In 1941, I was nominated to the Working Committee of the All-India Muslim League. Haji Abdullah Haroon was already a member. The first meeting of the Committee was held on October 26 the same year in Delhi. It was for the first time that I acquainted myself with important all-India political problems, which gave me fresh impetus to continue to work for the welfare of the Muslims.
Towards the end of the year, the Second World War took a turn for the worse. Japan’s sudden decision to jump into the fray and its initial successes put Indian security into jeopardy. This had a deep impact on the internal situation in India, especially in Sindh. The year 1942 has a special significance in the history of Sindh and will always be remembered. First, there was the Hur rebellion as a result of which the British imposed Martial Law on the province and an avalanche of suffering overwhelmed the people. Then there were devastating floods in Upper Sindh that affected half a million people and destroyed property worth millions. Yet again, the Indian National Congress launched the Quit India Movement against British imperialism.
The year brought untold personal grief for me when on April 27. The President of the Sindh Muslim League, Haji Abdullah Haroon, died suddenly. It was the Haji Sahib’s probity, loyalty and personality, which had lured me into the Muslim League. Differences arose over the election of his successor. A meeting of the Muslim League Council decided that it was not the right time for a contest and nominated Khan Bahadur Mohammed Ayub Khuhro, a member of the party’s Working Committee, as President of the Sindh League for the time being.
In the meantime, I started canvassing for Yusuf Haroon’s candidature for the central legislative assembly seat that had fallen vacant (because of Abdullah Haroon’s death). Allah Bux’s brother, Maula Bux, was persuaded by me to withdraw from the contest, and Yusuf Haroon was returned unopposed.
All this while, Martial Law was enforced on both sides of the Indus with great severity. I had plans to challenge the imposition of military rule in a court of law but Mr. Jinnah directed us sternly not to do so. Military rule had a negative impact both on the hot uprising and the Quit India Movement in Sindh. Therefore, I deem it necessary to throw some light on the events of the time.
The Hurs had been simmering with discontent for quite some time but their struggle caught the limelight when the British arrested their spiritual leader, Syed Sibghatullah Shah Rashdi 11, The arrest forced the Hors into taking the law into their own hands and resorting to a violent struggle against British imperialism. There is no documentary evidence on the real objectives of the hot struggle. But one thing is clear, When I met the Pir before his arrest, I became convinced that he was totally opposed to communalism and regarded the Muslim League was dangerous to Muslim interests. Also, he wanted an end to British rule over Sindh, In this regard, he thought that a struggle should be launched in collaboration with all the revolutionary forces in the rest of India. Here I want to reproduce adverbum the dialogue I had with the Pir and which was included in the noted Sindhi intellectual, the late Mohammed Usman Deplai’s historic work, Sanghar pp. 100-101.
‘Why?’ the Pir asked smilingly.
"Syed Sahib had informal relations with the Pir. He smiled and said, ‘Since you have been kept in several jails and have had the opportunity of meeting political prisoners you have politics on your finger-tips.’
I don’t claim that I know everything about politics but a party which acts under British instructions, a party which has all the Sirs, Khan Bahadur, waderas feudal lords) and the money bags on its roll, and which yet ‘talks about independence, then there is nothing further I can say in the matter,’ the Pir said,
"Shah Sahib became sombre, ‘Sir, we shall soon have the Sindh Assembly pass a resolution demanding independence for Pakistan.’
"Smiling, the Pir said, ‘Yes, the moment you get the resolution through, the British will give you independence! Remember this, Shah Sahib. In the first place, the British will not grant you independence. And even if the demand for Pakistan is conceded, the new country will be a tailored affair where the British will call the shots for years.’
‘We’ll not allow the British to have any say in the affairs of our independent country,’ Shah Sahib said heatedly.
"The Pir smiled, ‘Where will you be then? Will you hold the reins then? You forget, Shah Sahib, that while you fight, when victory comes; only those will be in the saddle who have been born British lackeys. You will be the fly in the ointment and you will be thrown out of the ointment. Not only thrown out but possibly put in prison, If we live and if my predictions come true, then we’ll know who is more adapt at politics between the two of us. I will, by the grace of God, either gets my country or my coffin, but you will be nursing your wounds,’
"At this Shah Sahib said a quiet goodbye to the Pir and left. Anyhow, most of the Pir’s bitter predictions have turned out to be true. He was a true nationalist, a staunch anti-imperialist and a great votary of communal harmony. He did not reveal the plan he had in his mind for the attainment of a new Sindh nor did he live long enough to do so. But in my view, he never accepted alien domination over Sindh. It is a matter of regret that his successor and eldest son is so different from his father and has aligned himself with the inheritors of British imperialism, the Punjabis."
Now I come to the Quit India Movement. The World War had, begun in 1939. The British also threw India into the inferno, against the wishes of its people. The Indian National Congress reacted very strongly against it. It maintained that unless the Indians were made masters of their own resources, they would never take part in the war. The Americans put pressure on the British to hold talks with the Indian leadership. The British sent several powerful delegations to India for detailed discussions with Indian leaders but they all proved inconclusive because the British were not willing to give total independence to India and the Congress would not accept anything less.
As a result of the impasse, the Indian National Congress passed a historic resolution at Bombay in August 1942, which came to be called the Quit India Resolution.
As soon as this resolution was passed, large-scale punitive action started against the Congress. The moving spirit behind the party, Mahatma Gandhi, its President, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and all members of its Working Committee except Raj gopal achari were arrested. This provoked a nation-wide protest and a non-violent movement turned violent. The British Government tried to counter violence with violence but the agitation continued to mount. Sindh took full part in the movement.
After the passage of the Quit India Resolution, Mr. Jinnah sided with the British. He said it was not directed against the British but was a Congress conspiracy against the Muslims. Consequently, he called a meeting of the Working Committee of the All India Muslim League at Bombay on August 16, 1942, to consider the Quit India Resolution. Ayub Khuhro and Yusuf Haroon reached Bombay to Represent Sindh. Yusuf Haroon proposed that since Nawab Bahadur Yar Jang was also in town, certain matters should be discussed with him. So Khuhro Yusuf Haroon and myself called on the Nawab at the Green Hotel, which is now part of the Tai Mahal Hotel. The Nawab said that all Congress leaders except Raj gopal achari have been arrested. However, the Congress leaders had learnt from Mr. V.P. Memon, Secretary to the Viceroy at the Central Secretariat that the Government had been assured that Mr. Jinnah would persuade the Muslim League Working Committee to endorse a resolution to the effect that the Quit India Movement was in effect against the Muslims and not against the British. The Nawab said that since such a move, if carried, would serve no-one except the British and be extremely detrimental for the Muslims, it should be opposed, He then turned to me and said, "Mr. (G.M.) Syed, don’t let any such resolution) be carried because it would be extremely inappropriate at this stage.
The Nawab then told us that the Congress leaders wanted to meet us. However since all male leaders were in jail, Mrs. Krishna Hutheesingh, Mirdula Sarabai and Khurshid Bar Dadabhai Nauroji wanted to see us and that we should agree to do so. We accepted the Nawab’s advice and attended a lunch hosted the following day by Mirdula Sarabai. The ladies gathered there told us that the Congress was willing to accept the Muslim League demand that there should be free and autonomous Muslim governments in the provinces in which they were in majority. Other demands could also be met and Mr. Jinnah could work out the modalities in consultation with Mr. Raj gopal achari. And, if possible, he (Mr. Jinnah) could meet Gandhi for a personal assurance in the matter. They asked us to keep trying to prevent the passage of the proposed anti-Quit India resolution that Mr. Jinnah wanted moved at the behest of the Viceroy. We undertook to make every effort to abort the move.
In spite of my differences with the Congress, I felt as a progressive Muslim that if there were an agreement between the Muslim League and the Congress, the alien rulers would dare not harass the people who were struggling for independence in the manner in which they had been doing.
The All India Muslim League Working Committee met at Mr. Jinnah’s Mount Pleasant residence on August 16, 1942. Mr. Jinnah presented the resolution against the Quit India call as he had pledged to the Viceroy to do. Speaking against the resolution, I said that it would be highly improper for us to regard that the Congress Quit India Resolution that was part of its independent struggle was against the Muslims. I added that since the Congress wanted the British to leave India. We should not torpedo its struggle against imperialism by endorsing the proposed resolution because this would close the doors on any future League-Congress settlement.
Mr. Jinnah reacted angrily to this. It was not possible to negotiate any settlement with Congress, he said. At this, I proposed an amendment to the effect that we should hold talks with the Congress and if it accepted our terms, we should enter into an agreement with it but if it didn’t, we would be free to pass any resolution. A one-sided resolution would not be appropriate, I said. Mr. Ayub Khuhro supported me, as did the Raja Sahib of Mohmoodabad. Mr. Jinnah at which he walked out in protest snubbed the latter. Hasan Isphahani was also not allowed to speak nor was Nawab Ismail Khan. My proposed amendment was shot down and the resolution was carried as moved but with a note of dissent by me. The full text of the resolution successfully moved by Mr. Jinnah, (Appendix 2) would show how the Quaid-e-Azam of the Muslims of India sabotaged the independence struggle and how he played into the hands of the British imperialists.
The proceedings of the Muslim League Working Committee meeting left me heart-broken but I did not lose courage. I continued to think, as did some of my Communist friends such as Syed Sajjad Zaheer, Dange and Comrade Ashraf, that the Muslim League could be put on course despite all the faults of its High Command. "So, I continued to work as a leader of the Sindh Muslim League. I persisted with my efforts for party reform and for the betterment of the Muslims. In this regard, I moved a historic resolution, which was passed by the Sindh Assembly on March 3, 1943. This was the time when Allah Box Soomro, an important Congress supporter, had been dismissed’ from the Cabinet, and Congress leaders who were members of the Assembly were in jail because of their participation in the Quit India Movement. Those of them not arrested were not members of the House. The text of the resolution and the speech I made on the occasion can be seen in Appendix 3.
This resolution had the support of all Muslim members present in the House. Khan Bahadur Allah Box was not present in Karachi. Two Hindu Ministers and a parliamentary secretary voted against it while the independent Hindu members walked out in protest. It may be recalled here that Khan Bahadur Ayub Khuhro had become the Acting President of the Sindh Muslim League after the death of Sir Haji Abdullah Haroon. When Khuhro became Revenue Minister, some progressive workers of the League wanted to make the party truly representative of the rights and aspirations of the people. It was felt that it was necessary to keep the functioning of the League independent of the influence of the Ministry and make the League Ministers answerable to the party.
Contrary to our wishes, Khan Bahadur Ayub Khuhro, the Acting League President, did not leave the Ministry. As election time for the League offices approached in 1943 differences between the progressive and conservative groups of the party deepened. The Progressives were working under the leadership of Shaikh Abdul Majid Sindhi. To sort out these differences, we attended the meeting of the All India Muslim League Working Committee on April 23, 1943, in Delhi and complained about the anti people steps of the Ministry. However, Mr. Jinnah paid no attention to these complaints but said that he would look into them when he visited Sindh.
On our return from Delhi, a great tragedy occurred in the martyrdom of Allah Box Soomro. I had several differences with him but he was a patriotic Sindhi politician and a true son of the soil whom, unfortunately, I couldn’t fathom while he lived. Shaheed Allah Bux was a strong-willed and able politician and a true friend. In 1942, he renounced his titles of Khan Bahadur and OBE in a letter he wrote to the Viceroy on September 26. He was punished for this by being dismissed as Prime Minister and a new Muslim League Ministry, headed by Sir Ghulam Hussain Hidayatullah was formed. Excerpts from Shaheed Allah Bux’s letter to the Viceroy are being reproduced here:
"I have come to the conclusion that in view of the public opinion prevailing in the country, I cannot keep the titles given to me by the British Government. I have decided, therefore, to return them. The Indians have been struggling for freedom for quite some time. After the start of the War, it was being hoped that on the basis of the principles, for which the Allies were fighting the forces of fascism, India would be freed and allowed the privilege to take part in the War independently. This was not done. It is my firm belief that the Indians have the right to independence. Recent statements by the British Government indicate that by creating hurdles in the way of a settlement among various Indian political parties, the British want to maintain their imperial stranglehold over India, The latest speech made in the House of Commons by the Prime Minister, Mr. Winston Churchill, has gravely disappointed concerned and nationalistic circles in India. It clearly shows that the British have no intention of granting freedom to India. Therefore, I cannot keep titles given to me by such a Government and am, therefore, returning them.’
The Khan Bahadur was a nationalist. The views expressed by him while presiding over the Muslim Azad Conference in Delhi on April 10, 1940, is now part of history. In addition, I want to put the record straight and I consider it necessary to reproduce parts of the dialogue he had with me. I in answer to the questions put these to him.
Q 1: What differences do you have with Mr. Jinnah?
Q 2: What do you think about a Congress-Muslim League agreement?
Answer to Q 1: "Mr. Jinnah’s view that the country should be divided because the Muslims are a separate nation on the basis of religion is not acceptable to me because this ideology is UN-Islamic, archaic and against all modern principles of nationalism.’
Answer to Q 2: ‘The Congress and the Muslim League are both all-India Parties, Joining them would be detrimental to the separate identity and interests of Sindh. The Sindhis have attained separation from Bombay with great difficulty, Now they should not do anything, which ends Sindh’s autonomy. G.M. Syed, you still think that the creation of Pakistan will solve all problems facing Sindh? This is wrong and far removed from facts. You will get to know that our difficulties will begin after Pakistan has come into being. If You read the presidential address delivered by Dr. Shaikh Mohammed lqbal at the Allahabad session of the Muslim League in 1930 with any degree of care, you will discover that he wants to end Sindh’s freedom and make it subservient to the Punjab. At present, the Hindu trader and moneylender’s plunder is worrying you but later you will have to face the Punjabi bureaucracy and soldiery and the mind of U.P. Then you will know whether the partition of India was good or bad. You live in a dream world about the 1940 Resolution. That is why you are ignorant of the practicalities of politics. In practical politics, there is little room for promises, resolutions and principles. Read history and you will find that religious edicts and agreements among governments, have been often sacrificed at the altar of power, facts, individual and group interests and local situations, requirements and considerations. The Pakistan for which you keep worrying day and night will, at a later stage, become a headache for you. It will pose a threat to Sindhi independence, Indian unity and the peace and progress of Asian nations, After the creation of this aberration, you will have to struggle to fight its concomitant evils."
The causes of Allah Bux’s martyrdom are not known. Some people think the Hors were responsible while the others feel the deed was born out of the Muslim League’s policy of vindictiveness. Soon afterwards (in June 1943), 1 was unanimously elected President of the Sindh Muslim League in the presence of Mr. Jinnah. It was an office held in an acting capacity for quite some time by Khan Bahadur Ayub Khuhro after Haji Abdullah Haroon’s death. Although I was an active worker of the Muslim League, I tried not to accept the office. I was reluctant because the Muslim League preferred to cling to office instead of working for the welfare of the people. Nevertheless, I accepted the office at Mr. Jinnah’s insistence and tried to make the ministers answerable to the party and take the League out of the influence of the conservatives and let the Progressives who wanted to serve the people take over control. I waged a protracted struggle to achieve this end and I continued to apprise Mr. Jinnah of the Ministry’s corruption and shortcomings i6 letters and reports and often in person. But all this was fruitless. All these ills were rooted in the mental make-up of the Muslim League High Command and, therefore, there was no remedy for them. Public opinion, democratic decisions and the submissions of the Sindh league’s leadership had no impact on the party High Command which was quite dictatorial in nature despite all this, I continued to improve the party with the help of my friends. Impressed by my efforts and concerned at the League attitude, my friend Pir Ali Mohammed Rashdi wrote me an impassioned letter from Delhi on November 15, 1943, parts of which are being presented here:
"Consider the ideas you had in 1938 and decide whether six years later you are fighting for the same high ideals or whether you have been driven away from them. You had embarked on your political career to free the poor from the stranglehold of the oppressors, to cleanse the Muslim community and to put it on the road to progress, to save the rural populace from the rigors and flaws of law, to secure a reduction in land revenue and to fight bureaucratic corruption and pomp. Recall your writings and speeches of these days and you will realize that
Forgive me if I remind you where you have reached after six years of rigorous effort. Have you not made yourself an instrument of the very forces of evil the extermination of which you had made the sole objective of your life? After all, what is your Position in the provincial politics?
You have been put in the position where you are so that they (the oppressors can achieve their objectives while you get them into power by singing their praises in public and overriding the objectives you had set for yourself in 1938. They will indulge in corruption and all manner of wrongdoing while you give them cover and hide their misdeeds from the public eye, and have to continue proving that they are nice public servants.
"All this is being done under cover of Muslim unity and solidarity and Pakistan as if Islam means that parties should be set up in its name and then converted into dens of depravity. Islam is being used as a haven for exploiters. If you don’t mind, let me tell you I have seen the efforts you have made but I am afraid that at this moment you are not serving the cause of the Muslims but are strengthening their enemies. You have abandoned your principles. If the Muslim League is going to entrust the protection of our rights to these men (Ministers) who are the enemies of the people, It would be futile to expect anything to happen in our lifetime..... If Pakistan is the best (solution) it will not be secured through evil. Good is never born out of evil. It is my sincere advice to you that if you have lost the will to secure the aims and objectives you had set for yourself in 1938, don’t make yourself a tool for these to be subverted. Everything you do must be done in the light of the political standards you had set for yourself in 1938. Anything below these standards should be resisted manfully. Why shouldn’t all your friends abandon you in this contest so that you are left alone? Even if the whole world prevents you from following your high principles, you should stand up and give it a fight. No matter at what stage they are now, the traditionalists will be nowhere in a year or two..… I have reviewed your political performance over the last two years. It is falling steeply. Moreover, from being a revolutionary and a defender of the civilization and culture of Sindh, you have become a tool in the hands of the corrupt and the conservatives.
"Don’t pride yourself on your new and colorful robes or your presidency (of the League), but hark and think for a moment that the very thing you were opposed to you are helping in the name of Islam! These thieves have appointed you the so-called president of their party. It was but a petty price to pay to buy off your conscience. I wonder how your conscience has been clouded over by unreason. I have been suffering from a serious heart ailment for some time now and I can die any moment. That is why I have written you this letter to take it all off my chest. The way you have chosen for yourself, you may also die heartbroken one day. The epitaph on your grave will read:
Soon afterwards, a meeting of the All India Muslim League was held in Karachi in a gorgeous manner after months of tireless efforts. It proved to be the last meeting of its kind. Sindh’s traditional hospitality was fully on display; and organizationally, the meeting was a great success. The Muslim League meetings so long had in a way subsisted on Nawab Bahadur Yar Jang’s speeches. When he clod sometime later, the All India Muslim League died with him.
The Karachi meeting appointed an action committee. Nawab Ismail Khan with Liaquat Ali Khan as secretary headed it. I was one of its members. Others included Nawab lftikhar Hussain Mamdot, Seth Abdus Sattar of Madras and Qazi Mohammed Isa. Meeting on February 2, 1944, this Committee appointed another committee on which several leaders from all over India was co-opted. They included Chaudhry KhaliQuzzaman, Maulana Abdul Wahab, Jamal Mian Farangi Mehli, Maulana Abdul Hamid Badayuni, Haji Syed Ali Akbar Shah, Maulana Ghulam Murshed, (Khatib, Jamia Masjid), Lahore, Allama I.I. Qazi, Raja Sahib Mahmudabad and Maulana Akram Khan (Bengal). This committee was asked to define and determine how true Islamic spirit could be enkindled among Muslims and how Muslim society could be cleansed of UN-Islamic customs and influences.
I prepared a questionnaire and a covering letter for eliciting opinions on the task assigned to the committee and had the same circulated to the best ulema all over India through the provincial branches of the Muslim League.
On what basis and in the light of what Islamic injunctions can the social, political and economic life of the Muslims will be transformed?
1. His Highness Sir Agha Khan (Ismaili leader)
2. Syedna Saifuddin Tahir (Bohra community)
3. Allama Inayatullah Khan Mashriqi (Khaksar Tehrik)
4. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad
5. Khwaja Hasan Nizami
6. Maulana Hussain Ahmad Madani
7. Muslim professors of philosophy in various colleges
8. Members of the Committee
9. Administrators of important Arabic Madrassahs and the khatibs of Jamia Masjid.
While I was deep in the quagmire of the provincial Muslim League’s politics, my old colleague and excellent politician, Shaikh Abdul Majid Sindhi, sick of the goings-on in the Muslim League, resigned from the primary membership of the party. This put the entire burden of leading the sincere and progressive workers of the party on me. All this while the ministers and assembly members remained busy with their capricious and anti-people activities. I spent the whole year of 19 44 in reorganization work but I could not succeed in mending matters. Nor did the League High Command pay any heed to my repeated reminders.
However, I did not consider it expedient to withdraw from the Muslim League because that would have made the party a hand maiden of the opportunists and the anti-people elements and they would have used it pretty much as they pleased. I had the full support for all that I was doing of the sincere and selfless party workers not only in Sindh but also from all over the sub-continent. Therefore, I didn’t lose hope. Differences between the Sindh Muslim League and the Ministry had deepened but because of my lack of experience and naiveté, I was under the impression that if these matters were brought to Mr. Jinnah’s notice in a person-to-person meeting, he would take the necessary remedial steps. I kept on apprising him of the situation in quarterly reports.
On July 28, 1944, a delegation of the Sindh Assembly Party and the Provincial Working Committee of the League wanted to call on Mr. Jinnah at Lahore. I was asked to seek an appointment. Mr. Jinnah refused to meet the delegation. He asked me to present the delegation’s point of view to him. I was, therefore, obliged to work as the delegation’s spokesman. I apprised him in detail of the grievances we had against the Ministry. Mr. Jinnah said the War was on and the Prime Minister of Sindh was in the good books of the British and that the Muslim League Ministries were functioning with the help of the British bureaucracy. It would be expedient under the circumstances, therefore, to tolerate the Ministers’ acts of omission and commission. I was also told that the Ministry was answerable only to the party’s Central High Command and the provincial wing of the League should not interfere in its working. The Ministry should be kept intact under all circumstances. At this I told him I was not willing to accept this nor would the majority of the Muslim League in Sindh and the conscientious elements in the Assembly party do so. At this Mr. Jinnah lost his temper and said he was not willing to listen to this kind of talk.
I told Mr. Jinnah that I had brought the Sindh case to him hoping for justice but I was sorry to point out that I had not presented the case to an impartial judge but to Sir Ghulam Hussain’s defense counsel. This incensed Mr. Jinnah and he asked me to apologize for using such disrespectful language. I refused to do so and he left the room angrily. I apprised the delegation of the situation. Members of the team were greatly annoyed and expressed their willingness to leave the Muslim League. However, I told them that it would be precipitate to do so and will harm the struggle for the achievement of Pakistan.
It was under these circumstances that the year 1945 began. The War ended and the British authorized the Viceroy, Lord Wavell, to set up an interim government and to arrive at a settlement with the Indian leadership. Accordingly, he summoned a conference of Indian leaders in Simla on June 2 5. Earlier on June 15, several leaders of the Congress Working Committee were released. On June 14, Lord Wavell issued an important statement that is being excerpted here:
The British Government awaits a settlement with the Indians on a new constitution. The Government has no desire to impose a constitution of its own and wants no changes in it except a rapprochement among the various communities in India. However, the Government intends to present certain proposals for an interim acceptance by the leading parties.
"It is proposed that the Viceroy should reconstitute his Executive Council on which Hindus and Muslims from amongst the important parties should have equal representation. In this regard, the Viceroy has summoned an all parties’ conference. The Executive Council shall be reconstituted in consultation with them. Except for the Viceroy and the commander-in-chief, all other members of the Council shall be Indians....."
To consider these proposals, the Congress and the Muslim League held meetings of their Working Committees in Simla. Since I was a member of the League Working Committee, 1, too, had to go to Simla. I took Pir Ali Mohammed Rashdi, Yusuf Haroon and Shaikh Abdul Majid Sindhi along with me so that I could benefit from their advice.
The following important leaders attended the Simla conference:
In short, Mr. Jinnah was adamant on wrecking a Congress-Muslim League settlement. The Muslim League Working Committee met the following day to consider a reduction in the powers of the provincial leadership 6, the party and to give greater authority to the All India League. I opposed the move because it was palpably against the principle of provincial autonomy for which we were fighting. I said any decision in this regard would not be acceptable and if it were forced on us, we would leave the Party. When Liaquat Ali Khan told all this to Mr. Jinnah, he said bitterly that time had arrived for a parting of the ways. I replied that if he felt so, I was ready to go my own way. Thus the differences between us went on increasing, but being simple and inexperienced at the time, I could not then decide to leave the League, otherwise I would not have let myself to be later answerable to myself for plunging yet further into difficulties. Anyhow, the Simla Conference failed because of Mr. Jinnah’s pro-British policies. The Congress President, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad publicly held the Muslim League responsible for the breakdown. Mr. Jinnah was demanding the right to nominate Muslims to the interim government for the League, which, if ceded by the Congress, would have turned it into a non-Muslim Organization in violation of its 50-year traditions. Azad said he himself was a Muslim and he could not accept Mr. Jinnah’s demand while being in the Congress.
The next important development after the failure of the Simla Conference was Mr. Churchill’s defeat in the British general elections. The Conservatives were ousted from power and Clement Attlee of the Labor Party formed the new government. The Viceroy of India left for Britain to hold talks with the new administration on the future of the sub-continent. Before leaving, he had a meeting with all provincial governors and announced that elections to the provincial assemblies would be held in 1946. He left for England on August 24, 1945 for detailed discussions with the British Government. It was decided that the Indian leaders would be consulted on a new constitution for India after the elections. The Viceroy returned to India on September 16 and issued the following statement on the 19th:
While inaugurating the new Parliament, His Majesty the King Emperor had announced that autonomous governments would be established as soon as possible in India in consultation with the Indians themselves. I have had detailed discussions on the issue with the British Government during my stay in London. I have already announced that elections will be held during the winter, after which, the British Government hopes, the winning parties will accept ministerial responsibilities in all the provinces. The British Government has decided that a constituent assembly is established as soon as possible. I have been authorized to solicit the provincial representatives’ views after the elections as to whether the 1942 proposals made by the Government or any other amended formula is acceptable to them or not. Talks shall also he held with the representatives of the Indian princely states on the methodology of their participation in the constituent assembly. The British Government is working out an accord, which will be signed between it and the government of India. For the time being the Government of India will continue to function as it is doing at present, and work for the social and economic uplift of the country will go on.
"Later, India will have to participate in international affairs. I have been authorized by His Majesty’s Government to constitute an Executive Council with the support of all parties after the elections to run the affairs of State. The new British Government has taken in hand the India Question in spite of the fact that it is faced with grave problems, This shows its resolve to solve the India Question as soon as possible. The task of constitution making will be extremely intricate and difficult. All parties must address it coolly and sympathetically. After the elections, talks will be held with the Indian leaders as to what shape to give to the constituent assembly. The best thing to do would be to give them an opportunity to decide their own future. The British Government and the Viceroy are well aware of the obstacles in the way. However, they are determined to find a permanent solution for the problem."
The same day, Prime Minister Attlee also said in a radio speech that although he knew that the Cripps proposals would not be acceptable to the Indian Political parties, his Government was determined to move ahead on the basis of these proposals He assured that the settlement between Britain and India would include nothing detrimental to the interests of the latter, He appealed to the Indian leaders to gather together and work out a constitution acceptable to all.
The Working Committee of the All India Congress, meeting in Bombay on September 23, 1945, Passed a resolution, declaring that Lord Wavell’s proposals were unsatisfactory and that nothing short of complete independence would be acceptable to the Indians. However, the meeting decided to take part in the elections and all parties started making preparations for the contests. The Congress demanded a new ministerial pattern in the provinces in which it was in majority but could not succeed because of opposition from the Muslim League and the governors,
The Muslim League wanted to fight the elections on its demand for Pakistan. Therefore, its High Command decided, at the behest of Mr. Jinnah, that independent, progressive and broadminded party candidates should not be allowed to be returned to the assemblies. It was urged that if the League decided that all Muslims should vote for even an electric pole, all of them should vote for it. Discerning politicians didn’t take long to foresee the way the wind was blowing, It was apparent that sycophants would gain advantages for themselves in the Muslim majority areas where the League would be helped by the British. Sensing this, many Muslims in the Congress joined the League. Prominent among such people was Khan Abdul Qayum Khan. In Sindh, a group in the League, because of its naiveté, could not decide to leave the party. Even so, its members refused to play yes-men to the party High Command, which is to say, Mr. Jinnah. It decided, however, to stay back in the Muslim League for the sake of achieving Pakistan.
Towards the end of August 1945, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad presented a plan for resolving the communal issue. Some of the important points of the Azad plan were:
Elections were held towards the end of the year for the Central Assembly. Congress secured 19.3 Percent of the non-Muslim votes while the Muslim League won 36.6 patient Of the Muslim votes, Out of a total of 102 seats, the Congress won 57, the Muslim League bagged 30. There were five independents, two Akali Sikhs and eight Europeans.
A look here at the scene in Sindh would be in order. Having reorganized the Muslim League, we held elections to Provincial offices of the party on June 3-4, 1945. 1 was reelected President. The resolutions passed at the time included one condemning interference in the affairs of the provincial League by the central party. I had already earned Mr. Jinnah’s ire by bringing this matter to his notice during the Simla Conference. However, it was time now to constitute a new parliamentary board so that the party could take part in the provincial assembly elections. It was decided to put up progressive candidates since the constituent assembly was about to come into being and we had to have only such people elected who could give the new country, Pakistan, a clean and honest leadership.
The ministerial group opposed all this and invited Mr. Jinnah to Sindh. He asked me to reconstitute the parliamentary board in a manner in which the ministerial group could gain a majority in it. Important members of the assembly strongly opposed this move. However, partly because of the weaknesses of some Sindhi feudals and partly because of my commitment to Mr. Jinnah. I persuaded the Provincial Muslim League to pass a resolution giving the ministerial group four out of the seven seats on the parliamentary board. Thus it was that, on our own, we made the party that much subservient to the cabinet.
When the time came to award party tickets towards the end of the year, the ministerial group began patronizing its toadies. Al this, the provincial party revolted, The Ministers called Mr. Jinnah to their rescue. The latter asked us to surrender the award of party tickets to the Central Parliamentary Board. We were beginning now to lose faith in the central leaders, especially the High Command and Mr. Jinnah. Therefore, I refused to obey Mr. Jinnah because had I done his bidding, it would have meant trampling underfoot the rights of the people. It would also have meant sacrificing the future of Sindh at the altar of All India interests at a time when our hopes for a better tomorrow were about to come true.
Apart from this, I was among the leaders of the progressive elements in the party who had made untold sacrifices in the hope that the awakened masses would transform the League and that it would never go back to its bad old ways. I convened a meeting of the provincial party on October 14, 1945, where great fervor was shown for this point of view. The meeting appealed to the Central Parliamentary Board that party tickets in Sindh should be awarded in consultation with G.M. Syed, Khair Shah, Agha Ghulam Nabi Pathan, Syed Mohammed Ali Shah and Rais Ghulam Mustafa Bhurgri.
When Mr. Jinnah came to Karachi and stayed at Sir Ghulam Husain’s bungalow, I apprised him of the provincial party’s resolution. He was greatly annoyed and said the meeting that had passed the resolution consisted of irrelevant people who had nothing to do with the issue at hand. I felt that the time had come to go my own way. I had been sailing on two boats for a long time and was under great mental strain,
On the one side was a man whom I had regarded at one time as the Quaid-e-Azam and a guardian of the future of the Muslims and at the wrong news of whose death I had cried myself into a swoon, On the other side, was my love for Sindh, my country, where I was born and brought up and where twenty generations of my family lay buried and for whose independence and prosperity, thousands of men of piety and commitment had sacrificed their lives.
During this internal struggle, I became convinced that I would have to choose between the two. After Jinnah’s dictatorial attitude, it was my duty to express my dissent and rebel. I wish to make it clear here that these conferences were not between two personalities, as is generally thought, but a conflict between two distinct political points of view. The President of the All India Muslim League had complete disregard for the interests of Sindh. It was for him to order and for the others to obey. I refused thus to obey him. At this, Jinnah Sahib asked me in cold anger to reconsider my views because I had no realization of the consequences of my stance. I told him that I had been thinking things over for two years and I knew fully well what I was doing. My first loyalty was for the provincial Muslim League Party without whose permission I would endorse no decision taken by anyone. Jinnah Sahib said my refusal amounted to a violation of party discipline and asked me once again to review my decision and consider its repercussions. I thanked him but reminded him that during our last meeting, he had talked of the possibility of a parting of the ways. Now, after due consideration, I had reached the conclusion that it would not be possible for me to renege on the provincial council of the party and accept the one-sided decision of the League’s Central Parliamentary Board. Jinnah Sahib thought that since the provincial party was a branch of the All India Muslim League, it was subservient to the latter and had no independent status. I was not willing to accept this position for Sindh.
It was tinder these circumstances that I thought it advisable to take the Sindh Muslim League out of the central party in order to protect the interests of the people of the province. My last meeting with the League President was a testing and challenging occasion for me; I was pitted against the power and glory of office. Not only the League High Command, I was also earning the ire of hundreds of thousands of Muslims. But I decided to face all this. Mr. Jinnah had left me with but two options: unconditional obedience or separation. I opted for the latter course. As a last warning, Mr. Jinnah sent me a list of candidates approved by the League High Command and asked me to support them. I refused to do so and decided to explain my standpoint through the Press. Accordingly, I issued a lengthy Press statement on October 28, 1 945, in which I explained my differences with Sir Ghulam Hussain Hidayatuilah’s Ministry and the Central High Command. A summary of this statement is being reproduced here. Newspapers published this summary or concise version on October 29- 30, 1945. I had started that -The Quaid-i-Azam’s Press statement of October 27 has made it incumbent upon me to place a few facts before the people. The coming elections were vital for the future of a hundred million Muslims of India and the prosperity of the people of Sindh. Any misunderstanding on these two issues at this stage would have grave consequences. I thought it necessary to explain that so far as the Muslim League’s claim that it represented the hundred million Muslims of India was concerned, there could tie no two opinions. We were also wedded to the arms and objectives of the party and would go along with it to the last and make whatever sacrifices were required of us. However, so far as the elections in Sindh were concerned, it was necessary to narrate the causes, which had led to the impasse.