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“We are a nation of a hundred million, and, what is more, we are a nation with our own distinctive culture and civilization, language and literature, art and architecture, names and nomenclature, sense of value and proportion, legal laws and moral codes, customs and calendar, history and traditions, aptitudes and ambitions. In short, we have our own distinctive outlook on life. By all canons of international law we are a nation” (M.A. Jinnah) (Toor, 319).

The partition of India and the creation of nascent state of Pakistan for the Muslims of India on the basis of distinct culture and religion has been the subject of fierce debate since long. The two nation theory, according to which Hindus and Muslims are two different nations, has been challenged by many historians and many theorists have been invoked to address this issue and elaborated on the causes and consequences of the two nation theory. Some argued in favor of a separate homeland for the Muslims, while others denounced this notion of Muslims being one nation.  Although the opinion of different theorists on the question of demand of Muslims for a separate homeland varies, yet it is believed that this partition was one of the most drastic and tragic event in the entire history, and it resulted in the loss of lives of millions of people on both sides of the border.

These causes and consequences of the partition of India have been studied and interpreted differently by the historians and the creative writes. Different approaches have been used by them to describe this tragic incident.  Historians focused on the politics of the leadership of Muslim League and Congress at the time of partition and analyzed the historical events by the critical analysis, while creative writers analyzed the political scenario and the effects of the decisions made by the political leadership on the society and the individuals in the form of short stories, novels and poems.

This paper presents the role of political leadership and the aftermaths of the partition by presenting the difference between these two approaches to describe partition. This paper starts with the literature review and critical analysis of the works of various authors on the subject of nationalism and the history of partition. This paper then presents the findings to address the pre partition politics and the political goals of the leadership.  In the first part, this paper explores the approach of study of partition used by theorists and historians, and presents arguments regarding the demand of a separate homeland for the Muslims of India, the notion of Muslims being one nation and the politics revolving around this notion of Muslims being a separate community.  In the second part, this paper explores the approach used by the creative writers to describe the tragic events which resulted as a consequence of the political decisions made by the political elite, and their effects on the lives of individuals and society. To substantiate the arguments, this paper includes relevant examples, case studies and historical evidence.

Saadia Toor in her article, “A National Culture for Pakistan: The Political Economy of a debate” explains how the demand of a separate homeland on the basis that Muslims are a separate community was void and highly controversial.  According to her the claim of being a nation had been based on cultural grounds, understood as an ethnic Muslim identity, as well as clearly identifiable cultural history. She argues that the state acquired by Muslims on the basis that they are a nation resulted in the division of the very nation because except for those who managed to migrate to this side of the border. There were a number of Muslims who decided to stay in India. So at the demographic level, the Indian Muslim community was in fact divided because of the creation of Pakistan. “The relation of such nationalism to a territorial definition was at best problematic, and rendered further complex by the unnatural division of space and communities wrought by Partition” (Toor, 320).

Asim Roy in his article, “The High Politics of India’s Partition: The Revisionist Perspective” revaluates the politics at the time of partition by presenting the revisionist perspective. He denounces the traditionalist perspective and argues that the traditionalist perspective does not convey the intricacies and nuances and the true nature of high politics. So the historical reconstruction was needed, and this task was taken up by historians like Ayesha Jalal and Abdul Kalam Azad. The revisionist perspective presents an explicit explanation of this battle between Congress and Muslim League, and demolishes the myth of Jinnah’s role in the creation of nascent state of Pakistan presented by the traditionalist perspective (Roy, 104).

Sugata Bose in his article, “The partition of India and the Creation of Pakistan” argues that the demand of a separate homeland for the Muslims was never the agenda of Muslim League in the first place. In fact Jinnah wanted autonomy for Muslims within United India in the provinces where they were in majority. It was when Nehru didn’t concede to this demand and after the failure of Cabinet Mission Plan in 1946, Muslim League initiated struggle for a separate homeland. Till that time Jinnah was a follower of Congress’s secular creed, but after Cabinet Mission Plan failed, he resorted to religion as the binding force for the Muslim nation. It was because of the gnawing organizational weakness that Jinnah had to make recourse to the religion to gather popular support.

The historians and the theorists have always been very critical of this notion of Muslims being one nation, and their demand for a separate homeland on the basis of distinct culture and religion. After analyzing the events which took place at the time of partition and the pre partition politics of the Muslim League leadership, they challenged this notion on various grounds. Firstly, the creation of a separate homeland for Muslims had never been the agenda of Muslim League in the first place. Jinnah demanded autonomy for the Muslims within United India in the provinces where Muslims were in majority. For Jinnah this option of having autonomous Muslim majority provinces within India was worthy of consideration because with strong provinces, it was possible for Muslims to deploy their weight at all India centre. They demanded autonomy because they were afraid that the interests of the Muslims under the strong central government of Hindu dominated Congress would be at stake. Also they knew that if they demanded a separate homeland, it would divide the Muslim majority provinces of Punjab and Bengal, and a sovereign Pakistan stripped of East Bengal and Punjab will be received by the Muslims, which was an option not worthy of consideration by the Muslim League leadership. According to Cohen, “The Cabinet Mission Plan of 1946 for a three tiered all India federation offered Jinnah something worthy of consideration. Compulsory grouping of provinces handed the League a potential centre, deploying their weight at an all India centre” (Cohen, 149). It was later in June 1946 when Nehru rejected this proposal presented by the Muslim League for a three-tiered federal arrangement in the Cabinet Mission Plan; Jinnah was left with no other choice but to resort to the option of partition of India and the demand of a separate homeland for the Muslims of India. Ayesha Jalal argues that, “ In Jinnah’s opinion the 1946 federal arrangement based on provincial grouping was better, and this was the theme that had been reiterated over and over again by a succession of Muslim League leaders, including Jinnah, in their meetings with Mountbatten” (Jalal, 540).  By keeping the failure of Cabinet Mission Plan, it can be stated that contrary to popular opinion, the greater role in the partition of India was being played by Congress and not the Muslim League. If Nehru had conceded to the three-tiered arrangement plan of Jinnah and the demand for the autonomous Muslim majority provinces within undivided India, Pakistan might not have been on the world map. Asim Roy quotes Abdul Kalam Azad who writes: “I warned Jawaharlal that history would never forgive us if we agreed to partition. The verdict could be that India was not divided by the Muslim League but by the Congress” (Roy, 103).

Another objection which was raised by the historians on the identity of the nascent state of Pakistan was whether Pakistan is an Islamic state or the state for Muslims. Jinnah being a secular leader was never in favor of a separate homeland on the basis of religion. Rather he was supportive of the Congress’s secular creed. Once this question was asked that will Pakistan be a theocratic or a secular state. Jinnah responded, “You are asking me a question which is absurd. I do not know what a theocratic state means” (Haq, 119). It was later after the failure of Simla Conference and Cabinet Mission Plan that Jinnah had to resort to the option of using religious cards to gather support from the Muslims. So the Islamists, who initially denounced the idea of Pakistan, joined the movement for a separate homeland where there is an Islamic law and where they could spend their lives in accordance with the injunctions of Islam. “The struggle for obtaining control over the organs of the state motivated by the urge to establish the Din and the Islamic injunctions is not only permissible but is positively desirable and as such obligatory” (Maulana Maududi, 177).

Creative writers on the other hand analyzed and portrayed the events of partition in a different way. They focused on the impacts partition left on the lives of the individual and the society as a whole. Many short stories, novels and poems have been written to describe the politics of that time, the brutal acts of violence displayed by the characters belonging to different religions, and the disastrous effects of this political decision. The writings of Saadat Hassan Minto, Rajinder Singh Bedhi, Ghulam Abbas, Qudratullah Shahab, Waris Shah and many other prominent writers and poets of that time portrayed different tragedies and consequences of the partition and their impacts on the lives of individuals.
Partition was a historical event; its impacts cannot be measured individually because everyone suffered in one way or the other. Some lost their property, while others lost their families. So different writers conceded it in accordance with their ideologies and attachments, and it was presented in their writings. Saadat Hassan Minto is one of the writers who didn’t focus on one community; rather he portrayed the effects of partition on everyone, irrespective of religion, caste or culture. “Tooba Taik Singh”, “Khol Do” and “Mozail” are some of his short stories written about partition. The stories of Minto revolve around a central character which makes his writings different from others. These central characters portray the image of the crisis confronted by the society. He wrote a masterpiece, “Tooba Taik Singh” set in the lunatic asylum in Lahore at the time of partition. When whole cities were ethnically cleansed, how can the asylums escape? “Bashin Singh” is a lunatic who presents how the lunatics residing in the asylum responded to the decision of partition and to the announcement that they will be transferred to India. He explains that even the lunatics had a sense of attachment to their land, and Bashin Singh was more worried about the location of Tooba Taik Singh than anything else. He was so overcome by rage that when the border is reached, he refuses to go to the other side of the border and dies on the demarcation line dividing India and Pakistan. Tariq Ali writes,” When the real world is overcome by insanity, normality only exists in the asylums. The lunatics have a better understanding of the crime that is being perpetrated than the politicians who agreed to it” (Ali, 10).

Another picture of the tragedies and violence at the time of partition is presented by Minto in his short story “Khol Do”. This short story not only represents the violence faced by the migrants who were travelling to the other side of the border, but also how badly they were treated after migration. There were many girls like the central character of the story “Sakina” who were raped or abducted by the social workers when they migrated. There were many fathers like “Siraj ud Din” who migrated to Pakistan with the hopes that they and their families would be safe here, but never thought that even the very own people will not show any mercy on them. The same violent picture has also been depicted in Qudrat Ullah Shahab’s “Ya Khuda”. The central character “Dilshad” represents all the women who confronted abduction and physical violence because of the partition of two different nations, who have been living together in harmony for a long time. She lost her family, and now there was no one to look after her. She was tortured and raped. By depicting her journey towards Pakistan, Shahab describes the difference between the perception of migrants about Pakistan and the real face. It was the popular perception that like the Ansaar of Madina, the Pakistanis will treat the migrants as their own family. But to their utmost dismay, they were not owned by the residents of Pakistan. There were instances when the migrants died because they didn’t have food and shelter. When there was no other option left, women like “Dilshad” had to resort to the options like prostitution to earn living which they were never willing to and never thought of in this perceived heaven for the Muslims of India.

As a consequence of violence and riots at the time of partition, many Muslim, Sikh and Hindu women were abducted. Later when these women were recovered, their very own families disowned them and were not willing to consider them as their family. Rajendr Singh Bedi’s “Lajawanti” is also one of those unfortunate women who were rejected by their own family, when they returned back home after being abducted. Before her abduction, she was treated badly by her husband “Sundar Lal”, who used to abuse her and beat her. But when she returns back home, he starts treating her with affection and takes care of her. But she does not like this change in his behavior because she starts feeling that he doesn’t love her anymore, and this change in his behavior is merely sympathy, because he does not want to listen to her and she feels that the way he used to treat her before she was abducted was better. Bedi here raises a very important question, why are these women being punished for the crime they didn’t even do? They already suffered a lot when they were abducted, and after they returned back home with the hope that they will be greeted and they will start a new life, their families refused to accept them back. Lajwanti wants to be “Laajo” and she hates being called and treated as “Dewi”.

The historians and the creative writers have used different approaches to describe the partition of India. Historians focused on the politics of political leadership and critically analyzed the history of the political events and the causes and consequences of the political decisions being made by the leadership of Congress and Muslim League. Jinnah was never in favor of a separate homeland for Muslims, rather he demanded autonomy for Muslim majority provinces to save their interested in the Hindu dominated political centre. It was when Nehru didn’t concede to the Cabinet Mission Plan in 1946; Jinnah was left with no other option but to resort to the demand of a separate homeland for the Indian Muslims. Also Jinnah was never in favor of an Islamic state; rather he was supportive of a secular state. Later to gather popular support he used religious cards and became a ‘religious bigot’. On the other hand creative writers presented the historical events, the violence and riots in the form of short stories, poems and novels. Their approach was to analyze the political decision of partition and its impact on the lives of individuals as well as the society. Their works portrayed the tragic images of violence and riots at the time of partition. By using different characters in their short stories, they presented how this decision had left grave impacts on the society. Many innocent people died as a result of violence which was erupted between the Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs. People lost their properties, women were abducted and tortured. They also depicted how was this homeland imagined as heavenly place by the migrants, and how were they treated after migrating to Pakistan. The women were raped by the social workers, they had to resort to prostitution for earning their living because they were not welcomed here, and the abducted women who were recovered were not accepted by their own family. The partition was thus nothing except the harsh portrayal and depiction of bitter realities of one of the most tragic event in the history of this world.

Uthh Dard-Mandaan Diya Dardiya,                    Rise! O’ narrator of the grieving;
Utth Tak Apna Punjab                                           Rise! Look at your Punjab
Ajj Bailey Lashaan Bichiyaan                                Today, fields are lined with corpses,
Tey Lahoo Di Bhari Chenab                                  and blood fills the Chenab
Kisey Ne Panjaan Paaniyan Wich                        Someone has mixed poison
Diti Zahar Rala,                                                       in the five rivers’ flow
Tey Unhan Paniyaan Dharat Nuu                        Their deadly water is, now,
Dita Paani Laa                                                         irrigating our lands galore       (Amrita Pritam)

Work Cited
            Bose, Sugata, and Ayesha Jalal. "The Partion of India and The Creation of Pakistan." Modern South Asia: History, Culture, Political Economy. New York: Routledge, 2004. 135-56. Print.
            Cohen, Stephen P. The Idea of Pakistan. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 2004. Print.
            Haq,  Farhat. "Pakistan: A State for the Muslims or an Islamic State." Religion and Politics in South Asia: 119-  45. Print.
             Jalal, Ayesha. "Secularists, Subalterns and the Stigma of ‘Communalism’:Partition Historiography Revisited." Modern Asian Studies 30.03 (1996): 1-10. Print.
             Jalal, Ayesha. Self and Sovereignty: Individual and Community in South Asian Islam since 1850. London: Routlege, 2005. Print.
             Roy, Asim. "The High Politics of India's Partition: The Revisionist Perspective.” Modern Asian Studies 24.02 (1990): 102-32. Print.
             Toor, Saadia. "A National Culture for Pakistan: the Political Economy of a Debate." Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 6.3 (2005): 318-40. Print.
             Bedi, Rajendra. “Lajwanti”, Land of five rivers, Orient Paperbacks Delhi.
             Minto, Saadat, “Tooba Tek Singh”, “Khol Do”, Manto Ke Afsanay, 1940
             Shahab, Qudratullah, “Ya Khuda”, 1986

              Written By: Motahar Saleheen

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