When Pakistan achieved independence in 1947, the organization and activities of the Christian community changed drastically. Christians in Punjab and Sindh had been quite active after 1945 in their support for Muhammad Ali Jinnah's Muslim League. Even before the final phase of the movement, leading Indian Christians like Pothan Joseph had rendered valuable services as journalists and propagandists of the Muslim League. Jinnah had repeatedly promised all citizens of Pakistan complete equality of citizenship.
Freedom Movement and Role of the Christian Educational Institutions:
The Christian Educational Institutions played a very significant role regarding the training of the Hindu, Muslim, Parsi, schedule caste, Buddhist and Christian youth in Connection with the freedom movement in India. The record shows that many leaders of the Movement belonging to these communities were educated by the Christian Educational institutions. The Christian Educational Institutions which, provided education, training and awareness to the several leaders of the freedom movement included C.M.S school Karachi, Bandera Convent School Bombay, St. Stephens College Delhi, Murray College Sialkot, Gorden College Rawalpindi, F.C College Lahore,
Kinnard College for women Lahore and Edwards College Peshawar. An over whelming majority of the leaders of the Pakistan Movement were educated by the said Educational Institutions. Philosopher poet Dr. Sir Muhammad Iqbal, the founder of Pakistan Mr. Jinnah, Ch Rehmat Ali who coined the word “Pakistan” and Sir Muhammad Zafarullah were product of these institutions.
Nehru Report: Christians and other Minorities:
In 1928 all parties conference was summoned to deliberate about the future
constitutional arrangement in India which could be acceptable to all concerned. This was after the failure of the Simon Commission and declaration by the British Government that since the different communities of India had failed to agree on a constitutional formula hence the British Government had no option but to give its own verdict. The said, all parties conference met in Calcutta. This conference appointed a committee known as
Nehru Committee headed by Moti Lal Nehru (Father of Jawar Lal Nehru) to propose a constitutional formula which, could achieve agreement of all the communities. The committee presented its report, which is known as Nehru Report in the history of the freedom movement. According to the provision of this report, Hindus by virtue of their overwhelming majority could dominate all other communities. Mr. Jinnah rejected this report and presented his Fourteen Points formula instead. All India Christian Conference along with other minorities also rejected this report expressing their disbelief in Hindu
leadership and supporting the stance of Mr. Jinnah. Well before the presentation of the Nehru Report when Iqbal was claiming that
“Hindustan is the best in the whole world; we are its nightingales and it is our home” and Jinnah was portrayed as “Ambassador of the Hindu-Muslim unity” by Mrs. Sarojni (Pakistan Journal of Social Sciences Vol. 32, No. 2 Naido, at that the moment a Christian leader Joshua Fazal-ud-Din was very much clear and said that those believing in Hindu-Muslim unity were living in a fool paradise as any such attempt would make India a war place.
Second Round Table Conference and Christian-Muslim Unity
At the verge of the Second Round Table Conference, all the minorities except
Sikhs signed an agreement known as “Agreement of Minorities” under the leadership of Sir Agha Khan. This agreement was signed by the Muslims, Anglo Indians and European Christians. This is an ample example of the Christians support for the stance of Muslims in the history of the freedom movement. When the congress ministries elected under the 1937 elections resigned in 1939 as an act of non-cooperation towards the war effort, Mr. Jinnah called the Muslims to celebrate the “Salvation Day” on 22nd December 1939, all the oppressed communities participated in the celebration. Though some of the historians have not mentioned about the participation of the Christians in the said events, nevertheless a renowned journalist of “Paisa Akhbar” Maqbool Anwar Dadu reported that on the salvation day not only the
Muslims but also the Christian, Parsees and Millions of the scheduled castes participated.
The Lahore Resolution was passed in Lahore on the 23rd of March 1940.
According to the Muslim League sources some Christians, Sikhs and scheduled caste leaders were especially invited as observers. Joshua Fazal-ul-Din, Chaudhry Chandu Lal and Dewan Bahadar S.P. Singha were prominent among the invitees. It is believed that paragraph No. 2 of the resolution was included to represent their sentiments.
Establishment of the All India Christian Association and Its Role in the
The All India Christian Association was established by Dewan Bahadur S.P. Singha in 1942. This association contributed a lot towards the effort and deliberation of the freedom movement. On the 18th November 1942 at the annual convention of the All India Muslim League Punjab convened in Faisalabad (then Lyall Pur) which was
attended by Mr. Jinnah and Miss Fatima, All India Christian Association presented a ‘Spasnama’ assuring its unconditional and full co-operation to Mr. Jinnah in connection with his efforts for the freedom of India.
At the time of the partition of India the Christians opposed the partition of the
Punjab and demanded that whole of Punjab be included in Pakistan. Joshua Fazal-ul-Din in a news statement warned the Congress that the division of the province would make it suffer and that the partition of the Punjab since the time of Raja Poris had produced nothing but crisis.5 The historical meeting held on 23rd June 1947 to decide the fate of the united Punjab was chaired by Dewan Bahadur S.P Singha, a renowned Christian and the last speaker of the United Punjab Legislative Assembly and the first speaker of the West
Punjab Legislative Assembly after 1947. The Christians had decided to vote for the inclusion of the whole Punjab in Pakistan in a pre-party meeting held on 21st of June at the residence of S.P. Singha when the resolution was voted upon on the 23rd June 1947, Munir-ul-Anjum, Shahnaz Tariq 441all the Christian members voted for Pakistan while S.P. Singha also used his casting voteas the speaker of the legislative assembly.
Christians stand Before the Boundary Commission:
When the proceedings of the Boundary commission took place, Christian leaders Dewan Bahadur s.p Singha, C.E Gibbon and Fazal Elahi, in their recorded statement, demanded that for the demarcation of the Boundaries Christian population be included and termed as Muslim population. Chaudhary Chandu Lal served as a lawyer for the Christian community.6
Moreover he visited Pathan Kot and Gurdas Pur districts and got a resolution
passed by the Christian population to the effect that they wanted to be included in Pakistan. Mr. C.E.Gibbon appeared before the commission to demand that Lahore must be part of the Western Punjab and that all the Anglo Indian Christians be transported to Pakistan as it was considered to be their final destiny. When the Red Cliff award was announced in August 1947, it was taken by the Christian as a tailored decision aimed to create problems for Pakistan economy while facilitating Indian occupation of Kashmir.
Diwan Bahadur S.P. Singha raised his voice against the Red Cliff award saying that as the principle of majority had been brutally crushed hence it was one sided and unfair to Pakistan.
In the last days of the United India Mr. Jinnah visited Lahore as a part of his
campaign to fetch the support of the minority community for Pakistan. He met the Christian leader Ch. Chandu Lal and sikh leader Giani kartar Singh. The sikh leader turned down his offer while Chandu Lal declared unconditional support of the Christians for Pakistan. When the resolution to join Pakistan or India was moved and voted upon in the Punjab Legislative Assembly, the three Christian members voted in favour of Pakistan and saved the situation. 88 and 91 votes were casted in favour of India and Pakistan respectively.7
In this way the three Christian votes decided the fate of the province.
Unconditional Support of Christian Leaders for the Creation of Pakistan:
The Christians supported Mr. Jinnah and All India Muslim League when there was substantial opposition in and outside the country. Some Muslims especially the religious leaders did not hesitate to dub Mr. Jinnah as the British agent. The Christians paid no heed to these remarks and continued supporting Mr. Jinnah at the cost of opposing their own British co-religionists. The leaders who played a significant role in the Pakistan Movement were Dewan Bahadur S.P. Singha (speaker of the united Punjab Assembly
later speaker of the western Punjab Assembly) Advocate Chaudhry Chandu Lal, Mr. Fazal Elahi, photographer journalist Mr F.E Chaudhry and B.L Ralia Ram. The Christian community as an expression of affection with Mr. Jinnah arranged many historical receptions in his honor for supporting his cause. On the 19th of November 1942 a grand reception in his honor was arranged at the king’s Garden Faisalabad (then Lyall Pur). The very next day another reception was hosted at the large Hall of Loring Hotel in Lahore.
Miss Fatima Jinnah, Sir Sikandar Hayat Khan, Nawab of Mamdot were also present on that occasion. Mr. Jinnah said “we will never forget your favour if you have cooperated with us. On the 21st of November 1942 Dewan Bahadar S.P Singha who was the Register of the University of the Punjab arranged a grand reception in the honour of Mr. Jinnah hosted by the staff Union in which he was assured about the unconditional support (Pakistan Journal of Social Sciences Vol. 32, No. 2 for Pakistan). The teachers and students of the Forman Christian College also expressed their confidence in Mr. Jinnah’s leadership. In July 1946 Mr. Ameer-ud-din, a prominent Muslim Leaguer and the president of Anjuman-e-Himayat-e-Islam contested the election for the President ship of Lahore. In this election some Muslim Leaguers betrayed him whereas he became successful with the support of the Christians. When the general elections of 1946 were held in India, the Christians supported Mr. Jinnah and contested the election side by side with the Muslim League. Mr. Fazal Elahi and Dewan Bahadur S.P Singha were elected to the Punjab Legislative Assembly. After achieving substantial success in 1945-46 elections, the All India Muslim League emerged as the sole spokesman of the Indian Muslims but was denied the same status by the congress and the British Government. At that juncture the Christian Leader Joshua Fazal-ud-Din issued a news statement saying that “When the Muslim League had achieved importance it was the duty of the British Government to accept that fact. Moreover the congress alone would bring instability in the country. During the freedom movement Mr. Jinnah, time and again expressed his firm belief in the equal citizenship for all irrespective of colour, caste, race and religion in the forthcoming independent and sovereign state for the Indian Muslims. He fulfilled his pledge and while addressing to the first constituent Assembly of Pakistan on 11th August 1947 he categorically repeated his faith in the equal citizenship of all. He said “Pakistan is not a theoretical state we would treat the people of other religions with tolerance, we welcome all persons irrespective of caste, colour or creed as being equal citizens of
Pakistan.”Moreover a scheduled caste Hindu Jugandar Nath Mandal was appointed as the first Law Minister of Pakistan.
The above discussion makes it amply evident that the Christian community of the British India vehemently supported the cause of Pakistan and made substantial contribution towards it during the freedom movement. They opposed the dominance of the Hindu majority after the lapse of the British Raj and put their lot with the Muslims to constitute a part and parcel of the future Muslim state consisting of the Muslim majority areas of the sub-continent. They denounced and condemned the unfair distribution of the
Punjab province more forcefully even than the Muslims and tried their best to get the Districts of Pathan Kot and Gurdas Pur included in the western Punjab. After the creation of Pakistan they have participated in all the constitutional deliberations to their best and have always stood side by side with their Muslim co patriots through every thick and thin.
Non-Muslims contribution and efforts
Main articles: Christianity in Pakistan, Hinduism in Pakistan, Sikhism in Pakistan and Protestantism in Pakistan
Mr Jinnah's vision was supported by few of the Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis, Jews and Christians that lived in Muslim-dominated regions of undivided India. The most notable and influential Hindu figure in the Pakistan Movement was Jogendra Nath Mandal from Bengal. Jagannath Azad was from the Urdu-speaking belt. Mandal represented the Hindu contingent calling for an independent Pakistan, and was one of the founding-fathers of Pakistan. After the independence, Mandal was given ministries of Law, Justice, and Work-Force by Jinnah in Liaquat Ali Khan's government.He fled to India and submitted his resignation to Liaquat Ali Khan, the then-Prime Minister of Pakistan. Another person, Zafarullah Khan who was an Ahmedi who stood with Jinnah.
Local Christians also stood behind Jinnah's vision, playing a pivotal role in the movement. The notable Christians included Sir Victor Turner and Alvin Robert Cornelius. Turner was responsible for the economic, financial planning of the country after the independence. Turner was among one of the founding fathers of Pakistan, and guided Jinnah and Liaqat Ali Khan on economic affairs, taxation and to handle the administrative units. Alvin Robert Cornelius was elevated as Chief Justice of Lahore High Court bench by Jinnah and served as Law Secretary in Liaquat Ali Khan's government. The Hindu, Christian, and Parsi communities also played their due role for the development of Pakistan soon after its creation.
It is worth noting that at the time of Independence the 25% were religious minorities, now they have been reduced to 5% only… whom to blame???