A Pakistani-American sociologist and historian here on Sunday made a case saying how religion had nothing to do with Partition, for which politics was responsible.
Ayesha Jalal, professor of history at Tufts University, Massachusetts, US, was in the city to address a talk on Partition organised by One Up, the local library-cum-bookstore.
Having written a number of books on the subject, Jalal said Muhammad Ali Jinnah, leader of the Muslim League, never wanted Partition and had twice rejected the proposal of creating Pakistan.
"The Lahore Resolution of 1940 had no mention of Pakistan. Later, Jinnah saw Pakistan as a means to negotiating a power-sharing agreement with the Congress. In fact, he used to say 'Hindustan' and 'Pakistan' and not 'India' as he felt India was incomplete without Pakistan," she said.
Niece of celebrated Urdu writer Saadat Hasan Manto, Jalal said she started researching on the subject to know the reasons behind Partition and to find out more about the stories Manto had written on the subject.
She said while Jinnah thought he had ample time to negotiate with the Congress, the Congress underestimated the Muslim League. "The Congress was weak in Punjab and Bengal, so Jinnah thought if he got power in these two provinces, he would be in a strong position to negotiate a power-sharing arrangement. But unfortunately, the Muslim League did not do their home work," she said.
What followed was horrific violence, which heaped misery on innocent people.
"The British had intelligence reports of people getting armed during Partition, which I have seen while conducting research. But they did nothing about it. People used kitchen knives, garden equipment and even warm mustard oil for killing others," she said.
Jalal maintained that the violence was not about religion or communities but about individuals.
"People were settling scores in the name of Partition. The focus was on grabbing property by
groups of bandits," she said.
Jalal said Mahatma Gandhi also did not want Partition. "During Partition, Gandhi was like a moral authority, while the likes of Jawaharlal Nehru and Vallabhbhai Patel were the actual government machinery, so their decision was final," she said.
Advocating peace initiatives between the two countries, Jalal said, "PM Manmohan Singh is the best bet for the peace initiative between the two countries."