On the stroke of midnight of August 14, 1947, the British rule in India came to an end, spelling the birth of two independent Dominions of Pakistan and India on August 15, and a successful culmination of the struggle for Pakistan, led by the gigantic, dynamic and exemplary inspirational and charismatic leadership of the Muslims beloved and undisputed leader, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
It was entirely due to his commitment as well as unflinching and determined efforts, supplemented by wide support and valuable sacrifices of the Muslim nation that within seven years of the adoption of the Lahore Resolution, Pakistan emerged as an independent sovereign State in the comity of nations.
The nation is celebrating the Independence Day today with full enthusiasm to pay rich homage to the Founder of Islamic Republic of Pakistan as well as those who rendered sacrifices for the cause of Pakistan. However, no tribute to Jinnah’s greatness, no matter how theatrically phrased, can be enough for his services for the just cause of the Muslims of South Asia. The Quaid gathered the Muslims under one flag of the Muslim League and achieved independence for them. He always upheld the Muslim and Arab causes, especially Palestine and pledged continued support to them in every way that was possible.
Quaid-i-Azam, who remained a Member of the Indian legislative Assembly since 1924 to 1947 and President of All-India Muslim League from 1934 till 1947, was gifted with the ability to foresee and analyse problems and offer solutions in the most effective manner. An atypical politician and a consummate parliamentarian, having an indomitable will and a steely determination; he had deployed his prodigious political and legal acumen to mount an unremitting struggle for the creation of Pakistan. Jinnah had full control over his emotions, was master of the negotiating technique, never wavered in his resolve and poured all reserves of energy into the task until he achieved the goal. The Quaid, who was endowed with a character free from blemish, followed a highly disciplined regime of life, provided to his people the leadership that will remain unforgettable forever.
The Father of the Nation displayed unrivalled political acumen and the ability to fathom constitutional intricacies and gauge the strength and weaknesses of his British and Indian adversaries. What factors really motivated him to struggle so resolutely for a new State for the Muslims of South Asia was his abiding concern for the political, social, cultural and economic future of the people, who had reposed implicit trust in his ability to deliver.
He devoutly wished to make Pakistan “one of the greatest States in the world.”- liberal and progressive in outlook, economically vibrant and cherishing democratic ideals. The significant principle of his political ideology to which he had often given emphatic expression while waging the struggle for freedom included the creation of a just social order based on equitable distribution of wealth. He regarded it as a sacred duty to alleviate the poverty of the masses and was implacably opposed to making the “rich richer and the poor poorer”.
Regrettably, the sound principles of governance and the traditions of selflessness, honesty and integrity that Jinnah left behind have not been followed by the vested interests to the detrimental to the national interest. The Hindus believed that they could suppress Muslim aspirations by using weapons of oppression, but this experiment during the period of Congress rule in the Provinces (1937-39) failed miserably and in fact it intensified and further strengthened the determination of the Muslims to achieve their objectives. The existence of two nations, which had always been a fact in the history of the Sub-Continent since its conquest by the Muslims, now became clearer than ever.
When the bitter taste of the Congress rule had convinced the Muslims that an independent Muslim homeland was the only remedy of the tyranny of a permanent Hindu majority, the President of the Muslim League, who was deeply distressed at the sufferings of the Muslims under the Congress rule, mobilised all energies to promote the cause of the Muslim Nation by providing them effective guidelines, directives and necessary advices to them for successfully securing their destination.
From mid-1936 onwards, Jinnah had undertaken the task of reorganising the Moribund League systematically, transforming it into an effective political machine. He was continuously on the move during 1936-37, addressing rallies and arguing with provincial elites, seeking all to join the League so that the Muslims could play an effective role in all-India politics and the future constitutional set-up.
The prominent people belonging to almost all walks of life were taking deep interest in the political developments and British policies regarding the future status of their occupied India, and in their communications they had been submitting the great Muslim leader objective review of overall political situation, constructive suggestions for provision of safeguards for protection of the rights of the people, complete information about socio-economic plight of the masses and all sorts of events occurring in their respective areas. By the time the Muslim League was reorganised under the leadership of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the partition idea had found its way into the thinking of various politicians, writers and intelligentsia. The partition idea was spreading so fast and going so deep into the politics of the day that the Muslim League had to consider it seriously. In February 1940, the Working Committee and the Council of the All India Muslim League at their meetings in Delhi, seriously considered the question of a separate homeland for the Muslims. Two days after the meeting, the Quaid-i-Azam met the Viceroy Lord Linlithgow on February 6 and conveyed to him that the Muslim League at its open session in Lahore next month is going to demand the partition of the country. Addressing the open session of the of All India Muslim League in Lahore on the 22nd March,1940, Muhammad Ali Jinnah stressed that Islam and Hinduism are different and distinct social orders and it was a dream that the Muslims and the Hindus could ever evolve a common nationality. He affirmed that the Musalmans were a nation according to any definition of a nation and that they must have their own homeland, their territory and their State. His Presidential address is a landmark in the history of Muslim nationalism in India. For it made an irrefutable case for a separate Muslim nationhood and dividing India into Muslim and Hindu states.
On the 23rd March, 1940, Premier of Bengal Fazalul Haq moved a resolution in the open session, which was seconded by Chaudhry Khaliquzzaman while Maulana Zafar Ali Khan, Sardar Aurangzeb Khan and Abdullah Haroon supported it. The Lahore resolution, thus proposed on the 23rd but actually passed on March 24,1940, reads as Resolved that it is the considered view of the this session of the All-India Muslim League that no constitutional plan would be workable in this country or acceptable to the Muslims unless it is designed on the following basic principles, viz that geographically contagious units are demarcated into regions which should be so constituted with such territorial adjustments as may be necessary, that the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in a majority, as in the North-Western and Eastern Zones of India, should be grouped to constitute independent States in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign.
The passage of the historic Lahore Resolution had a tremendous impact on the nature and course of Indian politics, the Hindu reaction was, of course, bitter and malicious while the British were equally hostile to the Muslim demand. The news of the historic event was flashed all over the world. The Hindu Press came out with big headlines, Pakistan Resolution Passed, although the word was not used by anyone. The Hindu-controlled Press indulged in unashamed and bitter recrimination, in fact it dubbed the Lahore Resolution as Pakistan Resolution. The thirty-first annual session of the League in Karachi in December 1943 adopted a resolution, which envisaged Pakistan as an independent, sovereign State consisting of Provincial States.
An authentic and authoritative interpretation of the Lahore Resolution by the Quaid-i-Azam is found in the famous Gandhi-Jinnah correspondence of September 1944, in which Gandhi inquired, Are the constituents in the two zones to constitute Independent states, an undefined number in each zone`. The Quaid replied, No. They will form units of Pakistan. Pakistan is composed of two zones, North-West and North-East, comprising six provinces namely Sindh, Balochistan, North-West Frontier Province, the Punjab, Bengal and Assam, subject to territorial adjustments may be agreed upon as indicated in the Lahore Resolution. On the eighth of November 1945, Quaid-i-Azam in an interview with the Associated Press of America said Politically Pakistan would be a Muslim State and this would have democracy. Jinnah did not expect Pakistan would have a one-party government. In the 1937 elections, the Muslim League had done poorly but the impact of the Congress rule in Hindu provinces had awakened the Muslims to their peril. Jinnah had skillfully exploited the Congress mistakes and miscalculations and turned its every error of judgement into a political victory for the League, which was growing apace in popularity and power. The Muslim league had grown so much in power that the Viceroy could not afford to alienate it. The improvement in organising the Muslims went Jinnah’s efforts at persuading the Viceroy, and through him the British Government to accept him as the spokesman of Muslim India and the League as the only Party entitled to speak for the Indian Muslims.
Muhammad Ali Jinnah in a statement on the 14th April, 1940, in Bombay, now Mumbai, expressed full confidence that the Muslims throughout India fully realised the paramount and vital importance of the Lahore Resolution, which defined their goal in the clearest possible manner. He said “I feel that Muslim India is whole-heartedly with us and will not spare any effort to demonstrate to the world that they have with all the solemnity, set our goal in front of us and shall fight for it and are prepared for any sacrifice for its realisation”.
Jinnah, who joined the Eid prayers at Jamia Masjid on 23rd October, 1941 in New Delhi, made a brief address from the pulpit in response to the general desire of the congregation, saying “I want to reaffirm with all the emphasis at my command that we stand for Pakistan and for faith, unity and discipline. I am confident that we will acquire a place in this land where we may live honourably according to Islamic tradition and culture. Addressing All-India Muslim Students Federation on the 26th December, 1941, at Nagpur, the Quaid urged the Muslims to keep themselves absolutely united and solid and implicitly.
In his Presidential address at the plenary session of Bengal Provincial Muslim League in Serajgang on the 15th February, 1942, Muhammad Ali Jinnah stressed that “we cannot look to the British Government or any one else for justice and fairplay. We must stand on our own legs and rely on our own strength if we are to achieve anything in this world. We must be prepared to stand alone and make our sacrifices if we are to achieve equality, and then alone we shall be able to achieve and establish Pakistan.”
Britain had emerged from the World War that lasted about six years considerably weaker than imperial power of the pre-war era. It was apparent, now more than ever before that Britain was going to have to terminate before long its colonial rule in India, which had lasted in excess of 150 years already. The greatest and deadliest War in the annals of armed conflict among nations, claiming over 50 million human lives and huge material loss, ended in August 1945 with the Japanese surrender, precipitated by the American atom-bombing and consequential rack and ruin of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
In the aftermath of the war, India expected freedom from the alien rule, seethed with political unrest, and strife and bitter antagonism between the two major communities.
A vital move in Indian politics came from the British Government that proposed in June 1945 the formation of an interim government at the Centre and called a conference at Simla to work out the modalities. But the Simla Conference failed to take off as neither the Congress nor Lord Wavell, the Viceroy, would concede the Muslim League its representative status and the right to nominate all the members to the Muslim quota of seats in the proposed interim government.
Quaid-i-Azam in his opening speech at the open session of the convention of all the Muslim members of the Central and Provincial Legislatures, held in Delhi under his chairmanship on the ninth April 1946 had reaffirmed his faith in Pakistan, saying ‘nobody can prevent us from reaching our goal’.
The convention adopted a H.S. Suhrawardy-proposed unanimous resolution, which clearly indicated that Pakistan was intended to be a single sovereign State, comprising Bengal and Assam in North-East and Punjab, NWFP, Sindh and Balochistan in the North-West of India, namely Pakistan zones where the Muslims are in a dominant majority, be constituted into a sovereign independent State. It demanded an unequivocal undertaking for the establishment of Pakistan without delay, declaring the Muslim nation would never submit to any constitution for a united India and will never participate in any single constitution-making set-up for purpose. The convention demanded that two constitution bodies be set up by the peoples of Pakistan and India for the purpose of framing their respective constitutions.
In the second general elections on the second December, 1945, the Muslim League, which fought the polls on the issue of Pakistan, won all the thirty Muslim seats in the Central Legislative Assembly while it secured 440 out of 495 Muslim seats in the Provincial polls, held on the 22nd February, 1946, thus the Muslims gave a clear verdict in favour of Pakistan.
The failure of the Simla Conference had created a dangerous stalemate in Indian politics and in view of the paramount importance of the problem, the British Government announced on the 19th February, 1946, to send to India a special three-member mission of the Cabinet Ministers, headed by the Secretary of State for India, Lord Pethick Lawrence, and Sir Stafford Cripps, President of the Board of Trade and A.V. Alexander, First Lord of the Admiralty as members. The mission, which arrived in New Delhi on the 24th of March 1946, with the ‘objective of helping India attain its freedom as speedily as possible’, exchanged notes with party leaders, Provincial Chief Ministers, leaders of the opposition, spokesmen of the minorities, representatives of special interests, rulers of native states and their ministers and advisers.
Jinnah met the Mission on 4th April stressing ‘in India there were two totally different and deep-rooted civilisations existing side by side and the only solution was to have two states’. The Mission saw Jinnah on the 16th April and the Secretary of State told him that the Mission had come to the conclusion that full and complete demand in the form presented by Jinnah had little chances of acceptance. He gave him the choice between a sovereign but smaller Pakistan and a non-sovereign but larger Pakistan.
The Cabinet Mission Plan recommended that there should be a union of India consisting of the British India and the Indian states, dealing with the subjects of foreign trade affairs, defence and communications while all other subjects and all residuary powers shall rest in provinces, which shall be free to form groups with executives and legislatures. The Plan recommended that a constitution-making machinery, will be set up to frame he constitution. The body would be elected by the members of the provincial legislatures.
The All-India Congress Committee ratified its Working Committee’s resolution on the 6th of July, accepting the Cabinet Mission Plan and on this occasion, its retiring President Azad commending on the proposals said these have made it clear beyond a shadow of doubt that India will remain an undivided single unit with a strong Central government composed of the federating units while its new president Nehru remarked ‘it is a question of our agreeing to go into the Constituent Assembly.
On the sixth June, 1946, the Council of the Muslim League after considering the statement issued by the Cabinet Mission and the Viceroy on May 16, 1946, and other relevant statements and documents, reiterated that the attainment of the goal of complete sovereign Pakistan will remain the unshakeable objective of the Muslims of India, for the achievement of which they will, if necessary, employ every means in their power and consider no sacrifice or suffering too great.
The Cabinet Mission and the Viceroy issued their own proposals on the 16th June to resolve the deadlock according to which the Executive Council was now to consist of 14 persons – six Congressmen, five Muslim Leaguers, one Sikh, one Indian Christian and one Parsi. The British Government desired that while the constitution-making plan proceeds, an interim Government having the support of major political parties may be formed at the centre, and on the 16th June, 1946, in consultation with the Viceroy announced the formation of a 14-member Executive Council.
Subsequently, the League Council meeting in Bombay on the 29th July, 1945, adopted a resolution withdrawing its acceptance of the Cabinet Mission Plan as it fell short of the demand of the Muslim Nation for the immediate establishment of an independent and full sovereign State of Pakistan comprising the six Muslim Provinces.
The Council of Muslim League meeting in Delhi had accepted the Mission’s Plan on the 8th of June, 1946, as it was prompted by its earnest desire for a peaceful solution and the basis and the foundation of Pakistan are inherent in the Plan by virtue of the compulsory grouping of the six Muslim provinces in Sections B and C. The League hoped that the Plan would ultimately result in the establishment of a completely sovereign Pakistan. The Muslim League called on the Muslims throughout India to observe August, 16, 1946, as Direct Action Day. Public meetings were held and the day went peacefully except in Calcutta, where riots broke out. Some 4,750 people were reportedly killed and 15000 injured. By the close of 1946, communal riots had flared up to murderous heights, engulfing almost the entire sub-Continent, the two peoples, it looked, were engaged in a fight to the last.
The secret negotiations between the Congress and Viceroy and acceptance of his invitation on the 8th of August, resulted in forming an Interim Government by the Congress under Pandit Nehru on September 2, 1946, however, the Muslims went underrepresented. But the Muslim League after watching the developing situation with distress and feeling that political power should not be left entirely into the hands of Hindus as it would be fatal for the Muslims finally decided to join the Executive Council and its Councillors Liaquat Ali Khan, I.I. Chundrigar, Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar, Raja Ghanzanfar Ali Khan and Jogindar Nath Mandal (scheduled caste), were sworn in on October 26, 1946.
The British Government made the famous announcement on the third June, 1947, regarding the mechanics of the division of the Sub-continent. The League Council, which met on the ninth June 1947, was of the view that although it could not agree to the partition of Bengal and the Punjab, it had to consider the Plan for transfer of “power as a whole as a compromise”. Quaid-i-Azam, who was fully empowered by the Council to take all the necessary steps and decisions relating to the Plan, accepted it accordingly.
The Indian Independence Act to set up two independent Dominions of India and Pakistan to be governed by the Government of India Act. 1935, was passed by the British House of Commons on the 4th July, 1947, and House of Lords next day and it got the Royal assent on the 18th July. Pakistan emerged as an independent sovereign State on the 14th of August 1947.
Quaid-i-Azam, who arrived in Karachi on the 7th August, 1947 and addressed the Constituent assembly on the 11th August, was sworn in as the first Governor-General of Pakistan. Followed by the swearing in of the first Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan.
Quaid-i-Azam, inaugurating Pakistan broadcasting service on August 15, 1947, said in a message to the citizens of Pakistan, the creation of the new State has placed a tremendous responsibility on the countrymen. It gives them an opportunity to demonstrate to the world how can a nation, containing many elements live in peace and amity and work for the betterment of all its citizens, irrespective of caste and creed. In his message, broadcast from all the then three Radio stations of Lahore, Peshawar and Dacca the Governor-General of Pakistan defined the policy of Pakistan, saying, “our object should be peace within and peace without. We want to live peacefully and maintain cordial, friendly relations with our immediate neighbours and with the world at large. We have no aggressive designs against anyone. We stand by the United Nations Charter and will gladly make our full contribution to the peace and prosperity of the world.
The Quaid said Pakistan is a land of great potential resources. But to build it up we shall require every ounce of energy that we possess and I am confident that it will come from all whole-heartedly.—Business Recorder
Written by Muhammad Saeed Akhtar