A Pakistani political economist with a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, has stated that ” If the unstated objective (of Muslim League) was to protect elite interests, the state (Pakistan as a nation)has faithfully lived up to these birth aims for 75 years”.
In his piece for the Pakistani newspaper ‘Dawn’, Dr Niaz Murtaza says, “Ten of the 20 founding parties (across the globe) are still dominant ruling parties, decades later, while six to seven are still major parties. The Muslim League was perhaps the only one to largely cease to be a major power within a decade, with the current parties using that name having no direct links or continuity from the original one”.
There have been ‘freedom parties’ in various parts of the world, including Bangladesh, Sudan and India.
But he says, “In Pakistan’s case, our poor progress is linked to the Muslim League’s flaws despite its non-militant, professionally skilled leadership. The key shortcoming was the concerns of many of those driving the freedom quest who belonged to the elite. These concerns, according to Hamza Alavi, included the fears of elite Muslim salariats about their interests under Hindu rule. Elite Muslim landed and commercial elites had the same fears, fed by Congress’s socialist talk”.
The article argues that the Muslim League gave little thought to political and economic issues.
“The Lahore Resolution gave a sound vision for a decentralised democratic state under the pressure of the regions. But not much work was done in seven years to operationalise it further, and, in 1947, the Muslim League found itself poorly endowed to govern or produce sound institutions and policies,” says Dr Murtaza.
He also says, “The early exit of the two main founding leaders harmed the party and exposed its poor organisation”.
In the article, he talks about two unique cases of both together, plus a split later (Pakistan and Sudan) and one eviction case (Singapore).
At least in 10 countries, there has been high or moderate progress: Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka in Asia and Mauritius, South Africa and Botswana in Africa.
There have been, of course, nations which have remained “stagnant” – Timor, Myanmar and Pakistan in Asia and Eritrea, Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Algeria and Ghana in Africa.
According to Dr Murtaza, there are 13 cases of freedom from colonialism and four from larger states (Bangladesh, Eritrea, South Sudan and Timor).
It may be stated here that the All-India Muslim League (AIML) was a political party established in Dhaka in 1906.
The party arose out of the quest for power and authority for the political representation of Muslims in British India, especially during the Indian National Congress-sponsored massive Hindu opposition to the 1905 partition of Bengal.
During the 1906 annual All India Muslim Education Conference meeting held in Israt Manzil Palace, Dhaka, the Nawab of Dhaka, Khwaja Salimullah, forwarded a proposal to create a political party.
Sir Mian Muhammad Shafi, a prominent Muslim leader from Lahore, had suggested the political party be named the ‘All-India Muslim League’.
In the 1930s, the idea of a separate nation-state and influential philosopher Sir Muhammad Iqbal’s vision of uniting the four provinces in North-West British India supported the rationale of the two-nation theory leading to the partition of India in 1947.
In Bangladesh, the Muslim League was revived in 1976, but it was reduced in size, rendering it insignificant in the political arena. In India, a separate independent entity called the Indian Union Muslim League was formed, which continues to have a presence in Kerala.
In 1946, Direct Action Day was one of the grave and highly ‘condemnable’ steps taken under the aegis of the Muslim League and its leader Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The Direct Action Day (16 August 1946) was when the Muslim League decided to take “direct action” for a separate Muslim homeland after the British exited India. Also known as the 1946 Calcutta Killings, it was a day of nationwide attacks on Hindus and Sikhs, especially in Calcutta.