The official narrative on the creation of Pakistan credits Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Dr. Mohammad Iqbal—and if the authors are being generous—All India Muslim League as the founding fathers of our country. The alternative narrative on Pakistan’s history lays the ‘blame’ firmly at the door of Gandhi, Nehru, Patel and Indian National Congress. The Subaltern Studies Collective rejects this ‘Great Man Theory’ and brings up ‘Toba Tek Singh’ (a character from Manto’s story) as a focal point for understanding Partition. A lone voice of sanity that loses its rightful place in the pantheon of Pakistan’s history is that of Babasaheb Ambedkar. In 1941, Indian Jurist and Social reformer B. R. Ambedkar published his book “Thoughts on Pakistan”. Comprising 400 pages including fourteen appendices and three maps, the book explored the fissures between Hindus and Muslims, concluding that the establishment of Pakistan would benefit and not harm Indian Hindus. At a time when opinions on Pakistan were sharply divided across party lines, Ambedkar approached the topic with equanimity and with a lawyerly finesse.

In the preface, he wrote, “I have no doubt that the only proper attitude to Pakistan is to study it in all its aspects, to understand its implications and to form an intelligent judgment about it.” He exhorted every Indian to “read a book on Pakistan, if not this, then some other, if he wants to help his country steer a clear path.”

The book is organised in fifteen chapters (and five parts) and one can discern Ambedkar’s legal background from the organisation of the book. He started by explaining the idea of Pakistan as understood by Islam. In this chapter, he went on to describe the Two Nation Theory espoused by Muslim Intelligentsia and that he supported this theory. He took the view that demand for Pakistan was “a characteristic in the biological sense of the term which the Muslim body politic has developed in the same manner as an organism develops a characteristic”. He warned Hindus that attempts to bury the Pakistan Scheme would not bury “the ghost of Pakistan”. He insisted that the Pakistan issue needed to be resolved “here and now, before any fresh initiatives were taken by the British after a Constitution had been framed.” He undertook a forensic examination of the Lahore Resolution and raised relevant questions about the ‘demands’ contained within.

He was perhaps the first major politician to question the ‘vagueness’ in the Lahore resolution, particularly about federal or confederate status of a future state. He also pointed out the ‘state’ versus ‘states’ lacuna that was pointed out by Bengali politicians (especially Abul Hashim) in 1946. Later in this section, he delved upon the efforts of British administrators to combine the provinces of Punjab (of which NWFP was a part till 1901) and Sindh. Ambedkar went on to demolish Hindu sentimental objections against Pakistan that were putatively based in geography and history.

Subsequently, he presented Hindus a series of arguments to convince them to concede Pakistan. This section constituted nearly three-fourths of the book. He argued that establishment of Pakistan would be in the best interests of the Hindus as well as that of other minorities living in Hindustan. He opined that carving out Pakistan would be a good riddance for India, as otherwise a united India would be reduced to the status of “Sick man of Asia”. Ambedkar criticised Hindus and All India Congress for taking an unscientific approach towards Pakistan and their inability to realise the catastrophe that a United India would become. Almost seven years before partition actually took place, he predicted that Punjab and Bengal would have to be divided along communal lines during the creation of Pakistan.

He responded to the most important question raised by Hindus against India’s partition—about defence of India’s borders. At that time, a vast majority of British Indian army comprised of Muslim troops. Dr. Ambedkar noted, “The realist must take note of the fact that the Musalman look upon the Hindus as Kaffirs, who deserve more to be exterminated than protected. The realist must take note of the fact that while the Musalman accepts the European as his superior, he looks upon the Hindu as his inferior. It is doubtful how far a regiment of Musalmans will accept the authority of their Hindu officers if they were placed under them. The realist must take note that of all the Musalmans, the Musalman of the North-West is the most disaffected Musalman, in his relation with the Hindus. The realist must take note that the Punjabi Muslaman is fully susceptible to the propaganda in favour or pan-Islamism. Taking note of all these considerations, there can be very little doubt that he would be a bold Hindu, who would say that in any invasion by Muslim countries, the Muslims in the Indian army will be loyal and there is no danger of their going over to the invader”.

In financial terms, he explained how the areas that were supposed to become Pakistan contributed very little to the central exchequer but were the main recruiting ground for the army. He noted that the centre spent 52 crores out of total revenues of 121 crores in the Pakistan areas for defence purposes. Thus, it made no sense for Hindus to continue this arrangement and to oppose the creation of a separate Pakistan. Ambedkar supported the idea of Pakistan not because he considered it to ultimately true, but because of political ramifications in case of a United India and because of “communal aggression” shown by Muslims. For Ambedkar, Muslim intentions were clear. They wanted to reduce the Hindus from a majority in India to a minority in real terms, while at the same time cutting into the political rights of other minorities.

Dr. Ambedkar concluded that the only remedy to put an end to the limitless Muslim political appetite was to arrive at a settlement—Pakistan.