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To continue replying to Syed Shahabuddin Letter...
Sep 2008
Syed Shahabuddin

Apropos of your letter of 2 August reproduced on page 7, hereunder is the relevant portion of page 322 from V.P. Menon�s book that you have requested:

Mean while, the Viceroy had seen Jinnah again. The latter, in reverting to the subject of the Bihar disturbances, made special mention of the refugee problem and raised the question of an axchange of population. In particular, Jinnah stressed that to call the Constituent Assembly would be the greatest possible mistake and would lead to terrible disater, particularly in the Muslim provinces. The Viceroy said that he did not see how he could postpone the meeting.

To continue replying to your contentions, Syed Shahabuddin:

How can you dismiss a statement by Qaid-e-Azam Jinnah to Viceroy Lord Wavell merely because it was contained in three lines? Jinnah was an outstanding advocate known for his precision. He has used the word seriously in the course of those three lines which are reproduced:

The exchange of populations will have to be considered seriously as far as possible, especially after this Bihar tragedy.

Incidentally, Jinnah was the life President of the Muslim League. That he was virtually the unquestioned leader of undivided India�s Muslims was evidenced by the results of the 1945/46 elections to the central legislature as well as the provincial assemblies: To quote Dr. Hamid Khan from his book The Constitutional and Political History of Pakistan, OUP, Karachi 2001:

�The League won all Muslim seats in the Central Assembly and 446 out of a total 495 Muslims seats in provincial assemblies�. The League had not issued any manifesto for the election. Its one point programme was the creation of Pakistan.

There were seven leaders other than the Qaid-e-Azam. How can you call their statements sporadic although quoted in the Dawn, a journal founded by Jinnah and still being published from Karachi? Sir Feroz Khan Noon had not only been knighted by the British monarch but was a barrister who went on to become prime minister of Pakistan. He went to the extent of wanting to reenact the orgies of Chengez Khan and Halaqu Khan if the Muslims were not allowed to cross over to the new homeland to be called Pakistan. We wish to stress how serious he must be when he made such a strong threat.

The Nawab of Mamdot, Khan Iftikhar Hussain Khan, drove home his contention by declaring that �the exchange of population will wipe out the most important argument against Pakistan which has been persistently fired from the Congress armoury�. Additionally, those who openly asked for a transfer of populations were many, the prominent of whom were: Ismail Chundrigar, Ghazanfar Ali Khan, Shaukat Hayat Khan, Mohd. Ismail and Pir Elahi Bux. How can such a galaxy of leaders be dismissed as sporadic? 

G.D. Khosla was I.C.S. and rose to be Chief Justice of Punjab High Court. He was appointed by the Government of India to officially report on the happenings in the Pakistan area. To quote from his book Stern Reckoning published by the Oxford University Press, 1949: It was necessary that a true and authoritative account of the happenings in West Punjab, the North-West Frontier Province and Sind should be available for the future student of History and, to this end, the Government of India set up a Fact Finding Organization in the beginning of 1948. This Organization examined thousands of refugees and recorded their statements. Every attempt was made to achieve accuracy and check the veracity of the witnesses.

To trifle such an authority as well as the world renowned publisher merely to support the disinclination of Syed Shahabuddin to accept that an exchange of populations was a real demand of the Muslim League, is to resort to creative logic, rather like creative memory. 

Furtherfore, what is wrong in quoting Jinnah addressing a press conference? The Qaid-e-Azam did not have a reputation of being a liar nor is the Dawn reputed to print lies.

As to who took the first step towards the Partition, let us quote facts as recorded in cold print: Sir Syed Ahmad Khan�s contribution to the political cause of Indian Muslims was formidable. As a member of the Governor-General�s Legislative Council from 1878, he successfully campaigned for separate nomination of Muslims to the local self-government institutions which were created by Lord Rippon. He was one of the original exponents of the two nation theory and believed that Hindus and Muslims could not have an equal share in power. Wrote 

Dr. Hamid Khan
Ameer Ali, who founded the Central National Muhammedan Association in Calcutta, expressed similar views at the turn of the 19th/20th centuries as confirmed in Studies in Islamic Culture in the Indian Environment by Professor Aziz Ahmad, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2000.

Allama Iqbal had placed the idea of a Muslim state before the League in 1930. Rehmat Ali had coined the name of �Pakistan� in 1933 and campaigned indefatigably for its creation ever since. Wrote 

Dr. Hamid Khan.
In this background, the All India Muslim League held its session in Lahore on 23 March 1940, in which the famous Lahore Resolution (now called the �Pakistan Resolution�) was adopted. The Resolution runs as under:

RESOLVED that it is the considered view of this session of the All India Muslim League that no Constitutional Plan would be workable in this country or acceptable to Muslims, unless it is designed on the following basic principle, namely, the geographically contiguous units are demarcated into regions which should be so constituted, with such territorial readjustments as may be necessary, that the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in a majority as in the North Western and Eastern Zones of India, should be grouped to constitute �independent states�, in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign.

Jinnah in his famous address on the occasion, gave clear expression to the basic concept underlying the resolution. Some of the extracts from his address are reproduced: �It has always been taken for granted mistakenly that the Musalmaans are a minority. The Musalmaans are not a minority. The Musalmaans are a nation by any definition. What the military Government of India for 150 years has failed to achieve cannot be realized by the imposition of Central Federal Government except by means of armed force. The problem in India is not of an inter-communal character but manifestly of an international one and it must be treated as such. The Hindus and Muslims belong to two different civilizations which are based mainly on conflicting ideas and conceptions. To yoke together two such nations under a single state, one as a numerical minority and the other as a majority, must lead to growing discontent and final destruction of any fabric that may be so built up for the government of such a state�. Dr. Hamid Khan has recorded in his book.

Such is the record of Hindu-Muslim relationship from 1920 to 1940. Placed side by side with the frantic efforts made by Mr. Gandhi to bring about Hindu-Muslim unity, the record makes most painful and heart-rending reading. It would not be much exaggeration to say that it is a record of twenty years of civil war between the Hindus and the Muslims in India, interrupted by brief intervals of armed peace. Wrote Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.

Syed Shahabuddin obviously knows all these facts of history and therefore has talked about, in his letter, the eleventh hour. Pakistan was a near reality whereas he blames the Congress. The first step was taken by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan (in 1887) who is described by Dr. Hamid Khan as one of the original exponents of the two nation theory (page 12 of his book).

To return to the current reality, would Syed Shahabuddin like to say whether the Partition was desirable or not for the peoples of the sub-continent?

Readers Writes


Syed Shahabuddin, Editor �Muslim India� by his letter to you dated 13th February 2008, has indeed given you a God sent opportunity to come out on record with many unknown facts on �Exchange of Population� at the time of partition.

You have no doubt worked hard to dig out the references that are obviously very authentic.

You editorial itself is very emphatic and hard hitting on the subject.


Kind regards,


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