When a limb is infected beyond hope, you have two choices: Persist with it and hope against hope that it will heal and risk death, or you cut it off to save the body.
This is the story of India’s partition into the soul- India- and the gangrenous limb-Pakistan, or what I would like to call- the result of an idea, The Two Nation Theory.
I’ve heard from various intensely,bordering on the jingoistic, patriotic Indians, (privately, of course) how India was broken into two by the ‘M’. Little do they realize that creation of Pakistan ended up saving India.
1. Two Nation Theory
As with any political–slash-religious theory the Two Nation Theory (TNT) has different versions and interpretations based on the guy’s political leanings.
Essentially it comes down to two points:
a) There are two Nations withing India (In spite of the fact that both of them have been living side by side for centuries).
b) The point of divide being Religion (This point is important). The divide is so great that these nations cannot co-exist at any cost.
A secular, liberal, progressive mind will probably disagree, including me, but not completely. What I am going to say next might sound contradictory in nature(and, controversial even), but is really not.
I do agree that dividing Humans into two sets based on some lofty man-made idea called Religion is idiotic, but we have to also agree that division exists and have to factor that in our calculations.
Hindus and Muslims were at each others throats. Muslims formed around 25% of the population of British India, making them a powerful bloc. Owing to their size and strength in numbers in certain parts of India, they had terrible nuisance potential.
But, one will argue that this is also true of the Hindus. Yes, but Hindus never wished for a separate state from Muslims. This is important. In the Hindu Religion(If you can call it that), there is no political side, as in Islam. Its priestly class has never been all-powerful.
But, its not the case with Islam. Its scriptures do interfere in the matter of the state. For instance, there are more than 50 Muslim Majority Countries in the World and only few of them are Democracies. Most of them call themselves Islamic.
One can easily see how this is dangerous. As it went, Muslims began to see themselves as a separate entity from majority Hindus and began to see themselves as victims and more crucially, Hindus being their tormentors, despite the fact that it was the British who had complete control of India and before the British arrived there was Mughal rule in most parts of India.
What guarantee was there that these separatist emotions would have been locked away had India stayed together?
The thing is: Once a case is made for a separate state, rightly or wrongly, and if the people who make that demand are present in very large numbers, have financial and political capital (Like Jinnah had British patronage), its very difficult to impress them not to make their demands. They would not settle with anything less than complete political power, either in the present state or the new state.
A few enlightened Muslims did recognize this cancerous theory for what it is. Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan (also known as Frontier Gandhi or Sarhadi Gandhi, for his love of non-violence, a trait he shared with the greatest proponent of the art- Gandhi), for instance said, “You have thrown us to the wolves”, when he learned that Congress had accepted the plan for partition. Maulana Azad too recognized that this was a flawed theory.
TNT was the disease, India the patient. The diseased part had to be cut off; A sacrifice to please the Gods had to be made.
If these separatist tendencies were ignored or somehow placated with concessions, what is the guarantee that they would not have raised their ugly head again when time seemed right? Riots went on even after Partition, with both sides attacking each other. Had Pakistan not been born, they would have occurred at a much grander scale, thereby destabilizing India, robbing it of the opportunity to build itself a solid foundation, which it got. Which brings me to my next point.
2. India needed solid foundations, not uncertainty
“We shall have India divided or we shall have India destroyed.”
– Mohammad Ali Jinnah
India got a solid foundation, thanks to Nehru. But, this would not have been possible if Pakistan had not been created. Riots would have caused havoc in all of India. India could have easily been plunged into Civil war (Note: Jinnah did in fact threaten Civil war if his demands were not met. In a show of strength he called for ‘Direct Action Day’ on the 18th day of Ramzan [Note the Religious overtone of the call]. Suhrawardy, a Muslim Leaguer and a close associate of Jinnah; who was the Chief Minister of a Muslim-Majority united Bengal and in charge of the Home Ministry, did nothing when Muslim mobs went on a rampage against their fellow neighboring Hindus). That day shook India. About 5,000 people died and 15,000 injured.
What if someone in a united free India and invoked similar emotions and demands among Muslims? The Nation would have been hostage to the blackmail of thugs like Suhrawardy, who went on to become the Prime Minister of Pakistan.
There was a very real chance that India could have been divided into two or more states had the Cabinet Mission Plan been accepted. The Cabinet Mission Plan, which Nehru put a brake to, would have left India a “moth-eaten” state, in which the 3 wings of India possessing the power to declare independence after 10 short years.
The proverbial steam was let off.
3. Pakistan – The buffer state
Be it Alexander or the Mughals or the Afghans, who used to raid India to loot and plunder, they all came from the same direction.
Himalayas to the North and North-East, the Indian Ocean to the South acted as natural barriers for ancient India. Not surprisingly, India was invaded and looted only from one direction (Only the British came via the sea). Pakistan, today, graciously, plugs that hole.
Pakistan and Afghanistan(Af-Pak) today are some of the most dangerous, volatile and violent regions on Earth. If Pakistan hadn’t been born, that region would have been part of India! If Pakistan didn’t exist, the porous, long borders with Afghanistan would have made sure India was sucked into the instability.
4. The Demographic Challenge
Today Pakistan and Bangladesh have a combined population of 316 Million, out of which only a fraction are non-Muslim. The total Muslim population of South Asia is around 450 Million.
If Pakistan had not been born, the Muslims would have formed about half the population of India. India would have been sitting on a time bomb today. That bomb would have torn the fabric of India into shreds. Riots would have engulfed India and would have torn it apart not too long after Independence.
Pakistan was always inevitable. If it was not Jinnah in the 1940s, it could or would have been someone else in the 1950s or the 1960s. Religion is a handy tool to gain popularity and hold the nation hostage (Just look at the History of Pakistan where many despots and politicians alike have used it to their advantage). Jinnah did that beautifully. Nehru recognized that.
A Nation should be born on the ideas of unity, brotherhood and love of the Motherland. Sometime the ideas of division creep in and in rare cases it is best to give respect to such ideas and let them take their own course.
Today India is a Secular, Democratic, Pluralistic society, and is at peace with itself; Everything Pakistan is not. Sacrifice the limb to save a life, the saying goes.