BOOK SERIALISATION
An Analysis
The Sepoy Rebellion of 1857-59

(The first thirteen chapters of this book were serialised in DJ from July 1999 till October last year. This analysis covers the first 150 pages, and is now being serialised in DJ).

Columnist AH AMIN re-interprets the so-called 1857 Indian Mutiny.

Even the Muslim League which won the elections in 1946 in Punjab or in Sindh was little more than a bunch of opportunists who changed their loyalties from Unionist to Muslim League, simply because they very correctly sensed that the average Muslim would vote for the Muslim League simply because of the immense emotional appeal of the “Pakistan Slogan” in the post-1940 and pre-1947 period! “Opportunism” and “Unconditional Loyalty to the British” were two hallmarks of the post-1857 Muslim leadership. The simple reason for this state of affairs was fear of Hindu domination and a very potent fear that they would lose all their privileges by the introduction of a system of western democracy which the British were bringing to India slowly and gradually in the post-1857 period. In the Muslim majority provinces this fear was less whereas in the Muslim minority provinces this fear was greater. What the Indian Muslims failed to understand was that fear is no rational response to a problem. If it was so there would have been no fear of Punjabi domination in East Pakistan or fear of Bengali domination in West Pakistan! Even today the fear of Punjabi domination is a far greater threat to the average Sindhi or Baloch than fear of Indian domination! Emotional slogans can galvanize the populace for some time but they cannot bring for them peace and prosperity in the long run. The widely believed notions of intellectual superiority of UP Muslims and the martial prowess of Punjabi Muslims are merely myths and have absolutely no historical basis. Both of the communities should be grateful to the British in this regard i.e. the Upites to the British for bringing in western education by establishing universities / colleges and in enabling the Aligarh MAO College to rise and prosper. The Punjabi Muslims for the great irrigation system that the British established in Punjab and for recruiting the Punjabi Muslims in greater numbers in the army in the post-1857 scenario something which has at least till 1998 enabled the Punjabi Muslims to dominate Pakistan and to make sure that the Bengalis had no choice but to secede. But the British did one very clever thing which has hampered us. They made sure that the most spineless and worthless toadies should lead the Indian Muslims in general and the Martial Muslims in particular!  Through some very profound and subtle system they ensured mediocrity in higher Muslim ranks.

The Hindu of post-1857 India was a more confident man than the Muslim. The Hindu knew that the British had to take him seriously just because of the sheer weight of numbers. If the British wanted to rule India in peace they had to appease the Hindu for he constituted the great majority. Thus unfortunately while the Muslim in post-1857 period was taking every possible pain to prove his loyalty to the British for fear of Hindu domination, keeping in view the introduction of western democracy based on majority of votes, the Hindu was now a much more confident man. He knew that whatever happens a Hindu would lead the post-British India. Thus while a culture based on loyalty to the British was being actively adopted by the Muslims in both the Punjab and UP and in all other Muslim majority or Muslim minority provinces the Hindu was thinking big. He needed less of Hinduism while a Muslim needed much more of Islam in the post- 1857 scenario. The Hindu thus posed as the natural leader of the native public opinion in India. It is not to imply that this happened due to advent of the British. Even if the British had not come to India, it is a simple fact of history that the non- Muslims in the shape of Mahrattas and Sikhs were dominating India by 799. The British actually saved the Muslims from Mahratta or Sikh domination. Who can deny that the Sikhs kicked the Afghans out of Punjab and NWFP entirely based on their indigenous martial prowess? Who can deny that the Mughals were destroyed primarily due to the Mahratta guerrilla wars! The predators like Nadir Shah and Ahmad Shah Abdali were half vultures; for the Mughal Empire they destroyed had already been half destroyed by the Mahrattas. Thus we see the EEIC first saving Oudh from the Mahrattas and then gobbling it up. Similarly the western UP Muslims were liberated from Mahratta domination by General Lake in 1803! The Bahawalpur state was saved by the Treaty of Amritsar of 1809 which discouraged Ranjit Singh from extending east of Sutlej. Similarly, the Ameers of Sindh were saved from Ranjit Singh who would have swallowed them within one winter campaign! Yet in 1857 the Indians or at least a part of them both Hindus and Muslims combined and made one very desperate yet valiant effort to oust the British. Till this time the Hindus acknowledged the Muslim political supremacy since we see the Bengal Army which was predominantly Hindu, fighting for Muslim sovereigns at Delhi and in Oudh! But when this great rebellion failed there was the parting of the ways! The Muslims of the post-1857 had no choice but to please the British to avoid Hindu domination! The Hindu’s problems had completely ended! All they had to do was to play a waiting game. They knew that one day the British will have to go and then they, the ones who had been ruled and subjugated by a minority from the 12th century till almost the 18th century would dominate the Indo-Pak sub- continent, just like they were about to do around 1799 and till 1803 when the EEIC challenged the Hindu Mahratta rule! The Muslim post-1857 problems were more complex, they had to escape Hindu domination and they also had to face the British. The policy they adopted after 1857 was “Loyalty to the British”. Sir Syed preached it at every forum. When the Sultan of Turkey during the Russo-Turkish war of 1877-78 claimed to be the Khalifa (Caliph) of all Muslims and the Mullahs (Priests) of Mecca issued an appeal on the behalf of Sultan of Turkey for assistance in fighting the Christians.619 Sir Syed dismissed the appeal for assistance in the following words. “The Sultan of Turkey had no right to be Khalifa”, Sir Syed further explained dismissing the Turkish claim saying that not a single Indian Muslim considered the Sultan of Turkey to be Caliph of all Muslims620. during the second Afghan war of 1878-80 also Sir Syed justified the British role in thrashing the Afghans. When Alexandria in Egypt was bombarded by British ships in 882 Sir Syed again took considerable pains in dismissing any pro-Egyptian solidarity on part of Indian Muslims through the medium of the “Aligarh Institute Gazette”621. The fact that Sir Syed adopted sycophancy and ultraloyalism to the British as a creed outwardly seems nothing more than “docility” or “appeasement”. But here again there was a very big difference between Sir Syed and a Tiwana or a Chattari or a Mahmudabad Raja. These feudals were doing all the bootlicking for their personal gains and riches while Sir Syed was pursuing a pro-British policy keeping in view of the consequent gains for Muslims as a community. Sir Syed’s aim was collective good of the Muslims as a community while the Tiwana or Noon or Hayat aim was personal gain. This brings us to a conceptual road block or sandbar which has confused the vast majority of Indo- Pak historians in treating Sir Syed’s role vis-a-vis the 1857 “Rebels”. The “Rebels” were right in their own way. They pursued the course of “Armed Insurrection” but failed, though in a subtle way they succeeded in certain aspects, which we will discuss in later paragraphs. The situation in 1858 was complex, “The Indians had attempted an Armed Insurrection but had failed”. The Hindus took a very active part in the rebellion but stood to lose little since they were the majority and the British could not offend them. The Muslims were less numerous in the Bengal Army and only constituted some 25% of the “rebel sepoys” but they had been the leaders thanks to their “cavalry regiments” which took the real initiative and were predominantly Muslim. Further, the main centres of resistance where some 90% of the total casualties occurred were Muslim political centres of Delhi and Lucknow. The Muslims were thus the main losers since they were in the limelight and it was easier to persecute them since they were only a minority i.e. some 15 to 20% in UP and Central India, the two regions which were the main culprits in the British eyes. The Muslims had to somehow carry on and how they could do it was complicated, at least in the period 1858-78. Sir Syed saw the problem, took it by the horns and arrived at a tangible concrete solution through which to rescue the Indian Muslims in general and the UP and Central Indian Muslims in particular. Sir Syed’s efforts to please the British and to brand the sepoys of 1857 was need of the day. Sir Syed adopted this as a deliberate pragmatic and calculated policy to pacify and cool down the immense anti-Muslim sentiments harboured by the large majority of the British in the decades following 1857 against Hindustani Muslims in particular and other Muslims in which the tribal Pathans were the foremost in general. It is true that this British bias was regional since the Punjabi Muslims had as a group with few exceptions like the indomitable Ahmad Khan Kharal activity assisted the British in suppressing the rebellion. This subtle point is missed by various historians while analysing the post-1857 period. The British perceptions of the Muslims differed from province to province. In Punjab even after 1857 the British were the principal saviours of the Punjabi Muslims from the landlords who in all probability would have destroyed them had Thorburn and others not actively lobbied the Muslim cause and ensured that various legislative proposals which protected Muslim land from Hindu money lenders were successfully accepted as laws. Even in UP the British cultivated the Muslims because they were regarded as too important to be ignored. After all many UP feudals both Hindus and Muslims had stayed loyal just like the Punjabi feudals. In Oudh and Rohailkhand, it was a different case since British authority had totally disappeared from July 1857 to almost March 1858. The Talukdars were forced to join the Sepoys. Many of the Talukdars however, did genuinely join the sepoys in Oudh and these were the ones who did not return from Nepal in 1858 even after an amnesty had been proclaimed and their previously confiscated states had been restored. Many UP Muslims notably the Nawab of Rampur, Loharu Pataudi etc. stayed loyal. Actually while the sepoys leadership was largely Muslim most of the Talukdars who joined the sepoys were Hindu Rajputs. Thus even statistically speaking the Muslim feudals of UP except those of Delhi territory specially Aligarh, Meerut and Saharanpur remained by and large loyal. These included the Sherwani family of Aligarh, the Nawab of Pahasu etc. So even in UP the British played an active role in Muslim regeneration. It is an open secret that without the active British government support the MAO College Aligarh would not have succeeded the way it did. Sir Syed’s role was decisive in convincing the British in the post-1857 period that many Muslims of Northwest provinces (UP) had been as loyal as the Punjabi Muslims during the rebellion. The fact that the British drew separate rules for treating sepoys and Talukdars is evident from the British treatment of UP Talukdars in both Oudh (at that time a separate region under a Chief Commissioner) and Northwest province (remaining present UP) where almost all Talukdars who came back to India from Nepal received back their estates and their previously held Talukdari rights which included minor criminal jurisdiction. This policy was implemented in Oudh in 1859 and in Northwest provinces from January 1861 onwards. Thus the most negative result of the rebellion was renewed alliance between the British and the feudals which Dalhousie had abandoned. Thus the British gave rebirth to feudalism, which Dalhousie had firmly resolved to eradicate from India. Those who had overawed the British were hanged or killed in battle while those who had merely taken advantage of the rebellion were restored. The British in the post-1857 period abandoned Dalhousie’s heroic mission i.e. to bring social justice and fair government to India. Utilitarianism had proved too costly an experiment and the people of India were condemned to feudalism and exploitation. While the Congress succeeded in keeping the feudals under the table and on the sidelines by virtue of having a larger and more educated Hindu professional and middle class the Muslim League as well as the Unionist partly were largely feudal dominated debating clubs. The Muslim League remained a marginally middle class partly till 1937 which explains its failure in elections fought in a largely rural Muslim electorate. But failure in 1937 forced Mr. Jinnah to court with the Punjabi, Sindhi and Pathan feudals and this enabled him to make Muslim League the true spokesmen of Indian Muslims and in realizing the cherished goal of Pakistan but also destroyed Muslim League as a party. Simply because these feudals had no ideology except personal interest which made them an absolutely worthless bunch of total opportunists. Their talent or lack of it can be judged from the fact that they loyally served the Sikhs at a time when Sikhs used Muslim mosques as stables and powder magazines! The few good men among these Punjabi Muslim Feudals who resisted the Sikhs like the Chatthas, the Bhattis and Nawab Muzaffer Khan Saddozai died fighting the Sikhs. Those who were left were the ones who first served as loyal Sikh toadies and later switched their allegiance very quickly to the British once they embarked on the Second Sikh War. These feudals were the ones who assisted the British in 1857 when the rebellion broke out in areas east of Ambala. Again they stood by the British in 1919 when Punjab for the first time challenged the British. This crucial movement of 1919 which signified a change in attitude of Punjabis at least those south of Chenab River proved that Punjab could no longer be regarded as a pro-British bastion the way it was in 1857. It is significant to note that the 1919 disturbances in Punjab are today largely ignored by Pakistan historians merely because the Muslim League in 1919 was too loyal to take part in them! The fact that the disturbances were largely Congress organized does not however mean that Punjabi Muslims did not take an active part in these disturbances. Who can forget Dr. Saifuddin Kitchlew! But Saifuddin Kitchlew stayed in India.

It is important to note that the principal anti-British movements in the post-1857 scenario were witnessed in the maritime provinces of Bombay, Madras and Bengal. The united provinces of Agra and Oudh as they were called after 1901 were as tranquil and as peaceful as Punjab. Bengal which had been absolutely calm and quiet in 1857 now became the centre of extremist and radical politics. Even the myth of Punjab loyalty was shattered by Lajpat Rai and Ajit Singh by the 1907 disturbances which though much smaller in scale than the 1919 disturbances alarmed the British because prior to 1907 Punjab was regarded as an absolutely reliable province. Extremism became the slogan of the anti-British Bengalis and the myth of the Muslim danger to British rule in India was replaced by a real threat of Hindu anti-British extremist politics.

In today’s world specially in Pakistan the rebellion is continuously down played since the Punjab did not play any part except in staying loyal to the British. Insignificant events like the Afghan wars were given more importance than they deserved, merely as part of an elaborate western propaganda campaigns following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Few today know that the British captured Kabul in August 1839 with just about 7,000 troops on half rations out of which some 1,800 were British while the remaining were mostly Hindus from Northwest provinces and some Hindustani Muslims! The Britishers in this war captured Ghazni with a loss of just 17 men killed and 165 wounded622! Compare this with the casualties at Delhi in 1857 i.e. 1,003 men killed and 2,795 wounded623! Actually the combined casualties of the pure white troops from all causes including weather disease etc. of all three Afghan wars which the British fought were less than pure white casualties due to all causes of the British in 1857. Statistical evidence proves that the Punjabi Sikhs were tougher opponents than the Afghans and the combined British Indian casualties in all three Afghan wars were less than in the two Sikh wars! In today’s biased scenario historians in Pakistan are hell bent on projecting only Muslims as heroes while the non-Muslim Indians are being under rated out of proportion! Even a distinction is drawn between Muslims once the rebellion of 1857 is largely ignored in Pakistan! The simple fact that the pre-1947 British Indian Army did well in thrashing the Afghans or Japanese or Turks or Gurkhas was not because the Hindustani or the Punjabi Mussulman or the Sikh or the Dogra or the Gurkha was good, but simply the British officer was an excellent leader of men! Even the Frontier Expeditions about which the British talked so much were small shows in terms of casualties! When we analyze the facts we are surprised. For example, an analysis of all British expeditions against the Pathan tribes undertaken between 1849 and 1881 resulted in just 2,242 casualties which compared with siege of Delhi’s total casualties of 3,828 men are smaller. But this is not all, if we take casualties suffered against one non-NWFP tribe out, i.e. the “Hindustani fanatics” of Ambeyla which were 908 killed and wounded the above mentioned casualties are reduced to just 1,334 killed and wounded624! These are facts of our history but how many people know this today in Pakistan. Few people in today’s Pakistan know that the only fort which the British could not capture in India, Pakistan or Afghanistan was that of Bhurtpore in 1804. All other forts which the British besieged were captured in the same campaign or in the same siege except the Hindu Jat Fortress of Bhurtpore! Later on this Fortress was captured in 1826 in another war but that was much later. The fact that the British failed to capture a fortress in a single campaign was unique. The aim of all this discussion to highlight the absurdity of today’s idiotic myths about the so-called martial races or about Muslim’s superior to Hindus as soldiers etc.

Another good yardstick of comparing the rebel of 1857 with the Muslim Leader of 1940 is the degree of risk involved. In September 1857 all the sepoys defending Delhi against the British knew that if captured they would either be bayoneted, hanged or blown by a gun! The British took no prisoners just like the sepoys who used to kill all white men they caught! The Muslim League worker of 1940 or 1947 or the Feudal Muslim politician of 1940 or 1946 never faced any such risk. The grandsons or great grandsons of the loyal Mohammadans of India as Sir Syed had called them in 1858 achieved without a single casualty what the sepoys failed to achieve in 1857-58 with so much of bloodshed. But there was bloodshed somewhere because of which the British left India so prematurely; at Somme, at Amiens, at Ypres at Dunkirk and at Arnhem. Today, our leaders and historians on the official payroll describe it as a struggle! There was no struggle, the British were going just because they had become war weary having gone through two great wars which had bled them white! They left India in 1947 just like they left Canada or Australia or South Africa, peacefully and gracefully! The India they left in 1947 was more developed than it was in 1857 but was more jaundiced and hatred ridden than in 1857. An Indo-Pak subcontinent plagued by religious hatred, exploitation and confusion. A region which would remain plagued by poverty disease and ignorance! Obscurantism bias and complexes would be the hallmarks of Indo-Pak character! Even today India and Pakistan are engaged in a conflict which has no basis, somewhere they fight for a worthless piece of rock and glacier, somewhere they are fighting for an obscure valley. The seeds of this hatred and division were laid in the post-1857 decades. Division on basis of religion in itself proved to be no solution. Islam did not prevent the West Pakistanis from persecuting the East Pakistanis nor did it  prevent the Pakistani Army from killing more Baloch than all Baloch who died fighting the British from 1839 to 1947! Similarly the Hindu regime in Delhi could be well compared with the Mughals in persecuting Sikhs! The roles of the neo-Indian Mughals remained the same whether it was India or Pakistan i.e. embarking on unjust ethnic, internal wars designed at eliminating a particular race. Here the British policy of having only certain selected races paid rich dividends because the army man was happy to open fire as long as he did so outside his own province! The Chief Secretary of Bengal whether it was a thoroughbred Englishman of pre-1947 or a thoroughbred Punjabi like Aziz Ahmad of the post-1947, East Pakistan viewed the Bengalis simply as small ugly looking men of a foreign race! The colonial model of exploitation continued in the case of West and East Pakistan whether it was in terms of sharing power or foreign exchange or in basic rights! The Bengalis were perceived as a docile non-martial race keeping in view the myths cultivated deliberately by the British. An infantry division was considered sufficient to keep them in their place just like 22 British Regiments were thought sufficient for whole of Indo-Pak sub- continent in 1857! Thus not only the ship of “Two Nation Theory” “but also the ships of Martial Races Theory” was sunk in those bottomless depths of the Bay of Bengal! Today, I am glad that the Tamils by waging the most savage guerilla war in modern history are proving that any race can be as martial as the “Afghan” or “Mongol” or “German”! We must not forget that today’s unruly Afghans till 1722 had been a subject race for some 1000 years! Today’s placid Punjabis had been Alexander’s toughest opponents. Those who doubt it should read what happened at Hydaspes and at Multan once Alexander invaded India! Even the Punjabis as a race till recent times took on the Mughals and Afghans as Sikhs. The Punjabi Muslims peculiar situation in today’s history in terms of resistance and quality of leadership is the result of the Mughal policy in Punjab. This position would have been much better had Ayub Khan and Sikander Mirza not destroyed Democracy in 1956-58. Unfortunately, the quality of leadership which the Punjabi Muslims had to produce in the post-1947 period could not be attained because the post-1947 Punjabi leadership was and still is feudal dominated. Even today’s Punjabi leadership is an unfortunate combination of defective feudals and dubious business interests. Men of the breed of Mian Iftikharuddin, Malik Ghulam Jilani, Tariq Ali, Malik Barkat Ali, were unfortunately unsuccessful. A great role was played in this regard was played by the Civil-Military Junta who during the dark periods of 1956-68, 1969-71 and 1977-88 systematically purged Pakistan of all men with pride, integrity and talent! They wanted to breed a class of men whose character’s hallmark was “Sycophancy”, “Docility” and Timidity”. Men who could readily become even a donkey’s disciple! The values of Western Democracy, however, imperfect were still better than the poisonous intellectual stagnation of years of dictatorship led by men who were not even good soldiers in actual war time! The British keeping aside their colonial mentality had at least emancipated the people of Indo-Pak in many ways, by introducing western education, ideas of social justice, however imperfect, thanks to their fatal marriage with feudalism in the post- 1857 scenario! A system of elections was introduced slowly and gradually in the post-1858 period. Many elections were held in the thirty year period before 1947. A system was introduced but in 1962, some hundred years after the British had already embarked on the experiment of Western Democracy in India a man on horseback (actually it was a mule but through an error of perception we saw it as a horse) suddenly discovered that the people of Pakistan were not fit for democracy and he took us two centuries back by introducing the “Basic Democracy” system of elections! Imagine if the British had done the same in 1920 or 1935 how we would have condemned them. They were too intelligent to insult our intelligence the way it was insulted in 1962 or even in 1984 in that infamous referendum. Perhaps keeping in view excesses committed by the law enforcement agencies in Indo-Pak, since 1947 till 2002 specially those in Kashmir, Bangladesh, and Sindh even the British excesses of 1857 seen innocent!

The history of Pakistan is the history of usurpers or of civilian leaders belonging to political parties who are test tube babies of machinations of the civil military elite to dupe the people. The British inherited system of Democracy, however, imperfect if executed could have prevented many of the problems which are today plaguing Pakistan. The civil-military clique, however, deliberately destroyed Democracy in Pakistan. In this process they brought us back to the same place from where we had started in 1857 or 1858. Long ago Descartes said that if a man loses his way in a jungle he must make an assessment and start moving in one direction and maintain it despite any subsequent doubts. Only by doing this would he be able to find his way. The British came to India out of economic necessity. They ruled it for some two centuries and about eight decades before leaving it embarked on an experiment to introduce a system of Democracy in India. The fact that they supported feudalism is another side of the coin. The fact that they left a viable system is another indisputable side of the coin. The fact that Democracy succeeded in India and did not succeed in Pakistan can simply be seen as triumph of the combined civil-military-feudal clique in Pakistan in destroying democracy and in the success of a stronger educated Hindu middle/professional class and keeping “Generals” “Civil Servants” and “Feudals” in their place, i.e. “useful” but “subservient”! It can also be seen as a comparative achievement of Congress as an organisation and failure of Muslim League as an organisation! Merely stating that Pakistan did not do well because Jinnah died is not enough! It implies to saying that without Jinnah there would have been no Pakistan, something which is absolutely absurd! In any case if nations depend on the absence or presence of one man they have no right to exist! Islam did not die as a religion because of demise of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), Christianity did not die when Jesus was crucified. Their explanations of why “Democracy” failed in Pakistan is Army which should have been doing plain soldiering, assumed the role of “Plato” and “Rosseau” in devising a new socio-democratic political system! The Muslim League was so barren that dubious civil servants were elevated to cabinet rank! Fear of Bengali domination haunted the constitution makers who created circumstances favouring the breakdown of democracy in Pakistan. Even political parties were infiltrated and usurped by men who were products of military dictators. These were men who first became ministers in martial law governments i.e. through the backdoor and then formed their own parties to assume the role of “Civilian dictator” which has been an ever recurring phenomena in Pakistan’s history. While the world around is far ahead of us mentally we have advanced hardly any more than what we were around 1857.

The bulk of the Indian Muslims who joined the Muslim League during the period 1940-46 whether Hindustani, Bengali, Punjabi, etc., compelled by scientific political expediency, and their decision had little to do with Islam. The same feudals as a class were serving the Khalsa Sikhs when Mosques were lined with cow dung or used as stables or gunpowder magazines. At least in Ranjit Singh’s time Ghallu Maashki (a water carrier who successfully requested Ranjit Singh not to desecrate the Golden Mosque situated in Kashmiri Bazar Lahore. The Sikhs had plastered the Mosque with cow dung and placed their religious book Granth in it. Where were the martial races of north of Chenab once this happened! The loyal Tiwanas and Noons and Awan, Maliks and Niazis were serving Ranjit Singh! In all fairness the Punjabi Muslims in the person of the Chatthas resisted but the Chatthas were an exception! How can one even disregard the fact that a predominantly Muslim army fighting against the Muslim Turks and subsequently during the Khilafat Movement. The fact that Allama Iqbal refused to renounce knighthood during Khilafat Movement is indisputable. The aim is not to criticise Iqbal or anyone else but to illustrate that linking all events right from the time the Arabs landed in Sind in 711 till 1947 is a ridiculous exercise and an insult to the intelligence of an average history student! The British saved the Delhi Muslims from Marathas and the Punjabi and Pathan Muslims from Sikhs. Mickey mouse states like Bahawalpur and Sindh survived only because of British pressure on Ranjit Singh not to attack them. These are facts and should be acknowledged. The Punjabi. Muslims had no worthwhile role in Indian history as Punjabi Muslims till 1849. This fact should be accepted. The Muslims by and large were the most loyal British subjects after 1858. But today textbooks are trying to prove otherwise? The Muslim League particularly was a loyalist party and was merely negotiating a good deal for the Muslims in terms of political power but without any socio-economic programme aimed at improving the lot of the poor Muslims. Western analysts are today still debating why democracy failed in Pakistan. If an answer has to be given in about half a page, one can explain why this happened. The Muslim leaders who were members of the first constituent assembly were 90% men who would ask the British Deputy Commissioner what they should do before taking any major or minor decision. The Congress Hindu was more politically aware and was not as much overawed by the Britisher as his Muslim League counterpart. The reason for this meekness and docility lies in the policy of Loyalism followed by Muslims in all provinces in the post-1857 period. The Muslim League could never take part in any agitation against the British because “Loyalism” was the cornerstone of its policy! Before 1857 no doubt  the Muslims were the leaders and Hindus looked up to them. But in the post-1857 scenario the whole equation was transformed. Since 1947 the Hindustani Muslim historians are trying very hard to prove that the Punjabi Muslim Unionists were toadies while the Muslim League was the real freedom fighter! The simple fact is that both the parties were toadies and the only difference was that in Punjab the Muslims were in a majority while in UP and Bombay etc. the Muslims were in minority. The same Muslim League was panting to ally with Unionist Muslims and thus the resultant Jinnah-Sikandar Pact. It is strange that the Muslim League which did not take part in any active agitation against the British failed to even improve its party organisation during the period 1906-46. No leader of this party was jailed by the British and these gentlemen had all the time to at least improve their party organisation. They failed to do so and had no clear cut manifesto outlining any. Today, the text books of history want us to believe that Muslims would have remained illiterate without MAO College Aligarh! Facts, unfortunately prove that nothing is farther from the truth than this. The British in all fairness did not discriminate between Hindu and Muslim in education and were indeed even MAO College Aligarh’s principal patron! The college was saved from total collapse in late 1890s by the British. In terms of Muslim’s education between 1882 and 1902, Aligarh had produced 220 Muslim graduates which were just 18.5% out of the total Muslim graduates of all India i.e. 1,184625. Aligarh was the educational heartland of the UP Muslims but not of all Indian Muslims. But we must remember that UP was not the most educated province in British India. Bengal was the most literate province and Sir Sayed was most affraid of the Bengali not because he was a Hindu, but because he was not from UP. thus Sayed Ahmad’s speech of December 1887 in which he attacked the Congress was an attack on a non-loyalist party and not on a Hindu party. Sayed Ahmad in 1887 was not a sole Muslim spokesman but the spokesman of all Hindustani loyalist elite of UP. The Punjabi Muslims who had become British favourites following their loyalty at Delhi and Lucknow did not need a Sir Sayed. The Hindustani Muslims who united under Sayed Ahmad were those who were as opportunistic as the Punjabi Muslims! Under Sayed Ahmad Khan they were not fighting a losing battle but were merely preserving a strong position. Sayed Ahmad’s Lucknow speech amply proves this point, thus Sayed Ahmad condemned the newly founded Indian National Congress in following words: “Would our aristocracy like that men of low caste or insignificant origin, though he be a B.A. or M.A. and have the requisite ability, should be in a position of authority above them and have the power in making the laws that affect their lives and property? Never! Nobody would like it............... Think for a moment what would be the result if all appointments were given by competitive examination. Over all races, not only over Mahomedans but over Rajas of high position and the brave Rajputs have not forgotten the swords of their ancestors, would be placed as ruler a Bengali who at sight of a table knife would crawl under his chair..... if you accept that the country should groan under the yoke of Bengali rule and its people lick the Bengalis shoes, then, in the name of God, Jump into the train, sit down and be off to Madras! (Congress’s session at Madras). The Muslim League was basically a UP dominated organisation fighting for the interested of the Urdu speaking Muslim elite of the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh. In 1938 thanks to Jinnah Sikandar Pact it entered Punjab by accepting in its fold members of the Punjabi Muslim Unionist Party. The result of this brilliant but pragmatic/opportunistic marriage of convenience was the 1940 Pakistan Resolution.

The Punjabi Muslim’s history starts from 1849. Before that they had no role in Indo-Pak. They were alternatively ruled after 1756 by Afghans and Sikhs. The Muslim elite of pre-1849 India was in the area of Delhi, Lucknow and Hyderabad. Even the UP Muslims west of Aligarh were Maratha vassals who had been rescued by British East India Company in 1803. In 1857 the Punjabi Muslims became martial when they marched under the British officers to capture and loot Muslim Delhi and Lucknow! In the First World War, the Punjabi Muslims were as staunch as a rock in loyalty to the British while fighting against the Turks! There was no freedom struggle in India in 1914 and a mere eight infantry regiments and two cavalry regiments were holding entire India! The historians want us to believe that India was groaning under the British heel, the Muslims were the underdogs! Muslims were the principal group who they trusted in their army, this fact is conveniently ignored! Not a single soldier wavered during the Khilafat Movement or during Non Co-operation Movement. At least not a single Punjabi Muslim who were the bulk of Muslim fighting troops in the Indian Army. The Muslim League is portrayed as all along fighting the British whereas Muslim League was the most loyalist party and had hardly any role in any agitation or resistance against the British right till 1946! These facts are ignored!

Aligarh’s role i.e. that of enabling Muslims to enter government service while commendable is distorted into portraying that it was an academy of Muslim freedom fighters. Aligarh College could not have run for one day without the British financial aid it received. To brand all students at Aligarh as loyalists would be equally false. But the politically aware students were the underdogs at Aligarh and many were expelled for their anti-British views. Loyalism i.e. loyalty to the British was the standard philosophy at Mohammadan Anglo Oriental College Aligarh. As per the rules of the students Union Club “no matter shall be discussed which raises the question of permanence or stability of the British Rule, any subject which involves the necessity of the speakers------------- taking up a disloyal or seditious attitude towards the British Government or in its internal polity or external relations627”. I have no prejudice against the Aligarh College or its students Union. My grandfather was a member of the student union of 1918 and three of his brothers studied from MAO College. The point is that history must be written as it happened. The majority of Muslims in British India were loyal subjects just like the majority of Hindus. The British Indian Empire cannot be compared with a French or Russian or Spanish or Belgian Colony. The British were relatively more liberal, tolerant and even just as long as their colonial interest was not involved. These are facts. The Congress was anti-Pakistan but not anti-Muslim. It was definitely qualitatively a much more superior party to the All India Muslim League and spearheaded the Indian quest (but not a struggle in the true sense) for freedom. The comparison between Congress and League does not need even two complete lines to argue and prove. The simple fact that within seven years of creation of Pakistan the Muslim League disappeared proves that there was hardly a party. The Muslim aspiration for a separate state was there but the prime motivation of the leadership except Jinnah was personal interest, and opportunism. The aim was to manipulate the Muslim masses and to ensure that they remain subservient to Muslim feudals without any worthwhile programme of socio-economic reform. The issue all along from 1947 till today has been personal power at least as far as Pakistan is concerned. I am not fit to comment on India but what I admire about India is that they have at least a system and no army officer or civil servant ever dared to challenge the system in India. This is one good thing which the Hindus have learnt after centuries of subjugation by Muslim Turk and Pathan invaders. In Pakistan all the ethnic communities have hang ups. But the ones who have the most serious misconceptions about being martially superior or intellectually superior are the Punjabi (Not Seraiki who live in Southern part of Punjab) and the Hindustani Muslims (Mohajirs)! One is amused when very frequently we hear a Punjabi Muslim speak about Muslim rule in India before 1857 as if the Punjabi Muslims were ruling India. The Punjabi Muslim is no doubt ruling today’s Pakistan but before 1849 the Punjabi Muslim had no major role in Indian Muslim history. the Hindustani Muslims were doing well till 1919 but they suffered under a ridiculously idiotic leadership who led them into impractical approaches. In 1997 I was visiting a friend in National Defence College in Islamabad. An officer who was on a course in the college joined our discussion and maintained a ridiculous line that Pakistani Muslims were more martial and brave than the Indians. When I reminded the officer that no Punjabi Muslims had invaded India, he changed the line and said all Muslims are one race! When I enquired about the location of Islamic identity when the largely Punjabi Muslim army was engaged in genocide, rape and looting in Muslim East Bengal in 1971, the officer replied that the army was correcting the Bengali Muslims who had been subverted by Indian propaganda! Such ridiculous people constitute the elite of Pakistan’s army and also dominate the quixotic intelligence agencies! These men who are mostly Punjabi Muslim regard Punjab as the only real Pakistan while any Sindhi, Baloch or Pathan who talks about provincial autonomy or basic rights is anti- Pakistan (Anti-Punjab) or an Indian or Jewish agent! The same is true for the other ethnic groups; except that they do not dominate the army. The worst result of this organised murder of history is that the perception of the students has been dangerously narrowed. They are colour blind and naive and see everything as black or white. Panipat is seen as a conflict between Muslim and non-Muslim whereas in 1761 there were Muslims on both sides and the issue was territory and not religion. There were Pathans and other Muslims in the Maratha army and there were Hindus fighting against the Maratha army! In 1857 there were more Hindus fighting on the rebel side and more Muslims fighting against the Delhi rebels than Hindus! Only one in eight rebels was a Muslim! But the historians divide everything as Hindu or Muslim. How can anyone with a sane and dispassionate mind compare Iqbal with Tagore when Tagore renounced knighthood because Indians were being killed and kicked and made to crawl in streets specially in Punjab, while Iqbal accepted it at the height of Khilafat Movement 628. But Iqbal is today projected in Pakistan as the sole man on the Punjabi Muslim quota! Liaqat Ali Khan is Quaid-e-Millat on the Hindustani Muslim quota! Every second Punjabi Muslim who claims to be an intellectual cannot digest his food till he writes one page in degrading Liaqat Ali Khan that accursed ‘Black Quail’ as Punjabi Muslims call Hindustani Muslims in Pakistan! The Pathan despises the Punjabi and describes the Punjabi Muslim as “Dal Khor” (Dal eater). The average Punjabi Muslim describes the Bengali Muslim as treacherous! Had those people been treacherous, dubious and like Ghulam Mohammad, Sikandar Mirza and Ayub could not have manipulated them in a totally unjust and arbitrary manner! To a foreigner unacquainted with this

so-called Islamic Republic these above mentioned points may sound odd but unfortunately these are facts. In the army the martial officers from Chakwal and Jhelum, many of whom were my regimental officers were absolutely convinced that the Hindu was a coward! The Sikh absurdly was better and many Punjabi Muslim officers erroneously described their ancestors as Sikhs. In reality most of the Punjabi Muslims were Hindus including the vast majority north of Chenab which from the bulk of Pakistan Army! Even as Hindus these men were as brave or as timid as after becoming Muslims! The Hindustani Muslim also according to these officers is effeminate and cowardly like a Hindu! In frequent discussions the fact that Ahmad Shah Abdali could find no better a man to rule Lahore than a Pathan, Hindu Kabuli Mal and that a mere 1% Sikhs who had been relentlessly persecuted by Muslims for 150 years dominated and ruled Muslim majority Punjab was still no reason to disprove that the Punjabi Muslims were very martial. My answer to these chauvinistic claims was always very simple and brief, “The most martial man during Ranjit Singh’s period was Ghallu Maashki! The simple fact that religion alone is no passport to bravery or martial prowess was simply unacceptable to the block headed officer class. The troops of my regiment had a different story to narrate. Those who do not know will be surprised that the 11 Cavalry (FF) [the 1st and 3rd Punjab Cavalry raised by Lieutenant Daly in May 1849] is the only regiment in Pakistan Army which made a significant offensive operation inside Indian territory in face of very strong enemy forces in all three Indo-Pak wars i.e. 1949-1965 and 1971! The troops who had fought these wars were all praise for the Indian Army in terms of bravery resourcefulness and imaginative leadership! 33% of the regiment comprised of Ranghar Muslims (Hindustani Muslims from Delhi division). The myths of supremacy plague Hindustani Muslims also. On a visit to Karachi a close friend told me that people in Lahore did not have as high an intellectual calibre as those in Karachi! Three weeks stay in Karachi, however, convinced me that the Urdu speaking people were as much the victim of a false and erroneous superiority complex as the Punjabis. The average Hindustani Muslim living in Karachi is convinced that he or his ancestors created Pakistan and sacrificed everything they had. Simple facts and figures prove that neither the Punjabi Muslims nor the Hindustani Muslims deliberately or by design sacrificed. Five to eight times more Punjabi Muslims were killed during the 1947 riots at the time of partition of India and Pakistan. Had the Punjabi Muslims, however, opportunistic or selfish not voted for the Muslim League in 1946 elections, there would have been no Pakistan. The Hindustani Muslim must get rid of this idea. The Aligarh College played a significant part in the Muslim League but that was just one factor. Giving all credit to the United Provinces or Aligarh for the creation of Pakistan is merely a gross distortion of history. In any case Muslim League and the Aligarh Movement had absolutely no connection with the rebels of 1857 and the Muslim League all along from 1906 to 1946 was a Loyalist party! So the question of struggle or sacrifice in any case does not arise. The Punjabi Muslim vote was crucial and without this vote there would have been no Pakistan. The post-1947 failure of democracy in Pakistan was a organisational failure of the Muslim League and not a Punjabi conspiracy.

All these biases and attitudes of mutual distrust and hatred, however, were not inevitable. They were the result of a deliberate policy of “Divide and Rule” followed by the men who ruled Pakistan right from 1948. Liaqat Ali was definitely the sole man who could have prevented this infection from developing into an epidemic. He got four years of power but failed because he himself was a victim of myths of superiority. The successors of Liaqat Ali Khan actively adopted the colonial philosophy of “Divide and Rule” as a deliberate policy. East versus West Wing. The pre-1947 legacy of Punjabi dominated army and Hindustani dominated middle class led to intensification of distrust. Ghulam Mohammad Mirza, Ayub, Bhutto, Zia used the ethnic divisions to divide the populace so that they could rule in peace. The one unit divided the country into three camps the Punjab, anti- Punjab, West Pakistan and the deprived Bengal. What was domination by a privileged class of army officers, civil servants and industrialists was mistakenly referred to as Punjabi domination. Mujib proved to be a braver man than all Bengali Muslim leaders since Titu Mir (a Pathan by descent). He was not overawed by the army and adopted a very brave and intellectually honest course. The Bengalis paid very heavily for this upright attitude, but unlike the West Pakistan Muslims, theirs was a real struggle for independence through night and blood! Today, they are more complex, free and clear headed than an average Pakistani. The lesson is simple. Opportunism, political expediency and personal interest can create a piece of land called a country but a nation cannot be created based on vague contradictory and essentially dishonest slogans. The Pakistanis have only two options today, either to destroy the class of army generals, civil servants, intelligence agencies, industrialists and landlords who have been making a fool out of the common man in the name of Islam etc. etc. or let the five or six nationalities on their own taking care of themselves. This farce in the name of religion cannot go on. The choice is either “Balkanisation” or “Stability”; the former being the logical case in case the irrational approach of conflict and confrontation continues, the latter in case disputes are resolved and the essentially unjust socio-political system in both the states is demolished?

END NOTES

619Page-114-Separatism Among Indian Muslims-Op Cit.
620Statements of Syed Ahmad Khan in the Issues of 10 July and 31 July 1880 Aligarh Institute Gazette-Aligarh-1880.
621Page-112-Separatism Among Indian Muslims-Op Cit.
622Page-85-J.W Fortescue-Vol-XII-Op Cit.
623Page-309-Foot Note-J.W Fortescue-Vol-XIII-Op Cit.
624Totalled from Expedition Wise Casualties as given in Appendix-Four-Pages-654 & 655-Records of the Expeditions against the North West Frontier Tribes-Op Cit.
625Page-185-Aligarh’s First generation-Muslim Solidarity in British India - David Lelyveld-First Printed by Princeton University Press-Reprinted by Oxford University Press-New Delhi-1978.
626Pages-307 & 308-Ibid
627Page-319-Ibid.
628Pages-26 & 27-Iqbal-Poet Philosopher of Pakistan-Edited by Hafeez Malik-Columbia-New York-1971.

previouspagebackhome