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Responding to Ishtiaq Ahmed’s latest myths about partition

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

My Original Article in Daily Times

Ishtiaq Ahmed’s Part I in response to my original article published today.

First of all, I cannot be bothered to dedicate my weekly space in Daily Times to engage in an endless back and forth with Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed who – as he knows very well- I have a particular opinion of not just because he wages pseudo-history as revenge (in a country where everything from democracy to judiciary is waged as revenge) but because when confronted with a counter-point of view he resorts to the usual: “I am the foremost political science professor trained in democracy and the authors you quote– like Ayesha Jalal and H M Seervai – have no training in democratic thinking or constitutional theory”.  Indeed I would not wasted this space had Ishtiaq Ahmed not  resorted to ad hominem.  So this is essentially a response to his personal attack in an “article” published in today’s Daily Times.

Whether Congress demanded partition of Punjab and Sikhs seconded it or whether Sikhs demanded partition of Punjab and Congress seconded it is a point entirely irrelevant to the point I made in my article i.e. partition of Punjab and Bengal was imposed on the Muslim League – a point that Ishtiaq Ahmed has been unable to controvert. For Ishtiaq Ahmed’s information: V P Menon, later Nehru’s closest confidant, had prepared a scheme as early as 23 January 1946 which sought to partition Punjab and Bengal and the partition that finally happened was to the dot based on that scheme.  This much is clear from Menon’s letter to George Abell of the above dated. It is serialized at No. R. 205/46 and contains an enclosure titled “Demarcation of Pakistan areas” with “Most Secret”. For a careful researcher like Ishtiaq Ahmed isn’t it a bit odd to have left out this very important piece of evidence that connects Congress to the partition plan long before Ishtiaq Ahmed deems it so? This predates the Cabinet Mission Plan.

In respect of what Congress and League could have done to keep India united, his entire point when stripped off his personal insults against me was that a consociational government was not possible because of trust deficit.  Again his research is problematic.  The Cabinet Mission Plan did for implementation did not require Congress and the Muslim League to give up their differences and trust each other but for a brief period till the constitution was in place.  Maulana Azad, Sarat Chanderbose and several Congressmen were on board with the idea.  It was Gandhi and Nehru who took the wind out of the idea.  They also insisted on partition of Punjab and Bengal even when Bengal was ready to go its own independent secular way. The “coalition” government formed in September 1946 comes after the burial of the Cabinet Mission Plan and was not a coalition government; it was an “interim government”. In fact it was called an interim government.  Surely Ishtiaq Ahmed – as the great political scientist and expert on constitutional theory- knows the difference between a coalition government and an interim government. An interim government encompasses varying interests – often working at cross purposes- to preside over the formation of permanent political system either through constitution making or elections. This is why interim governments are not called coalition governments. They are not meant to function as coalitions.

The dangers that Ishtiaq Ahmed claims the Cabinet Mission Plan was fraught with are not really there. The 10 year out clause does not figure in the Cabinet Mission Plan. That was a demand that was not finally placed in those terms. There was absolutely no mention of 10 year secession in the Cabinet Mission Plan! This view is confirmed by Ayesha Jalal (who according to Ishtiaq Ahmed is not a well trained scholar) on page 196 of the Sole Spokesman Sange Meel Reprint 1992:  “But there was no mention of the right of secession from the union. All in all the 16th May statement contained evidence of greater deference to Congress standpoint, hinting to Jinnah that perhaps he had missed the bus”.

The second point: Consider how Pakistan and India dealt with Princely India. Princely India was to be part of the federation and would be giving three subjects including foreign affairs and defence to the Union. Therefore no question of what Ishtiaq Ahmed says arises in the least. To think that the fourth group could carry out a policy in contradiction to the rest of India is stretching. However the most important thing – it is must be emphasized – is that Congress did not raise any of the points raised by Ishtiaq Ahmed, so his post hoc excuses for why the Congress could not agree to Cabinet Mission Plan were not stated by the Congress itself.  Unless Ishtiaq Ahmed thinks he can guess what Gandhi and Nehru were thinking, historical record suggests that Congress accepted the Cabinet Mission Plan but tried to undo its clauses by making a fuss about what the grouping clause actually meant. Even after Cabinet Mission clarified what it meant, they continued to insist on it.  Wavell’s famous meeting with Gandhi and Nehru in this regard is an eye opener. At the end you had the two great infallible saints of Ishtiaq Ahmed’s Pantheon of Gods pleading “but we are lawyers”.  Such was the sophistry of the Congress position.

Unable to counter my points logically – he lashed out against me calling me a hagiographer and a defender and Knight Templar of the two nation theory.  I will quote a paragraph from my article and let the reader decide if this is the defence of the two nation theory:

“Ironically, Jinnah, the ultimate villain in Doctor Ahmed’s reckoning, had pleaded for exactly that. He told Mountbatten that a Hindu or a Muslim was a Punjabi or a Bengali before he was Hindu or a Muslim. This indicates a complex understanding of nationalisms and sub-nationalisms on the part of the Quaid-e-Azam.”

This is no defence of the two nation theory.

In comparison Ishtiaq Ahmed’s insistence that Congress seconded and not initiated the demand for partition of Punjab after Sikh is itself evidence enough of his soft corner for Gandhi and Nehru.  Pakistan’s tragedy is that we are caught between hagiographers and ideologues. On the one hand you have Safdar Mahmood who speaks of an Islamic Quaid-e-Azam who might even have been a Deobandi partitioning India in the name of Islam and on the other hand you have people like Ishtiaq Ahmed – willing to give Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Nehru a clean chit while denigrating Jinnah.

Neither of these narratives are historically accurate and must be countered for the progress of Pakistan and indeed a stable relationship between India and Pakistan.  I hope Ishtiaq Ahmed- for the sake of his reputation – comes up with something more concrete than deliberate obfuscation in the second part of his response to my solitary article.

The views expressed here are those of the author’s and do not represent the position of all editors, authors at PTH.

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166 Responses to "Responding to Ishtiaq Ahmed’s latest myths about partition"

  1. Dronacharya Saudi Arabia Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Kaalchakra – Mythbuster ! He wrote erroneously and you accepted it so heartedly. A classic case of “Blind leading the blind” !

    Partition was done PRIMARILY at the behest of Hindu Marwaris/Financial interests (who felt that a huge muslim presence would be a deterrant to the India of their world-view/vision and economic interests). It is these Hindu marwaris who financed the Congress.

    I wish someone researched into the FINANCING OF THE INDIAN NATIONAL CONGRESS from 1880 to 1947. Who were the Financiers. Who ran the homes of Gandhi ? How did Gandhi feed himself and his family ? What was his source of income ? It was the Marwari hand who played these PUPPETS. Sardar Patel was their point man in the Congress. All else were paid pipers, who played Patel’s tune (who in turn got instructions from the FINANCIERS/PRODUCERS).

    It was these financier’s interests that had to be protected. The common man was taken for a ride. It was Gurmukhteshwar, Bihar riots that broke Jinnah’s back… otherwise until then… partition was an avoidable tragedy. Of course 25% blame rests with Muslim League. Whose intersts did Muslim league represent ? Primarily the land-owners (who were afraid of Jawaharlal’s socialistic leanings; and here both Hindu Landlords and Muslim landlords agreed – Sir Sikandar Hyatt Khan and Sir. Chotu Ram agree here !! Confluence of Interests – Paisa!) and the BUREAUCRATS who felt that they could get quicker promotions in Pakistan.

    Jinnah understood this plot – as latest as June 2, 1947, when he said to Mountbatten’s face, refusing to agree to the Partition Plan : What must be, must be”. But by then things had got too far. It was not possible to dis-mount from the tiger. Disaster was visible. Martyrdom was close. SUICIDE had been accepted ! (Suicide is Nehru’s word.. he only facilitated it).

    End Result : Financiers who financiers got a hold on the indian economy. To this day they reap benefits. RSS became the ELECTRIC SUBSTATION that lit bulb in every home factory and workplace. it became the heart-beat of india (by and large – and its % is increasing by the day). India got rid of its muslim population (substantially if not all). It started as defacto Hindu Raj but remained Secular de-jure. THEREIN LIES THE BEAUTY OF NEHRU’S MIND – INFACT OF THE HINDU MIND. THEY WENT SLOW. TODAY EVERY RAJ BHAVAN (GOVERNOR HOUSE) HAS A TEMPLE. TODAY EVERY PUBLIC BUILDING CONSTRUCTION STARTS WITH A POOJA. THERE ARE PHOTOGRAPHS OF HINDU DIETIES IN EVERY GOVT. OFFICE. AFTER 65 YRS, they have the CONFIDENCE NOW., to show their true intent. But they passed 65 years… in duality and kept the ACT. TODAY INDIA IS A BOOMING ECONOMY. ALL UNDER THE TITLE OF “SECULARISM” – WHICH IS A SHAM. WHICH WAS A SHAM FROM DAY 1., BUT THAT PREMISE WAS MAINTAINED TO CONFUSE. IT WAS A SUPER SUCCESS.

    Moth-eaten and forced Pakistan became a Jagir of the Mullah-Military-bureaucrat trimurthi, just as India became a Jagir of the Marwari-Bahia & RSS. The common man’s interests (Hindu/Muslim) went to dogs. The secular space was narrowed and choked. India never became a democracy (INC becomes Indira Congress, post 1969, 1980).

    Rahul Gandhi is the mask. Narendra Modi’s is the real face. And in all fairness the Mask Rahul is more dangerous than Modi. Eventually India would become a Pure Hindu Raj DE-JURE., but the HIndu will take some time ! Maybe another 20-25 years. In the interim, the Hindu Bania will build CAPACITY.

  2. ahem Germany Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    to drona

    Before India becomes hindu raj (in 20-25 years!) islamic fascism will have taken over. Not only Pakistan but many more lands and threaten others.

    You are pretending to be thinking (to be able to think) about 20-25 years, but not of what will happen before that! Islam is now poised to let loose its 1400 year old fascism and fascist-imperialist dreams with the full force of modern technology, weapons and money. Muslims like you will have to either join the islamofascist hordes or hide themselves behind their womenfolk and children.

    Secularism became a sham in India (that is indeed true) due to the blackmail by muslims (=agents and quislings of islam). But as usual the muslim must blame the hindu for it.

    Jinnah “understood” the plot by “scheming marwaris” but not the plot by the islamofascists with whom he was dining and romancing everyday. What great political intelligence of your much-worshipped hero Jinnah!

    I wrote: “The muslims in today’s India will soon prove to be far worse, far more evil than the muslims in british times.”

  3. Mythbuster United States Internet Explorer Windows says:

    I frnkly don’t know what your sources are or your thinking. A part of me wants to walk away because you seem so set in your paranoia but a part feels that like KC says, such misinformation needs to be challenged.
    So I am going to try something different.
    In response to your posts I will say nothing but simply bring forth words of MA Jinnah to counter your disinformation. You are welcome to counter them with sources of your own:
    Here goes the first one; in which Jinnah makes a case for the partition.
    (Notice what he insists the Hindus are saying in response):

    Presidential Address by MA Jinnah at Special Pakistan Session of Punjab Muslim Students Federation, Lahore, March 2 1941(excerpts)

    ..Remember! you have got to achieve, in the first instance, the goal, namely, that you want “Muslim India” to be under our government. That you have to achieve, and you cannot achieve that by merely passing resolutions. You realise, what it means. Of course, we have declared on hundreds of platforms that we are not a minority. Quite right, we are not a minority; although, much to my regret, I say that Hindu leadership is still harping on the same old story that we are a minority and that they are willing to give all the safeguards according to the principle laid down by the League of Nations. I read this formula to-day laid down by a great Hindu leader, who spoke at the Hindu Minorities Conference that was going on yesterday in this city. Let me tell my friends, the Hindu leaders, that the League of Nations is dead. Don’t you know that yet?….


    I will start with Mr. Gandhi. He says that it is a vivisection of India. It gives you at once a feeling of horror. Is it really to frighten the Muslims not to commit the vivisection of India? Is it really to frighten the Hindus that their motherland is vivisected by these wretched Muslims? Here is a question that may arise. May I know when was India one? Was it ever one? Why use this word ‘vivisection’? Then his disciple Mr. Rajagopalacharya goes one step further and says – and he started by saying that it was cutting the baby into two! I say to him, my dear fellow, where is the baby who is going to be cut into two? He was not satisfied with that and he thought that it was not enough and then he went further and said that it is when two Hindu brothers are quarrelling, one wants to cut the mother cow into two halves! Now, ladies and gentlemen, I have always very great respect for the religious feelings and sentiments of any community. But if the foremost politician of the type of Rajagopalacharya should rouse the feelings, the religious feelings of Hindus, by giving this analogy what I was proposing to cut the mother cow into two, it can only be described as a forlorn hope on their part when they have no other cogent argument to advance. Then we are told that it is against Islam!…..


    Let us, therefore, examine it dispassionately and as practical men in the light of history and various constitutions prevailing in various countries, and I feel that partition will be really in the best interests of all of us-not only the Muslims but also the Hindus and the ruling Princes and the British.

    Now I have examined almost every argument that has been advanced so far. If we are agreed on the partition of India, let me tell you, and I firmly believe and it is supported by reason, the Muslims and Hindus will live peacefully and as friendly neighbours. I assure you and it seems to me obvious that Muslim India will constitute the postguard of the frontiers of India…..

  4. Mythbuster United States Internet Explorer Windows says:

    For those who think Jinnah was bluffing or the ‘Hindus’ made him do this or that; please read below.
    (of special interest to the Indian Muslims living under the ‘Hindu yoke’ as a result of the partition; note how clear Jinnah was about their fate…)

    Excerpt from Jinnah Speech at the Baluchistan Muslim League Conference, Quetta, July 3, 1943
    “.. I think myself that there is now no doubt that a solid majority of the Mussalmans have understood what Pakistan means. There is no doubt about it, but there are others who are misled by the agents of our opponents who deliberately act as quislings and fifth columnists and they puzzle some of our people. Now I put it before you. It does not require a great lawyer or a great constitutionalist, if you will apply your mind you will understand within a very short time what Pakistan means.

    I have put questions to all sorts of our people, Mussalmans, on the country side, and at different gatherings, at railway stations, I have asked them what do you mean by Pakistan and I tell you that I was astonished at the Kisans and railway workers when they give me their answers. It is a common sense answer and quite sound. For instance I asked at one of the railway station at a gathering of nearly 500 people, what do you understand by Pakistan? The answer came from among those people one man said, “By Pakistan I understand that I do not want Central Government for the whole of India, it means Hindu Raj and the provinces where we are in a majority will be under the yoke of Hindus.” When I said that what do you then want? He said “I want first where the Muslims are in majority, we should have our independent government nothing to do with the Centre of the Hindu India”. I said what are those parts? He told me N.W. Zone, he mentioned the name, he said Sind, Baluchistan, Punjab, N.W.F.P and Bengal. Then I asked him because he was in the C.P. where Muslims are only 4 per cent, what will happen to you who are here 4 per cent. He said “it is my misfortune that I am born here let my brethren have their own Hukumat and let them at least be free. God will protect us here”.

    We do not wish ill to the Hindus, what we want. We say here is the British Government, they have made solemn declarations that they are willing to transfer power and they are willing either as one India or two Indias or more than two dominions if you agree among yourselves. We are willing to give the constitution to one or more dominions that you may agree upon which will make each dominion stand on the same equal footing as the other dominions including England and you will have the same rights and what is more each dominion so constituted will have the right to secede if they so decide. Pakistan means let Hindus have their Government in Hindu India and let us have our Government in Muslim India and let us both be free. The reply of the Hindu is no, no, we want the whole. Why do you want to rule the whole?

  5. kaalchakra United States Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Drone Bhai

    I fully get your view, and have absolutely no problem in your holding fast to it. Each person is entitled to his or her faith. Faith must never require evidence. Besides, where it really matters, to willing believers, all necessary evidence is readily available everywhere.

    Although I understand the history as you see it, I don’t have your faith in it. That being the case, if you think you have some evidence that might make a compelling case to unbelievers, do share.

    But please, don’t let my unbelief be misconstrued as questioning your faith. You must hold fast to it, whether you have any evidence to satisfy anyone other than your own believers or not.

  6. Pankaj India Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    @ DRONA

    Finally a MUSLIM has said what I wanted to hear

    Partition has been a DISASTER for Muslims and the BEST THING
    that has ever happened to HINDUS

    But dont blame Hindus for Partition

    Pakistan DEMAND was in the air since 1930

    Slowly it only gained strength

    The Muslim SENSE OF ENTITLEMENT was responsible For Partition
    and EVER INCREASING DEMANDS was responsible for Partition

  7. Pankaj India Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    @ DRONA

    Initially Hindus did sincerely WANT a United India
    and WOULD have even CONCEDED maximum possible

    But Muslims were Bargaining with the SWORD of Jihad
    and the Threat of Partition in their hand
    That is when Sardar Patel CONVINCED Nehru to OPT for
    Partition and GET RID of Two thirds of Muslims
    in ONE Stroke

  8. Pankaj India Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    @ DRONA
    The FACT is Muslims WANTED Everything FIFTY FIFTY
    The Question is WHY
    Because Muslims have a UNIQUE SENSE OF ENTITLEMENT
    They believe that they are special people
    and deserve MORE than the Kafirs
    The Muslims made a BIG Mistake or blunder
    They did not realise the power of DEMOCRACY
    Today Muslims WOULD have been 500 MILLION in A UNITED
    India and Hindus would be Living in FEAR
    A United India would have been a DE FACTO Islamic STATE

  9. ahem Germany Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    to the PTH muslims

    Your islam (from Arabia) has driven you to lie and self-glorify. Discussions with muslims do thus become a waste of time. Islam’s inherent totaliarianism and arrogance makes it impossible for a muslim to be objective or honest. He has to glorify islam, Mohammad, Kuran, muslim leaders and muslim history. His entire history-concept centres on how to defend or glorify islam’s claims and denigrate non-islam. I have taken part in many many interreligious dialogues and noticed that the muslims CANNOT be honest. If muslims take to the path of honesty then islam will collapse and all its grand claims will prove to be lies and every muslim KNOWS that. You can bring the most objective and clear-factual arguments – but if it does not serve the purpose of defending islam’s glorifications and grand claims then the muslim MUST reject them. As soon as a muslim senses that an argument could go against islam’s pumped up claims or against any of his beloved muslim leaders (foremost being Mohammad), he goes into a rejection mode.

    What discussion can you carry on with such persons?

  10. Dronacharya Saudi Arabia Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    AHEM…then do not argue. Why do you have an urge to vent your hatred against Islam and Prophet Mohammed ! WHAT the hell do you know about Prophet Mohammed. I am not angry at you – cuz you are not worth it – but i pity you. Read Ramakrishna Rao’s (University of Mysore) Biography of Prophet Mohammed.

    It is your hatred that has blinded you. But you will know the result.. when you would be on your funeral pyre.. you will know the FULL TRUTH… but you will not be able to comment /email / post your feelings THEN.

    But i dont give a damn for the THEN-Scenario. I will abuse Islam and Prophet Mohammed… that is your agenda. So keep going at it. When you spit at the sky – it falls on your face.

  11. Abcd India Safari iPad says:

    Dissection of the past with a view to prepare for future is easily understood. At the same time, we all know that the past cannot be changed.
    No matter what, India and Pakistan should never become one country again. We are two different people. If the Pakistanis think that they are descendants of the Prophet, Indians have nothing to do with that and their ancestry is different.
    No covert or overt discussions, manipulations should lead to Pakistani and Bangladesh Muslims returning to India under the name of unification. Let us keep safe distance from each other. Permanently. We can do without each other.
    Play your own cricket in your countries. Please go away.

  12. What a wonderful discussion you have made, thank you

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