Khaab Khayaal Saraab
Friday, May 02, 2003[The prolem is that m]ost people that decry Jinnah seem to assume
that he was some mid-century religious fireband. At least in how they
refer to him, even if they *have* read Wolpert.
Think about it. Really, really, think about it. *All* of the people
that were the absolute vanguard of thinking up and implementing
Pakistan--Jinnah and Iqbal come to mind foremost--had, as their first
choice, a united South Asia. Then they changed their minds.
Think about it. Really, really, think about it.
I am not saying Pakistan was inevitable. But, for better or for
worse, it happened for some reasons. And blaming the British is not
good enough. Even if one buys into the theory of (colonial)
manipulation, in situations like this, there *is* always some pre-
existing internal issues that the outside force manipulates to
achieve their aims.
And I am not just trying to make a point to justify my own point of
view. I think that it is only when sane, nationalist, committed
Indians who love their country and want it and its people to have the
best lives they can have think about what it was in the socio-
political mix of British India that caused the creation of India,
Pakistan and, eventually, Bangladesh, that we can really have a
conversation that leads to Peace and Prosperity. The same things that
made it an explosive mix then and made it impossible to create a
singular nation-state to succeed the colonial dispensation make it an
explosive mix today that includes Pakistanis at each others' throats;
Indians at each others' throats; and the two countries threatening
the world with nuclear holocaust.
Here's some food for thought from someone who I, at least, have grown
up regarding as one of India's most ardent nationalists; a Pakistani-
basher amongst Pakistani-bashers.
>Veteran Indian journalist M. J. Akbar wrote very recently in the
context of the anti-Muslim riots in India:
>"We have demonized Jinnah so much because of Partition, that we do
not understand what his career truly represented.
>Muhammad Ali Jinnah was an utterly brilliant man; on that at least
there is consensus. He was also incorruptible, liberal, democratic,
straight, and a thinking politician, as ready to see the faults in
his own community as to criticise anyone else. He wanted at one point
to become an actor and join the stage, but set aside early
romanticism for theater for a life in law and public service. He rose
very quickly to eminence.
More important, he was the most ardent of India's emerging
nationalists. He rejected the Muslim League when it was born, and
only came onto its platform when it promised to be at most a
sectarian rather than a divisive voice. He bludgeoned the League into
the famous Lucknow pact with the Congress in 1916 that could have
formed the basis of a constitutional settlement between the
Hindus and Muslims, a pact that was welcomed enthusiastically by Bal
Gangadhar Tilak as much as C.R. Das and Motilal Nehru, from their
Jinnah broke with Gandhi because -- and this will probably astonish
people -- of his abhorrence for Gandhi's deliberate concoction of
religion and politics. Keep the two separate, Jinnah warned Gandhi at
the last Congress session he attended, in Nagpur in 1920, or this
mixture will explode in your face. Jinnah did so against the tides of
Muslim opinion, because he was ranged against the passions of his own
community, then swept forward by the Khilafat movement. Gandhi
sniffed that Jinnah did not understand Indians, and the Muslims, who
were totally with Gandhi then, threatened Jinnah with violence and
political excommunication. Jinnah preferred self-imposed exile. But
the point I am making lies a little askance. Why did Muslims respond,
first in bits and pieces, and then overwhelmingly, to his call for
Partition in the 1940s? It is when this same Jinnah, the man who had
rejected everything that Muslim fundamentalists had fought for, who
had stood alone and firm against the fire of the Khilafat struggle,
who was in his personal habits and convictions totally secular --
when such a man finally decided that Indian Muslims and Indian Hindus
needed separate nations, then those who were undecided were swayed in
If a Muslim as non-communal as him found it difficult to live in a
united India then what hope was there for the others?"