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'I would like to see the Punjab, North-West Frontier Province, Sind and Baluchistan amalgamated into a single state... The formation of such a state appears to me to be the final destiny of Muslims'

Mohammed Iqbal In his 'Warning to the West' he had taken Westerners to task for treating God's earth as 'a shot'. Now he acknowledges, by implication which cannot be mistaken, that the 'shop' is important, even that it is the heart of the matter. He does more. He enters the 'shop', though with the most idealistic flourishes. He is prepared to do business, provided it is given another name less redolent of the unsavoury odour of the market-place.

Iqbal goes on to affirm his optimism about the possibility of harmonising the discordancies of Indian polity. He offers a demagogic defence of what he terms 'Communalism' : 'There are communalisms and communalisms... Communalism, in its higher aspect, then, is indispensable to the formation of a harmonious whole in a country like India.' And he endorses what he describes as 'the Muslim demand for the creation of a Muslim India'; and he would like the house to endorse it with all the emphasis at its command. Always bolder than orders, he goes further:

"Personally I would go even further. I would like to see the Punjab, North-West Frontier Province, Sind and Baluchistan amalgamated into a single state. Self government within the British Empire, or without the British Empire, and the formation of a consolidated North-West Indian Muslim state appears to me to be the final destiny of the Muslims at least of North-West India... The proposal was put forward before the Nehru Committee. They rejected it on the ground that, if carried into effect, it would give a very unwieldy state. This is true so far as the area is concerned; in point of population the state contemplated by the proposal would be much less than some of the present Indian provinces. The exclusion of Ambala division and perhaps some districts where non-Muslims predominate, will make it less extensive and more Muslim in population -- so that the exclusion suggested will enable this consolidated state to give a more effective protection to non-Muslims minorities within its area."

He assured the Hindus and the British that this administrative and political reorganisation of India is really in their interests:

"The ideal need not alarm the Hindus or the British. India is the greatest Muslim country in the world. The Life of Islam as a cultural force in this living country very largely depends on its centralisation in a specified territory. This centralisation of the most living portion of the Muslims of India whose military and police service has, notwithstanding unfair treatment from the British, made the British rule possible in this country, will eventually solve the problem of India as well as of Asia. It will intensify their sense of responsibility and deepen their patriotic feeling. Thus, possessing full opportunity of development within the body-politic of India, the North-West Indian Muslims will prove the best defenders of India against a foreign invasion, be that invasion one of ideals [an amiable reference to the danger of Communism] or bayonets... I therefore demand the formation of a consolidated Muslim State in the best interests of India and Islam. For India it means security and peace resulting from an internal balance of power; for Islam an opportunity to rid itself of the stamp that Arabian imperialism was forced to give it, to mobilise its laws, its education, its culture and to bring them into closer contact with its own original spirit and with the spirit of modern times..."

There is no need to quote any more. Here we have the crux of the argument; the seed, which, it is claimed, was to grow up and bear fruit in the shape of Pakistan. How far is this claim valid? How far is it possible to relate the fruit to the seed?

Excerpted from The Ardent Pilgrim, An Introduction to the Life and Works of Mohammed Iqbal by Iqbal Singh, Oxford University Press, 1997, Rs 295, with the publisher's permission. Readers in the US may secure a copy of the book from Oxford University Press Inc USA, 198, Madison Avenue, New York, New York 10016, USA. Tel: 212-726-6000. Fax: 212-726-6440.

Iqbal, continued