In this article we will discuss about the formation of Muslim league and demand for Pakistan.
Formation of Muslim League:
In December 1907, All India Muslim League was established. Some of the aims of the newly founded body were:
(a) To support all measures emanating from the government,
(b) To advance the interests of the Muslims throughout India,
(c) To control growing influence of the Congress,
(d) To find scope for the Muslims according to their ability for public life, who had in the absence of proper education joined Congress party.
(e) To promote friendly feelings between the Muslims and other communities in India, as far as possible.
The objectives of the League were accepted at its first regular session held in December. 1908, at Amritsar with Sir Syed Ali Imam in the Chair.
In this way from the very beginning League made it clear that it aimed at promoting the interests of the Muslims with the blessings and co-operation of the government, to whom the organisation will always be loyal. For them loyalty of government was more important than the nationalist movement.
In the beginning some of the important leaders did not like the idea of communalism in League. Among others mention may be made of Mr. M.A. Jinnah. Nawab Syed Mohammad, Maulana Shibli Mauwani and Maulana Mohammad Ali.
In 1908, Nawab Sadiq Ali Khan said, “The principle of class and religious representation is most mischievous feature of the scheme.” Still another Muslim leader of those days said that, “The attempt on the part of mv co-religionists to create an irreconcilable ulster in India is not very laudable.”
But as the time passed the League changed its outlook towards the British government as well. Britain was held responsible for what had happened in Turkey, where Sultan of Turkey had been ill treated, though the Muslims all over the world had held him in high esteem.
There were also troubles in Balkans where there was a life and death struggle between the leading Islamic power and four minor kingdoms of Eastern Europe.
The Muslims held Britain responsible for their miseries in Europe. Even in India government annulled the partition of Bengal, without consulting the Muslims League which, therefore, felt that the Muslims of India have been betrayed by the government. Some of the influential Muslim leaders demanded that the League should revise its constitution and lay stress on co-operation with other communities in India.
Accordingly Leagues constitution was revised in 1913 and in that radical changes were introduced, as a result of which Sir Aga Khan resigned from Leagues President-ship. Thereafter both the League and the Congress held their sessions, for quite some time at the same place. In one such session which was held at Lucknow in 1916, both the organisations signed a Pact called Lucknow Pact.
Lucknow Pact provided that in the future scheme of things as far as possible provinces should be free from the control of the Centre. In the legislative bodies there should be only 20% nominated members, whereas the remaining 80% should be elected by the people.
The Central and Provincial governments, by and large, should go by the decisions of Legislative Councils and the Central Legislative Council shall not interfere in such matters as defence, foreign affairs and political affairs.
It was also provided that the relations of Secretary of State for India with the Government of India should be similar to those of the Colonial Secretary with the government of the Dominions. Both the Hindus and the Muslims demanded that there should be a Dominion Status for the country.
It was also agreed that the franchise should be widened and important minorities should be given special representation. Separate electorate for the Muslims was accepted. It was also provided that no Bill or Resolution will be accepted in any legislature affecting any particular community, unless 3/4 of the representatives of that very community approved of that.
The Pact aimed at winning the co-operation of the Muslims, though that was done at a very high cost. In the words of Dr. Lal Bahadur, “The Pact was bound to be transitory in character, for it was a child of circumstances…. Looked at from whatever angle of vision, the Lucknow Pact was foredoomed failure.”
Once the Congress accepted the demand of separate communal electorate, it became difficult to retreat. It has rightly been said that the policy of appeasement of the Muslims by the Congress started with Lucknow Pact.
But for some time both the Congress and the League worked in close co-operation with each other. In 1917, Raja Mahmudabad who presided over Leagues session held at Calcutta in that year said, “The interests of the country are paramount. We need not try to argue whether we are Muslims first or Indians.” When Gandhiji started his non-co-operation movement in that both the Hindus and the Muslims joined hands.
Then came Khilafat question. It became clear that British government aimed at dis-memberment of Turkish empire and wanted to reduce Sultan of Turkey to nothingness. This was being done in spite of clear understanding given to the Muslims of India that after the war was over status of Sultan of Turkey in no way will be disturbed.
It was on this understanding that the Muslims of India extended their co-operation to Britain in winning war. When the Muslims in India came to know the damage being done to the Sultan, a powerful agitation started in the country which demanded preservation of Turkish empire.
In this movement both the League and the Congress joined hands. In this way those of orthodox in the League, who did not wish to cooperate with the Congress, received a serious setback.
Unity under Strains:
But this unity came under heavy strains after the withdrawal of non-co-operation movement, when Hindu-Muslim riots broke out in 1926. The riots were only on a trivial matters, but the British government took advantage of the situation and gave these wide publicity so that the differences between the Hindus and the Muslims came to the surface.
The aim also was that the unity between the two major communities should be smashed. But in order to maintain the hard won unity Gandhiji went on 21 days fast, as a result of which a committee of prominent leaders of both the communities was set up to maintain communal harmony.
It was under these circumstances that Simon Commission visited India. The Congress party decided to boycott the Commission and League was to take a decision. The nationalists like Hakim Ajmal Khan, Dr. Kitchlu and Dr. Ansari wanted that the League should also boycott the Commission and thus co-operate with the Congress. But a section led by Mr. Jinnah wanted to co-operate with the Commission.
When nationalists decided to withdraw from the League and founded a new party, Jinnah found himself all alone and saw the end of his political career. He decided to go to England and start his practice there. It was, however, to his good-luck that within next few years many Muslim nationalist leaders died and Jinnah found an opportunity to become the leader of the Muslims in India.
Since the Muslims had the backing of the government, they retarded every measure, which was put forward to solve constitutional deadlock in India. All this was happening when Congress was giving several concessions to the Muslims in India and following appeasement policy towards Muslim League.
When the government put forward several proposals which were not accepted by the Indians, it challenged Indian leaders to give a constitution on then- own which was acceptable to all sections of Indian society. Whereas Congress produced Nehru Report, Jinnah rejected that and gave his own fourteen-point programme.
It was provided in these points that:
Fourteen Point Programme:
(i) India should be a federation, in which residuary powers should be given to the provinces.
(ii) Provinces should be given uniform type of autonomy.
(iii) In the legislative bodies there should be adequate representation to the minorities.
(iv) In Central Legislature at least 1/3 of the total members should be the Muslims.
(v) There should be system of separate electorates for communal groups.
(vi) There should be no territorial re-distribution which was likely to disturb Muslim majority provinces.
(vii) There should be full liberty of worship and belief for the people of all communities.
(viii) If 3/4 members of a particular community in any elected body felt that a particular resolution adversely effected their interests that resolution should not be passed.
(ix) Sindh should be separated from Bombay.
(x) Immediate reforms should be introduced in Frontier Provinces and Baluchistan.
(xi) The Muslims should be given adequate representation in civil services.
(xii) The Muslims culture, religion and personal law should be duly protected.
(xiii) Each cabinet should have at least 3 Muslim members.
(xiv) Central legislature should have no power to change Constitution without the approval of the provinces.
Two Nation Theory:
Thus all efforts which had been made by the Congress to solve Indian constitutional problems with the co-operation of the Muslims without giving that any religious colour failed. The Muslims under Jinnah tried to solve problems purely on religious basis.
He also expounded his two nation theory in which he clearly said that the Hindus and the Muslims are two separate nations. These have different cultures and their gods and goddesses and religious places are different. According to him these two nations have no point of similarity and as such cannot live together.
Thereafter the Congress party and the Muslim League never worked in co-operation with each-other. When Gandhiji started his Civil Disobedience Movement in 1930-31, Jinnah refused to join it saying that the real aim of the Movement was to make the Muslims dependent on Hindu Mahasabha. The League placed itself at the mercy of British bureaucracy and condemned nationalist movement.
In 1930, First Round-Table Conference was held. Congress decided to boycott it but it was attended by Muslim League. On behalf of League Jinnah again laid stress on his Fourteen Point Programme and separate representation for minorities.
In spite of the best efforts of the Congress the Muslim League created obstacles in the way of unity efforts and ultimately succeeded in getting MacDonald Award on 16th August, 1932.
According to this Award:
(a) There will be separate electorates for special interests and minorities and for Muslims in Bengal and Punjab, although they were in majority in these provinces,
(b) Weightage was conceded to the Muslims in provinces in which they were in minority. Likewise the Hindus and the Sikhs were also given weightage in Punjab,
(c) Depressed classes were accorded recognition as minority,
(d) Seats were also reserved for the Muslims, Indian Christians and landlords. Right to vote in general constituencies,
(e) Provision was made for electoral arrangements after a period of 10 years with the consent of communities effected, and
(f) 3% seats in all provinces except N.W.F.P. were reserved for women.
When the Government of India Act, 1935 was passed the Muslims were given separate electorate and seats were reserved for them in the provinces. But when elections were held in 1937, Muslim League did not fair well, which meant great dismay and disappointment for League leadership.
Congress, however, was still willing to offer ministerial berths to the League, provided it accepted certain conditions, which it was not prepared to accept.
The League leadership, therefore, created an atmosphere in which it tried to establish that the Muslims were being subjected to perpetual tyranny. It also set up Pirpur Committee which listed the sufferings for the Muslims under Congress regime. The League did not like mass contact programme of the Congress party under which an attempt was made to bring the Muslims under Congress fold.
The League felt that this will endanger the very existence of the party itself. The Muslim industrialists also felt that under Hindu India their industries would not prosper and that their future was not safe. Mr. Jinnah gave slogan of Islam in danger. Therefore, when in 1939 Congress Ministries in the provinces resigned, the League observed December 23, 1939 as the Deliverance Day.
On that day public meetings were held all over the country. In these meetings resolutions were passed pointing out that, “This meeting, therefore, expresses its deep sense of relief at the termination of Congress regime in various provinces and rejoices in observing this day as Deliverance Day from tyranny, oppression and injustice.”
Demand for Pakistan:
On March 21, 1940 Muslim League ultimately came forward with its for the formation of independent State of Pakistan which should be the homeland of the Muslims. The idea of Pakistan, however, did not originate all of a sudden.
It is believed that the idea of formation of consolidated North-West Indian Muslim State was first mooted by Sir Mohammed Iqbal in 1930. But all that he wanted was a lose federation and not a separate State of Pakistan.
In 1933, Muslim Under-Graduate of Cambridge under Rahmit Ali again renewed the demand of Pakistan which was to include Punjab. NWFP, Baluchistan, Sindh and Kashmir but the scheme did not receive much encouragement. Even Sir Zaffar ullah Khan described it as impracticable.
In 1938, Jinnah demanded the division of India. But the whole idea was given a serious thought in 1940. It was in that year that two nation theory was expounded and Pakistan resolution was passed.
While delivering his Presidential address at the session of the League held at Lahore in that year he said, “To yoke together two such nations under the single state, one as numerical minority and the other a majority, must lead to growing discontentment and final obstruction of any fabric that may be so built up for the government of such a state.”
The Resolution was turning point in the history of India’s freedom struggle. It was the highest culmination of Muslim aspirations roused by Muslim leaders since the times of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan. It established leadership and supremacy of Mr. Jinnah, beyond all doubts and as the time passed with that he became the sole leader of Muslims of India.
Thus British government now also paid as much heed to him as to Gandhiji.
It was now also clear that the Muslims of India will not be satisfied with a federal system in which province may even be powerful. What was to satisfy them now was a separate state of Pakistan. Though the League had passed this resolution, yet many political leaders both in India and abroad, felt that it was impossible to divide India and create a new independent and sovereign state of Pakistan for the Muslims of India.
Why was Pakistan Demanded?
But reasonably a question arises as to why Muslim League demanded Pakistan and was not even prepared to join a lose Indian federation with a weak centre and strong provinces enjoying considerable autonomy.
Of course, there were several causes responsible for it. In 1937, when Congress Ministries were formed in several provinces no scheme could be evolved by which both the Congress and League could work together.
The Muslims did not cherish Mass Contact Movement started by the Congress under the leadership of Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru. One aim of the movement was to bring the Muslims under Congress fold. This was viewed by Muslim League as a threat to its very existence.
Then middle classes in Muslim society felt that it could not compete with the Hindus in a united India and that their future laid only in a separate Islamic state where they could develop economically and culturally.
Some of them pleaded that their continuance in India was likely to endanger even their religion. It was also hoped that formation of Pakistan might prove a good jumping ground for Pan Islamism and thus it might become possible to relieve the Muslims from foreign yoke. When the Muslims cried for a separate State of Pakistan, some of the Hindus also talked of Hindu Rashtra.
This provided great handle to the orthodox Muslims, who exploited the situation to their own advantage. According to them a day was not far off when the Hindus all over India would dominate, and the Muslims would remain in perpetual subordination and slavery.
But in the whole affair no less role was played by British bureaucracy, which always sided with the Muslims and encouraged them and accepted whatever demand was put forth by that community.
Cripps Mission proposals accepted the basic principle that those provinces which did not accept the constitution of India will have a right to frame their own constitution. This made the Muslims strongly believe that partition of India was a practical proposition, what so far was considered as an impossibility.
From Cripps Mission to Pakistan:
In 1942, Cripps Mission proposals were given to India. Muslim League rejected these stating that in the scheme their demand of a separate state of Pakistan had not been accepted. It was also not satisfied with the Constitution making machinery created under the scheme.
The working committee of the Muslim League in a resolution passed on 11th April, 1942 said, “The Committee while expressing their gratification that the possibility of Pakistan is recognised by implication by providing for the establishment of two or more independent unions in India, regret that the proposals of His Majesty’s Government embodying the fundamentals, are not open to any modification and, therefore, no alternative proposals are needed. Muslim League also makes it clear that any scheme which directly or indirectly torpedoed the scheme of Pakistan will be resisted by the Muslims of India.”
Then came Quit India movement under which whole country under the leadership of Gandhiji and under Congress banner, challenged British supremacy over India. The nation demanded that the Britishers should leave India, leaving the country to her fate.
But the Muslim League did not participate in this movement. By and large the Muslims, under Muslim League, continued to extend their support to the government in her efforts.
Dr. Latif, an eminent Muslim, also gave his scheme for solving constitutional tangle in India. In his scheme he suggested that India should be divided into cultural zones and thereafter confederated. He also suggested that population should also be transferred on a large scale with a view to making these, zone homogeneous.
He wanted that the Muslims of U.P. and Bihar should have a separate state to live and that the ports of Calcutta and Madras should be given to the Muslims. Obviously such a proposal could not be accepted by any section of Indian society, except the Muslims.
Then came Aligarh scheme which was prepared by Prof. Zafrul Hassan and Mohammad Afzal Hassan Qadri for solving India’s constitutional problem.
The Scheme provided that:
(a) Bihar and Karnataka should be given back to Hyderabad.
(b) All towns which have a population of 50,000 or more should be treated as boroughs.
(c) Each borough should be given considerable autonomy.
(d) The Muslims should be treated as a separate nation in India and allowed to have their separate organization.
When no solution to the problem was forthcoming C. Raja Gopalachari gave his own formula. This was much criticised by the Congress, because it accepted in principle the creation of independent State of Pakistan. According to this formula the League was to accept demand for India’s independence and co-operate with the Congress in the formation of interim provisional government.
It also provided that after the war was over a Commission would be appointed for demarcating contiguous districts in North-West and East India where the Muslims were in absolute majority.
In these areas there will be a plebiscite which will decide whether the people wanted or not to remain in the Hindustan. Before plebiscite is held in the country, all political parties will be at liberty to give their view point. Mr. Jinnah, however, rejected this proposal as well.
He wanted that in the proposed plebiscite the non-Muslims should not be allowed to participate. He wanted that in the proposed Pakistan there should be six provinces namely Sindh, Punjab, NWFP, Baluchistan, Bengal and Assam According to him the formula gave a maimed, mutilated and moth eaten Pakistan, which he was not prepared to accept.
In 1945, British government gave Wave 11 plan. The Muslim League rejected this as well. According to Mr. Jinnah acceptance of such a scheme was likely to weaken League’s claim, for an independent State of Pakistan.
The scheme, he felt, was likely to wreck Muslim unity. According to him in the proposed Executive Council of Viceroy the minorities will side with the Congress and the League will suffer defeat on Pakistan issue. He also wanted that the League should have exclusive right to nominate the Muslims on the Executive Council of Viceroy. Thus, due to hard attitude of the League the scheme failed.
Next came Cabinet Mission proposals. The Mission felt that it was not possible to have a separate State of Pakistan. In the view of the Commission even after the partition of India quite a large number of Muslims will remain in India and a good number of Hindus m the newly created state of Pakistan.
It also felt that there was no justification for including in the State of Pakistan such districts of Punjab and Bengal in which non-Muslim were in majority. Not only this, but the creation of Pakistan was likely to create many more problems than solving these and the division of Punjab meant division of the Sikhs.
In the opinion of the Mission administratively, economically and from military point of view, Pakistan was not feasible and bound to create inefficiency in administration. Not only this, but two arms of Pakistan which were to be thousands of miles away were likely to make communication difficult both in times of peace and war.
The British government, therefore, felt that it was not possible for it to transfer power to two independent sovereign states. The Mission was of the view that only solution of the problem was a federal system in which Centre should have few powers. It should be weak, whereas provinces should enjoy vast powers and these should be strong.
Under the scheme an interim government was to be formed and the League agreed to join that. Since the Congress had not accepted the plan the Viceroy thought it better to wait for sometime till that also agreed to join interim government. The League demanded that elections to Constituent Assembly should too be postponed.
But Viceroy did not agree to this and the League decided to revoke its earlier decision. Elections to the Constituent Assembly were, however, held and Congress was returned to power with thumping majority. In frustration on 29th July, 1946 the Muslim League finally rejected Cabinet Mission proposals and decided to take resort to Direct Action on 16th August, 1946.
The aim of such League for celebrating such a Day was to achieve its goal of Pakistan and also to get rid of present slavery under the British regime and contemplated future of Hindu domination. On this day there was unprecedented mob violence and reign of bloodshed and communal hatred was let loose.
In both Sindh and Bengal, the day was declared as holiday. There were abductions, rapes, forced marriages, looting, and forcible conversions. Calcutta and Noakhali were the worst hit areas on this shameful day. Muslim League also boycotted Constituent Assembly, calling it invalid and illegal.
There were again communal riots engineered by League in Lahore, Rawalpindi and in fact, in many parts of Punjab and Bihar.
It was in this atmosphere that on February 20, 1947, British Prime Minister Lord Attlee declared that the government proposed to leave India by June, 1948, positively and in case Indian communities did not reach any compromise, even then the government will leave the country and decide to whom the power in India should be transferred.
The statement that the government could consider the possibility of transfer of power in some areas to existing provincial governments very much encouraged the Muslim League. It now tried to topple non-Muslim League Ministries in NWFP and Punjab, so that power was not transferred to them.
Then came Mountbatten Mission Plan on June 3, 1947 which provided for the creation of separate dominion of Pakistan, which came into being on 14-15 August, 1947. It included the provinces of NWFP, Sindh, West Punjab, East Bengal and British Baluchistan. Mr. Jinnah became the First Governor-General of Pakistan.
Thus, a new State of Pakistan was born just within a period of 17 years, as the idea was first mooted by Sir Muhammed Iqbal in 1930. There was no armed revolt but violence. Opinions are still divided whether Pakistan was at all unavoidable and why it came into being so soon.
Was it due to the supreme leadership of Mr. Jinnah or due to appeasement policy of the Congress towards the Muslims or on account of some secret understanding between the Muslim League and political leadership in Great Britain?
But the fact remains that because of its rigid stand on every political issue, the League could get independent state of Pakistan, which seemed an impracticability even to the Cabinet Mission, as late as in 1946.
It can be said that in the formation of Pakistan rigid attitude of the Muslim League, strong support of Britain and appeasement policy of the Congress combined together resulted in what appeared at one stage an impossibility. But even now a question which has quite often been asked and which is till date a matter of debate is whether the partition of India was unavoidable.
Many feel that it was a hasty decision on the part of Indian National Congress and that the party cannot escape from the responsibility of the mistake. British government extended its patronage during World War II when Congress party declined to extend any cooperation to the government.
In addition, it launched Quit India movement. British government is responsible for flaming communalism and introducing reservation system for the Muslims and other minorities. In the partition of the country Hindu militant approach was somewhat responsible, if not to the extent of Muslim Communalism.
About Congress view point in 1956 Nehru said, “I suppose it was the compulsion of events and the feelings that we could not get out of deadlock of morass by pursuing the way we have done; it became worse and worse.”