A Case of Sovereign Sindh – by: Ibrahim Joyo

Courtesy: Sindhi Daily Ibrat

The doctrinaire meaning of NATION – a modern democratic nation- is, “A people with a common mother tongue, living in an absolute majority in a territory which is their natural and historical homeland”. Despite their majority, the people usually live with one or more naturalized minorities – religious and/or ethnic – enjoying equal rights of citizenship in the territory, which is their homeland too. The majority people in the territory admit right to none, including these minorities, to subvert their majority by force or by any other means.

In the Asian Continent, we have had, as we have it also now, a sub-continent called at one time, “Hindustan”, and called these days as the “South Asian sub-continent”. In a north­west corner of this sub-continent, there is a land known from times immemorial as Sindh. The names Hind, Ind or India are the names which Sindh in antiquity lent to this sub­continent. At one stage, Sindh and Hind co-existed as two lands. Maulana Jalaluddin Roomi, author of the book “Masnavi”, a poetic compendium on Islamic mysticism, carrying a celebrated label of “the Quran in Persian language” (Hast Quran dar Zabani-i-Pahlavi), had to make the following observation about the two co-existing sisterly lands in the sub­continent:

سنديان را اصطلاح سند مدح

هنديان را صطلاح هند مدح

(Aptly suited to the Sindhi people is the Sindhi language. Also aptly suited to the Hindi people is Hindi language).

The Britishers occupied Sindh in 1843, nearly two and a half centuries after their arrival at the port of Surat in 1606 A.D. as traders in the sub-continent. In time, they had to engage Sindh’s independent rulers – the Talpurs – in two battles, one at Mianee and the other at Duabo and win them before occupying Sindh. A century later in 1947 as they left the sub-continent, they left Sindh too, the land of a noble, peace loving, vibrant and homogenous people – the Sindhi-speaking people in Sindh with 95% majority, – their chief city Karachi too, having on record almost the same majority, .in the census of 1941.

The British people, no doubt, in the meantime, during the long span of some three and a half centuries of their contact and stay in the sub-continent, founded, built and consolidated their Empire, the British Raj, as the greatest Imperial State in history since the Maurian Indian Empire of 320-184 B.C. All the same, the British remained aware, up to the last, of Sindhi People being a nation and Sindh being their only national homeland in the world, even so as they remained aware of similar other several peoples, being nations in their own right with their legitimate homelands in the sub-continent. The British opinion leaders -official or public – on their part, to the very last day of their rule in the sub-continent, never acknowledged Muslim nationalism or Hindu nationalism, in the sub-continent. Not even Mr. Jinnah, the Quaid-e-Azam of the All-India Muslim League, nor even Maulana Maudoodi of Jamait—Islami, had any such beliefs. Otherwise Maulana Maudoodi need not have opposed Muslim League all his life so totally as he did, nor Mr Jinnah could have permitted the “provinces” to be promised autonomy and sovereignty as the constituent units in Pakistan in the League’s resolution of March 1940. He could not also have commended Mulslims and Hindus, immediately on the birth of Pakistan, to cease to be Muslims or Hindus politically since religion, as stated on the occasion, was “a matter of personal faith with all”.

The British authorities, both at home and in India, even went further inasmuch as they offered transfer of Power” to the Provinces’ in case the Congress and the League failed to settle their differences on formation of what the British suggested as the two fringe “groups”, around the central federal structure, ‘a province’ could come out from its ‘group’ through a majority vote of its own Legislative Assembly, immediately, or at the expiry of first ten years.

This was the position laid out, in relevant details, before the two parties, the National Congress and the Muslim League, by the British Cabinet Mission headed by Lord Pethic-Lawerence, the Secretary of State for India, in their “statement” of May 16,1946, for “the settlement” of what the Mission called the “the Indian Constitutional tangle”. The Statement, in the words of Sir Stafford Cripps, another important member of the Mission, was “not merely the Mission’s statement but (was the statement) of His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom”.

What was the tangle? Constitutional, of course, as the Statement described it; but what was the tangle rooted in? Who raised it? How did it flourish? And where does it stand now?

The Indian National Congress and the All India Muslim League, the two political parties enmeshed in this dubious and painful tangle, were both born with the blessings of the British paramount power, no doubt, with a tale-bearing gap of 20 years – the one born in 1885 and the other in 1906 – and were both, on birth, declared ostensibly to serve as leverages of influence with the rulers on behalf of the ruled, in reality, however, both the parties, immediately on the birth of the younger one, the All-India Muslim League, were thrown into the prepared arena of conflict on nationalist-secular and religio-communal platforms respectively to counter each other with the net resultant gain of the British Imperial interests in the sub-continent.

A shirt peep into the history of this disastrous tangle would not be amiss at this point. Stanley Wolpert, the biographer of Mr Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, and Zulfi Bhutto, the martyred Prime Minister of Pakistan, in his introductory pages of the two books, characterized the year 1905, “a year of revolutionary surprises”. One such “surprise” was, in Wolpert’s words, “the most dramatic and far-reaching act of Lord Curzon’s half decade (1900-1905) of Viceregal Rule – The Partition of Bengal.

Commenting on the repercussions of the event, Wolpert refers to the Bengali Hindu elites’ sharp reaction, who “viewed this partition of Bengal, their motherland, as British divide et-impera with a vengeance”, and depicts in horrid colours the state of discomfiture in which the British Imperial administration found itself caught by such an untempered act. “The half decade of violent anti-partition agitation that started in Calcutta’s crowded bazaars and narrow alleys”, Wolpert writes, “spread fires of national protest and boycott against British goods to ignite Bombay, Poona, Madras and Lahore. Millions of Indians hitherto untouched by political demands were politisized by the impassioned anti-government speeches and actions of Bengal’s …

Courtesy: Sindhi Daily Ibrat, Sunday, May 09, 2010

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