Allama Iqbal, the poet philosopher, not only conceived the idea of Pakistan, but presciently saw the rise of China and its emergence as a leading world power. He wrote:
See the sun rising from the East; Springs of hope are emanating from the Himalayas; The great Chinese nation is rising from its slumber
His idea of a homeland for the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent was articulated in 1930, when he gave the Presidential address at Allahabad. The Muslims of India were an inchoate body of disparate groups, weighed down by a glorious past, but unable and unwilling to face the challenges of the 20th century. The Quaid, disillusioned by the policies of the Congress, and frustrated by the stasis in the Muslim League, stayed on in London to practice law after attending the Round Table Conferences, and did not return to India until 1934 to revitalize the Muslim League.
Allama Iqbal, who had been an active leader of the Muslim League for many years, was called upon to deliver the Presidential Address at Allahabad. A poet and an erudite and brilliant scholar of philosophy, both Western and Islamic, he gave a new direction to the politics of the Muslims of India. He discussed his concept of communalism at the twenty-first session of the All India Muslim League:
There are communalisms and communalisms. A community which is inspired by a feeling of ill-will towards other communities is low and ignoble. I entertain the highest respect for the customs, laws, religious and social institutions of other communities. Nay, it is my duty, according to the teaching of the Quran, even to defend their places of worship, if need be. Yet I love the communal group which is the source of my life and behavior; and which has formed what I am by giving me its religion, its literature, its thought, its culture, and thereby recreating its whole past, as a living operative factor in my present consciousness. …So also, without the fullest cultural autonomy – and communalism in its better aspect is culture – it will be difficult to create a harmonious nation.
He then went on to discuss his vision of a separate homeland for Muslims of India:
The principle of European democracy cannot be applied to India without recognizing the fact of communal groups. The Muslim demand for the creation of a Muslim India within India, is therefore, perfectly justified….Personally, I would go further than the demands embodied in it. I would like to see the Punjab, the North-West Frontier Province, Sind and Baluchistan amalgamated into a single State. Self-government within the British Empire, or without the British Empire, the formation of a consolidated North West Indian Muslim State appears to me to be the final destiny of the Muslims, at least of the North-West India.
Ahead of his time, Iqbal had sown the seeds of his vision for what became Pakistan. According to the most authoritative historian of the Muslim League, Dr Rafique Afzal, the Muslim League did not adopt the creation of a separate homeland as its goal after the Allahabad Session, nor was any attempt made to make its organization broad based. However, his idea inspired intellectuals, youth and politicians in the years to come. The Quaid returned to India to lead the Muslim League in 1934, transforming it into a mass organization, which henceforward also drew women and youth to its ranks.
As Iqbal foresaw, China has arrived as a global economic powerhouse, and Pakistan, tied to it through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), has entered the group of countries regarded as one of the world’s emerging economies.
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