India, Pakistan : re-opening the wounds of Partition

August 19, 2009

Was it necessary to divide India and Pakistan ? Was Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, really the obdurate Muslim leader who forced Partition along religious lines in 1947 or was he pushed into it by leaders of India’s Congress party, especially first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

A new book by former Indian foreign minister Jaswant Singh re-opens that painful, blood-soaked chapter whose price the region is still paying more than 60 years on.

Singh, a leader of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, challenges the widely-held belief in India that it was Jinnah’s insistence on a  separate homeland for Muslims that forced the breakup of India and the mayhem that accompanied it.

Jinnah, an impeccably secular leader, didn’t start with this, he argues in the book “Jinnah – India, Partition, Independence.”

What Jinnah said, in the tumultuous years before Britain finally left the subcontinent, was that he wanted  ”space in a reassuring system” for Muslims so that they didn’t get engulfed in a Hindu-majority India, Singh says.

A federal structure that would have given Muslims a certain amount of autonomy, a sort of a Pakistan within India, may well have worked. But Nehru shot it down, believing in a highly centralised polity , influenced as he was by the prevailing Western, European socialist thought of the time.

“”Consistently he stood in the way of a federal India until 1947 when it became a partitioned India,” Singh told CNN-IBN in an interview . If the Congress had accepted a decentralised federal state, then a “united India was clearly ours to attain,” he says.

Jinnah has too long been demonised by Indian society. “I think we misunderstood him because we needed to create a demon.  We needed a demon because in the 20th century, the most telling event in the sub-continent was the Partition of the country.”

Strong words these and especially coming from a leader on the Hindu right. Not surprisingly, members of his party have distanced themselves from Singh’s revision of history. The Congress party, of course, would have none of it , accusing Singh of denigrating the country’s first prime minister while eulogising Pakistan’s first head of state.

Pakistan has welcomed Singh’s attempt to review the role of  the  “Quaid-i-Azam or Great Leader as Jinnah is known.

The Daily Times in an editorial said the book was an important Indian revision of a highly demonised Muslim leader and held hope for the future. if India and Pakistan could agree on their history a bit more, perhaps that may be the starting point of a more lasting detente ?

[Photographs of Pakistani helicopters flying past a portrait of Jinnah 2)children lay flowers at a portrait of Nehru and 3) former foreign minister Jaswant Singh)

Comments

Jaswants Future: if we see in 3 months time Jaswants name in the media, its only if and when he eloquently tarnishes BJP- the party he slept with for 30+ yrs and not for being critical of congress he has been mudslinging the same duration. Otherwise he will have no media coverage and will disappears from radar. Lets watch.Now. Are there anyone complaining of partition here, wounds and all that aside. The Indians I know don’t. I know the Pakistanis don’t. Anyone.

 

Azad:@Now. Are there anyone complaining of partition here, wounds and all that aside. The Indians I know don’t. I know the Pakistanis don’t. Anyone.- Posted by azadAzad: There are two issues here1. Partition: Wounds cannot be kept aside. Partition cannot be explained using hindsight as to what is happening today.But do not assume Indians don’t complain–yes majority don;t complain for the simple reason that for majoriy Indians and for all non-Muhajir pakistani Muslims, there was nothing at stake during partition. They are continuing with their lives as they have been doing earlier and such discussions are just intellectual time pass for them. But people like me and my parents will complain of the partition. My ancestors are from what is now Pakistan Punjab and belonged to over 12million people who were displaced due to the sudden border that appeared. same is the case in bengal. At least half million people perished–all due to the unpardonable stupidity of the Brits, specifically of Mountbatten, and the idiocy and personal egos of top brand of Indian freedom fighters-Gandhi/Patel/Nehru/Jinnah/Iqbal l-included, who became party to the process. Do I not reserve the right to criticize these leaders here, when it boils down to half million deaths. All this happiness of Pakistanis and anger of Indians over someone’s like Jaswant Singh’s opinion is incredible. Our leaders–one and all-failed to save lives. It was not going to be like a warm send off by either side. So yes, I do complain of the partition.@Reunion:For the same reason I am against the very idea of the reunion of India-Pakistan–much more than anyone else. Reunion is a fabrication of the media and no one in India–to the best of my knowledge or traces only–is willing to do so. It is a nightmare.period

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive
 
 

NEW DELHI – The president of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party offered to resign from his post after Hindu hard-liners expressed outrage at his praise of Pakistan’s founder during a recent visit to Pakistan, party officials said on Tuesday.Posted on:6/7/2005 —-Khaleejtimes.ae

Posted by Peace | Report as abusive
 

Partition of India has created many problems. There is no reason to appreciate Jinnah. Nasim Yousaf (Scholar) has suggested that Pakistan and India should unite. His paper at presented the Cornell University (USA) is worth reading:”Pakistan and India: The Case for Unification:http://www.allamamashraqi.co m/grandsonsarticles.html

Posted by Nuzhat | Report as abusive
 

just a humble try. thanks.

Posted by rolandbay | Report as abusive
 

partition should have been avoided at all costs…the prices was too much..hear this account-
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AwLj_nUzl Ck

Posted by payalkmdr | Report as abusive
 

The big question is why should we suffer for the mistakes of the emotional mistakes of one big leader Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. He had no business to go and capture Kashmir. There was no need. Just because he was a Kashmiri Pandit he did it with utter disregard to the aspirations of the people of Kashmir. He coerced Hari Singh who never wanted to sign the accession document. He had only requested for some military help never an accession.

I think it is high time we stop suffering the mistake of one man and solve the problem so that future generations in Kashmir and India can live in peace. Kashmir is never going to let go, Pakistan is never going to let go. Why keep them against their own will. Let them decide their own fate. Why are we dictating it? Let’s get out of Kashmir now!

Posted by helloji | Report as abusive
 

On one side India goes and attacks a totally peaceful state, the state of Hyderabad on the false pretext that it had a majority Hindu Population and on the other takes over Kashmir a totally Muslim majority state. Look at the dichotomy.

In Hyderabad the Nizam was most secular, he may by chance profess Islam as his religion privately. Patel told Nehru “don’t make the mistake of a referendum in Hyderabad as the Hindu will vote for The Nizam”, they were so happy with him and the composite Hyderabad culture, hence most clandestinely they invade an unarmed state and capture it killing people by the thousands.

In Kashmir they sing a completely different tune. India follow only one policy: Might is right”. So much for India’s secularism and democracy. It always wants to trample on people’s wishes. What kind of a democracy is this.

Like US States, others must want to be a part of you not you impose yourself on them whether they like it or not. How long will people of India suffer and pay for the stupidity of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru?

Posted by helloji | Report as abusive
 

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