Justification for Jihad – from Jinnah to Jaswant
by Saradindu Mukherji on 02 Sep 2009 9 Comments

By a flawed logic, Jinnah, who was never jailed by the British, has become a “freedom fighter.” It is like leaving out the last fifteen years of Hitler’s life and describing him as a mere painter, or Rajiv Gandhi as only a pilot.

Not that Jaswant Singh does not provide many details of his hero’s chequered career; yet he does not draw appropriate conclusions. In exhaustive 60-page long Appendices, he omits the all important Lahore Resolution, putting it under a sub-section without providing many details, while the US-based Pakistani scholar whose approach he follows has no sub-section or Appendix entry on it in her book.

Fond of using “Quaid-e-Azam” and “Nawab Saheb” all too frequently for his icons, he avoids such terms for lesser mortals, especially if they are Hindus. In many respects, he is clear as in his “Call to Honour,” how to show partiality! Either it is sheer coincidence or deliberate. No wonder, he was probably the only Minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s Cabinet who never had to hide his objectives and agenda. That’s a problem with this kind of “scholarship.”

Don’t we see in him shades of those Hindu chieftains of Rajputana who helped the Muslim rulers in their Jihad against the Hindus?

To look for the causes of Partition in the Gandhian ideals of Ram-rajya, Nehru’s refusal to accommodate the Muslim League in 1937 in the UP cabinet, or the harmless “Hindu Right” is a joke.

Only people with overriding Pan-Islamic sympathies, with an eye for a space in the anti-Hindu “secular” politics in India would do it. It was an ideology of hatred, built on a separatist, intolerant world-view that came with the invaders from Central Asia that led to Partition.

Muslim rulers, theologians, many local converts (Jinnah’s grandfather was a Hindu) and ideologues like Sirhindi, Waliullah, Titu Meer, Sir Syed Ahmad, Syed Ameer Ali, Mohammad, Iqbal and a host of others kept it alive. Jinnah’s “greatness” lay in capitalising on this rich legacy of hatred for the polytheists. The Muslim “alienation” that Jaswant Singh slyly mentions has roots in the primordial theological diktat, not contemporary Indian polity.

This writer first met and heard Jaswant Singh at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies in London in 1983, when the former was a post-doctoral research scholar in London University. Besides being disappointing, the talk had nothing to offer from the ideological and civilisational point of view. Hence this author was not unduly shocked when he went on to clinch the Enron deal in the short-lived 13-day Vajpayee Government or ensured a unilateral moratorium on further nuclear tests after Pokharan II.

India would have been partitioned even without Jinnah, sooner or later. The British did not invent the Divide and Rule, they merely took advantage of the divide, while often deepening it further.
It is true that the Gandhian Congress which had its “baptism by fire” in the Khilafat-Moplah achievements was pursuing a policy of Muslim appeasement, further bolstered by its rationalization of the assassination of Swami Shraddhanand by a Muslim fanatic. Their bonhomie with the “nationalist” Deobandis, who wanted the whole of India after the British exit, strengthened this toxic mindset, that acquiescence in every form of pan-Islamic aggression was politically profitable. The primary fault of both Gandhi and Nehru was in their tacit approval of this line.

In Chapter 11, “In Retrospect,” Jaswant Singh sounds phoney suggesting that it was “our sovereignty” that the British captured in 1857-58. The Mughal state was not native, and many of us refuse to see it as even remotely resembling a secular and tolerant regime. In fact, “we” Hindus and Sikhs were outsiders in the system.

Jaswant goes horribly wrong in saying that the Crown “did not really know the land, the people, their many languages - multiple shades of faith and beliefs…” He should read more about Jones, Bentinck, Gladstone and Ripon, the district gazetteers and the survey and settlement reports prepared by the British. Certainly they knew more about India than the Muslim rulers and voodoo-historians.

Singh is obsessed with the plight of Muslims throughout - their loss and future. The horrendous plight of Hindus and Sikhs is mischievously compared to that of the Muslims in India. How can he miss that these people have been almost wiped out in the areas which became Pakistan / Bangladesh?  Funnily, he includes all - Indians Pakistanis, Bangladeshis - in “we”. He smothers the truth while saying that the birth of a Muslim nation had begun only 100 years ago.

He is wrong to say that Jinnah was not against Hindus or Hinduism. Jinnah always castigated Gandhi and the Congress as being nothing but Hindus. Did he not castigate the “caste Hindus, Fascist Congress”? Whom did he want to teach through the “Direct Action”? Whom did he want to decimate by ‘dividing and destroying India”? Did not Khizr Hyat Khan say that the Muslim League had identified Pakistan with Islam, the Koran and the Holy Prophet”? Did not Jinnah say that the “Hindus had a ‘subtle intention’ to undermine the Muslims?”

Jinnah wanted Pakistan and it lay in the logic of the march of Islam in India. His demand was not a “bargaining counter” as some Pakistanis suggest, and Jaswant Singh supports.

As for Jinnah’s “secularism”, his opposition to Khilafat stemmed not only from his aversion to mass politics, but also his being a Shia, while the Ottomans were Sunnis. Secondly, he embraced Asna Ashari Shia sect, having been born an Ismaili Khoja (considered an imperfect Muslim, being a mix of Hinduism and Islam) when flaunting his Islamic identity became imperative.

Next, he got away with giving his estranged Parsi wife a Muslim burial. Fourthly, in his “secular” phase - 1920s - Jinnah wanted the creation of a Muslim province in Sindh, a distinct position for Muslim majority states in Baluchistan and NWFP, and higher representation for the Muslims in the two other Muslim states of Bengal and Punjab. Gandhi, Bose or Nehru never pleaded for preserving the integrity of the Hindu majority states

Jinnah’s role in unleashing the barbaric fanatical Muslim attacks through “Direct Action”, non-interference with the pogrom in Noakhali, and abetment of the brutal assault, forced conversion and forced nikah of Hindu/Sikh women in Pakistan, and the merciless armed attack in Kashmir in late 1947, are well known. Jaswant leaves them out.

Nehru’s rejection of the Cabinet Mission Plan was one rare correct decision that he ever took. It was a plan for balkanization of India, favoured by the Muslim league and Jaswant Singh’s favourite Pakistani historian.
Yes, Jinnah and a host of his colleagues had repeatedly wanted an exchange of population: and indeed, it’s the only solution to end Muslim violence in India. There is an imperative need to revive this commendable suggestion. Jaswant does not expand this aspect.

Is it not intriguing that 61 years after a religion-based Partition in which Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, suffered irreparable losses, a prominent figure of a party primarily based on Hindu support should be looking for a pat from the Ummah?
Jaswant Singh has as much liberty to paint his latest hero in the whitest of white hues as Bam Stoker has in rehabilitating his hero, Dracula, as an apostle of peace. Jaswant Singh who dispatched coal supplies to Bangladesh in time just after 16 of our Jawans were killed by the Bangladeshis, has done it again. He has offered a priori justification for the next Jihadi attack on India.

The author teaches History at the University of Delhi, Delhi 

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