Home Dehradun It was Jinnah who wanted partition not Cong: Ishtiaq Ahmed

It was Jinnah who wanted partition not Cong: Ishtiaq Ahmed

By Arun Pratap Singh
Dehradun, 20 Jun: Doon Library and Research Centre hosted renowned scholar of Political Science and author, Prof Ishtiaq Ahmed, yesterday. It may be recalled that Prof Ishtiaq Ahmed who was born in Pakistan is currently the Prof Emeritus at Stockholm University in Sweden. The book under discussion was his latest, titled, ‘Punjab, Then & Now,’ which dwells on pre-and post partition violence and politics centred around Punjab including both East and West Punjab.
The debate was moderated by Dr Ravi Chopra while Prof Ishtiaq Ahmed was introduced by Chairman of the Doon Library Trust and former Chief Secretary SK Das. Current Director of the library and former Chief Secretary, N Ravishankar, was also present along with Prof BK Joshi the founder director of Doon Library. The gathering was already well aware of the books written by Prof Ishtiaq Ahmed and included dignitaries such as former Director Lal Bahudar Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA), Sanjeev Chopra, well known industrialist Dr S Farooq, and former senior bureaucrat Vibha Puri Das amongst others.
Beginning his talk, Prof Ahmed asserted that Dehradun holds a special place in his heart and it has been heartwarming to be physically present in Dehradun. He recalled that one of his books, ‘Jinnah: His successes, failures and role in History’ first published in year 2020 by Penguin, won the best Book Award in Non Fiction Category at Valley of Words Literature Festival in Dehradun in 2021 but he could not attend the award ceremony due to Covid restrictions. Hence it is a great joy to be here in Dehradun now. He also thanked Dr Sanjeev Chopra for the award.
Discussing the book, Prof Ishtiaq Ahmed recalled the events that led to the partition of India, into India and Pakistan with special focus on Punjab. He recalled that his book is based on 11 years of research, though he had sought a 3 year grant and was approved three year grant for research on this book. He said that while researching for relevant material for the book, he went to many villages in West Punjab which had seen violence during the pre and post partition period that lasted till December, 1947 and spoke to many of those who were involved in the violence. He also said that though he had applied for visa to India for his research on the book, he did not receive any response. But he was informally advised to travel to India on a tourist visa and conduct his research quietly. He admitted that not many official records from Governors of Punjab post August 1947 are in public domain and if such records do exist, then they are still classified and not available in public domain. So many of his accounts mentioned in the book relied greatly on personal discussion with those involved and those who lived through that violence.
One important thing he reminded was the fact that though Mohammed Ali Jinnah had been pressing for creation of Pakistan, as is evident from his speeches through the forties of the nineteenth century and the Congress led by Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru opposed it, the creation of Pakistan was the result of the British Empire’s own perceived interests. Britain wanted to create Pakistan to counter the growing influence of then Soviet Union in South Asia through Pakistan and to keep its influence by proxy in the region. Prof Ishtiaq recalled that some speeches of Nehru in the forties strongly in favour of socialist system of governance on the lines of Soviet Union, had scared the British into thinking that India might adopt Soviet Union kind of socialist or communist republic after independence. He also added that though US was against the creation of Pakistan but later it entered into defence and strategic pacts with Pakistan to counter the Soviet Union.
He also added that though Jinnah demanded and got Pakistan, but he wanted the entire Punjab to be part of Pakistan, but the British gave only 30 percent of Punjab to Pakistan.