By Wajahat Masood
(Translated from Urdu by Sohail Arshad)
Let’s have a look at the proportion of Muslim and non-Muslim (Hindu-Sikh) population in the affected areas, according to the census of 1941:
Area Muslim % Non-Muslim %
Rawalpindi 80 18.67
Campbellpur 90.42 9.36
Mianwali 86.16 13.76
Jhelum 89.42 10.41
Sargodha 83.68 14.88
Kohat 91.99 8.10
Gujarat 85.58 14.2
Multan 78.1 20.52
Gojranwala 70.45 22.70
Banun 87.6 12.90
Sialkot 62.09 31.12
Lahore 60.62 35.9
Peshawar 90.34 9.65
Marwan 95.46 4.52
Dera Ismail Khan 85.78 14.21
By merely having a bird’s eye view of the religious division of the population in the affected areas, it can be understood which community had the possibility of having an upper hand in case of riots. It should not be surprising then that while giving shape to the Punjab Boundary Force with a view to the possible deterioration of the law and order situation in the end of July 1947, these areas were not brought under consideration because the non-Muslim population there had almost been wiped out or had migrated.
It would not be unrealistic to say that after the formation of Pakistan, no one from the Muslim League leadership except Jinnah made any serious effort to retain Hindu-Sikh population in Pakistan and protect them. Liaqat Ali Khan was trying to consolidate his electoral base by bringing more and more Muslims from the Muslim-minority areas. The Muslim League leadership was impatiently waiting to grab the urban properties, businesses, costly assets, agricultural land and jobs of the non-Muslims by driving them out.
Take the example of the Sindh province where 36% of the agricultural land was pledged to the Hindu population. Interestingly, not a single statement of any religious peshwa condemning the incidents of killing, plundering, arson and rape came into light during the riots spanning several months. Even if a voice was heard, it was of the flag-bearer of the Hindu-Muslim unity, Md Ali Jinnah who had long been declared kafir (infidel) by the religious peshwas.
Ghalib’s friend and Delhi’s renowned religious leader in the 19th century Mufti Sadruddin had rightly said:
Kamil us firqa-e-zahad se utha na koi
Kuchh huye to yehi rindaan-e-qadah khwar huye
( No one but no one graduated among the class of the self-righteous,
Only some of the knaves got the honour)
On the occasion of his tour of the riots-affected areas on January 9, 1948, Qaid-e-Azam Md Ali Jinnah had issued a message titled ‘Hindu humsayon ko bachao’ (Save the Hindu neighbours) to the Pakistani citizens:
“Once again I stress to all the Muslims to co-operate with the government and its personnel against the violators of law, traitors and conspirators who are responsible for this anarchy to save the Hindu neighbours. There will be rule of Constitutional government, not of the traitors, conspirators and unruly mob in Pakistan. The government of Pakistan will take every possible action against such criminals and they will be dealt with an iron hand. My full sympathies are with the Hindus, most of whom were provoked by propaganda. In fact, the main purpose was to drive them out of Sindh. As a result, many Hindus had to suffer. The people who brought Sikhs to Karachi without informing the concerned officials, the District Magistrate and the police and lodged them in the gurudwara could not be tracked as yet, but a full inquiry will be conducted into the matter.”
Was this a political statement of Qaid-e-Azam Md Ali Jinnah? Was he resorting to the same ‘hollow rhetoric’ of the politicians that has subjected the political process and the politicians to common disdain for decades in the country?
Let’s take the testimony of the Lieutenant General ( retd) Gul Hasan on this issue. Gul Hasan was the ADC to Qaid-e-Azam and was also the Chief of the Pakistani Army for a few months after the separation of the East Pakistan.
Let me mention here that Gul Hasan was one of the architects of the dominance of the army over the political leadership, and whenever he mentions any politician in his book, his typical army tone betrays scorn and contempt. In his book, ‘Akhri Commander-in-Chief’ (The last Commander-in-Chief) he writes:
“It was during my last days of my services as ADC that the communal riots broke out in Karachi. In those days Qaid-e-Azam looked very worried. One day he called me and asked if I had sent food to one of my Hindu friends. He was acquainted with his father. Replying in the affirmative, I told him that my friend’s house was located exactly at the same place on Bandar Road which is the centre of the riots. I believe that he and his servants will not have the courage to come out of the house. I further told Qaid-e-Azam that I had been using the Governor General’s car and had given money to the driver from my own pocket to buy essential things. I also informed him of the fact that I had sent all the items to my friend’s house when there was curfew at night.” He looked into my eyes and said, “I am proud of you. Whenever the people of Pakistan are in trouble, we should help them.”
You can see here, Qaid-e-Azam said,” Whenever the people of Pakistan are in trouble, we should help them.’ He did not say, “Whenever the Muslims of Pakistan are in trouble, we should help them.” After the formation of Pakistan, in Qaid-e-Azam’s view the first and the last identity of a Pakistani citizen was his being a Pakistani, rather than his belief.
It is not that during this period of anarchy, the rank and file of the politicians, government officials and common people were totally devoid of such elements who held on to the principles of humanity. In Amritsar alone, eight non-Muslim communist activists laid down their lives while protecting the Muslim citizens. Hayat Ahmad Khan was a highly responsile, respected and sophisticated citizen of Pakistan. He had rendered selfless services to the classical music through Pakistan Musical Conference in Pakistan for a half century. I would rather say that he sacrificed everything for music’s sake.
Having passed his M.A. in English from the Government College, Lahore in 1947, he was ushering in his practical life. His description of Lahore of 1947 in his biographical sketch of Agha Babur is worth reading. It shows that humanity had not completely perished. It had just happened that the evil forces had had a field day temporarily.