Forum for Secular Pakistan: lecture on “Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s Political Career and Vision” by Dr Ajeet Jawed

Invitation from Javed Ahmed Qazi Secretary General, Forum for Secular Pakistan:

Forum for Secular Pakistan has organised a lecture on “Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s Political Career and Vision”  by  renowned Indian research scholar, Dr Ajeet Jawed, on Saturday 30th June, 2012, at 4:30 PM, at Jinnah Medical and Dental College, Shaheed-e-Millat Road, Karachi. You are cordially invited to have your input in the interactive session with the author of the book “Secular and Nationalist Jinnah”, a book which had raised a lot of debate especially in India. Continue reading

Petition: STOP the violence against Pakistan’s religious communities

Pakistan needs rule of law and de-politicisation of police. Those engaging criminal offences like hate speech, threats and incitement to violence, and vigilante violence must be charged, tried, prosecuted, and punished. We will not allow people in public office or public positions, like political parties and traders’ unions to go around supporting hate-campaigns and violence. Please sign this petition demanding an end to violence against religious communities in Pakistan Continue reading

Conversations 12: A grounding for reconciliation

I forgot to upload the last few Conversations published in The News on Sunday, Aman ki Asha page in Political Economy. The entire archives are also up at the Aman ki Asha website

A grounding for reconciliation

Dilip D’Souza and Beena Sarwar continue their email discussion, questioning state versions of history and politics

May 20, 2010

Dear Beena,

So here you go – on my wife’s birthday I am taking a couple of hours off to write this to you. Please send whatever brownie points I’m eligible for to various powers that be in our countries.

Facetiousness aside, I’m once more in the hills as I write, this time in the south. Such a clean, quiet, beautiful spot. So peaceful, in fact, given our discussions for several weeks now, I cannot help wondering if such peace is the exception in our part of the world, rather than the rule; and if so, will that ever change? Is it meant only for an incredibly lucky few? Continue reading

CONVERSATIONS-4: It’s about time

Published in The News on Sunday Aman ki Asha page, Political Economy section, on March 14, 2010

Conversations 4: It’s about time

Dilip D’Souza and Beena Sarwar continue their correspondence, attempting to share thoughts honestly, without fear and hostility, exploring what divides our countries, and seeking ways to bridge the divide

March 11, 2010

Dear Beena,

Again, so much to address! But since I asked what annoys you about Indians, and since you answered so frankly, let me make that the theme for this installment of our exchange, and in two ways.

First, your beef is with “the hard-nosed nationalism and sense of superiority of many Indians, the refusal to introspect and see flaws within their own society.” Personally, I’m bothered too by this reluctance to see flaws, by the sense of almost manifest destiny and even entitlement that a lot of us Indians nurse. Continue reading

Bring back Jagannath Azad’s Pakistan anthem

The death in custody of another ‘blasphemy accused’ once again highlights what many of us have long been stressing: a need to repeal the ‘blasphemy laws’, train the police force, revise the education curriculum to remove the hate-mongering, and enforce law and order with a firm hand.

Below, my article on Pakistan’s first national anthem by Jagan Nath Azad (slightly abbreviated version published today in Dawn ‘Another time, another anthem’)

Prof. Jagan Nath Azad. Photo courtesy: Chander K. Azad, Jammu

Prof. Jagan Nath Azad. Photo courtesy: Chander K. Azad, Jammu

Beena Sarwar

As children we learnt that Pakistan didn’t have a national anthem until the 1950s. My journalist uncle Zawwar Hasan used to tell us of a reporter friend who visited China in the early 1950s. Asked about Pakistan’s national anthem, he sang the nonsensical ‘laralapa laralapa’.

If these journalists were unaware that Pakistan had a national anthem — commissioned and approved in 1947 by by no less a person than the country’s founder and first Governor General, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, long before Hafeez Jullandri’s Persianised lyrics were adopted as the anthem in 1954 — ordinary citizens may be forgiven for their ignorance. Continue reading

Hey Ram, the Things the Financial Times Group Does!

From Counterpunch, Sept 2, 2009

Narendra Modi’s Fanatic Heart

By VIJAY PRASHAD

A city, burning
Smoke billowing through the holes
Spreading into every eye
Every dream.

Adil Mansuri (1936-2008).

Things are at a bad pass for the Indian far right. Its political party, the BJP, is in disarray. At their last “chintan baithak,” (introspection meeting) in Simla, the leadership went at each other for their poor showing in the general election earlier this year. Expulsion followed expulsion, as formerly revered men and women were found guilty of one kind of infraction or another. A book by a former head-man of the party, Jaswant Singh (one time foreign minister and close confidant of Strobe Talbott), on Pakistan’s “father of the nation” Mohammed Ali Jinnah provided the opportunity for more blood letting. Singh gave credence to what the history profession already knew (from Ayesha Jalal’s useful biography of Jinnah), which is that Jinnah was hardly the clownish bigot so carefully portrayed in Richard Attenborough’s Greatest Hits of Gandhi (1983). Singh was shown the door. The Hindu right cut its teeth singing songs against Jinnah. He was always the “bad Muslim.” There are not many “good Muslims” in the Hindu Right’s cosmos.

With Jaswant Singh went Sudheendra Kulkarni, onetime Leftist and journalist turned intellectual bagman for the Hindu Right’s leader, L. K. Advani. A few days later, another former journalist who had done so much to burnish the credentials of the Hindu Right, Arun Shourie, went apoplectic on a television show. He accused the rump leadership of ineffectiveness, and went so far as to quote Mao, asking the cadre to “bombard the headquarters.” In the party of the far right, a call to arms is not made lightly. The fellows often take the thinkers seriously. Fortunately, Shourie’s writ runs in the chattering classes alone, and they were too busy locking up the silver to rush out and throw candelabra at the BJP’s citadel. Shourie is the former Minister for Disinvestment, a surreal post whose portfolio was blocked by massive protests. He was discomforted by the current boss, Rajnath Singh, whom he called Alice in Blunderland. Nothing in the ideology of the far right came under criticism from him, or from others who were on the way out.

The RSS, which operates as a sort of Reichsleitung (party directorate) of the Hindu Right, hastily tried to take charge of the collapse of its parliamentary arm. Mohan Bhagwat, the Sarsangchalak or headman of the RSS, told a press conference that the BJP would “rise from the ashes,” an indication of how bad things had become for the movement. BJP leaders rushed to the RSS headquarters to get the blessings of Bhagwat and to prove their Saffron bonafides. Gujarat’s Chief Minister Narendra Modi played a crucial role at the Simla introspection meeting. Some accused his prime ministerial ambitions of scuttling the BJP’s electoral chances in this go-around. Modi has a terrible reputation as an extremist of the far right, which gives pause to a population that was fortunately distracted by matters of the stomach to concentrate on jingoism. The murmurs of the BJP dissidents were not taken lightly. Modi is ambitious and has built a strong following among both the RSS and the party’s base. They like his clarity: no wavering from the hard right’s aversion to Muslims. Few contemporary politicians in India have their face on t-shirts. Modi is the far right’s Obama.

As all this transpired before the television cameras, the investigative moles of the Indian State gathered up their paperwork and went before various high and supreme courts, seeking permission to open an investigation against Modi. In April, Mrs. Zakia Jafri, whose husband Congress Member of Parliament Ahsan Jafri was killed in cold blood during the pogrom of 2002, and human rights activist Teesta Setalvad moved the Supreme Court to investigate the Modi government. In June, the Court ordered the Special Investigation Team (SIT) to “take steps as required by Law.” The wheels of justice had finally been wiped of their rust. The BJP tried to stop the process in the Gujarat High Court, but the state court declined and moved the SIT to continue its work (which would include the registration of a First Information Report against those whom it would accuse, including, perhaps the Chief Minister, Narendra Modi). There is ample evidence of Modi’s role in that pogrom, engineered as it was by his state apparatus and party (Human Rights Watch has a very clear report on this, chillingly called We Have No Orders to Save You, 2002). Two thousand people were killed in this state-engineered campaign. A virtuous police officer, Rahul Sharma, at the Ahmedabad police control room taped the calls coming from local Hindu right leaders to the Chief Ministers’ office during the heat of the riot. Modi is said to have egged them on. Now the government has finally taken notice. The boiling oil of legality was set to pour on Modi.

To divert attention from all this, Modi went ahead and banned the book on Jinnah written by his erstwhile comrade-in-arms (or put together by him; my teacher, C. M. Naim wrote a piece in the Indian Express showing several instances of plagiarism). Once expelled from the BJP, Jaswant Singh has let loose. He revealed that after the Gujarat pogrom some in the BJP leadership wanted to remove Modi. They were overruled at that time. Modi had too much support in the party, and besides his views had been given credence by the BJP’s then leader, Atal Bihari Vajpayee (on April 12, 2002, when the pogroms fires had only just begun to simmer, Vajpayee told a gathering in Goa, that Muslims, all Muslims, “tend not to live in co-existence with others, not to mingle with others, and instead of propagating their ideas in a peaceful manner, they want to spread their faith by resorting to terror and threats” – this is the sort of rude ideology of the far right, shared by its most eloquent and well-regarded leader, Vajpayee). Singh tried to hide behind Vajpayee in this, saying that the grand old leader had been distressed by the Gujarat massacres. No such evidence was given in public. At any rate, Singh’s breach of faith could not be tolerated. Modi struck back by banning the book in his state. The Supreme Court stepped in to prevent the banning, just as the RSS chief Bhagwat is to be in Gujarat to discuss the book and the fallout with Modi. The nadir for Modi is on the horizon.

Personality of the Year

Then comes FDI magazine, a five year old publication devoted to foreign direct investment and owned by the Financial Times’s parent company, the Pearson Group. Its editor, Courtney Fingar points out that her magazine investigates “issues that concern foreign investors,” talks to “leading corporate executives and government leaders” and highlights “the many opportunities and risks that await investors around the world.” It is a classic corporate magazine, little of interest to the general reader, a pretence of real journalism when it is actually filled with corporate and governmental press releases transcribed into better English. For that, FDI provides a real service.

As part of the press release culture, FDI picked Narendra Modi as the Asian Personality of 2009, citing in particular that he had attracted $2.8 billion in foreign direct investment to Gujarat (10.3% of the total FDI coming into India). This was in late August, just as the proverbial you-know-what hit the fan in the chief minister’s Gandhinagar residence. The FDI tribute was a boon to Modi. It was a nice way to take the spotlight off the 2002 investigations. The magazine is either ignorant of Modi’s checkered career, or else some mischief is afoot. It is probably the former. After all, in a manner of speaking, Modi makes the trains run on time.

What is remarkable about this award is that the Financial Times, the flagship of the Group, itself took Modi to pieces after the pogrom. Edward Luce, who was then the FT’s man in India and later wrote a very thoughtful book about India (In Spite of the Gods: the strange rise of India, 2007), put his case in a long piece on July 4, 2003 called “Faith, Caste and Poverty.” Luce didn’t hold back. When the BJP began its ascent in 1990, its leader L. K. Advani went on a national tour to garner support. Modi was his Gujarat man, and when Advani sailed through the state, Modi ran the organization, which included “a trail of anti-Muslim violence wherever [Advani's cavalcade] went.” Calling Modi “India’s most hardline Hindu nationalist,” Luce described the 2002 pogrom which took the lives of 2000 Muslims and which cleansed Ahmedabad of 800,000 Muslim residents. “The riots followed a ruthlessly well-organized pattern,” Luce continued, “Armed with electoral rolls, mobs moved from one Muslim locality to another.” He quoted from Dr. Hanif Lakdawala, “They raped the women and the children. Then they poured kerosene down their throats and set them on fire. Their male relatives were forced to watch. Afterwards they were killed as well.” The police stood down. So did the other arms of the State. Luce went and interviewed Modi. When asked about the riots and the refugees, he prevaricated: “Your question is very loaded,” or “That is a myth peddled by vested interests,” or indeed, “Your question is factually incorrect.”

Courtney Fingar- fDi publicity photo

Courtney Fingar- fDi publicity photo

Courtney Fingar could have read this article on the FT’s website, where it is easily available, or else read the section in Luce’s book called “The Imaginary Horse.” It would have been instructive. She might even have run a quick google search and discovered that this is not yesterday’s news, but that the SIT investigation is set to go ahead and revisit the events that Luce so vividly described in the FT. Modi was denied a visa to enter the United States in 2005. This is remarkable, given how licentious the State Department is with visas to mass murderers who are otherwise given over to neoliberal capitalism. When Modi wanted to visit the US once more in 2008, the US Commission on Religious Freedom put the kibosh on the visit. He withdrew his application. It says a lot about the degeneration of standards at a magazine owned by a mainstream media conglomerate, with all the resources at its disposal, that it still wants to associate itself with a man widely regarded as responsible for leading the destruction of Gujarati society.

Then there is the small matter of how magazines like FDI calculate foreign direct investment. They typically look at the Memorandums of Understanding, which are often signed with a lot of hoopla and are not always acted upon. In fact, the MoUs signed by the government of Gujarat have only been acted upon 21% of the time (and a significant number of MoUs are written between government agencies). Modi likes to talk big about Gujarat’s economic development. Robert Kaplan did a cozy interview with him for the Atlantic Monthly (“India’s New Face,” April 2009) in which he did not deviate from the script. Kaplan went over the complaints about Modi, the comparisons with Hitler for example, and concluded, that Modi is really “part CEO with prodigious management abilities, part rabble-rouser with a fierce ideological following.” Modi wanted to talk about development, ducking questions about the 2002 riots. Kaplan ends his piece hoping that this “managerial genius” would pull it together, get rid of the extremism and inhabit his business side. But Luce had questioned that earlier, pointing out that Modi is not responsible for Gujarat’s take-off in the early 1990s. He simply took credit for it.

A few years ago, journalists Dionne Bunsha (for Frontline) and Salil Tripathi (for The Mint) went over the economic evidence and concluded, independently, that Modi is bad for business. In 1995, Gujarat drew in 14.5% of all foreign investment coming into India. Modi became Chief Minister in 2001. In 2002, the rate of investment dropped to 8.78% and then by 2005 it went to 7.67%. Tripathi joined Luce’s doubts, writing, “The sobering reality is that Gujarat had the lead in 1995 which it lost after the [2002] violence, and is trying to regain its erstwhile pre-eminent position. The fundamentals to attract investments-industrial peace, great infrastructure and ancillary industries-preceded Modi’s tenure. The Narmada dams were already under construction, workers polished diamonds in Palanpur, petrochemicals and cars were made in Vadodara, milk flowed from Anand, yarn churned out in Hazira and a refinery was being built in Jamnagar, much before Modi took office. Gujarat’s rural prosperity is substantially, though not entirely, due to significant remittances from overseas Gujaratis.” Human development figures for Gujarat are abysmal, with little improvement during Modi’s tenure.

Even the business community recognized this. The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) offered its complaints in 2002. Three CEOs, Airfreight’s Cyrus Guzder, HDFC’s Deepak Parekh and Thermax’s Anu Agha went public with their criticisms. But hastily Gujarat’s business community stood behind Modi, afraid, in many ways, that any less than this would put them into a difficult position. At a Confederation meeting in 2003, historian Jairus Banaji questioned Modi for his blather on corporate governance, when justice was denied to the Muslims of Gujarat. “Why does the CII give credibility to a politician who has blood on his hands,” Banaji asked. When others wanted Banaji thrown out of the gala, Modi stopped them. He offered his defense and then, in speaking of the transparency in his state, smirked, “An individual can check where his file is taking a rest.” The barons of Indian industry smiled and apologized to Modi. In October 2002, a few industrialists formed the Group of American Businesses in Gujarat to promote their interests. Industry Minister Suresh Mehta addressed the founding meeting of this group, created to “re-brand” Gujarat after the 2002 pogrom. “Some doubts have been created in foreign countries,” said Mehta, as the group’s Vice Chairman Kaushal Mehta (CEO of Motif) noted, that industrialists would have to “create brand awareness about Gujarat in US.” FDI magazine has helped the Group of American Businesses in Gujarat “rebrand” Modi.

The head of the Pearson Group, which owns the Financial Times and FDI is Dame Marjorie Scardino. She also sits on the board of the MacArthur Foundation, which is devoted to peace and security. Mira Kamdar and I drafted a letter to her, asking her to act against this atrocity. I’m sure Edward Luce feels the same way as us, and certainly much of the newsroom of the Financial Times must be appalled. Hundreds of people have signed on to the letter which we sent to Dame Scardino. Modi thrives on this kind of naïve publicity. He must not be allowed to get away with it. Within a few hours of the email campaign and our letter to Dame Scardino, we got an email from Courtney Fingar. The FDI has found a way to nuzzle out of a fix. They now say that “the criteria of the award has always remained focused on rewarding a region in attracting foreign investment.” This could not have been all that clear, because Fingar also wrote, “FDI has also decided to highlight the geographic regions of all the other winners.” Now Gujarat will get the award, not Modi. This is something. But not enough. Modi will still take credit for this. He should not be allowed to do so.

Vijay Prashad is the George and Martha Kellner Chair of South Asian History and Director of International Studies at Trinity College, Hartford, CT His new book is The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World,New York: The New Press, 2007, which was chosen for the Muzaffar Ahmad Book Award, 2009. He can be reached at: vijay.prashad@trincoll.edu


‘Jinnah’s Secularism: A Hindu wrote Pak’s first national anthem’

Photo of Jagannath Azad in PIA's 'Hamsafar', Aug 2009

Photo of Jagannath Azad in PIA’s ‘Hamsafar’, Aug 2009

I first learnt about Pakistan’s original national anthem, especially commissioned by Mr Jinnah from the poet Jaganath Azad of Lahore, in ‘Hamsafar‘, Pakistan International Airlines’ monthly magazine in its August issue when flying back to Karachi from Lahore on Aug 9. This national anthem lasted only until a few months after Mr Jinnah’s death – after which his successors commissioned a more Persianised one that Hafeez Jullandari wrote. Please note, you would never have read this in any official literature a couple of years ago, ‘enlightened moderation’ notwithstanding. Continue reading

Jinnah revisited, thank you Jaswant Singh

Scan from PIA's 'Hamsafar', Aug 2009 issue with postage stamp featuring Azad

Scan from PIA's 'Hamsafar', Aug 2009 issue, with Azad's lyrics and a picture of the postage stamp featuring Hafeez Jullandari whose lyrics later became Pakistan's national anthem.

I first learnt about Pakistan’s original national anthem, especially commissioned by Mr Jinnah from the poet  Jaganath Azad of Lahore, in ‘Hamsafar‘, Pakistan International Airlines’ monthly magazine in its  August issue when flying back from Lahore on Aug 9. (Please note, no official literature would have carried this information a couple of years ago, enlightened moderation notwithstanding)

This national anthem lasted only until Mr Jinnah’s death – after which his successors commissioned a more Persianised one that Hafeez Jullandari wrote. A subsequent article in The Kashmir Times, confirmed this startling (for me) information, Jinnah’s Secularism: A Hindu wrote Pak’s first national anthem.

Note: Just learnt that Zaheer A. Kidvai talked about this in his blogpost of May 03, 2009,Windmills of my mind – ‘A Tale of Two Anthems’, thanks Zak)

Here’s my article on the Jaswant Singh-Jinnah controversy, published in Hardnews, New Delhi (Sept issue), and The News on Sunday,Pakistan.

Jinnah revisited, thank you Jaswant Singh

How did Mohammad Ali Jinnah — the ‘architect of Hindu-Muslim unity’ — end up founding a ‘Muslim country’?

By Beena Sarwar

Generations have grown up in India and in Pakistan fed on distorted versions of history. Attempts to counter these versions don’t go down too well at home, as Jaswant Singh found when he challenged the Indian version that lays the entire blame for the Partition on the shoulders of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, ignoring the parts played by Nehru, the Congress and the British.

Ironically, while eulogising the country’s founder as the Quaid-e-Azam or Great Leader, Pakistan has also censored him, sweeping aside his guiding principles, secularism and insistence on justice and constitutionalism. Similarly, in I

ndia Mahatma Gandhi is eulogised while his guiding principles and insistence on non-violence are made increasingly irrelevant.

Each side conveniently forgets the extremisms of its dominant faith. Hindu extremism existed well before 1947 (remember who killed Gandhi) as did Muslim extremism, particularly since 1857, when the British drove a wedge between the two religious communities. Both continue to feed off each other.

Official textbooks, policies or public discourse ignore the findings of scholars like Mubarik Ali, Ayesha Jalal and K.K. Aziz in Pakistan, and Romila Thapar, K.N. Panikkar and Sumit Sarkar in India whose work is based on solid research and facts rather than emotive myths. There is no official support for a joint history project.

Jaswant Singh’s latest work on Jinnah had not hit the Pakistani bookstalls at the time of writing. But from reported and televised statements and published extracts his thesis appears to be similar to Ayesha Jalal’s seminal work The Sole Spokesman: Jinnah, the Muslim League and the Demand for Pakistan (Cambridge University Press, 1985).

The controversy arises not from what Singh has written but from who he is: a founding member of the BJP, a party that has long attempted to communalise or saffronise India’s history. Given this agenda, what is surprising that not that the BJP sacked him or that the Gujarat government banned his book, but that Singh did not expect this. After all, he is not the first BJP leader to acknowledge Jinnah as secular — L.K. Advani did that during his groundbreaking June 2005 visit to his birthplace Karachi. The BJP didn’t go as far as expelling him, but he did have to resign as party head.

In Pakistan, this pettiness triggers off a puerile satisfaction that ‘their’ communal-mindedness has been exposed, for all ‘their’ posturing on democracy. But then, as some Pakistani newspaper columnists and editorials have commented, no one here (let alone from among ‘our’ right-wing nationalists, the BJP’s counterparts), is likely to embark on similar research on an Indian leader.

We know that Jinnah was an unlikely contender for a ‘Muslim leader’. But in Pakistan, there will be no public mention of his non-fasting during Ramzan or ignorance about the Muslim prayer. Jinnah’s marriage to the Zoroastrian Rati Petit is similarly glossed over. Jinnah joined Congress in 1906, remained a member after joining the All India Muslim League (AIML) in 1913, and brokered the Congress-League Lucknow Pact of 1916. Ever the constitutionalist, he played a key role in the formation of the All India Home Rule League pushing for India’s recognition as a British dominion, like Ireland or New Zealand. How did this ‘architect of Hindu-Muslim unity’, as Sarojini Naidu termed him, end up founding a ‘Muslim country’?

Jinnah’s differences with the Congress developed after the arrival on the scene of the populist M.K. Gandhi, coincidentally also a Guajarati lawyer. Jinnah, believing that independence could be achieved through constitutional means alone, opposed Congress adopting Gandhi’s non-violent civil disobedience movement to gain swaraj (self-rule) and the use of religious symbols to achieve this end — the Hindu symbols used by Gandhi or the Muslim slogans raised by Muhammad Ali and Shaukat Ali Jauhar. He was aghast when Congress, prompted by Gandhi, decided to join the Indian Khilafat Movement as a means to boost the anti-imperial, nationalist movement in India. Many saw this as a defining point of Hindu-Muslim unity. Jinnah disagreed. He termed the Khilafat as communal and religiously divisive, resigned from the Congress and turned his attention to the Muslim League and the political enfranchisement of Indian Muslims whom he increasingly saw as his constituency.

In The Sole Spokesman, Ayesha Jalal explains that Jinnah was not thinking of a ‘separate Muslim state’ when he argued for ‘weightage’ — giving Muslims representation on the basis of political significance rather than population. He demanded a disproportionate 33 percent representation for Muslims in each state or province where they formed a minority (averaging 15 per cent of the population) except where they formed over half and up to two thirds of the population — Kashmir, Hyderabad (Deccan), Bengal, NWFP, Balochistan, Sindh and the Punjab.

When the Nehru Report of 1928 (authored by Motilal Nehru) rejected this and other demands, Jinnah responded with his Fourteen Points of 1929, enunciating his conviction that Hindus and Muslims would eventually have to part ways politically if Indian Muslims were to obtain political representation. He turned to the idea of a separate state or states for Indian Muslims “within the Indian federation” — his vision right up to the months leading to Partition, according to Jalal. His demand for ‘Pakistan’ was basically a “bargaining counter” to gain leverage: he wanted to keep his options “open for a constitutional arrangement which would cover the whole of India” and steer a path between majority and minority while giving himself a role at the centre. The Muslim League’s famous resolution of Lahore, March 23, 1940, calling for the formation of Hindu and Muslim states in India as a condition of independence, makes no mention of ‘partition’ or ‘Pakistan’.

This is because Jinnah’s vision for ‘Pakistan’ did not entail the partition of India, writes Jalal, but “its regeneration into an union where Pakistan and Hindustan would join to stand together proudly against the hostile world without. This was no clarion call of pan-Islam; this was not pitting Muslim India against Hindustan; rather it was a secular vision of a polity where there was real political choice and safeguards, the India of Jinnah’s dreams.”

This strategy backfired firstly because the British, eager to cut their losses and leave, rushed ahead with Partition. Secondly, rather than agree to Jinnah proposal (an undivided Indian federation with a weak centre), the Congress saw the advantages of an India divided but with a strong centre and separation of the provinces outside its ken (keep those wild western tribes at bay) — even at the cost of dividing Punjab and Bengal. Jinnah found this division abhorrent, resulting in what he called a ‘truncated and moth-eaten’ nation.

Jinnah’s attempts to give Pakistan direction are reflected in the decision to commission a Hindu poet, Jaganath Azad of Lahore, to write Pakistan’s national anthem, in the provisional Assembly’s first constitution-making act — the appointment on August 10 of a Committee on Fundamental Rights and Matters relating to Minorities, headed by Jinnah himself — and in his first speech to the Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947, outlining his vision for the new nation.

This speech, meant to be his political will and testament according to his official biographer Hector Bolitho (Jinnah: Creator of Pakistan, John Murray, London, 1954), talks first about the inherited problems of the new country — the maintenance of law and order, with the State fully protecting “the life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects”, the “curse” of bribery and corruption, the “monster” of black-marketing, and the “great evil” of nepotism. He then discusses the issue of Partition (“the only solution of India’s constitutional problem”) — history would judge its merits or demerits but since it had happened, “we should wholly and solely concentrate on the well-being of the people, and especially of the masses and the poor.”

He urges the assembly members to “work in co-operation, forgetting the past, burying the hatchet…If you change your past and work together in a spirit that everyone of you, no matter to what community he belongs, no matter what relations he had with you in the past, no matter what is his colour, caste or creed, is first, second and last a citizen of this State with equal rights, privileges, and obligations, there will be no end to the progress you will make.

“I cannot emphasize it too much. We should begin to work in that spirit and in course of time all these angularities of the majority and minority communities, the Hindu community and the Muslim community, because even as regards Muslims you have Pathans, Punjabis, Shias, Sunnis and so on, and among the Hindus you have Brahmins, Vashnavas, Khatris, also Bengalis, Madrasis and so on, will vanish. Indeed if you ask me, this has been the biggest hindrance in the way of India to attain the freedom and independence…

“Therefore, we must learn a lesson from this. You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State… We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State…. Now I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State.”

The issues he outlined still haunt India and Pakistan today. His successors were quick to reject his vision. After Jinnah’s death on September 11, 1948, the assembly commissioned a new national anthem, consigning Jaganath Azad’s lyrics to history. Jinnah’s speech of Aug 11 was literally censored “by hidden hands”, as Zamir Niazi, the late chronicler of media freedoms details in his book ‘Press in Chains’ (Karachi Press Club, 1986). And a month after his death, his successors passed the Safety Act Ordinance of 1948, providing for detention without trial — that Jinnah had in March angrily dismissed as a “black law”. It is inconceivable that Jinnah would have agreed to the ‘Objectives Resolution’ that the Constituent Assembly passed in March 1949, laying the basis for formally recognising Pakistan as a state based on an ideology.

We are still paying the price for these follies. Thank you Jaswant Singh, for reminding us.

Also see: ‘Censoring the Quaid’ by Dr M. Sarwar, Aug 7, 1991 The Frontier Post)

Peace please, musically

No Saazish No Jung - Times of India, July14-09-

No Saazish No Jung - Times of India, July14-09-

Shahvar Ali Khan: “No Saazish, No Jung”

In January I posted out information to my  yahoogroup about a joint signature campaign between Indians and Pakistanis, and also a note from a Lahori who loves Mumbai, Shahvar Ali Khan

(A Lahori’s love for Mumbai; Pk-India joint signature campaign – http://groups.yahoo.com/group/beena-issues/message/1028)com/

Recently, Shahvar wrote, composed and sang a song “No Saazish, No Jung” (no conspiracy, no war) – which you can download at – http://www.shahvaralikhan.com/

I’m thrilled that it’s getting some media attention even without a video. There was a piece in Instep, The News on Sunday, Pakistan on July 06, 2009, and this piece in Times of India, July 14, 2009 – ‘Now a song for Indo-Pak peace’ -
http://tinyurl.com/TOI-Shahvar

Below, text of the Press Trust of India report of July 7, 2009 published in Indian papers:

Pak singer puts Gandhi, Jinnah together in appeal for peace

Islamabad (PTI): A Pakistani singer has combined the voices of Mahatma Gandhi, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Benazir Bhutto and US President Barack Obama in a new song that makes an impassioned plea for peace in the region.

Shahvaar Ali Khan’s “No Saazish, No Jung” is a peace anthem that tells “mullahs” and “foreigners” to leave his country alone.

Mullayae na kar tung, oo guraya na kar tung, meino rahen dae malang, mein nach nach kai larni yae jang de nal jang (Don’t bother me mullahs/Don’t bother me foreigners/Let me remain a free spirit/I will dance away and fight your war),” goes the song in Punjabi that combines a hard rock guitar riff with a folksy backing.

Khan, 25, said he plans to make a video based on the song. “I plan to shoot the video in Mumbai so that it will be an India-Pakistan peace initiative,” he said.

He is in touch with several Indian directors and is also looking for sponsors and TV channels to back the video so that it can be ready for release by the time Pakistan and India celebrate their independence days on August 14 and 15 respectively.

The song combines excerpts from speeches by Gandhi, Jinnah, Bhutto and Obama.

The voice of Gandhi can be heard intoning “…in the midst of death life persists, in the midst of untruth truth persists, in the midst of darkness light persists”.

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