Tag Archives: Muslim League

Our Black Revolution And The Task Ahead

Aitzaz Ahsan

Aitzaz Ahsan

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

It was the month of March much like this.  The year was 1947.   Muslim League had won a legislative majority in the province of Punjab in 1946 but was denied government by a coalition of the feudal-backed Unionist Party and the Indian National Congress hastily put together by the strong British bureaucracy running Punjab.  Heeding a call for civil disobedience from the central leadership, the Punjab Muslim League aided by the cadres of Communist Party of India brought British rule in Punjab to a stand still.  Incredible scenes were witnessed.  One young woman jumped over the fence of the government secretariat, tore down the Union Jack and replaced it with the Muslim League flag. The government panicked and carried out massive arrests.  Hundreds of Muslim League women were also arrested.  Amongst them was a young mother who carried a little baby boy – both of whom were imprisoned.   So what is the relevance to this historic day?  Well that little baby boy was Aitzaz Ahsan.  And the events of those days led to the creation of this country. Continue reading


Filed under Pakistan

The Jehadi Challenge to Pakistan

We don’t agree with many of the assertions made in this article but are posting here for discussion. PTH


Islamabad/Brussels, 13 March 2009: Following the recent upsurge of jihadi violence in Pakistan, dismantling extremist Sunni-Deobandi groups must become the core of the government’s counter-terrorism policy.
Pakistan: The Militant Jihadi Challenge,* the latest report from the International Crisis Group, warns of the expanding influence of radical Sunni groups which remain the primary source of terrorism in Pakistan. Fresh jihadi attacks in Punjab, the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP), the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Balochistan’s provincial capital, Quetta, demonstrate the threat posed to the Pakistani citizen and state. Continue reading


Filed under Pakistan

1971: the forgotten silence

by Raza Rumi

This week marks the 37th anniversary of the tragic events of 1971 that led to the dismemberment of Pakistan and creation of Bangladesh. This time the sixteenth day of that deadly December invited little attention in the mainstream media as the new Pakistan struggles to manage the multiple crises of statehood, governance and cohesion.

Whether we like it or not, history and its bitter truths have to be confronted. When the united Punjab was being ruled by the Unionists and the Congress and the NWFP had a chief minister from the congress-Khudai Khidmatgar alliance, and almost all the custodians of South Asian puritanical Islam were opposed to Pakistan, the peasantry and the intelligentsia of East Bengal were spearheading a movement for Pakistan. There were indeed economic reasons, but there was an unchallengeable mass support for and belief in Pakistan. What happened after 1947 is well known; and within two decades or so, those who wanted Pakistan in the first place were subjected to state excesses and brutal treatment by the groups and elites that had actually little commitment to Pakistan or its idea. Nothing could be more ironical. Continue reading


Filed under Citizens, Islam, Pakistan, Partition, Politics, public policy, Society, south asia, violence, war

Jinnah and Ataturk: Comparison in leadership models

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

Reading through pages of history one is struck by the remarkable similarities between two leaders, contemporaries to each other, one from South Asia and the other from the frontier between Europe and Asia that is known as Turkey, but both of whom had the distinction of conjuring up nation states from a multitude of disorganized and demoralized people(s) whose only common bond was shared religious culture and a memory of a glorious empire of yesteryears.  What is more is that both these leaders were in their outlook European and shared a world view which was more western than that of their own people.  Both these leaders had to make hard choices and were plagued by the controversy that is the role of religion – in particular Islam- within the state.   These two leaders were Mahomed Ali Jinnah, hailed as “Quaid-e-Azam” or the great leader and the founding father of Pakistan and Mustapha Kemal Ataturk, the founder of Modern Turkey, Ebedi Sef (Eternal Leader) and the “father of the Turks”.

Mahomed Ali Jinnah was born MahomedAli Jinnahbhai in Karachi, a vibrant provincial town in British India, in 1876,  whereas Kemal Ataturk was born Mustapha in Salonica in Ottoman Turkey in 1881.  Both Jinnah and Ataturk had parents who were deeply religious, though Jinnah was born into the Ismaili community – the followers of the Agha Khan- and a subset of the Shiite Branch of Islam.  Ataturk’s exact religious origins are unknown.   There is a claim that he was an Alavi Shiite. Others claim he was from the “Donme” or the Jewish converts to Islam.   Ataturk himself identified with mainstream Hanafi Sunni Islam- the state creed of the Ottoman Empire- in his days in Army.   Both were educated in High Schools run by Muslim modernists in the tradition of finest European education.    Jinnah’s alma mater was the “Sindh Medressah-tul-Islam High School” (despite the name it was a school modeled on the lines of British Public school system – medressah means a school) and the Protestant Bombay Mission High School.  In contrast young Mustapha was initially sent to learn the Holy Quran in madrassah but his father,  Ali Reza,  thought him too good for simple religious education and had him transferred to a modern school. Continue reading


Filed under History, Jinnah

NWFP History: The dismissal of the Khan Ministry and its aftermath (Part 3)

by Yasser Latif Hamdani

In parts 1 and 2 of this present series, I presented the primary source record of the events leading up to the unfortunate impasse between the newly formed Pakistan government and the Afghanistan-backed Frontier Congress led by the Khan brothers. This third piece will determine whether or not there was an alternative left to the dismissal of the ministry as was widely expected and which was to be carried out by Lord Mountbatten with the prior approval of the Congress Party in Delhi before August 15, 1947. This piece will also determine how and why it came to be that the Pakistan government had to take this step?

Before the referendum actually took place, Dr. Khan Sahib had famously said that he would resign from his post if Pakistan got 30% of the electorate. As shown by the last piece, Pakistan ended up polling more than 50% of the total electorate showing that the Pushtuns were overwhelmingly in favor of Pakistan. It was in the aftermath of the resounding defeat for the Congress that Dr. Khan Sahib declared that he didn’t have to resign because he commanded a legislative majority (a situation analogous in many ways to General Musharraf’s notorious re-election to the office of the president in 2007 by a legislature that was no longer representative).

As for claims about “impropriety” of “referendum”, Dr. Khan Sahib himself agreed that the referendum was as proper or improper as the election that had gotten Dr. Khan sahib into power and this was promptly reported to the Viceroy by Rob Lockhart, Congress’ governor of choice (Congress had campaigned for the removal of Sir Olaf Caroe and appointment of Rob Lockhart in his place). Lockhart went on to advise Dr. Khan Sahib that the right and proper thing to do was to resign immediately. The governor also expressed concern that the continuation of a ministry so utterly hostile to the new state would be untenable and that the Viceroy should consider dismissing the NWFP government under section 93 which would be the best course available. Jinnah was repulsed by the idea of dismissing the legislative assembly whole-scale and he and Liaqat Ali Khan suggested instead that if given a chance Muslim League could form a coalition government with non-Muslim representatives which would give the Muslim League legislative majority and thereby bypass the section 93 dismissal. Since there was no constitutional requirement for an assembly session before the budget session in 1948, the Muslim League would have ample opportunity to re-align politically and gain a legislative majority. Rob Lockhart was of the view that if a change was to be made in fitness of things, it had to be made quickly because he recalled the Dr. Khan Sahib had warned of a mass movement which he “would try and keep non-violent”(Minutes of the Viceroy’s twenty third Miscellaneous Meeting Mountbatten Papers- also found in “Transfer of Power Papers, No 278, Volume XII, 405-409” and “Jinnah Papers Volume IV Appendix IV.1”). Continue reading


Filed under History, North-West Frontier Province, Peshawar

History is Not a Farce: The NWFP Referendum

Pak Tea House’s contributor Yasser Latif Hamdani has been posting articles on the Pakhtuns and NWFP province. In response to his latest piece, Shaheryar Ali, looks back at the NWFP referendum held in 1947 and presents an alternative view- We welcome myriad points of view at this forum only to ensure that history’s linearity and constructed versions are unpacked for a better understanding of the past and the present. (Raza Rumi-ed)

“History is the memory of states,” wrote Henry Kissinger in his first book, A World Restored, in which he proceeded to tell the history of nineteenth-century Europe from the viewpoint of the leaders of Austria and England, ignoring the millions who suffered from those statesmen’s policies. From his standpoint, the “peace” that Europe had before the French Revolution was “restored” by the diplomacy of a few national leaders. But for factory workers in England, farmers in France, colored people in Asia and Africa, women and children everywhere except in the upper classes, it was a world of conquest, violence, hunger, exploitation-a world not restored but disintegrated.
My viewpoint, in telling the history of the United States, is different: that we must not accept the memory of states as our own. Nations are not communities and never have been, The history of any country, presented as the history of a family, conceals fierce conflicts of interest (sometimes exploding, most often repressed) between conquerors and conquered, masters and slaves, capitalists and workers, dominators and dominated in race and sex. And in such a world of conflict, a world of victims and executioners, it is the job of thinking people, as Albert Camus suggested, not to be on the side of the executioners”

Howard Zinn

This is my favorite passage from one of my favorite books, “A Peoples History of United States”. Pakhtoon territory has been a victim of this “statist” history which has served to further the imperialist goals in this region. First British Empire used it to divide Pakhtoons, and later, American Imperialism adopted the same policy.

Under the British, a vast scholarship appeared on Pakhtoons which to this day is serving its purpose. All such scholarship must be re-examined under light of Edward Said’s “Orientalism”.

What happened in Pakhtoonkhawa is not the memory of State, its lament of a people, those who  are the  direct victims  o f two imperialist powers, and whose case, history, sociology, anthropology all acted in the same as Edward Said says, in aid of the White Man.

History is Not a farce

A fellow writers at the Pak Tea House has started this beautifully crafted series of articles on Pakhtoonkhawa, this latest article on the referendum. It demands a response. The article presents a partial, unilateral  view. Over time, in the mainstream discourse, the official position of the democratic representatives of the area has been largely ignored and colonial version of history along with Muslem league’s view point have been projected.

I would indicate here the position of Khudai Khidmatgars , the precursors of NAP and ANP to balance the issue – Continue reading


Filed under Colonialism, History, North-West Frontier Province, Peshawar

Referendum and the Pakhtunistan Demand (NWFP II)


(Continuation from “The beginning of the New Great Game”)

June 3rd Plan – agreed upon by Congress and Muslim League- envisaged a referendum in the NWFP to determine which constituent assembly the province will join.  Prior to this, Jawaharlal Nehru and the Congress had waged a successful campaign against Sir Olaf Caroe, the governor of NWFP, removed because he was deemed by Nehru and Dr. Khan Sahib to be partial towards the Muslim League. Perceptive historians on both sides of the border have since concluded otherwise.  In any event Sir Olaf was replaced by Rob Lockhart.   It was under the new governor, who enjoyed the confidence of the Congress Party and its ministry in the Frontier that the referendum was to be held.

Howard Donovan, the Counselor for US Embassy in Delhi, in his periodic report of 26th June, 1948 addressed to US Secretary of State George Marshall, points out that “observers in New Delhi believe that the Muslim League will win the forthcoming referendum and that it is a foregone conclusion that the NWFP will join Pakistan.  This is unpalatable to Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and his recent talks with Jinnah and Gandhi in Delhi were an effort to forestall… Gandhi has supported Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan… Nehru, Patel, and other Congress members of the Government are understood to be opposed to the idea of Pathanistan.  It is of course ridiculous for the Congress to oppose independence of Travancore and at the same time espouse the cause of independence for the North West Frontier Province… Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan’s action will further complicate the situation in the North West Frontier Province and it will in all probability lead to further strife and bloodshed” Continue reading


Filed under History, North-West Frontier Province, Pakistan, Partition