On April 16, Lahore’s Human Rights Commission of Pakistan observed a day dedicated to late journalist-author Abdullah Malik and had Ishtiaq Ahmed, professor emeritus of political science, Stockholm University, and visiting professor at the city’s prestigious Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), reading his paper on “the ideational structure of the two nation theory which informs the very idea of Pakistan”.
Ahmed highlighted two apparently mutually contradictory concepts embedded in the two speeches made by the founder of the Pakistan, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. He went back to his address at an All-India Muslim League rally on March 22, 1940, explaining how the Muslims were a “separate nation” in India: “It is extremely difficult to appreciate why our Hindu friends fail to understand the real nature of Islam and Hinduism. They are not religions in the strict sense of the word, but are, in fact, different and distinct social orders, and it is a dream that the Hindus and Muslims can ever evolve a common nationality…
“The Hindus and Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies, social customs and literatures. They neither intermarry nor inter-dine together and, indeed, they belong to two different civilisations which are based mainly on conflicting ideas and conceptions. Their aspects on life and of life are different.
“It is quite clear that Hindus and Musalmans derive their inspiration from different sources of history. They have different epics, different heroes and different episodes. Very often the hero of one is a foe of the other and, likewise, their victories and defeats overlap. To yoke together two such nations under a single state, one as a numerical minority and the other as a majority must lead to growing discontent and final destruction of any fabric that may be so built up for the government of such a state”.
Read today, the message is: religions and culture separate people. On the basis of the idea of “self-determination”, therefore, the Muslim minority should be administered separately from the Hindu majority. The Lahore Resolution, passed the following day, was later called the Pakistan Resolution. It called for separate Muslim states (provinces) in contiguous Muslim-majority areas in India.
Scholars by and large accept that nations come into being after the state has had time to inculcate that sense into its population. Others say people can “imagine” a separate homeland for themselves living within a state they don’t like — often because they are a minority there and are unhappy. No theory is tenable: after the collapse of communist states in 1990, 28 new states came into being in eastern Europe and erstwhile USSR, and not many are doing well. Sudan bifurcated after the Muslim-majority state went nuts over Islam, becoming …continued »