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A Magnificent Gift: Muslim Nationalism and the Election Process in Colonial Punjab


In 1940, Muhammad ‘Ali Jinnah, the leader of the Muslim League, first suggested that the Muslims of India were not simply a religious community but a nation. But it was only after the triumph of the Muslim League in winning the overwhelming majority of Muslim seats in the 1946 Indian provincial elections, particularly in the two largest Muslim-majority provinces, Bengal and Punjab, that Jinnah could argue convincingly to others that he, and the Muslim League, represented the voice of that nation. In critical ways, the elections of 1946 thus laid the foundations for the emergence of Pakistan. For a good discussion of the 1946 elections in the Punjab, see I. A. Talbot, “The 1946 Punjab Elections,” Modern Asian Studies, 14:1 (1980), 65–91. A state predicated on the existence of a Muslim nation, Pakistan occupies a position of unusual importance in the history of the Muslim world and of colonial nationalism, for it represents the first post-colonial nation created on the basis of a self-consciously Muslim nationalist program.

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Comparative Studies in Society and History
  • ISSN: 0010-4175
  • EISSN: 1475-2999
  • URL: /core/journals/comparative-studies-in-society-and-history
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