A couple of good reads

A really interesting review of Ian Talbot’s biography of Khizr Tiwana:

Talbot (and, in the book’s afterword, Arend Lijphart) presents the Unionist government in Punjab as an example of “consociational” democracy, which both authors feel is the most stable way to structure politics in “highly segmented” societies. Lijphart cites other examples of consociational systems, such as pre-civil war Lebanon, Belgium, and nineteenth century Holland, and attributes Pakistan’s problems with democracy to its neglect of consociationalism. Talbot and Lijphart acknowledge the fragility of consociational systems (one might feel that the fact that many a consociational system has given way to civil war undermines their argument), but stress that the tipping point for such fragility often occurs because of external pressures that destabilize the system. In the context of Lebanon, for instance, the authors cite to the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Palestinian national movement; as far as the Unionists are concerned, the external force was the Muslim League.

and this one:

It isn’t hard to see why history has been unkind to Tiwana, who managed to find himself on the wrong side of virtually all the principal currents of late-Raj era Indian politics: his staunchly loyalist stance to the Raj did not win him any friends in the Congress, while his deep skepticism of the two-nation theory and his horror of the logic of partition won him pride of place in the Muslim League’s pantheon of traitors. Talbot’s book is useful in highlighting the sheer scale of the hysteria whipped up by the Muslim League against Tiwana personally after the breakdown of the Tiwana-Jinnah talks in 1944, and unlike much recent writing on Jinnah — from Stanley Wolpert to Ayesha Jalal — Talbot stresses Jinnah’s own complicity in and encouragement of political hysteria, manifested in the context of Punjab in the attacks on Tiwana (including a shameful speech replete with Quranic quotations, to the effect that when God would destroy a people he has them led by a “boy-leader”). Jinnah, of course, won– the Unionists were rendered irrelevant by the rising tide of Pakistan, and many in the party crossed over to the League to save their political futures– though one is left with a bad taste in one’s mouth. Here too (as elsewhere in India), Talbot seems to suggest, a “winner takes all” approach, or better yet the absolutist approach championed by the Muslim League under Jinnah, was precisely the wrong kind of approach in the context of a fractious society already subject to communalist pressures. From the time Khizr Tiwana resigned the premiership in March 1947, communal blood baths became the order of the day in Punjab, and Tiwana was unable to save the Hindu and Sikh peasants even on his own estates in Shahpur.

One of the most wonderful online resources about Pakistan – the Pakistan timeline


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