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Historical
Indian Muslims Vis-À-Vis Pakistan
Wilfred Cantwell Smith
May 2012

A separate homeland called Pakistan was the one point agenda of the Muslim League in the elections held in 1945-46. And the Muslim League swept the poll. Those who were in the forefront of the demand for Pakistan were the Muslims from the Provinces of Bihar, Bombay and United Province (now called Uttar Pradesh). After having got a separate homeland, these Muslims did not go to Pakistan. And the anti-national leadership of the Congress Party headed by Gandhi and Nehru did not throw them out even when those Muslims had forced the division of India. In contrast, Pakistan launched the ethnic cleasing campaign and practically drove out all Hindus /Sikhs from the then Western wing of Pakistan. Before the Partition Gandhi had reached an understanding with Jinnah that protection of minorities in the respective countries would be guaranteed through constitutional provisions. In respect of India Nehru was quick to provide constitutional safeguards for Muslims vide Articles 25- Article 30 of the Constitution of India. These provision have in fact made Muslims superior citizens vis-a-vis the Hindus. The Muslim population in India which was around 6-7 crore at the time of partition has increased to 15 crore vide the latest census. Having declared itself as an Islamic republic, Pakistan has resorted to genocide of the Hindus. In a total population of 12-15 crore, Hindus now hardly constitute 40-50 lakhs. As early as 1951 Dr. Zakir Hussain (later President of India) and 13 other Muslim leaders had submitted a memorandum to Dr. Frank P. Graham United Nations Representative in Kashmir. This was 60 years ago. The memorandum was also signed by Sir Sultan Ahmad and Sir Mohammed Usman both former members of the Viceroy's Council. The other signatories included the Nawab of Chatari, Sir Iqbal Ahmed, Sir Fazal Rahimtoola, A.K. Khwaja, T. M. Zarif , B. H. Zaidi and Hafizur Rehman. The submission inter alia said: If the Hindus are not welcome in Pakistan, how can we, in all fairness, expect Muslim to be welcomed in India? Such a policy must inevitably, as the past has aheady shown, result in the uprooting of Muslim in this country and their migration to Pakistan, where, as it become clear last year, they are no longer welcome lest their influx should destroy Pakistan's economy. The Memorandum also said that �We should, therefore, like to impress upon you with all emphasis at our command that Pakistan's policy towards Kashmir is fraught with the gravest peril to the 40 million Muslims of India. Our misguided brothers in Pakistan do not realize that if Muslims in Pakistan can wage a war against Hindus in Kashmir, why should not Hindus, sooner or later, retaliate against Muslims in India. 

With the benefit of hindsight of what has happened to Hindus in Pakistan since 1951 and what Pakistan has done to India and is still doing, it is fairly clear that Pakistan has no interest in the Muslims of India. Jinnah had, in fact, propounded the theory of reciprocal hostages. In view of what Pakistan has done to its Hindus, India would be well within its right to treat the Muslim in the same fashion. 

Complete Islamisation of the country took place when General Zia came to power. The Hudood Ordinances has reduced the freedom of citizens and are highly discriminatory against non-Muslims and females. Since then atrocities against non-Muslims and females have become common and some of these have received international attention. But for condemnation and intervention by the Western power these brutal crimes would have gone unnoticed and unpunished.

The economy of Pakistan is no better. The country's finances are in a mess. It has no industry worth the name. A few industries based on agricultural produce/commercial crops are the mainstay of industry. Most of the labour is employed in agriculture. The main source of foreign exchange is the remittances made by Pakistanis working abroad. It needs to be noted that hardly any Muslim country is an industrialized nation. The oil producing Islamic States in the Middle East are enormously rich but industrially poor. Their main exports are petroleum, oil and lubricants. Despite riches, the literary levels are abysmally low and gender discrimination rampant. 

By and large the Indian Muslims are backward. Unfortunately, Muslim backwardness is their own choice. Many a Muslim leader is heard these days to claim that his co-religionists constitute India's most backward community in all respects and therefore, should be given reservations in line with Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. To be considered as scheduled castes amounts to an insult to Muslims who were rulers of large tracts of Hindustan for centuries. India was recognized as darul Islam on the strength of the Mughal emperors sway. They forget that quota is rather like a handicap given to a weak player. Adivasis and the Dalit were denied the opportunities accorded to the upper castes, whether the rulers were Hindus, Muslim or British. However, this is bound to happen to a community which is not prepared for development. Syed Shahabuddin in an article in The Pioneer of September 16, 2002, had written: our religious identity is basic to our cause. In fact, the very raison d'etre of the Muslim Indian's struggle for survival and empowerment in the land of their birth is to preserve their religious identity and not to accept a trade-off between identity and development." But what about the rest of India? Why should the whole country surrender to the whims of a few or even a whole community? Why should the majority community be asked to pay for the development of a community which had exploited the same community for centuries? If Muslims want to give primacy to their religion than they should forget charity from others.


Wilfred Cantwell Smith
July 21, 1916- February 7, 2000

Wilfred Cantwell Smith, was one of the past century's most influential contributors to interfaith dialogue and the comparative study of religion. 

He established an Institute of Islamic Studies at McGill, where he taught from 1949-63. He was involved in planning the Centre for the Study of World Religions at Harvard University, and moved there in 1964 to take up its directorship. 

After graduating moved to England, where he studied at Cambridge, and continued on to India, where he was ordained to the Presbyterian ministry and taught at the Forman Christian College in Lahore (then part of India, before the formation of Pakistan).

His first book, Modern Islam in India, was published in 1946. Smith completed a Ph.D. at Princeton University after the war, and his Islam in Modern History followed in 1957. The Meaning and End of Religion (1963), regarded by many as his most important book.

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