Posts Tagged ‘pakistan’

The Economist magazine has accused India of hostile censorship after officials prevented the distribution of the latest edition because of a map showing the disputed borders of Kashmir.

Customs officers ordered that 28,000 copies of the news weekly should have stickers manually placed over a diagram showing how control of Kashmir is split between India, Pakistan and China.

Both India and Pakistan claim the whole of the tiny Himalayan region and have gone to war twice over its control since 1947.

New Delhi imposes tight restrictions on all printed maps, insisting they show all of Kashmir as being part of India.

“India is meant to be a democracy that approves of freedom of speech,” John Micklethwait, editor-in-chief of The Economist, told AFP. “But they take a much more hostile attitude on this matter than either Pakistan or China.”

He added: “This is an act of censorship, and many wise and sensible voices in India see it has no point.”

The map is used as an illustration for the front-page story of the latest edition of the magazine on “The world’s most dangerous border” between India and Pakistan.

The Economist still hoped to distribute the edition once the stickers had been added. The map is available on The Economist’s website.

Kashmir is divided between the two nuclear-armed neighbours along a de facto border known as the Line of Control. It closely matches the frontline of fighting at the end of the first India-Pakistan war over Kashmir in 1947.

“We are just told ‘it is the law of India’,” Micklethwait said. “The map is impartial, accurate and fair. We show everyone’s claims, and it is also realistic as it shows where the unofficial border actually falls.”

The magazine has clashed in the past with Indian authorities.

In December an entire issue of The Economist was pulped on the censors’ orders over a map of the region, and its publishers predicted the May 21 edition was likely to hit trouble.

Offending maps in The Economist and other foreign publications are routinely targeted by the censors’ office, which stamps each page stating that the borders as shown do not reflect India’s claims.

“As a point of principle we are against changing our articles,” said Micklethwait, speaking by telephone from London on Monday. “So we mentioned the problem in a piece pointing out how touchy India is on this.”

The magazine also printed a warning saying the map was likely to be censored. “Unlike their government, we think our Indian readers can face political reality,” it said.

Sham Lal, a senior official in India’s ministry of information and broadcasting, declined to comment on Micklethwait’s remarks. “We have no knowledge and no comments to make on this matter,” he told AFP.

Wilson John, a Pakistan expert at the Observer Research Foundation think-tank in New Delhi, said that the map was seen as a national security issue by the Indian government.

“This is about sovereignty,” he said. “I’m not surprised as this behaviour is an accepted norm in India.

“Mapping in this region has been an issue for many decades and, because the territorial dispute is far from resolved, maps will remain a problem.”

He added India was generally proud of having a free press but that Kashmir “always creates sensitivities that have to be kept in mind”.

Muslim-majority Kashmir has been a flashpoint since it became part of Hindu-majority India at partition in 1947 when British colonial rule of the subcontinent ended.

India and Pakistan nearly went to war over the region again as recently as 2002.

Relations between the countries have improved since then, but were hit by the Mumbai attacks in 2008 when Pakistan-based militants killed 166 people.

Micklethwait said India was now an increasingly modern economic powerhouse with a growing number of Economist readers.

“Other publications have had the same problems, but perhaps we have been more in their face,” he said.

“China will not distribute whole issues for other reasons, but there is no country I know in the world that takes the extreme attitude that India does.”

(Source: AFP)

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A TV channel aired the interview with Jaswant Singh, discussing the book. Here’s the excerpts:

Jaswant Singh

Jaswant Singh

Q: Mr Jaswant Singh, let’s start by establishing how you as the author view Mohammed Ali Jinnah? After reading your book, I get the feeling that you don’t subscribe to the popular demonisation of the man.
JS:
Of course, I don’t. To that I don’t subscribe. I was attracted by the personality which has resulted in a book. If I wasn’t drawn to the personality, I wouldn’t have written the book. It’s an intricate, complex personality of great character, determination.

Q: And it’s a personality that you found quite attractive?
JS:
Naturally, otherwise, I wouldn’t have ventured down the book. I found the personality sufficiently attractive to go and research it for five years. And I was drawn to it, yes.

Q: As a politician, Jinnah joined the Congress party long before he joined the Muslim League and in fact when he joined the Muslim League, he issued a statement to say that this in no way implies “even the shadow of disloyalty to the national cause”.Would you say that in the 20s and 30s and may be even the early years of the 40s, Jinnah was a nationalist?
JS:
Actually speaking the acme of his nationalistic achievement was the 1916 Lucknow Pact of Hindu-Muslim unity and that’s why Gopal Krishna Gokhale called him the Ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity.

Q: In your assessment as his biographer, for most if not the predominant part of his life, Jinnah was a nationalist.
JS:
Oh, yes. He fought the British for an independent India but he also fought resolutely and relentlessly for the interest of the Muslims of India.

Q: Was Jinnah secular or was he communal?
JS:
It depends on the way you view the word ‘secular’ because I don’t know whether secular is really fully applicable to a country like India. It’s a word borne of the socio-historical and religious history of Western Europe.

Q: Let me put it like this. Many people believe that Jinnah hated Hindus and that he was a Hindu basher.
JS:
Wrong, totally wrong. That certainly he was not. His principal disagreement was with the Congress party. Repeatedly he says and he says this even in his last statements to the press and to the constituent Assembly of Pakistan.

Q: So his problem was with Congress and with some Congress leaders but he had no problem with Hindus.
JS:
No, he had no problems whatsoever with the Hindus. Because he was not in that sense, until in the later part of his years, he became exactly what he charged Mahatma Gandhi with. He had charged Mahatma Gandhi of being a demagogue.

Q: He became one as well?
JS:
That was the most flattering way of emulating Gandhi. I refer of course to the Calcutta killings.

Q: As you look back on Jinnah’s life, would you say that he was a great man?
JS:
Oh yes, because he created something out of nothing and single-handedly he stood up against the might of the Congress party and against the British who didn’t really like him.

Q: So you are saying to me he was a great man?
JS:
But I am saying so.

Q:Let me put it like this. Do you admire Jinnah?
JS:
I admire certain aspects of his personality: his determination and the will to rise. He was a self-made man — Mahatma Gandhi was a son of a Dewan.

Q: Nehru was born to great wealth.
JS:
All of them were born to wealth and position, Jinnah created for himself a position. He carved out in Bombay a position in that cosmopolitan city being what he was, poor. He was so poor he had to walk to work. He lived in a hotel called Watsons in Bombay and he told one of the biographers that there’s always room at the top but there is no lift and he never sought a lift.

Q: Do you admire the way he created success for himself, born to poverty but he ended up successful, rich?
JS:
I would admire that in any man, self-made man, who resolutely worked towards achieving what he had set out to.

Q: How seriously has India misunderstood Jinnah?
JS:
I think we misunderstood because we needed to create a demon.

Q: We needed a demon and he was the convenient scapegoat?
JS:
I don’t know if he was convenient. We needed a demon because in the 20th century the most telling event in the entire subcontinent was the partition of the country.

Q: I’ll come to that in a moment but first the critical question that your book raises is that how is it that the man, considered as the ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity in 1916 had transformed 30 years later by 1947 into the ‘Qaid-e-Azam’ of Pakistan? And your book suggests that underlying this was Congres’ repeated inability to accept that Muslims feared domination by Hindus and that they wanted “space” in “a reassuring system”.
JS:
Here is the central contest between minoritism and majoritarianism. With the loss of the Mughal empire, the Muslims of India had lost power but majoritarianism didn’t begin to influence them until 1947. Then they saw that unless they had a voice in their own political, economical and social destiny, they would be obliterated. That is the beginning. That is still the purpose.

Q: Let me ask you this. Was Jinnah’s fear or anxiety about Congress majoritarianism justified or understandable? Your book in its account of how Congress refused to form a government with the League in UP in 1937 after fighting the elections in alliance with that party, suggests that Jinnah’s fears were substantial and real.
JS:
Yes. You have to go not just to 1937, which you just cited. See other examples. In the 1946 elections, Jinnah’s Muslim League wins all the Muslim seats and yet they do not have sufficient number to be in office because the Congress party has, even without a single Muslim, enough to form a government and they are outside of the government. So it was realised that simply contesting election was not enough.

Q: They needed certain assurances within the system to give them that space?
JS:
That’s right. And those assurances amounted to reservation, which I dispute frankly. Reservations went from 25 per cent to 33 per cent. And then from reservation that became parity, of being on equal terms. Parity to Partition.

Q: All of this was search for space?
JS:
All of this was a search for some kind of autonomy of decision making in their own social and economic destiny.

Q: Your book reveals how people like Gandhi, Rajagopalachari and Azad could understand the Jinnah or the Muslim fear of Congress majoritarianism but Nehru simply couldn’t understand. Was Nehru insensitive to this?
JS:
No, he wasn’t. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was a deeply sensitive man.

Q: But why couldn’t he understand?
JS:
He was deeply influenced by Western and European socialist thought of those days. For example dominion status would have given virtual independence to India in the 20s (but Nehru shot it down).

Q: In other words, Nehru’s political thinking and his commitment to Western socialist thought meant that he couldn’t understand Jinnah’s concerns about majoritarianism? Nehru was a centralist, Jinnah was a decentraliser?
JS:
That’s right. That is exactly (the point). Nehru believed in a highly centralised polity. That’s what he wanted India to be. Jinnah wanted a federal polity.

Q: Because that would give Muslims the space?
JS:
That even Gandhi also accepted.

Q: But Nehru couldn’t.
JS:
Nehru didn’t.

Q: He refused to?
JS:
Well, consistently, he stood in the way of a federal India until 1947 when it became a partitioned India.

Q: In fact, the conclusion of your book is that if Congress could have accepted a decentralised federal India, then a united India, as you put it, “was clearly ours to attain”. You add that the problem was that this was in “an anathema to Nehru’s centralising approach and policies”. Do you see Nehru at least as responsible for Partition as Jinnah?
JS:
I think he says it himself. He recognised it and his correspondence, for example with late Nawab Sahab of Bhopal, his official biographer and others. His letters to the late Nawab Sahab of Bhopal are very moving letters.

Q: You are saying Nehru recognised that he was as much of an obstacle.
JS:
No, he recognised his mistakes afterwards.

Q: Afterwards?
JS:
Afterwards.

Q: Today, Nehru’s heirs and party will find it very surprising that you think that Nehru was as responsible for Partition as Jinnah.
JS:
I am not blaming anybody. I’m not assigning blame. I am simply recording what I have found as the development of issues and events of that period.

Q: When Indians turn around and say that Jinnah was, to use a colloquialism, the villain of Partition, your answer is that there were many people responsible and to single out Jinnah, as the only person or as the principal person, is both factually wrong and unfair?
JS:
It is. It is not borne out of events. Go to the last All India Congress Committee meeting in Delhi in the June of 1947 to discuss and accept the June 3, 1947 resolution. Nehru-Patel’s resolution was defeated by the Congress, supported by Gandhi in the defeat. Ram Manohar Lohia had moved the amendment. It was a very moving intervention by Ram Manohar Lohia and then Gandhi finally said we must accept this Partition. Partition is a very painful event. It is very easy to assign blame but very difficult thereafter. Because all events that we are judging are ex post facto.

Q: Absolutely, and what your book does is to shed light in terms of a new assessment of Partition and the responsibility of the different players. And in that re-assessment, you have balanced differently between Jinnah and Nehru?
JS:
All vision which is ex post facto is 20/20. It is when you actually live the event.

Q: Quite right. Those who have lived it would have seen it differently but today, with the benefit of hindsight, you can say that Jinnah wasn’t the only or the principal villain and the Indian impression that he was is mistaken and wrong?
JS:
And we need to correct it.

Q: Let’s turn to Jinnah and Pakistan. Your book shows that right through the 20s and the 30s, or may be even the early years of the 40s, Pakistan for Jinnah was more of a political strategy, less of a target and a goal. Did he consciously, from the very start, seek to dismember and divide India?
JS:
I don’t think it was dismemberment. He wanted space for the Muslims. And he could just not define Pakistan ever. Geographically, it was a vague idea. That’s why ultimately it became a moth-eaten Pakistan. He had ideas about certain provinces which must be Islamic and one-third of the seats in the Central legislature must be Muslims.

Q: So Pakistan was in fact a way of finding, as you call it, ‘space’ for Muslims?
JS:
He wanted space in the Central legislature and in the provinces and protection of the minorities so that the Muslims could have a say in their own political, economic and social destiny.

Q: And that was his primary concern, not dividing India or breaking up the country?
JS:
No. He in fact went to the extent of saying that let there be a Pakistan within India.

Q: A Pakistan within India was acceptable to him?
JS:
Yes.

Q: So in other words, Pakistan was often ‘code’ for space for Muslims?
JS:
That’s right. From what I have written, I find that it was a negotiating tactic because he wanted certain provinces to be with the Muslim League. He wanted a certain percentage (of seats) in the Central legislature. If he had that, there would not have been a partition.

Q: Would you therefore say that when people turn around and say that Jinnah was communal, he was a Hindu hater, a Hindu basher that they are mistaken and wrong?
JS:
He was not a Hindu hater but he had great animosity with the Congress party and Congress leadership. He said so repeatedly: I have no enmity against the Hindu.

Q: Do you as an author believe him when he said so?
JS:
I don’t live in the same time as him. I go by what his contemporaries have said, I go by what he himself says and I reproduce it.

Q: Let’s come again to this business of using Pakistan to create space for Muslims. Your book shows how repeatedly people like Rajagopalachari, Gandhi and Azad were understanding of the Jinnah need or the Muslim need for space. Nehru wasn’t. Nehru had a European-inherited centralised vision of how India should be run. In a sense was Nehru’s vision of a centralised India, a problem that eventually led to partition?
JS:
Jawaharlal Nehru was not always that. He became that after his European tour of the 20s. Then he came back imbued with, as Madhu Limaye puts it, ‘spirit of socialism’ and he was all for highly centralised India.

Q: And a highly centralized India denied the space Jinnah wanted.
JS:
A highly centralised India meant that the dominant party was the Congress party. He (Nehru) in fact said there are only two powers in India — the Congress party and the British.

Q: That attitude in a sense left no room for Jinnah and the Muslim League in India?
JS:
That is what made Jinnah repeatedly say but there is a third force — we. The Congress could have dealt with the Moplas but there were other Muslims.

Q: So it was this majoritarianism of Nehru that actually left no room for Jinnah?
JS:
It became a contest between excessive majoritarianism, exaggerated minoritism and giving the referee’s whistle to the British.

Q: Was the exaggerated minoritism a response to the excessive majoritarianism of Congress?
JS:
In part. Also in response to the historical circumstances that had come up.

Q: If the final decision had been taken by people like Gandhi, Rajagopalachari or Azad, could we have ended up with united India?
JS:
Yes, I believe so. It could have. Gandhi said let the British go home, we will settle this amongst ourselves, we will find a Pakistan. In fact, he said so in the last AICC meetings.

Q: It was therefore Nehru’s centralising vision that made that extra search for united India difficult at the critical moment?
JS:
He continued to say so but subsequently, after Partition, he began to realise what a great mistake he had made.

Q: Nehru realised his mistakes but it was too late, by then it had happened.
JS:
It was too late. It was too late.

Q: Let’s end this first interview there. In the next part I want to talk to you about the relationship between the early Gandhi and Jinnah, the questions you raise about Partition and the predicament of Indian Muslims.

Q: Let us start this second interview with the portrait you paint of the relationship between the early Gandhi and the early Jinnah.You say of their first meeting in January 1915 that Gandhi’s response to Jinnah’s “warm welcome” was “ungracious”. You say Gandhi would only see Jinnah “in Muslim terms”, and the sort of implication that comes across is Gandhi was less accommodating than Jinnah was.
JS:
I have perhaps not used the adjective you have used. Jinnah returned from his education in 1896. Gandhi went to South Africa and was returning finally — in between he had come once — to India it was 1915 already. Jinnah had gone to receive him with Gokhale and he referred fulsomely to Gandhi. Gandhi referred to Jinnah and said that I am very grateful that we have a Muslim leader. That I think was born really of Gandhi’s working in South Africa and not so much the reality of what he felt. The relationship subsequently became competitive.

Q: But you do call that response “ungracious”?
JS:
I don’t know whether I call it ungracious?

Q: You do.
JS:
But I might have. Jinnah is fulsomely receiving Gandhi and Gandhi says I am glad that I am being received by a Muslim leader.

Q: So he was only seeing Jinnah in Muslim terms?
JS:
Yes, which Jinnah didn’t want to be seen.

Q: Even when you discuss the impact of their political strategies in the early years before 1920 you suggest that Jinnah was perhaps more effective than Gandhi, who in a sense permitted the Raj to continue for three decades. You write “Jinnah had successfully kept the Indian political forces together, simultaneously exerting pressure on the government.” Of Gandhi you say “that pressure dissipated and the Raj remained for three more decades”.
JS:
That is a later development, because the political style of the two was totally different. Jinnah was essentially a logician. He believed in the strength of logic; he was a Parliamentarian; he believed in the efficacy of parliamentary politics. Gandhi, after testing the water, took to the trails of India and he took politics into the dusty villages of India.

Q: But in the early years up till 1920 you see Jinnah as more effective in putting pressure on the British than Gandhi.
JS:
Yes, because entire politics was parliamentary.

Q: The adjectives you use to characterise their leadership in the early years suggests a sort of, how shall I put it, slight tilt in Jinnah’s favour. You say of Gandhi’s leadership that it had “an entirely religious, provincial character”. Of Jinnah’s you say he was “doubtless imbued by a non-sectarian nationalistic zeal.”
JS:
He was non-sectarian. Gandhi used religion as a personal expression. Jinnah used religion as a tool to create something but that came later. For Gandhi religion was an integral part of his politics from the very beginning.

Q: And Jinnah wanted religion out of politics.
JS:
Out of politics. That is right — there are innumerable examples.

Q: In fact, Jinnah sensed or feared instinctively that if politics came into religion it would divide.
JS:
There were two fears here. His one fear was that if the whole question or practice of mass movement was introduced into India then the minority in India would be threatened. There could be Hindu-Muslim riots as a consequence. The second fear was that this will result in bringing in religion into Indian politics. He didn’t want that — Khilafat movement, etc are all examples of that.

Q: And in a sense would you say events have borne out Jinnah?
JS:
Not just Jinnah, Annie Besant also. When the Home Rule League broke up — resigning from the League, Annie Beasant cautioned Gandhi you are going down this path, this is a path full of peril.

Q: Both Jinnah and Beasant have been borne out.
JS:
In the sense that mass movement, unless combined with a great sense of discipline, leadership and restraint, becomes chaotic.

Q: As you look back on their lives and their achievements, Jinnah, at the end of the day, stood for creating a homeland for Indian Muslims. But what he produced was moth-eaten and broke up into two pieces in less than 25 years. Gandhi struggled to keep India united, but ended up not just with Partition but with communal passion and communal killing. Would you say at the end of their lives both were failures?
JS:
Gandhi was transparently a honest man. He lived his political life openly. Jinnah didn’t even live his political life, leave alone his private life, openly. Gandhi led his private life openly — (in) Noakhali with a pencil stub he wrote movingly “I don’t want to die a failure but I fear I might.”

Q: And did he in your opinion.
JS:
Yes, I am afraid the Partition of land, the Hindu-Muslim divide, cannot be really called Gandhiji’s great success. Jinnah, I think, did not achieve what he set out to. He got what is called a moth-eaten Pakistan, but the philosophy which under laid that Muslims are a separate nation was completely rejected within years of Pakistan coming into being.

Q: So, in a sense, both failed.
JS:
I am afraid I have to say that. I am, in comparison, a lay practitioner of politics in India. I cannot compare myself to these two great Indians but my assessment would lead me to the conclusion that I cannot treat this as a success either by Gandhi or by Jinnah.

Q: Your book also raises disturbing questions about the Partition of India. You say it was done in a way “that multiplied our problems without solving any communal issue”. Then you ask “if the communal, the principal issue, remains in an even more exacerbated form than before then why did we divide at all?”
JS:
Yes, indeed why? I cannot yet find the answer. Look into the eyes of the Muslims who live in India and if you truly see through the pain they live — to which land do they belong? We treat them as aliens, somewhere inside, because we continue to ask even after Partition you still want something? These are citizens of India — it was Jinnah’s failure because he never advised Muslims who stayed back.

Q: One of the most moving passages of your biography is when you write of Indian Muslims who stayed on in India and didn’t go to Pakistan.You say they are “abandoned”, you say they are “bereft of a sense of kinship”, not “one with the entirety” and then you add that “this robs them of the essence of psychological security”.
JS:
That is right, it does. That lies at the root of the Sachar Committee report.

Q: So, in fact, Indian Muslims have paid the price in their personal lives.
JS:
Without doubt, as have Pakistani Muslims.

Q: Muslims have paid a price on both sides.
JS:
I think Muslims have paid a price in Partition. They would have been significantly stronger in a united India, effectively so — much larger land, every potential is here. Of course Pakistan or Bangladesh won’t like what I am saying.

Q: Let us for a moment focus on Indian Muslims. You are a leader of the BJP. Do you think the rhetoric of your party sometimes adds to that insecurity?
JS:
I didn’t write this book as a BJP parliamentarian or leader, which I am not. I wrote this book as an Indian.

Q: Your book also suggests, at least intellectually, you believe India could face more Partitions. You write: “In India, having once accepted this principle of reservation, then of Partition, how can now we deny it to others, even such Muslims as have had to or chosen to live in India.”
JS:
The problem started with the 1906 reservation. What does Sachar committee report say? Reserve for the Muslim. What are we doing now? Reserve. I think this reservation for Muslims is a disastrous path. I have myself, personally, in Parliament heard a member subscribing to Islam saying we could have a third Partition too. These are the pains that trouble me. What have we solved?

Q:In fact you say in your book how can we deny it to others, having accepted it once it becomes very difficult intellectually to refuse it again.
JS:
You have to refuse it.

Q: Even if you contradict yourself?
JS:
Of course, I am contradicting myself. It is intellectual contradiction.

Q: But you are being honest enough to point out that this intellectual contradiction lies today at the very heart of our predicament as a nation.
JS:
It is. Unless we find an answer, we won’t find an answer to India-Pakistan-Bangladesh relations.

Q: And this continuing contradiction is the legacy of Partition?
JS:
Of course, it is self-evident.

Q: Mr. Jaswant Singh, let’s come to how your book will be received. Are you worried that a biography of Jinnah, that turns on its head the received demonisation of the man; where you concede that for a large part he was a nationalist with admirable qualities, could bring down on your head a storm of protest?
JS:
Firstly, I am not an academic. Sixty years down the line someone else — an academic — should have done it. Then I wouldn’t have persisted for five years. I have written what I have researched and believed in. I have not written to please – it’s a journey that I have undertaken, as I explained myself, along with Mohammedd Ali Jinnah — from his being an ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity to the Qaid-e-Azam of Pakistan

Q: In a sense you were driven to write this book.
JS:
Indeed, I still search for answers. Having worked with the responsibilities that I had, it is my duty to try and find answers.

Q: And your position is that if people don’t like the truth as you see it – so be it, but you have to tell the truth as you know it.
JS:
Well, so be it is your way of putting it, my dear Karan, but how do I abandon my search, my yearning and what I have found? If I am wrong then somebody else should go and do the research and prove me as wrong.

Q: In other words you are presenting what you believe is the truth and you can’t hide it.
JS:
What else can I do, what else can I present?

Q: In 2005, when L.K. Advani called Jinnah’s August 11, 1947 speech secular he was forced to resign the presidentship of the party, are you worried that your party might turn on you in a similar manner?
JS:
This is not a party document, and my party knows that I have been working on this. I have mentioned this to Sri Advani as also to others.

Q: But are they aware of your views and the content of the book?
JS:
They can’t be aware unless they read it.

Q: Are you worried that when they find out about your views, and your analyses and your conclusion, they might be embarrassed and angry?
JS:
No, they might disagree, that’s a different matter. Anger? Why should there be anger about disagreement?

Q: Can I put something to you?
JS:
Yes.

Q: Mr Advani in a sense suffered because he called Jinnah secular. You have gone further, you have compared him to the early Gandhi. And some would say that Gandhi is found a little wanting in that comparison. Will that inflame passions?
JS:
I don’t think Gandhi is found wanting. He was a different person. They are two different personalities, each with their characteristics, why should passions be inflamed? Let a self-sufficient majority, 60 years down the line of Independence, be able to stand up to what actually happened pre-47 and in 1947.

Q: So what you are saying is that Gandhi and Jinnah were different people, we must learn to accept that both had good points.
JS:
Of course.

Q: And both had weaknesses.
JS:
Of course. Gandhi himself calls Jinnah a great Indian, why don’t we recognise that? Why did he call him that? He tells Mountbatten “give the Prime Ministership of India to Jinnah.” Mountbatten scoffs at him, “are you joking?” He says, “no I am serious, I will travel India and convince India and carry this message”.

Q: So if today’s Gandhians, reading the passages where you compare between the two, come to the conclusion that you are more of praise of Jinnah than of Gandhi.
JS:
I don’t think I am. I am objective as far as human beings have ability to be objective. As balanced as an author can be.

Q: As balanced as an author can be.
JS:
Indeed, indeed. How else can it be?

Q: Your party has a Chintan Baithak starting in two days time, does it worry you that at that occasion some of your colleagues might stand up and say — your views, your comments about Jinnah, your comments about Gandhi and Nehru have embarrassed the BJP?
JS:
I don’t think so, I don’t think they will. Because in two days time the book would not have been (read). It’s almost a 600-page book. Difficult to read 600 pages in two days.

Q: No one will have read the book by the time you go to Simla!
JS:
Yes (Laughs).

Q: But what about afterwards?
JS:
Well, we will deal with the afters when the afters come.

Q: Let me raise two issues, that could be a problem for you. First of all, your sympathetic understanding of Muslims left behind in India. You say they are abandoned, you say they are bereft, you say they suffer from psychological insecurity. That’s not normally a position leaders of the BJP take.
JS:
I think, the BJP is misunderstood also in its attitude towards the minorities. I don’t think it is so. Every Muslim that lives in India is a loyal Indian and we must treat them as so.

Q: But you are the first person from the BJP I have ever heard say, “look into the eyes of Indian Muslims and see the pain.” No one has ever spoken in such sensitive terms about them before.
JS:
I am born in a district, that is my home — we adjoin Sind, it was not part of British India. We have lived with Muslims and Islam for centuries. They are part…. In fact in Jaisalmer, I don’t mind telling you, Muslims don’t eat cow and the Rajputs don’t eat pig.

Q: So your understanding of Indian Muslims and their predicament is uniquely personal and you would say…
JS:
Indeed because I think what has happened is that we try and treat this whole thing as if it’s an extension of the image of the UP Muslim. Of course the UP (Muslim) is…Pakistan is a stepchild of UP in a sense.

Q: The second issue that your book raises, which could cause problems for you, is that at least theoretically, at least intellectually, you accept that there could be, although you hope there won’t be, further partitions. Could that embarrass you?
JS:
No, I am cautioning. I am cautioning India, Indian leadership. I have said that I am not going to be a politician all my life, or even a member of Parliament. But I do say this — we should learn from what we did wrong, or didn’t do right, so that we don’t repeat the mistakes.

Q: In other words this is — how shall I put it, a wake up call?
JS:
Wake-up? Shaking….

Q: A shake-up call!
JS:
Yeah (Smiles)

Q: My last question. Critics in your party, allege that you are responsible for the party losing seats in Rajasthan, they allege that you are responsible for asking questions about the sanctity of Hindutva. Now, after this book, have you fed your critics more ammunition against yourself?
JS:
Time will tell (Smiles).

Q: But does it worry you?
JS:
Do I look worried? (Smiles)

Q: With that smile on your face Mr Jaswant Singh. Thank you very much for these two special interviews.
JS:
Thank you very much.

Indian former defence, foreign and finance minister of India and also a former soldier Jaswant Singh released his book Jinnah: India – Partition – Independence on Mohammed Ali Jinnah. I think the conventional notion India holds about Jinnah as a communal leader who caused the bloody partition of the subcontinent will receive a deadly blow.

The book will defenitely attract considerable attention and may be even a fair amount of controversy.  Though Jaswant Singh seems like going one step further than L.K. Advani who made similar remarks three years ago in Pakistan, it is a fact that unlike others, Jinnah created success for himself. Jaswant Singh may have drawn another battleline within the saffron party after releasing his book.

It took five years of research before the book could come out. “If I were not drawn to the personality I wouldn’t have written the book. It’s an intricate, complex personality, of great character, determination,” Jaswant Singh told in an interview to a TV channel ahead of the release of his book.

It was historically not tenable to see Mr Jinnah as the villain of 1947, Mr Singh said. “It is not borne out of the facts… we need to correct it… Muslims saw that unless they had a voice in their own economic, political and social destiny they will be obliterated.”

Mr Singh said the 1946 election was a good example to show the fear held by Muslims. That year, he said: “Jinnah’s Muslim League wins all the Muslim seats and yet they don’t have sufficient numbers to be in office because the Congress Party has, without even a single Muslim, enough to form a government and they are outside of the government.

Jinnah and Nehru

Jinnah and Nehru

“So it was realised that simply contesting elections was not enough… All of this was a search for some kind of autonomy of decision making in their own social and economy destiny.” Mr Jinnah was a great man because he created something out of nothing, Mr Singh said of his newfound hero.

“He single-handedly stood against the might of the Congress Party and against the British who didn’t really like him … Gandhi himself called Jinnah a great Indian. Why don’t we recognise that? Why don’t we see (and try to understand) why he called him that?” Mr Jinnah was as much a nationalist as any leader in India.

“He fought the British for an independent India but also fought resolutely and relentlessly for the interest of the Muslims of India … the acme of his nationalistic achievement was the 1916 Lucknow Pact of Hindu-Muslim unity.”

Among the aspects of Mr Jinnah’s personality Mr Singh said he admired his determination and will to rise. “He was a self-made man. Mahatma Gandhi was the son of a Diwan. All these (people) — Nehru and others — were born to wealth and position. Jinnah created for himself a position. He carved in Bombay, a metropolitan city, a position for himself.

“He was so poor he had to walk to work … he told one of his biographers there was always room at the top but there’s no lift. And he never sought a lift.”

Jinnah & Gandhi

Jinnah & Gandhi

Demolishing the belief that Mr Jinnah hated or disliked Hindus, Mr Singh said the claim was totally wrong. “His principal disagreement was with the Congress Party.”

Going by his interview shown on CNN-IBN on Sunday, Mr Singh holds Mr Jawaharlal Nehru as more culpable than anyone else for the division of the country.

It is not just Jinnah’s anti-Congressism that Jaswant pays a tribute to in his new book. He also writes admiringly about Jinnah’s elegant dressing and suave lifestyle.

The book reassess Nehru’s role in Partition, and sheds fresh light on the relationship between the Mahatma Gandhi and Jinnah.

Muttiah Muralitharan with wife

Muttiah Muralitharan with wife

Six Sri Lankan players and a coach were injured and eight persons, most of them policemen, were killed when a dozen heavily armed 14 terrorists attacked the team’s bus near Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on Tuesday.

Bullet ridden bus, which was carrying Sri Lankan cricket team

Bullet ridden bus, which was carrying Sri Lankan cricket team

Media reported that the Sri Lankan team was not provided adequate security. 

bullet ridden bus

bullet ridden bus

The attack had many similarities to the three-day hostage siege in Mumbai. None of the gunmen were killed, and all fled the scene after a 15-minute shootout with the security officials guarding the cricket convoy. Working in pairs, the attackers in Lahore carried walkie-talkies and backpacks stuffed with water, dried fruits and other high-energy food — a sign they anticipated a protracted siege and may have been planning to take the players hostage.

arms and ammunitions on display

arms and ammunitions on display

Even guests and visitors are not safe in Pakistan. Assured of security reserved for VVIPs, Sri Lanka chose to play in Pakistan when the cricketing world at large saw Pakistan as a pariah state. They chose to play in a country whose very mention invokes images of the most gruesome violence in the minds of everyone outside Pakistan. Incidentally, Sri Lankans paid for their bravado for volunteering to visit Pakistan when India withdrew.

Bullet holes on a window of the bus

Bullet holes on a window of the bus

Five cricketers, including Mahela Jayawardene, the captain, and Kumar Sangakkara, his deputy, received minor injuries.

Mahela Jayawardene with wife Christina Sirisena

Mahela Jayawardene with wife Christina Sirisena

Kumar Sangakkara with wife Yehali and Thillakeratne Dilshan with his baby at Colombo

Kumar Sangakkara with wife Yehali and Thillakeratne Dilshan with his baby at Colombo

Tharanga Paranavitana (L) and Chamara Kapugedera

Tharanga Paranavitana (L) and Chamara Kapugedera

Thilina Thushara Mirando with son

Thilina Thushara Mirando with son

Ajantha Mendis, Thilan Samaraweera and Tharanga Paravitarana were also injured in the attack which killed six security men and two civilians.

Ajantha Mendis

Ajantha Mendis

The squad, including Samaraweera and Paranavitana, whose injuries were more serious, flew out in a chartered plane.  The reserve umpire Ahsan Raza was also injured in the attack. Thilan Samaraweera had a shrapnel wound in his leg.

Thilan Samaraweera

Thilan Samaraweera

Tharanga Paranavitana had a shrapnel in his chest, just on the surface. Kumar Sangakkara had shrapnel injuries in his shoulder. 

Sri Lankan cricket team assistant coach Paul Farbrace

Sri Lankan cricket team assistant coach Paul Farbrace

Sri Lankan cricket team coach Trevor Bayliss

Sri Lankan cricket team coach Trevor Bayliss

Ajantha Mendis had shrapnel in his neck and scalp.

Dilhara Fernando with daughter

Dilhara Fernando with daughter

A special flight carried the Sri Lankan players, including Thilan Samaraweera and Tharanga Paranavitana, who were treated in a hospital for bullet wounds, to Colombo.

Sri Lankan players board a helicopter at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore after the attack

Sri Lankan players board a helicopter at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore after the attack

Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene said living and working in a country troubled by civil war helped save his. Sri Lankans are born and brought up in a background of terrorist activities, thanks to the LTTE. They are used to hearing firings and bombings. The moment they heard the firing sound, they naturally ducked under seats, it was like a natural instinct for them.

 

According to reports, an unknown caller asked police escorting the Sri Lankan team to use the Gulberg route leading to the Gaddafi Stadium instead of Ferozpur Road as had been decided earlier. Police followed the caller’s instructions without ascertaining his identity and fell into the trap.

Pakistan has been helping Sri Lankan government to fight the LTTE. By this attack, is Taliban warning the government of Sri Lanka to stop attacking the LTTE?

The men who attacked the Sri Lankan team bus with hand grenades were no ordinary terrorists. The footage showed it clearly that this was an attack carried out by individuals who have received highly sophisticated combat training. Their approach was quite similar to the Mumbai attacks. The attack shows that Pakistan has many well trained Jihadis like Kasab on its soil who can strike at ease and anywhere.

There have been terror strikes on the sidelines of cricket, but this is the first time players have been directly targeted. The attack is the first major strike against an international sporting team since Palestinian terrorists killed 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Pakistan is not the only unsafe place in world. In 2005, England was playing with Australia at Headingley in a one-day international while the London bombings were happening. Some Australian cricketers wanted to go home but were persuaded by their management to stay.

And this is not the first time security concerns in Pakistan have come to the forefront. In 2001, New Zealand decided not to tour Pakistan following the September 11 attacks. In 2002, New Zealand team cancelled the Pakistan tour after a bomb blast outside Karachi’s Sheraton Hotel where it was staying. In 2008, Australia postponed its tour of Pakistan in the wake of Benazir Bhutto’s assasination in December 2007. Five of eight member countries of the ICC chose not to send their teams to Pakistan for the Champions Trophy in 2008.

In December 2008, the BCCI called off India’s scheduled tour of Pakistan in 2009, following a directive from the government. Five countries, including England, had refused to take part in the Champions Trophy in Pakistan last autumn, forcing the ICC to postpone the event and relocate to Sri Lanka this year. India then pulled out of its Pakistan tour in the wake of the Mumbai attacks, Sri Lanka taking India’s place.

Pakistan’s image has been hit and only time can tell how much damage has been done to Pakistan cricket. The prospects of Pakistan staging part of the 2011 World Cup will be remote. Australia might not change its stance on a country it has been refusing to visit since 1998.

The attack shows that the assurance of the Pakistan government that it provides VVIP security to teams cannot be relied upon. It proves that Pakistan is the world’s most dangerous country. Pakistan has been sheltering the most dreaded terrorists who are let loose at regular intervals to attack India. 

The terrorists by attacking the Sri Lankan players in Lahore have not only brought ill-repute to Pakistan but have killed cricket in Pakistan.

Not only cricketres, but the whole world will abhor and fear going to Pakistan. Tourism will become a thing of the past. Pakistan should wake up and realise that it is the most dangerous place in the world.

It is time to take steps to exterminate jihadis. Blaming terrorist organisaions or any other country does not eradicate militancy and terrorism in Pakistan. It should wake up and root out the real enemy from its soil not only in its own interest, but also in the interest of the world.

jinnah

Posted: January 2, 2009 in politics
Tags: , , ,

IN RETROSPECT: A Fairytale Gone Wrong

Dec.21, 2008 Dawn
By Mazhar M. Chinoy

She requested a close friend in one of her last letters – “Go and see Jinnah and tell me how he is, he has a habit of overworking himself and now that I am not there to tease and bother him, he will be worse than ever.”

They would’ve been married for 90 years last April 19, the staid, steadfast man and the au courant, beautiful woman; he nearly a quarter of a century senior in age, and she smitten by his charm. It was an unlikely love story, and one that in all of its contrasts, was likely to fail.

Ruttie Jinnah died a heart-broken young woman nearly 80 years ago, and for many Pakistanis, a visit to her graveside still remains elusive primarily because very few know where she is, and that she is buried in an old cemetery in Mumbai. Even fewer have actually visited her final resting place to pay respects to one of the only two women ever publicly associated with the Father of the Nation.

I have visited Bombay many times but had always missed out on paying respects at her graveside. But on my last trip early this year, with little time at hand to brave the Bombay traffic and catch the plane back home, I nonetheless gambled on visiting the Shia Isna Ashari Cemetery located at Mazgaon, central Mumbai where she is eternally reposed.

I arrived at the serene graveyard and asked for the attendant who patiently led me to Ruttie’s grave through a labyrinth of tombstones and sepulchers, some of them truly ancient. An imposing structure made of aging marble that rose nearly four feet from the ground, but did not appear very well maintained testified to neglect of many years.

“Do very many people visit her grave?” I asked the attendant. “Not too many”, he answered, “Only people visiting from Pakistan or an occasional curious local.” As it transpired, apparently no relative, near or distant, visits Ruttie. Many of these are the present scions of the wealthy Wadia family, the notable Parsi industrialists. Ruttie and Jinnah’s only child Dina married into the Wadia family, and Ness, famously friends these days with the pretty Priety Zinta is none other than her great grandson.

None of that glamour was evident at Ruttie’s graveside. The marble grave, carved out in floral motifs and small ionic columns must have presented a riveting sight when it was built, and even now appeared somewhat majestic, if only because of the other old, dilapidated graves that surrounded Ruttie’s.

The inscription on the tombstone pronounced her as “Ratanbai Mahomed Ali-Jinnah. Born 20th February, 1900. Died 20th February, 1929”, which suggests that she died the same day she was born. A bit of a misnomer when most historians believe she actually passed away five days shy of her 30th birthday on February 15, 1929. This discrepancy has seemingly been a bit of a dogged debate with many believing that this was an inadvertent error while many others suggesting that this was done as an intriguing honorific suitable for a tragic, fallen angel which many believe she was. While she was buried in a Muslim graveyard, this was still as ‘Ruttie’ and not with her adopted name Mariam.

Very little is known of Rattanbai Dinshaw Petit, except that she was a beautiful and intelligent Parsi woman who married a brilliant lawyer, changed her religion for him and suffered as he went about his political business with apparently little time for her child-like adventurism and romantic interludes. With her family ostracised and Jinnah unable to provide attention, she withdrew into the surreal world of the supernatural and the metaphysical. She began to participate in seances, looking to contact the spirits of people long dead, perhaps hoping to gain some consolation in the hope of a better after-life.

Within 10 years of her marriage, she was virtually separated from Jinnah, and in 1927, moved into the fabled – and lately in news – Taj Mahal Hotel overlooking the India Gate in Bombay with little more than her personal attendant and beloved cats to keep her company. Here, she was to spend the last two years of her life. Her love for Jinnah was no less different than on the first day they met. She requested a close friend in one of her last letters – “go and see Jinnah and tell me how he is, he has a habit of overworking himself and now that I am not there to tease and bother him he will be worse than ever.”

When Ruttie finally passed away, Jinnah was there at the funeral. He was morose but not inclined to display his feelings publicly. Ruttie was buried according to Muslim rituals and the moment the body was interred provided for the first cracks in Jinnah’s armour. He broke down and wept openly – the only time Jinnah was ever seen weeping in public. The cold, unemotional politician credited with the creation of the largest Muslim state, of single-handedly withstanding the combined political might of the British and Congress was an emotive human being after all. And one that fell in love in a fairy tale affair that became a tragedy.

bhutto

Posted: January 2, 2009 in politics
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Remembering Benazir Bhutto
By Irfan Husain
Dec. 27, 2008 Dawn

ALMOST everybody old enough to recall that fateful November day in Texas when JFK was gunned down recalls what he was doing when he heard the news. Similarly, I have a very clear recollection of the day Benazir Bhutto was so brutally murdered exactly a year ago today.
A few days ago, Kamran Shafi wrote movingly about the slain leader on these pages. To me, it seems amazing that a year has passed since the horrifying events in Rawalpindi’s Liaquat Bagh on Dec 27, 2007. I was in England then, having arrived a few days earlier. Just a fortnight before her death, I had met Benazir Bhutto for the last time at Asma Jehangir’s home in Lahore. There, she had been warm and gracious, and asked me to see her in Karachi.
A year after her assassination, it is perhaps possible to step back and analyse the event objectively, and see what her life and death mean for Pakistan and the wider region. The threats and the earlier assassination attempt by Islamic groups, as well as the unfriendly snarls from the establishment, were all indicators of how threatened these forces felt by her return.
But if, as Bhutto’s critics assert, she was willing to cooperate with Musharraf and his creatures, why should he and the jihadis have felt any danger from her presence in the political arena? Surely, a politician willing to accept the status quo should have represented no threat to the existing order. So why go to the lengths they did to silence her forever?The answer lies in what she represented, and not necessarily who she was. The very presence of a woman in a position of authority in a paternalistic society like Pakistan poses a perceived danger to the ‘natural’ order of things. In our country, women have a distinctly inferior position. So a hugely popular woman who is a role model for millions represents a clear danger to those who want to cling to power in the name of religious sanction.
Throughout her political career, Benazir Bhutto was criticised by opponents as being ‘western’. This is a derogatory label applied to all those who hold modern, rational views that are out of line with the retrogressive ideas that seek to make women second-class citizens, and the minorities non-persons. Bhutto was passionate about bringing about social change, and this is why the dispossessed of Pakistan supported her. And this is also why the rich hated her. Her critics say she did not achieve much, and this might well be true. But as long as she had a chance of returning to power, she was a threat to the status quo.
For the military establishment, she was simply unacceptable because she was a Bhutto and a Sindhi. Two generations of officers have been brainwashed into believing that the military debacle of 1971 was caused by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s refusal to allow the Awami League to take power, and effectively shift the centre of gravity of the country from Islamabad to Dhaka. These people conveniently forget that Gen Yahya Khan was in power as an army dictator in those days, and all decisions were taken by his coterie of dissolute generals. Whatever the historical causes of the break-up of Pakistan, the army was directly responsible for the disaster.
For religious parties, a woman in authority is anathema. A woman prime minister to them is the first step towards gender equality, something they have been fighting tooth and nail since the creation of Pakistan. Over the years, they have colluded with any politician and general to make sure that no party with social reform on its agenda comes to power. And when the PPP won the 1970 elections, they began plotting with the army and right-wing politicians to topple the government. For these religious leaders, Benazir Bhutto’s return to Pakistan at a time when the militants were rampant was bad news. After being given free rein by Musharraf for nine years, the jihadis and their sponsors did not want to face a popular leader who was against everything they stood for.
While Nawaz Sharif and the other conservative politicians are prepared to engage the Taliban and their clones in a dialogue, Benazir Bhutto recognised very clearly the danger they pose to Pakistan. For these militants, any offer of negotiations is a sign of weakness; and if they accept a truce, it is to rearm and regroup. Benazir Bhutto understood that this was a war to the end, and no negotiated settlement was possible with a foe that wanted to impose its stone-age views on the rest of us. And because they insist that they have the sanction of Islam, they refuse to compromise. Given these diametrically opposed world views, militants like Baitullah Mehsud saw her as an enemy who had to be removed from the scene.
Critics accuse Benazir Bhutto of having supported the Taliban in their infancy in the mid-1990s. It is true that General Naseerullah Babar, her interior minister at the time, did recommend that her government should help the Taliban end the ruinous civil war in Afghanistan as he thought he had some leverage with the ragtag band of Islamic students. Nobody at the time could have imagined what a dangerous and repulsive genie was being let out of the bottle. While we might disagree with her decision with the benefit of hindsight, nobody can argue that she was not squarely against everything the Taliban represent.
Although she was a deeply religious person, her beliefs did not make her presume she had the right to impose her faith on anybody else. Her education and experience had opened her mind to modern ideas and rational thought in a way many of her countrymen do not appreciate to this day. And although she was certainly fallible, and made many mistakes, she genuinely wanted the best for her country and her people.
During her lifetime and her brief stints in power, she suffered many hardships and humiliations. But she did not allow these experiences to embitter her. When many of her supporters were appalled at her willingness to forgive her bitterest foes, and take back the many traitors the PPP has spawned, she remained magnanimous to the very end. Ultimately, it was this ability to rise above the fray and forgive that set her apart from other politicians.
Sadly, the party she led so successfully is now in less capable hands. One can only hope it survives its fourth stint in power, even though it is no longer a threat to the status quo.