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Statement On The Situation In The Frontier Province New Delhi : May 7, 1947

Quaid-e-Azam with  members of NWFP Assembly in Peshawar
Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, President of the All India Muslim League, issued a thousand words Statement on the Frontier.

"I have had the opportunity of fully discussing with Frontier League leaders the situation in the North-West Frontier Province and the developments that have taken place recently. The League movement in the Frontier was started because the people and especially the Muslim Leaguers and the League organization in the Province were sought to be crushed by Khan Sahib Ministry, by fair means or foul, ever since the ministry was formed. The victimization, persecution, suppression and oppression on the part of the Government, knew no limits.

“Every vestige of civil liberties had ceased to exist. Ordinances, Frontier Crimes Regulations, Section 144 and other repressive provisions of the law were being freely and ruthlessly used to deprive the people of their rights of political expression and criticism of the ministry. These were the conditions prevailing in the Province when the top-ranking leaders of the Muslim League were arrested for asserting their right of civil liberties, and the resentment caused among the people assumed the character of mass civil disobedience. It is absolutely false and a complete misrepresentation of the facts that the All-India Muslim League ever decided to actually resort to direct action. The Bombay Resolution of 29 July 1946, merely indicated a change of policy, by it we declared that we would no longer be restricted to constitutional methods which had been scrupulously followed by the All-India Muslim League up to that time."

"The Congress creed, on the other hand not only permitted them to resort to unlawful means, but it was of the very essence of the organization that they were free to resort to mass civil disobedience at any time they considered proper for the achievement of their objectives through coercive methods.

Sword of Democles

“This Sword of Democles was kept continually hanging over the Muslims and the British Government and the Congress has repeatedly launched movements and used the weapon of mass civil disobedience since 1921 on various occasions, creating grave situation in the country. The last time they decided to launch the movement, was in 1942 and we all know what disastrous consequences it had. The attitude of the Congress towards perpetrators of acts of violence in connection with movements launched by it, is evident from what the Congress ministries have been doing since their return to power in their provinces. Acts of violence committed during the 1942 movement have been treated by the Congress leaders as acts of heroism and patriotism.

As against this policy and record of the Congress, the Muslim League put in its Resolution of July 29, only made it clear that it was now free to launch a movement of mass disobedience as and when it was thought necessary and it was in this sense that the phrase of “direct action” was used. It is quite obvious that the meaning of direct action which is attributed to us maliciously, namely that it is based on the principle of force, violence and bloodshed, is without any foundation and is absolutely untrue. Direct action means social pressure, strike or revolt constituting moral pressure upon the authority in power to redress our grievances and meet our demands.

Situation Intolerable

"The present movement in the North West Frontier Province developed because the situation has become intolerable and the ministry could not be allowed to continue its ruthless policy of crushing the Muslims and Muslim League Organization in particular. The entire public has lost its confidence in this ministry and there is province-wide demand for the application of section 93 and fresh elections. Dr. Khan Sahib and his co-ministers were challenged to seek the verdict of the people, which they, in their extreme obstinacy, still refuse to do.

From all the information that is available to me and I have gone through this matter most carefully, I cannot disagree with the facts as they exist and as a result of the situation credited by the Frontier ministry; thousands of people have been arrested, sentenced to various terms of imprisonment and detained and clapped into jails under the Frontier Crimes Regulations. The only honorable courses for Dr. Khan Sahib and his co-ministers is to resign and seek fresh election.

"I note that the Frontier Government subsequently issued a communiqué on April 19, in which inter-alia they said; “The government have for their part decided unconditionally to release “as soon as conditions permit” all political prisoners who are not charged with offence of violence and the government have no intention of interfering with the freedom of expression of political opinion or with peaceful meetings, but they must impress on all in the province that procession and picketing have in the past, proved an incitement to acts of lawlessness and that they cannot be permitted until normal conditions return.

"But the root cause still continues. I had hoped that better counsels would prevail and I do still hope that the situation will be examined dispassionately and in its true perspective by those concerned. The Provincial Muslim League had, on the 1st of May, before the Frontier leaders came to Delhi to meet me, have declared that after full consideration we come to conclusion that the steps so far proposed by the Frontier Government in no way met the demands of the Muslim League and were, therefore, not acceptable to the League.

"They, therefore, decided not to call off the movement. The Frontier leaders could not also agree to their being released for they had not gone to the jails merely to be released. I sympathize with them and I am unable to disagree with them in the decision that they have taken. Nevertheless, we must recognize that the Frontier, in all its aspects, is now before His Majesty’s Government and Lord Ismay is in the United Kingdom now, and in my opinion, it is a question of a few weeks when decisions concerning the whole of India are likely to be announced. It is quite obvious that the people of N.W.F.P. must be given a chance to express their verdict and the root cause of popular resentment must be eliminated. There is not the slightest doubt what the verdict will be and the present ministry cannot possibly thereafter continue. Therefore, as I have always said, let us hope for the best and be prepared for the worst.

Protection of the Weak

"In these circumstances, I most earnestly appeal to every Muslim, especially Leaguers, to do all in their power to remain peaceful. Without any reservation I say that on our side there should be no resort to violence or force and we must bear up with fortitude and show tolerance despite the gravest provocations. We should not depart from the strictly peaceful path, which we are determined to follow. In no circumstances should the movement be allowed to take communal turn. Our fight is not against the Hindus or Sikhs; we are fighting for a true verdict of people of the province to be obtained by fair and free methods.

"It is against all canons of morality and civilization and the teachings of Islam that we should harm the weak. On the contrary it is the duty of every Mussalman to protect the minorities in spite of whatever provocation there may be. I know it can be said that it takes two to keep peace, but on our side, I may say keep peace at any cost; and to the other side I may say: don’t provoke and keep peace.

“I pray to God that during the few weeks that are now ahead of us, pending the final announcement, both sides will do their best and save people from destruction of life and property. When the final announcement has been made, it will be entirely for us and we will be free to decide as to what course of action we should adopt.”

Source: South Asian Studies: bi-annual Research Journal, Vol.17, No. 1 (Quaid-i-Azam Number) January 2002, PP. 80-84. Also cited in Dawn, May 8, 1947

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