After the Advani episode, there has been a lot of writing on these issues in many Indian newspapers and magazines. Some of these articles changed my understanding of the whole problem quite drastically. I may be wrong in this.. but I felt that this was one issue in which the print media gave importance to both schools of thought. Advani’s political game did bring about a debate..atleast in the Indian Media. And I thank Advani for that!
I will present excerpts from a particular series run by AG Noorani(a noted SC lawyer and constitutional expert) in the Frontline. These are longish, well written articles that even laymen can make sense of. The first one titled “Jinnah’s secularism” was in the issue that carried Advani’s Pak trip as a cover story. This article focussed on analysing the particular speech and questions pertaining to Jinnah’s secular credentials. The author contends that
- ” The speech has been quoted in bits and pieces; never analysed as a whole”
and goes on to give us more quotes from the speech.
- J:”Now, if we want to make this great state of Pakistan happy and prosperous we should wholly and solely concentrate on the well-being of the people, and especially of the masses and the poor. If you will work in cooperation, forgetting the past, burying the hatchet, you are bound to succeed. 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.”
is the part that Advani talked/wrote about.
Jinnah was pretty categoric about his views about intra-hindu and intra-mulsim conflicts..
- J:”…We should begin to work in that spirit and in course of time all these angularities of the majority and minority communities -…. – will vanish…..”
Jinnah was clearly reaching out to those who did not wish for partition and was painting a secular future for Pakistan. The fact that this speech is often condemned in muslim fundamentalist circle is probably testimony to this fact. The author even feels that Advani’s actions gave Pakistan’s secularists a major boost.As regards Jinnah’s secular credentials, these lines from his pronouncement in the legislature makes things further clear…
- J: “I Sir, stand here with a clear conscience and I say that I am a nationalist first, a nationalist second and nationalist last… I once more appeal to this House. Whether you are a Mussalman or a Hindu, for God’s sake do not import the discussion of communal matters into this House, and degrade this Assembly, which we desire should become a real National Parliament. Set an example to the outside world and our people.”
But the question ofcourse is why did he lead the two-nation theory faction and sought a division of British India on communal lines?? AG Noorani uses these phrases to summarise the attitude of the Congress in the 1930s, the prime reason for this change in Jinnah’s attittude..
- ” Congress leaders demonised him systematically. So did Indian academics and the press.”
- “His political record from 1906 to 1939 reveals a spirit of conciliation and statesmanship, which Congress leaders did not reciprocate. Indians must begin to acknowledge his greatness and the grave injustice the Congress leaders did to him.”
But he also comments that
- “But he went overboard and did much harm by his miscalculations”
The driving point of the article is that
- “Jinnah yet awaits a fair assessment, warts and all……… Indians and Pakistanis must reflect on all aspects of his life, not selectively as they do”
Being in India, you rarely get to hear arguments for Jinnah. School text books will do “two nation theory” bashing and just mention that Jinnah lead the two nation theory movement in the late years. This forces a particular image of Jinnah in most minds. I hope this article moves people from such a state. Not everything(both the pro-Jinnah and anti-Jinnah comments) that the author claims needs to be true.. but it presents the arguments in a much more complete manner than usual. It certainly helped in breaking a few notions that I had, though I am still far from taking concrete positions. Does anybody of an equivalent analysis in the Pak media??.. that would really help me in understanding things better.