- Secularism vs. Sharia – The Muhajir Experience
- Secularism vs. Sharia in the Mughal Empire
- Secularism vs. Sharia in Karachi
- Muhajir Genocide – The Woes of ‘Multiculturalism’
- Muhajir Genocide in the Mughal Empire, 1739
- Muhajir Genocide in Karachi, 1965 and 1992-5
- Muhajir Identity during the Fragmentation of the Mughal Empire
- The Koh-i-Noor of the Muhajir People
- The Formation of Successor States: Once a Mughal, Always a Mughal
- Mughals (Muhajirs) and the Gujaratis
- Mughals (Muhajirs) and the Sindhis
- Mughals (Muhajirs) and the Punjabis
- Mughals (Muhajirs) and the Pashtuns
- The Indian Rebellion of 1857
- Muhajirs Martyrs and Punjabi-Pashtun Puppets
- Historical Reasons for Punjabi-Pashtun Domination in the Pakistan Armed Forces
- After the Mughals: A Muhajir Renaissance
- The Adoption of Political Secularism
- The Hindi-Urdu Language Dispute
- Aligarh Muslim University
- The Pakistan Movement: A Modern Muhajir Identity
- The All-India Muslim League
- The Pakistan Movement (Muhajirs) and the Sindhis
- The Pakistan Movement (Muhajirs) and the Punjabis
- The Pakistan Movement (Muhajirs) and the Pashtuns
- Conclusion: History Calls for the Establishment of Sindh-2
- Mughal Empire to MQM: An unbroken connection
- History Calls for the Establishment of Sindh-2
We, the Muhajirs of Pakistan, are the direct descendants of the loyal subjects of the Mughal Empire and its successor states. The cultivated Muslims once found at the imperial courts of India are now to be found in the form of Pakistan’s only modern and secular political party: the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). [Translation: United People’s Movement]
Despite the final dissolution of the Mughal Empire in 1857, the Mughal spirit stayed alive inside our hearts and souls. We started looking East and West, and we saw a way to reconstitute our Mughal entity. Our hope was not lost, even after 100 years of British subjugation. Our wish was simply to live as a free people in our own land, a modern resurrection of the Mughal Empire.
In a quest to preserve – but also modernise – our inherited Mughal culture, we created Pakistan. Inspired by the democratic ideals of the Urdu-speaking elites and thinkers, millions of Indian Muslims migrated East and West to the new state. But there was one problem. The inhabitants of the land (the Punjabis, Sindhis, and Pashtuns) did not share the secular, progressive and liberal vision of the migrants. Our problems started the day after we created Pakistan. What began as a pursuit of something akin to the ‘American dream’ became the Muhajirs’ worst nightmare.
I now present to you a decisive chronological account of Muhajir history spanning from Akbar to Altaf.
2. Muhajir’s Glorious Mughal Empire, destroyed by harsh Sharia
The Muhajirs learnt from experience that glory and wealth follows a liberal and secular legal system, and chaos follows the imposition of harsh religious laws.
2.1 Secularism vs. Sharia in the Mughal Empire
Urdu-Speaking (proto-) Muhajirs built the Taj Mahal and countless exquisite buildings and monuments; we fought and many times defeated the British invaders with generals such as Tipu Sultan; we produced some of the greatest art, music, dance, jewellery, literature and poetry the world has ever seen; and in the good times we extended liberal and secular rule which made India by far the wealthiest country on earth of its time.
Urdu Speaking Muhajirs built the Taj Mahal, arguably the most beautiful building on earth.
Then we lost it all. The Emperor Aurangzeb seized power in 1658 after executing his brother Prince Dara Shikoh, the liberal eldest son and appointed successor of Emperor Shah Jahan. Aurangzeb turned away from the secular ideology of Akbar (ruled 1556-1605) which had brought glory. Between 1556 and Aurangzeb’s death in 1707, there were four Mughal Emperors (Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb).Yet after Aurangzeb, there were eleven Mughal Emperors in 53 years (1707-1760).
Akbar’s rule paved the way for pluralism, liberalism and secularism. All religions were allowed to be practised relatively freely. Akbar himself founded a syncretistic religious tradition of his own (Din-e-Elahi), seeking to combine human rationality, Sufism (Islamic mysticism), and Indic philosophies. This was certainly extraordinary for an era that saw the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition in Europe. Above all, Akbar’s government granted personal freedoms, with limited State intervention in the private lives of individuals.In contrast to Akbar’s rule, Aurangzeb created the conditions for the destruction of the Mughal Empire with his imposition of harsh sharia. Aurangzeb’s Islamism ended up breaking the all-India economic ties that had strengthened the Mughals. His greedy successors grew up illiterate in anything except Theology, and many spent their entire time seeking hedonistic pleasure and killing anyone who challenged their rule. Aurangzeb outlawed alcohol, gambling, narcotics, music and dancing. Such ‘terrorist’ behaviour led to chronic consequences. Whenever alcohol is banned, criminal networks start making money by bootlegging. Whenever gambling is banned, private gambling houses are set up by gangsters who often start bribing local law enforcement officials to keep their gambling dens open – this in turn starts corrupting the government. Whenever narcotics are banned, brutal gangs start dealing drugs by exploiting innocent children (it is, thus, better to regulate the use of hard narcotics and treat it as an illness). Whenever music and dancing is banned and men and women are kept separate, the natural desire of men and women to congregate is driven underground and vast numbers of people start living secret double lives. Criminal gangs became rich due to Aurangzeb’s policies. Social structures were diminished and Hindus/Sikhs were persecuted, which led to a fatal weakening of the Mughal Empire. After Aurangzeb, the Mughal economy suffered due to 3 decades of calamitous wars of succession. There were 6 Emperors in the 12 years after Aurangzeb, and there was permanent war. Mughal Armies were not being paid on time, the soldiers were being mistreated, useless sycophants were being promoted as generals, and nobody wants to fight for a greedy king.
2.2 Secularism vs Sharia in Karachi
In recent history, from 1947 to 1977, alcohol was legal for public consumption in all Karachi, Hyderabad and Khairpur (and banned in all other areas of Pakistan). The Muhajir presence in these cities allowed liberal values to thrive. A blind eye was turned to narcotics, and there was little usage. Nightclubs and bars were open all over the city, and Karachiites could be served alcohol at countless street-side shops and restaurants. Entertainment was thus widely available. Horseracing, for example, took place at Karachi Racecourse and gambling was seen as a non-issue. These were the most prosperous, safest and happiest days of Karachi since 1947.However, after the Sindhi supremacist leader Z.A. Bhutto banned alcohol and horseracing in Karachi, and the Punjabi Islamist Zia ul-Haq imposed further harsh sharia laws, the city immediately changed and has been deteriorating since.
Currently, the Sindh PPP-Police takes protection money from illegal alcohol shops and illegal gambling dens. Massive criminal gangs are making fortunes and killing others to keep control of their business. Drug usage and heroin addiction has exploded. Karachi was once a city in which it was unthinkable for anyone to be attacked with a gun, yet today gun crime is endemic.
3. Muhajir Genocide and the Woes of ‘Multiculturalism’
In the midst of the clamour on ‘British values’, and an endless ‘culture war’ in the United States between liberals and conservatives, we find Western nations cracking down on ‘multiculturalism’. This is a postmodern project in which all cultures – progressive, enlightened or backward – are deemed equal. Barbarian cultures throughout the ages have sought to pillage and slaughter richer and more civilised cultures. And the experience of the Muhajirs of the East is no different. Our people have experienced successive genocides, or ‘Operation Clean-ups’, for our self-made wealth, standing and cultural refinement.
3.1 Muhajir Genocide in the Mughal Empire, 1739
After Aurangzeb’s attempts to Islamise the Mughal Empire led to an increase in crime (see Section 2), the King of Iran, Nader Shah, decided to use this opportunity to invade the Mughal Empire to his East and weaken it, so that he could then go and attack the Turks to his West. In 1739, Nadir Shah bribed the Pashtun tribesmen to give him free passage through the Khyber Pass, and swept through the Punjab on his way to Delhi.The Fall of Delhi in 1739 is the greatest tragedy in the history of the Muhajir people. Nadir Shah defeated the Mughals in less than 3 hours at the Battle of Karnal. The most valiant general on that day was Saadat Ali Khan, the first Nawab of Awadh, a Shia Muslim. Saadat Ali Khan was captured and killed by the Iranians. He died trying to protect our forefathers in Delhi. The day after, Nadir Shah’s Iranian troops entered Delhi and began a massacre which lasted for days. Men, women and children were slaughtered without mercy. A contemporary source, the Tazkira, wrote:
“Here and there some opposition was offered, but in most places people were butchered unresistingly. The Persians laid violent hands on everything and everybody. For a long time, streets remained strewn with corpses, as the walks of a garden with dead leaves and flowers. The town was reduced to ashes.”
Nadir Shah’s Persian troops did not ask who was Shia or Sunni. They simply slaughtered every Mughal they could find, and burnt most of Delhi. Here, we find cultural affinity being of more importance than theological affinity. It is likely that MQM’s Muhajirs today are the only cultural group of Muslim heritage in the world who not divide themselves along religious or sectarian lines.
The streets of Delhi flowed with Muhajir blood
3.2 Muhajir Genocide in Karachi, 1965 and 1992-5
In Karachi’s recent history, we see a similar story repeating itself. In 1965, Pashtun terrorists, led by Gohar Ayub under the ultimate control of Ayub Khan (Sunni) and Z.A. Bhutto (Shia), massacred scores of Muhajirs and left thousands homeless. Like Nadir Shah, they did not differentiate between Sunni and Shia. Like Nadir Shah, they simply killed any Muhajir they could find. After this massacre, no Punjabi Sunni or Shia army officer is recorded to have resigned in protest, which means that they supported it. When Z.A. Bhutto put in place a quota system to expel Muhajirs from Pakistan’s Civil Service, he, again, did not make any distinction between Muhajir Sunnis and Shias, but simply expelled them all. There is no record of any Punjabi Sunni or Shia making any protest at this outrageous discrimination.
Even worse, Muhajirs were massacred in their thousands in a state-sponsored genocide known as ‘Operation Clean-up’ (1992-5). This has had a long-lasting impact on the Muhajir people and was carried out under the governments of Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif. Yet again the killers did not differentiate between Shia and Sunni, despite their clear theological biases. Instead, they simply targeted any Muhajir MQM worker they could find. Nawaz Sharif is Sunni yet he had no mercy on the Sunni Muhajirs, and Benazir Bhutto was Shia, yet she had no mercy on the Muhajir Shias. Time and time again, history has shown that we Muhajirs can rely only on ourselves. Our Muhajir identity is beyond religious creed.
4. Muhajir Identity during the Fragmentation of the Mughal Empire
4.1 The Koh-i-Noor of the Muhajir People
After seizing Delhi in 1739, the Iranians levied a monumental fine of Rs.2 crore on the people of Delhi, of all faiths and sects. The sum was so great that there was no tax levied in Iran for 3 years afterwards. In addition, the Iranians seized the Mughal Emperor’s Peacock Throne. The Peacock Throne cost twice as much to make as the Taj Mahal, as it was fully encrusted with the biggest diamonds and rubies on earth. Today, the Peacock Throne could well have been worth more than $2 billion. (After he returned to Iran, Nader Shah was killed and the Peacock Throne was broken into pieces and lost forever.) The second greatest prize taken by Nadir Shah was the Koh-i-Noor, then the biggest diamond on earth (793 carats uncut). The most expensive diamond ever sold was the Pink Star (59 carats cut) sold for $88m in 2013. This means that the Koh-i-Noor diamond, the most legendary jewel in the history of mankind, is worth several hundred million dollars. Today the Koh-i-Noor, the prize treasure of the Muhajir people, sits in the middle of the Queen of England’s coronation crown. (Note: there is no point in feeling especial bitterness at the actions of previous Empires. After all, let us recognise that the Mughals themselves built an Empire which was resented by some).
4.2 The Formation of Successor States: Once a Mughal, Always a Mughal
The proto-Muhajirs of Hyderabad, Oudh (Awadh), Bengal and other Muslim Princely States still felt a de facto cultural allegiance to the now-powerless Mughal Emperor in Delhi. For this reason, these newly self-created rulers (Nawabs of Bengal, Awadh, etc.) did not declare themselves Sovereigns, even though the Mughal Emperor in Delhi had no control over them whatsoever. The Nizam of Hyderabad, for example, used to issue his own currency not in his own name, but in the name of the Mughal Emperor. This shows that, despite the fragmentation of the Mughal Empire, the Muhajir people always had a strong desire to keep thinking of themselves as one people. This Muhajir solidarity, however, did not apply to the people of Sindh, Punjab and Pakhtunistan.
4.3 Mughals (Muhajirs) and the Gujaratis
Alongside the formation of Princely States, other areas fell directly into the hands of European powers: Gujarat – the birthplace of Aurangzeb himself – was for a while contested by Hindus, but was rapidly seized by the Portuguese and then the British. Due to the strong Mughal presence in Gujarat, the Gujaratis always had a deep connection with the Urdu language and the Urdu-speaking people. There are, thus, clear historical reasons for why many of Karachi’s Gujaratis (e.g. Memons) today are loyal supporters of the MQM. Indeed, Mohammed Ali Jinnah (founder of Pakistan) hailed from a Muhajir (migrant) Gujarati trading family that moved to British Karachi for economic reasons in the 1860s. If he were alive today, he would have surely allied himself with the MQM.
4.4 Mughals (Muhajirs) and the Sindhis
In terms of language, shared ties and culture, the Sindhis had no connection with the Mughals. The agricultural area was not utilised, the people were ruled savagely by the Amirs and vicious landlords (such as the Bhutto Family), barely a single building of note was constructed, and there was almost total illiteracy amongst Sindhi Muslims. The Sindhis’ jealously guarded their semi-Aboriginal culture. Even at the inception of Pakistan in 1947, observers noted that the Sindhis hated Muhajir arrivals in Sindh, and were particularly jealous of the Muhajir presence in Karachi.
The Punjabis had a deeply held hatred for the Mughals because they felt culturally, linguistically, and militarily inferior. This inferiority complex can be viewed in their attitude to this day. The tweet below by a Punjabi “liberal” is quite revealing. Condemning Nawaz Sharif’s acceptance of Narendra Modi’s invitation to his Delhi inauguration, Hamdani cries Nawaz Sharif was like a “small raja attending the court of the Delhi [Mughal] emperor”. This exposes centuries of inherited Punjabi hatred for the Mughal Empire. It would be unthinkable for a Muhajir to use such a phrase, because the Mughal Emperor was our Emperor, and we insisted on staying under the Mughal Emperor even when the Nawabs and Nizams of Awadh, Bengal, and Hyderabad had become de facto independent.
No doubt the Sikhs would argue that they themselves had been severely mistreated as well in the past. However, as a result of the Sikh total domination over the Punjabi Muslims, a deep hatred grew between the two.
The power of Runjit Singh was so great, that he threatened Dost Mohammed (the Afghan King) in 1834. As a result of Ranjit Singh’s advance, Dost Mohammed fled from Peshawar Province (what is today KPK/FATA), without even fighting the Sikh Army. This is how KPK/FATA was lost by Afghanistan and absorbed into Punjab. For 15 years, Dost Mohammed dreamt of taking back the province of Peshawar, by far the wealthiest area of Afghanistan. However, in 1849, the British annexed Punjab (including the KPK/FATA area) and Dost Mohammed could no longer even dream of taking Peshawar back. This is how KPK/FATA ended up in Pakistan. It had always been a natural part of Afghanistan, sharing language, culture, customs, and tribal affiliation and much more with their fellow Afghans. The Pashtuns made virtually no buildings of any note, left almost no literature whatsoever, and created only a legacy of blood feuds which kept the entire Pashtun area permanently at war with itself. There was no connection with Mughal high culture or learning. Although the Mughals had launched their invasions of India from Afghanistan centuries earlier, these connections had long been lost, and Mughals had adopted their own created language – Urdu – a completely different language to Pashto.
The Pashtuns looked on the Mughal as enemies, because the Mughals kept them away from looting and pillaging India. In 1849, the Sikh Empire was fragmenting internally. After the death of Runjit Singh in 1839, the Sikhs started a civil war. When the Sikhs started attacking and looting British held territory, the British were compelled to annex Punjab (including present day KPK/FATA) in 1849. The Punjabi Muslims and Pashtuns welcomed the arrival of the British as it relived them from the harsh rule of the Sikhs, who had total control and possession of Punjab/KPK/FATA area. Indeed, the Punjabis and the Pashtuns are the only communities in all of India who did not resist the British takeover at all. Even the Baloch- Sindhi tribes made a stand against the British in 1843 at the Battle of Meenee – although this pathetic effort was wiped away easily by the British, at least they tried. The Pashtuns and Punjabis had no deep intrinsic desire for freedom and autonomy, so they did not fight at all.
5. The Indian Rebellion of 1857
Note 1: Many brave Hindus participated in the 1857 Mutiny. However, for the purposes of this essay, I will focus on the participation of the proto-Muhajir fighters, and the fighters of present-day Pakistan.
Note 2: At that time, the British called the Sikhs “Punjabis”, and they called the Muslims in Punjab territory (then including the present-day KPK/FATA region) “Afghans”. It was only in 1901 that the British separated the Pashtun area of Punjab to create the North West Frontier Province.
The British came to India to trade, and recruited local sepoys to protect their warehouses
Muhajirs from Delhi, Bihar and the Urdu-speaking regions of Bengal, and Bhopal joined in the rebellion. The British were in total disarray. The telegraphs were cut, and after years of peace, the European soldiers were not hardened fighters. Britain was in peril of losing its prized Imperial possession, from which they were extracting monumentally colossal amounts of capital – money which was in turn being used to transform London and other British urban centres.The only reason the British held India, is because the Punjabis and Pashtuns stayed loyal to their British masters. However, even this loyalty was not out of goodwill, but spite. The Punjabi-Pashtun soldiers hated the Mughal Empire, and would rather be subjugated under the British than to see the Muhajirs living in freedom. If the Punjabi-Pashtuns had rebelled against the British, they would have certainly expelled them from India and we would have gained our freedom. As soon as the Mutiny was declared, the Punjabis and the Pashtuns rushed to join the British Army. They seized fugitive Mutineers and handed them to the British. They welcomed the British Army and officials with “great enthusiasm”. One British journalist wrote that his four Punjabi servants disappeared one morning, and by evening he discovered they had joined the British Indian Army, so they could go and kill the proto-Muhajir freedom fighters.
Britain had only conquered (Sikh-ruled) Punjab (including the KPK/FATA region) in 1849, so they had no idea how the Punjabi-Pashtuns would react. It became very clear that the Punjabi-Pashtuns were the most loyal servants of the British, beyond their wildest imagination:
“When once it was clear that the Punjab was not a source of danger, it became equally clear that it was a mine of strength.”
The Punjabi Muslims and Pashtuns marched to Delhi under the British, who offered terms of surrender to the Muhajir fighters on August 30 1857. The Muhajirs refused to accept the surrender of Delhi. In early September 1857, the British attacked Delhi. The Punjabi-Pashtun coalition rampaged through the streets of Delhi, killing any Muhajir they could find. The streets of Delhi were once again drenched with Muhajir blood, and they did not ask who is Sunni or Shia. Once Delhi had been captured, Punjabi-Pathans fired artillery into Muhajir neighbourhoods, raped Muhajir women, and looted as much as they could. This was among the first Operation Clean-ups of Muhajirs conducted by Punjabi and Pashtun barbarians. (See Section 3 for more information on Muhajir genocide.)
A British observer was astounded to see “Affghans” (i.e. Muslims from present-day Punjab/KPK/FATA), who had only been conquered by the British less than a decade earlier, now sitting in the palace of the Mughal Emperor, covered in Mughal (Muhajir) blood and counting what they had looted from the Mughals and their loyal subjects. Many of the Pashtun soldiers were from the Yusufzai tribe, savages from the frontiers of the Mughal territory, now frolicking in the Emperor’s Durbar. There could be no greater disgrace in Muhajir history than this sight.
On 20 September 1857, the British, along with Punjabi-Pashtun coalition troops, captured the Mughal Emperor and his two grandsons, Princes Mirza Mughal and Bakht Khan. They sliced off the heads of the two princes and presented them to the old Mughal Emperor on a plate. After the Fall of Delhi in 1739, this was the most devastating day in Muhajir history, and it signified the end of the Mughal Emperors who had ruled India for centuries. The Emperor was then sent into exile in Rangoon (Burma), where he died a broken man. Whilst the Punjabis and Pathans celebrated in the Red Fort, the Muhajir heart was broken.
After the Mutiny, the British expelled all the Mutineers from UP, Awadh, Bengal, etc., and decided that they only wanted the loyal Punjabis (i.e. Sikhs, Punjabi Muslims, and Pashtuns) and Ghurkhas in the new British India Army. The Sikhs were considered the best disciplined of these soldiers. The Punjabi Muslims were seen as least hostile to the British, primarily because the British had just freed them from Sikh control. The Pashtun soldiers were considered very brave, and it was noted that they hated other Indians, including Muhajirs. The British would have kept more Pashtun soldiers, but they were worried that the only external threat to India came from Pashtun tribesmen, so they did not want to keep too many Pashtuns.
5.2 Historical Reasons for Punjabi-Pashtun Domination in the Pakistan Armed Forces
6. After the Mughals: A Muhajir Renaissance
6.1 The Adoption of Political Secularism
The longing of the proto-Muhajirs to liberate themselves from the British did not mean that they wished to return to absolute monarchy system under the Mughals – they recognised that absolute monarchy system was what had made them weak in the first place. Instead, during the Mutiny, they tried to institute a primitive form of democratic government with the Mughal Emperor there as a figurehead. The Mutineers didn’t take orders from the 80-year-old Mughal Emperor. They did not reintroduce any old Arabic/Persian titles – instead they used English titles. Just like under the British system, petitions were officially presented to the Emperor, but decisions were made by the “Court”, a collection of Mutiny commanders and bureaucrats, led by the “Seketur” (Secretary). The Mutineers even filled the British Sergeant-Major positions vacated by the expelled British. The Mutineers did not select a “Mahomedan” government. As a historian of Muhajir history, it is clear that this was the beginning of a brand of Muhajir secularism, similar to the secularism of our Jewish/Israeli friends. The MQM’s political thought is certainly a continuation and further evolution of this trend. Although these Mughal Muhajirs failed in their rebellion, their modern approach to government gave birth to Quaid Altaf Hussain’s philosophy of ‘Realism and Practicalism’.
What the Muhajirs did after the Indian Mutiny was revealing of the depth and resilience of the Mughal character. Our Mughal Empire was dissolved, and the British were very angry at the Muhajirs for being the ringleaders of the Mutiny, and they had a preference for the Hindus. It is also the case that the Hindus were better educated, wealthier, and more hard-working. The Mughal education system had focused on Theology, Urdu, Arabic, and ignored Maths and Science. This was because fundamentalist Mullahs, such as Shah Waliullah Dehlvi and Ahmad Sirhindi, influenced the Mughals to believe that these subjects were against Islam.
Enter Sir Syed Ahmed Khan. Sir Syed Ahmad Khan (1817-1898) was born in Delhi into a noble Mughal family, yet joined the British Indian Civil Service. He was one of the earliest Indian Muslims to learn English. Sir Syed observed the Indian Mutiny first hand. He rejected the widespread British theory that the Muhajir noble had started the Mutiny in order to restore the Mughal Emperor to absolute monarchy. Instead, he suggested that the Muhajirs felt threatened by the aggressive British expansion and their lack of tolerance for their Urdu-speaking culture.
Before the Mutiny, Sir Syed had tended towards glorifying the Mughal culture. However, Mirza Ghalib, the legendary poet, convinced him to recognise that the Mughal system had created a society that was incapable of productivity required to succeed in the modern world. Sir Syed came to the conclusion that, in order to progress, the Muhajirs needed to adopt advanced educational systems and a more scientific way of thinking.
6.2 The Hindi-Urdu Language Dispute
The Muhajirs were shell-shocked after the 1857 Mutiny, and the harsh British reaction afterwards. Sir Syed galvanised them to protect their rights, and to ensure the continuation of the Muhajir Mughal people. The first struggle in this regard was the preservation of the Urdu language. The Hindu-Urdu struggle of the mid- to late-19th century was understandable from both perspectives. The Hindus felt liberated by the British after centuries of Mughal rule. They wanted to express themselves in their own Hindu languages, as was their right. The Hindus argued that they were in the majority, and it should be their language which should be the official language, and this is not an entirely unreasonable perspective. However, the Muhajirs felt that their culture would be lost if they could no longer communicate in Urdu. The Urdu language shaped our culture, customs and outlook on life and being forced to use Hindi was unacceptable.
6.3 Aligarh Muslim University
Just like Jinnah appointed a Hindu (J. Mandal) as the first Law Minister of Pakistan, and an Ahmadi (Zafrullah Khan) as the first Foreign Minister, Sir Syed made sure to emphasise the MAO College was not a Jihadi institution. The first Chancellor of MAO College was an unveiled Muslim woman (the Begum of Bhopal) – something unthinkable for Muslim society at that time. The first Principal (in 1883) was Theodore Beck, a 24-year old British scholar.
MAO College produced a broad class of educated Muslims, who then realised that, were the British ever to leave India, they would be overwhelmed by the better educated and far more numerous Hindus. The Muhajirs created All-India Muslim League, to campaign to preserve their rights as a minority in India. This urge was a direct continuation of the desire of the Mughal Muhajir people to continue to express their identity as a unique community. It was nothing to do with a desire to create a new Jihadi state. This can be seen by the leaders of the AIML, as well as the fact that the bulk of the AIML intelligentsia were Aligarh University graduates.
7. The Pakistan Movement: A Modern Muhajir Identity
7.1 The All-India Muslim League
The AIML was founded in Lucknow in 1906 by a group of Indian Muslims. The first President was Aga Khan III, an Old Etonian and graduate of Cambridge University, and Head of the Shia Ismaili sect, who led a historic delegation to Lord Minto (Viceroy) which established the principle of separate Hindu/Muslim electorates. Jinnah, a pork-eating and alcohol-drinking unobservant Shia Muslim (Ithna Ishari sect) lawyer from Bombay, joined AIML in 1920. The AIML existed only because of the support of millions of “Muhajirs”.It should be noted that Jinnah’s lack of religious observance was well known in society. His wife, born a Parsee, was renowned for wearing the shortest dresses in India. However, the Muhajirs simply did not care. Jinnah was very close to Muhajirs such as the Raja of Mahmudabad, a religious man of the Shia sect. In fact, the Raja was one of Jinnah’s biggest financial supporters.
However, as I have explained in the article entitled: “Without Muhajirs, Pakistan would not exist“, the Muhajirs’ desire to protect their rights as a community was not shared by the Punjabis, Sindhis or Pashtuns. In 1937, Jinnah/AIML achieved massive success amongst the Muhajirs: the AIML won 106 seats, making it the 2nd biggest all-India party after Nehru’s Congress Party. However, AIML was totally rejected in Punjab (2/175 seats, both Ahmadis), Sindh (0/60 seats) and NWFP (0/50 seats). This made perfect sense, given the historical hatred of the Punjabis and Pashtuns for the Muhajir Mughal Empire. It didn’t matter what Jinnah said or did, just like it makes no difference what Altaf Hussain says or does. Jinnah won zero seats in these areas for exactly the same reason that Altaf Hussain and MQM win zero Pakistan National Assembly seats in these areas today.
7.2 The Pakistan Movement (Muhajirs) and the Sindhis
The Sindhi Muslims realised that if they joined the Pakistan movement, they could expel the Sindhi Hindus who controlled the entire Sindh economy, and become the masters of Sindh. Today, Sindhi overlords such as the Bhutto family behave like the Ameers of Sindh before the British conquest. They would not have such powers if Sindh had remained within India – the Sindhi Muslims would have been under the total economic and security control of the Hindus.
7.3 The Pakistan Movement (Muhajirs) and the Punjabis
7.4 The Pakistan Movement (Muhajirs) and the Pashtuns
The Pashtuns did not want to join Pakistan at all because, led by Pashtun nationalist Bacha Khan, they hated the Punjabis and did not want to be used as cannon fodder and strategic depth experiments, which is exactly what happened to them. For more detailed background on Bacha Khan’s principled opposition to Pakistan, read my article: “Bacha Khan Baba: Pakhtuns first, Pakistan last”
8. Conclusion: History Calls for the Establishment of Sindh-2
8.1 Mughal Empire to MQM: An unbroken connectionWhen the Mughal Empire broke up in 1738, the Muhajirs in the Nawab and Nizam territories demanded to remain Mughal citizens. When the Mughal Empire was dissolved in 1857, the Muhajirs began a renaissance and transformed towards becoming a modern, secular, liberal, scientific-oriented people. When the British were leaving, the Muhajirs agitated for a separate state, even when the Punjabis/Sindhis/Pathans were totally opposed to Jinnah/AIML. When the Muhajirs moved to Pakistan, we were the only community that did not create any ethnic-based party. When we realised that discrimination against us would continue, Altaf Hussain bhai emerged from within us and founded MQM. Altaf Hussain received overwhelming support from the Muhajir people. This is the unbroken link between the Mughal Empire and MQM.
8.2 History calls for the Establishment of Sindh-2
The Muhajirs, the descendants of the Mughals, came to Pakistan and moved almost entirely to Karachi and nearby towns. Although we came from all over present-day India, we have united as one people, under one language, and we overwhelmingly support the MQM. This is a direct legacy of the Mughal Empire.
Now our objective is to achieve the creation of a separate province in Pakistan, Sindh-2, so that we will no longer be governed by the Sindhis who exhibit an unguarded hatred of us. Muhajirs are excluded from the Karachi Police, Sindh Civil Service. Karachi provides 94% of Sindh taxes and gets hardly anything back. We have no control over our education system, infrastructure, healthcare system, power/energy sector, and the results are plain for anyone to see. Due to ancient hatreds and Sindhi/Punjabi mismanagement, we are being held back from achieving our tremendous potential as a people.In order to prosper, we must look into our history and see what led to our successes and failures. Whenever, Muhajirs drifted (for example, under Aurangzeb) towards sharia rule, we failed. Whenever we held together with a secular, liberal outlook, we succeeded. Those who hate Muhajirs have never distinguished between Muhajir Sunnis or Shias – a Muhajir is a Muhajir. We are one. Any Muhajir who expects their co-sects to assist them will be proven to be wrong, as history has shown from 1739 to the present day.
The last Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah, in exile in Rangoon, wrote a poem in which he wept that he had not even two square yards of his own to bury himself:
kitnā hé bad-naseeb Zafar
dafn ke liye do gaz zamīn bhī na milī kū-e-yār méń
Look how ill-fated Zafar is
He does not even have two square yards to bury himself in the land of his loved ones
We Muhajirs have travelled from the shattered Mughal Empire to create our own homeland in Pakistan. As has always been the case throughout history, we have been treated with hatred by the other non-Mughal ethnic groups of Pakistan. But what we have is our only 2 Gazz left. And yet the barbarians threaten us once more, as the Taliban are setting up bases in Karachi, with the full support of the Sindhi-Punjabi establishment.
Pakistan, in Muhajir eyes, was meant to be created as a homeland for all the Muslims of India. However, the Punjabi, Sindhi and Pathan inhabitants of the land did not share this view. Even in 1950, 3 years after parrtition, more than 3,000 Muhajirs were crossing from India into Sindh every day. This is a rate of over 1 million per year. The non-Muhajirs were alarmed at this, so they shut down the border. The Sindhis wanted Pakistan only to remove the dominant Sindhi Hindus, but part of the bargain was that Muhajirs would come in. The Sindhi dream is now to remove the Muhajirs.History is repeating itself. Just as we were threatened in the past, we are being threatened now. I know that, following the secular formula set down by the MQM’s founder and leader Altaf Hussain, we will achieve our aim of autonomy in the Sindh-2 province. If we truly wish for Sindh-2, it is not a dream.