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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The 65 Year Old Infant Part 2

Original Article: Daily Times
Date Published: August 23, 2012
Original link:\08\23\story_23-8-2012_pg3_3

Before I continue with where I left off last week, I want to express my deepest gratitude to all who sent emails after reading the first installment. It was quite humbling to see how most minds think and interpret this event the way I do. Again, a heartfelt thanks to all and I hope to get this feedback consistently.

Let me clarify my position right off the bat. My expression is not a plea for reunification of all three parts of a fragmented India. It is solely to point out the inaccuracies, according to my interpretation. I am noacademic or historian. The researchers and academics can write books and papers, but in the end what really matters is how certain events and their aftermath actually affect people as a whole.

To say that the ‘Two Nation Theory’ is the basis for Pakistan and in the absence of it, Pakistan has no reason for its existence is nothing but a jingoistic rant. The flaw in that assumption is proved through multiple pieces of evidence. The overwhelming number of Muslims in present-day India was pointed out last week. If that ‘theory’ were accurate, there would have been a mass exodus from India post-partition. India would be an absolute Hindu populated country, with no minority in sight, let alone Muslims. Second, the theory assumes that Muslims are a unique breed of people, so unique that they are incapable of residing with any other non-Muslim group in harmony. Nothing can be further from the truth when it comes to this. Several hundreds of years of Muslim presence in India until 1947 along with other faiths is anothervalid testimony.

The mere fact that post-partition Muslims and Hindus live in harmony in all parts of the world where life takes them is another undeniable proof. Whether it is the Middle East, Europe, North America, the Far East, Australia or South Africa, you see us living and working together in concert with relative peace and prosperity, often characterised under a broad singular category of ‘Indians’ or ‘South Asians’. Therefore, to continue to argue that we are two nations and so dissimilar that we cannot coexist at all is, to say the least, very flawed.

Does this mean that the demand for Pakistan was wrong? Maybe, maybe not. The narrative that we are fed on the tube or textbooks begs some reasonable questioning. I touched on this in one of my previous write-ups as well. Allama Iqbal is glorified as the ‘great scholar’ who dreamt of this ‘independent state’ for Muslims. All I know is that Allama Sahib expired prior to the passing of what was known as the Lahore Resolution of 1940. Even in that resolution, the language indicates or hints at ‘sovereign states’ of Muslim majority. The plural ‘states’ indicates that Muslims were demanding autonomous states within India where Muslims held a valid majority.

The partition cannot be solely attributed to a declaration, which in essence did not even request any such action. We now call it Pakistan Resolution and somehow pretend that it was the real impetus behind our demand for a separate homeland. One does not need to be a scholar to realise that the Quaid, Mr Gandhi and Mr Nehru were definitely not on the same page with one another. There was undeniable friction between them. Add the chain of events post-Lahore Resolution, and at some point, it became what it was meant to be. Disagreements, power plays, betrayals and no reconciliation whatsoever led to the inevitable.

Undoubtedly, the Quaid was a determined individual. What he accomplished was nothing short of a miracle. The gaining of an entirely different country carved out of India was monumental and unbelievable. Yet one cannot deny that the term ‘Islam’ was ‘used’ to galvanise popular public support. Islam or Muslims in India were not being persecuted as a whole. The other argument of a ‘Muslim way of life’ being so incongruent with Hindus is only partially accurate. With the exception of faith, most of the customs of present-day Pakistanis are quite similar to their eastern neighbour. Mind you, six and a half decades later we are still relatively similar.

The Quaid was strong in his vision and convictions and felt that Muslims would always remain a minority in India. He was absolutely accurate on that count. He believed that Muslims would be marginalised in a united India. But the Quaid perhaps was overly optimistic about the relations of Muslims within their own community. Pakistan since its inception has proved that Muslim-on-Muslim violence has been a much greater threat than that between Muslims and non-Muslims. The present situation speaks volumes about the inability of Muslims to coexist with one another in harmony.

The atrocious and abhorrent violence at the time of partition has left such deep-rooted scars on our collective psyche that we are unable to erase them from our character. Look at what we did to our leaders and saviours, so to speak. Mr Gandhi, Mrs Indira Gandhi, Liaquat Ali Khan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Mujibur Rehman, Rajiv Gandhi and Benazir Bhutto are just some names that come to mind. One can make a compelling argument that had the Quaid not been battling his terminal illness, he would have met a similar fate too. But a question about his stalled ambulance at Mauripur Road will always remain a mystery. This was the head of state, the person behind our great independence, struggling for his final moments. He was left helpless for hours, but why?

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