How Jaswant Singh is using Jinnah as a genie

This is fun. Jaswant Singh has come out of the closet to tell us that Jinnah is great. No problem. When L.K.Advani did it, they said he was quoting from some speech and that is all. Jaswant Singh, good Rajput that he is, will surely bring out a sword to defend his honour. He will talk like those maharajahs of old who served in Mughal armies and project himself as a balanced person who can see an honourable enemy. This is one more marketing gimmick. We assume that Pakistan needs a certificate from us.

What did he really say that is so significant? And why is it important to emphasise that it is divergent from the Sangh Parivar view? Because, it needs to be marketed that way. Forget historians, even some sharp hacks have written that Jinnah was not the architect of Partition alone; it was the megalomania of all the so-called freedom fighters.

As always, the Congress only thinks it is about their hero, Nehru. And even worse is to bring the Gujarat carnage and the Muslims into this. Their party spokesperson, Abhishek Singhvi, said:

“The BJP and Jaswant Singh can condone the Gujarat carnage and give homilies as Muslims being treated as ‘aliens’ in the same breath.”

How dare they do it. Jaswant Singh has written about Jinnah; Jinnah was a Pakistani, a nationality he chose. Indian Muslims have chosen an Indian nationality. Just don’t confuse the issues. We will handle the BJP and RSS on our terms and not based on what Jinnah did.

If Bal Thackeray says he admires Hitler, does anyone believe that the Sainiks should be judged by German standards?

I would, however, like to know what exactly Jaswant Singh means when he says:

“I think we have misunderstood him because we needed to create a demon... we needed a demon because in the 20th century, the most telling event in the subcontinent was the partition of the country.”

Glad that he has woken up to give us this path-breaking news. Is he implying that by demonising him we have demonised a whole country that he created? Is he then saying that any acts that have occurred on the part of Pakistan are therefore a result of this demonisation? For, whether we like it or not, the residue of the Partition remains with us.

I know we will be told to read the book to know what exactly he means. As I said, this isn’t about Jinnah. This is about selling Jinnah.

- - -

As I mentioned, you don’t need to be a historian; you can just be someone like me. I wrote this on August 25, 1997, and this is merely a peek into a larger piece done a couple of years before that.

The other side of Jinnah
by Farzana Versey

The life of the man largely held responsible for the partition of the country has a touch of tragedy to it.

Mohammed Ali Jinnah almost appears like a naive knight in shining armor, blinded by the glitter of his position, rather than a visionary convinced of the soundness of his stand. His major flaw lay in the fact that he was the brash other voice while everyone else was the chorus.

It would be easy to say he was making political capital of the situation by using the minority issue as a shoulder from which to fire the gun, but that would an appalling generalisation.

Like many people in power who portray themselves as saviours, Jinnah was a pawn in the hands of those he promised to free from the majority clutches.The distribution of leaflets bearing pictures of a sword-bearing, sherwani-clad Jinnah was clearly the handwork of a marketing genius. Jinnah, in a spirit of parody, played along, probably for a good laugh and certainly for a pat on the back.

It would, therefore, be unfair to hold him solely responsible for 600,000 deaths and the uprooting of 14 million people.

Even without referring to his taste in Scotch and sausages, one has to admit he was not Islamist. The concept of jihad was totally alien to him and, as Sardar Patel said, he was not a votary of mass movements. H M Seervai, in his book on the Partition, has raised in important issue: "It is a little unfortunate that those who assail Jinnah for destroying the unity of India do not ask how it was that a man who wanted a nationalist solution till as late as 1938, when he was 61 years of age, suddenly become a 'communalist'."

Why were over a hundred million Muslims willing to eat out of his palm? Because Jinnah reflected their fears, even as he spoke of intermarriage to promote communal harmony. Jinnah learned, as does every other politician, that human beings are easily excitable because they are inherently prejudiced.

Jinnah has been accused of being a megalomaniac, but so were most of the leaders of the time. They could not forget they were participants in an epoch-making event.

If he could maintain grace under pressure, at the height of the battle, he would have dealt with many other issues in a similar fashion. If fact, in 1946 he talked of having a metaphorical pistol in a world full of AK-47s and nuclear arsenal. The statement may have seemed terribly outdated and stupid, but it gave a glimpse into an essentially principled man. That we may not agree with his principles is another matter.


  1. FV,
    Not many people realise that so called Moderate people like Jinnah and Musharraf understand the real depth of fundamentalism and its risks, they use them very effectively them to fix their own means, the family from Clifton who supported Taliban in 80s....They ride this tiger till they are made a prey themselves.

  2. No he isn't saying pakistan only supports terrorism because India demonizes it.

    That would be YOU saying that...Of course, that is, if you even admit pakistan has anything to do with terrorist acts like bombay.

  3. Manish:

    The problem is dividing these aspects into neat slots of moderate, liberal, conservative. Jinnah did play on the demands of a section of people, but every history text shows that he was pushed against the wall. Please read H.M.Seervai. It is an old book, but does reveal many interesting facets.

    The Taliban was and is supported by outside interest as much as its inhouse supporters. It would have died a natural death, but it does not suit many other societies.


    I have indulged you, but you do make this into a personal battle with ME rather than the ISSUE being discussed.

    Try and understand the idea behind hypothetical queries. It is an exerise in challenging pat statements and delving into several possibilities. I know it is a bit strenuous, but you can do it.

    You say:

    No he isn't saying pakistan only supports terrorism because India demonizes it.

    And this is what I had written:

    "Is he implying that by demonising him (Jinnah)we have demonised a whole country that he created? Is he then saying that any acts that have occurred on the part of Pakistan are therefore a result of this demonisation?"

    Go beyond the Yes and No. Do you, then, accept his accolades for Jinnah? Neither of us have read the book. This is the man who was part of the release of terrorists and took that picnic to Kandahar. This is the man who has dissed the Indian Army. What evidence do you have about his patriotism and why is his Indianness accepted blindly?

    As regards the Mumbai attacks, have you bothered to read my posts on this? There is a big link to ALL of them. You want one side of the story, then try Red Riding Hood. You won't find her here.

    You won't even fathom what the hell can go on among the political elites. Oh, and you probably have nothing to say about Hemant Karkare's Malegaon blasts probe. Or that people have been released in the Gujarat riots case or the 1993 case.

    And even if you do care, you want to create a demon here. One person is enough for you. You got the wrong one. And just for your information, the Sangh Parivar knows what I say, so your tepid attempts at posting links and 'educating' people about what I think won't work. My book on Pakistan happens to be in the Parliament library.

  4. so personal,
    I like it .Give long replies to Arjun, it enlightens me.Did not Amrytya Sen describe us as argumentative indians .How correct.
    kul bhushan

  5. Amartya Sen can afford to make these statements. I am standing up for my stand, my nationality and my right to express myself without someone casting aspersions without any substantial counter-argument.

    Yes, I do it to shed light. If that enlightens, I am glad.


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