Dialogue with a Giant [2 of 2]

All India Congress believes its “India” and since Congress never tires of repeating that India is one and indivisible, they imagine that any attempt to divide it is illiberal, reactionary, and generally sinister. They seriously do believe this. I know that it is muddle-headed, but then a democracy such as ours, which has to make up its mind on an incredible number of complicated issues usually is muddle-headed. What they have to bar is that the only liberal course, the only generous course, the only course compatible with a sincere intention to quit India and hand over the reins of government…and the only safe course, you might add, is…Pakistan!
·

DIVIDE AND QUIT

·

by Beverly Nichols

·

He handed me the book. It was a faded old volume, The Speeches of John Bright, and the date of the page at which it was opened was June 4th, 1858. This is what the greatest orator in the House of Commons said on that occasion:

Bright, John, English politician (1811-1889) In July, 1843, he represented Durham in Parliament, and at once began to establish a reputation. After the first bid for independence in 1857, John Bright favoured transferring Indian possessions to the Crown. His death in 1889 caused universal regret, since not only was his eloquence greatly admired, but all parties had learned to value the moderation of his opinions in later years, and to respect the sturdy independence and sincerity of his character. As an orator he ranks high for the singular purity of his language and nervousness of style.

 I handed back the book.

Jinnah. … What Bright said then is true to-day. In fact, it’s far more true — though, of course, the emphasis is not so much on the 20 nationalities as on the 2 — the Muslim and the Hindu. And why is it more true? Why hasn’t time brought us together? Because the Muslims are awake, because they’ve learnt, through bitter experience, the sort of treatment they may expect from the Hindus in a ‘United India’. A “United India” means a Hindu dominated India. It means that and nothing else. Any other meaning you attempt to impose on it is mythical.

“India is a British creation…it is merely a single administrative unit governed by a bureaucracy under the sanction of the sword. That is all. It is a paper creation, it has no basis in flesh and blood.

B.N. The ironical thing is that your critics say that Pakistan itself is a British creation—that it is an example of our genius for applying the principle of ‘divide and rule’.

Jinnah (with some heat) …..The man who makes such a suggestion must have a very poor opinion of British intelligence, apart from his opinion of my own integrity. The one thing which keeps the British in India is the false idea of a United India, as preached by Gandhi.

A United India, I repeat, is a British creation—a myth, and a very dangerous myth, which will cause endless strife. As long as that strife exists, the British have an excuse for remaining. For once in a way, ‘divide and rule* does not apply.

B.N. What you want is “divide and quit *?

Jinnah. … You have put it very neatly.

B.N. You realize that all this will come as something of a shock to the British electorate?

Jinnah. …Truth is often shocking. But why this truth in particular?

B.N. Because the average, decent, liberal-minded voter, who wishes Britain to fulfill her pledges, and grant independence to India, has heard nothing but the Congress point of view. The Muslims have hardly a single spokesman in the West.

Jinnah (bitterly) …..I am well aware of that. The Hindus have organized a powerful Press and Congress—Mahasabha are backed up by Hindu capitalists and industrialists with finance which we have not got.

B.N. … As a result they believe that Congress is “India” and since Congress never tires of repeating that India is one and indivisible, they imagine that any attempt to divide it is illiberal, reactionary, and generally sinister. They seriously do believe this. I know that it is muddle-headed, but then a democracy such as ours, which has to make up its mind on an incredible number of complicated issues usually is muddle-headed. What they have to bar is that the only liberal course, the only generous course, the only course compatible with a sincere intention to quit India and hand over the reins of government…

Jinnah. … And the only safe course, you might add, is…

BN. … Pakistan!

JINNAH: The essence of Pakistan—at least of its spirit—is found in the foregoing dialogue. To give a complete exposition, of the details of the plan, in a book of this size, would be quite impossible. It would need a sheaf of maps and pages of statistics, and it would carry us far afield, over the borders of India, and involve us in a great deal of unprofitable speculation.

It is fairly certain, however, that the reader who takes the trouble to go really deeply into the matter, with a mind unwrapped by prejudice, will come to the conclusion, that Pakistan offers no insuperable difficulties, economic, ethnographic, political or strategic, and is likely, indeed, to prove a good deal easier of attainment than a large number of similar problems which the world has successfully resolved in the past fifty years.

It is, of course, a major surgical operation, but unfortunately there are occasions in the lives of nations, as of individuals, when major surgical operations are not only desirable but vitally necessary. And this is one of those occasions.

The constant friction between the Hindu and Muslim nations has produced something which strongly resembles a cancer in the body politic. There is only one remedy for a cancer, in its advanced stages and that is the knife. Gandhi’s faith cures, British soothing syrup, the ingenious nostrums which are proffered by eager hands throughout the world—all these are useless. They only aggravate the patient’s condition and make his ultimate cure more difficult.

To the knife it will have to come in the end, and surely one knife, used swiftly and with precision is better than a million knives, hacking in, blind anarchy, in the dark?

What is strange, in the whole Pakistan controversy, is not the support which it is slowly gaining among all realistic men but the opposition which it still evokes from sincere well-wishers of India. This is, of course, due to the strength and persistence of Congress propaganda, backed by Hindu big business. The Hindus have almost a monopoly of propaganda. By subtle and persistent suggestion they have managed to persuade the world that they are ‘India,’ and that any attempt to divide ‘India’ is a wicked ‘plot on the part of the British, acting on the well-established principle of divide and rule.

Most liberals of the West have fallen for this propaganda, hook, line, and sinker. Consequently we have the extraordinary spectacle of ‘advanced’ British politicians rising to their feet in the House of Commons, and solemnly and sincerely pleading the cause of Indian ‘Unity’ in the joint cause of Indian independence—sublimely ignorant of the fact that their insistence on this so-called ‘United’ is the one and only thing that keeps the British in the saddle!

Unite and Rule.

Divide and Quit.

Those words should be prominent on the desks of all those who offer their opinions on India and her problems.

And even more remarkable aspect of the success of Congress propaganda is that it has been accepted by vast bodies of men and women who really are genuinely disturbed by the grievances of oppressed minorities in any other part of the world but India. They will call urgent committee meetings to discuss a fancies slight to the Slovaks, they drive themselves nearly crazy worrying over the Hungarians in Romania or the Austrians in Northern Italy, but they remain completely apathetic to the wrongs of 100 million Muslims, whose claims to nationality and independence are far more ancient and far more urgent. If these people were not so obviously sincere, they might well be accused of perfidious Albionism on a scale almost unparalleled in history.

I wish that there were space to speculate on the probable results to the world of the adoption, by the British Government, of the policy of ‘Divide and Quit’. I myself believe that it would be salutary not only for India, but for Britain and all mankind. It would be a natural step forward in the March of Time. It would cleanse the world’s bosom of much perilous stuff. And if it were done quickly, cleanly, and without compromise, it might reap for Britain golden rewards, not only in the things of merce but in the things of the spirit, by reminding us of our kinship with the great Muslim world, with which, if we would only admit it, we are so proud an affinity.

Postscript:

A friend who has read this chapter made the following comment : Jinnah, as you have enunciated him, sounds convincing, but to what extent does he really represent Muslim opinion? Is the Muslim League, in actual fact, identical with Muslim India? If it is, then Pakistan wins; if it is not, and if there is any considerable body of Muslims who oppose the League, your whole argument falls to the ground.

This is an important point, and it deserves an, answer. It can be given very briefly.

If the Muslim League does not represent Muslim India, one may politely inquire who does? If there is any other organization challenging its right to speak for the Muslim masses, what is it? Where is it hiding itself? And why, if there were even the faintest shadow of opposition to the League in the Muslim ranks, why, oh why is even the Congress unaware of its existence? Why does Congress confine all its complaints, so loudly and bitterly, to the League? Why does Congress proclaim, day in and day out, that it is with the League that they must reach a settlement? Why does Gandhi address all his pleas, his admonitions, and his scoldings to Jinnah, the leader of the League?

The answer, surely, is sufficiently obvious; it is because the League is Muslim India. There are no discordant voices for the simple reason that the League is the complete expression of the Muslim Trill.

For those who like statistics, the figures are overwhelmingly convincing. With only one exception, every single by-election FOUGHT BY THE MUSLIMS ANYWHERE IN INDIA DURING THE LAST SEVEN YEARS HAS BEEN WON BY LEAGUE CANDIDATES.

They were cent per cent pro-Pakistan, their programmes contained not the faintest shadow of the suggestion of compromise or prevarication, and they swept the board, every time, everywhere.

*A curious case is the United Provinces, where local and personal prejudices confused the issue. In Bengal, in Assam, in the North-West Frontier, in Sind, in all the provinces, in fact, which Pakistan will eventually absorb. In the Central Legislature itself, out of 80 Muslim seats, 28 are held by vehement Leaguers.

If that is not the expression of the Muslim people’s will, it would be legitimate to inquire what was! 

Concluded.

Previous: Dialogue with a Giant [1 of 2]

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