Friday, January 28, 2011

"Blow up the topmast" - what does it mean?

On June 10, 1946, Hatim A. Alavi wrote to Jinnah {Quaid-I-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah Papers,  Volume XIII, Cabinet Mission's Parleys for Shaping India's Future, 1 April-31 July 1946, Editor: Z.H. Zaidi, #161, pages 235-237}

You said at our Council meeting [1] that we can work on the two decks, provincial and group, and blow up the topmast.  Will that be possible since the complete constitution is subject to ratification by the British Parliament?
[1] Held at Imperial Hotel, New Delhi, on 5 & 6 June 1946
What does "blow up the topmast" mean?  Whatever it was, Alavi seemed doubtful that the British would approve.

PS: The Council is the All India Muslim League Working Committee.

Did he or did he not?

The answer is probably somewhere out there - on July 27, 1946, Jinnah's address to the Muslim League includes this:
Mr. Jinnah proceeded to explain in detail the negotiations regarding the setting up of an Interim Government.  He said: 'It is entirely untrue that I submitted any list on behalf of the Muslim League.  On the contrary I definitely said that I was not prepared to submit any list until I knew that there was an agreed settlement and if there was no agreed settlement, the Viceroy was bound to go ahead with one major party that accepted it and that I would submit my list at that stage.  The Viceroy had no business to put my name when I had clearly made it know to him, in spite of his trying to persuade me, that I would not accept any office so long as I was the President of the Muslim League." (Annual Register, 1946, part II, page 171, or Speeches, Statements & Messages of the Quaid-e-Azam, Editor: Khurshid Ahmad Khan Yusufi Volume IV, page 2345)
The Transfer of Power papers, (Volume VII, Item 471) has this:

Note by Field Marshal Viscount Wavell
L/P&J/10/44:f 318
7 June 1946

Mr. Jinnah said that he must insist on the 5/5/2 ratio in the Interim Government and that he would not come in on any other basis.  As regards portfolios he said the League were particularly interested in Defence, External Affairs, and Planning and Development, with the last of these Commerce should go.

2. As regards himself he asked what would happen to his seat in the Assembly if he became a member of the Interim Government.  Would he have to resign his elected seat and take a nominated one?

3. He said the only portfolio he would consider was that of Defence.

4.  He said he hoped there was not objection to his remaining President of the Muslim League if he came into the Interim Government.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Provincial elections India 1946

The results of the provincial elections of 1946 in India, as per the Annual Register (click on the images for a larger view):

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Clerical Tsunami

Interview with Pervez Hoodbhoy.

Let me recount some personal experiences. The day after Taseer’s assassination, FM-99 (Urdu) called me for an interview. The producer tearfully told me (offline) that she could not find a single religious scholar ready to condemn his murder. She said even ordinary people like me are in short supply.

The next day a TV program on blasphemy (Samaa TV, hosted by Asma Shirazi) was broadcast. Asma had pleaded that I participate. So I did – knowing full well what was up ahead. My opponents were Farid Paracha (spokesman, Jamaat-e-Islami) and Maulana Sialvi (Sunni Tehreek, a Barelvi and supposed moderate). There were around 100 students in the audience, drawn from colleges across Pindi and Islamabad.

Even as the mullahs frothed and screamed around me (and at me), I managed to say the obvious: that the culture of religious extremism was resulting in a bloodbath in which the majority of victims were Muslims; that non-Muslims were fleeing Pakistan; that the self-appointed “thaikaydars” of Islam in Pakistan were deliberately ignoring the case of other Muslim countries like Indonesia which do not have the death penalty for blasphemy; that debating the details of Blasphemy Law 295-C did not constitute blasphemy; that American Muslims were very far from being the objects of persecution; that harping on drone attacks was an irrelevancy to the present discussion on blasphemy.

The response? Not a single clap for me. Thunderous applause whenever my opponents called for death for blasphemers. And loud cheers for Qadri. When I directly addressed Sialvi and said he had Salman Taseer's blood on his hand, he exclaimed “How I wish I had done it!” (kaash ke main nay khud kiya hota!). You can find all this on YouTube if you like.
One can debate whether this particular episode (and probably many similar ones) should be blamed on the media, whether it genuinely reflects the public mood, and whether those students fairly represented the general Pakistani youth. But there is little doubt which side the Pakistani media took. This was apparent from the unwillingness of anchors to condemn the assassination, as well as from images of the smiling murderer being feted all around. Mullah guests filled the screens of most channels. Some journalists and TV-show participants favorably compared Qadri with Ilm-e-Deen. Others sought to prove that Taseer somehow brought his death upon himself.
The program:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Pakistan’s Islamic fixation — King Farouk/Faruq of Egypt on Pakistan‘s Islamic fixation quoted in “Mainsprings of Indian and Pakistani foreign policies” by S. M. Burke (Pages 138 and 139) :
King Faruq was reported to have ridiculed Pakistan's devotion to Islamic causes by saying to his courtiers, “Don't you know that Islam was born on 14 August 1947.”

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Embedded in the Cultural DNA?

The extra-judicial killing of blasphemers may be embedded in Pakistan's cultural DNA.  I say so because I came across a poem by Pakistan's national poet, Muhammad Iqbal, that supposedly commemorates such events.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sins of the Father

R.K. Kaushik tells us:
Salman Taseer was murdered because of his stand on the blasphemy law regarding Holy Prophet. There is a strange coincidence. His father too had praised, defended and arranged for the funeral of Illamddin in 1929 because Illamddin, who had killed Rajpal Malhotra, the owner of Hind Pocket Books and father of former Punjab Governor Surender Nath because of his comments on Holy Prophet.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Saudi Barbaria

From BRF, this link.  A woman is gang-raped, and so is given hundred lashes for adultery.

"Only Religious Thugs Love Blasphemy Laws"

Nick Cohen in The Guardian:

If the circumstances were not so hideous, the successful attempt by Pakistan to persuade the UN Human Rights Council to condemn blasphemers who defame religion would have been a black comedy. Every word its diplomats used in 2009 to protest against Islamophobia turned out to be a precise description of the prejudices the Pakistani state was appeasing at home.
"Defamation of religion is a serious affront to human dignity leading to a restriction on the freedom of their adherents and incitement to religious violence," thundered the Pakistani officials to the UN in 2009.

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing the marvellous Norwegian singer Deepika Thathaal (Deeyah). To Norway's shame, religious thugs harassed her and her family and drove her out of the country for the crimes of being glamorous and sexy and singing about freedom.
She came to Britain, and to Britain's shame, our religious thugs called her a "whore" and threatened to kill her too. She fled to America and told me that if white racists had driven an Asian singer from two countries, her case would be a cause celebre. As it was, the bigots who persecuted her had brown rather than white skins, so Europeans looked away.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Almeida on opposing the Jihad

Cyril Almeida,on the situation in Pakistan:
When it comes to using state power, the major political parties have a pretty equal, and pretty awful, record of opposing the infrastructure of jihad.

Perhaps the worst of the lot so far in this respect has been Asif Zardari. Sure he says all the right things, in his glib, oily way, but what has he really done?

Gauba on the Sikhs

K.L. Gauba, Consequences of Pakistan, 1946:

The Problem of Khalistan

But the foregoing table is only a faint indication of the problem involved. A separation of the Ambala Division from Punjab would mean the division of Sikhs of the Punjab into two provinces.

Are the Sikhs willing to be so divided ?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

From K.M. Munshi's Hyderabad Memoirs

K.M. Munshi had the following to say (1957)(The End of an Era - Hyderabad Memoirs)
(emphasis added)

"The Indian National Congress, the architect as well as the instrument of Indian nationalism, was for several decades dominated by Mahatma Gandhi and his devoted band of followers, both Hindus and Muslims.  It exercised great self-restraint.  But for it, Muslim separativeness would have led to the growth of fierce Hindu aggressiveness.

When the transfer of power from the British to Indian hands became a clear possibility, the separativeness which dominated certain sections of Muslims found expression in their growing demands.  They wanted separate electorates; communal weightage; then, a balance of Hindu-Muslim provinces in the Federal government; later, a claim to equality of representation with the Hindu community. ...Ultimately when freedom was at hand, this separativeness took the shape of a blunt refusal to live in the same country and a determination to establish a separate homeland......

....Once  Pakistan was conceded and the Congress installed in office in New Delhi, communal fanaticism lost its hold over vast sections of the Hindus.  The fanatic impulse among most of the Muslims who remained in India was also curbed, at least on the surface.

But these new developments created little impression on the North Indian Muslims of Hyderabad....The Ittehad, inspired and dominated mostly by the Indian Muslims was also aided by local adventurers.  Its natural ambition, therefore, was to build a modern fascist centre of communal aggressiveness in India on the crumbling edifice of the State....Their object, scarcely concealed, was to establish Islamic domination, with or without the aid of Pakistan, first of Hyderabad, then of the South and ultimately of the whole of India.

Had this attempt succeeded, it would have precipitated so powerful a Hindu sentiment as to have spelt the end of a free democracy in India.  It would have also arrested its march towards a modern democratic state.  The end of the Ittehad, therefore, served to bury this potential catastrophe once for all.

...If Hyderabad had remained unintegrated with the rest of India, the country would have felt outraged.  The communal fascism of the Ittehad would have developed into a civil war between the communities.  The Muslims of India, who had been accepted as an integral part of our democratic society, would have come to be looked upon as hostiles.

...By the Police Action, the people of India not only met an internal challenge; they fulfilled the destiny which had been denied to them by the accidents of history.

With the close of the Hyderabad episode, therefore, an era came to an end.

The tragedies of Pakistan

In reflecting on Salman Taseer's death:
One of Pakistan’s bigger tragedies is that it is boring.

On Salman Taseer's death

Kapil Komireddi writes in the Guardian

Who bears the responsibility for Taseer's death? To Pakistan's liberals, the principal cause of religious extremism in their country begins and ends with one person: General Zia-ul-Haq, an austere bigot who governed the country from 1976 until his death in 1988. Apportioning the blame so disproportionately exonerates his predecessors, erases the deeper history of theocratic idealism that underpins the very idea of Pakistan, and promotes, to the present generation, the erroneous idea that, prior to Zia, Pakistan accommodated pluralism.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Jinnah on the Constituent Assembly

This is from "Pakistan & Constituent Assembly", by Iftikhar-ul-Haq (1946).   One objection to a Constituent Assembly elected by universal adult franchise is that the electorate is mostly illiterate.

Mr. Jinnah elucidated this point on 4th December, 1939, when in a statement in the New Chronicle he said,  "Mr. Gandhi is neither concerned with the size of the country, nor the illiteracy of the masses.  A truly representative assembly presupposes that in order faithfully to express the judgment of the people it can be o[nly?] be constituted if you have a fully developed public opinion, an electorate educated [ ] experienced, free from superstition and capable of judging the vital political issues affecting the country, and not as India stands today, composed of castes, creeds, superstitions, provincial jealousies, quite apart from the main division of British India and Indian States.  The assembly proposed by Mr. Gandhi at best, therefore, be a packed body manœuvred and managed by the Congress caucus".

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Gauba's assessment

In Consequences of Pakistan, 1946, K.L. Gauba had the following assessment of the position of the Muslim League after World War II began, reproduced below.  It is of interest as a contemporary Punjabi view of the situation.