By M J Aslam
SMA in his autobiography narrates the factors that had motivated him to convert Muslim Conference into National Conference on 11th June, 1939. He writes that M A Jinnah had in 1936 clearly asked MC leaders to “broaden the base of our movement” by including non-Muslims in “our” political and economic struggle on equal basis. 1) He proceeds to find another justification for his “unilateral decision” of converting MC into NC by naming Dr. Sir M Iqbal in it. He says that “another great son of Kashmir (first one was Nehru in his opinion) and well wisher of the Kashmir movement and its patron, Iqbal, had given me similar advice in 1937”. 2) Both these statements are bizarrely a stretch and far-fetched. It seems to have been his mere conjectures of mind or after-thought to find justification for his decision of historical significance on which Joseph Korbel has commented as below:
“As a matter of fact, the origins of the present tragic struggle can, in a sense, be traced back to those months. Up to that time, the Muslims had been united through the Muslim Conference. In 1939 this unity was broken. Responsible for this tragic schism was none other than the popular Lion of Kashmir, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah.” 3)
The actual facts are these: In 1936, during his second visit of Kashmir, M A Jinnah was invited by the MC/ Muslim Conference, that was led at that point in time by Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas and Sheikh Abdullah, to address a Milad-un-Nabi gathering at Mujahid Manzil, Srinagar. Replying to the welcome address of Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas, as President of the MC, he said that the Prophet of Islam (PBUH) was the greatest law-giver the humanity has ever known whose laws were based on justice and humanity. He congratulated “unity of Muslims” under the banner of MC and advised them that as the Muslims were in majority in Kashmir, it was their duty to ensure that the minority community gets full justice and fair play at their hands. 4) Jinnah was openly requiring MC leaders to strive for co-operation of minorities in political awakening but nowhere asking them or their leaders including SMA to change nomenclature and the very constitution of the MC party. It was an auspicious occasion and he was drawing the attention of majority community that it was their duty as Muslims to take care of the rights of the minority community.
If Jinnah’s 1936-speech had ever hinted at conversion of MC into NC, why in 1944 during his third and last visit to Kashmir valley, when he was invited by both MC and NC, he did not tell MC leadership why they had not since 1936 merged with NC? Instead, his addresses of 10th May 1944 at Pratap Park Srinagar (to NC followers) and 17th June 1944 at Jamia Masjid Srinagar (to 100,000 MC followers) manifestly show that he wanted Muslims to unite under one banner, one slogan and one mission [of Islam]. Nowhere in those speeches, is Jinnah seen to have ever hinted at merger of MC into NC. Instead, “he made it clear during that visit that he disapproved of SMA’s secularism and that the only body in Kashmir which truly represented the Muslim majority was the MC”. 5)
In fact, 1944-Jinnah’s visit and speeches had injected new life and authority into the MC. As Muslims in British India became more and more pronounced in their support of an independent Pakistan, the Muslims in J&K began to return to the MC led by Chowdhury Ghulam Abbas, abandoning the ranks of the NC till in March 1946, SMA played a poor card of Quit Kashmir. 6)
The second limb of his justification is an unsuccessful attempt to hide behind the name of Dr. Sir M Iqbal who is highly revered by all the Muslims of JK for his high emotional attachment with Kashmir and Kashmiris that he had and which can be found in his poetry. NC was formed on 11th June 1939 while Dr. Sir M Iqbal had already died on 20th April 1939. There was huge reaction among Kashmiri-Muslims against SMA decision of party-conversion. To assuage the emotions of the protesting Muslims, if SMA’s said statement were fact-based, he could have easily told the people that change of party from MC to NC was made because Dr. Sir M Iqbal had advised him to do so, provided if that were a reality, but it was not. Apparently, it is an invention of mental craft unethical to use name of such a towering personality of Islam after more than 40 years of his death for political purposes. 8) In fact, Dr. Sir M Iqbal in his presidential address of annual session of the All India Muslim League held at Allahabad on 29th December 1930 had advocated for a separate and independent State for Muslims of the sub-continent. 9) Similarly, on 7th June 1933 he had appealed to the Muslims of JK in the following words which reject the afore-cited unfounded statement of SMA:
“I appeal to Muslims of Kashmir to beware of the forces that are working against them and to unite their ranks. The time for two or three Muslim political parties in Kashmir has not yet come. The supreme need of the moment is a single party representing all Muslims in the State. If perfect unanimity of political opinion is not secured in Kashmir, all efforts of leaders to advance the interests of the people of the State will prove ineffective.” 10)
The author can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org. (Views expressed are personal)
1) Blazing Chinar, (2016) page 165; 2) Ibid, page 167; 3) Danger in Kashmir (1954) page 20 ; 4)Kashmiris-Fight for Freedom (2009) by MY Saraf, vol 1, page 622; 5) Alaister Lamb, Kashmir a disputed legacy (1991) page 95; 6) Danger in Kashmir by Josef Korbel (1954) pages 21-22; 8) Note: Blazing Chinar was first published in 1985; 9) The History of Struggle for Freedom in Kashmir, P.N. Bazaz, (New Delhi, 1954), page 147 ; 10) Speeches, writings and statements of Iqbal, (1995) Iqbal academy Pakistan, Lahore, page 277
—TO BE CONTINUED…….