CHAPTERS FROM HISTORY: Students’ role in the Pakistan movement
THE All India Muslim Students Federation (AIMSF) was the most formidable pressure group in League’s favour. Jinnah served as a role model to students who took to him as to no one else. Indeed, the adherence of the youth to the Muslim League had far reaching consequences in terms of building up the League as a mass organization and of vastly strengthening Jinnah’s claim to supreme leader of the Muslims.
Between 1937 and 1946 there were many occasions when the leading provincial chiefs such as Fazlul Haq, Khizr Hayat Khan Tiwana and G.M. Syed had revolted against the League and had challenged Jinnah’s leadership. Vocal and activist as they were, the students would issued hundreds of statements and pass scores of resolutions challenging the provincial leadership. They would organize protest meetings and marches, discrediting it in the process, in the process confirming the invincibility of Jinnah’s leadership. That is why, for fear of student demonstrations, the provincial leaders wouldn’t dare show themselves in public. In a large measure, the students served as a counterpoise to the rebel regional elites, and played a crucial role in sustaining Jinnah in his singular leadership.
Ancillary to this was their role in provinces, where the League was moribund, had become temporarily eclipsed, or, in those provinces where the League was torn by personal and factional feuds. In the former set of provinces — more notably in the Punjab and Bengal — the All India Muslim Students Federation served, in a sense, as a substitute to the provincial League. The Federation took upon itself the onerous task of advancing Jinnah’s marathon campaign to win over the Muslim masses for the Muslim League and for Pakistan, over the head of their traditional provincial leaders. The students helped to generate enthusiasm, galvanize the masses behind the League and its demand for Pakistan, providing momentum to the...
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