The Idea of Pakistan

The idea of Pakistan —Ammar Ali Qureshi (Courtesy Daily Times)

Pakistan as an idea in the 1940s appealed to all sections of Muslim society in India. It would be wrong to assume that sects such as the Ahmedis or Shias took a collective decision

Professor Ishtiaq Ahmed, in his article “The demand for Pakistan and Islam” (Daily Times, June 8, 2010), has raised a number of contradictory and controversial points that demand clarification and refutation. His statement about Ahmedis and Shias, of being initially wary of joining Pakistan or rejecting it first before accepting it, can be disproved from his own article. For example about Ahmedis, he says that they were wary till Sir Zafarullah was won over by Jinnah. Sir Zafarullah was present at the 1940 Resolution in Lahore and solidly behind Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah at that historic meeting, which means that Ahmedis had embraced the idea of Pakistan in 1940 when it was first presented. It is difficult to divine what anyone’s opinion was before 1940 as the idea of Pakistan had not been publicly presented or articulated before the Lahore Resolution.

Professor Ahmed quotes a statement attributed to Raja Sahib of Mahmudabad, a Shia, in 1939 in which he is talking about a separate state based on religious laws. If this statement by Raja Sahib is accepted as true, then it also has to be admitted that Shias in India were in favour of a separate state in 1939 and this contradicts Professor Ahmed’s latter statement that Shias rejected the demand for Pakistan in 1945 and later switched their loyalties to Jinnah. Raja Sahib’s statement shows that they were ahead of the game in the quest for a separate state as Raja Sahib made that statement in 1939, which is one year before the Pakistan Resolution was passed in 1940. As for the correspondence between Allama Zaheer and Jinnah, one can say that it represented the personal opinion of Allama Zaheer and it was not reflective of all Shias, just as Maulana Azad’s views or stance adopted by other religious parties towards Pakistan (although they knew that Sunnis would form a majority) cannot be considered as the opinion of all Sunnis.

It is well known that the top leadership of the All India Muslim League, since its inception in 1906, had stalwarts who were Shia — such as Sir Aga Khan, Syed Ameer Ali, Sir Ali Imam, Raja Sahib of Mahmudabad (both father and son presided over Muslim League sessions in Lucknow), Raja Ghazanfar Ali Khan, Mirza Abul Hassan Ishpahani, etc. These leaders were at the forefront of the Pakistan Movement and played a pivotal role in Muslim League politics since its founding. After 1947, a number of presidents and prime ministers of Pakistan were Shia. A lot of debate has taken place about the idea of Pakistan, but there is little focus on who financed the Pakistan Movement. Sir Aga Khan’s generous financial contributions, as well as fund-raising efforts for the cause of the Muslim League, are well-documented. Stanley Wolpert, in his famous biography of Jinnah, has provided the exact details of Raja Sahib of Mahmudabad’s extremely generous annual financial contribution to the Muslim League and the Pakistan Movement from 1936-47, which makes one say that it was Jinnah’s mind and Raja Sahib’s money that created Pakistan. (It is said that Raja Sahib would go on hunger strikes lasting more than three days when Maharani would not allow him to donate money to the Muslim League and she would later give way so that his hunger strike could be ended.)

Jinnah and Raja Sahib had a very close relationship (like that of a father and son) till their differences arose over the nature of the future state. In his essay ‘Some Memories’ (re-published in 1994 in Mushir-ul-Hasan’s edited book, India’s Partition-Process, Strategy and Mobilisation, pages 415-426), Raja Sahib recalled: “My advocacy of an Islamic state brought me into conflict with Jinnah. He thoroughly disapproved of my ideas and dissuaded me from expressing them publicly from the League platform lest the people might be led to believe that Jinnah shared my view and that he was asking me to convey such ideas to the public. As I was convinced that I was right and did not want to compromise Jinnah’s position, I decided to cut myself away and for nearly two years kept my distance from him, apart from seeing him during the working committee meetings and on other formal occasion. It was not easy to take this decision as my associations with Jinnah had been very close in the past. Now that I look back I realise how wrong I had been” (page 425).

Pakistan as an idea in the 1940s appealed to all sections of Muslim society in India. It would be wrong to assume that sects such as the Ahmedis or Shias took a collective decision. Individual decisions were taken even at family levels and across all classes and sects as to who would opt for Pakistan and who would stay in India. Otherwise it is very difficult to explain how families were divided by partition — some brothers and sisters ended up in Pakistan while others remained in India.

Sahabzada Yaqub opted for Pakistan and found himself fighting in Kashmir few months after Pakistan’s creation while his elder brother, who stayed in India, fought in Kashmir from the Indian side. Zakir Hussain remained in India, headed Aligarh University after partition and later became India’s third president, while his brother Dr Mahmud Hussain migrated to Pakistan and later became a federal minister. Mian Arshad Hussain and Mian Azim Hussain, sons of Punjabi politician Sir Fazle Hussain, opted for two different countries in 1947 and served as Ambassadors of Pakistan and India respectively in the same capital in the 1960s. When the Shah of Iran met General Atiqur Rehman, the then Governor of West Pakistan, he remarked that although “we have not met before but I know about your family as your brother is India’s ambassador in Tehran”. All these examples are of prominent people but even among ordinary and non-prominent families countless such examples of brothers and sisters divided by partition can be found, which underscore the point that it is wrong to assume collective decision making on the part of sects or even families as individual choices played an extremely important role.

Ammar Ali Qureshi is a London-based finance professional and a freelance contributor



Filed under Pakistan

3 responses to “The Idea of Pakistan

  1. m ali3


    As Ahmadis of Qadiani Jamaat Khalifa Mirza Mahmood Ahmad moved to Lahore (Ratan Bagh) his followers followed him. He was the first person among Qadiani-Ahmadis to opt for pakistan. My uncle (Abdul Mannan Omar son of Hakim Noor Ud Din) was the last person who left Qadian, India in November 1947.

  2. Keeping Honest

    Honestly, did Qadianis support creation of Pakistan?

    These days on secular forums, blogs (e.g. Pak Tea House) and in some newspaper columns an impression is being created that Qadianis at their organizational level under command of their leader Qadiani Jamaat Khalifa 2 Mirza Mahmud Ahmad (QK2) were great supporters of Pakistan, and worked for it.

    Apparently, it appears to be the case. But when we look little deeper into historical facts and events things don’t remain as black and white, rather they turn into gray and further research highlights ulterior motives of Qadianis and their QK2.

    Qadianis claim that it was their missionary in England Mr. Abdul Rahim Dard who convinced Quaid-I-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah to return to India and work for independent homeland for Muslims. It is also true Sir Zafarullah Khan authored the Pakistan Resolution. Represented Muslims in Redcliff boundary commission. And later became first foreign minister of Pakistan.

    When we see little deep into the matter we see that Qadiani Missionary Abdul Rahim Dard did NOT consider non-Qadiani Muslims in India as Muslims. (Reference: Lord Headley while answering a set of questions posed to him, wrote in “Islam, The Guide to Modern Religious Thought” – Islamic Review, June 1929, pg 201-204, Vol XVII, No. 6, pub. The Mosque, Woking, England.). So there was no point in doing efforts for Muslims.

    QK2 always boasted of his “spirituality” over Lahori-Ahmadiyya elders (who he declared Murtad {heretics}). He supported his claim by staying in Qadian where Ahmadiyya Movement of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (HMGA) originated. HMGA founded the Bahishti Muqbarah (Heavenly Graveyard) there. And HMGA was buried there along with others such as Maulana Noor Ud Din sahib.

    QK2 had instructed his followers to stay put in Qadian. Reference: The paper Al-Fazl (Note: The Official Organ of the Rabwah Jama’at), Qadian of 12th September 1947 carried the following news on page 3: “On the night between 10th and 11th September, the news was broadcast from Radio Pakistan that the respected Imam of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat, Qadian, after consulting representatives of his Jamaat has decided that all Ahmadis of East Punjab, particularly those of the Qadian Jamaat, should stay where ever they are. They should not leave their stations under any circumstances. Women and children should be evacuated to Western Punjab. They can be brought back as soon as conditions improve.” (It is different point that immediately after issuing these instructions to his followers, Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood Ahmad fled from Qadian and took refuge in Lahore.).

    Even after QK2 and his followers had immigrated to Pakistan they had plans to move back to Qadian, India. His intentions were supported by the fact that he prohibited his followers to file claims for evacuee property in Pakistan. (Although his family did file and got evacuee property allotted in their favor. Reference: Haqqiqat Passand Party literature).

    Now question is what QK2 actually wanted:
    QK2 wanted a temporal power in a region where he could rule and have administrative powers. He was hoping that just like decedents of Messiah of Nazareth i.e. Jesus became rulers, may be he a decedent of Messiah of Muhammad could also become some sort of ruler.
    QK2 efforts and statements before and after creation of Pakistan in 1947 support his real intentions.
    1- QK2 was in negotiation with Nehru to get some sort of Special Status for Qadian after India wins freedom. Where QK2 can have some sort of temporal powers, like princely states in British raj. (I have read to this effect, just can’t recall the reference at the moment).
    2- QK2 while chairman of Kashmir Committee was supplying reports of its confidential meetings to Viceroy. As poet Sir Muhammad Iqbal, himself a member of Kashmir Committee, came to know about it, turned against QK2, and from that point his opposition to Qadianis started. (I was orally told about QK2 reports to viceroy, by a person who had detail knowledge of Qadiani Jamaat and QK2. I don’t have any written reference).
    3- QK2 continued to dream about temporal power even after he had migrated to Pakistan. He expressed his plans to settle his Qadiani followers in Quetta, Baluchistan. There by sheer number of Qadiani population he would gain temporal powers. (Reference: Haqqiqat Passand Party literature).

    CONCLUSION: In my conclusion QK2 had ulterior motives to gain temporal powers in some region, as it became obvious that British rulers will sooner or later quit India. To gain temporal powers QK2 first tried in India and then in Pakistan. Those who know Qadiani jamaat will agree that no one in important positions in their jamaat does anything without the approval of their Qadiani Khalifas. So, I’m inclined to accept that Abdul Rahim Dard’s contact with Quaid-I-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah must be on instructions of QK2. As far as Sir Zafarullah Khan was concerned Quaid-I-Azam would have terminated ZK services in a minute if ZK had deviated from Quaid-I-Azam instructions.

    ON THE OTHER HAND we see elders of Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement whole-heartedly supported creation of Pakistan, and prayed for Pakistan. Even Quaid-I-Azam stayed in touch with LAM elders and forwarded mails to them regarding Islam.
    Few references:

  3. yasserlatifhamdani

    They did. Your technicalities notwithstanding they supported the Pakistan Movement en masse and so did the Lahori Jamaat.

    Your comments about Bashiruddin Mahmud are sectarian prejudice and find no mention in history.

    You are not a very honest person. You should be ashamed of yourself for strengthening the hands of those who don’t distinguish b/w Lahoris and Qadianis anyway.

    Shame on you for playing this ridiculous game. Stop it now asshole.

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