The Global Social Network
India's Congress Party leaders expected Pakistan to fold soon after partition, says Nisid Hajari, the author of recently published "Midnight's Furies: The Deadly Legacy of Indian Partition". "The indian leaders hoped Pakistan wouldn't survive at first. They hoped in a few years it would decide it wanted to be a part of india again in a friendly way", Hajari told TV talk show host Charlie Rose in a PBS interview. India's actions since 1947, such as the 1971 invasion of East Pakistan and creation of Bangladesh, have shown their inability to peacefully reconcile with the existence of Pakistan as an independent state. This has contributed to Pakistan becoming a nuclear-armed national security state, and ensuing India-Pakistan proxy wars in the region.
Delhi and Punjab Massacres:
Hajari has documented in detail the partition horrors that my parents and relatives saw and reported to me and my generation that was born after 1947. Here are some excerpts from his book:
"For several days running, according to some eyewitness reports, small groups of Sikh and Hindu militants had been roving the broad, manicured avenues of New Delhi, defying the curfew. Some appear to have been marking out the rooms in government dormitories occupied by Muslim clerks and peons, as well as the houses and bungalows where Muslims lived or worked as servants. A British diplomat later reported seeing a lorry full of Sikhs pull up outside the home of the local chairman of British airline BOAC, which had agreed to transport Muslim officials to Pakistan by air until the trains resumed. “That’s the place,” one of the Sikhs confirmed, carefully noting down the address."
"On the night of Sept. 6, sword-wielding gangs began working their way from target to target, dragging out and killing Muslims. The next morning mobs took to the streets all over the city. One descended on the military airfield at Palam, from where the BOAC charters were taking off; another blocked the runways at the civilian Willingdon Airfield as airline employees fled in terror. Muslims caught out in the open were stabbed and gutted, including five who were killed in front of New Delhi’s cathedral while worshippers celebrated Sunday Mass. Looters broke into Muslim shops in Connaught Place, the colonnaded arcade at the heart of the city. By 10 that night, Delhi hospitals were reporting three times as many Muslim as non-Muslim casualties."
"The Indian leaders seemed incapable of transferring Pakistan government servants to the new capital Karachi, or of protecting them in their Delhi homes. Cargo trains full of equipment and supplies meant for Pakistan were being derailed and torched in the Punjab. At least some members of the Indian Cabinet appeared to be winking at the Sikhs’ murderous activities."
Pakistan a Nissen Hut:
Lord Mountbatten, the British Viceroy of India who oversaw the partition agreed with the assessment of Pakistan made by India's leaders when he described Pakistan as a "Nissen hut" or a "temporary tent" in a conversation with Jawarhar Lal Nehru. Here's the exact quote from Mountbatten: "administratively it [wa]s the difference between putting up a permanent building, a nissen hut or a tent. As far as Pakistan is concerned we are putting up a tent. We can do no more." The Brits and the Hindu leadership of India both fully expected Pakistan to fold soon after partition.
Nisid Hajari traces the origins of the enduring India-Pakistan hostility to the events leading up to the partition in August 1947. Here are a few excepts of what Hajari told Terry Gross, the host of NPR's "Fresh Air":
"This rivalry between India and Pakistan has been going on now for nearly 70 years and it seems like a feature of the landscape ... as if it has always existed, and once you created two countries out of one that it was inevitable....I don't think it was inevitable and a closer look at what happened in 1947 teaches you how the seeds of this rivalry were planted. It was obviously worsened over the years by various actors, but this is where it all started."
"They (Hindu majority elected in 1937 and later elections held by the British Raj) controlled the schools, they controlled the educational curriculum, they oversaw the police and they gave out jobs and patronage to their own followers. And Muslims could see, particularly professional Muslims, Muslims who would otherwise have perhaps won these jobs, could see that they would have very little power in a democratic system, a parliamentary system after independence."
Quaid-e-Azam M.A. Jinnah's Vision:
Hajari argues that Mohammad Ali Jinnah wanted a state where Muslims would be in a democratic majority and so would be in control of their fate, but anytime anyone asked him whether it would be a Muslim theocracy he would laugh them off. He'd say, "That's absurd," that's not at all what he was intending.
Many scholars, and even Indian leaders like Jaswant Singh, believe that the Quaid-e-Azam was a great Indian and he would have agreed to live within a united India had his demand for autonomy of Muslim majority provinces within a federal structure been accepted by Congress leaders Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel. After the bitter experience of Muslims living under Hindu majority during a period self-rule under British Raj, Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah sought Pakistan as a democratic country where Muslim majority could control its own fate. The sad plight of Muslims in India today only serves to confirm the worst fears of Pakistan's founder at the time of the partition.