“The Story of Pakistan, its struggle

and its achievement, is the very story of

great human ideals, struggling to

survive in the face of odds and difficulties.”

–(Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Chittagong, March 1948).

On and off, a few writings appear that misinterpret and misrepresent the intent of the leadership that carried out the struggle, for the cause of the Pakistan movement, and the sacrifices of the marginalised Muslims to achieve and materialise the goal of independence. In addition, they give out the perception that the mind-set of the people of Pakistan is carved and guided by political leadership, the military or the religious parties. Even though, to correct the manipulated facts is beyond the scope of one article, but a little effort may stir the readers to cross check articulated myths.

Few of the misconceptions are addressed henceforth, with the help of excerpts taken from the writings of past and present historians.

The first myth is that Muslim League was a political party that manipulated the Muslim communal factor. The grievances of the Indian Muslims were not manipulated; where in actuality they were singled out after the 1857, war of independence. Since Hindus were in overwhelming majority, they were favoured and patronised by the British. A nexus developed between the two that resulted in the Muslims becoming ‘a race ruined under British rule, where there is now scarcely a Government office in Calcutta, in 1870, in which a Muhammadan, can hope for any post above the rank of porter, messenger, filler of inkpots and mender of pens’ as wrote William Wilson in The Indian Musalmans.

The strategy, under which such discrimination was carried out, can be found from the letter that the Viceroy, Lord Canning wrote to the Board of Control in London, saying, ‘The men who fought us at Delhi were of both creeds. As we must rule 150 million people by a handful (more or less) of Englishmen, let us do it in the manner best calculated to leave them divided’.

Comparatively, the above myth can be negated on the basis of a statement, of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, who before the advent of two nation theory, during his speech to the Indian Association said, ‘We, Hindus and Muslims, live together on the same soil under the same government. Our interests and problems are common and, therefore I consider the two factions as one nation.’

The second myth is that all the leaders of the Muslim League were from the elite class, where most of them were not even from the existing geographic entity of Pakistan. However, the documented facts mention that almost 3,000 delegates attended the 20th annual session of Muhammadan Educational Conference which led to the foundation of Muslim League on December 30, 1906. It was the first, largest-ever representative gathering of Muslim India.

Secondly, the initial membership of Muslim League was 400, with members hailing proportionately from all provinces. To mention a few, they included Nawab Waqar-ul-Mulk (Muradabad), Maulvi Hafiz Hakim Ajmal Khan (Delhi), Maulvi Syed Karamat Husain (Allahabad), Maulvi Sharifuddin (Patna), Nawab Syed Sardar Ali Khan (Bombay) and Syed Abdul Rauf (Allahabad).

The third myth is that the roots of the Pakistani state are based on political reasons, rather than the result of a confrontation with the Hindu majority population. However, history reveals that the need for making a political party of Muslims was provoked, when the Hindu majority population agitated against the Partition of Bengal believing that the British had tried to weaken the ‘Hindu unity’ by dividing Bengal, and establishing East Bengal with a Muslim majority. This meant that the, so called, Hindu ‘threat’ would be reduced. Consequently, Hindus proclaimed October 16, 1905 as a day of mourning and launched the ‘Swadeshi movement’.

The fourth myth, considers that the leaders of Muslim League exploited religious sentiments to advance their political goals, and this caused the loss of lives of thousands of people in communal violence at the time of partition. Conversely, the history of Pakistan movement available in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, discusses that, unlike Gandhi’s practices of civil disobedience, the lawyer Jinnah was more inclined to promote the rule of law in seeking separation from imperial rule. He, therefore, was more open to a negotiated settlement, and, indeed, his first instinct was to preserve the unity of India, with adequate protection for the Muslim community.

The fifth myth is that the Congress had significant representation of Muslims, and thus, the Muslims and Hindus were united in their political struggle against British rule. The actual figures illustrate that, although the membership of the Congress was open to all; Hindu participants overwhelmed the Muslim members. Over the years, Congress fell short of implementing any agreement that was given due representation to the Muslims, which eventually led Muslim leaders to shift their demand of ‘separate electorate’ to ‘separate state for Muslims’. This myth instead, misrepresents the fact that the Muslim League had accepted the Cabinet Mission Plan in 1946, according to which current Pakistan would have been a part of a united India. What this shows is that, the Muslim leadership did not rule out the idea of coexistence with the Hindu majority. Inversely, the writings of the past cite that after the announcement of Cabinet Mission Plan, the Muslim League stated that it was prepared to nominate membership to an interim cabinet to ‘oversee the move to independence’. Nehru, however, said that the Congress would not feel bound by the plan once the British had left, leading to the rejection of the Cabinet Plan by both.

On the basis of the above stated myths, writers support a sixth myth, asserting that the decision-making elite have used the ideology of Pakistan, with a distorted perception of history, to build a narrative that serves only their institutional interests. However, the facts given above, parallel to their arguments, provide enough evidence that the responsibility to write something wasn’t dealt with care. Few writers misquote the ideology of Pakistan, where they confuse the masses by presenting a distorted perception of history, and try to build a critical narrative. Such practices should be curbed and writers should verify their facts before getting them published, as in the words of Dr. Thomas Fuller, “Get the facts or the facts will get you. And when you get them, get them right, or they will get you wrong.