Stanley Wolpert (born December 23, 1927) is an American historian. Among Wolpert's well known works is Jinnah of Pakistan (1982), a biography compiled on Muhmmad Ali Jinnah. Wolpert described his subject as:
"Few individuals significantly alter the course of history. Fewer still modify the map of the world. Hardly anyone can be credited with creating a nation-state. Muhammad Ali Jinnah did all three".
Answer to the question that how he accomplished all these feats, is not simple or easy. It is a topic of a great debate that probably will continue for many centuries to come. In this post I shall briefly touch only two questions that how the new state of Pakistan got its borders and the name. Both are very interesting topics. But before that let me say a few words about the idea of a separate country itself.
After the rebellion of 1857, due to many reasons, Hindus and Muslims started drifting apart. This process accelerated after the fiasco of the partition of Bengal in 1905. The realization on the part of Muslims as being the distinct nation led first to their demand of separate electoral system and then to a separate country. For almost four decades differences were seemed bridgeable but by 1940s any chances of compromise became less and less, with each passing month.
The idea of a separate country probably was not new and some people were definitely thinking on these lines quite early. But it was famous philosopher and poet Allama Muhammad Iqbal, who while chairing the annual meeting of All India Muslim League (AIML) in Lucknow in1930, formally presented this idea in his presidential address. He said:
I would like to see the Punjab, North-West Frontier Provinces, Sind and Baluchistan into a single State. Self-Government within the British Empire or without the British Empire. The formation of the consolidated North-West Indian Muslim State appears to be the final destiny of the Muslims, at least of the North-West India.
Indian politicians were constantly demanding for more powers to run their own country. This long struggle continued for decades and resulted in Government of India Act 1935. This was a significant step towards self rule and ultimately to complete independence. Main features of the act were as following:
- the grant of a large measure of autonomy to the provinces of British India (ending the system of dyarchy introduced by the Government of India Act 1919.
- provision for the establishment of a "Federation of India", to be made up of both British India and some or all of the "Princely States"
- the introduction of direct elections, thus increasing the franchise from seven million to thirty-five million people
- a partial reorganisation of the provinces:
- Sindh was separated from Bombay.
- Bihar and Orissa was split into separate provinces of Bihar and Orissa.
- Burma was completely separated from India
- Aden was also detached from India, and established as a separate Crown colony
- membership of the provincial assemblies was altered so as to include more elected Indian representatives, who were now able to form majorities and be appointed to form governments
- the establishment of a Federal Court
The above map shows Provinces of the British India and distribution of Muslim Population, according to the census of 1941.
The above map show the distribution of the Muslim population district wise, according to the census of 1941.
Under the new act elections were held in the winter of 1936-37 in eleven provinces and the results were declared in February 1937. The Congress party performed well in 7 provinces. However, the performance of the Muslim League was poor. Results of the elections for the provincial assemblies are given below:
These governments were an important step towards freedom. However, their tenure was cut short by the fast changing world scenario. Second world war started in September, 1939 and Congress led governments resigned on the question of whether to support the British government in its war efforts or not. They also wanted guarantee of full independence after the war. Bengal and Punjab were exception. As the governments of these two Muslim dominated provinces were in different mood and were ready to fully cooperate with the British in the war effort, hence they did not resign and continued in power. So, the two biggest Muslim majority provinces chose a different path from that of the rest of India.
In the fast changing national and international scenario, the annual session of AIML was held in March, 1940 in Lahore. That session proved to be the most prominent land mark on the road to the creation of Pakistan. In the resolution that was passed at the end of the session, AIML demanded a separate country in the following words:
"That geographically contiguous units are demarcated into regions which should be constituted, with such territorial readjustments as may be necessary that the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in a majority as in the North Western and Eastern Zones of (British) India should be grouped to constitute ‘independent states’ in which the constituent units should be autonomous and sovereign."
Naturally congress and many other political powers rejected any division of the country and political wrangling continued for many years. After the end of WW II, British government decided to again start the political process stalled because of the war and decided to hold elections.
On 19 September 1945, the Viceroy Lord Wavell announced that elections to the central and provincial legislatures would be held in December 1945 to January 1946. The purpose was to elect a body that can make a constitution for an independent India. So, we can say that it was a test and chance for AIML and Congress to prove their power, before the fast approaching final showdown.
(Akalis 22, Unionists 20)
Hence these elections, once for all, decided two matters in favour of All India Muslim League. First, it vindicated its claim to be the sole representative of the Indian Muslims and second, it showed overwhelming public support for the demand for Pakistan. AIML secured 74.75% of the popular vote of Muslims and Congress 80.9% of votes on general seats. The result of these elections convinced both Congress and the government that no settlement will work without the consent of AIML.
In these circumstances, the British government sent a mission comprised of three ministers to find a political solution to the Indian problem, with the consultation of all the stake holders. This is known in history as Cabinet Mission. On May 16, 1946, it presented the following plan:
- A united Dominion of India would be given independence.
- Muslim-majority provinces would be grouped - Sind, Punjab, Baluchistan and North West Frontier Province would form a group called Group A, and Bengal and Assam would form Group B.
- While Hindu-majority provinces in central and southern India would form the Group C.
- The Central government, stationed in Delhi, would be empowered to handle nationwide affairs, such as defense, currency, and diplomacy, while the rest of powers and responsibility would belong to the provinces, coordinated by groups.
Groups of provinces as proposed in Cabinet Mission Plan.
Initially both the parties accepted it with some reservations, but later both rejected it, first Congress and then AIML. With that dashed all the hopes of a united India and no alternative was left but to divide the country in to two separate entities. And that was finally done in the middle of August, 1947.
Once the issue of the division of India was agreed upon, the next main question was to decide the borders of the new country Pakistan. Now I shall discuss below that how our country Pakistan got its borders.
Most of the areas comprising present day Pakistan, came under the British rule in 1840s, when they annexed Sindh in 1843 and Punjab (including most of KP) in 1849. Now the boundaries of the British India reached Afghanistan and Persia or the minor states under their suzerainty. But the British authorities perhaps did not feel content and kept on increasing their sphere of influence towards Afghanistan and Persia. Actually they were fearful of Russian advances in Central Asia and wanted to extend the borders as far away as possible.
As a first step they imposed an agreement on Persia in 1871 and divided the Balochistan between British India and Persia. Thus they divided the zones of influence. Soon in 1875 an agreement was signed with the state of Kalat which made Kalat and its vassals protectorates of the British. And in 1877 by the treaty of Mastung took over the direct control of vast areas and named them as Baluchistan agency, including the city of Quetta and vast district of Chaghai. In 1879 the British reached an agreement with Afghanistan and according to this agreement jurisdiction over the Korram and Pishin valleys, the Sibi district, and the Khaybar pass was transferred to the British. During this period small hill states of Dir, Swat Chitral also accepted the supremacy of the new British power. The final push came in 1893 when a treaty was signed between a British diplomat Sir Mortimer Durand and Amir of Afghanistan Abdur Rahman Khan. That border is still known as Durand Line after the name of the British diplomat. The vast state of Kashmir was already under the protection of British since the annexation of Punjab.
So by 1893, western and north western border of the future Pakistan were secured. Now come fast forward to 1947. Once the question of partition of India was settled, government appointed a commission to decide the border of the two independent countries. The commission was headed by Cyril Radcliffe. The real issue was the partition of two provinces Punjab and Bengal. For this gigantic task the commission was given just five weeks. The decision of Radcliffe was declared on 17th August and thus Pakistan's eastern border was defined. Balcuhistan, Sindh and NWFP were incorporated completely, along with many princely states.
But the matter was far from over. Soon hostilities broke out between the two countries over accession of the State of Jammu And Kashmir. This resulted in a war between the two countries which lasted over a year and ended on 1st January, 1949, with a cease fire line that formed the border between the two countries until the war of 1971. That line was renamed as Line of Control under the Simla Agreement, with some territorial losses on the part of Pakistan. Further losses came in 1984 when India took Siachen glacier. Since then the borders are stable.
Now come to naming this country. We daily witness that even a routine matter like naming a new born baby is not an easy task for parents. But imagine how difficult it could be to name a new country. That feat was accomplished by Chaudhry Rahmat Ali. He was born in 1895 in Hariana, district Hoshiarpur or Balachaur, then district Hoshiarpur, now in Nawanshahr. This information I took from Wikipedia, where both places are given as his birthplace. He got his BA degree from Cambridge University in 1933 and MA from the same university in 1940. Most of his adult life he lived in Britain. During his stay he was active in politics and was an ardent supporter of a separate country for the Muslims of India. On 28 January, 1933, he published a pamphlet, apparently addressing the British authorities, in which he not only demanded a separate independent federation of five north western Muslim majority units but also suggested a name for this proposed federation. I am quoting here the first paragraph:
"I am enclosing herewith an appeal on behalf of the thirty million Muslims of PAKISTAN, who live in the five Northern Units of India – Punjab, N.W.F.P. (Afghan Province), Kashmir, Sindh and Baluchistan, embodying their inexorable demand for the recognition of their separate national status, as distinct from the rest of India, by the grant of a separate Federal Constitution on social, religious, political and historical grounds."
So this small pamphlet gave the name to this new country. An event that was unparalleled in history. He was definitely an imaginative man, as he proposed not just PAKISTAN, but envisioned many more states for Muslims of India.
Further details are given in Wikipedia as following:
In 1932, Ali moved to a now famous house in Cambridge, on 3 Humberstone Road. It was in one of the rooms of this house that he is said to have written the word 'Pakstan' for the first time. There are several accounts of the creation of the name. According to a friend, Abdul Kareem Jabbar, the name came up when Ali was walking along the banks of the Thames in 1932 with his friends Pir Ahsan-ud-din and Khwaja Abdul Rahim. According to Ali's secretary Miss Frost, he came up with the idea while riding on the top of a London bus.On 28 January 1933, Ali voiced the idea in a pamphlet titled "Now or Never; Are We to Live or Perish Forever?". The word 'Pakstan' referred to "the five Northern units of India, viz. :Punjab, North-West Frontier Province (Afghan Province), Kashmir, Sind and Baluchistan". By the end of 1933, 'Pakistan' had become common vocabulary, and and i was added to ease pronunciation (as in Afghan-i-stan).
In a subsequent book, Ali discussed the etymology in further detail.'Pakistan' is both a Persian and an Urdu word. It is composed of letters taken from the names of all our South Asia homelands; that is, Punjab, Afghania, Kashmir, Sindh and Balochistan. It means the land of the Paks – the spiritually pure and clean.According to Ali's biographer, K.K.Aziz writes that "Rahmat Ali alone drafted this declaration (in which the word Pakistan was used for the first time), but in order to make it "representative" he began to look around for people who would sign it along with him. This search did not prove easy, "for so firm was the grip of 'Muslim Indian Nationalism' on our young intellectuals at English universities that it took me (Rahmat Ali) more than a month to find three young men in London who offered to support and sign it. "Later on, his political opponents used the name of these signatories and other friends of Ali, as creator of word 'Pakistan'.I found the names of the following four persons at the end of the pamphlet:
- Mohd Aslam Khan Khattak; President, Khyber Union
- Choudhry Rahmat Ali
- Sahibzada Sheikh Mohd Sadiq
- Inayatullah Khan (of Charsaddah) Secretary, Khyber Union
The following two pictures are also taken from Wikipedia.
Choudhry Rehmat Ali (seated first from left) with Muhammad Iqbal (center), Khawaja Abdul Rahim (right) and a group of other young activists during Iqbal visit to England in 1932.
Grave Of Choudhry Rehmat Ali (Cambridge City Cemetery)
So this is how our beloved country Pakistan got its borders and its name. It is strange that we do not much about Choudhry Rahmat Ali and his family. The above plaque mentions the name of his brother Haji Mohammad Baksh, resident of Chak No. 66 JB Lyallpur, Pakistan. It indicates that the family of Ch. Rahmat Ali settled in Chak 66, after migrating from Hoshiarpur in 1947. It will be interesting if some one could find more about his family.