Historical background of Pakistan
The historical background of Pakistan Pakistan emerged on the world map on August 14th, 1947. It has its roots in the remote past. Its establishment was the culmination of the struggle by Muslims of the South-Asian subcontinent for a separate homeland of their own and its foundation was laid when Muhammad bin Qassim subdued Sindh in 711 A.D. as a reprisal against sea pirates that had taken refuge in Raja Dahil’s kingdom. The advent of Islam further strengthened the historical individuality in the areas now constituting Pakistan and further beyond its boundaries.
The President of the All-India Muslim League and later the Pakistan Muslim League, Muhammad Ali Jinnah became Governor-General while the secretary general of the Muslim League, Liaquat Ali Khan became Prime Minister. The constitution of 1956 made Pakistan an Islamic democratic country.
Pakistan faced a civil war and Indian military intervention in 1971 resulting in the secession of East Pakistan as the new country of Bangladesh. The country has also unresolved territorial disputes with India, resulting in four conflicts. Pakistan was closely tied to the United States in Cold War. In the Afghan-Soviet War, it supported the Sunni Mujahedeen and played a vital role in the defeat of Soviet Forces and forced them to withdraw from Afghanistan. The country continues to face challenging problems including terrorism, poverty, illiteracy, corruption, and political instability. Terrorism due to the War in Afghanistan damaged the country’s economy and infrastructure to a great extent from 2001 to 2009 but Pakistan is once again developing.
Pakistan is a nuclear power as well as a declared nuclear-weapon state, having conducted six nuclear tests in response to five nuclear tests of their rival Republic of India in May 1998. The first five tests were conducted on 28 May and the sixth one on 30 May. With this status, Pakistan is seventh in the world, second in South Asia, and the only country in the Islamic World. Pakistan also has the sixth-largest standing armed forces in the world and is spending a major amount of its budget on defense. Pakistan is the founding member of the OIC, the SAARC, and the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition as well as a member of many international organizations including the UN, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Commonwealth of Nations, the ARF, the Economic Cooperation Organization, and many more.
Pakistan is a regional and middle power that is ranked among the emerging and growth-leading economies of the world and is backed by one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing middle classes. It has a semi-industrialized economy with a well-integrated agriculture sector. It is one of the Next Eleven, a group of eleven countries that, along with the BRICs, have a high potential to become the world’s largest economies in the 21st century. Many economists and think tanks suggested that by 2030 Pakistan become Asian Tiger and CPEC will play an important role in it. Geographically, Pakistan is also an important country and a source of contact between the Middle East, Central Asia, South Asia, and East Asia.
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The Pakistan Movement started when the first Muslim (Muhammad bin Qassim) put his foot on the soil of Sindh, the gateway of Islam in India.
That is why Jinnah is considered the “great Muslim ruler” in the Indian subcontinent after Emperor Aurangzeb by Pakistanis. This is also the reason that the Pakistani government’s official chronology declares that the foundation of Pakistan was laid in 712 AD by Muhammad bin Qassim after the Islamic conquest of Sindh and that these conquests at their zenith conquered the entire Indian subcontinent during the Muslim Mughal Era.
While the Indian National Congress’s (Congress) top leadership had been imprisoned following the 1942 Quit India Movement, there was intense debate among Muslims over the creation of a separate homeland. The All India Azad Muslim Conference represented nationalist Muslims who, in April 1940, gathered in Delhi to voice their support for a united India. Its members included several Islamic organizations in India, as well as 1400 nationalist Muslim delegates.
The Deobandi and their ulema, who were led by Husain Ahmad Modani, were opposed to the creation of Pakistan and the two-nation theory, instead promulgating composite nationalism and Hindu-Muslim unity. According to them, Muslims and Hindus could be one nation and Muslims were only a nation of themselves in the religious sense and not in the territorial sense. Some Deobandi such as Ashraf Ali Thani, Mufti Muhammad Shafiq and Shabbir Ahmad Usman dissented from the position of Jamaat Ulema-e-Hind and were supportive of the Muslim League’s demand to create a separate homeland for Muslims. Many Bareli’s and their ulema, though not all Bareli and Bareli ulema, supported the creation of Pakistan.
The pro-separatist Muslim League mobilized pairs and Sunni scholars to demonstrate that their view that India’s Muslim masses wanted a separate country was in the majority, in their eyes. Those Bareli’s who supported the creation of a separate Muslim homeland in colonial India believed that any cooperation with Hindus would be counterproductive.
Muslims who were living in provinces where they were demographically a minority, such as the United Provinces where the Muslim League enjoyed popular support, was assured by Jinnah that they could remain in India, migrate to Pakistan or continue living in India but as Pakistani citizens. The Muslim League had also proposed the hostage population theory. According to this theory, the safety of India’s Muslim minority would be ensured by turning the Hindu minority in proposed Pakistan into a ‘hostage’ population who would be visited by retributive violence if Muslims in India were harmed.
The Pakistani demand resulted in the Muslim League becoming pitted against both the Congress and the British. In the Constituent Assembly elections of 1946, the Muslim League won 425 out of 496 seats reserved for Muslims, polling 89.2% of the total votes. Congress had hitherto refused to acknowledge the Muslim League’s claim of being the representative of Indian Muslims but finally recognized the League’s claim after the results of this election. The Muslim League’s demand for the creation of Pakistan had received overwhelming popular support from India’s Muslims, especially those Muslims who were living in provinces where they were a minority. The 1946 election in British India was essentially a plebiscite among Indian Muslims over the creation of Pakistan.
The British, while not approving of a separate Muslim homeland, appreciated the simplicity of a single voice to speak on behalf of India’s Muslims. To preserve India’s unity the British arranged the Cabinet Mission Plan. According to this plan, India would be kept united but would be heavily decentralized with separate groupings of autonomous Hindu and Muslim majority provinces. The Muslim League accepted this plan as it contained the ‘essence’ of Pakistan but the Congress rejected it. After the failure of the Cabinet Mission Plan, Jinnah called for Muslims to observe Direct Action Day to demand the creation of a separate Pakistan. The riots in Calcutta were followed by intense communal rioting in Noakhali, Bihar, Garhmukteshwar, and Rawalpindi.
The British Prime Minister Attlee appointed Lord Louis Mountbatten as India’s last viceroy, who was given the task to oversee British India’s independence by June 1948, with the emphasis of preserving a United India, but with adaptational authority to ensure a British withdrawal with minimal setbacks. Mountbatten later confessed that he would most probably have sabotaged the creation of Pakistan had he known that Jinnah was dying of tuberculosis.
Soon after he arrived, Mountbatten concluded that the situation was too volatile for even that short a wait. Although his advisers favored a gradual transfer of independence, Mountbatten decided the only way forward was a quick and orderly transfer of independence before 1947 was out. In his view, any longer would mean civil war. The Viceroy also hurried so he could return to his senior technical Navy courses. In a meeting in June, Nehru and Abul Kalam Azad representing the Congress, Jinnah representing the Muslim League, B. R. Ambedkar representing the Untouchable community, and Master Tara Singh representing the Sikhs, agreed to partition India along religious lines.
The Hindu-Muslim unity reached its climax during the Khilafat and the Non-cooperation Movements. The Muslims, under the leadership of the Ali Brothers, Maulana Muhammad Ali and Maulana Shaukat Ali, launched the historic Khilafat Movement after the First World War to protect the Ottoman Empire from dismemberment. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948) linked the issue of Swaraj (self-government) with the Khilafat issue to associate the Hindus with the Movement. The ensuing Movement was the first countrywide popular movement.
Although the Movement failed in achieving its objectives, it had a far-reaching impact on the Muslims of South Asia. After a long time, they took united action on a purely Islamic issue which momentarily forged solidarity among them. It also produced a class of Muslim leaders experienced in organizing and mobilizing the public. This experience was of immense value to the Muslims later during the Pakistan Movement. The collapse of the Khilafat Movement was followed by a period of bitter Hindu-Muslim antagonism. In retaliation, the Muslims sponsored the Tabligh and Tanzim organizations to counter the impact of the Shudhi and the Sangathan. In the 1920s, the frequency of communal riots was unprecedented. Several Hindu-Muslim unity conferences were held to remove the causes of conflict, but it seemed nothing could mitigate the intensity of communalism.
MUSLIM DEMAND SAFEGUARDS
In light of this situation, the Muslims revised their constitutional demands. They now wanted the preservation of their numerical majorities in the Punjab and Bengal, the separation of Sindh from Bombay, the constitution of Baluchistan as a separate province, and the introduction of constitutional reforms in the North-West Frontier Province. It was partly to press these demands that one section of the All-India Muslim League cooperated with the statutory commission sent by the British Government under the chairmanship of Sir John Simon in 1927.
The other section of the League, which boycotted the Simon Commission for its all-White character, cooperated with the Nehru Committee, appointed by the All-Parties Conference, to draft a constitution for India. The Nehru Report had an extremely anti-Muslim bias and the Congress leadership’s refusal to amend it disillusioned even moderate Muslims.
The All-India Muslim League soon took these schemes into consideration and finally, on March 23, 1940, the All-India Muslim League, in a resolution, at its historic Lahore Session, demanded a separate homeland for the Muslims in the Muslim majority regions of the subcontinent. The resolution was commonly referred to as the Pakistan Resolution. The Pakistan demand had a great appeal to the Muslims of every persuasion. Its revived memories of their past greatness and promised future glory. They, therefore, responded to this demand immediately.
The British Government recognized the genuineness of the Pakistan demand indirectly in the proposals for the transfer of power after the Second World War which Sir Stafford Cripps brought to India in 1942. Both the Congress and the All-India Muslim League rejected these proposals for different reasons. The principles of secession of Muslim India as a separate Dominion were, however, conceded in these proposals. After this failure, a prominent Congress leader, C. Rajagopalachari, suggested a formula for a separate Muslim state in the Working Committee of the Indian National Congress, which was rejected at the time, but later on, in 1944, formed the basis of the Jinnah-Gandhi talks.
In early 1946, the British Government sent a Cabinet Mission to the subcontinent to resolve the constitutional deadlock. The Mission conducted negotiations with various political parties but failed to evolve an agreed formula. Finally, the Cabinet Mission announced its own Plan, which among other provisions, envisaged three federal groupings, two of them comprising the Muslim majority provinces, linked at the Centre in a loose federation with three subjects. The All-India Congress also agreed to the Plan, but, soon realizing its implications, the Congress leaders began to interpret it in a way not visualized by the authors of the Plan. This provided the All-India Muslim League an excuse to withdraw its acceptance of the Plan and the party observed August 16, as a `Direct Action Day’ to show Muslim solidarity in support of the Pakistan demand.
In October 1946, an Interim Government was formed. The Muslim League sent its representative under the leadership of its General Secretary, Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan, with the aim to fight for the party objective from within the Interim Government. After a short time, the situation inside the Interim Government and outside convinced the Congress leadership to accept Pakistan as the only solution to the communal problem. The British Government, after its last attempt to save the Cabinet Mission Plan in December 1946, also moved towards a scheme for the partition of India. The last British Viceroy, Lord Louis Mountbatten, came with a clear mandate to draft a plan for the transfer of power.
After holding talks with political leaders and parties, he prepared a Partition Plan for the transfer of power, which, after approval of the British Government, was announced on June 3, 1947.
EMERGENCE OF PAKISTAN
Both the Congress and the Muslim League accepted the Plan. The two largest Muslim-majority provinces, Bengal and Punjab, were partitioned. The Assemblies of West Punjab, East Bengal, and Sindh, and in Baluchistan, the Quetta Municipality, and the Shahi Jirga voted for Pakistan. Referenda were held in the North-West Frontier Province and the District of Sylhet in Assam, which resulted in an overwhelming vote for Pakistan. As a result, on August 14th, 1947, the new state of Pakistan came into existence.