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The Jinnah Controversy

The Jinnah Controversy

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Published by brij18
It is about Jinnah
It is about Jinnah

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Published by: brij18 on Oct 24, 2009
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09/06/2012

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The Jinnah controversy
By K.SubrahmanyamIt is a strange coincidence that even as there is an intensifyingdebate in Pakistani civil society on their national identity, Indiansshould be arguing about Jinnah’s secular credentials and whether thepartition of British India leading to the creation of Pakistan was agift of Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhai Patel to Jinnah in orderto avoid creation of an independent India as a loose federation butas a strong centralized state.It is very likely many Pakistanis may consider the new Indian thesisas a total negation of what they have been taught to believe. It wouldmean that Jinnah’s ‘ two nation thesis’ was a negotiating ploy andPakistan was not the result of a struggle of the people of Pakistanagainst British imperialism and Hindu domination as they have beentaught to believe in the last 62 years. In Pakistan in all officialportraits , Jinnah has been made to shed his Savile Row suit and weara traditional Sherwani. All references to his drinking and eatinghabits have been censored to remove his partiality to scotch whiskyand ham.His advocacy of secularism for Pakistan in his speech to Pakistaniconstituent assembly on 11th August ,1947 is not readily accessible tothe Pakistani public At this stage to raise these delicate issues evenas Pakistan is struggling with its national identity problem willappear at least to some Pakistanis as an attempt to influence thePakistani debate, especially when it is buttressed by the argumentthat partition could have been avoided if Jinnah had beenaccommodated.Today there is overall consensus in Pakistan that it was created as aresult of the struggle based on the ‘two nation theory’ The debate onthe national identity of Pakistan is about what kind of Islamic stateit should be and not on whether the ‘Two nation theory’ is valid ornot. Jinnah in his 11th August, 1947 speech did not refer to the twonation theory at all. He said, “One can quite understand the feelingthat exists between the two communities wherever one community is ina majority and the other is in a minority. But the question iswhether it was possible or practicable to act otherwise than what hasbeen done………. And what is more , it will be proved by actualexperience as we go on , that was the only solution of India’sconstitutional problem”. He was very prescient in this observation.
 
When the majority of Bengali speaking Pakistanis and the minority Urduspeaking Pakistanis could not get along with each other it wasinevitable they had to part company.When Jinnah refers to majority and minority in this speech he wasobviously not referring to the Hindus and Muslims. He was referring tothe Muslim majority provinces and Hindu majority provinces. The formerwas a minority in India as a whole while the latter constituted themajority. He could not afford to talk about the two nation theory onthe basis of religion since he was abandoning all the Muslims of theHindu majority provinces who gave him the electoral support in theseparate electorate elections of 1945 and were responsible for makinghim the spokesman of the Muslims and enhancing his stature in Indianpolitics . In Bengal it was Fazlul Haq who dominated and in Punjab andSindh the unionists. In the Muslim majority provinces, the majorityhad no complaints about the Hindu domination and in fact Jinnah couldnot get majority votes in the Provinces, now constituting Pakistan inthe 1945 elections.Surely Jinnah was not an orthodox practicing Muslim and was secularin his outlook. Though he was like Iqbal, a second generationconvert from the Hindu faith - unlike Iqbal - he was not driven byhis religious fervor. Nor was he a man of the masses. If his concernwas for the Muslims he should have known that partition would subjectthe Indian Muslims to greater handicaps. Were he a true federalist hecould not have attempted to impose Urdu on the majority Bengalis inEast Pakistan. If he was a person punctilious about the rule of law,as he claimed to be, when he parted company with Gandhiji at the timeof Non-cooperation movement - he could not have ordered the DirectAction Day and unleashed the Great Calcutta Killing in August 1946.Jinnah was a careerist who was bent on acquiring power and glory.Narendra Singh Sarila, in his seminal work “The Shadow of the GreatGame: The untold Story of the Partition” cites two statements of Jinnah to successive viceroys. He told Wavell in November 1946: “(The)British should give him his own bit of territory ,however small itmight be.” And on April 10, 1947 he told Mountbatten: I do notcare how little you give me as long as you give it to me completely.”Sarila’s book brings out that as far back as 6/7 February 1946 ,Wavell had sent a tentative plan for partition of India. It alsoreveals that Prime Minister Attlee telegraphed to the Cabinet Missionin India on 13th April 1946 that in the view of the British Chiefsof Staff, mass chaos would take place in India if the schemecreating Pakistan was not put into effect. The British had alreadydecided to partition undivided India so that Pakistan would be

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