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Shorish Kashmiri, Azad and Partition



By Yasser Latif Hamdani

June 30, 2014

Agha Shorish Kashmiri, an essayist, journalist, activist for declaration of Ahmedis as non-Muslims, bigot and a lifetime member of the Majlis-e-Ahrar-e-Islam, in 1972 wrote a book eulogising Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. Majlis-e-Ahrar-e-Islam, the anti-Shia and anti-Ahmedi organisation was very close to Maulana Azad pre-partition along with Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Hind. It had also famously denounced Jinnah as Kafir-e-Azam and Pakistan as Kafiristan. Their sordid role in both pre- and post-partition eras is well documented in the Munir-Kayani Report 1954 but declassified documents show that they deliberately started the sectarian Madh-e-Sahaba movement in Lucknow at the Congress’ behest to divide the Muslim League’s constituents in that city. Dr Ayesha Jalal’s book, Self and Sovereignty, gives a thorough and well-sourced account of these activities.

Coming back to the book Shorish Kashmiri wrote, in it was an interview that Shorish claimed to have gotten from Maulana Azad in 1946. Since Maulana Azad had passed away by then, there was no way to confirm or deny this claim. Shorish claimed that the interview was taken around Fajr time over two weeks in Simla during the Cabinet Mission Plan negotiations. There are many gaping holes in the interview itself. At one point, Azad refers to several coups against civilian governments by military regimes in the Muslim world. Till 1946, there had been no coup in any Muslim country. Only in Turkey did a Kemalist government overthrow a monarchy. At another point, Azad says that H S Suhrawardy was not enamoured with Jinnah. Interestingly, in his India Wins Freedom, as dictated to Humayun Kabir, he claims the exact opposite and places Suhrawardy in Jinnah’s camp and Nazimuddin as the disaffected Bengali leader. Azad “presciently” speaks of “foreign debt” being incurred but that in any event was not a foregone conclusion in 1946.

On another occasion, Azad speaks of “East Pakistan” separating. Azad did predict East Pakistan’s separation in his book India Wins Freedom but that was in the 1950s when the writing was on the wall. In 1946, during the Cabinet Mission Plan, Bengal was not referred to as East Pakistan and therefore this would be inaccurate. However, perhaps the biggest chink in the armour is that Azad confuses — in the said interview — Jang-e-Jumal with Jang-e-Siffin, which an Islamic scholar of his stature would never do. In short, the alleged interview is so fraught with mistakes and inaccuracies that it makes the existence of that interview quite doubtful. In 2009, when this interview was widely quoted by certain influential Indian circles, I wrote a blog on Pakteahouse in which I challenged those who claim this interview to be authentic to bring any proof of this interview having happened other than Shorish Kashmiri’s book itself. No one has come forward in five years despite much debate to prove the veracity of this — what I believe to be a forged or altered — interview.

Last year, Dr A Q Khan, our great Baba-e-Bum — a man not known to be in possession of any great intelligence or integrity — started serialising this interview in his columns in another newspaper. Last week, an Indian Muslim writer, Tufail Ahmad, wrote a column in Indian Express using Shorish Kashmiri and Dr A Q Khan as his sources. A Q Khan, one must recall, not long ago also declared that he was proud to be from Bhopal because “no Qadiani was ever born there”. I say this because Tufail Ahmad, perhaps naively, mentions the constitutional amendment against Ahmedis as one of the many injustices in Pakistan (which it truly is). The irony therefore that he relies on the two men most virulently anti-Ahmedi in their views is perhaps lost or perhaps failed to register with Mr Tufail Ahmad. The tragedy is that someone like Husain Haqqani, whose research skills are considerable and whose scholarship cannot be doubted even if his conclusions can be contested, fell for this forgery. At least he should have known better than to promote the article, for whatever reason. Enough with the said interview, which deserves to be in a dustbin and not in history books, unless someone can somehow prove that Maulana Azad actually gave the said interview through a primary source.

What Maulana Azad did do was speak at the Jamia Masjid sometime after partition. A recording of this speech is said to be available on YouTube. Many of our self-styled ‘liberals’ often link it together. I wonder if they have actually bothered to listen to what the Maulana says. In it he says clearly that “my Cabinet Mission Plan scheme” preserved the advantages of the Pakistan scheme while discarding its flaws. What the Maulana omits is that the Muslim League had accepted ‘his’ Cabinet Mission Plan. The Muslim League accepted the Cabinet Mission Plan because it saw that this was the solution that best served the purposes of its two different sets of constituents — Muslims in Muslim majority provinces and Muslims in Hindu majority provinces. Maulana Azad agreed and for this he was removed as the president of Congress by Gandhi and replaced with Nehru. Nehru buried the Cabinet Mission Plan with his statement of July 9, 1946.

As I argued in my last article, in my view, Nehru and Patel, more rightly than wrongly, were the architects of partition, not Jinnah. Maulana Azad’s book, India Wins Freedom, seconds that. Indeed, he says so very clearly that it was Patel and company who were the flag-bearers of partition and not Jinnah. He calls Nehru’s decision to torpedo the Cabinet Mission Plan a Himalayan blunder. Of course, Azad had exercised self-censorship and asked for these damning portions of the book to be released posthumously 30 years after his demise.

Thus, Azad’s opponents in the saga of partition were not Jinnah and the Muslim League but Nehru and Patel. Who was right in this internal power struggle within Congress? I have listed my reasons in two articles on the partition question as to why I think Nehru and Patel were right in doing what they did. Others can draw their own conclusions. What is certain, however, is that the black and white in which we want to draw the partisans of partition will never deliver a complete picture.  



Comments in Daily Times:

•          R. Bhawani Prasad
Mr. Hamadani, you write: “I wonder if they have actually bothered to listen to what the Maulana says. In it he says clearly that “my Cabinet Mission Plan scheme” preserved the advantages of the Pakistan scheme while discarding its flaws. What the Maulana omits is that the Muslim League had accepted ‘his’ Cabinet Mission Plan. The Muslim League accepted the Cabinet Mission Plan because it saw that this was the solution that best served the purposes of its two different sets of constituents — Muslims in Muslim majority provinces and Muslims in Hindu majority provinces.”
Mr. Hamdani: I would like to bring to your attention the following two statements:
1) On June 6 1946 Jinnah stated: " …. The Lahore resolution did not mean that when Muslims put forward their demand, it must be accepted at once. It is a big struggle and a continued struggle. The first struggle was to get the representative character of the League accepted. That fight they had started and they had won. Acceptance of the Mission's proposal was not the end of their struggle for Pakistan. They should continue their struggle till Pakistan was achieved."
2) Also on June 6 1946, The Council of the All-India Muslim League passed a resolution which stated (inter alia) : ”In order that there may be no manner of doubt in any quarter, the Council of the All-India Muslim League reiterates that the attainment of the goal of a complete sovereign Pakistan still remains the unalterable objective of the Muslims in India for the achievement of which they will, if necessary, employ every means in their power, and consider no sacrifice or suffering too great. …
… inasmuch as the basis and the foundation of Pakistan are inherent in the Mission's plan by virtue of the compulsory grouping of the six Muslim provinces in Sections B and C, is willing to co-operate with the constitution-making machinery proposed in the scheme outlined by the Mission, in the hope that it would ultimately result in the establishment of completely sovereign Pakistan, and in the consummation of the goal of independence ….
… it will keep in view the opportunity and right of secession of Provinces or groups from the Union, which have been provided in the Mission's plan by implication. ….
…. The Muslim League reserves the right to modify and revise the policy and attitude set forth in this resolution at any time during the progress of the deliberations …
[End of my quotations]
Mr. Hamdani: If you think these statements are false, please say so.
You will note that these statements precede Pandit Nehru’s July 10 statement which Pakistanis generally parade as “evidence” that he wanted to scuttle the Cabinet Mission proposals. In fact Mr. Nehru was responding to the above mentioned statements of Jinnah and the Muslim League.
He was also responding to information he had gotten that Sind, NWFP, Assam and the Sikhs were against the Cabinet Mission proposals. Mr. Jinnah had not done his homework by making sure that these groups were in favor of the CM proposals.
The Cabinet Mission was clearly against Partition of India. Even after the CM delegates said so, Mr. Jinnah persisted (as shown by the statements quoted above) that he wanted Partition.
Maulana Azad clearly ignores all this and takes the side of Muslim League in blaming Nehru. The facts do not support him. The facts show that both Mr. Jinnah and Pandit Nehru did not accept the CM proposals and it was Jinnah who scuttled the CM proposals first.
Yasser Latif Hamdani to  R. Bhawani Prasad
 Bhawani Mian as usual you miss the point. Azad felt it was a just solution and Azad was happy with Jinnah's acceptance. Azad blames Nehru for scuttling it not Jinnah. So you can twist history all you want but there was only Nehru who scuttled in Azad's opinion.
What Jinnah told his party men to convince them of CMP when he could have just rejected it out of hand is therefore not a binding position. To suggest that League would not keep this savings clause is too much to ask. They were not going to sign a blank cheque.
As a lawyer Jinnah knew as much as anyone that there was precious little that resolution would mean once the constitution of India framed.
I suggest you read Seervai's partition of India legend and reality and read Maulana Azad's India wins freedom.
Now you can say that maybe Azad was fooled easily by Jinnah's acceptance but that does not change the fact that Azad blames Nehru (if at all it could be blame and not credit)
I would be very happy to know Nehru's statement of July 9th can be said to be a response to a resolution when by July the matter had already been settled with Congress also accepting the cabinet mission plan.
lala gee to  Yasser Latif Hamdani
 " To suggest that League would not keep this savings clause is too much to ask. They were not going to sign a blank cheque"
In other words Leauge wanted to have its cake and it too
"As a lawyer Jinnah knew as much as anyone that there was precious little that resolution would mean once the constitution of India framed"
Leauges written resolution with heavy conditions didn't mean much but Nehru's verbal statement meant a lot. While accepting CMP Jinnah also told his party workers that in case of any unfavorable development during constitution making AIML could protest & stall the process in the assembly. Jinnah could have given CMP a chance despite Nehru's statement if he really wanted to us TNT as a bargaining chip but he choose to withdraw his support from CMP, what does that mean?
Anyways as you have mentioned in your other articles, Nehru & Patel's decision to agree with the partition of India was a blessing in disguise. At least I agree with you in this argument
Yasser Latif Hamdani to  lala gee
Again. The league did not have the majority in CA, Congress did and Nehru saying that he was unfettered by agreements was a damning statement.
Harry: I have read Agha's book. He does claim it as an interview, he used the terminology which was current in Pakistan. East Pakistan or East Bengal didn't make any difference. There is no reason to look at the political process from only the legal angles and some public statements. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes. It was clear the CMP would have left India without a strong center. There were plenty of chances that in the next ten years India would have been divided into three countries. While that suited Jinnah and the ML, it was not an acceptable situation to Congress. Congress after looking at the implications, had to issue a clarification. The ML central committee never ratified or rejected CMP. Jinnah first said it will have to be passed by the ML central committee and then rejected it after Nehru's statement. Congress later felt its better off with a Pakistan rather than three Indias. That was a sensible decision as pretty much all Muslim states in the West had shown their intentions for a separate homeland. Sindh and KP both wanted a separate country. They accepted Pakistan as a stop-gap arrangement. Bengali leadership would have opted for the same option which it later did and within 24 years, was out of Pakistan.
Agha's book or Azad's comments only matter because any sane politician has the ability to look at some contradictions that can play out in future. Azad was correct in some of his assessments, but not in all.
CMP was the last option, but a poor one. It would have left India in a perpetual political turmoil. The sort that we see in Pakistan. That is what the British wanted to see. A weak India. Eventually, they got a weak Pakistan, which is still struggling with the patching together of politically disparate entities into an a single country, that has no chance to develop into a Nation. India did not face that issue and it has established itself as one Nation.
Yasser Latif Hamdani  to Harry
Sorry but that is incorrect. Muslim League Central Working Committee did pass the Cabinet Mission Plan. I am not sure what history you are reading but your friends are quoting precisely the resolutions where the League CWC accepts the plan as a compromise.
R. Bhawani Prasad
Mr. Hamdani: Somehow what seems plain to my kafir mind is not clear to you.
You wrote: "Azad felt it was a just solution and Azad was happy with Jinnah's acceptance.".
The facts indicate that Jinnah (and the Muslim League) did NOT accept the Cabinet Mission Award. It is a myth to say that Jinnah accepted the CM proposals.
The Muslim League said clearly that they were "accepting" the CM proposals as a step towards the creation of the full 6-province Pakistan. However the CM had already made it clear that their proposals were designed to thwart the creation of Pakistan.
So I don't understand how you can ignore this fact.
You write: "What Jinnah told his party men to convince them of CMP when he could have just rejected it out of hand is therefore not a binding position. To suggest that League would not keep this savings clause is too much to ask".
So why is Jinnah's statement not a binding position whereas Nehru's remarks, made a month later and in response to Jinnah's scuttling the CM proposals, to be regarded as binding ? Is Nehru not allowed a savings clause where Jinnah deserves it ?
Is my kafir mind missing something that is apparently plain to you ?
You also ignore that the CM proposals was not subject to ratification by the people - no plebiscite on this issue.
Pandit Nehru knew (Jinnah probably also knew but he ignored it) that the CM proposals were not approved by Assam, NWFP, Baluchistan and Sind. That is why Nehru said that those proposals were going nowhere.
Yes I have read Seervai's book. and also Azad. My comments on them will have to wait when I have more time than I have now for a full discussion.
Yasser Latif Hamdani to  R. Bhawani Prasad
 Facts indicate no such thing. In any event my comment is regarding how Azad viewed it. Read India wins freedom.
As for why Nehru's statement was binding - because Congress had an absolute majority in the constituent assembly and what Nehru said made sense - that Congress could choose to ignore the CMP. Clearly you missed that part. I am not sure what a kafir mind is. So please refrain from such incendiary nonsensical gems.
lala gee  Yasser Latif Hamdani • 3 days ago
didn't Jinnah knew that congress had absolute majority in the assy when he conditionally accepted CMP? Didn't his legal mind see implications of this fact while passing AIML resolution? What Nehru said was implied any way. How did it change Jinnah's mind on CMP?
Yasser Latif Hamdani  lala gee • 2 days ago
Yes Jinnah knew Congress had an absolute majority which is why he wanted the guarantee that Congress would stick to its acceptance. He also thought that the Congress would honour its commitment as per the Cabinet Mission Plan. There is nothing "implied" when the leader of the absolute majority party says "We are unfettered by agreements". This is what Nehru said. He said he was going into CA without any fetters that CMP wouldn't really be implemented. This is why in a conversation now recorded - Wavell called Nehru and Gandhi blackmailers. Also Azad blames Nehru. So asking me how it changed Jinnah's mind is a ridiculous question to begin with when even Azad points out that Nehru's statement was a himalayan blunder. Please make up your mind as to what it is you are arguing because right now you and Bhawani Prasad are tying yourselves up in knots.
R. Bhawani Prasad  Yasser Latif Hamdani • 3 days ago
Mr. Hamdani:
The kafir mind believes that when Pandit Nehru said something it is binding and when Mr. Jinnah said something it too is binding. If you don't agree with this, then you don't have a kafir mind. As Mr. Lala Gee posted, the kafir mind does not believe one can eat the cake and have it too.
As a kafir I still do not understand how you can say that Jinnah's words do NOT count whereas Nehru's words do.
I have more comments about the Cabinet Mission shenanigans but I will post them later when I have more time.
Yasser Latif Hamdani  to R. Bhawani Prasad
I think you are going in circles. If you read what I wrote. It seems that you don't spend much time reading what others write and regurgitate your own pre-conceived notions.
Congress had an absolute majority in the Constituent Assembly so it could bulldoze the CMP. Muslim League could not and it did not have the power to separate. What it was going to do? Pass a resolution again?
There is enough material that shows that Jinnah's acceptance of the CMP was accepted as a compromise solution by the Congress till Nehru went and changed the whole thing. To say that he did so because he suspected that Jinnah had not actually accepted the plan is just another distortion. Read his statement of 9 July. He says so very clearly that he was unfettered by agreement.
So your point would have made sense had Nehru termed it that way. As it stands your point quite idiotic and no historian or lawyer studying the events around CMP, even the stringent Congress supporter, has interpreted it that way.... And especially Azad who thought Nehru bulldozed it not Jinnah.
Khan: There is no such thing as Ahmadi: it is Qadiani and there is no such thing as partition: it is Independence
Mahmood  Khan • Ignorant and narrow minded people like you are the main cause of misery that we see in Todays Pakistan.
Khan  Mahmood • It is the likes of you and Shahjee who cannot reconcile with facts and are always available in the market for the right price. Spell correctly your name Mr IGNORANT with your broad side if any.
Mahmood  Khan • Open up your congested eyes and specially the mind and you will see correctly my name.
Shahjee  Khan • It is your lack of knowledge/ information!
Onkar Sharma • Yasser saheb, Partition and Pakistan is a reality. Forget Jinnah and Nehru, they are gone but we are here. Have we the will to live with each other as friends and neighbours? If so, let´s bury the past start with a clean slate. In good Punjabi " mitti pao" and look to the future. If we keep looking back, we shall never see what is ahead of us. Of course, we need to learn from the mistakes of past to make a better future our children.
I beseech you to write about our common strength and how can we together make the most of it?