In a conversation with his Indian contemporary Harbhajan Singh, broadcast by Aaj Tak, former Pakistani fast bowler said the people and cricketers of his country alike believe in the two-nation theory, which posits that Hindus and Muslims are different peoples who cannot peacefully co-exist. Shoaib Akhtar said during the television chat show, Akhtar replied to Singh on the issue of Shahid Afridi making comments about Kashmir, saying, “I will not go deep into it. From the two-nation theory until now, there is a long history. We believe in the two-nation theory, I believe in it. We have an ideology. Ie we start talking about it, then it will go very far.”
Ahead of the India-versus-Pakistan T20 World Cup match today, Shoaib Akhtar said that he believed in the two-nation theory after Harbhajan Singh said that the relationship between cricketers of the two countries were hindered when Pakistani players insulted India, hinting at Pakistani cricketers who have made obnoxious comments about India in the past.
“The problem begins when on any issue, a cricketer insults India, our flag. Then we have a problem. We know how much love there is between us but our people get angry with our friendship only when some senseless person makes some remark such as ‘Kashmir is ours’. Bhai, leave it to people responsible for these decisions. Our stature is not so great that we should delve into such matters,” Harbhajan Singh said.
While Harbhajan Singh appeared unwilling to mention names, the anchor reminded him that Shahid Afridi had made many such remarks. “One person says such then everyone suffers,” Singh added. He also said that people have told him to stop talking with Shoaib Akhtar because Akhtar is from Pakistan. And Singh said that it was legitimate for people to say so when Pakistanis insult India and the Indian flag.
Harbhajan Singh proceeded to say, “We are one. If you look at history, Indians and Pakistanis, we look the same. And why do we have so much hatred? Because we started playing against each other or because we make inappropriate remarks about each other? Why is that?”
That was when Shoaib Akhtar brought up the issue of the two-nation theory.
The two-nation theory is an ideology of religious nationalism which significantly influenced the Indian subcontinent following its independence from the British Empire. According to this theory, Muslims and Hindus are two separate nations, with their own customs, religion, and traditions; therefore, from social and moral points of view, Muslims should be able to have their own separate homeland outside of Hindu-majority India, in which Islam is the dominant religion, and be segregated from Hindus and other non-Muslims. The two-nation theory advocated by the All India Muslim League is the founding principle of the Pakistan Movement (that is the ideology of Pakistan as a Muslim nation-state in the northwestern and eastern regions of India) through the partition of India in 1947.
The ideology that religion is the determining factor in defining the nationality of Indian Muslims was believed to have been undertaken by founder of Pakistan Muhammad Ali m Jinnah who termed it as the awakening of Muslims for the creation of Pakistan. But some commentators and contemporary historians attribute the theory to the founder of the Aligarh Muslim University, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan. Though initially espousing Hindu-Muslim unity, he became the pioneer of Islamic nationalism in India and is widely credited as the father of the two-nation theory, which formed the basis of the Pakistan movement.