Saturday, March 22, 2014

Glimpses of Sindh

Nadeem F. Paracha, in Dawn.

However, after some Hindu places of worship were attacked in Karachi in 1948, Hindu Sindhis began to leave in droves.

This is when Sindhi intellectuals and political thinkers like Ibrahim Joyo and GM Syed began to mould Sindh’s pluralistic history into a meta-narrative of Sindhi identity because to them the departing Hindus were first Sindhis, then Hindus and their departure would weaken Sindh’s demography and economy.

After the creation of Pakistan (and then death of its founder, Jinnah), the Pakistani state began in earnest its long-drawn project to cut through the country’s ethnic complexities by convoluting and imposing a monolithic meta-narrative of faith and Pakistani nationhood.

This attracted the scorn of the country’s various non-Punjabi ethnicities that dismissed and rejected the state’s idea of nationhood and Islam that they believed contradicted the notions of nationhood and faith enshrined in the historical DNA of their respective ethnicities.

Between 1958 and the early 1970s, GM Syed immersed himself in the study of the religious, social and political histories of Sindh. In 1966, he created Bazm-e-Sufian-e-Sindh, an intellectual initiative that also included a number of other Sindhi scholars.

Syed and these scholars would then go on to publish a number of important papers and books that helped form the doctrinal and ideological basis of modern Sindhi nationalism.

This nationalism explained the Sindhis to be descendents of the natives of the Indus Valley Civilization whose social, political and religious consciousness had evolved and was influenced by various religions and cultures that had arrived and established themselves in the region in the last five thousand years.

It added that this aspect of Sindh’s history, along with the large number of Muslim Sufi saints, who began to arrive and settle in Sindh after the 8th Century CE, helped shape the Sindhi society in becoming inherently tolerant and pluralistic and repulsed by those strands of the faith that eschewed tolerance to impose a more stringent and myopic view of Islam.

Syed’s works gave Sindhi identity a historical and religious context and anchor that also helped shield the Sindhi society from being affected by the disastrous sectarian and extremist fall-outs of the various religious experiments conducted by the state and governments of Pakistan.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Maulana Dawood/Daud Ghaznavi

Over on, the following claim is made:

Majlis-e-Ahrar-e-Islam Hind was allied with Bacha Khan and the Congress. Maulana Daud Ghaznavi, the founder of the Majlis-e-Ahrar, was appointed the Chief of Congress in Punjab according to Raj Mohan Gandhi’s new book Punjab – A History from Aurangzaib to Mountbatten (See Page 333- Aleph Publication). Daud Ghaznavi remained the chief of the Congress in the Punjab till July 1947 when he left the Congress.  To say that Ahrar had broken off therefore from the Congress is a complete fabrication of history. It was a wholly owned subsidiary of the Congress Party as was Jamiat-e-Ulema-Hind.
That Dawood (using the more common spelling) Ghaznavi remained the chief of the Congress in Punjab till July 1947 is what I dispute.  Just referring to one source, the Jinnah Papers (Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah Papers, edited by Z.H. Zaidi) it is possible to ascertain the following below.

A = Jinnah Papers, First Series, Volume I, Part I, 20 February - 2 June 1947.
B = Jinnah Papers, First Series, Volume III, 1 July - 25 July 1947

1. Maulana Dawood Ghaznavi joined the Muslim League sometime in July 1946 or earlier. [A, item VII.60, page 287]  He was indeed a previous president of the Punjab Provincial Congress Committee.

In late-January 1947, the Muslim League started an agitation to topple the Unionist government of Punjab.

2. On February 12, 1947 (reported in the Dawn, February 15, 1947) Maulana Dawood Ghaznavi, MLA, was nominated Acting President of the Punjab Muslim League. [A, item VII.51, page 277]

3. Maulana Dawood Ghaznavi was the seventh President of the Punjab Muslim League. [A, item VII.60, page 287]

4. Pakistan Times, February 25, 1947, reported that Maulana Dawood Ghaznavi was the only Muslim League Committee of Action member who was a non-detenu.  That news-item has the Maulana flying from Lahore to Karachi to meet Jinnah, to consult him "regarding the terms of the peace offer made by the Punjab Government". [A, item VII.66, page 294]

5. The next day, the Pakistan Times reported that the Maulana returned to Lahore from Karachi, "carrying with him a three-paged typed letter from the Quaid-i-Azam addressed to the Khan of Mamdot".  He then promptly left for Kasur to meet with the jailed members of the Committee of Action. [A, item VII.67, page 295]

6. In [B, item 229, page 670-672] an extract from a letter, from Maulvi Abu Sulaiman to Z.A. Ansari is included, dated July 24, 1947 . It recommends some measures to fight the influence of the Fakir of Ipi.
To fight Pathanistan successfully, we must take some precautions.  We must not appoint to the Governorship of the Frontier any person belonging to this Province.   Some such person should be appointed Governor who can successfully fight the propaganda that the League is un-Islamic, agents of the English and centre of Qadianis, and that to fight it is the greatest service to Islam.   It would be proper if Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Usmani, Maulana Dawood Ghaznavi or Maulana Akram Khan are appointed to this post.  But the League High Command is in a better position to understand the interests of the country.  

PS: In "Self and Sovereignty: Individual and Community in South Asian Islam Since 1850", by Ayesha Jalal, we are told that page 490, that Maulana Daud Ghaznavi, "president of the Punjab Congress and a member of the legislative assembly, defected to the Muslim League", around July 27, 1946. "Ghaznavi was facing an enquiry for his alleged embezzlement of Congress funds during the elections. (SPPAI, 27 July 1946, vol. lxviii, no. 29, p. 362)

Note: SPPAI = Secret Punjab Police Abstract of Intelligence.

PPS: Excerpt from letter from Sardar Patel to Bhim Sen Sachar, July 27, 1946 (from The Collected Works of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Volume X, edited by P.N. Chopra)
I am sorry about the Punjab muddle, particularly the bungling in the Constituent Assembly elections by the Sikhs.  We expected three seats from the Unionist group, -- at least two-- but we only got one.  The Sikhs did not contest at all in spite of my efforts and I was surprised to hear that.  In spite of my instructions, you had contacted Pandit Nehru and conveyed a message to the Sikhs which has resulted in this unfortunate situation.  Its repercussions have been very serious.  It has given a plausible excuse to our friend Daud Ghaznavi to get out of the Congress at a critical moment.   You know how you pressed me to help him in his own election, as a special case, in addition to the usual share which was included in the budget.  I had my doubts about your judgement and that of Seth Sudarshan.  I was insistent on Dr. Gopichand's endorsement.  Unfortunately, I yielded and disregarded Dr. Gopichand's wise counsel.   You are on the spot and you could have warned us even subsequently about his unreliability.   If you did not know or suspect about this unreliability, you are certainly much too simple for Punjab politics.