Pakistanis Need To Think More Critically About “United India”

Pakistanis Need To Think More Critically About “United India”
Pakistan is going through an economic crisis that is exacerbated by the impact of the climate crisis caused floods, and political turmoil, thanks to the prodigal Kaptaan. The basic issue in the country is one of institutions - accountability, transparency and the delegation of powers - that have remained unresolved over decades. Yet, people are still being misled towards a revolution, Kaptaan style, that simply replaces one set of inept rulers with another, ala George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

These problems are here to stay, for there are no quick fixes. Adversity tests the mettle of nations. This means that instead of cheap armchair critics, Pakistanis will have to focus on the work at hand.

Yet, there are Pakistanis who drink the kool-aid of a “United India,” for they wish to abandon ship at the first sign of trouble. Take for instance this comment under YouTuber Dhruv Rathee’s recent video “What if India and Pakistan never separated?”:

“Being a Pakistani I appreciate your effort to spread true historical knowledge. Correct historical knowledge will rectify our historical errors. Reunification of India in some form will bring enormous amount of benefits for general population.

However, Rathee’s video is based on an Indian narrative that completely sidelines the Pakistani narrative and is rife with misrepresentation. For instance, he deems Sir Syed Ahmad Khan responsible for the Two Nation Theory. He also depicts the Quaid-e-Azam as a villain responsible for partition, and the Direct Action Day where majority Hindus were targeted.

Thus, Pakistanis with “reunification goosebumps” can choose between this liberal narrative or that of the Hindutva brigade spearheaded by the likes of J. Sai Deepak, who is feeding the narrative of Bharat where Muslims can live so long as they conform to the majoritarian narrative.

Alternatively, such Pakistanis have a choice to educate themselves on the Pakistani narrative through the work of Yasser Latif Hamdani and Muhammad Umair Khan. The narrative is clear that the push for a Hindu nation precedes the formation of the Muslim League. Unfortunately, Pakistan has marginalized Ahmadis and their contribution to Pakistan. Otherwise, Pakistanis would learn about the work of the founder of the Ahmadiyyah Jamaat, hailed by the leading Muslim theologians of the day, against the proselytization initiatives of the Arya Samaaj in Punjab.

Pakistanis need to remember that the Congress sidelined the most liberal and progressive Muslims to form alliances with the most regressive “mullah” elements of the Muslim community. Where the Khilafat movement held no meaning for Jinnah, Gandhi sided with those reactionaries who paid homage to the Ottoman Caliphate.

This is true even in present day India, where the most secular class of Muslims with Hindu spouses, such as the Bollywood Khans, are questioned on their patriotism and are subjected to boycotts. Moreover, the discrimination in residential housing - also highlighted in Bollywood movies like Mission Mangal (2019) - and the systemic discrimination against Muslims by the police precedes the rise of the BJP.

This discrimination against a minority in India is deep rooted. Muslims are often at the receiving end of communal riots. This is also true for the Direct Action Day (misrepresented by Rathee) on which Yasser Latif Hamdani writes:

“Contrary to what the Indians hold, all historians now agree that the massacre in Calcutta was primarily of Muslims and not Hindus. … The customary Indian accusation that the Muslim League planned and executed the massacre of innocents in Calcutta does not stand the test of facts.

Lord Wavell wrote on August 21 that “… the Hindus and Sikhs were every bit as fierce as the Muslims. The present estimate is that appreciably more Muslims were killed than the Hindus” (page 274, Volume VIII, Transfer of Power Papers).

This was confirmed by Sardar Patel’s letter, where he gloated about more, many times more, Muslim casualties than Hindus. This letter is quoted by renowned Indian historian Sumit Sarkar on page 432 of his book Modern India: 1885-1947.

One of the big gaping holes in the Indian nationalist version of history is that while all accounts seem to indicate that Muslims were armed with sticks, according to Sir Francis Tuker, “buses and taxis were charging about loaded with Sikhs and Hindus armed with swords, iron bars and firearms”.

If some Pakistanis want to drink the “United India” kool-aid it is their choice. If they wish to dream of a united cricket team or united Bollywood movies, then they should note that much brighter and astute thinkers and leaders have thought this through before.

Rathee’s video shows that in “United India”, Muslims would comprise 32% of the population instead of the current 15% comprised of Indian Muslims. Yet, this is precisely what the Quaid-e-Azam asked for in his 14 points - that Muslim representation shall not be less than 1/3rd in the Central Legislature to safeguard Muslim interests.

It was Congress that rejected Jinnah’s demand for consociationalism - the kind of agreement between the English and the French in Canada. Pakistanis need to remember that the “Bharat” narrative is not the Pakistani narrative. Just as 1857 represents freedom for Indians, but mutiny for the British, India’s partition is Pakistan’s independence.

Overall, Pakistanis need to stand by their nation in this trying time. They need to educate themselves on their own narrative instead of uncritically accepting calls for a united India.