Gandhi: Father of Pakistan?
This letter was published in The Pioneer (link) onFeb 25, 2007.
This refers to the article, “Did Jinnah really fight for freedom?” (February 18), by Samuel Baid. The writer needs to be appreciated for disclosing the fact that Pakistan’s largest Islamic party, Jamiat-ul-Ulema Islam, has decided to expunge Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s name from the list of Pakistan’s freedom fighters. The reason given is that neither did Jinnah do anything for Islam, nor had he gone to jail during the freedom struggle.
The JUI is the Pakistani version of India’s Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind (JUH), which was founded by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi since 1919. The JUH had opposed India’s Partition till the end, hoping it could re-establish Muslim rule throughout undivided India with the support of Hindu leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. Jinnah’s partition plan, however, shattered such hopes.
The choice of the JUI for the next person to be named “Father of Pakistan” would, therefore, logically fall on Maulana Azad and Mahatma Gandhi, the torchbearers of the Khilafat movement in 1920 and subsequent struggle against the British. It was Mahatma Gandhi who brushed aside the burning questions of the time, such as the massacre at the Jallianwala Bagh and the Rowlatt Act, and made Khilafat an important movement. Gandhi’s authoritative biographer, DG Tendulkar, says: “Around Gandhi new forces were gathering. The ulema felt that the Muslim divines of India whose collective power and influence had been shattered after the revolt of 1857 should again come together…” (Mahatma, Vol-I).
On March 10, 1920, Gandhi observed: “The Khilafat has now become the question of questions…” On March 19, explaining the four parts of the Khilafat movement, he said that while its three parts were to be followed by all Hindus, Muslims and others, the fourth was mainly for Muslims. He observed: “But Muslims have special Quranic obligations in which Hindus may or may not join. They, therefore, reserve to themselves the right, in the event of the failure of non-cooperation-cum-non-violence, in order to enforce justice, to resort to all such methods as may be enjoined by the Islamic scriptures. I venture heartily to associate myself with this resolution…”.
This is a sample of Gandhi’s double-faced non-violence — one for Hindus and another for Muslims.