Sunday, August 23, 2009

Jaswant Singh on Jinnah

Muhammad Ali Jauhar (1878-1931) believed that an idea introduced in the field of education in India seeps into politics roughly thirty year later. This time, it has taken twenty-five, so Jauhar may not be wide off the mark.

In 1984, two apologies appeared for Jinnah. Pakistani-American scholar Ayesha Jalal suggested in The Sole Spokesman that Quaid-i-Azam (“the Great Leader”) may not have intended Pakistan, using it only as a bargaining chip, while the partition may have occurred due to some mistakes by Nehru and other Hindu leaders. American Orientalist Stanley Wolpert gave roughly the same impression in Jinnah of Pakistan.

Jaswant Singh, formerly of BJP (extremist Hindu political party in India), has now presented the same case, replacing the caution of academics with the forecefullness of a politician. This may not be a change of heart: he has retained his view that Pakistan was a mistake, only shifting the blame from Jinnah to Congress (incidentally the arch-rival of BJP).

This is where he contradicts Jinnah and the people of Pakistan, according to whom the country was created by the vote of the Muslim community of the entire sub-continet in the election of 1945-46. If somebody made a mistake, it were the Muslim masses of the sub-continet, almost unanimously, and not some political leader alone, whether Jinnah or Nehru.

Singh is unlikely to contribute towards good relations between India and Pakistan, which depend mainly on India’s acceptance of its neighboring state. This book doesn’t provide any solid basis for that. On the other hand, it gives an edge to extremist Hindu parties by showing the more egalitarian and secular Congress to be traitor. Singh may have actually prevented the Congress from taking a pro-peace stance in the near future.

Note: The following links to reviews and interviews are being added on an on-going basis. Please feel free to suggest.
  1. Jaswant Singh: Jinnah was a great man
  2. The Times of India: Jaswant's view on Jinnah has scholarly backing
  3. C M Naim: Jaswant - not so original
  4. Beena Sarwar: Jinnah Revisited - thank you Jaswant Singh
  5. Vinod Sharma: Jaswant Isn't Jinnah's Sole Spokesman
  6. Mani Shankar Aiyar: Who Dunit? Not Nehru
  7. C M Naim: Pseudo-scholarship
  8. Pakistan Historian: Jaswant Singh Liked Jinnah's Cabinet Mission Plan


  1. I don't blame the Indians for their mindset when we have a large number of Apologetics in our ranks who instead of owning our positions on various topics, offer apologies and claim to take "humanistic" views.

    Following is a link to my letter to Dawn on the issue of why Sarabjit Singh should not be set free on only Humanitarian grounds.

    This was written in response to the following article. Frankly speaking, the article made my blood boil with its sheer lack of logic in favor of the Indian Positions:

  2. Vegabond, thanks.

    Yes, I am not blaming Jaswant or any other Indian at all. I am simply explaining the Pakistani point of view, for the sake of better understanding.

    One positive side-effect of Singh's book is already obvious: India is rethinking Jinnah. Appreciation of Jinnah was inevitable. It has come, although not on his own terms YET.

  3. personally feel that inshAllah some years later the studies related to pakistan history particularly
    about Allama Iqbal and Quaid e azam M.A jinnah will be added at least at the graduate and
    university level and at that time we will be able to transfer the original knowledge about our great
    heroes to our youth. i always think that this is the most important thing that our generation is either
    aware or not and if our generation is aware then this is no point of worry that what other world and
    especially indian writers are going to portray about pakistan formation and about our heroes.