By Mohammad Jamil
Some media men, journalists, columnists and pseudo-intellectuals have the habit of criticising Pakistan and its institutions just to prove that they are independent. In the process they bring ignominy to Pakistan. The other day, a renowned columnist Kunwar Idris wrote an article captioned ‘Relations with India’, and mentioned the “laurels for Indian democracy and fast-growing economy, and Pakistan getting attention for its suicide bombers and nuclear weapons”. One may admit the failures of Pakistan’s inept leadership for having brought the country to the present pass, but our intelligentsia also is responsible for this state of affairs in equal measure, which has the penchant for self-inflicted afflictions. They are running from one extreme to another; one group suggesting ‘Crush India’; wishes Pakistan to jump into the fray wherever any Muslim country is under siege; and the other one descending so low as to forego Pakistan’s rights vis-à-vis Kashmir. The said columnist appears to be averse to the very concept of Pakistan and its creation.After recalling the events of 1946, Kunwar Idris wrote: “If the leadership of the Muslim League had considered it possible, just a year before Partition, to coexist with India in a confederation, why can’t we now, as an independent state, coexist with India in a looser union without compromising our sovereignty – as in the case of the countries joining the EU and Asean?…It would be no exaggeration to say that the chief, if not the only, cause of our political instability, economic backwardness, recurring wars and endemic violence has been confrontation with India. Kashmir would no longer be a hurdle to normality as the Kashmiris now ask for azadi and not accession to Pakistan”. First of all, it has to be mentioned that British had tried their best to keep India together in one form or another. Of course, the demand for a separate homeland for Muslims of India was made when Indian leadership had refused to accept reasonable safeguards for Muslims, and waged struggle for their rights under the leadership of Quaid-e-Azam. There is no denying that initially Quaid-e-Azam was ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity; and during the British Raj did not wish to exacerbate the contradictions between the Muslims and the Hindus. He, however, stood for the rights of the Muslims even when he was member of the Congress. In 1916, Lacknow Pact was the result of his efforts whereby Congress had accepted the rights of Muslims for separate constituencies, and it was willing to give constitutional guarantees to them. Many Jinnah’s biographers blame Jawaharlal Nehru and Valbhbhai Patel for not addressing the concerns and reservations of the Muslims. He had of course tried to get the rights of Muslims secured by accepting Cabinet Mission Plan in 1946. But when Gandhi claimed that Congress alone represented India, the Quaid made up his mind that at an opportune time he would not accept less than a separate homeland for the Muslims. As stated above, Jawaharlal Nehru had refused to abide by the provisions of the Cabinet Mission plan and started giving his own interpretation.Anyhow, Pakistan – the beacon of hope for the Muslims of South Asia and beyond – was created under the leadership of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. He was not a traditional politician but a great leader, brilliant statesman and a master strategist, who fought the case for Pakistan so well that he not only frustrated the designs of the British that wished to see the sub-continent united in one form or another till the last moment, but also made the brute Hindu majority believe that division of the sub-continent had saved it from some bigger catastrophe. He had united the Muslims of the subcontinent and waged struggle for separate homeland for Muslims to rid them of brute majority’s exploitation and repression; and also to enable them to lead their lives according to their faith and culture. This twin-objective is in fact the ideology of Pakistan. Do the advocates of confederation want the Muslims to be subjugated and ruthlessly exploited by Hindu extremists?Those who criticise Jinnah for not supporting the “Quit India movement” launched by Congress should go through the memoirs of former Congress President Abul Kalam Azad who wrote: “The scheme in my mind was that as soon as the Japanese reached Bengal, and the British forces withdrew towards Bihar, the Congress would step in and take over the control of the country”. This is enough to vindicate Quaid-i-Azam’s position and his decision to accept nothing short of an independent country. Some of his detractors accuse him of rigidity, but he was a man of principles and never compromised on principles. As a matter of strategy he showed flexibility on less important issues with a view to achieving broader objective. It was in this context that he considered each and every proposal whether coming from the British or the Congress in the form of Lucknow Pact, Roundtable Conference or Cabinet Mission, and wished to use every opportunity including his Fourteen Points for securing the rights of the Muslims. Kunwar Idrees concluded his article by suggesting formation of confederation between India and Pakistan in these words: “On a different plane, India would not be fomenting unrest in Pakistan’s vulnerable borderlands which, we suspect, it habitually does. Thus, both politically and economically Pakistan has little to lose but much to gain by making friends with India. The only losers on both sides would be the religious extremists and the ideologues who exploit them”. The writer should understand that Pakistan was created through the struggle of millions of Muslims of the sub-continent for about five decades, and millions perished at the time of partition. Instead of confederation work they could work together for the formation of Asia Union on the lines of European Union, but first of all resolve the outstanding disputes over Kashmir, Water, Sir Creek and Siachen. The author should remember that European Union could only be formed by the European countries after they had resolved their disputes. They had of course fought from decade-long wars to at least a hundred year war. It would be appropriate to quote Indian Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in regard to his commitment to resolve Kashmir dispute. In a telegram on 31st October 1947 to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Pandit Nehru said: “Kashmir’s accession to India was accepted by us at the request of the Maharaja’s government, and the most numerously representative popular organisation in the state which is predominantly Muslim. Even then it was accepted on condition that as soon as law and order had been restored, the people of Kashmir would decide the question of accession. It is open to them to accede to either Dominion then”. In his statement in the Indian Constituent Assembly on 5th March, 1948, Pandit Nehru said: “Even at the moment of accession, we went out of our way to make a unilateral declaration that we would abide by the will of the people of Kashmir as declared in a plebiscite or referendum. We have adhered to that position throughout and we are prepared to have a Plebiscite with every protection of fair voting and to abide by the decision of the people of Kashmir”. He gave more than dozen statements and committed to hold plebiscite under the aegis of the United Nations, but the question is whether these ‘noble sentiments’ will ever be translated into reality?