Tuesday, December 8, 2009



Note for WoP readers: In the current post, Ibn-e-Rehmat reviews the recently published book by Jaswant Singh (JS). This review being highly pertinent to the subject, I decided to abstain from writing a detailed review myself.

I read this voluminous book (it has 667 pages) and thought it best to put this wonderful work under review but due to reason mentioned above, refrained. However there are few points which, in addition to what Ibn-e-Rehmat has written in his post, specifically need to be considered.

JS has covered the personality traits and the thought process of the Qaid during those turbulent days of our history, in a lucid, absorbing and with much correctness. To read history books nowadays, particularly as voluminous as the one by JS one needs to have a lot of patience. The narration of events, however, as JS unfolds different episodes of subcontinent’s history chapter by chapter, right from the advent of Arab Muslims, up till its partition in 1947, is so absorbing that one doesn’t want to leave and wishes continue reading the book till the end.

Coming to observation made by reviewer that the book might have been written with an explicit understanding of the Government of India, I doubt. Throughout his book, JS castigates All India Congress for being antipathic towards Jinnah. Such comments and that too in a highly researched book cannot provide much fillip to the ruling Congress in India. On the other hand it is quite possible that JS might be eyeing upon the Muslims’ vote in India and that too is quite logical. Every political leader has his vision, his party programme which he wishes to materialize by coming into power, so even if it be so, the ex foreign minister of India has all the rights to espouse such wishes and wants.

Though throughout the book his stance of being an impartial observer is demonstrated yet, in his concluding part, he adopts an approach that contradicts his earlier observations. In these chapters he laments over partition, particularly over the creation of Pakistan as an independent nation state. In so doing he condemns partition which almost every Indian does.

His main objection is the coinage of word Pakistan, which according to him as a country and nation lacks raison d’ etre. However, let it be known that Pakistan a geographic landmass, with a distinct cultural identity much different from its Gangetic counterpart has existed since thousands of years. To say that such historical reality as a geographic landmass, lacks any raison d’ etre, is a negation of history. The area covering Pakistan, the harbinger of the great Indus civilization stretched up to Gujarat in present day India. The geographical corpus of Pakistan with its distinct cultural roots existed much earlier than the later Gangetic civilization that encompasses the present day India. The archeological findings of Pakistan’s world renowned historian late Prof. Ahmad Hassan Dani and Aitzaz Ahsan’s the Indus Saga are a testimony to this historical fact. Barring this part, the book is an excellent work of putting down facts in a standard format which JS work indeed is.

A highly useful part of the book are its 11 appendices which are a complete encyclopedic component, a book in itself. All religious, political and geographical terms as well as events have been elaborated in a manner that one does not need to browse through so many reference books.

The book is in hard cover with quality binding. Except a few typographic mistakes (which are indeed very few) the book is almost flawless. Readers, who are interested to learn about that vital part of subcontinent’s history, must read this book. They won’t repent reading a voluminous work which unfolds facts through eyes of an Indian statesman, a man who took the pen to write a book with a neutral and independent mind. [Nayyar] 

by Ibne Rehmat

We sometime say a word `wrong’ not knowing what does and how will it impact our generations for all times to come. It is u-turn from the Indian intransigence and their usual way of hatching and fomenting troubles, let alone the root cause of attitude and outlook problem.

Mr. Singh deserves a lot of praise for being realistic in saying “Between Jinnah and Nehru the differences got so bitter as to actually become a factor in the country’s vivisection. The Congress led by Nehru, was the political party that agreed to Partition; then later as the occupant of the seat of authority, and as the head of government of the day, he (Nehru) was clearly guilty of failing totally in his duty of preventing the bloodshed of millions of innocents. The fratricidal killing was of such unprecedented dimension that the blood that soaked our land then till today (it continues) to entrap Hindu Muslim relations into congealed animosities…how criminally short sighted. That is why Gandhi till the last had continued to plead for `independence first, Pakistan after’ that Jinnah would not agree, but then sadly, neither did Nehru nor Patel go along with the Mahatma”.

In any controversial debate, acknowledgement is the first step in the molding of opinions or perception. If we take more rational view, it appears that Jaswant Singh’s initiative has the tacit approval of the government. If it is, then it is clear that Indian government wants to change its previous culture after fully weighing what all it wants to transform.

During the last two decades it has totally switched over to the new cultural patterns and a similar major shift was also being hinted at in the political wisdom as well.

If both the countries demonstrate such an acumen and courage by taking one more step forward with firm resolve to make a radical departure from their outdated India or Pakistan eccentric mindset, most of the problems would be solved. That is why it is said that if you are not part of the solution, you are a part of the problem as well.

Jaswant Sigh’s book amounts to starting from square one to set the records straight. Such an approach is a positive move in the right direction, seldom displayed by Indian leaders. Pakistan has been praying and calling upon New Delhi to reciprocate gestures of `right sense of direction’. Sub-Continent will march towards its `Golden Age Era’ by reviving the bonhomie of the past. Its grandeur and magnificence could be restored, if our leaders’ sacrifice by showing flexibility and sense of accommodation.

If France and UK can become allies after 100 years of war, nothing is impossible. We have suffered for a long time. It is not too late if we look back and take a more rationale look on our beaten track, provided we remember the golden universal principle, `Do Good and have Good’ or `Live and let others live’.

Let us make a new start from Kashmir, Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, Tamil Nado and Baluchistan even. Let the glory of Nepal, Sikkim take a new lease of life. Let us exterminate all the naughty idioms from our politics. India would be a paradise again when its leaders acknowledge that one wrong has set many strategies on the self-destructive course of actions. This book may prove a great achievement and a landmark event in the fractured and mutilated history of Indo-Pakistan. Had some of the Indian politician realized what price the people of this sub-continent are paying with their blood and souls by any degree of self-introspection, the issues like Siachen and Kashmir much of the troubles would have been averted.

By painting Nehru and Patel, in their true colors, no wrong has been committed. It amounts to heal some disease with the panacea of poison, as its true anti-dote. The role of these two leaders in the independence of India cannot be denied to, but much disillusionment prevails, that will certainly recede after Singh’s scholastic work. His study will help to set new era of change like Charles Dickens’ described in his famous book `A Tail of Two Cities’ – how Europe leaped out of Medieval Age. His book reveals how the blunder of one of the French Empresses when she offered monetary compensation to the parents of a child who was crushed under her chariot, triggered a chain of riots / upsurge leading to French Revolution which over-hauled the entire feudal system in Europe. The chain of subsequent events paved way for the Renaissance and Industrial Revolution.

Jaswant Singh could become a pioneer and harbinger of this transformation, provided he succeeds in bringing a positive change in the outlook of Indian leadership in future.

When somebody does some wrong, it may do good to others or many. The fact is that such a master stroke results into multiple effects at different times, in different set of events and at different political stages. Each group or individual values such initiatives or moves through his own prisms of judgment depending upon the rewards or repercussions, they reap or suffer. Similarly, motives are the prime factors that determine the final outcome.

In past, the Indian government has been playing the confidence game through Islamic fake identity hoax or ploys. If Singh tried to replay the same, then it amounts to acting more as a ‘Kashmir Singh’ than Jaswant. In the history of Indian freedom struggle, leaders like Shaikh Abdullah and many other Congress Ulemas did in the past.. Acknowledged, Singh has shown remarkable courage to reciprocate historical facts, but other realities, like Junagarh tragedy, Hyderabad Deccan’s wheeling dealing, Congress – Muslim league’s intriguing past demands candid explanation. The fact that Muslims played a glorious part in the freedom of India but most of it still lies buried under the debris of Indo-Pakistan hostilities for any reason or rhyme. Mr. Singh’s book can stir up a passion storm, if Indian government shows their willingness to bring about a remarkable change through their actions. But such a change demands sincerity, objectivity, firm resolve for a change and firm faith in the golden principle of `doing good to reap good’ and `live and let others live’ to make India a living paradise once again.

(Author is free lance journalist, based in Islamabad)

Source: Kashmir Watch

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