August 15, 2012 4 Comments
An excerpt from the book “Punjab — Bloodied, Partitioned and Cleansed” by Dr. Ishtiaq Ahmed.
This essay highlights the efforts of Jinnah to persuade the Sikhs to not call for the partition of the Punjab.
Dr. Ahmed writes:
In several interviews with informed Pakistanis, I was told that Jinnah offered very generous terms to the Sikhs to dissuade them not to demand the partition of the Punjab if India was partitioned. This claim is amply corroborated by the article “I remember Jinnah’s offer of Sikh state” by the late Maharaja of Patiala published in The Tribune of 19 July 1959. Apparently Lord Mountbatten was also present as were Liaquat Ali Khan and his wife. Some of the extracts are given below:
“We had a drink and went in to dine. The talks started, and offers were made by Mr Jinnah for practically everything under the sun if I would agree to his plan. There were two aspects. One was based on the idea of a Rajasthan and the other one for separate Sikh state — Punjab minus one or two districts in the south. I had prolonged talks with Master Tara Singh, Giani Kartar Singh and other Sikh leaders, and all the negotiations on behalf of the Sikhs were within my knowledge. Indeed, in some ways I had quite a deal to do with them. I told Mr. Jinnah that I could not accept either of his two proposals, and told him a lot of what was on my mind. Liaquat Ali Khan and Begum Liaquat Ali Khan, and told him a lot of what was on my mind. Liaquat Ali and Begum Liaquat Ali were most charming to me, and went out of their way to offer, on behalf of the Muslim League, everything conceivable. I was to be Head of this new Sikh State, the same as in Patiala. The Sikhs were to have their own army and so on.
All these things sounded most attractive, but I could not accept them as being practical, and neither could I in the mood I was in, change my conviction. The talk lasted till past midnight. Lord Mountbatten was a patient listener, occasionally taking part. He eventually said that perhaps Mr Jinnah and I could meet again at some convenient date.”
There was another meeting of Jinnah with some notable Sikh leaders like Maharaja of Patiala, Hardit Singh, Master Tara Singh and Giani Kartar Singh. Hardit Sing recalls:
“Jinnah started by saying that he was very anxious to have the Sikhs agree to Pakistan and he was prepared to give them everything that they wanted, if they could accept Pakistan. I said to him, “Mr Jinnah you are being very generous, but we would like to know exactly what our position will be.” Jinnah retorted, saying “you will have a Government, you will have a Parliament and you will have Defence forces, what part will the Sikhs have in all these.” He further said, “are you familiar with what happened in Egypt? I will deal with the Sikhs as Zaghlul Pasha dealt with the Copts (the Christian minority) when Egypt became independent.” He then went on to tell us the story. According to Jinnah, the Copts when they first met Zaghlul Pasha put forward some demands. After listening to them he advised them to go back, think the whole thing over and come to see him again with a paper incorporating all their demands. They did this. Zaghlul Pasha took the paper from them and without reading it wrote on it “I agree.” Mr Jinnah added, “That is what I will do with the Sikhs.”
Hardit Singh further recalls, “this put us in an awkward position. We were determined not to accept Pakistan under any circumstances and here was the Muslim Leader offering us everything. What to do?”
Then I had an inspiration and I said, “Mr Jinnah, you are being very generous. But supposing, God forbid, you are no longer there when the time comes to implement your promise?”
“His reply was astounding”. He said, “My friend, my word in Pakistan will be like the word of God. No one will go back on it.”
Hardit recalls, “there was nothing to be said after this and the meeting ended.”