Saturday, August 14, 2010

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY OF PAKISTAN 14 AUGUST 1947

  • HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY OF PAKISTAN 14 AUGUST 1947

    History of Pakistan
    BACKGROUND TO PARTITION

    The concept of a separate Muslim "nation" or "people," qaum, is inherent in Islam, but this concept bears no resemblance to a territorial entity. The proposal for a Muslim state in India was first enunciated in 1930 by the poet-philosopher Muhammad Iqbal, who suggested that the four northwestern provinces (Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab, and the North-West Frontier Province) should be joined in such a state. In a 1933 pamphlet Choudhary Rahmat Ali, a Cambridge student, coined the name Pakstan (later Pakistan), on behalf of those Muslims living in Punjab, Afghan (North-West Frontier Province), Kashmir, Sind, and Balochistan. Alternatively the name was said to mean "Land of the Pure." (H.R.T.)

    Birth of the new state.

    Pakistan came into existence as a dominion within the Commonwealth in August 1947, with Jinnah as governor-general and
    Liaquat Ali Khan as prime minister. With West and East Pakistan separated by more than 1,000 miles of Indian territory and with the major portion of the wealth and resources of the British heritage passing to India, Pakistan's survival seemed to hang in the balance. Of all the well-organized provinces of British India, only the comparatively backward areas of Sindh, Balochistan, and the North-West Frontier came to Pakistan intact. The Punjab and Bengal were divided, and Kashmir became disputed territory. Economically, the situation seemed almost hopeless; the new frontier cut off Pakistani raw materials from the Indian factories, disrupting industry, commerce, and agriculture. The partition and the movement of refugees were accompanied by terrible massacres for which both communities were responsible. India remained openly unfriendly; its economic superiority expressed itself in a virtual blockade. The dispute over Kashmir brought the two countries to the verge of war; and India's command of the headworks controlling the water supplies to Pakistan's eastern canal colonies gave it an additional economic weapon. The resulting friction, by obstructing the process of sharing the assets inherited from the British raj (according to plans previously agreed), further handicapped Pakistan. (L.F.R.W.)


    THE TRANSFER OF POWER AND THE BIRTH OF TWO NATIONS
    British India in 1947, showing major administrative divisions, the distribution of the principal.

    Elections held in the winter of 1945-46 proved how effective Jinnah's single-plank strategy for his Muslim League had been, as the league won all 30 seats reserved for Muslims in the Central Legislative Assembly and most of the reserved provincial seats as well. The Congress was successful in gathering most of the general electorate seats, but it could no longer effectively insist that it spoke for the entire population of British India.

    In 1946, Secretary of State Pethick-Lawrence personally led a three-man Cabinet deputation to New Delhi with the hope of resolving the Congress-Muslim League deadlock and, thus, of transferring British power to a single Indian administration. Cripps was responsible primarily for drafting the ingenious Cabinet Mission Plan, which proposed a three-tier federation for India, integrated by a minimal central-union government in Delhi, which would be limited to handling foreign affairs, communications, defense, and only those finances required to care for such unionwide matters. The subcontinent was to be divided into three major groups of provinces: Group A, to include the Hindu-majority provinces of the Bombay Presidency, Madras, the United Provinces, Bihar, Orissa, and the Central Provinces (virtually all of what became independent India a year later); Group B, to contain the Muslim-majority provinces of the Punjab, Sind, the North-West Frontier, and Baluchistan (the areas out of which the western part of Pakistan was created); and Group C, to include the Muslim-majority Bengal (a portion of which became the eastern part of Pakistan and in 1971 the country of Bangladesh) and the Hindu-majority Assam. The group governments were to be virtually autonomous in everything but matters reserved to the union centre, and within each group the princely states were to be integrated into their neighbouring provinces. Local provincial governments were to have the choice of opting out of the group in which they found themselves should a majority of their populace vote to do so.

    Punjab's large and powerful Sikh population would have been placed in a particularly difficult and anomalous position, for Punjab as a whole would have belonged to Group B, and much of the Sikh community had become anti-Muslim since the start of the Mughal emperors' persecution of their gurus in the 17th century. Sikhs played so important a role in the British Indian Army that many of their leaders hoped that the British would reward them at the war's end with special assistance in carving out their own nation from the rich heart of Punjab's fertile canal-colony lands, where, in the "kingdom" once ruled by Ranjit Singh (1780-1839), most Sikhs lived. Since World War I, Sikhs had been equally fierce in opposing the British raj, and, though never more than 2 percent of India's population, they had as highly disproportionate a number of nationalist "martyrs" as of army officers. A Sikh Akali Dal ("Party of Immortals"), which was started in 1920, led militant marches to liberate gurdwaras ("doorways to the Guru"; the Sikh places of worship) from corrupt Hindu managers. Tara Singh (1885-1967), the most important leader of this vigorous Sikh political movement, first raised the demand for a separate Azad ("Free") Punjab in 1942. By March 1946, Singh demanded a Sikh nation-state, alternately called "Sikhistan" or "Khalistan" ("Land of the Sikhs" or "Land of the Pure"). The Cabinet Mission, however, had no time or energy to focus on Sikh separatist demands and found the Muslim League's demand for Pakistan equally impossible to accept.

    As a pragmatist, Jinnah, himself mortally afflicted with tuberculosis and lung cancer, accepted the Cabinet Mission's proposal, as did Congress leaders. The early summer of 1946, therefore, saw a dawn of hope for India's future prospects, but that soon proved false when Nehru announced at his first press conference as the reelected president of the Congress that no constituent assembly could be "bound" by any prearranged constitutional formula. Jinnah read Nehru's remarks as a "complete repudiation" of the plan, which had to be accepted in its entirety in order to work. Jinnah then convened the league's Working Committee, which withdrew its previous agreement to the federation scheme and instead called upon the "Muslim Nation" to launch "direct action" in mid-August 1946. Thus began India's bloodiest year of civil war since the mutiny nearly a century earlier. The Hindu-Muslim rioting and killing that started in Calcutta sent deadly sparks of fury, frenzy, and fear to every corner of the subcontinent, as all civilized restraint seemed to disappear.

    Lord Mountbatten (1900-79) was sent to replace Wavell as viceroy in March 1947, as Britain prepared to transfer its power over India to some "responsible" hands by no later than June 1948. Shortly after reaching Delhi, where he conferred with the leaders of all parties and with his own officials, Mountbatten decided that the situation was too dangerous to wait even that brief period. Fearing a forced evacuation of British troops still stationed in India, Lord Mountbatten resolved to opt for partition, one that would divide Punjab and Bengal virtually in half, rather than risk further political negotiations while civil war raged and a new mutiny of Indian troops seemed imminent. Among the major Indian leaders, Gandhi alone refused to reconcile himself to partition and urged Mountbatten to offer Jinnah the premiership of a united India rather than a separate Muslim nation. Nehru, however, would not agree to that, nor would his most powerful Congress deputy, Vallabhbhai Patel (1875-1950), as both had become tired of arguing with Jinnah and were eager to get on with the job of running an independent government of India.

    Britain's Parliament passed in July 1947 the Indian Independence Act, ordering the demarcation of the dominions of India and Pakistan by midnight of Aug. 14-15, 1947, and dividing within a single month the assets of the world's largest empire, which had been integrated in countless ways for more than a century. Racing the deadline, two boundary commissions worked desperately to partition Punjab and Bengal in such a way as to leave a majority of Muslims to the west of the former's new boundary and to the east of the latter's, but as soon as the new borders were known, no fewer than 10 million Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs fled from their homes on one side of the newly demarcated borders to what they thought would be "shelter" on the other. In the course of that tragic exodus of innocents, some 1 million people were slaughtered in communal massacres that made all previous conflicts of the sort known to recent history pale by comparison. Sikhs, caught in the middle of Punjab's new "line," suffered the highest percentage of casualties. Most Sikhs finally settled in India's much-diminished border state of Punjab. Tara Singh later asked, "The Muslims got their Pakistan, and the Hindus got their Hindustan, but what did the Sikhs get?"

    (The following section discusses the history since 1947 of those areas of the subcontinent that became the Republic of India. For historical coverage since 1947 of the partitioned areas in the northwest and the northeast, see the articles PAKISTAN and BANGLADESH.)
    ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF PAKISTAN

    Mohammed Ali Jinnah died in September 1948, within 13 months of independence. The leaders of the new Pakistan were mainly lawyers with a strong commitment to parliamentary government. They had supported Jinnah in his struggle against the Congress not so much because they desired an Islamic state but because they had come to regard the Congress as synonymous with Hindu domination. They had various degrees of personal commitment to Islam. To some it represented an ethic that might (or might not) be the basis of personal behaviour within a modern, democratic state. To others it represented a tradition, the framework within which their forefathers had ruled India. But there were also groups that subscribed to Islam as a total way of life, and these people were said to wish to establish Pakistan as a theocracy (a term they repudiated). The members of the old Constituent Assembly, elected at the end of 1945, assembled at Karachi, the new capital.

    Jinnah's lieutenant, Liaquat Ali Khan, inherited the task of drafting a constitution. Himself a moderate (he had entered politics via a landlord party), he subscribed to the parliamentary, democratic, secular state. But he was conscious that he possessed no local or regional power base. He was a muhajir ("refugee") from the United Provinces, the Indian heartland, whereas most of his colleagues and potential rivals drew support from their own people in Punjab or Bengal. Liaquat Ali Khan therefore deemed it necessary to gain the support of the religious spokesmen (the mullahs or, more properly, the ulama). He issued a resolution on the aims and objectives of the constitution, which began, "Sovereignty over the entire universe belongs to Allah Almighty alone" and went on to emphasize Islamic values. Hindu members of the old Constituent Assembly protested; Islamic states had traditionally distinguished between the Muslims, as full citizens, and dhimmis, nonbelievers who were denied certain rights and saddled with certain additional obligations.

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