Congress government could not control the riots, it should have vacated the office. The United States fought the civil war for several years but maintained the unity of the country. And today US is the super-power.
It is also wrong to suggest that all Muslims of India supported Pakistan. When Choudhary Rahmat Ali coined the term first in 1933 it was meant to be a province within India, even Allama Iqbal wanted the Western part of India as a Muslim majority State within India to safeguard Muslim culture. The term ‘Pakistan’ stood for, P for Punjab, A for Afghan(Baluch), K for Kashmir, S for Sindh and stan in Persian means a country. So even Bangladesh (erstwhile East Pakistan) was not in the original scheme.
When the idea of Pakistan was conveyed to Jinnah, he dismissed it as childish. Jinnah wanted to be a leader of undivided India. It is also true that Nehru and Patel were power thirsty and considered Jinnah as a threat to their leadership. Lord Mountabuten was friendly to Nehru because of Lady Edwinas relationship with him. When the date for British withdrawal was fixed as July 1948, he advanced it to August 1947. Had he waited for one more year the partition would have been avoided.
Over the years, facts have been falsified and Muslims have been made the scapegoats for the crime they did not commit. Muslim intellectuals should confront such people and prove that they were not responsible for partition.
Some organisations talk of ‘Akhand Bharat’ i.e. United India as their goal. Let them start the movement for the annulment of partition and no Muslim would oppose it. All over the world, political boundaries are crumbling. East and West Germany fought two wars but are united today. Similar is the case with North and South Yemen.
If India, Pakistan and Bangladesh reunite, the country can become a super-power. The scarce resources can be spent on the poor and the needy instead of wasting them on defence. It might sound childish but nothing is impossible.
By Dr. Eyad Sarraj
A few weeks ago I said that the struggle of Palestinians today is how not to become a bomb and that the amazing thing is not the occurrence of the suicide bombing, rather the rarity of them.
The BBC interviewer appeared to understand. I was shocked because it is our understanding that the world out there will never understand. And who on earth in their right mind would understand terror and the killing of innocent people? Why do Palestinians kill themselves and Israelis in such an horrific way at the bus-stop or in a crowded market? Do you really care to know? Well, let me try and explain.
I believe it is an act of absolute despair and a very serious stage of the seemingly perpetual conflict. Since the uprooting of the Palestinians in 1948 triggered by Irgun Jewish terror under the leadership of Yitzak Shamir and Menachem Begin, we have tried everything. We have tried Nasser and Arab Nationalism, only to be invaded in 1956 in our second homes in the refugee camps. It was only because of the Russian threat to bomb London and Paris, and the resolve of American president Eisenhower that ended the Israeli occupation.
We have tried the United Nations and its Security Council, which by the way have made excellent resolutions on our behalf. For example Resolution 194 calling on Israel to allow us to return to our homeland, but to no avail. So we kept wandering around, between airports and refugee camps, waiting for a hero or an earthquake. All we wanted was to go home. But our story was getting worse and we grew bitter as we heard that a Jew from Poland would be declared a citizen of our country a country now called Israel. We were told that officially we were stateless with undefined nationality. So we went to universities. We believed then the Jews were so clever because they were educated. We were told that Jews controlled the world with their education. They are doctors, lawyers and scientists, never beggars or boxers. In twenty years many of us became university graduates and we were in every university. We had some pride. Some of our educated people formed the resistance movement. They believed that the Arab countries would never fight Israel, and that we had to force them to fight. Fatah with Yasser Arafat was born. They forced the Arabs to fight by inviting Israel to attack Egypt in 1967. In the course of six days the Arabs were defeated again but worse. This time we lost Gaza and the West Bank, Egypt lost Sinai, and Syria lost the Golan. In a sudden stroke our fate was sealed and we had to live under Israeli military occupation for thirty years. Do you know what it means to live under Israeli military occupation? Do you really care to know? Let me tell you a few things.
* You are given an identity number and a permit to reside. If you leave the country for more than three years in succession, you lose that right to residence.
* When you leave the country on a trip, you are given a laissezpassez, a travelling document, valid for one year and it tells you in its recording of your particulars that you are of undefined nationality.
* Israeli occupation means that you are called twice a year by the intelligence for routine interrogation and persuasion to work as an informer on your brothers and sisters. No one is spared. If you are a member of a political organisation you will be sentenced for ten years. For a military action you will be sentenced to life.
* To survive under the Israeli occupation you are given the chance to work in the jobs that Israelis do not like, sweeping the streets, building houses, collecting fruit or harvesting. You will have to leave your home in the refugee camp in Gaza at 3 am, go through the road blocks and check posts, spend your day under the sun and surveillance, returning home in the evening to collapse in bed for a few hours before the following day.
We simply became the slaves of our enemy. We are building their homes on our villages, and we clean their streets. Do you know what it does to you when you have to be the slave of your enemy in order to survive. No, you will never know how painful it is unless your country is occupied by another force. Only then will you learn how to watch in silence pretending not to see the torture of your friends and the humiliation of your father.
Do you know what it means for a child to see his father spat at and beaten before his eyes by an Israeli soldier? Nobody knows what happened to our children. We don’t know ourselves except we observe that they lose respect for their fathers. So they, our children, the children of the stone as they became known, tried the Intifada-the Uprising. Seven long years our children were throwing stones and being killed daily. Nearly all our young men were arrested, the majority were tortured. All had to confess. The result was every one suspected that all people were spies. So, we were exhausted, tormented and brutalised. What else could we do to return to our home? We had almost forgotten that and all that we wanted was to be left alone.
What else could we try? Oh yes, peace. When the news came that Arafat had signed a peace treaty in Washington we were jubilant. At last we thought we were to get rid of that miserable life of military occupation. So we had hope. We could not believe our eyes when there were no more curfews and we could actually spend our evening on the beach or wander in streets which were now ours after eight O’clock at night. We were ecstatic. We even had elections and we had a parliament, so we were told. Then came Binyamin Netanyahu.
He refused to meet Arafat and was clearly forced to shake hands in obvious disgust. He refused to free our prisoners, to have a safe passage for us to move between the West bank and Gaza. He even surrounded our towns and villages with his tanks and arrested our policemen. Then he went after our holy places and opened a tunnel under our holiest Mosque. Tens of our children and also soldiers were killed because of that tunnel, but he went on insulting us and driving out our sanity.
Arafat called for patience and we were patient, then Netanyahu started to build settlements in Jerusalem and drive the remaining Palestinians out. Settlers in Hebron spat on our Prophet (Pbuh) and called him a pig. All in the name of peace we were humiliated, even arrested and tortured by Palestinian forces to protect the peace. Our Authority was turning against us to please Netanyahu. Our officials were driving in big cars and building big villas. They have VIP cards and cross the check post like human beings while we are left to rot.
I have told you a few things. Now do you understand why we have turned into suicide killers? (Courtesy Just)
(Dr. Eyad Sarraj is a Palestinian Psychiatrist, Commissioner of Citizens Rights, and an Awardee of Physicians for Human Rights. He was detained three times by Arafat’s forces during 1996.)