IT was Congress that insisted on partition. It was Jinnah who was against partition, said by renowned historian Ayesha Jalal in a biographical narrative of Jinnah “The Sole Spokesman.
” The book contains seven chapters that present struggling and striving life of the Indian subcontinent people who left no stone unturned to give meaning of their meaningless lives by getting freedom from colonizers.
First chapter, Jinnah between the wars, provides a lucid background of power politics in the subcontinent where established names seem unable to cope with cunning and shrewd minds.
They were also not willing to acknowledge Jinnah as leader rather their lack of confidence in Jinnah is a question mark on their futile claims particularly Fazl-i-Hussain opines; “Jinnah’s tactics were an utter failure”
Apart from facing harsh criticism, Jinnah failed to get desired results in two Muslim-majority provinces, Sindh and the KP, and it was proved in 1937 elections where Jinnah seemed unable to create a League Parliamentary Board in Sindh.
Second and third chapters reflect a tug of war between Muslim majority and minority provinces.
Majority Muslim provinces have to see British remain forever at the centre. But if they leave then the Muslims prefer strong autonomous provinces and a weak federal centre.
At the time, Muslims in the minority provinces needed strong party at the centre speaking for all Muslims.
This idea was quite closer to the vision of Jinnah, but peculiar circumstances of the time had placed him at the mercy of the majority provinces.
In fourth chapter, political scenario of provinces is explicitly envisaged. For instance, Jinnah demanded whole of the Punjab for Pakistan.
But his demand and desire remain the record of ideal pages of history. Similarly, his vision for East Pakistan was crystal clear he proclaimed; “Pakistan without Calcutta would be like asking a man to live without his heart”.
Zahid Chaudhry claims the same that Jinnah emphasized on Bengal for its revenue generation.
Moreover, in Sindh, Jinnah faced hardships either it was rumor that Sindhi politicians were under the influence of Congress or it was camouflaged truth to mislead ordinary masses.
Therefore, Jinnah remained unsuccessful to establish cooperative relations with them, for him, they were supposed to serve for their local and particular interests.
It was G.M Sayed who become an invincible threat for Jinnah and his bourgeois friends because Sayed was not prepared to accept any outside interference in his Sindhi Pakistan, he was certain that communal problem could be settled between the Hindus and the Muslims living in the province for centuries.
Ali Mohammad Rashidi, had openly declared that the Sindhis would never buckle down under Punjabi dominance.
M.R.Kazimi quoted Nehru’s similar point of view that Sindh would not like to be dominated by Punjab.
So, if Jinnah had several bad moments in Sindh, he was to have worse anxieties in the Frontier province.
As in Sindh, so in the Frontier, it was Congress which had more organization and more money for its electoral campaign.
Fifth chapter is a portrayal of Cabinet Mission Plan that also does not make a difference.
Abul Kalam Azad presented a strong argument in “India Wins Freedom” by saying that Cabinet Mission Plan a scheme that would have preserved the unity of India and still have solved communal problem.
He blames Nehru, not Jinnah, for wrecking the plan.
Because Jinnah’s Pakistan did not entail the partition of India; rather it meant its regeneration into a union where Pakistan and Hindustan would join to stand together proudly against the hostile world.
Furthermore, thirteenth months interim government also exposed the real face of Congress therefore Sudhir Gosh speculated that if Nehru and Patel cannot keep the country in order during the interim period how are they going to make a constitution for 400 million people?
Sixth and last segment investigates how Jinnah face double standard attitude of London by usurping the powers of Wavell and by appointing Mountbatten on a short notice.
According to Zahid Chaudhry, Wavell was a man of words and he figured out the treacherous role of Congress so he seemed closer to the idea of Jinnah regarding Bengal partition and Punjab division.
However, power was not transparently transferred rather nepotism and favoritism took place.
Therefore, Jinnah had put kibosh on London plans by getting powers of Governor-General.
To be concluded on a rational line of the book “The underlying principle of the plan was that the final transfer of power should not be sudden but gradual.
” Unfortunately, the power has not yet been transferred completely rather it was imperially transferred so now at least wished to be like a Barbados state.
—The writer is a critic, based in Islamabad.