Source: Pak Tea House
By Yasser Latif Hamdani
So complete have been the state sponsored mythologies in the subcontinent that both Indians and Pakistanis are incapable of looking at the past objectively or with any kind of intellectual ability.
Consider for example jingoistic Indian columnist Kapil Komireddi’s piece for Daily Beast titled “Pakistan’s Mohammad Ali Jinnah is not Mandela”. As if Jinnah would care he would be compared to Mandela. Nelson Mandela is no doubt a great leader of our times and did a lot for his country and his people but the comparison is not an apt one. Behind Mandela were a people united against racial tyranny and Mandela”s own role while substantial was not central to the future of his people. Mandela was not handicapped by demands of religious orthodoxy and by divergent interests of his people. Jinnah on the other hand became the voice and legitimate sole spokesman of 90 million diverse multitude of people, rich and poor, divided horizontally and vertically with objectives often running cross purposes. Jinnah’s achievement was to bring together these people and despite divisions on almost all issues under one flag. Still I do not want to go into any inane comparisons or contrasts between Mandela and Jinnah. Who one likes can be a matter of choice. Jinnah’s aloof and cold temperament that was projected by all and sundry at the cost of Jinnah the deeply passionate and inwardly emotional man and this makes him rather uninspiring for the average joe who gets his history from Hollywood or fictional suspense thrillers like “Freedom at Midnight”. On the Mandela issue however, let us allow the former South African President, who is said to be similar to Jinnah in at least one sense – incorruptibility and honesty- be the last word:
‘Ali Jinnah is a constant source of inspiration for all those who are fighting against racial or group discrimination.’ (Mandela 1995 Visitor’s Book Karachi; on this particular trip Mandela had insisted on visiting Jinnah’s Mausoleum in Karachi even though the capital of Pakistan is Islamabad).
My concern is the deliberate butchery of history that Mr. Komireddi undertook in his rather mediocre and one sided piece. Komireddi writes: “Hindus and Muslims can [n]ever evolve a common nationality,” Jinnah had declared in 1940. Could a journey fuelled by such hatred and divisiveness possibly have culminated in a peaceful and pluralistic destination?’
This article is response to: Why Pakistan’s Mohammed Ali Jinnah Was No Nelson Mandela