Haroon and Jinnah By Sharif al Mujahid - Wednesday 27th April 2011

FROM 1937 onwards, Abdullah Haroon was Jinnah’s man in Sindh just as M.A.H. Ispahani was in Bengal and Ibrahim Rahimtoola in Bombay. But Haroon, who died on April 27, 1942, had a tremendous edge.
Ispahani, an aristocrat to his fingertips, characteristically moved in the highest echelons. In contrast, Haroon, who had successfully gone through the “rags-to-riches’ process, was at home with the harsh ground realities at the lowest tier.
After the electoral defeat of the two top leaders of the Sind United Party early in 1937, Haroon chose to face the music. The emerging political scenario was obviously unpredictable, but he chose to undertake the daunting task of canalising the minuscule Sindhi political elite towards playing its due part in all-India politics.
He had the vision to see Sindh’s problems in an all-India context, and to establish organic linkages between Sindh and the larger pan-Indian Muslim community, which was politically encompassed by the All India Muslim League (AIML).
He, therefore, joined the AIML in 1937, built up a rapport with its top leadership in Lucknow and organised it at various tiers in the province during 1937-38, to the point that he was able to successfully organise the First Sind Provincial Muslim League Conference in Karachi in October 1938.
In terms of the themes discussed and the participants’ standing, it was an all-India moot, except for its nomenclature. Presided over by Jinnah, a galaxy of Muslim leaders from Punjab to Hyderabad (Deccan), from Bombay to Bengal took part.
Here, Haroon who was chairman, Reception Committee, called the shots. Indeed, his welcome address, uncharacteristically radical and militant, set the tone for the conference. Unless adequate safeguards and protection for minorities were duly provided for, declared Haroon, Muslims would have no alternative but “to seek their salvation in their own way in an independent federation of Muslim states”. Interestingly, the parallel he drew between Indian Muslims and the Sudeten Germans in Czechoslovakia was picked up by Jinnah in his presidential address.
The main resolution at the conference was cast in a pronounced way in Haroon’s mould. Though diluted in the Subjects Committee, at the insistence of Jinnah himself who was characteristically not too keen to show his hand before the Muslims were fully organised and public opinion galvanised, the resolution retained enough of its clout to become a trendsetter.
The resolution argued the case of separate Muslim nationhood, not merely in terms of transient factors such as “the caste-ridden mentality and anti-Muslim policy of the majority community”, but, more importantly, in terms of durable factors such as “the acute differences of religion, language, script, culture, social laws and outlook on the life of the two major communities and even of race in certain parts”. This was the first time that not only were Hindus and Muslims officially pronounced two distinct nations, the political self-determination demand was also explicitly put forward, paving the way for the 1940 Lahore Resolution.
Between this conference and the Lahore session, Abdullah Haroon had also made by far the most significant contribution in popularising the ideal of a separate state for Muslims. He chaired the AIML’s Foreign and Domestic Sub-Committee and corresponded extensively with prominent Muslim leaders.
Haroon also availed of the Aga Khan’s presence in India to seek his guidance. And the Aga Khan wrote back: “Is your League likely to advocate Pakistan as the final policy of Muslims? If so, the sooner the public opinion is prepared gradually the better.” To which Haroon assured him on Dec 28, 1938, “The League, I feel, has no other alternative but to secure a separate federation and the trend of thought in the League circles has lately begun drifting in that direction.”
Presently, in order to prepare the intelligentsia for the partition proposal, he got Dr Syed Abdul Latif’s book on The Muslim Problem In India (1939) published and circulated. In the foreword, he asserted that “The Hindu-Muslim problem in India has grown so serious …that the Muslims see no other way of consolidating their future except [for] carving out cultural zones or separate homelands for themselves. What they insist upon is equality of freedom for every community — freedom for all and not for the majority community only….”
That explains why Coupland, who studied the constitutional problem in India early in the 1940s, considered Haroon as “the only Muslim politician of any standing who had so far [till early 1939] taken a public part in the constitutional discussion”. And herein lies the enduring significance of Haji Abdullah Haroon – as a trend-setter in modern Muslim India’s politics, and as a ‘shaper’ of history in a larger sense.
In yet another significant sense Haroon was in sync with Jinnah — i.e., with regard to the instrumentality of politics. Politics to Haroon, as to Jinnah, was an opportunity to serve and exalt the community and the country, and certainly not a source of amassing power and pelf. That’s why, like Jinnah, he financed his political activities out of his own personal funds.
Throughout his life, as his huge correspondence indicates, Jinnah had always sought and befriended men with ideas. At this juncture, Haroon was almost bursting with ideas, indeed original, problem-solving ideas. That also accounts for the Jinnah-Haroon equation during 1937-42.
The writer is HEC Distinguished National Professor and has recently co-edited Unesco’s History of Humanity, vol. VI, and The Jinnah Anthology, and edited In Quest of Jinnah, the only oral history on Pakistan’s founding father.

Source : http://www.dawn.com/2011/04/27/haroon-and-jinnah.html

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