It is estimated that over 15 million people were displaced during the Partition of the Indian subcontinent and two million lost their lives in the ensuing communal violence. This feature covers 42 years from 1906 to 1948, an astonishingly short period of time, during which the freedom movement emerged and subsequently achieved the creation of a separate Muslim state under the dynamic leadership of Mohammad Ali Jinnah – the Quaid-i-Azam – the monumental founder of this nation.
IN THE VICEREGAL SHADOW; DELHI 1946: A REDSHIRT POET DISSENTS
THE VICEREGAL CHESS GAME, SIMLA & LONDON 1945-46
Ghani Khan is the eldest son of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan. Educated at Rabindranath Tagore’s Shantiniketan School in western Bengal, which Indira Gandhi also attends, he is a poet, a sculptor, a painter – and a man of strong political views.
In April 1947, as Partition approaches, he forms a militant group, Pakhtoon Zalmay (Pakhtoon Youth), aimed at protecting the Redshirts and members of Congress from ‘violence’ at the hands of Muslim League sympathisers. However, the relationship between Congress and the Redshirt Movement is on a downward spiral. Despite Redshirt opposition to Pakistan, Congress negotiations with the British over the Partition of India stipulate for a referendum to be held on whether the NWFP will join Pakistan or India. Bitterly disappointed by this turn of events, his father’s last words to Mahatma Gandhi and his Congress allies are: “You have thrown us to the wolves.”
The referendum is overwhelmingly in favour of Pakistan; the Redshirts severe their connection with Congress and move a resolution, whereby the Redshirts “regard Pakistan as their own country and pledge to do their utmost to strengthen and safeguard its interests and make every sacrifice for the cause.”
From then on, although no longer active in politics, Ghani Khan is still seen as a symbol of dissent and spends much of the early 1950s in prison. After his release, he withdraws into philosophy and art and authors several volumes of poems, including De Panjray Chaghar, a literary defence of the Pakhtoonwali code of honour. In 1980, General Zia-ul-Haq confers the Sitara-e-Imtiaz upon him.
He dies in 1996; his legacy is best expressed in his words: “Pakhtoon is not merely a race but a state of mind; there is a Pakhtoon inside every man, who at times wakes up, and it overpowers him.”
PESHAWAR TO BOMBAY 1944 GANDHI MANOEUVERS
Mahatma Gandhi visits the NWFP in the mid-1930s in order to consolidate the alliance between the Indian National Congress and Abdul Ghaffar Khan’s Redshirt Movement. It is the proximity between Abdul Ghaffar Khan and Mahatma Gandhi that earns the former the sobriquet of the ‘Frontier Gandhi’.
The Redshirt Movement begins as a non-violent struggle against British rule by Pakhtoons under the leadership of Abdul Ghaffar Khan. The movement starts facing pressure from the British authorities and Abdul Ghaffar Khan seeks political allies with the national parties.
Rebuffed by the Muslim League in 1931, he finds a sympathetic ear with the Congress. His brother, Dr Khan Sahib, plays an instrumental role in the success of the Congress-Redshirt Alliance in the 1937 and 1946 elections. As Partition approaches, the Redshirt Movement opposes joining Pakistan and when the Congress agrees to the British proposal for a referendum in the NWFP, Abdul Ghaffar Khan’s relationship with the Congress finds itself seriously frayed.
Initiated by Mahatma Gandhi in July 1944, the talks are held at Mr. Jinnah’s residence in Bombay in September. Mahatma Gandhi’s objective is to convince Mr. Jinnah that the idea of Pakistan is untenable. In his opinion, power should be transferred to the Congress, after which Muslim majority areas that vote for separation will be made part of an Indian federation.
This view, says Mahatma Gandhi, reflects the substance of the Lahore Resolution. For Mr. Jinnah, the absence of any guarantee that would protect Muslim rights under such an arrangement makes the proposal completely unacceptable. The talks end in failure.
Mr Jinnah is on his way to attend the Simla Conference called at the behest of the Viceroy, Lord Wavell on June 25, 1945. The purpose is to discuss the Wavell Plan with the Muslim League and the Congress.
The Wavell Plan is the outcome of discussions in May 1945 between Lord Wavell and the British Government about the future of India. The crux of the plan is the reconstitution of the Viceroy’s Executive Council, with members selected by the Viceroy from a list of nominees proposed by the political parties. Differences immediately arise between the Muslim League and the Congress on the issue of Muslim representation. The Muslim League’s position is that as the only representative party of Muslims in India, all Muslim representatives on the Council must be nominated by them.
The Congress maintain that as they represent all communities in India they, therefore, should nominate Muslim representatives. The result is a deadlock and failure.
Mr Jinnah and Mr Nehru are attending the London Conference, chaired by British Prime Minister Clement Attlee. This is a further attempt by the British to secure acceptance of the Cabinet Mission Plan. Although Mr Jinnah is willing to consider maintaining links with Hindustan (as the future Hindu majority state is referred to) on subjects such as a joint military and communications, he is adamant in his refusal to any agreement with respect to the composition of the Constituent Assembly without the constitutional stipulations required for the protection of future Muslim rights.
Subsequent to the failure of the London Conference, Mr Jinnah insists on a fully sovereign Pakistan with dominion status. The encounter of smiles at the India Office did not work
KARACHI 1943: A PROCESSION IN TRIUMPH
In the photograph above courtesy National Archive Islamabad, the Quaid-i-Azam, Mohammad Ali Jinnah and G.M. Syed make their way in a triumphal procession to the Annual Session of the Muslim League in Karachi in December 1943. Behind them and standing are Mr. Jinnah’s National Guard ADCs; Mumtaz Hidayatullah, the son of Ghulam Hussain Hidayatullah, the veteran politician from Sindh, and Saeed Haroon, the son of Haji Abdullah Haroon.
On March 3, 1943, G.M. Syed brings before the Sindh Legislative Assembly, a resolution demanding the creation of Pakistan. The resolution is adopted, making it the first one in favour of the creation of Pakistan passed by a legislature in undivided India. It states that the Muslims of India “are justly entitled to the right as a single separate nation to have independent national states of their own, carved in the zones in which they are in majority in the subcontinent of India…”
It is this triumph for the Muslim League that frames Mr. Jinnah’s arrival later in December to attend the Annual Session of the Muslim League for which Karachi is chosen as the venue. As the President of the Sindh Muslim League, G.M. Syed is tasked with the responsibility of organising the arrangements for the Annual Session. He writes: “For nearly three months we worked to make a grand job of the honour that had been done to us. We did not spare men or material in lending all the grandeur and splendour to this historic session and only those who attended it can bear testimony to the scrupulous care with which every detail had been attended to and the lavish hospitality that Sindh had to offer.”
In his memoir, Struggle for New Sindh, G.M. Syed also writes about his admiration for Mr. Jinnah: “In Jinnah I found a man of extraordinary intellectual capacity. His domineering personality and dynamic genius left a deep impression on my mind.”
G.M. Syed is subsequently asked by Mr. Jinnah to resign from the presidency of the Sindh Muslim League, after which a group largely drawn from the Sindh Muslim League and styled as the Progressive Muslim League contest the 1945-46 elections in Sindh and establish a path of their own.
LAHORE MARCH 23, 1940: THE MOMENT OF TRUTH
The Quaid i Azam with Nawab Shahnawaz Khan Mamdot and A.K. Fazlul Huq at Lahore’s Minto Park. Courtesy National Archive Islamabad
The Quaid-i-Azam, Mohammad Ali Jinnah addresses a mammoth crowd in Lahore’s Minto Park on March 22, 1940, subsequent to the passing of the Lahore Resolution at the three-day Annual Session of the Muslim League.
In the photograph above, Nawab Shahnawaz Khan Mamdot, the Chairman of the Punjab Reception Committee for the session, stands behind him, adjacent to the flagpole. At extreme left is Sher-e-Bengal, A.K. Fazlul Huq, Chief Minister of Bengal and the prime mover of the Resolution.
Sir Zafarullah Khan, Maulana Zafar Ali Khan, Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Hazarvi, Haji Abdullah Haroon and Qazi Isa. Dawn White Star Archives & Seafield Archives
Sir Zafarullah Khan (first from left) is credited with the original drafting of the Resolution; the critical points were then submitted in a memorandum to the Viceroy, Lord Linlithgow, in Delhi. The draft was subsequently further amended in Lahore by the Working Committee. The main supporters of the Resolution, one each from the north-western Muslim majority states in India, are (from second left) Maulana Zafar Ali Khan (Punjab), Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Hazarvi (NWFP), Haji Abdullah Haroon (Sindh) and Qazi Isa (Balochistan).
Quaid i Azam, Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan peruse the Lahore Resolution. Courtesy Lahore Museum
The Quaid-i-Azam, Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan peruse the Lahore Resolution as Chaudhry Khaliquzzaman, the seconder of the Resolution and the leader of the Muslim League in the UP legislature, delivers a fiery oration.
Unanimously accepted, the Resolution declares: “No constitutional plan would be workable or acceptable to the Muslims unless geographical contiguous units are demarcated into regions, which should be so constituted with such territorial readjustments as may be necessary.”
In the long journey to Pakistan, a critical point has been reached. Nothing will be the same again. It is the moment of truth.
SINDH 1938: A REMARKABLE HOMECOMING
Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah with Mian Mumtaz Daultana and Haji Abdullah Haroon in Seafield House Dawn White Star Archives & Seafield Archives
Haji Abdullah Haroon, President of the Sindh Muslim League relaxes at home in Seafield House between sessions of the Karachi Conference. The Quaid-i-Azam, Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Mian Mumtaz Daultana are in an animated discussion about the revitalisation of the first All India Muslim League government in Sindh headed by Haji Abdullah Haroon.
Mr Jinnah, once looked upon as the ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity, returns to India in 1934 to assume the presidency of the Muslim League after four years in self-imposed exile in London. His return is marked by three vigorous years during which he consolidates the foundations of what will eventually constitute the future territories of Pakistan (although Pakistan is still not yet an inevitability in his mind).
Specifically, he succeeds in pushing back the Unionist style coalitions in Sindh, which by their composition are dependent upon the intervention of the British Governor. This pushback culminates in the resolution moved by Shaikh Abdul Majeed and adopted at the Karachi Conference recommending that the Muslim League develop a plan for Muslims to attain full independence. This is an important first step in Mr Jinnah’s journey towards Muslim independence and a remarkable homecoming.
Four years later, in 1942, Haji Abdullah Haroon passes away. Mr Jinnah in his tribute says: “Muslim India, especially Sindh, has lost a leader who served and guided the people loyally and faithfully. I have lost a friend and colleague and deeply mourn his death.”
Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan describes him as “a pillar of strength to the Muslim League and one of its most sincere leaders. He was a staunch Pakistanist. His death is an irreparable loss to Muslim India in general and to Sindh.”
The Quaid i Azam, in celebratory progression through Karachi in December 1938. At the front, next to the driver’s seat is his ADC, a young Mahmoud Haroon. Courtesy National Archive Islamabad
ALLAHABAD 1930: AN ADDRESS TO REMEMBER
Sir Muhammad Iqbal arriving at the 25th Session of the All India Muslim League in Allahabad. Dawn White Star Archives
Sir Muhammad Iqbal arrives at the landmark session of the Muslim League in Allahabad on December 30, 1930, to deliver the now famous Allahabad Address. Seated in the Lanchester on the right is Haji Abdullah Haroon. Standing next to the car is a young Yusuf Haroon; standing at the extreme left is poet Hafeez Jullundhri who will pen Pakistan’s national anthem eighteen years later.
In his address, Sir Muhammad Iqbal sets out his vision of an independent state for the Muslim majority provinces of undivided India. He defines the Muslims of India as a nation and suggests there is no possibility of peace in India until they are recognised as a nation under a federal system whereby Muslim majority units are accorded the same privileges given to Hindu majority units.
The young barrister Muhammad Iqbal in his library left. At the historic Mezquita mosque of Cordoba, in Andalusia, Spain in 1933 right Courtesy Iqbal Academy
In outlining a vision of an independent state for Muslim majority provinces for north-western India, Iqbal is the first politician to articulate the two-nation theory; that Muslims are a distinct nation deserving political independence from the other regions and communities of India.
Sir Muhammad Iqbal’s eight stanza masterpiece, Masjid-e-Qurtuba, is inspired by his prayers at the mosque and includes the following lines: “The stars gaze upon your precincts as a piece of heaven/But alas! For centuries, your porticoes have not resonated with the call of the azaan”; an allusion to the turning point when Cordoba returned to Christian rule in 1236 and the mosque became a Roman Catholic cathedral.
LONDON 1931: A SELF-IMPOSED EXILE
Mr Jinnah with his sister Fatima and his remarkable daughter Dina Courtesy National Archive Islamabad
The Round Table Conferences in London have ended in failure. Mr. Jinnah decides to stay on in London where he has a thriving practice as a Privy Council lawyer, with chambers located on King’s Bench Walk. He spends long periods brooding over the collapse of the Hindu-Muslim unity platform in the Indian National Congress.
Mr. Jinnah and Dina share a private moment in the grounds of their home on West Heath Road in Hampstead, London Courtesy National Archive Islamabad
Finally, in 1934, he is persuaded to return to India to assume the presidency of the All India Muslim League. Thereafter, as the Quaid-i-Azam, he launches a series of initiatives that within a record time span of thirteen years, lead to the establishment of Pakistan.
Ruttie Jinnah is the daughter of Parsi baronet, Sir Dinshaw Petit. She marries the Quaid at the age of eighteen in 1918, despite virulent family opposition. The couple reside in South Court Mansion in Bombay. Ruttie and Mr. Jinnah are a glamorous couple. Flawless in her silks, Ruttie wears her signature hairstyle adorned with fresh flowers or complemented with headbands, embellished with diamonds, rubies and emeralds.
The couple are happy in the early years of their marriage. However, by 1923, Mr. Jinnah’s deepening political involvement, long hours and frequent travel leave Ruttie feeling lonely and increasingly fragile.
Ruttie Jinnah Courtesy National Archive Islamabad
He is in Delhi when a call comes through on February 20, 1929 with the news that Ruttie is critically ill. According to a close friend, Mr Jinnah says:
“Do you know who that was? It was my father-in-law. This is the first time we have spoken since my marriage.” What Mr Jinnah does not know is that Ruttie is already dead.
The funeral is held at Bombay’s Muslim cemetery on February 22, 1929. According to Ruttie’s friend, Kanji Dwarkadas, “the funeral was a painfully slow ritual. Jinnah sat silent through all five hours.”
Then as Ruttie’s body is lowered into the grave, Mr Jinnah is the first to throw a handful of earth on the body. Suddenly, he breaks down and weeps like a child. Another friend, M.C. Chagla, said years later that “there were tears in his eyes. That was the only time I found Jinnah betraying some shadow of human weakness.”
A FIRE EXTINGUISHED 1919-1931: THE KHILAFAT MOVEMENT
Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar left standing next to Dr Mukhtar Ahmed Ansari. Courtesy Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar’s family & Dawn White Star Archives
Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar (left) dons Turkish attire on his visit to Turkey on the eve of the First World War. Dr Mukhtar Ahmed Ansari, leader of the Indian Muslim Medical Mission to Turkey and future president of the Muslim League, stands on the right. The firebrand Ali Brothers from Rampur State, achieve legendary status within the Khilafat Movement (1919 -1922), as the crucible in which a separate South Asian Muslim identity takes shape.
Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar makes his mark at the end of the First World War, when the Ottoman Empire is occupied by the Allied Powers under the Treaty of Sèvres. The Turkish Nationalists reject the Treaty, and the Grand National Assembly under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk denounces the rule of the reigning sultan, Mehmed VI. As these events unfold, Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar and his brother, Maulana Shaukat Ali, launch an agitation in India aimed at building up political unity among Muslims and pressure the British to preserve the Ottoman caliphate.
The agitation leads to the formation of the Khilafat Movement. However, despite an alliance with the Indian National Congress and a nationwide campaign of peaceful civil disobedience, the Khilafat Movement itself weakens, because Indian Muslims are divided between working for the Congress, the Khilafat Movement and the Muslim League.
The end comes in 1924 when Atatürk abolishes the caliphate. The brothers join the Muslim League and play a major role in the Pakistan Movement. The Khilafat Movement is a major step towards the establishment of a separate Muslim state in South Asia.
Maulana Shaukat Ali sitting next to the coffin of his brother Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar Courtesy Lahore Museum Archives
Maulana Shaukat Ali (extreme right) in January 1931 sits next to the coffin of his brother, Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar, on board the ship SS Narkunda on the way to Port Said. Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar is buried within the precincts of the Masjid Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem. His frequent jail sentences and acute diabetes have an adverse impact on his health. He dies in London in January 1931, while attending the First Round Table Conference. His final words to the British Government are: “I would prefer to die in a foreign country as long as it is free. If you do not grant us freedom in India, you will have to find me a grave here.”
GENESIS DHAKA 1906: THE ALL INDIA MUSLIM LEAGUE
Nawab Viqar ul Mulk, Nawab Salimullah and Sir Sultan Mohammed Shah Aga Khan III Dawn White Star Archives
Nawab Viqar-ul-Mulk (first from left), a prominent political personality from Hyderabad State, inaugurates the founding session of the All India Muslim League in Dhaka in 1906.
Nawab Salimullah of Dhaka (second from left), a venerated educationist, legislator and a powerful advocate for the Partition of Bengal, hosts the session of the All India Muhammadan Educational Conference in Dhaka; a session that leads to the foundation of the All India Muslim League.
Sir Sultan Mohammed Shah Aga Khan III (third from left), the spiritual head of the Ismaili community worldwide, plays a formative role in the founding of the All India Muslim League and serves as President from 1907 to 1913. He later becomes president of the League of Nations.
Founding members of the All India Muslim League Dawn White Star Archives
The founding members of the All India Muslim League above and below at the baradari of Shah Bagh in Dhaka on December 30, 1906.
The image below shows Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar seated on the front row, second from left, and his brother Maulana Shaukat Ali, sixth from left, same row.
The All India Muslim League which grows from the vision of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan at Aligarh will spearhead the creation of Pakistan in 1947.
Founding members of the All India Muslim League Dawn White Star Archives
TOWARDS 1947: CARAVAN TO FREEDOM
The road to partition: Excerpted with permission from Witness to Life and Freedom, Roli Books, Delhi
As Partition approaches in 1947, large convoys of Sikh and Hindu refugees head towards East Punjab, and Muslims flee to the two wings of Pakistan. This photo captures the tail end of this momentous period.
By courtesy: This content has been independently produced by Dawn Media Group. UBL has paid for association with the content.