Archive for the ‘Indo-Pak Relations’ Category

Below are some revealing excerpts from Jaswant Singh’s interview regarding his book, Jinnah: India-Partition-Independence. They challenge the commonly held views about Jinnah in India. I agree with Jaswant’s central thesis that Partition was forced upon Jinnah by Nehru and Patel.

[ An unlikely Indian admirer; Jawed Naqvi ; DAWN; Monday, 17 Aug, 2009; Excerpts; Copy and Paste]

Did he see Jinnah as a nationalist?

“Oh yes. He fought the British for an independent India but also fought resolutely and relentlessly for the interest of the Muslims of India. The acme of his nationalistic achievement was the 1916 Lucknow Pact of Hindu-Muslim unity.”

What did he admire about Jinnah most?

“I admire certain aspects of his personality. His determination and the will to rise. He was a self-made man. Mahatma Gandhi was the son of a Diwan. All these (people) – Nehru and others – were born to wealth and position. Jinnah created for himself a position. He carved in Bombay, a metropolitan city, a position for himself. He was so poor he had to walk to work… he told one of his biographers there was always room at the top but there’s no lift. And he never sought a lift.”

Did he believe the common Indian lore that Jinnah hated Hindus?

“Wrong. Totally wrong. That certainly he was not… his principal disagreement was with the Congress Party. He had no problems whatsoever with Hindus. 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.”

Jaswant Singh said had Congress accepted a decentralised federal country then, in that event, a united India “was ours to attain.” The problem, he added, was Jawaharlal Nehru’s “highly centralised polity.” He said: “Nehru believed in a high centralised policy. That’s what he wanted India to be. Jinnah wanted a federal polity. That even Gandhi accepted. Nehru didn’t. Consistently he stood in the way of a federal India until 1947 when it became a partitioned India.”

Was it wrong to see Jinnah as the villain of partition as Indians are taught?

“It is. It is not borne out of the facts… we need to correct it.. Muslims saw that unless they had a voice in their own economic, political and social destiny they will be obliterated. That was the beginning (of their political demands)… For example, see the 1946 election. Jinnah’s Muslim League wins all the Muslim seats and yet they dont have sufficient numbers to be in office because the Congress Party has, without even a single Muslim, enough to form a government and they are outside of the government. So it was realised that simply contesting elections was not enough… All of this was a search for some kind of autonomy of decision making in their own social and economy destiny.”

Speaking about Jinnah’s call for Pakistan, Jaswant Singh said:

“From what I have written, I have found it was a negotiating tactic because he (Jinnah) wanted certain provinces to be with the Muslim League, he wanted a certain percentage of (seats) in the central legislature. If he had that there would not have been partition.”

Nehrus heirs and the Congress party could find his claims unacceptable, he was told.

Jaswant Singh said: “I am not blaming anybody. I am not assigning blame. I am simply recalling what I have found as the development of issues and events of that period.”

Had Mahatma Gandhi, Rajaji or Azad – rather than Nehru – taken the final decisions a united India would have been attained?

“Yes, I believe so. We could have (attained a united India).”

On Jinnah’s relationship with Mahatma Gandhi, he said:

“Jinnah was essentially a logician. He believed in the strength of logic. He was a parliamentarian. He believed in the efficacy of parliamentary politics. Gandhi, after testing the water, took to the trails of India and he took politics into the dusty villages of India.”

Jaswant Singh explained that Jinnah had two fears of Gandhi’s style of mass politics. First, “if mass movement was introduced into India than the minorities in India could be threatened and we could have Hindu-Muslim riots as a consequence.” Second, “this would result in bringing religion into Indian politics and he (Jinnah) didnt want that.”

Jaswant Singh pointed out that Jinnah’s fears were shared by Annie Besant and added that events had shown that both were correct.

At the end of their lives both Jinnah and Gandhi died failed men?

“Yes, I am afraid I have to say that.. I cannot treat this (the outcome of their lives) as a success either by Gandhi or Jinnah.. the partition of India and the Hindu-Muslim divide cannot really be called Gandhiji’s great success… Jinnah got a moth-eaten Pakistan but the philosophy that Muslims are a separate nation was completely rejected within years of Pakistan coming into being.”

The full article is available at:  http://archives.dawn.com/archives/19892


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The following are some of my favorite quotes from Jaswant Singh’s book, Jinnah: India-Partition-Independence.

“The basic and structural fault in Jinnah’s notion remains a rejection of his origins; of being an Indian, having been shaped by the soil of India, tempered in the heat of Indian experience. Muslims in India were no doubt subscribers to a different faith but that is all; they were not any different stock or of alien origin.”

“It is in this, a false ‘minority syndrome’ that the dry rot of partition first set in, and then unstoppably it afflicted the entire structure, the magnificent edifice of an united India. The answer (cure?), Jinnah asserted, lay only in parting, and Nehru and Patel and others of the Congress also finally agreed. Thus was born Pakistan”.

“Religion in all this was entirely incidental; Pakistan alone gave him all that his personality and character demanded. If Mr. Jinnah was necessary for achieving Pakistan, Pakistan too was necessary for the fulfilment of Mr. Jinnah.”

“His opposition was not against the Hindus or Hinduism, it was the Congress that he considered as the true political rival of the Muslim League, and the League he considered as being just an extension of himself. During innumerable conversations with him I can rarely recall him attacking Hindus or Hinduism as such. His opposition, which later developed into almost hatred, remained focused upon the Congress leadership’ [M.R.A. Baig, Jinnah’s secretary].”

“As [Maulana Azad] wrote in his memoirs, he had come to the conclusion that Indian federation should deal with just three subjects: defence, foreign affairs and communications; thus granting the maximum possible autonomy to the provinces. According to the Maulana, Gandhi accepted this suggestion, while Sardar Patel did not.”

“For, along with several other there is one central difficulty that India, Pakistan, Bangladesh face: our ‘past’ has, in reality never gone into the ‘past’, it continues to reinvent itself, constantly becoming our ‘present’, thus preventing us from escaping the imprisonment of memories. To this we have to find an answer, who else can or will?”

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Before I specifically address the potential of an Indo-Pak alliance, I would like to point out the following: (a) the Subcontinent has been a single entity for significant periods in history; (b) the “oneness” of the Subcontinent has been experienced (to varying degrees) under Hindu, Muslim, and British rule; (c) since the arrival of Muslim invaders, there has never been a Muslim-only state in the entire Subcontinent; (d) Pakistan and Bangladesh are artificial creations given the long history of religiously integrated India; (e) Partition’s “Two-Nation”  theory was considerably weakened by refusal of majority of Indian Muslims to physically relocate; and (f) the idea of Muslims as constituting a separate nation was demolished with formation of Bangladesh.

With the above points as background, I believe the prospects of an Indo-Pak alliance of some form will only become stronger over time. We could be even less than a decade away from a major deal. This is largely due to the failure of Pakistan to become a viable entity and the ongoing rise of India as a global economic power. Let me elaborate:

  1. Pakistan is financially bankrupt and its economy is on life support with American aid and loans
  2. US aid cannot be expected to continue indefinitely in the name of “war on terror”
  3. Pakistan’s high population growth rate will only intensify economic pressures and social strife in coming years
  4. The primary factors for Pak economic weakness are its anti-India policies of Islamization and high defense spending. (Former prevents introduction of modern education while latter takes away capital needed for development)
  5. US and European markets for even skilled Pakistani labor are closed while Gulf markets for unskilled Pak labor are shrinking on account of Pakistan’s association with terrorism
  6. India is the only entity that can play a critical role in staving off an economic collapse in Pakistan via trade and investment
  7. India has the capacity to absorb significant portion of Pak labor force on account of much bigger and better economy as well as common ethnic and cultural roots
  8. India stands to make significant geopolitical gains by helping Pakistan, such as: elimination of cross border terrorism, resolution of Kashmir problem, relatively free hand in Afghanistan, ability to project power in energy-rich Central Asia, and check on China’s Asian influence
  9. Indian leadership is well aware of development of economic regional blocs – with potential common currency and defense agreements – as an important global trend
  10. India has already floated the idea of a “loose” border with Pakistan. For example, PM Singh is on record for having told ex-President Musharraf that in Kashmir “borders can be made irrelevant, but they cannot be changed”
  11. The increasing social, ethnic, and religious strife in Pakistan coupled with the country’s steadily worsening economic and financial problems cannot be cured without a wholesale revision of longstanding state ideology and policies
  12. There is a growing public realization amongst Pakistani intelligentsia that “this time is different” and “something must be done” to “save” Pakistan
  13. Given Pak’s escalating troubles and India’s rising star, even members of Pakistani elite are publicly questioning for the first time if the country should have been created

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In my opinion, the interview of noted Pakistani journalist Mohammed Hanif below accurately describes the five major realities in Pakistan:

  1. promotion of an image of Hindu leaders as cunning and deceitful “baniyas” by right-wing Urdu press
  2. rejection of Jinnah’s secularist ideals in favor of state Islamization and persecution of religious minorities
  3. increasing security threats faced by ordinary Muslims in an “Islamic” country from Talibanization and Shia-Sunni sectarianism
  4. bitterness among Pakistani ruling elite at India’s spectacular economic rise over the past decade or so
  5. horrific daily struggle of the masses to makes ends meet

Mr. Hanif is a former BBC correspondent as well as author of the award-winning book “A Case of Exploding Mangoes.”

[Jaswant has become a folk hero in Pakistan; Namita Devidayal; August 23rd, 2009; Time of India; Excerpts; Copy and Paste]

Q. Clearly, calling Jinnah a `great man’ did not go down well in India and Jaswant Singh was summarily booted out of the BJP. How does Pakistan view Gandhi and Nehru?

A. As you can probably tell, Jaswant Singh has become a bit of a folk hero in Pakistan. Not that anybody has read his book. But everybody remembers Allama Iqbal’s prophecy: Paasban mil gaiay Kaabay ko sanam khanay se. (Kaaba has found defenders in the house of idols).

In the popular imagination, which is basically fuelled by the right-wing Urdu press, Gandhi is some kind of a pervert Hindu fanatic who personifies the Muslim communalist’s idea of a cunning baniya. We are frequently reminded of `baghal mein churi, moonh pe raam raam’. Nehru is seen as a suave seducer who managed to usurp large chunks of the Punjab, Bengal and Kashmir that should have been part of Pakistan.

There is some objective history which portrays them as great statesmen caught up in troubled times but we are never taught that history in schools.

Q. How faithful has Pakistan remained to Jinnah’s vision, “you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques”, and how badly did General Zia-ul-Haq subvert it?

A. That quote comes from Jinnah’s first speech to Pakistan’s legislative assembly and they actually tried to expunge it from the records. So the subversion started way before Zia came on the scene. We haven’t been very nice to religious minorities: Bhutto declared Ahmedis kafir, Zia brought in bizarre blasphemy laws which made it very easy to hound Hindus and Christians. That should leave us to go to our mosques freely, but no. Because of the Shia-Sunni conflict, and lately because of the Taliban, we have had a lot of mosques blown up. So right now in our Islamic Republic (named not by Jinnah but another military dictator Ayub Khan) mosques are the most dangerous places.

Q. How do Pakistanis view India? The elite view? The mass view?

A. Pakistanis used to view India as a poor elder brother who would pick on the younger brother to feel good about himself. Now they see India as the newly rich older brother who hasn’t lost any of its old habits. The elite feel competitive and want to maintain a kind of status quo. They only violate it when they can manage to go to Bangalore for a cheap heart bypass. Our masses are too busy trying to make a living and trying to find a safe mosque to pray in [to have a view of India].

The full interview is available at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/news/india/Jaswant-has-become-a-folk-hero-in-Pakistan/articleshow/4923304.cms

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I commend the Pakistani analyst below for speaking the truth about the 1965 and Kargil wars and about the importance of establishing peace with India. He is quite correct that all major political parties in Pakistan now want a change in historical relationship with India [as a means to correct national civil-military imbalance, free up funds for economic development, and turn attention to domestic terrorism menace]. That being said, I am doubtful of a major change in relationship between the two countries in the near-to-intermediate term on account of the powerful vested interests of the Pak Army Establishment and its erstwhile Islamic fundamentalist allies.

[The Search for Democracy; DAWN; Dr Tariq Rahman; 3 Sep, 2009; Excerpts; Copy and Paste]

Pakistanis have to decide whether or not they want peace and democracy. If they do want peace they will have to support the PPP’s efforts at normalising relations with India as well as Nawaz Sharif’s stance that he is in favour of a joint effort against terrorism and for renewing ties derailed by… terror attack in Mumbai. This is, indeed, a unique opportunity for doing away with the garrison-state mentality cultivated over the years by the military and the rightwing establishment.

The 1965 war was a misadventure by Z.A. Bhutto and a few others, including Ayub Khan, but not the entire government of Pakistan. The people were simply told lies so they never even knew that trained fighters had sneaked across the Line of Control from Pakistan. Bhutto’s daughter made amends by trying her best to normalise relations. Apparently, Rajiv Gandhi was willing but the rightwing wasn’t and finally it is alleged that the military actually bribed politicians to remove her from power. In those days Nawaz Sharif was the establishment’s choice. He was hawkish on Kashmir and was the beneficiary of the wrongful and completely illegal removal of Benazir Bhutto.

But then Nawaz Sharif started growing in stature. The establishment threw him out but he bounced back more confident than before. Circumstances again sent him home but he fought the elections and won. The establishment may have helped him because he was still considered a better bet than Benazir Bhutto but he invited then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to Pakistan. And Vajpayee, to the surprise of many people, actually accepted and endorsed Pakistan’s existence at the iconic Minar-i-Pakistan.

This was not a sudden development, for Nawaz Sharif had been trying to make peace with India since 1997. Actually it was I.K. Gujral, the Indian prime minister, who could not afford to be too much of a dove for electoral reasons. But all these achievements were derailed by one fell stroke – the Kargil misadventure of Gen Musharraf. Again Nawaz Sharif went wrong.

Initially, he did not oppose that senseless war. But when the Indian offensive threatened to become too dangerous he disowned it and now he blames it entirely on Musharraf. But first he did something eminently sensible – he sought American help to stop the madness. And in this he was successful.

On the whole, apart from riding on the warmonger’s bandwagon during the tit-for-tat nuclear tests and generally on the nuclear issue and a bit of prevarication, both the present PPP and PML-N leadership seem to promise peace for the future. This is the most important thing we can have at the moment. It will mean that foreign policy will be determined by civilian, elected leaders rather than army generals. It will also mean that foreigners will have to deal with one centre of power rather than bypass it and meet multiple players in the field.

Above all, it will mean that we will have some hope of neutralising our various militant groups who may yet get Pakistan declared a terrorist state or precipitate another major insurgency or even war with our neighbours (in case of some Mumbai-like misadventure perpetrated by loose cannons).

The full article is available at: http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/provinces/16-the-search-for-democracy-hs-02

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Posted below are impressions of an Indian about Pakistan and Pakistanis upon visiting Lahore as part of SAARC conference for women.

These article excerpts prove what I have been saying all along on this blog and my YouTube channel: (a) Pakistan is obsessed with India and cannot define itself except with respect to its neighbor; (b) the common man has deep affinity for India and Indians on account of shared cultural, linguistic, and ethnic heritage; and (c) “politicians and politics” (to quote the article) are responsible for the animosity between the two countries well as export of terrorism from Pak. Put differently, 60+ years of forced Islamization and propaganda against India has not been able to change the perspective of the common man; he is held hostage by a tiny ruling elite on account of its powerful vested interests.

[Inside Pakistan; NDTV Blog; Thursday October 15, 2009; Excerpts; Copy and Paste]

My experiences in Pakistan seemed to suggest our neighbouring country is as much if not much, much more obsessed with India. Almost as though its identity and thought process to a large extent is defined by being India’s neighbour. Every Pakistani speaker at the conference, whether it was the country’s information minister, the former information minister Sherry Rahman or the SAFMA president Imtiaz Alam, everyone’s focus was on the Indo-Pak equation. Every other country and the primary issue of women in media, for which presumably we had gathered in Lahore, was almost a sidelight. Inevitable one could say given the context of the present situation and after all that’s what almost always happens when the two nations, seemingly obsessed with each other, are face-to-face.

But this was glaring. It was almost as though it was not a 8-nation meet of media women from SAARC countries, but an Indo-Pak meet. Every speaker made a detailed reference to the Mumbai terror attack and about the fallout of the investigation process. So much so that it provoked a young woman delegate from Afghanistan to claim the microphone and make a statement that if Pakistan was even half as concerned about terror in Afghanistan as it was about the Mumbai attack, they would have to name the attacks Kabul 1, Kabul 2, Kabul 3 and the count would simply go on.

The news television cameras that came in sought out only Indian delegates to the exclusion of delegates from every other countries. And all they wanted you to talk about was of course Indo-Pak relations. Even at the musical evening treat arranged for us at Pearl Continental, the anchor of the show was chatting with a few of us Indian delegates and inquired if we could follow chaste Urdu, the language in which he compered so beautifully and also the language of the compositions that Iqbal Bano had poured her soul into. We said, yes, possibly many of us would be able to enjoy it but the delegates from other countries may not be able to. To which he said, “all this is meant for you”.

As we interacted with our hosts, at least four people asked me in separate, private conversations what the “aam Indian people” think of people in Pakistan. I was touched that they seemed so deeply concerned when they asked, “Do they think we are all terrorists?” I was unfortunately unable to say an emphatic, unequivocal “No”. I had to say, unfortunately, the perception is not very positive.

Everywhere I went, on the street, in the dhabas, people would ask me “Aap India se aaye hain? Hamein India aur Indians bahut achche lagthe hain. (Have you come from India? We like India and Indians very much).” There was a warmth as people said it and somehow it seemed to come from the heart. There was an undeniable connect. After all, the young boy selling readymade salwars who offered me an additonal discount, another shopkeeper who immediately ordered tea for us, one of the policemen standing guard outside my hotel room, all of them had no reason to be uttering similar sentiments.

I asked my friend Farah Usman what made people say that. Do they perceive India as “overbearing” I asked. Not more than the Americans, she joked. But she explained that many people have relatives living across the border, there are roots on the other side, the language and cultural context is mostly so well understood and then there is an undeniably strong cultural identification that comes from watching Bollywood films and having singers and performers who people in both sides of the border have accepted as their own. The most popular songs people from both sides could happily sing together, joined also by our friends from Bangladesh and even Afghanistan. We did that on several bus rides and then there were no borders.

Driver Wali Shah and a policeman who acted as guides and escorts when I and my three friends from Jammu & Kashmir went on a sight-seeing tour around Lahore had clearcut views on who was to blame. “Politicians and politics have embittered relations. Jab logon mein, apas mein aana-jaana rahega, utna-baitna rahega, tab sab dooriyan, nazdeekiyan ho jayengi.” Wali Shah very sincerely appealed to me that I must go back and tell people that people across the border want to be friends, that they are good people and they would love to visit India and would welcome people from India as their own.

As we were returning on foot, crossing the Wagah Border, from Pakistan into India, we were on No Man’s Land when one of us asked one of the coolies, “Yeh kiskee zameen hain, Pakistan ki yah India ki?” He replied in a flash. “Yeh Punjab ki zameen hai”.

The full article is available at: http://www.ndtv.com/news/blogs/hidden_agenda/inside_pakistan.php

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As a Pakistani, my personal impressions about my fellow citizens’ views about India and Indians are as follows:

  1. Public-to-public dealing between Indians and Pakistanis is completely different from interaction between the two governments. There is no pressure to follow the official script. People are warm, relaxed, and hospitable, and display the human touch common in social situations.
  2. The majority of Pakistani ruling elite – senior bureaucrats, army generals, major politicians, and prominent clerics – is strongly anti-India on account of its powerful vested interests. The big-business/industrialist component of the elite, however, is beginning to warm up to the idea of peace with India. It has been pushing for opening up of trade and investment links on account of India’s spectacular economic.
  3. Pakistani exiles are generally more conscious of their Islamic and national identity (on account of natural alienation experienced by immigrants) and so some of them can be anti-India and/or anti-Hindu. Generally speaking, most Pakistani exiles tend to bond very well with Indians regardless of faith due to natural cultural, linguistic, and ethnic affinity in an alien land.
  4. The common man – that is, the general public – in Pakistan is far more hospitable, tolerant, and welcoming of Indians (ie. Hindus and Sikhs) than most Indians can imagine. Unfortunately, the masses don’t have a voice as Pakistan is not a representative democracy; the elected leaders typically belong to the powerful feudal elite while the army remains firmly in charge of foreign policy even when out of power.

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