Muslim League's
UNFINISHED AGENDA

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A PLEDGE UNREDEEMED


PRIYADARSI DUTTA says Exchange of Population was an assumption central to the concept of Pakistan

On his way back to Ratnagiri, Savarkar visited Bombay in the second week of November 1924. There the Muslim leader Shaukat Ali come to meet himů the Muslim leader told Savarkar that the Muslims had many other countries and they would leave India, if inevitable. Savarkar at once answered back, "O quite freely! Why do you wait? The Frontier Mail is daily running towards that direction!" Shaukat Ali was now quite nervous.


----Veer Savarkar by Dhananjay Keer

Within half a year of his magnum opus Hindu Masjids, Praful Goradia is back with Muslim League's Unfinished Agenda. Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf during his July 2001 visit to India spoke of Kashmir as an unfinished agenda of Partition. Then President KR Narayanan blunted him by saying that peaceful co-existence between the two dominions, India and Pakistan, was an equally unfinished agenda. Evidently, both missed, or dared not speak about, the original unfinished agenda of Partition set by the Muslim League. It is to the credit of Prafull Goradia, ex-MP and former editor of BJP Today, to redeem it. Exchange of Population was the `Unfinished Agenda' of the Muslim League as envisaged by the father figures of Partition.

Nationalists could hardly digest Jinnah's specious two-nation theory, the corollary of which was Pakistan. Revolutionaries like Sardar Ajit Singh, Bhagat Singh's revolutionary uncle, or Bhai Parmanand of Hindu Mahasabha died of cardiac arrests in 1947 upon learning that Pakistan had finally been conceded. But a realist like Dr BR Ambedkar, who authored Thoughts on Pakistan in 1940, supported Partition, arguing with facts and figures that Partition was the only way to bail out Hindus and Muslims from a dangerous impasse.

Partition had its genesis in the Muslim refusal to live as equal partners with Hindus in India after having lorded over them for centuries before European advent. Partition could also be attributed to Jinnah's personal ambition of becoming a Sultan of a part of India, as Goradia points out, when he failed to be the Badshah of the whole. But most importantly the two-nation theory has its roots in Islam's two-world theory that splits humanity into momins and kafirs --- believers and infidels.

"Muslim vision," Goradia says, "Could be credited to the community's fundamental belief that a momin was unlikely to blossom fully as a servant of Allah unless he lived in a Dar-ul-Islam or a land governed by the Sharia."

A proposition intrinsic to the political partition of India was the mutual exchange of residual minority population in each other's territory. The book cites the example of such compulsive exchange of population between Greece and Turkey consequent upon the Treaty of Laussane, Switzerland, in 1923. It reproduces a clipping in The Dawn, now published from Karachi (December 3, 1946) headlined `Exchanged of Population a most practicable solution'. This was a statement by Khan Iftikhar Hussain Khan of Mamdot, President of Punjab Muslim League. Another clipping from Dawn (December 4, 1946) said Bihar's Muslim League demanded exchange of population and Sind Premier Mr Ghulam Hussain Hidayatullah had offered land for United Provinces' Muslims.

It is a well-known fact that while 85 per cent of Indian Muslims (nearly 100 per cent from today's India) voted for Pakistan, only 15 per cent ultimately immigrated to their "sacred land". One wonders why they didn't board the `Train to Pakistan' to be good momins there rather than being a disgruntled lot amidst kafirs in India a la N Jamal Ansari and Syed Shahabuddin. The purport of this book is to declare it is better late than never.

Here is a pertinent excerpt from the book: "At a press conference in Karachi on November 25, 1946, Jinnah had appealed to the central as well as provincial governments to take up the question of population exchange.

Earlier that year, Sir Feroze Khan Noon who later rose to be Prime Minister of Pakistan, while addressing Muslim League legislators in Patna, had gone to the extent of threatening re-enactment of the murderous orgies of Chengez Khan and Halaqu Khan if non-Muslims did not agree to exchange of populationů Pir Illahi Bux, the Sindh leader, observed that he welcomed an exchange of population for the safety of minorities, as it would put an end to all communal disturbances.

Ismail Chundrigar, who also eventually became Prime Minister, said that the British had no right to hand over Muslims to a subject people, namely Hindus, over whom they had ruled for 500 years. Mohammed Ismail, a Madras leader, had declared that the Muslims of India were in the midst of a Jihad. Shaukat Hayat Khan, son of the more famous Sir Sikander Hayat Khan, had also given out threats to support transfer of population".

Hindu-Muslim frictions could not cease in India merely by a political partition. Can a clash in Meerut or Jamshedpur be prevented by drawing a borderline at Wagha unless the populaces have been actually segregated?

The exchange of population truly happened only in the case of Punjab (East and West) but in a gory and aggressive manner. Post-partition Pakistan rapidly exercised its terror mechanism to expel and decimate Hindu population - probably in expectation of Muslims from India to arrive. But the political establishment in India not only withheld Muslim from migrating, also people like Sri Prakasa (India's first High Commissioner to Pakistan) recalled many Benarasi Muslims back. Thus BR Ambedkar's apprehension, that Partition without exchange of population would be worse than no Partition, came true. Goradia points out that Hizrat - Migration for the sake of faith - is held in high esteem in Islam. Prophet Mohammed undertook Hizrat from Mecca to Medina. Few lakh Muslims (out of which 20,000 were actually accepted) undertook Hizrat from Dar-ul-Harab of British India across Durban Line in Dar-ul-Islam Afghanistan.

Pakistan is fond of reminding India of Nehru's unfulfilled promise of plebiscite in Kashmir. It is time we reminded Pakistan of Qaid-e-Azam's unfulfilled wish. Whether the exchange of population takes place or not is different issue, one must acknowledge it as an unfinished agenda.