THE CONDITIONS IN SINDH
None of those who knew even a little about Sindh could deny the fact that the legislators returned to the provincial Assembly in 1937 were not suitable for the task either from the point of view of social welfare, administrative probity, moral rectitude or loyalty to the Muslim League, there was nothing new in it for me. I did not come to that realization because the Central Parliamentary Board had not given party tickets to some of my special friends. The fact was that during the eight years past, not only myself but also every Sindhi had been pained at the situation in the Province. I present here a portion of the letter I had then written to the Quaid-e-Azam:
"… It may be seen that the plaint we are mating and the anxiety that has been created in us is neither recent nor born of personal reasons.
"The Corruption and repression that is rampant have Proved that the present Ministry has become a constant menace for, and an intolerable burden on the people of Sindh. Anyone, who questions the veracity of this charge, can himself look into the state of affairs on behalf of the League. It is unfortunate for the people of Sindh that those sent here by the League High Command (to probe things) have never taken the trouble to visit the interior of the province. Nor have they tried to find out what are the feelings of the people there about the Ministry. They just come to Karachi and, therefore, their knowledge of Sindh is limited to that city. The Cabinet is corrupt and so are people serving in top positions. The subordinate bureaucracy is also following in their footsteps. People have to spend millions of rupees every year in order to meet the ever-increasing demands of those running the government machinery. The other evils born of graft need not detain us here.
"The situation in the countryside it alarming. There is no law and order and the people, especially the Muslims have lost all hope. The syndicate created to control wheat prices has created disaffection among the growers who have already been ruined by the exorbitant rates of abiana (water charges). All this is in violation of the promises the League had made to the people and has created a general feeling of hatred for the party. The government’s policy towards the bureaucracy is so weak that the latter has gone berserk. People feel that instead of a representative government, some ancient tyrant is ruling them. The Cabinet has embarrassed its own supporters. In view of all this, how strong can the party emerge in the future? Such a government should not be allowed to stay in power another minute.
"I have raised this issue at different forums on several occasions. I apprised Nawab Mohammed Ismail Khan and Chaudhry KhaliQuzzaman of the situation when the two were last here, Under these circumstances, how can it be said that the step we have taken after two years is the result of a sudden suspicion or conspiracy? Keeping such a Ministry in power will result in the loss of prestige for the party which can gain in popularity and prestige only if it works for the welfare of the Muslims.’ "Here I wish to refer to the political behavior of some important people who were favored by the League’s Central Parliamentary Board. The then Prime Minister of Sindh, Sir Ghulam Hussain joined the League in 1938 and left it a year later. Not only that. He issued statements against the party and Pakistan itself. When the Sindh Governor dismissed the late Mr. Allah Bux in 1942, Sir Ghulam Hussain realized that it would he difficult for him to become Prime Minister without joining the Muslim League. He did so accordingly. In spite of being a Leaguer, he had Khan Bahadur Maula Bux Soomro elected from the Shikarpur constituency and made him Revenue Minister and removed him only when we accepted his terms. Likewise, Khan Bahadur Mir Ghulam Ali Talpur and Pir Illahi Bux kept shuttling in and out of the party. It is an open secret that when the Hindus of Hyderabad offered Mir Talpur the presidency of the District Local Board, he left the League for the sake of that petty office. It is significant that the Central Parliamentary Board should have given tickets to these gentlemen and their supporters some among whom were not even paying members of the part. Some had joined the party only a month or so ago, some had always betrayed the League and there were others who came in because they had things to hide from the people. Some were totally illiterate. On the other hand, those ignored had always been loyal to the party, had been helping it or were highly educated and were greatly popular.
"It may be recalled here that whenever we protested against the situation in Sindh, we were assured by the central party that the best candidates would be chosen for the Sindh Assembly for the new elections. Pinning its hopes on this assurance the Muslim League Council, Sindh hall, appointed members of its choice on the provincial parliamentary Board at its annual meeting in 1945. When the Quaid visited Karachi in August that year, Khan Bahadur Mr. Ghulam Ali Talpur, Khan Bahadur Mohammed Ayub Khuhro and his friends told him that the Parliamentary Board appointed by the council was not acceptable to them because most of its members had a majority in the Sindh League Council. They wanted equal representation on the Board.
"Earlier, Mir Ghulam Ali Khan Talpur had created quite a rumpus through his letters and statements and he was aided and abetted by Ayub Khuhro in his attempt to get not even parity but a majority representation on the Parliamentary Board. Khan Bahadur Ghulam Ali Khan announced that he would field his candidates under the flag of the Baloch Party. He also started a campaign against the Muslim League candidates, The Council was of the view that if members belonging to conflicting groups were put on the Board, electoral work Would not be able to proceed satisfactorily and the League would not be able to field deserving candidates in the elections. Therefore, when the Quaid came to Karachi, the above facts were presented to him. The Quaid expressed the opinion that the Board should be reconstituted and the views of Mir Ghulam Ali Khan Talpur and Khan Bahadur Ayub Khuhro and others be given due consideration. But these gentlemen wanted that their representation on the Board should be larger than the Council’s. This was brought to the Quaid’s notice as well as the difficulties that such a course of action would entail. However, these gentlemen assured the Quaid that their members would act honestly and justly in the selection of the League’s candidates. Accordingly, the Board was reconstituted under a Council resolution. Mir Ghulam Ali Khan Talpur and Pir Illahi Bux represented the Council while Khan Bahadur Mohammed Ayub Khuhro represented the Sindh Assembly Muslim League. Thus the new Board was constituted on the basis of conciliation.
"When the Quaid left Karachi, the Sindh Muslim League President invited applications from prospective candidates and laid down rules of procedure in consultation with the members of the new Board.
"The new Parliamentary Board was constituted in the hope that it would work impartially. However, no sooner had the Quaid left Karachi than its members started to indulge in factionalism Mir Ghulam Ali Talpur began making efforts to get his men returned to the Assembly. He lost no time in contacting Sir Ghulam, Hussain along with others and in collusion with Pir Illahi Bux and had ‘consultations’ with him over the nomination of candidates. It was also decided to help Shahmir Khan Kachi against the President of the Sindh Muslim League in his bid for election to the provincial Assembly. The Makhdoom Sahib of Hala also attended these parleys. He was made to write to all his followers in the League President’s constituency to help the party President’s opponents. The Quaid was apprised of this. These gentlemen also proposed that they should field their own men against some important members of the League who did not see eye to eye with them.
"Even before the Parliamentary Board had met, the Makhdoom of Hala, Mir Ghulam Ali Talpur, Pir Illahi Bux and Ayub Khuhro started writing to various people and began working for their own men. Talpur went especially to Nawab shah to work against Khair Shah who was a member of the Board. Khuhro toured the province together with Yusuf Haroon and spoke in favor of the latter and Qazi Fazlullah at several meetings. He also wrote to several people, seeking support for Seth Yusuf Haroon.
"All this happened when the matter of selecting candidates had not yet come up before the Board. Talpur told a meeting of the Balochis in Karachi that if a Baloch was riot given a party ticket for the Lyari constituency, he would unit the League, Pir Illahi Bux was party to the plan hatched against G.M. Syed. These gentlemen worked for increasing the rift between the Bhutto and Khuhro ‘parties’ At the same time, they had changes made in the wards in the Shikarpur constituency in complicity with Khan Bahadur Maula Bux and to the latter’s advantage Likewise, Sir Ghulam Hussain, using his official Position, had those officials appointed in Sukkur District for whom Khan Bahadur Muala Bux had requested. Sir Ghulam Hussain also helped Mir Ghulam Ali Talpur in his doings. Secret meetings were held and factionalism promoted. "The activities of these four gentlemen were found to create doubts in the minds of the prospective candidates thus pushed against the wall. As many as 25 members of the council moved an application on October 1, 1945, in which it was demanded that the above facts be presented before an emergent meeting of the Council. Such grave charges had been leveled against the four gentlemen that the President of the Provincial League adjourned the meeting of the Parliamentary Board. After the adjournment, these four gentlemen met at the house of Khan Bahadur Ayub Khuhro where candidates were awarded party tickets in violation of the rules, which had been agreed upon beforehand. Some of the people thus favored were not even two-Anna members of the League. These four gentlemen, Sir Ghulam Hussain Hidayatullah, Khan Bahadur Mir Ghulam Ali Talpur, Pir Illahi Box and Khan Bahadur Ayub Khuhro issued a joint statement to the Press which was published 6y the Daily Gazette in October 1945. They said that Mr. G.M. Syed’s statement had pained them greatly. They alleged that the statement had been made at the behest of those to whose tune I was dancing. They said I was annoyed because the candidates of my choice had not been awarded party tickets in Tharparkar and Hyderabad districts by the majority of the Parliamentary Board in whose view they did not deserve them nor had they any chance of winning! They claimed that they were working only for the candidates who were likely to win. They alleged that I wanted to get tickets at all cost but when they saw that a good many of the Board members had stuck to their scruples and were not willing to play their game, they secured a wrong ruling from the League President. They even floated a canard to score their point against the Sindh League Council that Mr. Rashdi was leading the Council astray at the behest of forces inimical to the Central League.
"It may be noted here that the Parliamentary Board had set the following criteria for eligibility for awarding tickets:
- Chances of success.
- Loyalty to the League and record of national service.
- Educational qualifications.
- In case of a tie on the above conditions, preference to be given to one who had been a member of the Assembly previously.
- Minimum six months of League membership. This condition was to be ignored if a candidate was an all-India or all-Sindh personality and if the rival candidate for a ticket did not stand a chance of securing 25 percent of the votes.
"The Provincial League Council met on October 14, 1945, and passed a motion of no-confidence against some members of the Parliamentary Board by 35 votes to 5. The Council also appointed five of its members to advise the Central Board on matters relating to the elections. They were:
- Mr. G M Syed.
- Syed Khair Shah
- Agha Ghulam Ali Khan Pathan
- Syed Mohammed Ali Shah
- Mr. Ghulam Mustafa Bhurgari
Before filing my nomination papers, there was an agreement between me and Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan and Qazi Mohammed Isa who both came to Sindh for the purpose. However, when I went to Dadu to file my nomination papers, I came to know that the Central leadership had canceled tickets of the four members of the progressive group. Only I had been spared in the group. This action of the High Command brought matters to a head and I resigned from the All India Muslim League Working Committee and the Committee of Action. Returning my ticket, I issued a statement on October 16, 1945 in which I explained my decision and defended my position. Excerpts are being presented here:
"Alas, that which I had feared has come to pass. All progressive elements have been eliminated from the list of candidates approved by the Central Muslim League, including the four originally selected. This has been done in violation of the pledge given to me by the Chairman of the Central Parliamentary Board and one of its members, Qazi Isa, that this would not be done. I am convinced that the decision has been taken at the behest of those who want to use the League to further their own interests. In spite of that, I had agreed to approve the list of the selected candidates in view of the above pledge and I had also hoped that by doing so, I would be helping to promote unity in the party. But the action of the central leadership has come as a painful surprise to me. I felt betrayed. The four tickets withdrawn have been given to those who are not even members of the party of to those who had not even applied for them, How inappropriate is the central party’s decision can be gauged from the fact that a man with a criminal record who is even now facing trial, has been preferred to a man as talented as Mr. Mohammed Ali Shah.
"Everyone knows that I was once a member of the All India Congress but when that party ignored the welfare of the People of Sindh and began interfering in the internal affairs of the Province, I left it along with my friends and joined the Muslim League. We did so because we hoped that our action would enable us to save the Muslims from the clutches of the capitalists and the bureaucracy and make the achievement of an independent Pakistan that much easier. We have struggled hard and made every sacrifice to achieve the high objectives of the party so that we should be able to work for a better deal for the Muslims of Sindh. But this was a vain hope. Instead of being allowed to work for the welfare of Muslims, we were forced to ensure that the domination of Muslim capitalists, gentlemen with big titles and the chosen ones of the British bureaucracy should continue. The idea was to replace bloodsucking Hindu capitalists with their Muslim counterparts as the lords and masters of ordinary Muslims who should remain in a perpetual state of bondage and nothing should be done to ameliorate their lot. The main reasons for our differences (with the central leadership) are as under:
- We have been ordered in season and out to forget about the welfare of the poor people of Sindh because of the unclear, incoherent and dubious policies of the central leadership. Those who belong to the Muslim minority provinces determine the policies of the All India Muslim League. Our friends keep claiming that they want to free the Muslims of Hindu bondage. In fact, they want that Sindh and other Muslim majority provinces should remain under their tutelage. To keep central leadership in their own hands, they not only helped the reactionary elements in Sindh but also helped them to maintain their stranglehold over the poor people of the province.
- Mismanagement and corruption stalk the province. Nothing has been done to rid the League of these evils. On the contrary, everything has been done to promote them, and everything done for the betterment of poor Muslims is, therefore, nullified. Anti-Hindu propaganda is resorted in order to divert the attention of the people from these shortcomings. All this has prevented us from being of any help to the people. Only the Nawabs and the landlords are being strengthened when these people do not simply have it in them to resist the British. We are, for this purpose, being prevented from fighting the Raj. Al the same time, differences between the Congress and the Muslim League are increasing every day, which will not only hamper the struggle for the independence of India and Pakistan but also create problems for similar struggles elsewhere in the East.
- In order to maintain the hegemony of the rich, the League High Command wants us to return deadwood to the Sindh Assembly. When such ignorant, selfish and bloodsucking parasites are elected to the constituent assembly, they will continue to serve the interests of the feudals and the capitalists even after the creation of Pakistan. We are being asked in the name of democratic unity among Muslims to overlook all this. When anyone asks them whether we are trying to achieve Pakistan for the Khan Bahadurs, the Nawab Bahadur, the Sardars and the capitalists, he is threatened into silence and told not to raise such questions till after the creation of Pakistan. Similarly, when we are asked which class will prosper in Pakistan, we are accused of being anti-Islam in order to silence us, The League capitalists are clever in the extreme. Honesty and truth are virtues unknown to them. If the President of the Sindh Muslim League raises his voice in favor of the downtrodden peasantry, they put him in the straitjacket of rules and regulations. Nothing is low enough or mean enough or crude enough for them when they want to eliminate their opponents.
- I am returning the party ticket awarded to me so that my opponents may do as they please and make such use of this ticket as they want. These friends have already set their lackeys at work against me and I don’t want that there should be any hurdle in their way.
- I am resigning front the All India Muslim League Working Committee and the Action Committee.
- So long as the leadership of the All India Muslim league is in reactionary hands, the Sindh Muslim league shall work as an independent and autonomous party.
- Only the Council of the Sindh Muslim League will decide whether to maintain the list of ticket awardees approved by it through a resolution or amend it or recall it and issue fresh tickets.
- Nawab shah North: Hon’ble Syed Mohammed Ali Shah.
- Nawab shah West: Syed Hassan Bux Shah.
- Nawab shah last: Syed Khair Shah.
- Nawab Shah Northwest: Pir Qurban Ali.
- Hyderabad North: Pir Baqadar Shah.
- Hyderabad South: Pir Aali Shah.
- Hyderabad East: Mr. Ghulam Nabi Memon.
- Tharparkar West: Mr. Ghulam Mustafa Bhurgri.
- Tharparkar North: Syed Ghulam Hyder Shah.
- Dadu South: Mr. G.M. Syed.
- Karachi East: Pir Ghulam Hyder Shah.
- Sindhi Landlord: Mr. Ghulam Rasool Bhurgri.
We fielded 16 candidates against the Central League nominees in the elections held on January 21, 1946. The reactionaries used religion against us. People were told that if G.M. Syed and his colleagues succeeded, Islam would be in jeopardy. We were called Hindu agents. We also exposed the misdeeds of the League Ministry in every nook and corner of Sindh, but such was the power of their propaganda and pelf that only four of our candidates could win while Haji Maula Bux’s independent group secured three seats. After an alliance with the latter, I was elected leader and Maula Box the deputy leader of the enlarged group. The party position was like this:
|Muslim League (central)||27|
|Sindh League plus independents||7|
We could have formed a government in coalition with the Congress. The new Governor of Sindh, Sir Francis Mudie, summoned me. I gave him a true picture of all parties but he advised me to join the Central Muslim League. His view was that we were harming Muslim interests by being outside the Muslim League fold. I was amazed at the way the British Governor, instead of performing his duties, decided to become a patron of the Muslim League. I refused to do his bidding but was astonished when the Governor invited Sir Ghulam Hussain to form a government even though his party did not command a majority in the House. He also asked the European members to support the Ghulam Hussain Ministry- Thus gradually we came to understand as to why Mr. Jinnah himself persisted in his preference of time-servers to the progressive elements. We gave notice of a motion of no confidence against the government during the budget session at which the Leaguers retaliated in an unexpected manner.
Qazi Mujtaba was a noted communist but was at the time in the Muslim League under the influence of the Haroon family. He was made to go on a hunger strike unto) death at my door. Apart from this, poisonous speeches were made against me and my group at the Eidgaah Maidaan in Karachi every night.
When the Assembly’s budget session began, we moved a no-confidence motion against the Government. Explaining my party’s stance during discussion in the house, I made the following speech:
"No-one can deny that I have always been associated with the Muslim League, In fact I have played a considerable role in strengthening the League in Sindh. The responsibility for my present position into which I have been forced ties with those who tried to throw the progressive group out of the party during the last elections. It was only after my progressive colleagues had been thrown out one after another, that I returned the League ticket. This was considered an unpardonable sin and I was expelled from the party. During the elections, every kind of propaganda was used against us. We were declared enemies of Islam and the Muslim nation. It was charged that we had sold out to the Hindus In spite of all this, we forgave those who had or maligned or otherwise harmed us and said let bygones be bygones. But an unconditional surrender was demanded of us, as if we had committed a big sin because of which we were being reluctantly expelled from the party, It was also claimed that the criticism against us was clean and pure. In spite of this, when I realized that my group leads only four members, I made an appeal, through a statement, to both the Muslim League and the Congress to form a united and honest government committed to the welfare of Sindh. I had also offered to help them in this regard. But the Sarkari (official) Muslim League talked neither with the Congress nor with us on the formation of a Ministry. After this we were left with no option but to negotiate with other parties so that together they should save the Constitution from being Suspended.
"At the time of coalition formation, I had said in a statement that I still subscribed to the basic principles of the Muslim League and I stick to what I had said. The Hon’ble Mr. Gazdar made his attempt when a coalition party had already been formed under my leadership. Only an all-party government could be formed then, provided its leaders had been unanimously elected. But the Muslim Leaguers did not accept any of the several proposals made to them for reasons known only to them in spite of the fact that except for the European members I had, and continue to have, the support of a majority of the Assembly members. It is true that after becoming Prim - Minister, Sir Ghulam Hussain did indeed ask only the Congress to nominate two Hindu members to the Cabinet. However, as a seasoned politician, he should have realized ‘ that the Congress Could not do so because it had already formed a coalition with the nationalist group of the Muslim League and Haji Maula Bux’s independent group In the circumstances now prevailing, neither we nor the Congress can be of any help to the Muslim League Ministry until it is dissolved and then reconstituted in consultation with, and the consent of, all groups.
"In this regard, I wish to inform the House of a fresh development of which I came to know rather late. The clay the motion of no confidence was moved, some members of the Treasury Benches and a European member appealed to our party to arrive at some settlement with them in the larger interests of Sindh. Keeping this in view and after consulting my party, I called on Sir Ghulam Hussain at his residence And I came to know through reliable sources that Sir Ghulam Hussain and the deputy leader of the League, Khan Bahadur Ayub Khuhro had sent a telegram to the Muslim League High Command, requesting that in the interests of the province and the Muslim masses, the ban on G.M. Syed and his group’s entry into the party should be lifted.
"The response from the High Command reflects its mentality. It is willing to form a coalition with the Congress and the Mahasabha which are against the very creation of Pakistan but will not deal with sincere and principled people who are flesh of their flesh and bone of their bones. These were the telegraphic exchanges, which took place:
From Mr. Jinnah to the Sindh Premier
The motion failed by 30-29 with the European member making the difference. However, before the session ended, Mir Bande Ali Talpur moved a cut motion in which the Government was defeated. However, instead of asking Sir Ghulam Hussain to resign, the Governor summoned Mr. Bands Ali Talpur, had him made a Minister and thus saved the day for the Government! This was the moral rebuff to the League High Command’s attitude towards us. We were penalized while those who abused the League and kept on shifting loyalties were rewarded with Ministries. Perhaps in the eyes of the League leaders, rules and regulations and principles were only for the Progressives while they and their cabinet could do pretty much as they pleased no matter how wrong or how reprehensible.
The Cabinet Mission appointed by the British Government arrived in India on March 24, 1946, to work out the modalities of the country’s independence and to arrive at a mutually agreed interim arrangement for the period of transition. I was called to Delhi in my capacity as the leader of the Congress opposition coalition. I presented my group’s views on all-India problems to the Commission an April 2, 1946. We demanded the right of self-determination for every state together with full autonomy. This was, in our view, the only solution for India’s increasing political problems and communal frenzy. I may explain here that although I had my differences with the League High Command, I was not against its basic objective, Pakistan. That’s why I Supported the Pakistan idea before the Cabinet Mission. I supported even the Muslim League in my speech. However, there was one difference between my standpoint and the League-s- 1 was for an independent India with complete autonomy for the provinces, it meant that there should be two federations, one for the provinces with Hindu majorities and the other for Muslim majority provinces, which two should, for specific purposes, act as a confederation on the basis of equality of members and Ministers. This scheme was, similar to the Cabinet Mission’s Regional Plan.
On April 3, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad made his proposals to the Commission, which included independence, a constituent assembly and the formation of an interim government. In his view, the Congress was totally opposed to the partition of India and stood for a federal government with only three subjects - defense, foreign affairs and communications. Mahatma Gandhi met the Commission in his personal capacity and declared that the Pakistan idea was a bad idea. He said that the two-nation theory was inimical to the interests of the country. He proposed that the first chance for forming a government should be given to Jinnah, and the Congress should be invited to do so only after Jinnah did not accept the offer.
Mr. Jinnah appeared before the Commission on April 4 and told it that, under the circumstances, partition was inevitable. Further talks could be possible only when partition had been agreed upon in principle. The leader of the Liberal League, Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, stressed the need for the immediate formation of an interim government and expressed the fear that partition would lead to grave results.
Parlays with the Cabinet Mission were continuing when Mr. Jinnah summoned a meeting of the legislators who had been elected on League tickets. Around 400 persons participated. He wanted the legislators to pass a resolution demanding that Assam, Bengal, Sindh, Baluchistan, the NWFP and the Punjab should constitute Pakistan. The legislators obliged him. The resolution also called for a separate constituent assembly and warned that if any other solution were forcibly imposed; it would be resisted at all cost. This resolution was against the Pakistan Resolution passed in Lahore in 1 940 which had called for the creation of independent and sovereign States in the north west and east of India in provinces with Muslim majorities. But the Delhi resolution called for the creation of a single/central government. This was not only against the 1940 Resolution but was also against the spirit of the resolutions passed by the Sindh Muslim League Conference in 1938 and the Sindh Assembly on March 3, 1943. The 1 938 and 1 940 resolution can be seen in Appendix 4.
In the meantime, the Cabinet Mission held several meetings with the Congress and the Muslim League on the future of India. On May 12, 1946, both parties held meetings but they could not arrive at a settlement. However, the Cabinet Mission continued its efforts. At last on May 1 6, the Commission came out with a lengthy statement in which it made its final proposal saying that an interim government would be set up in India tinder a)) circumstances. The following is the text of the Cabinet Mission statement:
Cabinet Mission’s Recommendations as to the Basic Form of Constitution
On 16th May 1946 the Cabinet Mission made its own decision and recommended that the constitution should take the following has form:
- There should be a Union of India, embracing both British India and the States, which should deal with the following subjects: Foreign Affairs, Defense and Communications and should have the powers necessary to raise the finance required for the above subjects.
- The Union should have an Executive and a legislature constituted from British India and State representatives, Any question raising a major communal issue in the Legislature should require for its decision a majority of the representatives present and voting of each of the two major communities as well as a majority of all the members present and voting.
- All subjects other than the Union subjects and all residue powers should be vested in the Provinces.
- The States will retain all subjects and powers other than those ceded to the Union.
- Provinces should be free to form groups with executives and legislatures, and each group could determine the provincial subjects to be taken in common.
- The constitutions of the Union and of the groups should contain a provision where by any province could, by a majority vote of its Legislative Assembly, call for reconsideration of the terms of the constitution after an initial period of ten years and at the yearly intervals thereafter.
Having studied the Cabinet Mission proposals carefully, I came to the conclusion that it was a plan for the cremation of Sindh and that Sindh should reject it for several reasons. For one thing, Sindh had been a distinct geo- graphic, historic, cultural, linguistic and social entity and, apart from periodic losses of sovereignty, had always been independent. Sindh and India had been two separate countries down the ages. Sindh had never accepted subjugation lying down. Were the Sindhis prepared to lose their heritage? The Cabinet Mission proposals spelt disaster for the future of Sindh. Nature bad given Sindh everything, fertile soil, the Indus River and its barrages and the nearest air link with Europe in the sub continent. If only we could keep Sindh independent and free of alien intervention, we could transform it into a happy land of plenty. Nothing could have been impossible of achievement if, instead of a selfish leadership, Sindh had honest and sincere people at the helm.
If the Sindh Ministry had been accountable to the people, we could have generated an income of Rs. 400 million from the Port Trust and Customs. Add to this income tax, postal and railway revenues, and Sindh could have had Rs. 1,000 million at its disposal every year, All this money could have been used to mechanize farming, set up industry, send students abroad for higher education, job generation for hundreds of thousands of Sindhis to the exclusion of non Sindhis and for securing employment for Sindhis in the Indian Union. In the event of total independence, Sindh could appoint its own ambassadors, trade agents and maintain its army. All this would have raised Sindh’s political status and enabled its people to prove their mettle in the comity of nations.
All this would have enabled us to raise the standard of living of our people and enabled us to provide a free health cover to them together with free education. For all this, however, total freedom was an essential concomitant together with an end to communalism which, among other things, divided us and rendered us an easy prey to all-alien depredations and slave existence.
Now, the other side of the picture. What would have happened had the Cabinet Mission plan been accepted? Sindh would have had to forget its past, forget about all its development hopes and its national identity, accept a constitution imposed by aliens, surrender its productive resources to them and generally agree to become a Punjabi colony. There would have been the same illiteracy and the same communal strife. The Sindhis had to keep both sides of the picture in mind before deciding which way to go. On the question of Sindh’s independence, I came to the firm conclusion that the province should not join any of the two federations and that it should refuse to contribute a single penny to either, but work out its own constitution and remain independent, I also felt that Sindh should refuse to become a Punjabi colony and resist all attempts aimed at usurping its independence. It was my view that in any union, it should not cede more than defense and foreign affairs, pay its part of the expenses for the two subjects and keep the rest of its resources to itself.
The Muslim communalists of Sindh were nursing the delusion that after union with the Punjab, they would be rid of Hindu hegemony while the latter thought that after accession with India, they would be freed of the unjust Muslim domination However, both groups were forgetting the fact that such a feeling of mistrust and fear arose out of a situation when either the Muslims or the Hindus got more than their due share, and, that in either of the two cases, each conceived for itself that there would not be any economic competition nor any further communal differences between them. But these doubts and fears would have persisted for as long as a third group was amongst us. Once this group was out of our body politics, unity among the Sindhis would have been restored once again. For as long as the Sindhis ruled themselves, Hindu-Muslim unity was never in doubt. Now, whether the third group amongst us is of British origin or comprises Indian Muslims or Punjabi Muslims, they are all the same for us.
It would be unwise for us to hand over the reins of government to others just because there is no unity in our ranks. The coming generations will never forgives us for that. If we hand over the control to other hands, which are stronger than ours, it would amount to setting fire to our house in order to kill some rats.
No plan for the economic development of Sindh would succeed unless the province achieves independence for itself. Once we surrendered our means of production to the others, we would have lost them forever. This was a critical situation and we had very little time left with us. The Sindhis, I felt, had to decide for themselves. Anyhow, when the Congress rejected the Cabinet Mission Plan of May 16, 1946, Mr. Jinnah termed it a violation of the promises made to the Muslim League. Be that as it may, having failed in its interim government plan, the Cabinet Mission left for England on May 29.
Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru was elected the Congress President in place of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad on July 6, 1946. He made it clear at a meeting that the Congress could accept the Cabinet mission plan only to the extent of joining the constituent assembly. It had nothing to do with the rest of the scheme. It said the Congress would be free to do what it wanted to do inside the constituent assembly. He also said that his party would oppose the inclusion of the NWFP in the western sub-federation. Nor would the inclusion of Assam in the eastern sub-federation be acceptable to it. Later, the Muslim League decided to abandon constitutional means and launch a movement. Elections to the constituent assembly were held towards the end of July 1946. A special session of the Sindh Assembly was called for the purpose on July 11th . The Muslim Leaguers came over to us and we had the support of 31 members in the House. We decided to reintroduce a motion of no confidence against the Ministry but the Governor prorogued the Assembly the day it was to take up the motion for discussion. The purpose was nothing but to save their favorite Ministry by the British. It may be added here that Sir Khizar Hayat Tiwana’s Ministry was facing a similar motion in the Punjab where the League was in the opposition. There, the Punjab Governor did not prorogue the House and allowed the discussion on the no-confidence motion to take place. This shows how the British patronized their own agents in the Muslim League.
We wrote against the Sindh Governor’s unconstitutional act to the Governor General and the Secretary of State for India, but justice was denied us. From July to September 1946, the Governor and the bureaucracy did everything in their power to secure a majority for the Muslim League in the Sindh Assembly. On September 5, the Assembly met to approve supplementary grants. All possible methods were used to win over the loyalties of the members but the League still fell one vote short of the required majority. Finally, the day the House was to meet, Speaker Miran Mohammed Shah was persuaded to resign to gain temporary reprieve for the Ministry. This forced us to ask the Deputy Speaker, Miss. Jetty Sipahimalani to do likewise. Now the two side, were locked at 30-30, creating a constitutional deadlock, obliging the Governor to postpone the session. The Ministry failed to have the supplementary grants approved by the House nor could it succeed in getting a new Speaker elected. Under these circumstances, the Governor should have invite us to form a ministry but since he was partisan, it was futile to expect this of him, Later, when some other members also turned against the Ministry, the Governor dissolved the Assembly and ordered fresh elections. All manners of irregularities were resorted to which would have put even Hitler to shame. Some of these irregularities are being detailed below:
- In selected areas officials friendly to the League candidates were appointed who not only helped their favorites but also harassed their opponents.
- Many of our important workers were implicated in false cases under Sections 107 and 110 of the Frontier Crime Regulations, and some of them were jailed.
- Polling stations were changed and set up in the bungalows of the League’s polling agents and such other places and our voters were not allowed to go there.
- Presiding and polling officers handed over ballot boxes and books to the League candidates.
- Ballot papers were torn out of books in large numbers, thumb-marked and handed over to the Leaguers. These ballot papers were cast late at night, long after polling time. The objections made by our polling agents were ignored.
- Section 144, Cr. P.C. was clamped on large parts of Sindh to prevent the opponents of the League from making speeches or canvassing for their candidates. However, the Leaguers were free to do as they pleased.
- Ministers, officials and important League workers were allowed entry into the polling booths where they snatched ballot papers from the voters and cast them for their party.
- The presiding and polling officers were either the supporters of the League candidates or their relatives and chief workers.
- At some polling stations, help was provided to presiding officers and polling officers and League agents through the police, rangers and army personnel.
- Bogus voters and bad characters were brought from other parts of India.
- Where the local people were aware of these tactics and where there were comparatively fewer chances of irregularities, the league’s agents used obstructive tactics under advice from presiding officers, and hundreds of our supporters could not vote.
- Votes of those who had died or were in jail or were otherwise absent were cast despite our protests.
- When bogus voters were detected, caught and presented to the presiding officers, they were let off at the recommendation of the League candidates.
- The Prime Minister, other Ministers and collectors and deputy collectors visited the polling stations and encouraged people to cast bogus votes. Not only that. They did so themselves as did those who were under their influence.
- The League disseminated made-up photographs and cartoons full of malice.
- The League opponents were deprived of their gun licenses and shops.
- The League opponents were deprived of irrigation water and their land allotments were canceled.
- Ballot boxes were opened and bogus votes were cast or those cast in favor of the League opponents were disfigured.
- When votes were being counted, bound bundles of ballot papers were found in the boxes.