The Two Nations Theory
Events in the late 1920s and 1930s led Muslims to begin to think
that their destiny might be in a separate state, a concept that
developed into the demand for partition. Motilal Nehru convened
an "all-party" conference in 1929 to suggest changes that would
lead to independence when the British took up the report of the
Simon Commission. The majority of the delegates demanded the end
of the system of separate electorates. Jinnah, in turn, put forward
fifteen points that would satisfy Muslim interests--in particular,
the retention of separate electorates or the creation of "safeguards"
to prevent a Hindu-controlled legislature. Jinnah's proposals
were rejected, and from then on cooperation between Hindus and
Muslims in the independence movement was rare.
In his presidential address to the Muslim League session at Allahabad
in 1930, the leading modern Muslim philosopher in South Asia,
Sir Muhammad Iqbal (1876-1938), described India as Asia in miniature,
in which a unitary form of government was inconceivable and religious
community rather than territory was the basis for identification.
To him, communalism in its highest sense was the key to the formation
of a harmonious whole in India. Therefore, he demanded the establishment
of a confederated India to include a Muslim state consisting of
Punjab, North-West Frontier Province, Sindh, and Balochistan.
In subsequent speeches and writings, Iqbal reiterated the claims
of Muslims to be considered a nation "based on unity of language,
race, history, religion, and identity of economic interests."
Iqbal gave no name to his projected state. That was done by a
group of students at Cambridge in Britain who issued a pamphlet
in 1933 entitled Now or Never. They opposed the idea
of federation, denied that India was a single country, and demanded
partition into regions, the northwest receiving national status
as a "Pakistan." They explained the term as follows: "Pakistan
. . . is . . . composed of letters taken from the names of our
homelands: that is, Punjab, Afghania [North-West Frontier Province],
Kashmir, Iran, Sindh, Tukharistan, Afghanistan, and Balochistan.
It means the land of the Paks, the spiritually pure and clean."
In 1934 Jinnah returned to the leadership of the Muslim League
after a period of residence in London, but found it divided and
without a sense of mission. He set about restoring a sense of
purpose to Muslims, and he emphasized the Two Nations Theory.
The 1937-40 period was critical in the growth of the Two Nations
Theory. Under the 1935 Government of India Act, elections to the
provincial legislative assemblies were held in 1937. Congress
gained majorities in seven of the eleven provinces. Congress took
a strictly legalistic stand on the formation of provincial ministries
and refused to form coalition governments with the Muslim League,
even in the United Provinces (Uttar Pradesh in contemporary India),
which had a substantial Muslim minority, and vigorously denied
the Muslim League's claim to be the only true representative of
Indian Muslims. This claim, however, was not substantiated because
the Muslim League had done poorly in the elections, especially
in the Muslim-majority provinces such as Punjab and the North-West
Frontier Province. The conduct of Congress governments in the
Muslim-minority provinces permanently alienated the Muslim League.
By the late 1930s, Jinnah was convinced of the need for a unifying
issue among Muslims, and Pakistan was the obvious answer. At its
annual session in Lahore on March 23, 1940, the Muslim League
resolved that the areas of Muslim majority in northwestern and
eastern India should be grouped together to constitute independent
states--autonomous and sovereign--and that any independence plan
without this provision was unacceptable to Muslims. Federation
was rejected. The Lahore Resolution was often referred to as the
"Pakistan Resolution"; however, the word Pakistan did
not appear in it.
An interesting aspect of the Pakistan movement was that it received
its greatest support from areas in which Muslims were a minority.
In those areas, the main issue was finding an alternative to replacing
British rule with Congress, that is, Hindu, rule.
Data as of April 1994