Some people believe that if you repeat a lie enough times it becomes the truth. Making the rounds on the internet these days is a “suddenly discovered” interview of Maulana Azad which he allegedly gave to Agha Shorish Kashmiri of Majlis-e-Ahrar-e-Islam in April 1946.
Well I hate to break it to all of you – Agha Shorish Kashmiri was a fraud and the interview itself was most probably cobbled together through excerpts from Azad’s book “India Wins Freedom” and his famous address to the Muslims left behind in India in Jamia Masjid- both easily available texts. Before I come to the actual nature of the forgery, let us re-cap for a second what this creature Majlis-e-Ahrar was and just how deep its motivation ran in discrediting Pakistan and the leadership of Mr. Jinnah who Majlis-e-Ahrar considered an outright Kafir. Majlis-e-Ahrar-e-Islam, a group of Islamic fanatics closely allied to the Congress party, was one of the most rabid anti-Pakistan movements around.
Their leaders Maulana Mazhar Ali Azhar and Maulana Ataullah Shah Bukhari were foul mouthed bigots who resorted to choicest abuses from the pulpit against the Muslim League and Mr. Jinnah. The elections of 1946 resulted in their complete rout and after Pakistan was created, this group was in the forefront of the conspiracies against the state. Agha Shorish Kashmiri was one such Ahrari remnant who was in the forefront of anti-Ahmaddiya rioting in Pakistan and whose hatred for Pakistan was boundless. The internal struggle in Islam has always pitted liberal Muslim leadership against the clergy especially in the subcontinent. The difference in the closing days of the Raj was that through a freak chance, liberal and secular Muslim leadership in form of Jinnah was isolated from the Hindu leadership i.e. Gandhi and Nehru led Congress which in turn used the fanatical Muslims making common cause with them against British raj.
Maulana Azad was the blue-eyed boy of the Ulema who opposed the Muslim League. Azad was a religious scholar of renown, a salafi who followed Ibn-e-Taimiyya. He commanded respect amongst the Ahraris and he was admired by the nationalists. That Azad was a smart politician is evidenced from his support for the Cabinet Mission Plan, where he alone in the Congress was ready to work it to its logical conclusion. He was also an intelligent man who did predict the separation of Pakistan’s Eastern Wing in his book “India Wins Freedom” as dictated to Humayun Kabir in 1957. He did not however make the predictions that are being attributed to him in the so called interview.
Now let us see the obvious gaping holes in this so called interview:
1. First of all the interview finds no mention in any of the official works on Azad. It is only found in Agha Shorish Kashmiri’s book on Abul Kalam Azad which was financed and published by Kashmiri himself.
2. Azad says “H S Suhrawardy does not hold Jinnah in esteem”. Jinnah’s relationship with Suhrawardy soured in late 1947 but in April 1946 there were no such signs. Till 1947, Suhrawardy was tipped to be Pakistan’s firs t Prime Minister. Infact in his book “India Wins Freedom” Azad hints that Jinnah sidelined Nazimuddin because Nazimuddin was not the loyalist others (presumably Suhrawardy) were.
3. Azad is quoted as saying that “East Pakistan’s confidence will not erode as long as Jinnah and Liaqat Ali Khan are alive”. This is a rather odd statement on three counts. One in April 1946 no one used the term “East Pakistan”, secondly Liaqat Ali Khan just did not enjoy the kind of importance that is being attached to him and third that while Jinnah was ageing and was expected to die sooner or later, Liaqat Ali Khan was relatively young, and certainly younger than Azad. This sounds eerily similar to something our established Pakistan Studies’ books would say about Quaid-e-Azam and Quaid-e-Millat.
4. Azad is shown to speak about the “assertion of the subnational identities of Punjab, Sindh, Frontier and – please note- Balochistan”. There was no Balochistan issue till the annexation of Kalat. Balochistan did not exist as a proper province, let alone register as a possible hotbed in April 1946. All of Baloch grievances revolve around the purported events of March 1948 and the annexation in 1956. There is no way Azad could have spoken about Balochistan in April 1946.
5. Then Azad is quoted as saying “incompetent leadership will pave way for military dictatorship as has happened in many Muslim countries”. Till April 1946, there were no known coups in Muslim countries. Perhaps Azad was referring to Turkey but then Turkey was not a military dictatorship as Ataturk had retired from the military and was the elected – though autocratic – president of Turkey. His prime ministers, Ismet Inonu and Celal Bayer, had followed suit.
6. Azad then looks into his crystal ball and speaks of “heavy burden of foreign debt”. Foreign debt was an unknown and unlikely creature in Pakistan till the 1960s when Pakistan financed the building of a new capital. In April 1946, there were no apprehensions of foreign debt. Pakistan no doubt asked for military aid from the US soon after independence but that was hardly debt. Unless ofcourse Azad knew that the Congress planned on withholding Pakistan’s share of the treasury- another unlikely proposition since in April 1946 it wasn’t even clear that there would be a partition (except maybe in the note sent from V P Menon to George Abell on January 23rd 1946 which demarcated Pakistan exactly and precisely).
7. Azad is lavish in his praise of Jinnah as the best ambassador of Hindu Muslim Unity, something he misses out completely in his book “India Wins Freedom”. Other than this purported interview Azad has never acknowledged Jinnah’s contributions to the Congress. It was just not Azad’s style. The description itself seems to follow the passages on Jinnah by Dr. B R Ambedkar’s “Pakistan or Partition of India”. Granted that this book was in circulation at the time but my bet will be that it was Kashmiri and not Azad who read it.
8. Azad then goes on to say “In the battle of Jamal, Qurans were displayed on the lances”. How strange and ironic that a learned Islamic scholar and authority would make such a major error? It was Jang-e-Sifin – between Muawiyah and Ali- where the Qurans were displayed on the lances. I for one cannot believe that Maulana Azad would say something like that given that this was his bread and butter. Had this been suggested about Jinnah or even Nehru or Iqbal it would have been believable but certainly not Azad.
My objective in posting this is to counter the lie and propaganda that Ahrari crook Agha Shorish Kashmiri is carrying out posthumously with the help of those who want to see Pakistan disintegrated. That this was translated by an Indian MP and published in a magazine that calls itself “Covert” only adds to the mystique of it, since the timing couldn’t be better. But as they say in Punjabi/Saraiki “Naqal kan aqal chaidee”. The planners and executors of this third rate attempt at forging this interview and enhancing Maulana Azad’s credentials as India’s Nostradamus have done the ex-Congress president a disservice.
On our part it is time we stopped being impressed with such trickery.