By Yasser Latif Hamdani
(A slightly edited version of this Article was published in the Daily Times this past Monday)
I have been receiving non-stop mail in response to my article “Two Nation Theory” which has now necessitated that I further develop my thoughts on the complex political scenario that 1940s’ British India presented and which ultimately led to two distinct events which are often interlinked partition of India and creation of Pakistan. That these were two distinct events is amply demonstrated when one considers the menu of choices that were open before the leaders of British India of which a completely separate and sovereign Pakistan was the last and least viable.
Leaving aside the notes of praise as they tend to make one complacent, I’d like to address some of the points raised by those who were critical of my point of view. Indeed broadly defined, the first group consisted of nationalist-minded folk on both sides of the border who took umbrage with the idea that Jinnah would have settled for a watered down federation or a confederation with India after 1940. They demanded, quite angrily, that I produce a single “public statement” by Jinnah where he spoke of United India after 1939. In my earlier article I had quoted Jinnah’s comment on H V Hodson’s note where he said that Hodson had finally understood what the League actually wanted should be enough. This demand for a “public statement” is rather ironic when Jinnah was putting up a maximum demand for negotiation. Still his famous statement that “if you ask for 16 annas, there is always room for negotiation”, shows that Jinnah did not expect and did not want the Congress to concede a sovereign Pakistan. Congress ultimately did because it didn’t want to negotiate with Jinnah any more.