The All-India Muslim League (AIML) (1906-47) was, of course, by far the most important Indo-Muslim institution in the first half of the twentieth century. Most important in terms of its outstanding accomplishment: freedom for sixty million Muslims and the creation of Pakistan.Pakistan, about which The Times (London) wrote on August 15, 1947,“In the hour of its creation Pakistan emerges as the leading state of the Muslim world. Since the collapse of the Turkish Empire that world, which extends across the globe from Morocco to Indonesia, has not included a state whose numbers, natural resources, and place in history gave it undisputed pre-eminence. The gap is now filled. From today Karachi takes rank as a new centre of Muslim cohesion and rallying point of Muslim thought and aspirations.”Pakistan, raised the Muslim world’s expectations to such a point that Maulana Abul Hasan Nadvi, Nazim-i-A‘ala, Nadwat-ul-Musannifin, Azamgarh, India, remarked on July 9, 1978, “there is a time today in thechequered Islamic history when Pakistan, as a leading Muslim State, is called upon to show the way to the unity and strength of the Islamic world…the unity and advancement of Pakistan will make Islam so powerful that the Muslim nations wherever they are exploited or repressed would be enabled to face the challenge successfully.“…Pakistan today is standing on Islamic history’s vital cross-roads and, therefore, any step forward or backward would make or mar the future of the Muslim world.”Muslim India’s long, tortuous march to freedom and Pakistan can by no means be explained without reference to the chequered career of the Muslim League. But, then, how does one explain its rather sudden birth, slow growth, the doldrums it had been sucked into in the early 1920s and the early 1930s, and its stupendous, unexpected, rise, phoenix-like, since the late 1930s?A rise that had lent to consolidate itself into a formidable political machine in the early 1940s – undauntedly confronting the entrenched Indian National Congress, (founded 1885) both at the polling booth and in the streets. Could all this be explained merely in terms of the interplay of political currents and cross-currents, or in terms of the permutation andcombination, confluence, clash and sythesization of the socio-economic and political forces that were working in India’s complex body-politic?This leads us to several other questions. Is there a way to look at the history of a people or a nation in such terms? Can history admit interpretation in some broad patterns? And can we reconstruct the story of a people or a nation, and for that matter, of an organization, in a widely acceptedconceptual framework? Or, do we have to resort, however willy nilly, to the popular stereotyped Grand Narrative format, making (what the British historian, E.H. Carr calls) a “fetishism of facts”, as if we are engaged in the time-consuming, but little rewarding, routine of spilling the beans in the most precepitate manner?Making what E.H. Carr calls “a fetishism of facts”, this resort to the spilling-of-beans modality, which the German historian, Ranke, sanctified as the ultimate approach in the historian’s craft, has been found to spawn “dry-as-dust” histories. Ironically though, Sir Walter Scott, who had, in a fleeting moment of intense creativity, coined this picturesque, but pejorative, term, had himself fallen a victim to it in most of his “histories”, to quote Arnold J. Toynbee. This only goes to underline the palpable fact how difficult it is to get away from its format and approach. Yet the bottom line is that it is the least conducive to an analytical approach, which would ensure an evaluation and understanding of the significance of an event in all its ramifications, in terms of its causes and consequences, and attempt an explanation as to why that event had occurred at that precise moment in history. This can be done only when a study of the period or an organization is studied in terms of the historical forces at the moment, which fashioned it as it happened in the annals of history.History, it is rightly claimed, “is a form of apprehension and expression in which the line between fact and fiction is left undrawn”. But why? Because historians cannot entirely dispense with the fictional element and techniques even as dramatists and novelists cannot entirely do away with the factual element. Take the capital case of an all time epic: The Iliad. “Any one who starts reading it as history will find that it is full of fiction but, equally, anyone who starts reading it as fiction will find that it is full of history.” The same goes for other great historical works.And the Gibbons, the Macaulays and the Carlyles have been acclaimed as having produced great monumental works, if only because they have scrupulously avoided “their more inspired conferrers’ factual inaccuracies”. In tandem, the conceptual framework conceived by Toynbee, the foremost historian of the twentieth century, is among the most conducive for such interpretation, for explaining a certain event or action in a given historical context.Toynbee, on his part, has most ingeniously and successfully tried to reconstruct and interpret history in an all-encompassing, two-tiered conceptual framework: Challenge-and-Response and Withdrawal-and-Return. In essence, these two constructs denote the alternating rhythm of static (Yin) and dynamic (Yan), of movement and pause and movement. After all, History, like Time, seems to stand still at times while at others to be hurtling towards a climatic finale.In this framework, a society nation or a people, before they begins their onward march at any given point in history, are in a state of equilibrium or passivity – i.e., in a static (Yin) state, whole and intact, pursuing contentedly their normal routine which this state calls for. When Yin is thus complete and has run its course, they are ready to pass into Yan – i.e., a state of dynamic activity. And this “change in a state which, by definition, is perfect after its kind can only be started by an impulse or motive which comes from outside”. This intervening variable, this intruding factor, works as a catalyst, providing “that on which it intrudes upon with the stimulus of the kind best calculated to evoke the most potently creative” response. That is, this intruding factor causes cataclysmic ripples, severely exposing the almost somnolent, almost contented, society to a challenge which it is bound to mount a response to, whether positive or negative.Response to a given challenge may, of course, be creative or retrogressive, with the taxonomy of the response depending upon the nature of the challenge and the state of the society to which it is given. Challenge can be environmental or human, external or internal, moral, psychological, economic, aesthetic, or technological. Sometimes it is too crushing and at times it is too feeble – to evoke a creative response, or any response at all. But if mean, the stimulus it provides is the greatest. And more often than not, a successful response exposes the society to another challenge, subsequently yet another challenge, and so on, with the rhythm going on, ad infinitum. The “growing” society is thus destined to be on the move – all the time.A given society, however, does not necessarily have to immediately respond to each challenge. Sometimes, it may, and at others it may just choose to withdraw itself from the scene, and into its own shell. And this for soul-searching purposes: to measure its inherent strength (and weakness), and to formulate a viable response in the light of this self-introspection. Once this process is completed, it confidently and, usually, dramatically returns to the scene, and the world witnesses the astounding phenomenon of the cataclysmic re-birth of a society. Rebirth, phoenix-like, through a series of herculian efforts after an usually long, dismal period of what could best be described as one of suspended animation. And in Toynbee’s terminology, this multi-tiered process is called “Withdrawal-and-Return”.Under this framework, how could one explain the founding of the All-India Muslim League in 1906? A capital case of the final step in a long-drawn out creative process of Withdrawal and Return.In his Physics and Politics, Walter Bagehot remarks, “All the great nations have been prepared in privacy and secret. They have been composed far away from all distraction.” A view that has received reinforcement from Benjamin Disraeli, twice British Prime Minister and one of the extraordinary figures to reach the pinnacle of British politics. To him, a nation is a work of art and time. Replace the term “nation”/”nations” by “political movement”, and you will find the basic explanation to the rise of the Muslim League in 1906.The explication of this rather unexpected Return calls for a historical flashback. But without going too far back in history, we may, first, well confine our canvas to the more relevant period of British imperial rule in India (1858-1947) – from Queen Victoria’s proclamation of November 4, 1858, which heralded British sovereignty over the entire subcontinent to the hauling down of the Union Jack over the (British) Governor-General House in New Delhi on August 14-15, 1947. Second, it would be more appropriate to look at the forest in terms of its ramifications and internal demarcations before embarking upon a counting of the trees, if only to put events and developments, oft considered discrete, in perspective and the total context, underlining their specific significance in respect of subsequent events and developments.Loyalism, romanticism and realism: The ninety years of British imperial rule period may be broadly divided into three distinct phases in Muslim political thinking and politics, swinging the pendulum from one end of the continuum to the other, and then gradually trudging towards the centre. For short-hand purposes, they may be described as the eras of (i) loyalism, (ii) romanticism and revolutionary activism, and (iii) realism. The last one represented constructive thinking and bold initiatives, instead of being merely or primarily a reaction and a response, whether instant or studied, to challenges, developments and harsh realities at the moment, the sort of responses that had largely characterized the first two phrases or eras.The first era, that of loyalism (1860s-1912), was initiated and sympolized by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan (1819-98). The second one, that of romanticism, which found a fulsome and crystalline political expression for the altruistic pan-Islamic tendencies in Indian Islam dating back to the battle of Plenova during 1875-76 and eventuating in the tumultuous, revolutionary Khilafat movement (1918-24), was largely the handiwork of Maulana Moahmed Ali (1878-1931) and the ulema group, which finally organized itself under the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-i-Hind banner in 1919. And the last one, that of realism, constructive thinking and bold initiatives, was almost single handedly fashioned and led by Jinnah (1876-1948), from 1924 onwards.In terms of the affiliation of these figures who led Muslim India at various stages during the ninety years, transforming it from a broken reed to a vibrant and buoyant nation, straining at the leash and grimly determined to wrest its due place in India’s complex body politic, Sir Syed had laboriously and methodically prepared the ground for the birth of the Muslim League. Prepared the ground, though unconsciously, in terms of getting Muslims educated through the Aligarh College (f. 1877) and other educational activities and engendering and solidifying the pan-Indian Muslim community consciousness through the Muslim Educational Conference (f. 1887) and the Aligarh Movement (1880ff). Mohamed Ali was in and out of, and then, again, in the Muslim League. He had participated actively at the Muslim Education Conference Dacca session on December 30, 1906, when and where the Muslim League was founded, and had recorded its deliberations for posterity in The Green Book No.1 (1907). He was also active in the initial years, and was in regular correspondence with its General Secretary, Aziz Mirza. Though he never formally severed his association with the AIML, his intense allegiance to the Turkish cause, from 1914 onwards, led him into the pan-Islamic Khilafat and revolutionary politics, while the Khilafat movement, in turn, led him for a brief stint (1923-28) into the Congress, whose Coconada session he had presided over in 1923, etching his name in the Congress’s pantheon as its fourth Muslim President since its founding in 1885.Jinnah was initially active in nationalist and Congress politics since 1904. He was associated closely with Congress stalwarts and past presidents such as Badruddin Tyabji (1844-1906), Dadabhoy Nooroji (1825-1917), Gopal Krishna Gokhale (1866-195), Sir Feroze Shah Mehta (1845-1915) and Sir Dinshaw Edulji Wacha (1844-1936), and had led a Congress deputation to Lord Crewe, Secretary of State for India in October 1913. He got formally enrolled into the AIML, in London, on October 10, 1913, reportedly at the instance of Sir Wazir Hasan, the AIML’s General Secretary, and Mahomed Ali, who were visiting London to present the Muslim case on the Cawnpore Mosque agitation to the British officials. And Jinnah had stayed with the League throughout the rest of his public life. He was elected its President for the Lucknow session in 1916, and its Permanent President in 1919, which office he retained till December 15, 1947, when the AIML was finally wound up, getting re-elected after each three-year term, except for the years in self-exile in London (1931-34). More than any other leader, he had set the tone and tenor of the AIML’s policies and postures for over three decades, provided coherence to them, retrieved it from doldrums and nursed and nourished it back to life in 1924 and 1934-36, transformed it into a mass organization during 1937-39, and organized, mobilized and galvanized it during the epochal 1937-47 decade, to a point that it could confront successfully the entrenched Congress, both in the streets and at the hustings, during the critical 1940s.Of these three leading lights, Sir Syed in the late nineteenth century and Jinnah during the critical 1937-47 decade were most creative and constructive, donning and fulfilling the critical role of “an event making man” in the Sidney Hook sense. Event-making because each of them had helped to create, in Hook’s conceptual parlance, “a fork in the historical road” and left “the positive imprint of his personality upon history – an imprint that is still observable after he has disappeared from the scene”. Both of them had also fulfilled the Hegelian test of a zeitgeist (“Spirit of the Time”) and of the Hegelian classic formulation of the relationship of a great man to his age, which lays down, according to E.H. Carr, that“The great man of the age is one who can put into words the will of his age, tell its age what its will is, and accomplish it. What he does is the heart and essence of his age; he actualizes it.”Hence both of them were extremely successful in their respective missions. If Jinnah was the founder of Pakistan, Sir Syed represented the first building brick in raising the edifice of Pakistan.In contrast, Mahomed Ali was a mere “eventful” man – being merely present on the scene when an event was taking shape rather than calling that event to happen. As the most vocal protagonist of the Khilafat cause, he was the hero of the Khilafat cause, and the man of the moment during 1920-23. Mahomed Ali who, released from the Betul Jail some five years after he was interned for his pan-Islamic outpourings, on December 15, 1919, made a triumphant entry into Amritsar straight from Betul, to receive a hero’s welcome at the Congress, League and Khilafat conferences, meeting over there during the Christmas week. A few weeks later, he headed the Indian Khilafat Delegation to London, returned to India late in 1920, toured the country from one end to the other along with Gandhiji breathing life in the Khilafat and Non-Cooperation movement for most of 1921, was tried for sedition and sentenced to five years’ rigorous imprisonment, but was released in 1923. Still the Khilafat hero, he, however, suffered a double discomfiture the next year, which he could not recover from till his death on January 4, 1931. The Kemalist abolition of the caliphate on March 3, 1924 denuded his Khilafat Conference, his political base, of its rationale, rendering him a leader without a cause. This was compounded when his subsidiary goal of effecting Hindu-Muslim unity went up in smoke when Gandhi took a polarized stance on the Kohat riots in 1924. Mahomed Ali, chastened by the twin discomfitures, began taking renewed interest in the AIML, and helped to strengthen Jinnah’s hands, who was then frenetically engaged in developing a Muslim consensus on the constitutional proposals formulated for a Hindu-Muslim/Congress-Muslim League settlement during the late 1920s.Sir Syed Ahmad Khan: Now to attempt a more detailed delineation of the League’s chequered career in terms of causing a political regeneration of the Muslims, eventuating in Pakistan’s emergence on world’s map in August 1947. How did Sir Syed prepare the ground for the rise of the Muslim League in the first place, though he was terribly opposed to any sort of political activity? He did, though unconsciously, while attempting to meet the challenges inherent in the traumatic post 1857 situation. First was the challenge of British deep- seated suspicion of Muslims being the chief instigators of the 1857 Rebellion, with a view to retrieve and recover their lost empire, and of hatching new conspiracies to topple down the British power. No wonder the British considered the Muslims as the potential danger to their colonial rule in India, engendering a deep distrust of them, with disastrous consequences to their fate and future. In the result, the Muslims came to be victimized, penalized and punished on the flimsiest of pretexts. To get them stew in their own juice, their lands were forfeited and they debarred from all government services. In economic terms, they were turned into a broken reed. In power terms, they were made to kiss the dust in the land they had ruled for so long. And in psychological terms, this sudden confrontation of the harsh post-1857 realities on Muslim hopes and aspirations was devastating, to say the least.The only remedy to meet this challenge was to bring about a political rapprochement between the ruling British and the hated and oppressed Muslims. This Sir Syed sought to accomplish through two consequential treatises: Asbab-i-Baghawat-i-Hind (1858) and Loyal Muhammadans of India (1860-61). The first one put down the British ignorance of the Indian mind as the most important cause of the “Mutiny” and advocated, as an antidote, the representation of Indians in the Viceroy’s Legislative Council while the second one defended the Musalmans against reckless charges of disloyalty and sedition. Interestingly, the British heeded Sir Syed plea and got Indians associated with the British administration in 1861. Finally, Sir Syed’s efforts, supplemented by W.W. Hunter’s The Indian Musalmans (1871), caused a gradual shift in the British attitude by the early 1870s.Simultaneously, the challenge of economic dispowerment of Muslims compounded by their exclusion from Government jobs, which was the primary source of living at the moment, was sought to be met by recourse to modern education. Over the centuries the Muslims had specialized in two services: the army and the judicial. The British suspicions had blocked their entry into the armed forces and the police, while Macaulay’s Minute of 1835, which replaced Persian by English as the official language, had make them unfit for filling in any judicial position overnight. To make matter worse, their antipathy against the British had led them to boycott the Christian Missionary schools which were imparting modern education at the time. Thus, to quote Hunter in the case of Bengal, their boycott had make them unfit “for any post above the rank of a porter, messenger, filler of ink-pots and mender of pens”. And their wretched backwardness in education, which in turn caused apalling poverty, called for immediate measures. No wonder, Sir Syed, therefore, not only advocated modern education as the supreme remedy, and established several schools and the Aligarh College in 1877, through the community’s own efforts.The singular success that attended these pioneering ventures led Sir Syed subsequently to enlarge both his goal and target audience, encompassing the national education of all the Muslims in the subcontinent, and found the Mohammedan Educational Conference in 1887, so that all the available Muslim resources and energies be mobilized, canalized and centralized for further education. And within the next two decades, it became the forum of Muslim intelligentsia to process, articulate, aggregate and press their demands and grievances, making a tremendous impact on the fortunes of Muslims throughout the subcontinent, and especially in the Punjab. Thus, in a sense, it donned the role of the Indian National Congress, which Sir Syed had called on Muslims to shun, in the interest of concentrating Muslim attention and limited resources solely on educating themselves for social and economic empowerment, rather than frittering them away in unproductive pursuits.Ancillary to his efforts in extending education, Sir Syed also attempted to meet the challenge of social and moral reform, which he did primarily through his Tahzibul Akhlaq, (f.1871) wherein he donned the role of “a born moralist” who would never tire of expatiating on what the people should do and shouldn’t.The two most potent legacies Sir Syed had received from the historic realm were: (i) Islam, and (ii) the haunting memory of 800-year Muslim rule in India, and its heritage. Islam had provided Muslims with the basis and bases for a separate identity, besides spawning a distinct Indian Muslin culture. Of this culture Urdu was the foremost symbol which also simultaneously and significantly constituted the core cultural bridge between Hindus and Muslims. Urdu had also been adopted since the Macaulay’s Minute (1835) as the language of administration at the lower levels and in courts and the common medium of communication in the Punjab (since 1849), the North-Western Provinces and Bihar. Simultaneously, since 1837, with the introduction of lithography, which greatly facilitated printing of Urdu material, Urdu newspapers began proliferating all over the subcontinent during the next two decades, becoming the most widely read papers across vast swathes of territory. Thus, by 1857 Urdu had become the language of discourse not only at the elite and literary levels, but had also become the medium of news and information, for debate and discussion at the popular level. In the result, it had increasingly become the lingua franca, if there was one. Hence the Benares Hindu agitation in 1867 and the subsequent snowballing movement throughout North-Western Provinces and Bihar for replacing it by Hindi “as the language of administration at the lower level” jolted Sir Syed beyond repair. He considered the demand as “the way to a rift”, in a letter to his collaborator and friend, Mehdi Ali Khan (later Muhsinul Mulk) ( -1907) from London on April 29, 1870. “If it comes to be it would open an unending vista of split and strife between Hindus and Muslims. The rupture would never be healed….The two communities would be irrevocably rent asunder”, he warned.What alarmed Sir Syed all the more was that from early 1870s onwards British official policy had become receptive to the pressure of Hindu agitation. Thus, between 1871 and 1881, Urdu came to be downgraded and Hindi enthroned in Bihar, the Central Provinces and in the Darjeeling district of Bengal Meantime, Hindu agitation had built up several fold in the North-Western (later United) Provinces. The climax would come in 1898, the year of Sir Syed’s death, when Sir Anthony MacDonnell, the North-Western Provinces’ Lieutenant Governor, would replace Urdu by Hindi in the lower courts of that province. In any case, the Urdu-Hindi controversy had made the greatest impact on Sir Syed in terms of strengthening and crystallizing the Muslim nationalist streak in his personality and posture, leading him, first, to give an Islamic texture to the Aligarh College, then to initiate the Aligarh movement through the Muslim Educational Conference, and finally to conceptualize the two nation theory, though in nebulous terms.For the moment, this theory became manifest in the political field for the most part. Sir Syed felt that the Muslims in their parlous state of educational and economic backwardness and numerical inferiority could not possibly compete with the Hindus in elections, pure and simple. The Muslims would have one vote to Hindus’ four votes. “It would be a game of dice in which one man had four votes and the other only one”, argued Sir Syed. Hence he stood for equal representation for Muslims and Hindus in the North-Western Provinces, for separate (communal) electorates and weightage, and nomination throughout India where the Muslim quota was not filled in through election. Though not perceived at the moment, these proposals, which served as the blueprint for the Muslim proposals at Simla in 1906, contained the seed of Pakistan, for without separate electorates there would have been no Pakistan.But these demands were by no means anti-Congress or anti-Hindu. Surendranath Banerjea, thrice Congress president, had demanded proportional representation for Bengal in the 1880s. And Sir Syed got the device of nomination introduced to rectify the injustice to Muslims under the elective system in the Local Boards Bill (1883) in the Supreme Legislative Council two years before the birth of the Congress.To sum up Sir Syed’s contribution, then. In initiating, conceptualizing and accomplishing what all Sir Syed did, he had, though not too consciously, laid the “foundations” of a separate Muslim nationhood – in terms of the issues framed, propositions laid down, attitudes defined, postures taken, and the pattern of Hindu-Muslim relations cast.Birth of the Muslim League: To Sir Syed, educational, but not political activities was the supreme motto, and Loyalism, indeed utter loyalism, the supreme creed. In ruling out politics altogether for Muslims at this stage of social development, Sir Syed’s strategy, it seems, stemmed from his overriding concern not to re-arouse British suspicions about Muslims’ loyality and to preclude a re-visitation of their wrath. Otherwise, apart from Nawab Abdul Latif’s Mohammedan Literary Society (f. Calcutta 1863), Syed Ameer Ali’s Central National Mohammedan Association (f. Calcutta, 1877), Sir Syed himself had founded/co-sponsored the British India Association (f.1866) at Aligarh, Mohammedan Political Association (f. Aligarh, 1883) with himself as Secretary to protect Muslim political interests, the Indian Patriotic Association (f.1888) and, still later, the Anglo-Mohammedan Defence Association in 1893 at Aligarh. In perspective, the last one was the precursor and prototype of the Muslim League. Even the Mohammedan Educational Conference, in serving the Congress’s role for Muslims, was in a sense a political body at the time, despite its nomenclature.Such being the case, didn’t Sir Syed possibly realize that his educational motto and his loyalist creed could hardly go together, beyond a few decades at the most? Ort, was he simply feigning not to realize it as a matter of sheer strategy, if only to keep the British officialdom in good humour and at the same time let his innately and inherently nation-building ventures going and growing, without let or hindrance? For, it is in the very nature of the educative process to prepare a people, step by step, for political activity, to win them over to the cause of “ordering their affairs according to their own lights”, if they are not already free. This is all the more so in the case or students such as Indians whose very fountain of knowledge at the time primarily consisted of English literature, British history and politics – writers such as Bowles (“The cause of freedom is the cause of God”); Wordsworth (“We must be free or die, who speak the tongue”); Bruke (“Liberty does not come down to a people; a people must rise themselves to liberty”); Macaulay (“Many politicians are in the habit of laying it down as a self-evident proposition that no people ought to be free till they are fit to use their freedom. The maxim is worthy of the fool in the old story who resolved not to go into the water till he had learned to swim”); Mill (“The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way...”). Milton, Shakespeare and others.Thus, through this educative process, and under the influence of such writings, the Muslims were ready within less than three decades after the birth of Aligarh, to reverse the programme to which Sir Syed had dedicated them.This reversal is seen in the famous words of a faithful colleague and avowed Sir Sayed-ite, Nawab Viqar-ul-Mulk, ( -1917), who wrote in 1900; “In the manner in which Muslim rights are being trampled upon and attacked from all sides and the tone of the number of articles that are being published against us, it is impossible for the Muslims to keep their tongue closed and be mere passive observers. Who can deny that by such moves Muslims will not be hit hard? To remain indifferent to this and to be stagnant and to concentrate all our energies in making mere education popular is an ideal impossible to achieve and act upon.”This the Nawab uttered at the height of the Muslim agitation protesting against the enthronement of Hindi at the expense of Urdu by the U.P. Lieutenant Governor, McDonnell, in 1898. Presently, an Urdu Defence Association was set up, and a representative meeting held at Lucknow on August 18, 1900, under the Chairmanship of Nawab Mohsinul Mulk. The government was extremely unhappy about the snowballing Muslim agitation, with the Lieutenant Governor asking the Nawab Sahib to choose between the Aligarh College secretaryship and the Association’s presidentship. Later, on October 20-21, 1901, 26 Muslim leaders met at Lucknow under the presidentship of Syed Sharufddin, formerly a leading Congress stalwart, who had gone to England in a deputation on Congress’s behalf at his own expense, and later to be a High Court judge. The meeting decided that “the Muslims should form an organization which should act in respect of the social and political needs and interests”, and appointed a committee to organize branches in various districts. But Nawab Viqar-ul-Mulk found little public support for it during his extensive tour of the country. Later, in July 1903, Abdullah Jan issued a handbill entitled “Defence of Muslim Rights”. Presently, at a public meeting of Muslims at Saharanpur, U.P., the Mohammedan Political Association was launched, with Viqar-ul-Mulk, Sahibzada Aftab Ahmed Khan and Mian Shah Din being the leading lights. At last, the Muslims had begun to stir politically.The Hindu demand for a representative form of government indirectly exposed the Muslims to the challenge of getting a “Shoneen” Muslim elected as a Muslim representative. This telling term Lord Morley had used in the House of Lord’s debate on Indian reforms, citing the Irish case, to describe a Hindu-oriented Muslim who was much, much too friendly with the Hindus that he would not mind sacrificing legitimate Muslim interests to please his Hindu friends and win their goodwill. In any case, the Muslims were painfully aware that under the previous reforms, ending with the Indian Councils Act of 1892, to quote Dr. Abdullah al-Mamun Suhrawardy in his Supplementary Note to the Simon Commission (1930),: “No Mussalman ever got into the Imperial or Provincial Councils by election except in the rarest of instances. Even eminent Muslims, whose enlightenment, culture and attainments would have done honour to any country or community, like Sir Sayed Ahmad Khan, the great founder of the Muslim College (now, University) at Aligarh, the Right Hon’ble Syed Ameer Ali, Nawab Sir Khawaja Ahsanullah of Dacca and His Highness the Agha Khan, had to enter the Council of the Governor-General by the back door of nominations.”To this challenge of Muslims being prevented indirectly, through joint electorates, from being represented by their genuine representatives, the Muslim riposte was the Simla deputation of 1906: it demanded separate electorates for Muslims in the forthcoming instalment of reforms. Separate electorate, henceforwth, became the sheet-anchor of Indian Muslim politics. The sheet-anchor for the simple reason that were Muslims to retain their distinct entity and individuality in India’s body politic or cosmos, as they had been claiming to or clamouring for since their dethronement from the corridors of power, this claim or “political fact” should be effectively and adequately reflected in India’s future constitutional structure, which was being raised progressively by the British through the Reforms.Meantime came Lord Curzon’s Partition of Bengal (October 1906) which yielded a Muslim majority province, called Eastern Bengal and Assam. The Muslims of Bengal, a chronically backward Muslim majority region, which had groaned under Hindu domination since the Permanent Settlement of 1793, had a vested interest in the continuance of the new province. But the Hindus and the Congress were up in arms against the whittling down of their erstwhile domination in the entire Bengal and Assam region, and, hence, against Partition. The very success of the Simla deputation which drew Congress’s ire against the Muslim demand for separate electorates had exposed the Muslim leadership to the internal challenge of mobilizing Muslim public opinion in favour of the demand, lest it got drowned under the avalanche of a new Hindu agitation against it. This internal challenge along with the external one inherent in the Hindu agitation for the Bengal Partition annulment led Muslims athinking about setting up a political organization, if only to buttress their demand. Syed Ameer Ali and the Aga Khan, from London, called for setting up a “Mohammedan Committee for the completion of the work of the [Simla] Deputation” and, among others, Nawab Saleemullah of Dacca circulated his Scheme for Muslim Confederacy. Meantime, Nawab Mohsin-ul-Mulk had received a large number of suggestions from various Muslim leaders and Associations throughout India, one of them by Mian Fazli-i-Hussain, who had established the “Muslim League” in the Punjab in February 1906, the first body to be so nomenclatured. Finally, Nawab Saleemullah’s Scheme became the basis for discussion at a meeting of Muslim leaders held at Dacca on December 30, 1906, after the conclusion of the Muslim Educational Conference, and it decided on setting up a political organization called the Muslim League. In perspective, this was the most creative Muslim response since the 1857 holocaust. That holocaust had represented too heavy, indeed too crushing, a challenge to elicit an immediate response and it took Muslims almost half a century to prepare themselves, the end result being the striking out of “a successful response through a creative movement of Withdrawal-and-Return”.The objectives of the Muslim League, when it finally came to be established, were:“(a) to promote among the Musalmans of India, feelings of loyalty to the British Government, and to remove any misconception that may arise as to the intention of the Government with regard to any of its measures;“(b) to protect and advance the political rights and interests of the Musalmans of India, and to respectfully represent their needs and aspirations to the Government;“(c) to prevent the rise, among the Musalmans of India, of any feeling of hostility towards other communities, without prejudice to the other aforementioned objects of the League.”Predictably, the birth of the Muslim League evoked a mixed response. The Englishmen thought that “it is high time that the Mohammedans of India found a voice” while the Times of India and the Daily Telegraph of Lucknow welcomed its formation. In contrast, the Bengali lambasted the League and its organizers and predicted that “it will go the way of the Patriotic Association”. The British press was a little ambivalent. The Times welcomed the change as an evitable outcome of the Congress movement, but doubted whether the League’s establishment would make for peace. The Spectator did not like the “feeling among Muslims that they must organize in a camp by themselves”, although it acknowledged the League objectives as excellent. The Morning Post warned the League to remain “entirely defensive and protective”, lest it invited “the most drastic intervention of the British rulers”. To The Contemporary Review, “the Rubicon has been crossed”: “the Muslims of India have forsaken the shades of retirement for the political area; henceforth a new factor in Indian politics has to be reckoned with.”Lord Ronaldshay saw the birth of the Muslim League in terms of how a system of government which predicated homogeneity of population was to be adjusted to meet the case of a population whose outstanding characteristic was its hetererogenity. B.B. Majumdar’s comments were imbedded in the historical perspective: had the plan of Syed Ameer Ali and the Central Mohammedan Association to convene the Conference of All-India Muslim leaders matured in 1877, the birth of the Muslim League would have been anticipated twenty years earlier. In the same vein was Jain’s comment. He considered the League as a child of the Aligarh Movement, arguing that “If one looks at the activities of Sir Syed’s Defence Association during 1894-96, we would find that it was the true predecessor of the Muslim League, and it [had] asked in 1896 what the Simla Deputation asked for in 1906. The Muslim League had been founded in accordance with Sir Syed’s scheme of a separate Muslim existence.”In the post 1857 perspective, however, the Muslim League represented the Muslim response to the challenge of two inter-related developments. First was the rise of Hindu revivalist movements such as the Bharat Varta National Society (f. Calcutta 1870), the virulent Arya Samaj (f. Lahore, 1885) which identified India with the Hindus alone, the birth of Gaurakshni (Cow-Protection) Sabhas (f. 1883), the Hindi Sahita Sammelan (f. Allahabad, 1870s), Nagari Pracharni Sabha (f. Benares, 1893), with the Congressite Pandit Madam Mohan Malaviya (1861-1946) as one of its founders; and Bal Gangadhar Tilak (1856-1920)’s Shivaji and Ganpati festivals, and his unrelenting campaign to cause “the national revival on Hindu Dharma”, his penchant for reviving the “glory” of Shivaji, and for imposing a “Hindu-Pad-Padshahi” over the entire subcontinent. Second, was the rise spectacular of Hindu militancy, as manifested during the anti-Bengal Partition agitation.More important and consequential in terms of Muslim India’s fate and future was the fact that the League was well received by Muslims throughout the subcontinent, with branches having been set up at various places before long. Its first session, held at Karachi on December 29-30, 1907, and presided over by Sir Adamjee Peerbhoy, finalized its constitution Later, a special League Council meeting at Aligarh on March 18, 1908, elected the Aga Khan as Permanent President and Syed Hussain Bilgrami the Honorary Secretary. Still later, in May 1908, the London branch of the AIML was founded, with Syed Ameer Ali as President and Ibni Ahmad as the Honorary Secretary. Mohammad Iqbal and M.A. Ansari who were then in London, were included as members of a 14-member Committee.The Muslim League’s first task was to get the separate electorates demand included in the next instalment of reforms, a scheme for which had been already propounded in the Government of India’s letter of August 24, 1907. Secretary of State Lord Morley’s proposals, announced on December 17, 1908, envisaging joint electoral colleges for elections to the Imperial and Provincial Councils, instead of separate electorates, had to be countered effectively and in good time. This the League tried to by mobilizing Muslim public opinion. It sought the help of local Anjumans and Associations across the length and breadth of India to organize meetings and pass resolutions in favour of separate electorates. Then, on January 27, 1909, Syed Ameer Ali led a deputation to Lord Morley and presented him an address which reiterated and emphasized the separate electorate demand. Thus a reversal in the HMG’s stance came to be effected, with Morley moving away from the joint electoral colleges proposal during the second reading of the Indian Council’s Bill in February 1909. And, finally, the demand was conceded in the Indian Councils Act (the Morley-Minto Reforms), in May 1909. This success, considered singular at the time, signified that the League had reached a take-off stage, and the Muslim political elite began flocking to its banner in large numbers.By 1912, Sir Syed’s loyalist plank which had shown cracks since about 1900 had become sundered. Three major developments eroded Muslim faith in British pledges, British conduct and British sense of justice. First was the British annulment of the Bengal Partition in 1911 – the unsettling of “the settled fact” which the British had assured over and over again, and the reversal of the plighted word, and all this under the sheer pressure of Hindu agitation. Second, the British collision in the spoilation of the Ottoman Empire in Africa and Europe and the emasculation of the Persian constitution of 1906 – this rubbing and roughing the Indian Muslims’ sensitive pan-Islamic, raw nerve which had become active since the late nineteenth century. Third, was the British cold damper on the Aligarh University scheme between 1910 and 1912. Predictably, the Muslims felt badly hurt and alienated by this spate of the British insensitive decisions. The Muslims’ hurt feeling came to be all the more exacerbated by the Cawnpur Mosque episode (1013), which saw a portion of the structure demolished. And this spawned a countrywide agitation – the first one on such a scale since 1857.Towards an alliance with Hindus: Muslims’ growing disenchantment with the British and the consequent progressive erosion of the loyalist plank obviously came to be reflected in the League’s deliberations and posture, which, for now, went in for a new phase and a new face. This, in turn, resulted in the incorporation of the ideal of self-government in its plank and in its new found penchant for contracting a political alliance with the Hindus, both in 1913. To quote Al-Mamun Suhrawardy, “‘We [had] put faith’, said the inexperienced younger Muslim politicians, in exasperation and despair, ‘in the words of our British rulers, and we were cruelly betrayed and let down. Why not try and put faith in the word of our Hindu brethren?’”The developments since the late nineteenth century had turned the Indian cosmos into a political triangle: the British constituted the ruling party, the Hindus-dominated Congress the dominant party in terms of education, economic resources, share in the services organizational strength and political clout, and the Muslims at best the poor cousins. And it is in the very nature of such a configuration that the weakest party should seek an alliance with either of the two dominant ones, in order just to keep it afloat, and the Muslims had obviously to follow this rule-of-the-thumb approach. Initially, the Muslims had sought a rapprochement with the British and come to terms with them, if only because they constituted the Power. This realistic approach, symbolized by Sir Syed, did pay them some immediate dividends – especially in the reversal of the British policy towards them since 1871. The progressive disenchantment with the British during 1910-12 indicated that the loyalist approach had run its course, resulting in diminishing returns. For now, therefore, the principle of the balance of power dictated that the Muslims should turn to the Hindus and make peace with them.And this was all the more necessary since the Hindus seemed to be on the royal road to success, if only because their agitational methods seemed to be paying immediate political dividends. Also, in this context, because Muslim gains, secured in the Act of 1909, would remain terribly insecure unless consolidated in good time by buying off Hindu/Congress opposition to them, especially in view of the vigorous Hindu agitation against separate electorates and the British tendency to succumb to agitational methods, as manifested in the annulment of the Bengal Partition Indeed, the lurking fear that the British might well, once again, be pressurized into kowtowing to the Congress’s and negativing the Muslim right to separate electorates in the next instalment of reforms, weighed heavily on the Muslim mind and psyche.The cumulative response to these challenges inherent in the 1913 situation led the Muslims to make an alliance with the Hindus, which alliance crystallized itself in the famous Congress-League, Lucknow Pact of 1916.Thus during 1912-13, the League began setting its sails towards a new orientation – towards finding accommodation with the Hindus. This new policy found its fullsome expression in the resolution passed by the League Council at its Bankipur meeting on December 31, 1912, under the Aga Khan’s presidentship. To the items concerning loyalty towards the British Crown and protection of Muslim rights and interests, the resolution added the following:“(3) To promote friendship and union between the Musalmans and other communities of India; and“(4) Without detriment to the foregoing objects, the attainment of a system of self-government suitable to Continued from page 2India, by bringing about a steady reform of the existing system of administration; by promoting national unity and fostering a public spirit among the people of India; and by co-operating with other communities for the said purposes.”The change in the League’s creed was duly ratified by the League’s sixth session at Lucknow on March 22-23 1913, under the presidentship of Mian Mohammad Shafi. Jinnah, who had attended both the Council’s meeting and the sixth session as a special invitee since he was not a member of the Muslim League as yet, had played a leading role in setting the League towards a new orientation which would facilitate cooperation with the Hindus and the Congress. The change had also brought the League on par with the Congress, which explains why the League’s new look was so warmly appreciated by the Congress at its Karachi session in December 1913 through a resolution. The efforts towards cooperation with the Congress and a Congress-League rapprochement got quickened after Jinnah formally joined the League in October 1913.What, however, concerned Muslims the most at the moment was that the Congress was still up in arms against the separate electorates. They were, therefore, all the time on the lookout to dilute the Hindu/Congress hostility and win them over. In that context Jinnah’s suggestion for cooperation with the Congress seemed most appropriate. Hence, at his suggestion, but in spite of strident opposition from the old Guard, Jinnah’s proposal to hold the League session contemporaneously with the Congress session in Bombay late in December 1915 was accepted. This enabled a good many of the prominent Congress and League leaders attend each other’s session, and hold negotiations for an Entente Cordiale. Both the League and the Congress also passed resolutions, authorizing their respective councils to negotiate with each other to frame a joint scheme for self government. Discussions on the proposal were initiated at Allahabad in April 1916 and concluded at a joint Congress Committee-League Council meeting at Calcutta in October 1916. Two months later, both the Congress and the League held their annual sessions at the same time and place – that is, late in December 1916 at Lucknow. Jinnah, who fortuitously was the President of the League session, asserted that the League had stood abreast of the Congress “ready to participate in any patriotic effort for the advance of the country as a whole”.Here, at Lucknow, the series of Congress-League parleys over the past year resulted in the formulation of a joint Congress-League scheme for constitutional advance. This was the Lucknow Pact (1916) which was principally crafted by Jinnah. And this represented a great triumph for both the Muslim League and Jinnah personally.In perspective, the League had crossed two important milestones in one stroke through the Pact. First, this was the only occasion in all the annals of the freedom movement that the Congress had acknowledged, albeit implicitly, the League as the most authoritative, if not the sole, spokesman of Muslim India. Otherwise, it would not have approached the League, nor have entered into a pact with it, for a Hindu-Muslim settlement. Second, the Pact, as well, secured Congress’s recognition to the Muslim right to separate electorates, which, at any rate, had been the most basic Muslim demand since 1906. Thus, the issue of separate Muslim representation came to be lifted beyond the pale of the controversy, paving the way for its retention in the Act of 1919. And since separate electorates had been constitutionally guaranteed, the Muslim claim to being a distinct entity and individuality in India’s body politic came to be vastly buttressed.On August 29, 1917 the Secretary of the State put down “the progressive realization of responsible Government in India” as HMG’s ultimate goal. Some three months later, the Congress and the League representatives presented a joint address to the Secretary of State and the Viceroy demanding, inter alia, the immediate adoption of the Congress-League Scheme, and the specification of a time-limit for the grant of complete self-government to India. Although the entire roster of Congress-League demands were not met, the ensuing Act of 1919 yet retained separate electorates.In December 1920 the League changed its creed to bring it in conformity with that of the Congress, by incorporating “the attainment of Sawaraj by the people of India by all peaceful means” as one of its objectives. And in December, 1921, the League’s President, Maulana Hasrat Mohani, called for the declaration of an Indian Republic by January 1, 1922. He was prosecuted for sedition and sentenced to two years’ rigorous imprisonment, but, on an appeal, the High Court set aside the conviction.The Khilafat Interlude: Meantime, as the First World War (1914-18) came to a climax in a spectacular Allied victory and an irretrievable Axis Powers’ defeat, including that of Turkey, the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire, the status of the Khalifa and the Khilafat (caliphate) institution, and the Muslim holy places (such as Jerusalem, Baghdad, Karbala, Najaf, etc.), which had fallen to victorious British arms, caused increasing concern and stirred Muslim India to its depths. This was compounded by the British involvement, directly, in the Treaty of Sevres (1920) and later, indirectly, in the Greek invasion of Turkey (1919-22), exposing Indian Muslims direly to a further and a formidable challenge of British betrayal and broken promises. And before they could formulate a response to these challenges, came the rude and wicked intrusion of the Rowlatt Act and the inhuman butchery at Jallilanwala Bagh at Jallandhar on April 13, 1919.Though crushingly heavy and unnerving as these multiple challenges were, they yet provided the Muslims with the stimulus to go in for an ingenious tour de force. But at this critical moment, the League miserably failed to give a successful response: to canalize the anger, the enthusiasm and the energies engendered by the head-on confrontation that the Muslims had psychologically prepared themselves to take on. But a people, bent upon confrontation and determined to tread the warpath, seldom wait for an organization to act or lead. If it fails them, they leave it behind, as dead fossil, and go ahead to devise another one to express their “will” and their response to the situation. And so the League got eclipsed and thrown overboard, having been replaced by the newly found Khilafat Conference in 1919. It unfurled the Khilafat banner on to its masthead and presently tried to formulate a response in the prism of the Indian Muslims’ pan-Islamic tendencies and sensitivities, which had become activated since the 1870s. Insofar as the League had failed to mount a suitable response to the Khilafat-cum-Rowlatt Act cumulative challenge, it was pushed into political wilderness, but insofar as the Khilafatists’ response was a flawed one, it unwittingly sent the Muslims themselves into political wilderness – that is, after a brief stint of revolutionary fervour and political activism.Flawed because the response was cast in the romanticist, if not the zealotist, mould; because it was so patently out of touch with the ground realities in Turkey, the Arab world, and in India. For one thing, to start an agitation in colonial India for the restoration of the Turkish Sultan-Caliph, not only in Turkey but also in all the Arab lands, was nothing short of the height of myopic political unrealism. More so, because the Turks themselves were opting towards a republican horizon, while the Arabs towards a nationalistic one.Structurally and status-wise, however, the Khilafat movement would never have remained, largely, non-violent, nor had assumed a “national” stature and significance, nor the Khilafatists’ listened to, and accorded the weight and attention by the British government they were given, but for the supreme leadership of Gandhi who had brought the Congress and Hindus along, by ingeniously adding the Punjab wrongs and Swaraj to induce Hindu adherence. Indeed, no Khilafatist across the board could match Gandhi at the moment – in stature, political acumen and sheer charisma. Not even the much acclaimed Maulana Mahomed Ali. None-the-less, in perspective, Gandhi’s supreme leadership of an avowedly Muslim movement did affect the long standing Muslim claim to a distinct identity and individuality in India’s body-politic.Before we return to the League’s revival during 1923-24, the rest of the Khilafat interlude may be briefly told. The Khilafatists, kowtowing the Congress line, went in for Gandhi’s plank of non-cooperation and the triple boycott of schools, courts, and councils, which the Congress had adopted at its Nagpur session, late in December 1920. The Khilafat Committee, now transformed into the Khilafat Conference, followed suit and the non-cooperation movement was started soon after. Maulana Mohamed Ali, the acclaimed leader, alongwith Gandhiji, toured almost the entire subcontinent for one end to the other, whipping up enthusiasm for the Khilafat and the Swaraj cause. The Maulana was arrested and sentenced in late 1921, and Gandhi, on his part, called off the non-cooperation movement after the tragic incident at Chauri Chaura, in remote northeast U.P., early in February 1922. The Khilafatists had, however, made a substantial and significant contribution in pressurizing the British Government to concede the Turkish terms for a peaceful settlement of the Turkish question, at the Treaty of Lausanne on July 24, 1923. Eight months later, on March 3, 1924 Mustafa Kamal abolished the caliphal office by a decree and the Turkish Grand National Assembly had decided earlier, in 1922, to establish a republic in place of the Sultanate. And this abolition denuded the Khilafatists of their cherished cause, and reduced the Khilafat Conference into a mere husk without a soul.For now, Jinnah thought the moment opportune to have the League revived. He called a session at Lucknow under G.M. Bhurgri, a Rais of Hyderabad, Sind. Here, Jinnah’s resolution recommending council entry was debated for some five hours but without arriving at a decision. Later, in order to avoid an open conflict with the non-cooperation leaders, the session was adjourned sine die.Presently, the adjourned 15th session was held at Lahore on May 24-25, 1924 with Jinnah as President, but it did go well with the (erstwhile) Khilafatists and non-cooperators. Hence Jinnah’s plea that “The League is not in any way going to adopt a policy or programme which will, in the least degree… be antagonistic to the Indian National Congress, the Khilafat organization or the Jamiat-ul-Ulama. On the contrary… it will proceed on lines which are best calculated to further the general interests, not forgetting the particular interests of the Muslim Community.” He, however, made an impassioned plea to make “the All-India Muslim League a living and well-organized political body as it was, with branches all over the country. It is then alone,” he argued, “that leaders will be able to speak with authority and be in a position to bring about a complete settlement of the various issues confronting Muslims which will be acceptable to the Musalman public.” Anxious as he was to rehabilitate the prestige and the representative character of the League, he aroused the suspicion of certain Jamiat and Khilafat leaders who perhaps saw in the League’s revival their own undoing. No wonder, even the bonafides of the League were questioned. Nevertheless, Jinnah had, ere long, succeeded in rescuing it from a state of torpor, and get his Council-entry resolution adopted, in part due to Fazl-i-Husain’s positive role, despite the Khilafatists’ virulent opposition.Listless though its existence, and halting though its progress, during the next few years, the organization itself had yet been saved from a premature death. During this period, the League met under the presidentship of Syed Raza Ali at Bombay in December, 1924, of Sir Abdul Rahim at Aligarh in 1925, Shaikh Abdul Qadir at Delhi in 1926, and of Seth Yaqub Hasan at Madras in 1927. In these successive sessions, the League tried to delineate, and give coherence to the Muslim viewpoint in regard to future constitutional advance. It demanded a thorough review of the India Act of 1919 by a Royal Commission; a Federal Scheme alongwith full blown provincial autonomy; the effective representation of minorities in the legislatures and other elected bodies without, however, whittling down the majority in any province to a minority or even to an equality of representation with the minorities (as had happened in the 1919 Act); and the retention of separate electorates for Muslims.Inexplicably though, the post-Khilafat years turned out to be a blood-soaked era of increasing Hindu-Muslim antagonism, of sickenning communal conflict, of unprecedented violence. The toll in life and human misery rose to murderous heights. Peace and Unity conferences were held, but to no avail. The explosive situation called for skilful handling. But far from helpful was the attitude of the Congress leaders, and, above all, of Gandhiji. He maintained an ominous silence for a considerable period while riots continued unabated, causing serious loss to Muslim life and property. He broke his silence only when the Hindus were reportedly the worst sufferers in the Kohat riots in 1924. His open espousal of the Hindu cause shocked his erstwhile colleagues and admirers, especially the Ali Brothers, causing them to cross the threshold of estrangement. Later, six weeks of vandalism and massacre in Calcutta in 1925 could not move Gandhi to go over there and compose Hindu-Muslim differences; he thought it fit to preach that “if bloodshed is inevitable, then let blood be shed in a manly spirit”. Referring to widely propagated Hindu plans, Dr. Ansari, an avowed Congressite, in his presidential address at the Unity Conference of Delhi, said: “If there be an Hindu brother of mine who imagines that he can get rid of 70 millions of these Muslim fellow-countrymen, he is labouring under a great delusion and the sooner he is disillusioned the better for the country”.The cumulative outcome of all this was to give Muslims a lesson in political realism and self-reliance. Initially, under Sir Syed’s prodding, they had placed their trust in British promises, British conduct and British sense of justice. Disenchanted beyond repair during 1910-12, they had turned to the Hindus – the other side in India’s political triangle. This new orientation led Muslims to seven years (1915-22) of Hindu-Muslim/Congress-League collaboration, to the Lucknow Pact, and to the acceptance of Gandhi as the supreme leader during the Khilafat and non-cooperation movement of 1920-22. But the end of the movement saw a new spurt of Hindu communalism, which spawned similar trends among Muslims: the Hindu Shuddhi and Sangathan was matched and countered by the Muslim Tabligh and Tanzeem. What really alarmed Muslims, however was the shift in the full-blooded Congress leaders, who swore by nationalism day in and day out. For instance, the unceremonious rejection by the Congress at its Concanada session (1923) of the “Bengal Pact” of 1923 formulated by the Bengal Swarajya Party under C.R. Das’ leadership. It indicated beyond doubt how serious and sincere the Congress was in its desire to arrive at a permanent settlement with the Muslims. No wonder, the Muslim felt betrayed and lost faith in the Congress bonafides.Towards autonomization of provinces: Meantime, a positive streak from the Muslim viewpoint had emerged on the demographic front. In 1842, Lord Ellenborough, the Governor-General, had put the Muslims at 10 per cent of the population – an underestimate, by all accounts, no doubt. Four decades later, in 1881, according to the official census, they comprised 22.6 percent of the total population of India and Burma and 22.4 percent in 1891. Their percentage gradually increased to 23.2 in 1901, 23.5 in 1911, and 24.1 in 1921 – thus registering an increase of 1.5 per cent during the forty-year period (1881-21). More important was the slight majority they had acquired in two of the larger provinces in 1921 – 54 per cent in Bengal and 55.3 per cent in the Punjab. Coupled with their majorities in the NWFP, Baluchistan and Sind, this meant that the Muslim “nation” had acquired a compact territorial existence in northwestern and northeastern regions of the subcontinent. By a fortuitous coincidence, this demographic differential became apparent about the time when the Montford Reforms of 1919 had become operative. Their major hallmark (and contribution) was that they signified the trend towards devolution of power in the provinces, with Indians being in charge of the transferred subjects and the reform councils acquiring greater jurisdiction. In view of these two developments, the Muslim League strategy in the 1920s, crafted chiefly by Jinnah, was to translate their demographic preponderance in the northwest and northeast of India in the various power-sharing mechanisms sought to be devised as a basis for Hindu-Muslim settlement and get such a mechanism incorporated in the next instalment of reforms promised ten years after the introduction of the Montford Reforms.The Muslim insistence on separate electorates, from 1883 to 1919, was meant to ensure the retention of a distinct Muslim identity in the constitutional structure of India’s body politic, so that they could put in a claim for an equitable share in power when the time for the devolution of power from the British to Indian hands came. Hence the confluence of the demographic shift in India’s two border regions and the devolution of power mechanism in the Montford Reforms worked in favour of Muslims, facilitating them to cross the threshold to acquiring power in their demographically dominant provinces. This obviously caused the Muslims to raise the antenna a notch or two higher, to ensure power for Muslims in their majority provinces from 1924 onwards. Hence, for now, their five basic demands were:(i) One-third representation in both houses of the central legislature;(ii) reservation of seats for Muslims in the Punjab and Bengal on population basis, initially for ten years in the event of adult franchise not being conceded;(iii) residuary powers for the provinces;(iv) establishment of Sind as a separate province; and(v) reforms in the N.W.F.P. and Baluchistan, to bring them up at par with the other provinces in terms of their constitutional set up.These basic demands were put forward in the Muslim League’s resolutions of 1924, 1925 and 1926, in the Delhi Muslim Proposals, formulated by Jinnah at an informal conference of Muslim leaders on March 20, 1927, and the comprehensive League’s resolution of December 1927.However, about this time, the appointment of an all-White Simon Commission caused a split among the top League leadership, with Mian Muhammad Shafi of the Punjab welcoming it, and Jinnah, in concert with the Congress leadership, boycotting it. The AIML under Jinnah disaffiliated the Punjab Provinical League, but, undeterred, Shafi held a session of his own faction at Lahore while the Jinnah League met at Calcutta. Shafi, though present at Delhi in March 1927, repudiated the Delhi Muslim Proposals while the Jinnah League endorsed them. The sticking point in these Proposals was that they offered a waiver in respect of separate electorates, if the Hindus/Congress conceded the setting up of five stable Muslim provinces to match the six Hindus provinces, and a genuine federation at the centre to ensure the substance of power to Muslims in their majority provinces. This was, however, the first time that any Muslim body had offered to waive the Muslim right to separate electorates, but this waiver was by no means sans a quid-pro-quo. Separate electorates had, of course, crystallized Muslim individuality on the constitutional landscape of India’s body-politic, but had failed to ensure an equitable share in power. In contrast, this territorialization process coupled with the autonomization of provinces trend, initiated by the Montford Reforms, did ensure untrammeled power to Muslims in their demographically dominant provinces/regions. The autonomization of provinces trend would further receive a shot in the arm by the 1935 Act, which provided for provincial autonomy. To R.J. Moore, then,1 “the Lahore [Pakistan] Resolution was the necessary and logical culmination of the autonomization process in the provinces”.To return to the Muslim demands during 1927-28. From the Muslim viewpoint, the bulldozing of the Muslim demands at the Congress-sponsored All Parties Convention in Calcutta, late in December 1928, sealed the fate of the Nehru Report (1928), which was offered as the Congress blueprint for India’s future constitution. For now, Muslims of all shades of opinion were deadly against the Report. An immediate response to the Nehru Report found expression in the convoking of the Shafi-sponsored All Parties Muslim Conference on January 1, 1929, in Delhi, under the Aga Khan. It sought to formulate the demands of the Muslim political elite outside the Jinnah League in a comprehensive resolution, which represented Muslim consensus at the moment.However, two months later, an agreement was reached between the Shafi and Jinnah groups, with the avowed purpose of raising an united Muslim League edifice. In tandem, to bridge the differences in Muslim ranks and to accommodate, as far as possible, the various Muslim viewpoints, Jinnah formulated his “Fourteen Points” in March 1929. These Points, later endorsed by the Muslim League, the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-i-Hind and the All Parties Muslim Conference, became the unified Muslim demands at the ensuing Round Table Conference in London during 1930-32. Meantime, in his presidential address to the League session at Allahabad in December 1930, Allama Iqbal revived the proposal for the formation of a consolidated Muslim state in Northwestern India, comprising the Punjab, NWFP, Sind and Baluchistan – a proposal that was presented earlier to the Nehru Committee in July 1928, but was rejected by that Committee, arguing that it would constitute a rather unwieldy state/province.For almost four years, from 1929 onwards, the newly established All Parties Muslim Conference was ascendant in Muslim politics, eclipsing the AIML. The League itself was rent asunder by infighting and factionalism, getting split in two groups in the process. There was even a proposal to get it merged into the All Parties Muslim Conference. However, by early 1934 “a manifesto signed by leaders of the various provinces urged the rehabilitation of the League into the ‘Parliament of the Indian Muslims’ and a cable was sent to Mr. M.A. Jinnah, who was then in England, to return to India, assume charge of the League and restore it to its original status and influence”. Thus, on March 4, 1934, the two AIML groups – the Aziz group and the Hidayat groups – were merged together and Jinnah was urged upon to return to India, to lead the AIML as a unified body of the Muslims. And he was finally elected President of the united Muslim League on April 1, 1934. On his part, Jinnah inaugurated his renewed leadership of the League by an impassioned appeal for unity among the Muslims, with a view to confronting the Government with united demands. Resolutions adopted on the occasion included those accepting the Communal Award “so far as it goes, until a substitute is agreed upon”, and resolving to revive the Provincial Muslim Leagues. And Jinnah saw to it that the retention of the Communal Award was made secure in the forthcoming instalment of reforms through his amendments to the Report Of the Joint Parliamentary Committee in the Central Legislature in February 1935. He also induced the Assembly to reject the Federation scheme in the White Paper while being content with merely criticizing the Provincial scheme which he wished to try “for what it is worth”.Jinnah finally took up the reorganization of the Muslim League in 1936. He called a session in Bombay in April 1936 under Sir Wazir Hasan’s presidentship, where the League defined its policy regarding the Government of India Act, 1935. The Federal scheme should be scrapped as “it is most reactionary, retrograde, injurious and fatal to the vital interests of British India vis-à-vis the Indian States, and…calculated to thwart and delay indefinitely the realization of India’s most cherished goal of complete responsible Government…” In contrast, the Provincial scheme, in spite of its certain objectionable features, should be utilized “for what it is worth”.Towards Confrontation with Congress: From early 1934 – when Jinnah was summoned back to India from his self-imposed exile (1931-4) in England to head a reunited League – to mid-1937, when the Congress came to power in the provinces, the Muslim League under Jinnah set for itself three interrelated goals: (i) democratization of the constitutional proposals in the White Paper (1933); (ii) Hindu Muslim unity and cooperation without, however, undermining Muslim entity in Indian politics; and (iii) organizing the Muslims on the League’s platform. Not only did Jinnah concentrate a good deal more on the accomplishment of the first two objectives than on the last one. Even as regards the third objective, his aim was to “produce a patriotic and liberal-minded nationalist block” which would be “able to march hand in hand with the progressive elements in other communities”. And he consistently put up a “nationalist” posture.As the AIML’s chief, Jinnah worked hard to establish concord and cooperation with the Congress, both inside and outside the Assembly. Inside the Assembly, he joined hands with the Congress against the government to throw out the Ottawa Trade Agreement (1935), recently concluded between Britain and the Indian Government, reject the Criminal Law Amendment Bill (1935), and defeat budgets in 1935 and 1936, all of which had to be certified by the Governor-General.Outside the Assembly, he gave a “predominantly radical” tone to League’s policy and programme, got the pro-Congress Wazir Hasan, as against the pro-British Raja of Salempur for whom Shaukat Ali had been lobbying, nominated for the presidentship of the Bombay (1936) League; drew up an election manifesto (1936),which not only stressed cooperation with like-minded groups, but was almost identical with that of the Congress in ten out of its thirteen items, the other three items being designed to cater to special Muslim interests – viz., (i) to protect the religious rights of the Musalmaans; (ii) to protect and promote the Urdu language and script; and (iii) to devise measures for the amelioration of the general condition of the Muslims –; and got the pro-Congress Khilafatists, Ahrars, and members of the Muslim Unity Board included in the League’s Parliamentary Board (1936). Indeed, in terms of its policy and programme, as well as its anti-British and anti-reforms posture, so close had Jinnah brought the Muslim League to the Congress that several Muslim leaders and columnists had begun accusing him of “conspiring” to merge the League into the Congress, or at least of relegating it to a client status.During 1934-37, Jinnah’s stance was similar to the one he took up in 1915: he wanted Muslims to be organized under the League’s banner because “if they are more organized, they will be all the more useful for the national struggle”. On the one hand, he tried to gather all the Muslims on the League’s platform; on the other, he offered an olive branch to other nationalist parties, especially the Congress, and put up an extremely conciliatory and accommodative posture. “Ours is not a hostile movement”, he told the Calcutta Town Hall meeting on August 20, 1936. “India’s salvation”, he told the Calcutta students on August 21, “lies in the unity of all communities....If there are differences and disputes, rise to the occasion and solve them among yourselves as friends, partners and countrymen.” He urged the Hindus and the Sikhs, as he did the Muslims, at the Peshawar rally on October 19, 1936, “to unite to hammer out an advanced nationalist bloc” from amongst themselves for being sent to the Provincial Assembly.Little surprising, then, that at this stage in Indian politics, the greatest opposition to Jinnah’s efforts to organize the Muslims on the League’s platform came not from the Congress or Congress-oriented groups (such as the Ahrars) but from pro-British leaders and parties. Not only had Jinnah’s anti-imperialist and anti-1935 Act stance coupled with his continuing efforts to effect a settlement with the Congress alarmed the British; there is also evidence to show that some high British officials had encouraged or egged on pro-British elements to organize themselves to give a fight to Jinnah’s League at the hustings, as in the U.P. (National Agriculturist Party), and through the Aga Khan in Sind and the Punjab.And, yet in the fall of 1937, the entire situation changes, rather dramatically and radically. How and Why? Because in the post-election period, the Congress and its leaders launched upon a series of moves that challenged, a la Jayakar, Jinnah’s (and Muslim League’s) right to speak on Muslims’ behalf. And these moves, were they be successful, would have ultimately eroded his and its representative status. Briefly stated, these moves were (i) Nehru’s “two-forces” / “two parties” dictum, enunciated on September 18, 1936 and reaffirmed on January 10, 1937, ruling out Muslims as the third party in India’s body-politic; (ii) Congress’ Muslim mass contact programme, initiated early in 1937, designed to approach and win over the Muslim masses over the head of their accredited leaders and organization, in the name of bread and freedom, so as to make the “two-forces” claim a fait accompli; (iii) the sucking in into the Congress on May 17, 1937 of the Jamiat-ul-Ulama-i-Hind (which had been consistently aligned with the Muslim League after the Nehru Report) through Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, and the grim prospects of the Congress using adroitly and deftly the Jamiat leaders in its mass contact campaign with a view to ensnaring, especially, simple rural folks into the Congress (and the Jamiat leaders did descend in strength in the ensuing Bijnor, Jhansi, Bandhelkund, Amroha, Bulandshaher and Saharanpur by-elections); and (iv) Congress’s “Unitarian” approach as against Muslim federalism in the formation of ministries, and its “series of incredible conditions” for sharing power with Muslims as stipulated in the Azad formula presented to the U.P. League leaders. To quote Brecher,.Nehru’s biographer, these proposals amounted to “an ultimatum for its [AIML’s] self-destruction”, envisaging “absorption” instead of “partnership”.Clearly, this posture represented a radical shift in the Congress’s erstwhile policy. Since 1913, the Congress had always treated Jinnah as representing an influential and progressive, if not always a major, segment of Muslims, and the Muslim League as the major Muslim party. For over two decades (1915-35/36), whenever the Congress negotiated the Hindu-Muslim problem, it was always with Jinnah and the Muslim League. Most commentators have ascribed, if not justified, this radical change to the massive electoral victory of the Congress as against League’s poor showing, in the 1937 provincial polls, and to the sudden surge of confidence, if not “the intoxication of power”, this spectacular but unexpected victory had endowed it with. It is true that the Congress had won 711 out of 1585 seats, but, nevertheless, it had won barely 26 Muslim seats, 19 of them in the Frontier, “where Abdul Ghaffar Khan had given the Congress a decisive hold”, and none in eight provinces. It is equally true that the League had won only some 112 (about 23%) out of 492 Muslim seats, but, nevertheless, its score was the highest among the numerous Muslim parties, and, more important, it alone had emerged as a pan-Indian Muslim party, and hence it alone could claim to speak on Muslim India’s behalf.The British had tried to prop up various interest groups and breakaway or minor parties as substitute for, and against, the Congress in 1920 and in 1930. And, for now, the Congress, in bolstering up the Jamiat and the Ahrars against the League seemed bent upon resorting to the same ploy. From the Congress viewpoint, however, it was convenient to deal with provincial and minor Muslim parties piecemeal and on its own terms, even inducing. humouring or forcing them from its position of strength to walk into its parlour unconditionally. Was not the provincial option tried oft and anon during 1928-29 and 1932-33, and with some success? Now that there was a chance of its working better, why deal with the Muslim League or talk to Jinnah, the hard bargainer that he was?For Jinnah, however, who took his representative status rather seriously, not only in the 1930s but as far back as 1913, the new Congress posture meant a challenge, the greatest challenge in his entire political career. His career, it seemed, had reached its nadir, so had the League’s. Once a serious aspirant to the supreme national leadership role, he was now being perceived as merely heading a group which had “no real importance” in the “historic sense” and that group in Nehru’s prism was the Muslim League. Hence both the League and Jinnah were to be shunned and by passed. This was the challenge that had inexorably drove him and the League, haltingly but finally, to the wall, leaving them with little choice but to take to the path of confrontation, if only to validate the Muslim claim to a “third party” status and vindicate himself and the League, not merely as a spokesman, but as the sole spokesman of Muslim India. “The parting of the ways” with the Congress had finally arrived – to launch Jinnah and the League on a marathon campaign and the path of confrontation for a whole decade, with this campaign and confrontation eventuating in the birth of Pakistan in 1947.Pandit Nehru’s “two-forces” dictum, briefly hinted at earlier, counting “out all third parties, middle and undecided groups etc.” and “communal groupings” posed a formidable challenge, both to the Muslims and the Muslim League. The implication was much too obvious, and the message loud and clear. Hence Jinnah’s riposte: “I refuse to accept this proposition. There is a third party in this country and that is Muslim India ...” And this meant an upgrading of his “separate entity” claim for Muslims, made barely two years ago, during the debate on the Joint Parliamentary Committee Report. In any case, historically speaking, Jinnah’s, and not Nehru’s, posture underscored the most critical strand in both Hindu and Muslim collective consciousness, at least since the 1870s. While a noted Indian historian, Professor Bimal Prasad, in his monumental Pathway to Partition refers, in some detail, to the rise and growth of parallel, Hindu and Muslim, community consciousness during most of the eighteenth and all through the nineteenth centuries, Gail Minault traces the quest for a unified and self-conscious pan-Indian Muslim community and constituency in the educational movements of the late nineteenth century. Indeed, the twin quest for a separate Muslim identity and for an adequate share in power had inspired, in one way or another; all Muslim movements, demands, and formulae, whether religious, educational, cultural, or political, since the 1870s.In contrast but in conformity with Nehru’s dictum, the Congress rule (1937-39) in the Hindu provinces was based on the premise that India was uni-national and uni-cultural, whereas the Muslims had for long regarded it as bi-national and bi-cultural. Thus, under the Congress-envisaged nationalist dispensation the Muslims would surely be relegated to a back seat. Their values would be at a discount, their cultural identity in jeopardy, as it was under Congress rule. Above all, they would have no hope of fashioning their spiritual, social, and cultural life according to their own ethos. All this meant culturicide, pure and simple. The Congress’s conduct and rule were, thus, grossly violative of “minority” rights, civil society, and of adequate, not to speak of good, governance. Hence, Jinnah’s insistence on a third-party status for Muslim India.And, if only to make good his third-party claim, Jinnah presently breathed new life into the moribund Muslim League, organizing it, step by step, from the grass-roots level. He extended its support base to encompass the whole of the subcontinent; he made its policies and programme coherent and viable; he infused enthusiasm and confidence in the rank and file; and he laid out grass-root networks, built up communication channels, and crafted a chain of command through a hierarchically structured leadership. Consequently, within ·three brief years (1937-39), the Muslim League under his astute leadership, had developed into a formidable political machine, with the requisite unity of command, communication networks, organizational strength, and muscle power to confront and counter the almost impregnable and long-entrenched Congress, all the way. One immediate and more manifest result of all this was a quickening of community consciousness and the welding of Muslim solidarity, making the pan-Indian Muslim community concept a fait accompli. Clearly in the context of the Muslim leadership’s long quest for it since Shah Wali Allah (1703-62)’s abortive attempts in the 1750s to gather the foremost Muslim notables on one platform against the mounting Maratha despoliation, depredations, and “desecration” of the Mughal throne, this, indeed, represented a singular achievement.In perspective, the years 1937-39 were extremely critical in carrying forward the campaign for Muslim emancipation, and in Muslim India’s surge towards full nationhood. Several inter-related developments contributed to that surge. First, by the end of the period, while Muslim alienation from the Congress was complete, and had become irreconcilable and permanent, the Muslim League had become the authoritative political mouthpiece of Indian Muslims. In consequence, Muslim India was raised, step by step, from “a No-Man’s Land” status to that of the “third” side in India’s political triangle. Second, the federal part of the 1935 Act, which, being weighted towards unitarianism, had provoked a mounting agitation, was finally scrapped, and the assurance held out in HMG’s August 8, 1940 offer for its revision after the war gave Muslims virtually the power of veto in determining the future constitutional framework. This assurance and the scrapping of the federal part meant a recognition of Muslim India as the “third” side on HMG’s behalf. Third, these developments in turn eroded the uni-national and uni-cultural India concept, strengthened India as bi-national and bi-cultural, established once and for all Muslim identity in India’s body politic, and, in consequence, accelerated the process of devising an equitable power-sharing mechanism between India’s two major “nations”, Hindus and Muslims. For inherent in the “third” side claim was a tacit assumption of separate nationhood.Even so, a mere political community, scattered unevenly throughout the subcontinent, and, moreover, outnumbered, outpaced, and out-maneuvered by a “brute majority”, does not count for much in an unitary, centralized, Westminster-type parliamentary democracy. And this became all the more clear when the Congres imposed a majoritarian rule in the Hindu provinces during 1937-39, a la the Nehru Report’s “unitarian” approach. To quote Penderal Moon, “If the U.P. sample [where the Muslims were offered “absorption” instead of “partnership”] was to be the pattern of Congress’s political conduct, then what would be the position of Muslims when a federal government for all-India came to be formed? There would be no room on the throne of India save for Congress and Congress’s stooges.” A veritable echo of what Sir Syed had predicted some fifty years ago: “Is it possible that under the circumstances two nations – the Mahomedans and the Hindus – could sit on the same throne and remain in equal power? Most certainly not. It is necessary that one of them should conquer the other and thrust it down. To hope that both could remain equal is to desire the impossible, and the inconceivable.”In immediate terms, it was this 1937-39 situation, at once despairing, agonizing, and challenging, that had turned Muslim thinking towards Pakistan. If the Islamic way of life could not be preserved in an all-India set up, it should be saved wherever it was possible. The Pakistan demand was, thus, a last-ditch attempt: an attempt, to quote Iqbal, to centralize “the life of Islam as a cultural force” in a specified territory, so that “the most living portion of the Muslims of India” could develop to the fullest in that territory their “spiritual, cultural, economic and social life” according to their own genius - a development that was almost next to impossible under the Hindu-dominated, Congress-envisaged “nationalist” government.But the Pakistan demand itself could be raised only in the name of a “nation”, and Jinnah patiently waited till the pan-Indian Muslim community concept had finally found a concrete and crystalline political expression in terms of ground reality. And that critical task was accomplished by the end of 1938, as dramatized by Muslim activism and surging enthusiasm. Hence, on March 22, 1940, Jinnah pronounced the Muslims a nation – and that “by all canons of international law”. From that momentous pronouncement to the dramatic demand for a physical separation of predominantly Hindu and Muslim provinces/regions and outright partition was but for a short step forward. And that was taken on March 23, 1940, when the Lahore resolution was adopted at the mammoth Muslim League session.Emergence of Pakistan: To craft the demand for Pakistan and make it the AIML’s supreme goal is one thing, to get it accepted by the ruling British and the entrenched Congress is another. The British had long prided themselves on having crafted a unified administration and political order, step by step, for the entire subcontinent, despite its bewildering heterogeneity, and considered the unity of India as their greatest contribution in all the annals of Indian history. The Hindus, on their part, considered Akhand Bharat (“united India”) as an almost religious doctrine, comparing it to Gau Mata. No wonder, during the next seven years the Muslim League had to face, at every stage and at every step, the unremitting hostility of the Home Government and the British officialdom on the one hand and the virulent opposition of the Congress. While the British were still a little secptical about the League’s representative status which alone could lend a substantial measure of credibility to the Pakistan demand, the Congress rejected the League’s claim as Muslim India’s spokesman outright, without much ado. This explains why the first salvo, fired by no less than Gandhiji on April 13, 1940, - i.e. within three weeks of the passage of the Lahore resolution – , questioned the League’s right to demand Pakistan on Muslims’ behalf “I refuse… to believe that the eight crore Muslims will say that they have nothing in common with their Hindu and other brethren”, said the Mahatma, adding that “Their mind can only be known by a referendum made to them duly on that clear issue…It is purely a matter of self-determination. I know of no other conclusive method of ascertaining the mind of the eight crores of Muslims.”Fortunately for the Muslim League, however, it had been building up its strength among the masses since 1937. Between 1 January 1938 and 12 September 1942, for instance the League had won 46 (82%) out of 56 Muslim seats as against three seats (about 5%) by the Congress and seven by independents. And in 1944, the AIML officially claimed a membership of two million, while the Congress claimed only (a maximum of) 10,000 Muslims (3.2%) among its 3.2 million members in January 1938 – that is, after nine months of intense enrolment campaign among Muslims under its much-publicized Muslim mass contract programme. And the League’s strenuous efforts to establish itself as Muslim India’s sole spokesman would climax in the triumphal verdict it would accomplish during the critical 1945-46 elections. In these elections, as against 23% of the Muslim seats and 4% of the popular vote in 1937, the League won 86.45% of the Muslim seats and bagged 75% of the popular vote. This electoral verdict represented, to quote Richard Symond, “a triumphant vindication of Jinnah’s claim to represent the Muslims”. It also represented the sort of referendum suggested by Gandhi to ascertain “the declared and established will” of Muslims on the nationhood and separation issues. Once that “will” was given in Pakistan’s favour, its emergence (in some form or another) could not be long resisted nor delayed. And it came within eighteen months.On the constitutional front, the Cripps’ Draft Declaration of April 1942 marked the next step on the long, tortous road to Pakistan. From the Muslim viewpoint, what made the Declaration an important milestone was the provincial option it contained: through the non-accession clause, it conceded the provinces the right to self-determination, and of secession from the Union, on a territorial basis. If the Cripps’ Offer was the British alternative to Pakistan, the Rajaji Formula (1943) represented the Congress alternative to the Muslim demand. The formula was accepted as the basis of prolonged Jinnah-Gandhi talks in September 1944. They parleyed for 18 days (September 9-27) at Jinnah’s residence in Bombay, but, as was the case with their previous parleys, to no avail.Next came the Wavell Plan (June 1945), which proposed the reconstitution of the Viceroy’s Executive Council, whose members, except for the Commander-in-Chief (i.e., the War Member), would be Indians, representing Indian political parties. Improvising upon the Gandhi-blessed Desai-Liaquat formula (1944) of Congress-League parity, the Wavell proposals envisaged Caste Hindu-Muslim parity, each being assigned five places in a Cabinet of fourteen, the rest being filled in by the representatives of the Scheduled Castes, Sikhs, Indian Christians and Parsis. But the Simla Conference ended in failure on July 14, chiefly because neither the Congress nor Wavell would concede the League its representative status among Muslims, a fundamental principle with the League which Jinnah had been so tirelessly arguing for acceptance in all his parleys with both the Congress and the British since 1938. Hence, the League demanded elections, so that the question of its representative status, the bone of contention between the Congress and the League since 1937, could be settled once and for all, so that it could vindicate its claim, as also the Muslim “will” for Pakistan.The elections were followed by the Cabinet Mission Plan of May 16, 1946 which was initially accepted by the Muslim League on June 6, 1946. However, the distortion of the Plan by the top Congress leadership, including Gandhi and Nehru, and the British “betrayal” led the League to rescind its earlier acceptance on July 29, 1946, and revert to Pakistan in its original format, and wrest it, if necessary, by Direct Action. (The elections, the Cabinet Mission episode and the Direct Action are covered in some detail in separate articles, in the present Supplement, and, hence, further discussion on them is omitted in the present article.)In any case, the British Declaration of December 6, 1946 finally held out the prospects for the emergence of Pakistan. The renewed negotiations between the new Viceroy, Lord Mountbaton, and the Indian leaders, finally resulted in the hammering out of the June 3 Plan by which the British decided to partition the subcontinent, and hand over power to two successor states on August 14-15, 1947. The Plan was also accepted by the Congress and the Sikhs, besides the League. And Pakistan finally emerged on the world’s map – as a crowning achievement of the All-India Muslim League, which, in its latest phase was singularly and triumphantly led by Quaid-i-Azam since 1934. Having achieved its supreme goal, the AIML was, finally, wound up on December 1415, 1947, at its Council’s meeting at Khaliqdina Hall, Karachi.–
By Sharif al Mujahid
The writer is HEC Distinguished National Professor, and was Founding Director, Quaid-i-Azam Academy (1976-89.