By M.D. Nalapat
For Jinnah, the only villains were secular politicians. He laid the blame for the rash of Hindu-Muslim riots in the early part of the 1920s to ?the Hindu leaders in the Congress Party?, especially Gandhiji. Then, as throughout his political career, Jinnah focussed near-exclusively on ?Muslim? issues, rejecting calls to see the people of India as one. By the middle of the 1920s, he began to agitate for separate electorates for the two communities in all bodies where positions were filled through the ballot, and spoke of Hindus and Muslims as two separate peoples. It was Jinnah who was among the first political thinkers to craft the pernicious theory that Muslims would be unable to peacefully exist in a polity not controlled by them without diluting the requirements of their faith
It has been argued by Indian historians that the personal habits and culinary preferences of Jinnah ?proved? that he was no fundamentalist. In like manner, perhaps neither are several ISI generals, who too enjoy their whiskey and elitist company. Any judgement on Jinnah needs to be based on the effect of Jinnah'sactions, not on how often he took ham and eggs for breakfast, or the number of glasses of alcohol he quaffed each evening. The founder of the religious state of Pakistan worked all his adult life for ?Muslim? causes, and by the end of the 1920s, edged towards the conviction that India needed to be vivisected. This led the Ali brothers (who led the Khilafat agitation) to oppose him on the grounds that he was fomenting a division in the national movement. Jinnah became steadily more vitriolic against ?Hindus? and ?the Hindu Congress?. The colonial authorities tacitly backed this policy.
In London, Winston Churchill backed these machinations, in which Jinnah was an eager cat?s-paw. In 1928, Jinnah got the Muslim League to boycott the All-Parties Conference called by Indian leaders to discuss ways of securing more rights, on the grounds that Muslims ?could not trust those Hindus?.
Of course, it is a fact that Jawaharlal Nehru was almost as responsible for the Partition as Jinnah. 1925 was the year when the arrogance of Nehru resulted in Jinnah'sbreakaway from even sporadic efforts to ensure the unity of India. Hopefully, the records in the possession of the British authorities, as well as in India, will be examined at some future date, when they become available. Gandhiji and Jawaharlal Nehru made it easy for Jinnah to curry favour with the British authorities. Recent reports indicate that he was even in touch with that contemptuous foe of the Indian people and their aspirations, Winston Churchill, in the years preceding Independence. Churchill guided Jinnah from his vantage position as Leader of the Opposition in ensuring vivisection. Indeed, from 1922 onwards, the policy of the Muslim League had been to tout the benefits of British rule, and seek the support of the colonial power against the ?traitorous? Hindus. British officials in India, reluctant to cede any power, worked through Jinnah to convince liberal British statesmen that the people of India were too divided to deserve representation in any representative institution dealing with the running of their own country. If it was Malcolm Hailey at the time of Lord Irwin'sviceroyalty, it was Conrad Corfield during the tenure of Lord Ismay. In London, Winston Churchill backed these machinations, in which Jinnah was an eager catspaw. In 1928, Jinnah got the Muslim League to boycott the All-Parties Conference called by Indian leaders to discuss ways of securing more rights, on the grounds that Muslims ?could not trust those Hindus?.
The ?secular? Jinnah did not regard a minimum of 25 per cent representation for Muslims in the Central services as acceptable, nor a policy based on the creation of a representative government at the Centre that would be able to look at issues nationally. Rejecting the All-Parties Conference proposals, Jinnah convened a ?Muslim Conference? that?once again?sought to create a chasm between Hindus and Muslims. From that time onwards, Jinnah was open about his objective of separating Muslims from Hindus. Oddly, despite this transparent record, many Indians still see Jinnah as ?basically? secular. He was as much so as the Taliban leader Mullah Omar was ?basically? pacifist.
This led the Ali brothers (who led the Khilafat agitation) to oppose him on the grounds that he was fomenting a division in the national movement. Jinnah became steadily more vitriolic against ?Hindus? and ?the Hindu Congress?. The colonial authorities tacitly backed this policy.
The consistent insistence of Jinnah on a separate electorate for the Muslims ought to have given the lie to any suggestion that the founder of the religious state of Pakistan was secular. Even from within the Congress Party, Jinnah argued for such a division in the mandate, as for example in his speech at the Bombay Provincial Congress Conference in 1916, where he said that there should be ?no resistance? to this demand. That the Congress Party had itself backed this pernicious scheme since 1909 is a separate, but related, matter. Motilal Nehru and Tej Bahadur Sapru were the two Congress leaders who were in the vanguard of those (successfully) pressing the party to accept Jinnah'sproposal
Had Germany been India'scolonial master and not Britain, had it been Hitler who was calling the shots from home rather than Macdonald, Chamberlain and even Churchill, there is little doubt that Gandhiji would have been executed together with millions of fellow-countrymen. By choosing to go against the Allied war efforts at a time when Britain was in danger of herself getting colonised, Gandhiji ensured that the British establishment would overwhelmingly swing Jinnah'sway, which is what happened. The Quit India Movement did little to get the British to leave India at a time when Japan was at the gates of Assam, though it ensured that Pakistan got conceded. The final years before freedom are a litany of Congress mistakes juxtaposed with shrewd tactics by Jinnah, including the use of mob violence on innocents. The motivation behind all such actions by the ?Qaid-e-Azam? was the separation of Muslims into a religious state. Is this to be the new definition of ?secularism?? Judging by the numerous laudatory references to the ?secular? Jinnah, it would appear so.