Pakistan’s Jinnah was No Secularist
Pakistan’s founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah seems to have emerged as the flavor of the season in South Asia by the release of a book on him by BJP’s now expelled senior leader Jaswant Singh. Consequent to the release of this book politicians, academics and historians in India and Pakistan are avidly trying to belatedly and in revisionist terms trying to paint and whitewash Jinnah as having been a great secularist who was pushed to demand a separate Muslim State of Pakistan. Jinnah was no secularist by any objective analysis of the turbulent Indian political scene from 1916 to 1947. Jinnah’s last speech in Pakistan’s Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947 where he alluded to secularism was a belated and much belated attempt to reclaim for himself in history that he was not a rank “communalist”. Jinnah’s very demand for a separate homeland for Indian Muslims was in essence and intentions not “secularist” by any stretch of history and imagination.. Jinnah’s demand for Pakistan was outright “communal” laced with intense religious Muslim fanaticism and violence that he unleashed on the Hindu majority to achieve his demand for Pakistan.
Pakistan today would not be in the state that it is today in had a “secularist” Jinnah bequeathed “secularism” as a political legacy to the nation of which he was the founder. Further, Jinnah’s pernicious “Two Nation Theory’ which formed the basis for his demand for Pakistan, was repudiated by Indian Muslims at the time of Partition itself when over thirty million Indian Muslims opted to stay back in the Indian Republic in comparison to about eight million who moved to Pakistan in search of Jinnah’s elusive dream and still termed as Mohajjirs.
In a strange coincidence of historical irony, Pakistan’s political turbulence is today dominated by the same phenomena that were used as political tools by Jinnah to secure Pakistan from an unwilling Indian political leadership reluctant to concede Partition, namely intolerance and political violence in the name of Islam.
In India it should not be anyone’s case that had India’s political leaders not pushed Jinnah and accommodated his demands for political parity with the Hindu majority community India would have remained united or in some form of confederacy, a reality check would indicate otherwise.
One does not know what reasons impelled Jaswant Singh to carry out a revisionist appraisal of Pakistan’s founder Jinnah. Why was Jaswant Singh quiet on the subject for more than three decades of his political life with the BJP? Was it to reinforce the RSS’s dreams of ‘Akhand Bharat?
Or was it to position himself advantageously with the Indian Muslim electorate in relation to the next elections and project his secular image and as a moderate Hindu despite being in the BJP?
It is not for this Columnist to be judgmental on Jaswant Singh’s motives but then he is not in a position either to stop those who want to speculate on those lines. Possibly his revisionist views on Jinnah would not have drawn much attention in India but for the controversy he has generated through this book of holding Nehru and Sardar Patel as equally guilty as Jinnah for bringing about the Partition of India.
This Columnist has serious doubts whether all the accommodative stances of Nehru and Sardar Patel in accommodating Jinnah’s unreasonable demands would have in any way persuaded Jinnah from his obsessive and consuming passion of securing Pakistan at any cost. Jinnah’s directions to unleash unparalleled violence and arson by ‘Direct Action’ on the Hindu majority in Calcutta in 1946 was the true indicator as to what violent lengths Jinnah was ready to go to fulfill his obsession, and further that he was no “secularist” willing to co-exist in a secular India.
Nehru and Sardar Patel were right in their judgment that the appeasement of Jinnah could go no further and that a parting of the ways was the only viable option then left.
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Dr. Subhash Kapila
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