Mortal Empire, Immortal League

‘… the quickest way to achieve India’s freedom is
by the acceptance of the Pakistan scheme …’
(Jinnah, Bombay, 9 August 1942)

The third, and the most crucial point in Jinnah’s argument was that by demanding the partition of India on an equitable basis, the Indian Muslims demolished both pillars of British imperialism, and they did it through their ‘national organization’ All-India Muslim League.

Jinnah said very clearly that except for the Partition, the British might linger on. The following is just a sample of his statements to this effect:

  • ‘Our ideal presupposes Indian freedom and independence; and we shall achieve India’s independence far more quickly by agreeing to the underlined principles of the Lahore resolution than by any other method … Mr. Gandhi understands or ought to understand that to wrangle over the imaginary one and united India can only result in our submission to foreign rule.’ (Hubli, Matheran, 25 May 1940)
  • ‘Our demand is not from Hindus because the Hindus never took the whole of India. It was the Muslims who took India and ruled for 700 years. It was the British who took India from the Mussalmans. So, we are not asking the Hindus to give us anything. Our demand is made to the British, who are in possession.’ (Lahore, 2 March 1942)
  • ‘I can say without fear of contradiction that the Muslim League stands more firmly for the freedom and independence of this country than any other party.’ (Delhi, 23 March 1942)
  • ‘… Pakistan is the only solution for getting our freedom. When I say our freedom, I mean freedom of Hindus and Mussalmans, who really constitute the two major nations in this country.’ (Ootacamund, 2 June 1942)
  • ‘I ask any intelligent man if he would only apply his mind for one second, can you achieve Pakistan without the independence of India? When we say Pakistan, we mean, not our independence only, but the independence of Hindus also.’ (Karachi, December 24, 1943)
  • ‘Pakistan, the Quaid-e-Azam remarked, was not the product of the conduct or mis-conduct of Hindus.’ (Aligarh, 8 March 1944)
  • ‘While agreeing with those who blame the British Government for not parting with power, Mr. Jinnah, however, said, “but we have to get this power, in spite of the British.”’ (Lahore, 31 March 1944)
  • ‘… the only way, the only honest way, for Great Britain is to divide and quit.’ (Karachi, December 24, 1943)
  • ‘British die-hard ruling class will be more opposed than anybody else to Pakistan materializing, because in my judgement, that is the only way of getting freedom in the quickest and surest way. They know it.’ (Bombay, 14 October 1944)
  • ‘I believe and I am convinced that the quickest and shortest route to India’s freedom and the liberty of all the peoples of India lies in our agreeing to the establishment of Pakistan. One day, perhaps, you will realize that the real opposition and obstacle to my ideal will appear far more strenuously from our rulers than from our sister communities.’ (Ahmedabad, 13 January 1945)
  • ‘We are fighting for Pakistan, we are fighting for freedom of every man on this subcontinent. It was Hindu Congress which was withholding freedom of all of us by obsession.’ (Peshawar, 27 November 1945)
  • ‘Any honest man must admit that the Muslim India’s fight for Pakistan is not directed against Hindus. From whom we can take Pakistan. Not from Hindus. They are themselves slaves. It has to be wrested from the unwilling hands of those who are now dominating over us. It does not only mean freedom of Muslims but it also means freedom for all.’ (Lahore, 7 January 1946)

When independence was finally won, he reiterated that the independence of the entire subcontinent had been achieved due to the efforts of the Muslim League:

  • In his toast to King George VI on 13 August 1947, the evening before the transfer of power, he said that there had never been any doubt that the British intended to transfer power to the Indians ‘but there remained always the question of how and when.’ This question got settled only after His Majesty’s Government conceded that ‘the only solution to India’s constitutional problem was to divide it into Pakistan and Hindustan.’
  • In his broadcast on the morning of independence, he said that the day marked ‘the fulfilment of the destiny of the Muslim nation’ and ‘the end of a poignant phase in our national history.’ The Muslims of India had shown to the world that ‘their cause is just and righteous which cannot be denied.’

To say that the League brought down British imperialism is surely not as far-fetched as some of the propositions offered by Dr I. H. Qureshi, Stanley Wolpert, Ayesha Jalal and others, which we have been accepting so unquestioningly.

Our real apprehensions come, not so much from any habit of objectivity (as if we are entitled to such a claim), but rather from the fact that we have long been told that Jinnah himself did not take the League seriously. Lies, pure and white, have been used.

The Case of the Counterfeit Coins

Most of us must have heard that Jinnah reportedly once said, ‘I have got only bad coins in my pocket.’ (‘Khhotay sikkay’ in the popularized Urdu version).

In truth, he said the opposite. On 27 October 1937, while addressing a public meeting in Patna, he said, ‘The majority of the Muslims have no confidence in those Muslims who are willing to sign the pledge to work out the policy of the Congress.’ On this basis, he went on to say about the Congress itself:

They know full well that these are not real coins, these are counterfeit coins, spurious coins. They do not command the confidence of the Muslim public, – the majority of the Muslims have no confidence in them.

Hence, he said that the Congress had ‘counterfeit coins, spurious coins.’ By implication, his coins, i.e. the members of the Muslim League, were ‘real coins’. We have been tricked into thinking that he admitted that the ‘counterfeit coins’ were in his pocket.

The Magical Typewriter

We are also told that Jinnah said, ‘I’ll tell you who made Pakistan: myself, my secretary and his typewriter.’

In truth, again, he said the opposite. It is on record that ‘in a gathering of high European and American officials’ in Aligarh on 8 March 1944, he was asked as to who was the author of Pakistan. His reply was, ‘Every Mussalman.’

Regarding the typewriter itself, on 22 February 1940, at the Anglo-Arabic College, Delhi, he said, ‘the British Government with their shrewdness have already recognized that the Muslim League is the only authoritative and representative organization of Muslim India.’ Then he lamented that the League did not have sufficient resources:

Referring again to the meagre resources of the League, Mr. Jinnah said that his place on Aurangzeb Road [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][New Delhi], as a private residence, might be considered enviable, but where was the secretariat or the army? His entire equipment was confined to an attaché-case, a type-writer, and a personal assistant.

The report informs us that on this precise point ‘he made it clear that he did not have a defeatist mentality or that he had not the fullest faith in his people. With all the difficulties with which they were faced he still believed that the Muslims were more politically-minded than any other community.’

Further elucidation of this anecdote can be found in the myth-breaking book, Liaquat Ali Khan: His Life and Work by Dr Muhammad Reza Kazimi (p.322; although the author seems to be mistaken about the date of the incident).

Chaudhry Rahmat Ali

Chaudhry Rahmat Ali was presented as a hero in The Struggle for Pakistan by Dr I. H. Qureshi (pp.110, etc.). The readers were not informed that Rahmat Ali was a self-proclaimed enemy of the Muslim League, who called Jinnah a bigger traitor than Mir Jafar and referred to him as ‘Quisling-i-Azam Jinnah’ (see Pakistan The Fatherland of the Pak Nation (Third Edition) by Chaudhry Rahmat Ali, pp.345, 354, etc.). It was also not mentioned that after the birth of Pakistan, Rahmat Ali attempted to launch a movement for dissolving the new-born state (see, e.g., Rahmat Ali A Biography by K. K. Aziz, pp.300, etc.).

In truth, Jinnah had clarified at an early stage that although Rahmat Ali might have coined the word ‘Pakistan’, he had nothing to do with the struggle carried out by the Muslims for the creation of an independent state. It was Jinnah’s lifelong stance that all Muslims should come under the banner of the Muslim League (and contrary to the false perception, he insisted on this even after the birth of Pakistan).

The fictions of Stanley Wolpert

Even as far back as 1928, Jinnah refused to attend the All-Parties Muslim Conference and insisted that ‘everybody should rally round the All-India Muslim League.’ Two further telegrams about his refusal to attend that session were read out in the session itself, and much was said about the matter during the proceedings (see the Report of the All-India Muslim Conference held at Delhi on 31st December, 1928, and 1st January, 1929 by Hafizur Rahman, pp.17, 19, 25, 33, 36, Appendix H, pp.x-xiii).

In spite of this well-documented fact, Stanley Wolpert opens a chapter in his Jinnah of Pakistan with the following lines (p.104):

On New Year’s Day of 1929 he entered the All-Parties Muslim Conference … Shafi was there with his Punjabi cohort when Jinnah walked into the silken pandal pitched on the parade ground of the Red Fort … Jinnah entered late, and sat alone. He was as yet undecided … Was this really his home? Were these truly his people?

May we ask what standard of truth is this? In contradiction to fact, this fiction is imposed on the reader without reference to any source – the uncredited source, obviously, is the false imagination of Wolpert.

Spokesman, she wrote

That Jinnah claimed to be the sole representative of the Indian Muslims is implied in the very title of Ayesha Jalal’s book, The Sole Spokesman – Jinnah, Muslim League and the demand for Pakistan. In the book, the point is repeated no less than nine times. Except on possibly two of these occasions, it appears as what Jinnah himself ‘claimed’ or insisted upon. The following are all nine occurrences in the order of appearance (pp. xv, 4, 50, 60, 61, 130, 136, 171, 251):

‘Jinnah had claimed to be the sole spokesman of all Indian Muslims’; ‘Jinnah sought to be recognized as the sole spokesman of the Muslims on the all-India stage’; ‘his claim to be the sole spokesman for Muslims’; ‘his continued insistence after 1940 that he, as the president of the A.I.M.L., should be recognised as the sole spokesman of all Indian Muslims’; ‘to get the government to accept him as the sole spokesman of Muslim India’; ‘his claim to be the sole spokesman of all Muslims’; ‘becoming the sole spokesman’; ‘his claim to be the sole spokesman of the Indian Muslims’; ‘As the sole spokesman of Muslim India, Jinnah demanded…’

In truth, again, Jinnah had always claimed the opposite. He had stated quite clearly that the sole representative of the Indian Muslims was the Muslim League. He repeatedly said things like the following:

It is now the voice of the League, the voice of the people, it is now the authority of the Millat that you have to bow to, though you may be the tallest poppy in the Muslim world.

Importantly, he criticized the Congress for following a ‘dictator’ in the person of Gandhi, and boasted that ‘there is no place for an adviser’ in the Muslim League.

Hence, what he actually said was that the Congress was a ‘Fascist Grand Council’ because it had a sole spokesman, while the League, because it did not have a sole spokesman, was ‘the voice of the people’ and ‘the authority of the Millat.’

Just as in the case of the counterfeit coins, an allegation which Jinnah raised against the Congress, i.e. it had a sole spokesman, has been wrongly attributed to him as a confession about his party.

And now, the truth

The truth is that Jinnah told his people, repeatedly and emphatically, that he was insignificant as compared to his organization. One of the numerous examples is the following excerpt from his presidential address at the historical session of the League at Lahore in March 1940:

For it will be remembered that up to the time of the declaration of war [the Second World War], the Viceroy never thought of me, but of Gandhi and Gandhi alone. I have been the leader of an important party in the Legislature for a considerable time … Yet, the Viceroy never thought of me. Therefore, when I got this invitation from the Viceroy along with Mr. Gandhi, I wondered within myself why I was now suddenly promoted and then I concluded that the answer was the ‘All-India Muslim League’ whose President I happen to be … My point is that I want you to realize the value, the importance, the significance of organizing ourselves … Men may come and men may go, but the League will live forever.

This line of thinking is reflected throughout his statements over the years.

Therefore, nobody should ask us to stipulate that on the morning of independence, he was thinking that it was not the League that had defeated imperialism and liberated the whole of the subcontinent. If not the League, who else?

This is a modified version of the third chapter of Jinnah: The Case for Pakistan. Complete references for the facts and quotations cited here can be found in the printed book. Download PDF or find out how to purchase a hard copy.

Jinnah: The Case for Pakistan | Chapter 1: One-India Fallacy | Chapter 2: Malignant Democracy | Chapter 4: Aristocratic Radicalism | Chapter 5: New Destinies


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