Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Professor Ishtiaq Ahmed lectures on the Punjab partition - 25 & 26 February, NMML, IIC

25 February  - Nehru Memorial Library at 3 pm

26 February  - India International Centre at 6 pm

'..The biggest deception that Pakistani Marxists and liberals have been indulging in is that the ulema as a whole opposed the creation of Pakistan. Maududi did oppose, but he was an outsider who shifted to Pathankot, Punjab, where in 1941 he founded the Jamaat-e-Islami. It had no significant following in Punjab in 1945-46. The Deobandi Jamiat-i-Ulema-e-Hind, also opposed the Pakistan idea. It was essentially a northern Indian party without roots in Punjab. Nevertheless, a breakaway faction of the Deobandis led by Maulana Shabbir Ahmed Usmani wholeheartedly supported the Pakistan demand.

Punjab was the stronghold of pirs and Barelvi ulema. It is they who campaigned for an Islamic state and turned the tables in favour of the Muslim League. The Muslim League had to wrest Punjab away from the Punjab Unionist Party and that necessitated portraying it as an agent of anti-Islam forces. 
Consequently, ‘Islam in danger’ was launched as the battle cry, the Muslim League was projected as the saviour and Pakistan as the utopia where no exploitation would exist, moneylending would be abolished and a model Muslim society based on Islamic law would come into being. Pages 81-106 of my book The Punjab Bloodied, Partitioned and Cleansed (Oxford, 2012) provide the details. Islamic slogans, of which the most famous,Pakistan ka nara kiya? La Illaha Illillah (What is the slogan of Pakistan? It is that there is no god but God), were used profusely. The pirs and ulema told the Muslims that voting for the Muslim League would be voting for the Holy Prophet (PBUH); those Muslims who did not do so, their marriages would be annulled, they would be refused an Islamic burial, and so on. 

The Hindus and Sikhs were told that they would be tried under Islamic law and they would have to bring their cases to mosques. Governor Sir Bertrand Glancy noted on September 13, 1945, “Muslim Leaguers are doing what they can in the way of propaganda conducted on fanatical lines; religious leaders and religious buildings are being used freely in several places for advocating Pakistan and vilifying any who hold opposite view. Communal feel is, I fear, definitely deteriorating. Sikhs are getting definitely nervous about Pakistan, and I think there is no doubt that they will forcibly resist any attempt to include them in a Muslim Raj” ..

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Professor Ahmed is PhD (Stockholm University); Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Stockholm University; and Honorary Senior Fellow, Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore. Latest publications: Pakistan: The Garrison State, Origins, Evolution, Consequences (1947-2011), Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2013; The Punjab Bloodied, Partitioned and Cleansed: Unravelling the 1947 Tragedy through Secret British Reports and First-Person Accounts (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2012; New Delhi: Rupa Books, 2011)

Professor Ahmed will be visiting  the Centre for Historical Studies, JNU between 8-22 March