Mera Sahib – Saadat Hassan Manto’s Classic

Saadat Hassan Manto wrote this classic in the early 1950s in Lahore.  The translation here is by writer who writes under the num de plume “Godot”

“It happened in 1937. The Muslim League was in its juvenility. I, too, was a young man. I wanted to do something. Anything. Besides, I was healthy and strong, and wanted to engage in a rumble. I wanted to look for trouble and pick fights. I was at an age when one longs to do somethingBy something, I mean to say, if not a great adventure than something!

“After this brief intro I return to the time when Ghalib was young. Don’t know if he ever participated in any political movements or not, but Yours Truly was a very active member of the Muslim League. Ghazi Corps was comprised of youths like me, and I was a sincere member of it. I stress ‘sincere’ because in those days I had nothing else. “It was in those times that Mohammad Ali Jinnah came to Delhi. The Muslims took out a huge and a wonderful procession in his honor.  Obviously, Ghazi Corps participated in this procession with full vigor. Our leader was Anwar Qureshi sahib. He was a strong young man who has been given an honor of, and is now known as, ‘Poet of Pakistan’. Our Corps’ youths were singing an anthem written by him. I don’t know if we sang in tune with each other or not, the only thing I remember is nobody cared about singing in synch. “This historical procession started from Delhi’s historical Jamia Masjid and, roaring, passed through Chandni Chowk, Lal Kewan, Hoz Qazi, and Chawri Bazar and ended at its destination, meaning at the Muslim League office. In this historical procession people yelled “Quaid-e-Azam,” which was considered illegal, for Mohammad Ali Jinnah. A six-horse coach was provided for him. All members of Muslim League were there in this procession. There were lots of cars, motorcycles, bi-cycles and camels. But it was exceedingly well organized. Quaid-e-Azam, who by nature was a very civil and organized person, seemed very pleased to see such civility.

 “I caught many of his glimpses. I don’t know my reaction the first time I saw him. Now, when I think about it and analyze it I conclude that, because sincerity is colorless, my reaction too was colorless. At that time if someone had pointed me to any man and had said ‘there is your Quaid-e-Azam,’ my adoration would have believed him. But when I saw him many times there in that crowd of people and cars, my ego was hurt: my Leader and so skinny…such a weakling! Ghalib has said: He comes to my house God blesses / Sometimes I look at him and sometimes I look at my house.

“It was his kindness and God’s blessing that he came to our house. I swear to God when I saw him and his frail body and then my strong physique, I wished either I contract or he expands. In the heart of my heart, to keep him safe from evil eye, I had prayed for him and his feeble body. The wounds he had inflicted were a common topic among his enemies. “Circumstances change. Situation arose such that the art bug that was sleeping in me started to crawl. I felt like testing my kismet in Bombay in that field. I was attracted to drama ever since I was a kid. I figured maybe there I could show off my skills. Now, on one hand a desire to work for the nation and on the other, acting! A man is weirdly contradictory!

 “I arrived in Bombay. In those days Imperial Film Company was at the top. It was difficult to get in, but somehow I got in. I worked as an extra for eight anas a day, and used to dream that I will be a top movie star one day. With God’s blessings, I am very talkative. I am not a very pleasant talker, but I am not that unpleasant either. Urdu is my mother tongue, a language the stars of Imperial Films did not know. Urdu helped me out more so in Bombay than it did in Delhi. Almost all the stars there had me read and write letters in response to those that came to them in Urdu. All this reading and writing for them did not help me, though. I was an extra and remained an extra. “During this time I became friends with Buddhan, the very special driver of Saith Ardesher Irani, the owner of Imperial Film Company. Buddhan paid back my friendship with him by teaching me to drive a car in his free time. But his free times were brief, and I was always scared of the Saith lest he finds it out. I never really became a skillful driver. Without Buddhan I could drive the Buick on an alif-like straight road. My knowledge about the parts of the car, however, remained zero.

 “I was obsessed with acting. But that was in my head. My heart still belonged to the Muslim League and Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. At Imperial Film Company, on the Kennedy Bridge, in the Bhindi Bazar, on the Mohammad Ali Road, and at the Play House, we used to have a discussion, with groups of mostly Muslims, about the behavior of the Congress. Everyone at Imperial knew that I was a Muslim Leaguey and adored Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. But it was a time when Hindus did not try to kill anyone who uttered the word “Quaid-e-Azam.” Pakistan was not yet on the horizon. I think when people at Imperial Film Company heard me praise Quaid-e-Azam they thought he was a film star and I was a fan of his. That is why one day the biggest film hero D. Blemoria said to me, ‘hey, here’s your Jinnah sahib,’ while moving Times of India towards me. I thought there was a picture of him in the newspaper. But I didn’t see it. So I said, ‘why, bhaiya, where is his picture?’ Blemoria’s John Gilbert style thin mustache expanded with a grin, ‘no photo woto, this is an advertisement.’ I asked, ‘Advertisement? What kind of advertisement?’ Blemoria took the paper back and showed me a long column and said, ‘Mr. Jinnah needs a motor mechanic who can take charge of his garage.’ I saw the ad where Blemoria finger was resting and said ‘Oh!’ as if I read the whole ad. The truth is I knew as much English as Blemoria knew Urdu. “As I already told you, my driving was limited to driving a car on an alif-like straight road. I knew nothing about the mechanism of the car. Why does the engine start when you press the self, if some had asked me that question I would have said that because it is the law of motors; and why it sometimes doesn’t start, then I would have said that is also the law of motors and human intelligence has nothing to do with it! “You’d be surprised to know that I noted down the address of Jinnah sahib I took from Blemoria and decided to go there the next morning. I neither thought nor expected to get the job. I just wanted to see him in his residence from up close. Therefore, taking my sincerity as a diploma, I arrived at his beautiful mansion, located near the Pleasant Road, on the Malabar Hill. Outside was a Pathan guard. He was wearing an enormous shalwar and a silk turban, was very clean, strong, and intimidating. His appearance made me very happy. I felt strangely satisfied that there was not much difference in his and my biceps, maybe of half-an-inch or so. “There were many candidates. They were all standing with their credentials under their arms. I joined them. The funny thing was, forget about the credentials, I didn’t even have a simple driving license. My heart was beating hard just thinking I am about to meet Quaid-e-Azam any moment. I was still thinking about my heartbeat when Quaid-e-Azam appeared in the porch. Everybody turned attention. I moved to the side. With him was his tall and skinny sister whose pictures I had seen in many newspapers and magazines. On the side was his respectful assistant.

 “Jinnah sahib fitted his one-glass round eyeglass on his eye and started to scrutinize the candidates. When his eye turned to me, I moved back further. Immediately his piercing voice was loudly heard, but I only heard “You.” I knew that much English. It meant “Tum.” But who was that “Tum” that he addressed? I thought it was the guy next to me, so nudging him I said, ‘I think he’s calling you.’ The guy asked hopefully, ‘me, sahib?’ Quaid-e-Azam said again, ‘No. Tum.’ His skinny but iron-like strong finger was pointing at me. My whole body trembled, ‘Ji, ji, me?’ ‘Yes.’ This three-knot-three bullet ripped through my heart and brain. My throat, which used to yell “Quaid-e-Azam,” was completely dry. I couldn’t say anything. But when he took off his monocle and said “All right,” I felt I might have said something that he heard, or he understood my feelings and said  “All right” just to save me from further torture. He turned around and said something to his very handsome and healthy secretary and went inside with his sister. Totally confused, as I hurried to get out of there his assistant called me and said that the Sahib wants me present at ten o’clock tomorrow morning. I couldn’t ask the assistant why the Sahib wanted me; I couldn’t tell him that I was not at all capable and not qualified for the job for which Qaid-e-Azam put out an ad. The assistant went inside and I returned home.

“I was there again at ten the next morning. When informed I was there, the handsome and very well dressed secretary came out and, to my surprise, told me that the Sahib had selected me and wants me to take charge of the garage immediately. When I heard this I felt like spilling my guts and tell him that Quaid-e-Azam had misunderstood Yours Truly, and that I showed-up just to have a little fun; why are you putting this garage responsibility on these incompetent shoulders. But I don’t know why I couldn’t say all that. As a result, I was immediately given that responsibility and the keys were handed to me. There were four cars of different makes, and I only knew how to drive Saith Ardesher Irani’s Buick, and on an alif-like straight road at that. There were many turns to get to Malabar Hill, and Azad was going to carry not only his own self in the car. God knows how many different places for important work he had to carry this Leader to whom belonged lakhs of Muslims lives. “I thought of dropping the keys and running away; run straight to my house, pick up my stuff, and catch the first train to Delhi. But I didn’t think this was the right thing to do. I figured tell the truth to Jinnah sahib, apologize to him, and return to the place where I really belonged. But trust me, sir, I did not get a chance to do this for the next six months.”

“How so?” I asked. Mohammad Hanif Azad continued, “Listen to this now. The very next day I was ordered to bring the car. Those things that fly at times like these, almost flew. I decided that the moment the Sahib comes, I’d say salam to him, return the keys, and fall at his feet. But it couldn’t happen. When he came to the porch, I was so intimidated by him that the incompetent me couldn’t utter a word. Besides, Fatima sahiba was with him. To fall into someone’s feet in the presence of a woman, Manto sahib, was too much.” I saw bashfulness in Azad’s big eyes and smiled, “khair, what happened then?” “What happened then, Manto sahib, is that Yours Truly had to start the car. It was a new Packard. I started the car with the name of Allah, and took it out of the mansion very cleanly. When I got to the bottom of the Malabar Hill near the red light at the corner…you know what a red light is, right?” “Yes, yes,” I shook my head affirmatively.

“Well, sahib, that became a problem. Master Buddhan had told me to just press the breaks and everything should be alright. In confusion I hit the break with such clumsiness that the car stopped with a sudden jolt. The cigar fell off Qaid-e-Azam’s hands. Fatima Jinnah jumped forward two balisht and started cursing at me. A deep fear seeped through my entire body. My whole body started to tremble. I felt dizzy. Qaid-e-Azam picked up his cigar and said something in English, which probably meant ‘lets go back.’ I obeyed the order. He asked for a new car and a driver and left for where ever he had to go. I did not get to serve him for the next six months after that incident.”

 “To serve him like that?” I asked, grinning. Azad also smiled. “Yes. You figure the Sahib would not give me another chance. There were other drivers. They served him. The assistant told the drivers the night before the car and the driver that were needed the next day. If I’d asked him about me he couldn’t give me a satisfactory answer. I found out later what was in Sahib’s mind. No one could say anything about him with any certainty, nor could ask him about such matters. He spoke only when he had to, and listened only when he needed to. That’s why, although being so close to him, I could not find out why he kept me like a useless car part.” “It’s possible that he forgot about you,” I said to Azad.

 A huge laughter came out of Azad’s throat, “No, sir, no. The Sahib never forgot anything even if he wanted to. He knew very well that Azad is breaking free bread. And, Manto sahib, when Azad breaks bread they are not little bread. Look at this built.” I looked at Azad. I don’t know what he was like in ‘37 or ’38, but I saw a well built and a strong man sitting in front of me. You must have known him as an actor. Before the Division he worked in many films in Bombay. With his other actor friends he is barely making a living in Lahore these days.

I found out last year from a friend of mine that this big-eyes, dark-skinned, well-built actor was a driver to Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah for some time. I had been, therefore, eyeing him ever since. Whenever I met him, I brought up the topic of his Master and collected his stories in my head. With an intention to write this essay, when I listened to his stories yesterday, I saw a very interesting angle to Quaid-e-Azam’s life. What had struck Mohammad Hanif Azad most was that his Master liked physical strength. Just as Allama Iqbal liked those things that were tall and majestic, Quaid-e-Azam liked strong things. That’s why when he picked his servants, their health and physical strength was the first thing he noticed. In those days, of which Mohammad Hanif Azad talked about, Quaid-e-Azam’s secretary was a very handsome man. All of his drivers had exemplary physical built. The guards for his mansion were also selected based on physical strength.

What could be an explanation for this other than that, psychologically, although Late Jinnah was physically very weak but extremely strong from inside, he did not want to associate himself that was weak and feeble. When a person really likes something, he takes care of it real well. Quaid-e-Azam made sure all his well-built servants dressed very well. His Pathan chowkidar was ordered to dress his ethnic dress. Azad was not a Punjabi, but was at times asked to wear a Punjabi turban. This headgear is quite impressive and one looks very impressive in it. Quaid-e-Azam seemed very pleased by it and used to award Azad whenever he put one on. If one thinks about it, Jinnah being so conscious of his own frail body was his very strength of his strong and powerful life. That was evident in the way he walked, talked, ate, and thought. Mohammad Hanif Azad told me that Quaid-e-Azam ate very little. “He ate so little I wondered how he is alive. If I were forced to eat that little my fat would’ve started to melt the next day. Despite him eating so little, four or five chickens were cooked every day. But he used to eat only a very small cup of a chick’s soup. Fruits were delivered everyday, and lots of it; but all of it used to wind up in the servants’ bellies. Every night after the dinner, the Sahib would check the list of grocery and give me a one-hundred-rupee bill for the next day’s dinner.”

 “One hundred rupees everyday?” I asked Azad. “Yes, sir, exactly one hundred rupees. And the Sahib never asked what happened to it. Whatever remained of it got divided among the servants. Sometimes thirty rupees remained, sometimes forty, and sometimes even sixty or seventy. He must have known that we kept the remainder, but he never asked for it. However, Miss Jinnah was very clever. She used to get mad at us and say we all are thieves. But the way the Sahib treated us we used to think of his things as our own. So we kept quiet when she would lose her temper at us. At times like that the Sahib would say to her sister, ‘It is all right, it is all right,’ and that would be the end of it. But once “It is all right” did not end it. Miss Jinnah kicked the cooks out, not one but both cooks. Quaid-e-Azam had two cooks at the same time, one was an expert in Hindustani food and the other in English food. Usually the Hindustani cook was a waste and did not do anything. He got to cook maybe once in months. Once in a blue moon he would get an order to cook, but Quaid-e-Azam did not really care about that food. “When both cooks got kicked out,” said Azad, “the Sahib did not say anything. He did not interfere in his sister’s affairs. So he started eating out in restaurants. During this time we had a ball.

We would take the car out for hours, hang out, come back and tell them we could not find a cook. Finally, both cooked were asked to come back by Miss Jinnah.” If a man does not eat much, he either hates those who eat a lot, or feels very happy to see others eat a lot. Quaid-e-Azam ate very little but he was very happy to see others eat a lot. That’s the reason he used to hand out one hundred rupees everyday and forget about it. It doesn’t mean he was a spendthrift. Mohammad Hanif Azad recounts an interesting incident. “One evening in 1939, by the Warli Beach, I was driving the white Packard very slowly with the Sahib in it. The low waves were touching the shore gently. It was a beautiful but slightly chilly evening. The Sahib was in a really good mood. I took advantage of it and started talking about Eid. He knew immediately what I was after. I saw in the rear view mirror he took his never-separating cigar out of his mouth and, his thin lips smiling, said in a broken Urdu, ‘Well, well, you suddenly have become a Muslim, try to be a little bit Hindu also.”

Four days earlier Quaid-e-Azam had turned Azad into a Muslim, meaning that he had given him two hundred rupees as an award. That‘s why he advised Azad to become a little bit Hindu. But that did not affect Azad. In this Eid Azad came to the film producer Syed Murtaza Jilani to affirm his Musalmani when I saw him and further interviewed him for this story. Quaid-e-Azam’s private life is a mystery and will remain so forever. That is the general feeling. But I think his private life was so mixed-up with his political life that he had practically no private life left. His wife had passed away long time ago and his daughter married a Parsi against his wishes. Mohammad Hanif Azad told me, “The Sahib was in a great shock because of it. He wished his daughter had married a Muslim; the skin color or the ethnic background did not matter to him. His daughter argued that if he could marry to whom ever he wanted, how come he does not grant her the same freedom.”

Quaid-e-Azam had married the daughter of a very influential Parsi man. Everyone knows that. But very few people know the Parsi man was very unhappy about it and sought revenge. Some think he conspired to have Qaid-e-Azam’s daughter marry a Parsi. When I talked to Azad about it he said, “Only Allah knows. I only know that this was the second biggest shock to him after his wife’s death. He was greatly affected when he found out that his daughter married a Parsi. His face was a mirror of his feelings, and reaction to even a simple event could be seen on his face. A simple furrow in his eyebrow could become very scary. What must have gone through his heart, only the Late One could tell. What I found out from the outside sources is that he was very disturbed. He did not meet anyone for fifteen days. He must have smoked hundreds of cigars, and must have paced hundreds of miles in his own room. “He walked a lot when he was in deep thoughts. In the dead of the night he would pace back and forth on the hard and spotless floor for hours. In calculated steps, from here to there, and there to here, in the measured distance, his white and black, black and white, or white and brown shoes used to make a strange tick tick sound as if a clock is telling the news about its life in a consistent manner.

 Quaid-e-Azam loved his shoes, perhaps because they were always at his feet and moved according to him. “After fifteen days of constant mental and spiritual disturbance, he suddenly re-emerged. There was no sign of shock on his face any longer, although the sadness had left a slight wound in his neck. But it was still straight and stiff. It did not mean, however, that he had forgotten the shock.” When Azad started to talk about this aspect of Qaid-e-Azam’s life a second time, I asked, “How do you know he had not forgotten that shock?” Azad answered, “Nothing in a house can be hidden from the servants. Sometimes the Sahib would order to open a trunk. In this ship-like trunk were many clothes, of his late wife and of that disobedient daughter when she was a little girl. When those clothes were taken out, the Sahib would look at them with an intense quietness. Then a sudden sadness would cover his thin and very clean face. He would quietly say ‘It is all right, it is all right,’ take off his monocle and, wiping it, would walk away. According to Mohammad Hanif Azad, “Quaid-e-Azam had three sisters: Fatima Jinnah, Rehmat Jinnah, and I don’t remember the name of the third one who lived in Dongri. At Jopati Corner, near Chinnai Motor Works, lived Rehmat Jinnah. Her husband was employed somewhere. Their income was very modest.

Every month the Sahib would give me a sealed envelope that had money in it. He would also give me a parcel that perhaps contained clothes and things. I used to deliver these to Rehmat Jinnah. Miss Fatima Jinnah and the Sahib would pay visit there every once in a while. The sister who lived at Dongri was married. All I know about her is that she was well off and did not need anyone’s help. He had a brother. The Sahib would help him out routinely, but he was not allowed in the Sahib’s house. “I had seen this brother of Quaid-e-Azam in Bombay. One evening, in a bar, I saw a man, who looked like Quaid-e-Azam, ordering half rum. The same feature, the same backcombed hair, almost the same white striped hair. When I inquired about him I found out that he is the brother of Mr Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Ahmed Ali. I kept looking at him. Sipping it slowly, he finished that half a glass of rum in a royal manner.

It cost one rupee, which he paid as if he is paying a huge amount. From his attitude it appeared as if he is sitting at a bar in Taj Mehal Hotel, not in a flimsy and a cheap one. There was a gathering of Muslims just before the historic meeting between Gandhi and Jinnah. I had a number of friends at that gathering. They told me that Jinnah was on the platform giving a speech in his typical style, and far, at a distance, his brother Ahmed Ali, wearing his monocle, was standing in such a way as if he was chewing his brother’s words.

“Billiards was the only indoor game Quaid-e-Azam liked. He would order to open the billiards room when sometimes he felt like playing the game. Although every room was cleaned every day, the servants made sure the special room he ordered to open was very clean and everything in it was set properly before he walked in. Because I played the game a little, I was allowed in that room. Twelve balls would be presented to him, he would select and the game would begin. Miss Fatima Jinnah would stand nearby. The Sahib would light up a cigar, press it between his lips, and would analyze the position of the ball he was going to hit. He would spend many minutes in his analysis. With this angle. With that angle. He would weigh the cue in his hands and move his bony fingers on it as if it were a sarangi, mumble something, and take a position; but if another angle come to his mind, he would stop, think, make sure, hit the ball with the cue, and if successful, would look at his sister with a conquering smile. “In the game of politics, Quaid-e-Azam was as careful. He would never decide immediately. He would analyze and scrutinize each problem as if it were a billiard ball. He would move his cue to hit only if he was certain. Before he struck, he would weigh his prey with his eyes carefully. He would consider all angles. He would select the weapon according to the size of his opponent. He was not a hunter who would pick up a gun and just shoot. He would make sure not to miss. He would know his prey’s every possible weakness before he aimed.”

According to Azad, “Qaid-e-Azam stayed away from the people who came by just to meet him. He hated useless and senseless talk; but only those talks that mattered, and even that had to be very precise and concise, in both what he had to say and hear. That’s why only a few people were allowed in his special room. There was only one sofa inside the room with a small side table on which he would drop the ashes of his cigar. Across the sofa were two showcases. He kept those Qurans in them that were given to him by his fans. That room contained his personal papers as well, where they were kept safely. He would spend most of his time in that room. There was no table there. If a person was asked in that room, he would stay at the door, listen, and walk out backwards. The empty side of the sofa had his papers all over it. If he wanted to write a letter, he would have the steno come in and take dictation. His tone had certain harshness. When he spoke one felt as if he was putting emphasis on those words that did not need emphasis.” Judging from Azad’s testimonies, it seems the psychological reason for his harshness was his physical weakness. His life was more like a smooth pond, but he lived a life of a storm.

Some people say that it was his inner strength that had him live for that long, that is, his awareness of his own physical weakness. According to Azad, the Late Bahadur Yar Jung was among Quaid-e-Azam’s best friends. “It was only him with whom he was so frank. Whenever he came to visit, both men would talk about the country and politics like true best friends. At that time, Quaid-e-Azam would separate his outer shell from his inner self. He was the only one with whom the Sahib was so frank and open. One felt as if they were childhood buddies. When they talked to each other, one could hear the loud laughter coming out of the closed doors. Other than Bahadur Yar Jung, other Muslim League leaders, such as Raja Mahmud Abad, I. I. Chundrigarh, Maulana Zahid Husain, Nawabzadah Liaquat Ali Khan, Nawab Ismail, and Ali Imam sahib used to pay visit. But the Sahib dealt with them in a professional manner, not in a frank way reserved for Bahadur Yar Jung.”

“Khan Liaquat Ali Khan must have visited quite often,” I said to Azad. Said Azad, “Yes, the Sahib treated him as if he were Sahib’s best student. And the Khan sahib listened to him very carefully, obeyed, and carried his orders. When he was asked to pay visit, sometimes he would ask me, ‘Hey, Azad, how’s Sahib’s mood today?’ I would tell him how his mood was. If the Sahib were not in his good mood, every wall in the mansion would know it. “Quaid-e-Azam took great care in his servants’ character and personal behavior. Just as he hated bodily dirt and smell, he hated bad behavior and character. He liked his assistant very much, but was very irritated when he found out that the assistant was having an affair with an employed girl. He could not tolerate this irritation for long. The assistant was asked to see him, and was fired. But after firing him, the Sahib started treating him as a friend.” Tells Azad, “Once I came home at two in the morning after having some fun. Those were the days when young blood feels certain pleasure for doing bad things. I thought the Sahib would not know about me coming in so late. But somehow he did. He called me in the next day and said in English, ‘You are developing a bad character.’ Then he said in a broken Urdu, ‘Well, we’ll have you married.’ So, when he went to Bombay from Delhi for a conference, I was married per his instructions. Although I am just a Shaikh, I am fortunate that only because of him I was married in a Sadat Family. The girl’s family accepted me because Azad was a servant of Qaid-e-Azam.”

 I suddenly asked Azad a question, “Ever heard Quaid-e-Azam say I am sorry?” Azad moved his fat neck in negation, “No. Never.” Then he smiled, “If by an accident he uttered the words “I am Sorry,” I’m certain he would’ve erased those words from the dictionary forever.” I think this spontaneous response of Azad sums up the entire character of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Mohammad Hanif Azad is alive, in this Pakistan given to him by his Quaid-e-Azam. And now, on the map of this world, this Pakistan is struggling to stay alive with the leadership of Jinnah’s best student, Khan Liaquat Ali Khan. In this free country, outside the doors of Punjab Art Pictures, near the paan store, Azad sits on a broken cot and waits for his Master. He also prays for a better time when he would get his salary in time.

He is even ready to be a Hindu, as his Master once told him, provided he gets that chance back. He was very worried when I talked to him about Quaid-e-Azam’s life. He did not have money even for a paan.

When I started to make small talk to relieve him from his worries, he sighed and said, “Sahib has died. I wish I had gone on that journey with him. It would be his open white Packard. I would be at the wheel. I would drive the car very slowly to his final destination. His frail body could not tolerate jolts, you know. I’ve heard, Allah knows right or wrong, that when the airplane with him on landed in Karachi, the engine of the ambulance that took him to the Government House was not in good condition. It stopped after going only a short distance. My Sahib must have been so annoyed.”

Azad’s big eyes were full of tears.



Filed under Pakistan

140 responses to “Mera Sahib – Saadat Hassan Manto’s Classic

  1. Junaid

    Why was Jinnah so upset when his daughter married a parsi?

    Wasn’t he a secularist? A questions some one the secularist supporters of Jinnah need to answer.

  2. Majumdar


    He was upset quite all right but not so much with NWadia being a Parsi but being a person of a bad character.

    It has been suggested of course that the rickety ambulance was deliberately sent by LAK to ensure the Qaid’s premature death.


  3. Bloody Civilian


    here’s a counter context to the suggestion about LAK: the limousine he took the guard of honour in alongside mountbatten, on 14 august, had also burst in to flames moments after the dignitaries had stepped out. unlike delhi which was an established capital/centre, karachi was a bit of a backwater. even the transfer of the less than adequate assets took a long time.

  4. Bloody Civilian

    … i believe the open top limo belonged to some local parsi friend of MAJ’s

  5. YLH


    Assuming that it is true – and not what Majumdar says- how does it affect his secularism?

    Does this mean all Parsis are non-secular – because they ex-communicate all women who marry out of the faith? On the contrary Parsis are perfect secularists.

    What about Nehru and his objection to Feroze (Gandhi originally Khan it is said)? Does that make Nehru less of a secularist? How about Gandhi’s objections to his son’s conversion to Islam? Does any of this mean that they were opposed to separation of Church and State?

    I don’t think anyone who understands the word secularism in its right context would not raise such a weird question.

  6. Mustafa

    hey guyz i am not sure if this is true but i heard that Quaid E Azam’s grandson or something is living in very poor conditions and nobody is helping him or asking him how he is doing

  7. adnan

    @YLH if i could take the i understood Junaid is trying to make a comparison between Quaid’s Muslim identity vs. a secularist one.
    i.e. why would he object if it werent for religious reason’s or as MAJUMDAR said bcoz of the bad character of NWadia.

  8. adnan

    RE Mera Sahib!!

    anyplace to get Urdu versions from?

  9. Hayyer

    Jinnah’s grandson is an Mumbai billionaire. You are probably thinking of one of Jinnah’s agnates through a cousin of Jinnah called Aslam who is reported to be destitute.

  10. YLH


    I have already answered that. See the Parsi example. Assuming it was for religious reasons, that does affect one’s views on whether the state should be separate from church and there should equality regardless of religion caste or creed.

    Secularism and irreligiousity are not the same thing. Only in Pakistan secularism is translated as “la-deeniyat”.

  11. AZW

    Nice read.


    You need to understand the word secularism a bit better. Secularism stands for equal rights for every human afforded by the “state”, regardless of their caste or creed.

    I have another comment here. As much as I revere Jinnah, I am curious about Azad’s comment that Jinnah never said I am sorry once. Now a guy working for Jinnah may not have an audience to Jinnah at all times; but does this little detail imply lack of humility at Jinnah’s part?

    Or is humility indeed a virtue?

  12. yasserlatifhamdani

    “the limousine he took the guard of honour in alongside mountbatten, on 14 august, had also burst in to flames moments after the dignitaries had stepped out.”

    Is this true?

    By the way one L K Advani was the principal accused of the plot to assassinate Jinnah in 1947.

  13. D_a_n

    @ YLH….

    thanks for the following gem:

    ‘Secularism and irreligiousity are not the same thing. Only in Pakistan secularism is translated as “la-deeniyat” ‘

    About time someone defined the blindingly obvious!

  14. Junaid

    You need to understand the word secularism a bit better. Secularism stands for equal rights for every human afforded by the “state”, regardless of their caste or creed.


    Thanks for that. It makes things clearer. So a person can be a good Muslim and advocate for equal rights of the citizens of his state. I guess this is not possible given by nature of Islam towards non-Muslims.

    Which is why I think Jinnah made a big mistake.

  15. D_a_n

    @ Junaid…

    ‘I guess this is not possible given by nature of Islam towards non-Muslims.’

    Utter tosh!

  16. adnan

    Somehow i’m getting the feeling that this discussion is moving towards the unfortunate or fortunate question of reason of being of Pakistan. I say unfortunate since it’s been more than 60 yrs and we are still discussing this question/fortunate may be coz people are inquisitive!! but how how long this stays healthily inquisitive or mutates into a ‘Spanish Inquisition’ is a question of time.
    For me there are no doubts it was for Islam….
    But when someone asks i simply ask myself ‘What would a common person of Pakistan Movement would have thought? Why was a commoner struggling for a separate country for Muslims? What was that Pakistan ka matlab kia LA ILAHA ILALLAH? How could Pakistan be a Laboratory of Islam if Islam were not to be tested(though i disagree with testing term; i take it as a simile) in it?

    All this as Junaid said Islam has a rather different approach towards Non-Muslims, i wouldnt say harsh or ugly, but certainly not Equal to a Muslim citizen!!

  17. yasserlatifhamdani

    Pakistan ka matlab kiya la illah ilallah was never raised during the Pakistan movement… and certainly never by Jinnah himself.

    The questions you ask yourself are misdirected. The commoner did not vote for the impressive list of Maulanas… but chose to vote for Jinnah instead whose westernized lifestyle were well known and were well popularized.

    Read Jaswant Singh’s book. You’ll see why Pakistan happened.

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  19. adnan

    and now i should judge quaid by Jaswant Singh’s Book..he is the authority now…wow!!
    commoners didnt understand Quaid’s English either…but took it in context of the contemporary newspapers which interpreted for them….or when Allama Iqbal favored Quaid, the same guy who doesnt stop short from ‘neel k saahil say lay ker tabkhaak e kashgar’.
    as far as Pakistan ka matlab kia la ilaha ilallah, its a widespread belief that it was a pakistan movement slogan.. so if u wanna refute it..refute it with evidence!!(ask ten people from the streets of pakistan)
    But lets put aside the above arguments and then think.. i would say if it werent for Islam creation of Pakistan was a big mistake…No, but a stupendous one!!…if a commoner was suffering from so much low self-confidence…and was so impressed by that Victorian style of manner or culture…he should not have asked for self ruling… Who could be better than the Gora saab himself…
    and gora saab has indeed left some glorious examples…. we would have thrived under the british as honkong, singapore etc did.and in some way u can say australia, Canada as well….

    Or if wanted a secular state why did the sin of dividing Historical India…as the modern day Indians claim….(for the economic benefit of Muslims? very pathetic….)

  20. adnan

    ohh my i realise this is a useless debate on this forum….
    there has already been a great duel on this topic in this exact forum

    …so if that couldnt persuade people …i dont think my bickering would!

  21. Completely agree with Junaid.

  22. bonobashi


    I am sure that you were making valid and important points, but what were these? You did mention in one of your last comprehensible sentences that commoners didnt understand Quaid’s English either, and so on. If that is a criterion for being the national leader, please step up and take your rightful position.

    1. According to you, if something is not understood, it is sufficient to read about its interpretation in the newspapers.

    This is the guiding fallacy of news in most parts of the world, and the reason why western nations pay so much attention to managing the press. It is very pleasing to note your attempts at global convergence of views. Bushie Baba would be proud of you.

    2. About Pakistan ka matlab kya….: I understand that you have in effect claimed that due to the numbers of people believing it to be true, it is no longer important whether or not it is true, what is important is that a large number of people believe it to be so.

    Fascinating; are you truly adnan, and a Pakistani? I would have suspected otherwise, perhaps a Suresh Prabhu, or an Om Prakash Sharma.

    The argument you have used is precisely the one used by the Sangh Parivar to justify the destruction of the Babri Masjid on the grounds that it was built precisely on the temple marking Sri Ramachandra’s place of birth; to argue that there was in fact a real bridge, built by squirrels and other little furry beasts, at the personal behest of Sri Ramachandra himself, to enable him and his vanar army to cross over into Sri Lanka and settle scores with Ravana; also by their supporter the Shankaracharya of Kanchipuram to establish the date of the philosopher and reformer Shankara at some fancy date like 4,000 years ago (or was it 40,000? I have not updated myself in recent years and don’t know the current state of predictability and prediction).

    You are in good company, aren’t you?

    3. I would like a guide, preferably a graphic one, indicating where each sentence object is, and where the subject is, for your (I think) fourth paragraph. As an alternative, I propose to save it up for Sunday, as the comics and the puzzles have fallen off sadly these days.

    There is a possibility that you will not oblige, n’est ce pas? Let’s try on our own, anyway.

    But lets put aside the above arguments and then think.. i would say if it werent for Islam creation of Pakistan was a big mistake…No, but a stupendous one!!…if a commoner was suffering from so much low self-confidence…and was so impressed by that Victorian style of manner or culture…he should not have asked for self ruling… Who could be better than the Gora saab himself…
    and gora saab has indeed left some glorious examples…. we would have thrived under the british as honkong, singapore etc did.and in some way u can say australia, Canada as well….

    Orgasmic stuff!

    Argument 1: If it weren’t for Islam, creation of Pakistan was a big mistake.

    OK, so far so good. If you are under the impression that you are supporting Islam in this manner, it isn’t a very good advertisement for the creation of Pakistan (for a full understanding of what I just said, please re-read your last sentence).

    Supporting premise (a):
    if a commoner was suffering from so much low self-confidence…


    Which commoner is this?
    How did you divine the fact that he suffered from low self-confidence? I am sure you don’t meet many such in the course of your day.
    Had you met him?
    Did he confide in you?
    Did he write a book (you were asking for proof, I seem to remember, about Pakistan ka matlab kya)?
    Do you know the name (of the book)?
    The publisher?
    Do you like brown rice? (that last has nothing to do with the very valuable points you have raised, which we will no doubt get to hear about once the proper interceptor is born, but I thought some nutritional market research would not go amiss).

    Supporting premise (b):
    and was so impressed by that Victorian style of manner or culture…he should not have asked for self ruling…

    Some more Hmmm.

    I just finished teaching a Communications course; mind if I dip into your exercise book for their problems? There’s 90 marks in that, so think how your English will live on even after you, in the minds and souls of 180 students.

    [sigh] Back to mundane stuff. I hate these interruptions.

    The Victorian age ended in – what was it? very early in 1901, I think – so whom were you referring to, as being impressed by ‘that’ (which?) Victorian style of manner or culture?

    With such a rich surfeit of information in front of us, all of it, I am sure, capable of comprehension by normal human beings (those with nine less heads than Ravana), I dare not put to you any further questions: there is always the horrific thought that you might find answers.

  23. @ Adnan,

    You’re right. If Jinnah really wanted a secular state, there was no need to divide India. Which is what leads me to think he advocated TNT so that he could get his share of political power which he perhaps would not have gotten in united India.

    There’s a difference between demanding constitutional safeguards as a minority and being willing to break your country if you don’t get them.

  24. bonobashi


    Obviously none of the preceding discussion, on other threads, for example, has made the slightest impression on you. There’s a difference between rock-ribbed integrity, shown in an unwillingness to compromise, and being obtuse.

    Let me run through the old, old story just once again;

    1. that Jinnah wanted a secular state, which seems quite evident from his utterings in his Congress phase, in his Muslim League phase and after independence, in the brief time that he was allowed, is not disproved by his wanting a different secular state, outside India, because the historical evidence is that he never wanted it to be outside India.

    2. Until as late as 1946, he was fighting with a single-minded passion for a ‘free’ area for the Muslims of India, preferably in the Muslim-majority areas of the north-west and the east; in fact, he had suggested that there be two such, still part of India, with the rest of India constituting the third portion.

    3. This was the central theme of his political programme until the fateful days of July 1946, when the Cabinet Mission seemingly got an agreement both from the Muslim League and the Congress for just such a proposal.

    4. Nehru, within a couple of days of this seeming consensus having been achieved, announced that the Congress would recognise no bars on the members of the Constituent Assembly, which was to be set up to determine the future constitution of the country, still the undivided country.

    5. This obviously meant that the consensus was in fact no consensus, and that the Congress had in effect announced that they were agreeable at that point of time, in July 1946, but did not consider themselves to be bound by that during the proceedings of the Constituent Assembly.

    6. Jinnah had snapped out a terse reply when questioned about his plan B, and found to his disbelief that the Congress had actually boxed him in, by refusing the plan that the Cabinet Mission had proposed, for three distinct entities to be formed of British India, to be linked by a few very vital central services. This plan B that he never expected to have to take up, was partition.

    7. It is clear that the preceding experience of working with the Muslim League in coalition governments had made the Congress leadership bitter about the Muslim League, and its leader, Jinnah.

    8. Perhaps for this reason, that of frustration with their experience, and of consequent unwillingness to work with the League in future; or perhaps because of a suspected personal antipathy to Jinnah on the part of Nehru, the Congress preferred partition to working together.

    9. There is a host of evidence that this partition was not what Jinnah had wanted, and the result was not the Pakistan he wanted, merely that it was the Pakistan that he hoped against hope would keep in place in spite of its manifest disadvantages.

    I hope this helps. Please do try not to introduce repetitive and completely exhausted topics into the discussions. Courtesy demands that you do your homework before putting finger to key.

  25. Bloody Civilian


    re. the limo… the engine caught fire minutes after jinnah and mountbatten had got off and walked away. i’m afraid i’ve completely forgotten the origin of the story right now. i’ll try and dig it up.

  26. D_a_n

    @ Adnan

    you produced the following nonsense:

    ‘All this as Junaid said Islam has a rather different approach towards Non-Muslims, i wouldnt say harsh or ugly, but certainly not Equal to a Muslim citizen!!’

    fortunately numerous periods of Islamic history,especially when we were at our peak are available to refute you and make you look like a complete buffoon.

    Now run back to your dr. Israr day care and quit stinking up this forum. There are plenty of other places for you to spread yourhslf truths and rubbish…you are a discredit to my deen and to your country.

  27. D_a_n

    @ kabir

    Hun araam aei??

    PS: your agreement with junaid is further proof of your self loathing. You will agree with just about anything with thinking it through just to make it fit your world view.

  28. Junaid

    The dilemma on this forum is itself a clear representation of the cheap mentality of the Muslim Indian elite.

    The Muslim Indian elite of pre-partition would quickly wear Islam on their sleeves to justify the creation of another country for “safe guarding” the interests of the community.

    However, once the country is created, the elite quickly starting fiddling the flute of secularism.


    Strong and bitter words indicate a weak cause.

    The numerous periods of Islamic history you speak of are periods in which Muslim rulers ruled but not necessarily using the Islam as the source of their governance. For example Akbar etc.

    So using those numerous periods in fact only weakens your own argument.

  29. D_a_n

    @ junaid

    oh really now?? And ofcourse I couldn’t really have been thinking of anyone other than Akbar mind reader that you are.

    Strong words? Weak cause? I suppose blanket statements born out if personal issues or shades of ignorance make for stuff Nobel prized are made off right?

  30. YLH


    Thank you for making those points. But about Kabir- he is not the kind who has humility to accept that he might be wrong about something.


    Unfortunately what you say doesn’t make any sense.

    You should read Hamza Alavi’s “Pakistan and Islam: Ethnicity and Identity”… It speaks of the Salariat (petty bourgeoisie) as being the real impulse being the Pakistan movement. Hamza Alavi himself was probably the leading Marxist historian and an authority.

    The issue was that Jinnah atleast after having failed to convince his Congress colleagues to concede residuary powers and reserved seats and having failed to convince his Muslim co-religionists to give up separate electorates thought that having two federations – one Muslim majority and one Hindu majority (an idea that was already floating around)- which would then come together as one confederation of India or the model that EU later adopted. The whole thing was based on a very reasonable legal assertion (which came out of the fact that there were two Indias to begin with a. British b. Princely and a question of how to bring these in a federation was discussed through out the 1930s – Jinnah had advocating dissolving all of them at that time) that a unitary center was a British creation.

    If secularism is equality of citizenship, religious freedom, religion as personal faith etc, Jinnah had maintained these to be fundamentals of the new state through out the Pakistan movement.

    Also may I suggest- as per your comments to Dan- that all your comments are quite bitter. Perhaps a little more understanding and a little more reading would do wonders.

    Do read H M Seervai’s “Partition of India: Legend and Reality”. He was not from the imaginary “muslim elite” that “created” Pakistan.

  31. YLH

    PS. The difference between rock rubbed integrity marked by an unwillingness to compromise as opposed to being obtuse – I wish all of us would know that difference, self included, and there would be better discussions 🙂

    Btw- Junaid mian : Bonobashi is not the Muslim elite here either. I do hope you read his comments.

  32. YLH

    Erratum: That smiley is too cheery … I was going for a sadder more sober smile.

  33. Bonoboshi,

    I am aware of all the points you are making. Do not assume I am ignorant, it’s condescending, and I refuse to accept condescending behavior from anyone, not from YLH and not from you.

    I accept everything you have said, but if Jinnah had truely wanted a secular state he would never have propogated the divisive and exclusionary Two Nation Theory. Hindus and Muslims were not two “nations”. Everyone was Indian. There was no reason to propogate this theory, unless it was a political ploy. That is all I’m saying.

    There was never, and will never be, an excuse for vivisecting India.

  34. YLH:

    I “don’t have humilty to accept when I’m wrong”? The pot is calling the kettle black.

    By the way, some googling shows how you were completely put in your place over at Chapati Mystery. The commenter was right. Your attitude towards Jinnah borders on hagiography– Jinnah is your khuda and rasul. By insulting Gandhiji, you think you are doing Jinnah a service. You are not an objective intellectual, and your pretense to be such is beyond absurd.

  35. yasserlatifhamdani

    Dear Kabir,

    Let me make it very clear. You are not only ignorant, but you are incapable of logical thought, reason or ability to argue coherently. Had it not been for the circumstances of your birth, you might as well have been right next to another “K”, Kasab i.e. Amir Ajmal Kasab…

    I had this opinion of you from the first day you interacted here. But these gentlemen that you are now accusing of being condescending towards you were the ones hellbent on giving you the benefit of doubt.

    Now either you “accept” everything Bonobashi has said or you “accept” what you say subsequently. You can’t accept both at the same time.

    As for your other post – about objectivity etc I did not claim. Nor did I insult your precious Gandhiji here except point out the obvious criticisms that everyone including Jaswant Singh and even Gandhi’s own grandson accept. You have yet to show me through any coherent logical argument how I am wrong.

  36. YLH:

    I am posting a letter I wrote to you (it was intended for the other thread, but I can’t comment there for some reason). It says what I have to say in the fullest manner possible:

    I may not be up on all the intricacies of the TNT, but I know that it was used to divide rather than unite Indians. That is all I need to know about it and that is why I can never support it. I cannot be in favor of ideas that divide human beings from each other.

    You say that it is ironic that I sing bhajans and yet I say that “religious differences” don’t matter to me. Let me clarify that I do not sing bhajans as a form of worship (though those that do so are perfectly entitled to this). I sing them because they are an important part of Hindustani Classical Music as well as some of the most beautiful poetry written in the South Asian tradition—just take the bhajans of Meerabai for example. I also sing Shabads and have won prizes in several competitions, yet this does not make me a Sikh. I am neither a practicing Muslim nor a “hindu wannabe” (unless in your eyes, anyone who sings bhajans automatically becomes Hindu). If the “hindu wannabe” quip is related to my name “Mohan”, this is the name my parents gave me, in honor of none other than Mohandas Gandhi. My brother is named Jawahar after Nehru.

    As bonoboshi pointed out above, your attitude towards Jinnah borders on hagiography. In your eyes, Jinnah can do no wrong. This is all I am protesting against. Jinnah was a man and a politician just like Gandhiji or Nehru. For the record, I do think Gandhiji made a mistake in greeting Jinnah as “minority Muslim” and not as a fellow Gujrati and Indian. But Gandhiji was only human, not god. That is my whole point.

    Anyway, I am tired of this debate. You and I have both made our arguments, in the midst of a regrettable shouting match, and it seems there is no chance of us meeting in the middle. So, for my part, I am moving on.


  37. yasserlatifhamdani

    Dear Kabir,

    You’ve made no points. The points you make are established Indian Nationalist mythology. Nothing else. What is worse is that it is also Pakistani nationalist mythology as well (except that they view positively what you view negatively). The truth is that the only time TNT was used to “divide” instead of unite was when the Congress cynically asked for Punjab and Bengal to be divided. According to Majumdar it was a good thing.

    Had you read Bonobashi’s points you would not be going in circles like a twit. While I do not deny being a partisan of Jinnah… a Shia-ti-Jinnah if you wish, can you point out where Bonobashi says that about my “hagiography”. My admiration and defence of the man is based on fact. It is not that I don’t accept criticism of him… indeed I have criticised him myself but I reject the criticism you put up because your criticism is based on a lack of knowledge, a lack of ability to argue coherently and logically and as you admitted yourself – just plain “emotion”.

    And thanks for pointing out what your parents motivations were in naming you what they did. Let me also say that in my view… psychologically, these motivations cannot be described as “secular” in the least. Now I think one can have a fuller picture of where you are coming from. Like I said… had not been for the circumstances of your birth you might well have been Kasab instead of Kabir given the little thought you put in to strongly held positions.

  38. Bonoboshi mentioned that your views of Jinnah border on hagiography over on the “masters of mutilation” thread:

    the quote is: “Please give this unrelenting hagiography a break. Many of us admire him; there is a growing wave of realisation of his sterling worth; but to insist that it was he, in all seasons, and for all issues the only one that counted, and the rest didn’t, reduces him to figures of ridicule. That is really not called for.”

    What’s not “secular” about someone naming their kids after two great heroes of the Indian independence movement: Gandhiji and Panditji?
    My parents wanted us to have South Asian and not Arab/Islamic names. Our cultural heritage is South Asian and not Arab. You may disagree, but these were thought through political positions, not arbitrary decisions.


  39. “The truth is that the only time TNT was used to “divide” instead of unite was when the Congress cynically asked for Punjab and Bengal to be divided”

    And this time counts for nothing? I would say it was the most crucial time– this invocation of TNT resulting in millions fleeing their homes and becoming refugees in the country meant for their particular religion. My nana’s family was derailed by having to leave Amritsar, and my dadi’s family was derailed from having to leave Agra, and having to leave all their paintings, musicial instruments, etc behind. See why I am so passionately opposed to TNT?

  40. yasserlatifhamdani

    Kabir mian,

    So you had to go all the way to the other thread to get the quote. You said “above”. But that was in a context and that context has been debated.

    How about you begin to respond to Bonobashi’s points above instead of wasting your time trying to associate with me positions that I don’t hold? I have already divulged a bit on the great “independence” struggle on the other board.
    What your parents named you is of no consequence to me or this discussion (you are only putting it up to earn brownie points now that even Indians are beginning to call you out on your ignorance).

    Frankly I am not sure that Arab etc debate has anything to do with it. Your “namaste” is noted. Had I been from your ilk of fake “secularists” I would have responded with a “namaste” or “sat sri kaal”. But the question is have you ever seen me say “assalamualaikum” or “salaam” either?

    That is the difference between you and me… I am neither Turk Peshori nor a Hindu… you are trying to be both.

    Good Day, Ciao and Adios.

  41. yasserlatifhamdani

    And just to emphasize that point… this article was originally published in the Dawn and is by a truly secular Indian Muslim … I reproduce the relevant part here:

    In Lutyens’ Delhi the hub of India’s power dynamic the circus of feasts will see robed clerics from diverse Islamic clusters getting invited to the prime minister’s house to break bread.Government ministers party leaders MPs power peddlers middlemen in a nutshell everyone who lives by the 13 per cent Muslim vote in India or those who need to flaunt their secularism will take turns to rustle up an appetising Ramazan menu.Of course only a minority of India’s 150 million Muslims are mullahs and so a few of the less pious variety would also be given a slot in the meandering queue to rub shoulders with the high and mighty.

    Had Jinnah had his way there would be no need for the pathetic lottery of Ramazan invitations.There would be no need for the Justice Sachchar Committee set up to investigate why Indian Muslims continue to be economically and socially backward six decades after independence from colonialism.In other words had there been no partition there would not be a need for communally driven dinner invitations even though they are usually claimed to strengthen secularism.Indians would be less self consciously tolerant and eating or not eating with each other of their free will in an India that Jinnah had dreamt of.Jaswant Singh has been penalised for implicitly asserting this.

    As a matter of fact Justice Sachchar offered remedies that reminded me of the crisis once faced by the International Committee of the Red Cross when its representatives visited prisons in the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan.They recommended hot water baths for the inmates which startled the jail warden who hadn’t had the luxury of one in a fortnight himself.There are of course no hard and fast rules in this.Political power does not flow from the numerical superiority of a community over another.The partition of 1947 wrote this in blood.As a maverick college friend remarked in capitalism man exploits man and in socialism it was the other way round.

  42. yasserlatifhamdani

    “And this time counts for nothing? ”

    But you and your brother are named after those who insisted on using the TNT in such a fashion…. as per your own admission. You keep abusing TNT and declaring that you are “passionately” against it …

    Would it be fair then to abuse Hinduism because it was used by L K Advani and the BJP to demolish Babri Masjid?

  43. bonobashi


    I want to say something at this point. Most of what you have argued is based on emotion, not on fact. I quite understand that some of these emotions are important in themselves, it is just that the atmosphere here is heavily biased towards academic analysis. In these discussions, it is a sine qua non to be well-versed in the basic grammar and syntax; you must be on the same page. It becomes difficult to interact with you because in doing so, judging from the exchanges you have had with others, the matter becomes a sort of two sets of people talking past each other, instead of to each other.

    If you were to go into a headbangers’ ball and start singing Pete Seeger numbers, I doubt that you would last very long.

    That is more or less the situation here. You are using a language and a vocabulary which are alien, even inimical to the purposes and objectives of the analytical posts like this one. There are of course others which are an intriguing amalgam of emotion and logic, and nobody stops you from spreading out on those posts. As a pointer, hunt out Bradistan Calling and his posts. Kinkminos is heady stuff, but it may be wiser to wait a bit to savour his full offering.

    You are free to ignore this completely.

    Do not mistake this post. If people barge into these discussions, the logical ones, the fact-based ones, there is so much damage caused that there is a genuine case for employing bouncers. There has been some ‘self-appointment’ recently; you venture into these without homework done at your mortal peril.

  44. Majumdar

    Yasser mian,

    indeed I have criticised him myself

    Good Lord, you have actually criticised the J-man!!! Btw, what was the point of criticism, if I may ask?


  45. yasserlatifhamdani

    Heck… you even acknowledged it. Yeh kiya majumdar mian…

    Well I criticised him for his ill-thought references to Islamic principles of equality, fraternity and justice… while I feel – with a lot of justification- that he was saying that the principles of equality fraternity and justice which are universal secular principles are compatible with Islam… his use of Islamic vocabulary- ambiguous as it might have been – seems to have given the Islamists who hated him and his idea of an inclusive secular Pakistan a way out.

    I have also criticised him for emulating Gandhi’s methods on July 29, 1946 … by giving a call for civil disobedience i.e. Direct Action… which was used against him ultimately and even though the British knew the real story (Lord Wavell’s letter to Pethick Lawrence) they still used it to force Jinnah to back down on 5:5:4 formula as well as his demand that as per the CMP declaration the British ought to have made the interim government without the Congress given Congress’ dubious interpretation of the groupings clause.

    I have also criticized him for appointing Ch. Muhammad Ali as the “Cabinet Sec” … the latter censored Jinnah’s 11th August speech… and I have criticized him for not writing a constitution and foisting it on the constituent assembly instead of letting those fools deliberate.

  46. Majumdar


    his ill-thought references to Islamic principles

    Curiously enuff I was about to write a mail to you on this based on some stuff which was brought to my notice by some Islamist gentlemen I respect very much.

    One was a speech in Peshawar in 1946 about Pakistan being an Islamic laboratory and the other his speech (one of his last ones) at the opening of the SBP in Aug 1948.

    Hopefully I shud be able to write in later on the 3 criticisms you have levelled against Jinnah sahib and a couple of more of my own later this day.


  47. YLH

    Also – the most poignant criticism of Jinnah should lie with his acceptance of the June 3rd plan which only a day earlier he had returned to Mountbatten as “your plan not mine”.

    When MB had threatened him, he had replied “what must be must be”.

    What happened then on June 3rd that he accepted such a crappy mutilation as his Pakistan?

  48. YLH

    The speech to the state bank refers to Islamic social justice … and as such is problematic.

    The laboratory wali speech is what I criticise mostly because it lends itself to such dubious interpretation. What did he mean. He certainly did not mean what the islamists want it to mean… And he was hardly talking about the state and its legal system… He was talking about the society, about Iqbalian idealism of Ijtehad etc- of reform and rejuvenation of Islamic civilization.

    But can one really blame the Mullah types for twisting it (after all even the Congress twisted a far more straightforward “grouping” clause to its advantage)? This is the great failure of Jinnah- Pakistan has become the laboratory not of Islamic reform but of Islamic terror- not of Islamic modernity but of Islamic orthodoxy thanks to Bhutto and General Zia…the lab itself is on fire.

    None of this ofcourse can in the least be argued as being the vision that Jinnah gave. Jinnah’s vision for constitution and state as father of the nation is that which he gave to the constituent assembly which has no reference to Islam and is completely unambiguous.

  49. @ YLH:

    “Good day, Ciao, and Adios”– wow someone is a brown sahib wannabe.

    I think you have a very confused idea of secularism. Using Namaste or Salaam doesn’t make one into a Hindu or a Muslim. They are both greetings that essentially mean the same thing– and it’s a good thing in any case. Saying to someone “I bow to the divine in you” or “peace be with you” are positive things– I don’t see why people have to obsess about them.

    @ bonoboshi,

    With all due respect, you will note that on any thread I have participated on I have always made logical, intellectual and non-personal arguements, unless provoked by YLH, who has resorted to attacking my father, my weight, my life choices, etc. So if you are (justifiably) criticising me for giving in to emotion, please be non-partial and criticise him as well for forgetting the rules of debate and resorting to personal attacks.

  50. YLH, my parents did not name my brother and I after Gandhiji and Nehru because of their use of the TNT but because they were great heroes of the Indian independence movement.

    Incidently, even Jinnah’s father had a regular Gujrati name. It was only because Jinnah was born in Karachi, and the kids in Karachi had really obviously Muslim names that his parents named him Mohammad Ali (this is referred to in Jaswant’s book).

  51. Also, say a Pakistani person really admires Nelson Mandela and his fight against apartheid in South Africa. If this person then names his son “Nelson” it doesn’t mean the kid is trying to be South African and not Pakistani.

    Logically, the same principle applies to a “Pakistani” kid named Mohan. One can admire Gandhiji without being a “traitor” to Jinnah. One can criticize and be against TNT, without being against Jinnah as a person.

    Is this so hard to understand?

  52. Majumdar

    Yasser mian,

    the most poignant criticism of Jinnah should lie with his acceptance of the June 3rd plan

    What exactly cud he have done about it? What were the alternative courses of action, if any? And what wud have been the likely outcome? If you can shed some light on this.

    IMHO, he cud have done nothing else save enter United India on INC’s terms and I will explain why?


  53. yasserlatifhamdani

    Kabir mian…

    Think logically…

    What does any of what you’ve written corresponds to the debate? Jinnah was born Mahomedalli Jinnahbhai (not Muhammad Ali as you put it) like a good Ismaili gujurati boy… it might come as a surprise to you but Jinnah’s family use to this day Hindu Family Law as per Khoja tradition. Having read both Jinnah’s life extensively and having read the Succession Act of 1925, I didn’t need to read Jaswant Singh’s book to know all this by the way but you can find it there as well.

    Do you think I have a preference for Arab names? I am not even going to answer such a preposterous presumption. Those who know me know that I prefer Russian names..

    As for namaste … salaam etc… I just don’t use it any religion-specific greetings. I have no desire for wishing peace upon anyone or I sure as hell don’t wanna bow down to the “divine” in you. I do use Khuda Hafiz but that is only because recently the trend has become Allah Hafiz in the subcontinent. Otherwise I am not possessed of any such desire either.

    “wow someone is a brown sahib wannabe”

    What do you mean wannabe? I am simply someone who doesn’t have time to be “ethnic” and sing “bhajjans” or say “Salaam/namaste” and other incidental cultural hang-ups etc etc. If that makes me a brown sahib then so be it. But there is no wannabe category unlike you.

    “Confused idea of secularism”

    Why? Because I don’t think running around calling yourself Mohan and singing Bhajjans and buying wholesale the Indian Nationalist mythology doesn’t make you secular?

    I think you know who really has a confused idea of secularism… someone who thinks that by ending his post on “Namaste” or “salaam” he becomes secular…

    What next? “Ishwar Allah tero naam” is a secular song?

  54. Yasser:

    Ok, you’re not a brown sahib wannabe, you’re just a brown sahib. But I am not a “hindu wannabe” either. I’m just myself and I’m very comfortable in my own skin. I don’t “run around calling myself Mohan in order to be secular”. I call myself Mohan simply because that is the name my mother gave me. She officially changed it to Kabir only because she was told that “Mohan” was not going to fly in the Islamic Republic and she gave in to pressure. Even then she picked Kabir for a reason– because it is a name common to both Hindus and Muslims, and she wanted to make a point.

    There is a still a note of condescension in your post “I don’t have time to run around singing bhajans and being ethnic”. Is being ethnic a contempible thing? No one’s saying you have to do it, but it is a valid way of living one’s life.

    And yes “Ishwar Allah tero naam” is a secular song, in the sense that the philosophy behind it is that it doesn’t matter whether you call god Ishwar, Allah, Ram, whatever– it’s still the same god. Like you said in another context, secularism doesn’t necessarily mean irreligiousness.

    P.S. I too prefer Russian names (particularly Dmitri) and my family insists on the use of “Khuda Hafiz” vs. “Allah Hafiz”. So you see, we actually have quite a bit in common:)

  55. yasserlatifhamdani

    “What exactly cud he have done about it?”

    Jinnah could’ve told MB and Nehru to take a hike on the morning of June 3rd.

    “What were the alternative courses of action, if any?”

    he should have made contact with the half naked fakir and his Mullah sidekick telling them that they needed to grow up and take a clear stance … Furthermore, he should have re-entered into negotiations with the Sikh leadership and should have used the draft of June 3rd plan to scare the shit out of them… this way he could make a broadbased alliance with the rest of minorities and then non-cooperate with the Congress … in every possible way. The League was already in the interim government … and had already taught Congress a lesson.

    “And what wud have been the likely outcome? If you can shed some light on this.”

    The negotiations would have re-opened. Congress would have to ultimately accept the grouping clause….

  56. yasserlatifhamdani

    “Is being ethnic a contempible thing?”

    Yes- especially when you clearly a mummy daddy burger family kind trying to take it up as a fad or to be congratulated for “Slumdog Millionaire”.

    “And yes “Ishwar Allah tero naam” is a secular song, in the sense that the philosophy behind it is that it doesn’t matter whether you call god Ishwar, Allah, Ram, whatever”

    WRONG! God itself is a non-secular concept – which doesn’t mean a believer can’t be secular but when expresses this belief in politics it becomes non-secular. Even if this song had been as benign as you say it was… it would still be non-secular. However… the second verse makes it not just non-secular but positively majoritarian communalist.

    “– it’s still the same god.”

    I can’t comment on fictitious characters.

    “Like you said in another context, secularism doesn’t necessarily mean irreligiousness.”

    Once again… your reading comprehension comes in the way. What I did say was that secularism does not equate to irreligiousity … which basically meant that a person can be religious in personal life but so long as he doesn’t go about bringing his belief between him and his public tasks he is secular. I did not mean – in the least- that such crass attempt at superficial unity as “ishwar allah tero naam” is a secular song. It is NOT.

  57. yasserlatifhamdani

    Saying Ishwar Allah tero naam is a secular song is like saying “Intelligent Design” is a scientific theory.

  58. “And the reason I insist on saying Khuda Hafiz is entirely different from what I can imagine is your reason”

    My reason is that I don’t want to be exclusionary and I’m making a point against Islamization and Sunnification. “Khuda” includes more people, while “Allah” is specifically Islamic. Is that different from your reason?

    I agree with you that secularism means a person can be a believer in his or her personal life but it shouldn’t make a difference in the public sphere. But I disagree that “superficial attempts at unity” aren’t important as well.

    “You are a mummy daddy burger type”. I’m trying to patch up our differences, why do still insist on being insulting? And no, I have not taken up being “ethnic” as a fad. I have always been raised to be very proud of my culture– of Urdu, shalwar kameez, Hindustani classical music, ghazals, desi khana, etc. Please, it’s not a fad, it’s a huge part of who I am. It’s why I want to pursue South Asian Studies at a higher level, it’s why I engage on Indian and Pakistani blogs as opposed to American one’s. You don’t know me well enough to make such a judgement.


  59. “I can’t comment on fictitious characters”– well that’s what we English and Drama types do all the time, we talk and debate about Othello and Iago, Romeo and Hamlet, as if they were real people:) I do agree with you that the god of the Bible and the Koran is a literary character though, but that doesn’t mean he can’t hold meaning in people’s lives.

    That remark reminded me of Pervez Hoodbhoy, who is a dear family friend, and who’s daughter recently commented to me over dinner that “abba is a secular fundamentalist”, I guess the description applies equally well to you:)

  60. yasserlatifhamdani

    ‘“Khuda” includes more people, while “Allah” is specifically Islamic. Is that different from your reason? ‘

    Yes. My reason is simply that it was in usage for centuries and even the most puritan Mullah said Khuda Hafiz. Now suddenly … Muslims all over South Asia have decided against it… thus inventing “Allah Hafiz”… for example I don’t have a problem with people using “Allah Bailly” or “Rub Rakha” or the Bosnian “Ilahi imanat”… or even the “fe-iman-allah”… so it is really not about including and excluding people since I think a “Good bye” or a “farewell” or a “Ciao” are much better and appropriate expressions for parting of ways.

    Now I have to work… so I’ll talk to you later.

  61. Majumdar


    he should have made contact with the half naked fakir and his Mullah sidekick … The League was already in the interim government … and had already taught Congress a lesson.

    You don’t notice the contradiction. AIML-INC friction in the Govt had convinced JLN and SVP that it was time to ask AIML and the Muslim provinces to take a hike. Had the half-naked fakir and his Mullah sidekick tried to object, the Pandit and the Sardar wud have each taken a danda and shoved up it up their a***es. Like they did to Kiran Roy and Sarat Bose.

    Furthermore, he should have re-entered into negotiations with the Sikh leadership, and should have used the draft of June 3rd plan to scare the shit out of them

    Bhaijan, the Sardarjis are far more intelligent than you give credit for, certainly far more than the East Bong Hindoo a-holes. And they had a truly visionary and patriotic leader in Master Tara Singh. They knew pretty much what Muslim Raj meant and had already decided what was needed to be done.


  62. yasserlatifhamdani

    Like Jinnah pointed out in a different context … no part of the Empire could be kicked out involuntarily.

    I think Jinnah was tired and dying… had he been two years younger, he would have gone back to the drawing board and he would have won.

  63. Majumdar


    Assuming Jinnah sahib was younger. Still he wud have been left with only two options-

    1. Accept the motheaten Pakistan.
    2. Join United India on INC’s (read JLN-SVP duo)terms and conditions with the distant hope that he wud be able to cobble together a grand anti-INC coalition.

    And if you think #2 was a valid option, do let me point out I can only tell you that AIML wudnt have been spoilt for allies. Master Tara Singh had openly declared war on AIML and do read up on BRA’s magnum opus and the comments he made about AIML’s top leadership and even Muslims in general (they wud make some khaki chaddis blush). OTOH, INC wud have gone fishing for allies among the AIML waters.


  64. yasserlatifhamdani

    There was a third option… The option to force Congress to agree on the Groupings clause.

    It would have required moral courage on part of the British… and perhaps that was what was lacking for Mountbatten.

    Perhaps had Wavell n0t been fired in Feb.

  65. yasserlatifhamdani

    PS: BRA also said Jinnah was the right man to lead a minorities coalition.

  66. Majumdar


    The option to force Congress to agree on the Groupings clause.

    Neither side cud have been forced to agree on anything. INC cudn’t have been forced to accpet grouping no more than AIML cud have been forced to accept a United India on INC’s terms and conditions. In any case, the moment the Brits wud have left, INC wud have denounced the CMP-46 and declared that grouping was no longer acceptable to it. This is precisely the reason MAJ (pbuh) realised that June 3 plan was the best that AIML cud have.

    BRA also said Jinnah was the right man to lead a minorities coalition.

    I also suggest you read Chapter 11 of BRA’s book which is available on the Net.

    By 1946 he was more or less of the view that India was better off without its Muslims. That Partition along with partition of Bengal and Punjab was the best thing. Possibly with a complete exchange of population (something which even the Hindutvists never insisted upon)


  67. yasserlatifhamdani

    Well… in so far as the first part is concerned…. I don’t think the Congress could have forced the League and the Muslim majority provinces to leave… just like the League could not be forced to accept United India on INC’s terms.

    Things would have led to an impasse. What was so wrong with the groupings clause… don’t you think INC would have backed off from the brink of civil war? Or do you think they were convinced they could defeat the Muslim majority provinces.

  68. Yasser,

    Regarding the question of greetings. Even “goodbye” which you prefer is a shortened and much contracted form of “god be with you”, thus not substantively very different from “khuda hafiz”.

  69. karun4


    There are only two types of mind in this world:

    the greek mind ( cold calculated and rational)
    the indian mind ( mystical contradictory(often truth lies in contradiction) and intuitive)

    there is no meeting point for them.

    So stop arguing and be at peace. I appreciate your ethos and your character. Keep up the good work!!!

  70. @ karun,

    I guess one could say I have the Indian mind:). I take it as a compliment:). We should chat off of PTH sometime.

  71. karun4

    sure 🙂 yes indeed you have a beautiful indian mind.

  72. yasserlatifhamdani


    Did you read this article over on your own website?

    Not so much as why… but just as a record… this article is brilliant. I don’t know who wrote it… but perhaps if you were to apply your mind to your own website instead of fighting with me you’d grow up a little.

    Stop chatting with people like Karun4. Karun Varun whats the difference…

  73. yasserlatifhamdani

    Also the origin of Goodbye might be in God be with you… but Good was later substituted for God.

    But now that you’ve enlightened me on that … I’ll use “so long”.

  74. yasserlatifhamdani

    And for the record I’d prefer the Greek mind over an Indian one any day …. based on Karun 4’s Definition …an Indian mind is clearly a nutcase and nothing else.

    Even the great Ramanujan was a Greek by that postulation.

  75. Yasser,

    That article you are complimenting was written by my father, Mir Anjum Altaf, who goes by the name “South Asian”. Perhaps you want to tell him how brilliant you found his article?

    I have no problem with Karun. One can never have too many friends, it doesn’t mean you have to agree on everything:)

    Yeah I guess “goodbye” is out then… “so long” “farwell” “auf widershen” are all good though… now I’m thinking of the sound of music

  76. @ Karun,

    what’s the best way to get in touch with you? Facebook?

  77. @ Yasser,

    To quote from the “brilliant” article:

    “Did Jinnah never see that there was a world outside the courtroom, that the forces that had been unleashed by the politics of separation would never allow the situation to go back to what it was, no matter what he wished or desired? It seems not.”

    This is essentially the question I’ve been asking, though not in the best way. How could a secularist like Jinnah not realize what damage invoking TNT would do? If he did realize the damage, why did he continue to invoke “the politics of seperation?”


  78. yasserlatifhamdani

    Well I took that as a question that needed answering… but you would know better… in any event much of that question I have answered above. The TNT that he invoked was not separatist.

    Let me quote some excerpts:

    Two remarkable statements made around the time of the partition of British India continue to intrigue me:

    Here is Mohammad Ali Jinnah, addressing the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan in August 1947:

    You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the State.

    And here is Jawaharlal Nehru, writing to Chief Ministers of provinces in India in October 1947, pointing out that there remained, within India,

    a Muslim minority who are so large in numbers that they cannot, even if they want, go anywhere else. That is a basic fact about which there can be no argument. Whatever the provocation from Pakistan and whatever the indignities and horrors inflicted on non-Muslims there, we have got to deal with this minority in a civilized manner. We must give them security and the rights of citizens in a democratic State.

    How can we read these two statements given the history of which they were a part?

    What intrigues me about them is the following:

    Here was Jinnah, who had spent the previous twenty years arguing that Muslims and Hindus were separate nations, so completely different from each other that they could not live together. And here he was, on the creation of the country based on that logic of difference, saying all of you can now live together as equal citizens with equal rights.

    And here was Nehru, who had spent the same period of time arguing the secular perspective that everyone was an equal citizen regardless of religion or ethnicity, still thinking in terms of minorities as special groups who needed to be dealt with in a civilized manner and given the rights of citizens.

    I would have expected Jinnah to say something along these lines: I know it is going to be very difficult but we must now find a way to live together. And I would have expected Nehru to send out an unequivocal signal: We are all Indians now; there are no more majorities and minorities here

    ….I would argue that Jinnah’s innate values were secular. He belonged to a minority trading community from Gujarat where getting along with others was essential to survival and success. It is clear that Jinnah could never have believed from the outset that Hindus and Muslims were so intrinsically different that they could not live together. Had that been the case he could not have been the leading ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity till the 1920s.

    It was something in the politics of the situation that must have convinced him that Hindus and Muslims could not live together in a constitutional arrangement in British India that would be acceptable to both communities. Based on that conviction (here we are not concerned whether that conviction was right or wrong) he fought his case and won. And once he won, and walked out of the courtroom, metaphorically speaking, the political imperatives for him disappeared and he became the secular Jinnah that he always was

    But we can now push this psychological analysis further and note the complexity of the interplay between the beliefs inherited at birth and the convictions that are inculcated and sustained through intellectual endeavor…..

    Without the political imperatives that changed Jinnah’s beliefs, his descendants are avowedly secular. And without the intellectual rigor that characterized Nehru, his descendants are slipping back towards prejudice.

    That something was the failure of Congress to accomodate other points of view in 1927-1930, 1937-1938 and 1946…

    Your repetitive denunciation of the TNT as some how you can change history makes it harder for you to understand this it seems.

    A small correction: By the way Jinnah first used the word “nation” for Muslims in 1940. It is therefore wrong to say that he was of this view for the “last 20 years”.

  79. Yasser:

    I realize that it was the politics of the situation that led to Partition. I always said that Congress and the British had a role in events as well. I’m not some rabid Jinnah-hater, even if in the heat of the moment I came across as such.

    I don’t think I can change history (how can I, a small person like myself?). The TNT just gets to me in a visceral sense. I can’t stand any ideas which divide people on the basis of religion, caste, ethnicity, whatever. I wish Jinnah hadn’t felt compelled to use such rhetoric. After people had been divided along communal lines, how did he reasonably expect India/Pakistan to have a friendly relationship with each other? That’s why dad’s article is called “the ironies of history”.


  80. YLH

    Now we are getting somewhere. Read my position carefully:

    it is not that I am in love with divisive rhetoric but my view is that once it was accepted that there was a Hindu community and a Muslim community the journey from community to nation was merely linguistic …with certain constitutional implication.

    The self identification as Hindu and Muslim started happening some time before Jinnah’s and Gandhi’s time. And for Jinnah – the realization that he was a minority Muslim was almost entirely thanks to Gandhi.
    So TNT itself is not the divisive idea – infact it sought to bring together through a form of consociationalism that which was already divided.
    So your zeal is misdirected.

  81. I know that self-identification as Muslim and Hindu occured before Jinnah and Gandhi. As my dad has argued on his blog, it began with the introduction of seperate electorates and the competition for political resources.

    Maybe i just expected better from Jinnah than invoking a theory which could even potentially be divisive and exclusionary. I’m not fond of Gandhiji’s khilafat movement, but I admire his strategies of civil disobedience such as the Salt March. What strikes me as ironic though is if Jinnah faulted Gandhiji for introducing religion into politics, why did he turn around and start mixing the two himself?

  82. Majumdar

    Let me attempt an critique of the great man. I will first begin with the four charges that YLH had laid at MAJ (pbuh)’s door.

    #1 Emphasising the Islamic ideology in his campaign esp in 1940-47

    His speech at Peshawar ’46 (Islamic laboratory) and his speech at SBP opening ceremony among others can be used to suggest that he was in favour of an Islamic model. And yet there are indicators to the contrary too. His 8/11 speech may yet be explained by Islamists as something that is something that is not necessarily in contravention of Islamic ideals. But there is no explaining the fact that when some senior Leaguers led by Mahmudabad tried to pass a resolution that wud have bound AIML to an Islamic state he used his influence to have that resolution scuppered which led to the said gentleman quitting the League.

    So did he want as Islamic state or did he not?

    While we can’t really answer that question based on evidence alone there are two things that need to be kept in mind.

    One, that the Muslims of India were not really a homogenous people, in fact the Indus Valley Mussalman, the Hindustani Musalman and the Bengali Mussalman had completely different POVs and there was no option but to invoke Islam to keep the three strands in one party.

    Two, that he never foresaw that Islam cud be hijacked by cavemen to enslave non-Muslims as well as Muslims. Just like Gandhiji’s supporters do not see Ram Rajya as a theocratic state to oppress non-Hindoos.

    Verdict: At the net level, the invocations to Islam during 1940-47, although inevitable, were not in the best interest of Indian Muslims.

    #2 Direct Action Day

    This cannot really be faulted in as far as that you can’t really call mass action an evil thing as Bono da has pointed out. In any case, MAJ resorted to DA only after trying out more constitutional methods for 40 years. Besides, DAD was not meant to be a call to arms, although the speeches and utterances of some of the second tier Leaguers and the conduct of Suharwardy as Bengal CM leave a lot to be desired.

    Verdict: In short MAJ cant really be blamed for DAD, although he can be blamed for failing to maintain discipline down the ranks.

    #3 Ch Muhammad Ali and delayed Constitution of Pakistan

    Dunno much about the Choudhari dude so can’t comment. As far as the Constt of Pakistan was concerned, let’s not forget that India with far superior intellectual resources too over 2 years to frame a Constt. And let us not forget Pakistan’s crazy geography and demography. As to how MAJ possibly cud have framed a Constt in 1 year of which for half he was practically in “ek paon kabr mein” mode is beyond me. Besides, Constts have to be adopted by free will it cannot be imposed from above.

    Verdict: Not guilty

    #4 Accepting the June 3 Plan

    As I have argued earlier, there was nothing that MAJ cud have done about it. Maybe Yasser can join me in a set of “What ifs”

    Now my two cribs.

    #1 The Princely States fiasco

    Unfortunately this has already been discussed threadbare on another topic and the positions of all the principal combatants on PTH is already clear. There is no point in ukharoing gade murdey.

    #2 The Sikandar- Jinnah Pact

    MAJ and AIML did become the Sole Spokesman for Muslims at the Centre but there was a huge price to be paid- handing over the Punjab League to the feudals incl a large chunk of ex-Unionists. And ultimately it was the Punjabi feudal not Murdoodi (who was possibly a tool of the competing factions of the Punjab League) who destroyed Jinnah’s Pakistan.

    But again one may argue that this was a necessary evil- without taking the Punjabi feudal-pir class there was no way AIML wud have gained Punjab and there wud have been no Pakistan either.


  83. YLH

    Well if you’ve gotten to these questions you should read more and you will find the answers yourself.

    aiimsonian/koschan/karun (one person mind you) is not worth your time. So stop getting inflated.

    Read Bonobashi’s post. Apply your mind to it. Forget me – I have never hidden my partisanship… My objectives for debate are entirely subjective though I always remain factual. Read a balanced view – you’ll learn from it.

  84. arre, i am not karun……….i am aiimsonian, koschan and different opinion because my different pcs have different nicknames.

  85. aiimsonian/koschan/karun (one person mind you) is not worth your time.
    So condescending!!!!In any case, i also dont have much time to waste.I should get back to my books.

  86. Yasser,

    I’m not getting inflated. People are nice to me and I’m nice to them back. I would love to have more friends in Delhi that’s all:)

    Koschan, contact me off of PTH. My email is my name “kabir altaf” (one word) at hotmail.

  87. Hayyer

    “Furthermore, he should have re-entered into negotiations with the Sikh leadership, and should have used the draft of June 3rd plan to scare the shit out of them”
    Reminds me of that old joke; a group of Khalistanis got together to brainstorm on how to achieve their goal. One bright spark came up with an idea. ‘Lets declare war on America’ he suggested. Then after we lose they’ll be forced to aid us as they always aid the countries they’ve defeated. This splendid notion was almost carried, till one delegate remarked woefully, ‘That is all very well, but what happens if we win.’
    On that speculative note let me ask something equally speculative.We have discussed on PTH often enough how Congress could have eventually obtained, a la Noorani, what it now has, and Pakistan and Bangladesh to boot in a confederation, if it had accepted the CMP-But suppose Jinnah had reverted to his old argument of the 14 points or even the formula that the Agha Khan suggested at the second round table conference which Gandhi approved but could not carry with his colleagues.
    Yes it would have been a tectonic shift from the politics of the last ten years, and the Muslim masses may have felt let down but it would have been attainable.

  88. AZW

    This is a fascinating discussion Majumdar and Yasser.

    It is quite difficult for us to imagine in the waning months of 2009, what Jinnah was facing in the turbulent years of 1946 and1947. The fallacy that comes up again and again against Jinnah in carving up the India always ignores the obstinate behaviour of Indian National Congress and its leadership. I believe in the prior years, we were too close to the atrocious events post partition and scholarly research was conveniently replaced by emotional and religious themed slogans. This was tragically true, especially in Pakistan, where the religious right simply could not get around the idea of Muslim Nationalism.

    Since 1980s, we have trickles of dispassionate analysis of the events preceding partition, and I believe it is a matter of time before this trickle turns into a torrent. Two factors will greatly help this transition:

    1) In Pakistan, where religion was always experimented with the state by religious minded leaders, as well as so called leftist leaders, the experiment has predictably gone horribly wrong. After having front row seats to the Taliban debacle and the carnage this group and its more mainstream, allies, Pakistanis are beginning to do something that was never practiced at a grand scale before: an honest introspection. Pak Tea House is not a liberal outlier that seeks to discuss the folly of mixing religion with the Pakistani state. Various mainstream electronic and print media have started airing views more openly that were a minority voice in the wilderness before

    2) In India, the economic prosperity has increasingly made clear to their leadership that political and geographical uncertainty is the biggest obstacle to the economic growth going forward. A destabilized Pakistan is overwhelmingly against Indian interests. Coupled with the economic growth is the latitude now afforded to an average Indian where nationalistic dogmas do not overwhelm him or her as say 30 years ago


    May I suggest something here: More often than not, people sit back and pass verdicts on historical figures based on the convictions embedded in their minds since their childhood, or through drawing room conversations. Jinnah is not an infallible historical figure. And no one is saying that the Two Nation Theory should not be critically discussed. However before passing judgement on him, read of the situation that Jinnah faced 62 years back. Read Ayesha Jalal’s The Sole Spokesman, read Seervai’s Partition of India; Legend and Reality, or Alex Von Tunzelman’s “The Indian Summer”. Heck, read Majumdar’s arguments in this thread to get even the tiniest sense of the complexity of leading the disparate union of the entity in India that we call “Indian Muslims”.

    History happens not be design. History is a reaction to events. Was United India a better option? If Indian National Congress had not been jolted out of its heavy handed ways it showed since 1937, India may have been a violent and fractured nation. I give full credit to Nehru for putting India on a secular roadway; however his actions before the partition, and his handiwork in Kashmir problem continues to haunt us still.

    Rather than keep passing judgements, analyze history, appreciate it as a nuanced sequence of events and work to make the future history a much better read. No one here thinks Jinnah was beyond reproach. However his personal integrity and his leadership skills in leading the “Indian Muslim” make me appreciate him a lot more as I grow older.

    Why I appreciate Majumdar, Bono Bashis, YLH, Bloody Civilian, Raza and so many more people here is not because I know them personally. It is because they rise above their creeds and environments to look dispassionately at the history, realize the mistakes, and go against the conventional wisdom and the prevalent thinking to advocate a society that will not have the prejudices that tore us apart, and keep widening the gulf between us.



  89. Adnann, I agree with you. I have read scholarly sources. I took a course at LUMS called “Literature of Conflict” which was all about Partition. Additionally I took a course exploring the anthropology of ethnicity and nationalism. I have also made my way though Jaswant Singh’s entire 600 page book. So I’m not speaking out of ignorance. Yes, I let YLH rile me up and make me emotional– I take full responsibility for that. But you must keep in mind that he attacked my person, my family, my career, etc… all of which is outside the norms of reasoned debate.

    My disagreement with YLH is only that I feel is sort of an apologist for Jinnah. I agree with you that all politicians are falliable and all are human.



  90. Majumdar


    My disagreement with YLH is only that I feel is sort of an apologist for Jinnah.

    Yasser has at least laid four serious charges against MAJ (pbuh) by my reckoning at least.


  91. What is this pbuh thing? Jinnah was not the prophet Muhammad– i think pbuh is only meant to be used for prophets.

    Turning a politician into a prophet is what I call being an apologist. Our do you also put pbuh after Nehru and Gandhiji’s names?

  92. Majumdar

    Kabir bhai,

    First of all I am not a Muslim so I am not bound to use pbuh only for those whom Muslims deign this honour.

    Btw, if Moses who liberated a handful of Yahoods can be called pbuh why not Jinnah sahib who liberated 65 million Muslims.


  93. Majumdar

    No sir I dont put pbuh behind Gandhi or Nehru- in fact I call them by the vilest of names on chowk but not here as this is a bhadralok forum.


  94. Majumdar,

    You too are a Jinnah apologist then, having turned him into a prophet. I can’t argue with you people.

    Jinnah, Nehru, and Gandhiji were all people, not prophets or gods. They should be judged as such.

  95. Btw, Gandhiji was the father of the Indian nation, I don’t understand how you– an Indian– can call him bad names.

    I am not fond of Jinnah, but I don’t call him foul names, either.


  96. YLH

    Dear Majumdar,

    Just to qualify – Jinnah was quite clear about the kind of state he wanted. However by using Islamic vocabulary- few and far between- he gave the Mullahs a way to pull the rug from under him.

    Jinnah’s idea of statehood was :

    1. Rule of law

    2. Equality of citizenship

    3. Freedom of religion and conscience.

    4. Sovereignty resting with the people.

    5. Religion as personal faith of an individual and state’s impartiality towards it.

    6. No bars on the basis of religion, caste or any other distinction.

    This was a constant. However by making these statements (the Islamic principles etc) few and far between – a total of a dozen references spread over 7 years – Jinnah himself inadvertently dug a grave for his secular vision.

  97. YLH

    Kabir mian,

    You are a rather strange fellow…

    Do you think it is rational to distinguish between the prophets and other human beings?

    Have you only recently learned the word “apologist”?

  98. Yasser:

    My dear, I have actually known the word “apologist” for a very long time.

    Btw, I don’t believe in prophets, I just don’t believe in giving politicians exalted status

  99. YLH

    On the issue of princely states- Jinnah’s position was a constitutional one (without going into Kashmir which we’ve discussed). It was Jinnah who had suggested absorption of Princely States into British India at the roundtable conferences…had that proposal been accepted there would have been no issue to begin with.

    Sikandar-Jinnah Pact was absolutely necessary to give Jinnah representative capacity. Infact many would argue that it was the joint Muslim League communist move against the Khizer govt on the basis of communist thesis of the right of determination of “muslim nationalities” that partitioned Punjab.

    I think it was the post 1946 Unionist defection to the League that changed the character of the Muslim League from a salariat petty bourgeoisie party to a feudal dominated party in Punjab.

  100. YLH


    You do have an Indian mind as per the definition given by Karun.

    Unfortunately it is not meant as a compliment. Neither to you nor to the word “Indian”…apologies to Majumdar, Bonobashi and others.

    There is no reason to discuss anything any further when almost everyone has failed to reason with you.

    I thank everyone for trying to make this fellow see some light.

  101. Hayyer

    Father of the Nation is a term that the Indian Government gave Gandhi. It is not written in law and therefore not binding on Indians.
    Gandhi’s greatness lies in his eccentricities. He was attempting something novel in a twentieth century world. He was trying to fashion modern government, incorporating his own version of religion and politics as an essential component of economic and administrative theory. ‘I am truly a Mahatma’ he exclaimed to one of his nieces a few days before he died.
    Jinnah, a truly enlightened modern leader was driven into what he eventually did by the obfuscation of Gandhi and the obtuseness of Nehru. Nehru what ever his achievements after 1947 certainly turned a deaf ear to Muslims as long as Jinnah was speaking for them. He did call the AIML a communal body forgetting that the Congress had long accommodated communal view points of Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus.
    After putting Congress on the defensive in the forties Jinnah had it in his power to compromise on terms that would have been acceptable to him a decade ago, but by then he was in an understanding with the British.
    When they no longer needed him they cut bait and ran and he was stuck with an attitude that led to a moth eaten Pakistan.
    I agree with the core of your belief however. There is a South Asian identity, variegated though it is. Even the Pathans while involved with central Asia and Iran have had their fingers in the Indian pie for as long as anyone can remember. All of North India’s history at the very least is tied up one way or another with Pathans. Large numbers of North Indian Muslims have ethnic connections to the Pathans. That is not going to disappear.
    It is the contention of some that there is no India, that it is a geographical expression and so forth. The country does exist, it is politically speaking, older than Pakistan by at least 100 years. The Indian identity is probably more amorphous than the Pakistani one, but I imagine, less tenuous.
    Modern India has much to thank Nehru for; secularism, democracy and the rule of law (arbitrary as it is), but all Indians do not see themselves as acolytes of Nehru and Gandhi. Most of us are quite happy with our regional identities about which Nehru was confused and which led to the mess on Kashmir. Gandhi of course was not above using his Gujratiness to woo Jinnah when he felt he needed to.
    I have visited your site. It is refreshing in its inclusiveness. We have our Ganpat Rams as you have yours. Don’t let them discourage you.

  102. Jinnah, a truly enlightened modern leader was driven into what he eventually did by the obfuscation of Gandhi and the obtuseness of Nehru. Nehru what ever his achievements after 1947 certainly turned a deaf ear to Muslims as long as Jinnah was speaking for them.————————————
    hayyer, you really need to read mani shankar ‘s review of jaswant singh’s.
    People such as you, majumdar and jaswant singh seem to have a huge personal grudge against nehru and gandhiji. Gandhiji is the father of nation for me and for most of the indians , irrespective of your biased opinion.He may have introduced religion into politics but his religiosity was benedictory ,inclusive and certainly not fundamentalist.He quoted equally well from koran and bible as he did from geeta and the atheist’s guide to salvation.Did he not save thousands of lives in kolkata during the midnight hr?
    from an oxfordian like you, i expect a more nuanced interpretation of gandhiji’s actions.Kritgan…………..

  103. hayyer , 2 ‘koschans’
    if gandhiji had as many faults as you want us to believe , why do the Nobel Committe members regret that they did not give the NP to gandhiji in 1948 or before?How do you compare His Holiness the Dalai Lama to jinnah and gandhiji?

  104. Yasser,

    What did I say? Just that I don’t believe politicans should be treated like prophets or gods. What is there in that to fill you with bile? I quite enjoy people’s attempts to make me “see the light” as if I’m some poor heathen that needs to be converted, so do go ahead if you please:)

    I agree with you. All I have been trying to say is that there is a “South Asian” identity and it is valid. No disrespect to anyone who wishes to call themselves Pakistani or whatever.

    By the way, TSAI is not my blog, but my father’s:)


  105. bonobashi


    Nobody needs to read anybody’s review of anybody else’s book; the facts are clear before us, and while there is every justification for listening to someone else’s point of view, or for reading a well-written piece in spite of disagreeing with it in essence, we don’t need the prosthetics (that’s a medical term, and you will come across it very soon, if you stop wasting your time on PTH and attend to your studies) provided by a Congress ‘apologist’ (Kabir, please tell me where to send you your royalty payment).

    I sincerely wish, really, truly wish that you would stop reacting from your glands and hormones and instead start reacting from your gray matter.

    I don’t think Hayyer has a grudge against anybody; it isn’t apparent from his writing, and it is a mystery where you got that impression. If you have read Majumdar, you will have noticed, unless you are quite dense, that he has a sharp mind, perhaps the sharpest next to YLH, but is also handicapped by a sense of humour, which among other side-effects doesn’t allow him to take himself seriously. What sort of grudge do you think he’ll bear? Nothing very weighty, I should imagine. Not being as well acquainted with Jaswant Singh as you seem to be (you Delhi people have all the luck), I can’t comment on your third anti-hero.

    There is not much proof that people are reacting from a sense of having been wronged, or from a vindictive mind-set. I don’t see the grudges; maybe they’ve been flying around and never came to earth.

    We have to deal with your heart-on-the-sleeves emotions, however; specifically your formulation that Gandhi happens to be father of the nation to you and to most other Indians, irrespective of the biased opinion of this coterie that you have just named.

    This sort of turbo-charged emotion is always suspect, I think; genuine emotion would not be so demonstrative and oriented towards display. But on the other hand, let us assume that Gandhi is our common beloved father of the nation.

    Would you go on from this premise to say that he was unblemished, in all respects? Assume for a moment that you are given two knowledge of history tablets tomorrow morning, and they work with instant speed. Assume that you become aware of, say a marginal number of things that Gandhi did sinfully, or negligently. Would you still proceed to defend G in so robust a manner, or rather, in as unquestioning a manner as before? If you would not, please take out a piece of paper, and figure out how you and those you have just pilloried differ from each other.

  106. bonobashi


    Yasser, with your permission, I shall break into poetry: the successive vast blows struck by our Sir Galahad have now brought my already enfeebled and rapidly aging mind to its knees. Prose will no longer contain my emotions; poetry it is then:

    Beside yon straggling fence that skirts the way
    With blossom’d furze unprofitably gay,
    There, in his noisy mansion, skill’d to rule,
    The village master taught his little school;
    A man severe he was, and stern to view,
    I knew him well, and every truant knew;
    Well had the boding tremblers learn’d to trace
    The days disasters in his morning face;
    Full well they laugh’d with counterfeited glee,
    At all his jokes, for many a joke had he:
    Full well the busy whisper, circling round,
    Convey’d the dismal tidings when he frown’d:
    Yet he was kind; or if severe in aught,
    The love he bore to learning was in fault.
    The village all declar’d how much he knew;
    ‘Twas certain he could write, and cipher too:
    Lands he could measure, terms and tides presage,
    And e’en the story ran that he could gauge.
    In arguing too, the parson own’d his skill…………

    and here I shall beg leave to depart, and leave it as an exercise to you, gentle reader, to complete these lines. They are obviously, from their polish and styled elegance, not mine.

  107. OK, Bonobashi
    1. Its been three years since i have heard the term prosthetics .
    2.i am not overreacting but sometimes when gandhibashing and nehrubashing gets supramaximal at pth, i cannot prevent myself from defending them.I stand by my observation that Hayyer and majumdars are two of the most unrelenting cynics i have come across.
    3. Yes, i havealmost wasted seven hrs on the net today (meri chuttiyan chal rahi hain).Seven precious hrs………seven hrs that have been uselessly spent. seven hrs that i could have devoted to ganong’s physiology.Big mistake.

  108. karun

    Raza Uncle : SOS

    things spinning out of control. Pls take charge….

  109. Hayyer

    Did it occur to you that the Congress is cleverer than the BJP. Jaswant Singh’s book could have devastated the Congress. Instead, the BJP committed hara-kiri and the Congress quietly smirks.
    Mani Shankar Iyer is a disgrace, an ex communist from Cambridge, a fan of China in the 62 war transformed into a Rajiv Gandhi groupie on a Doon School connection, and then a votary of Panchayati Raj of which he had little understanding. He is a leading sycophant of the Nehru family and you expect his reviews of a book criticizing Nehru to be be authentic?
    Mani Shanker Iyer is out of favour these days. He may be seeking re-entry into the inner circles by hack reviews. His brother Swaminathan Iyer is the more authentic writer.

  110. Hayyer

    Opinion is free. There is no law against admiring Gandhi just as there is none against criticizing him. Father of the nation? Nothing that he did brought about the nation.
    When Jinnah wrote to him in 1938 asking for his intercession against the obduracy of people like Nehru, his reply was ….”I wish I could do something but I am utterly helpless…….I see no daylight out of the impenetrable darkness, and in such distress I cry to God for light” How evasive!
    But in 1944 Gandhi could take the trouble to go to Bombay and spend two weeks trying to return Jinnah to the path of the 30s.
    The reason the British left is that they just could not hold on after the war. They lacked the troops, the resources the will. Before the war they were thought they would stay for the forseeable future.
    The Quit India movement is what enabled Jinnah and the League in the absence of the Congress to build up their organization. It was Gandhi’s doing, (though not Nehru’s). Gandhi was afraid of Bose who had allied himself with the Axis powers and travelled to Germany. Gandhi thought he could retain the initiative that way. Instead he paved the way for partition.
    The father of the nation is the Indian Constitution. Little of Gandhi fortunately is to be found there.
    I am not an ‘Oxfordian’ by the way, though I did spend an academic year at that University as a visiting fellow.

  111. Hayyer

    Erratum, last line fourth para. “Before the war they thought they would stay for the foreseeable future”.

  112. bonobashi


    I’ve been fulminating about Karun’s idiotic remark about Greek and Indian minds since he wrote it.

    This is arrant rubbish. We are not a nation of Lobsang Rampas. There is not a single theme in public or private life which justifies Karun’s comment. It is not clear where he’s coming from.

    It doesn’t feel insulting when you refer to this classification of minds – classification of minds!!! – because the whole thing, referring to Karun’s original comment, constitutes my first WTF moment on PTH.

  113. YLH

    Dear Bonobashi,

    Given that India produced so many “greek” minds, I don’t think it is a fair classification either. Besides Indian here would denote the erstwhile British/Mughal conceptions of the entire subcontinent… One could say that the classification that is being referred to as the “Indian” brain/mind may loosely apply to many many many Pakistanis.

  114. Junaid

    Also, say a Pakistani person really admires Nelson Mandela and his fight against apartheid in South Africa. If this person then names his son “Nelson” it doesn’t mean the kid is trying to be South African and not Pakistani.

    Logically, the same principle applies to a “Pakistani” kid named Mohan. One can admire Gandhiji without being a “traitor” to Jinnah. One can criticize and be against TNT, without being against Jinnah as a person.

    Is this so hard to understand?

    Great words Kabir.

    You have very well worded what I was trying to put forward.

  115. Thanks Junaid, I try, though it is an up-hill battle.

  116. D_a_n


    the worlds tiniest violin is playing just for you….(sniffle)

  117. yasserlatifhamdani

    Only now do I understand the classic saying “khawajay ka gawah tattoo”.

    Gentlemen – Kabir and Junaid- you are fighting ghosts that don’t exist on this website.

    All both of you have done so far is make strawman fallacies unrelated to the
    arguments at hand.

    Grow up.

  118. Bloody Civilian

    kunad hum jins ba hum jins parwaaz


    oops! that’s persian.. there goes my claim to be indian!

    from claiming pathans are not indian, i see you’ve flipped and flopped till you have gone a full 180deg. starting from the ‘divisive’ exclusion of pathans from india.. i see you now consider them indian. indeed you claim the whole of pakistan to be culturally indian. i presume you consider pathans to be part of pakistan.. till you say otherwise. you even consider PMA to be ‘ethnically indian’.. without bothering to find out whether he indeed is a non-pathan. so your ‘argument’ continues to evolve, albeit as per chaos theory.

    it may or may not have occurred to you that hardly any one here has attacked you for your views or had any problem whatsoever with your right to hold any view when it comes to your own identity. what might not have occurred to you either is that many here, some indians included, do not believe that claiming pakistani identity precludes one from claiming the indian one. rejecting pakistani idenity is not a pre-requisite. it’s just a right which you are free to exercise. as for the india v south asia debate… even PMA has made it clear that he does not deny pakistan’s east… he just emphasises that there also is a west.

    other than that, you have been accusing pakistanis of talibanism, religiosity and being under the illusion that they are arabs. which one of the regulars here at PTH do you accuse of any of that? wouldn’t these blanket accusation from high above be better directed at some other blogs.. rather than PTH? yet, isn’ tit ironic that you’ve been lapping up praise from those pakistanis who have – post after post here – proven that they are much of all that you cite as reasons to reject pakistani identity for yourself. while the indian counterpart has been the kind who have stated that they look forward to war with pakistan.

    those debating you here are not as interested in opinions as they are in facts and analyses. the objection here has been to you stating views, ad nauseum and not with brevity, without feeling the need to back them up with any facts… let alone a coherent and consistent argument. your indian-pathan ‘argument’ has been a depressing case study. while you ignore challenges to your facts, when you have quoted something which is simply not true, as per your own convenience.

    so you claimed 8 out of 37 years to be “most of” faiz’s life. you conveniently ignored the challenge. you have told us many times that you are “fighting” for your right to define your own identity. wonderful. but as they say in yours and mine beloved punjab: “such bolna adhhi larrai ae”

    or you can use this post too as nothing more than an excuse to merrily carry on with your monologue pretending to be a dialogue.


  119. Bloody Civilian

    btw, the reverse also is true of course, ie. claiming indian (the present day nation state) identity does not preclude any one from their ‘pakistani’ heritage or even identity. but identity of course is a personal choice, while heritage is a fact – whether historical, cultural or (typically) both.

    it might come as a surprise to you, but those trying, in vain, to have a (healthy) debate with you also believe their human identity to be the most important of them all. all other identities are less important. why i say “in vain”, i’ve already explained in my previous post. what you and YLH engaged in for a good number of consecutive posts was, for all its entertainment value, not a (healthy) debate. so i’m not talking of that.

    you are called kabir for a thoughtful reason, you say. i’m sure he was and is popular not just for his ideas. there was more to it than just his views and opinions, repeated ad nauseum.

    returning to identities other than insaniyat… as shah hussain put it

    naa’o’n hussainoo
    qaum jullaha…
    ….. jo main haa
    so main haa

  120. bonobashi

    @Bloody Civilian

    I was waiting for a reaction, any reaction from Kabir to write to him somewhat in your fashion. ‘Somewhat’ because you have put matters with such felicity that I can’t see where to take away a word, or indeed, where to add a word.

    Thank you for expressing my feelings so well; I am sure these are the feelings of many others also.

    Your comment also invokes the spirit of this blog so, so well. RR could pay you and use your words as an introduction.

  121. BC:

    No one has attacked me for my views? Where have you been man? YLH has called me “self loathing”, implied i’m a “traitor” to the Pakistani cause, derisively referred to me as a “bhajan singer” as if that is a contempible identity and that is all I am (I’m not a great lawyer but a poor performing artist). You don’t expect me to defend myself against that?

    My argument has always been consistant. I have the right to call myself Hindustani without anyone deciding that I’m “self loathing” or a traitor. The rest of you are free to call yourselves Pakistanis or greater timbuktooans, I really don’t care. PMA sahib is free to deny that the term “South Asia” exists, despite it’s recognized use as a concept in academia and the real world.

    As for the “indian vs. pathan” argument, you are taking it out of context. I am no one to decide people’s national identity for them, but national identity and ethnic identity are not necessarily the same. As I wrote to YLH on the other thread, I don’t relate to Pathans simply because I haven’t spent time in NWFP and don’t speak their language. By contrast, I’ve spent a lot of time in Punjab, understand Punjabi, like Punjabi poetry, Punjabi khana, etc. It’s a reflection on me and not on some inalienable truth.

    Sorry about the “most” of Faiz’s life, but 8 years in prison or exile is still pretty significant. I stand by my point that Pakistan wasn’t much good for Faiz sahab.


  122. Bloody Civilian


    someone like me can only learn from PTH.

    i hope we can establish a dialogue with our friend kabir and develop the discussion with him on his interesting views and ideas.

  123. Bloody Civilian

    bhai kabir

    No one has attacked me for my views?

    do argue that YLH is hardly “hardly anyone”.. if you wish, but kindly do not misread/misquote me. and do go ahead, regardless, and tell me/us what YLH did or did not do.. but please do acknowledge the fact that i’ve clearly and more than once excluded your debate with YLH from those trying “in vain”. otherwise, we just end up talking across each other rather than to each other… yet again.

    As for the “indian vs. pathan” argument, you are taking it out of context

    now had you deigned to respond to rather than ignore my questions about the puktunwalist bacha khan or your fictitious contemporary kabir mohan khan of peshawar… perhaps i, and several others who have stated their bewliderment, would not have ‘taken it out of context’.

    The rest of you are free to call yourselves Pakistanis or greater timbuktooans

    … but not hindustanis? not unless we forfeit pakistaniat?

    you claim identity to be subjective, and to be a personal choice. but then you bring in mr tharoor as evidence in support of your ‘argument’… with his ‘legal definition’ of indian identity. don’t you see that mr tharoor’s criterion is at least irrelevant to your claim, and largely redundant (who in south asia does not have grandparents born in united india??), if not actually going against the very grain of your claim? how is yours a consistent argument then? how does a subjective, personal choice involve having to petition the high court in delhi?

    you claim that you do not relate to the pakistani identity (whatever that is, as you keep reminding us) nor the islamic identity.. and then you bring in, rather unnecessarily, IMHO, the fact that you are irritated by having to explain to people that you’re not an islamic fundo or worse…. so you choose to say that you’re indian ‘which, in any case, is not a lie’. why confuse the more fundamental issue??

    the difference between identity and stereotyping is that the former is your own definition of your identity, as per right, where there is virtually no right or wrong definition, while the latter is other people’s (wrong) definition of your identity. when other people do not have a right to define your identity for you. now correcting/attacking a stereotype is something anyone, even a third party, could (and perhaps should) do.

    as for faiz, any time in jail and exile is significant indeed. but so are the 29 years he spent in pakistan.. including time serving his country and his people. spending time in jail and having to go in to self-imposed exile does not mean that faiz, of all people, would agree with you that his country was no good for him. just to quote an example.. what is it that has kept aung san suu kyi under continuing house arrest, away from her family, for a significant part of her life other than a small bunch of thugs and her love for her country and her people?


  124. Bloody Civilian


    “but so are the 29 years he spent in pakistan..”… as a free citizen

  125. BC:

    1) Not just YLH, but also D_a_n accused me on being “self loathing” which I find extremely condescending. Bonoboshi proceeded to inform me of facts which I already know, which is also condescending. Why do you people think that the facts demand that a person can only think a certain way? Facts are open to interpretation, and I interpret them differently than some people here, because I can never be pro the creation of Pakistan, or accept the use of religious rhetroic or TNT. I think the creation of a country for “Muslims” was by far the stupidist most ridiculous thing on the planet. The fact that Bharat had to be vivisected to get it just makes it worse.

    2) You people are free to call yourselves “pakistanis”, greater timbuktooans, or hindustanis, whatever you want— no skin of my back.

    3) It’s not my job to constantly correct stereotypes. I never want to talk about Taliban, Islamic fundemantlism, or in fact Islam of any kind ever again. Those are not issues I’m interested in. I’m content to focus on my ethnic, rather than “national” identity, sing my bhajans and khayals, and discuss larger South Asian, “Hindustani” issues as opposed to muslim issues. I’m only interested in “Pakistan” because it forms part of South Asia, and events here influence events in Bharat– such as the terrorism that Pak loves to export. I also have family that lives here, and of course, I care about them. But politically, and ideologically, I don’t and can never identify with an “Islamic Republic”


  126. Also, I care about the people of “Pakistan”, the poor, innocent, non mullahs who are “muslims” but not bothered by what anyone else is. I was talking to my driver about this recently and i said to him that we are all actually Indian and there is no difference between Lahoris or Amritaris and it is horrible the way a line was drawn dividing our Punjab. He agreed with me totally. It’s ironic that a village boy who hasn’t even finished high school has more sense than some of you more “educated” Pakistanis.

  127. yasserlatifhamdani

    “I was talking to my driver recently”

    We’ve gone through this discussion many times. I am not going to repeat what Jinnah said and how partition of Punjab was not our idea. Such arguments are too fine for the philistines like yourself.

    Thanks for quoting your driver as a trump card. I’d rather not quote the famous Ghalib-mango joke because I fear compulsions of another kind at play … I can well understand how your driver might be willing to agree with you…

    Now that we have that out of the way… may I please request that you address Bloody Civilian’s comments?

  128. yasserlatifhamdani

    or Bonobashi’s… for that matter.

  129. PMA

    BC: No I am not MIA. I have followed this thread from the start. I have not said anything because I have nothing new to say. I have taken a position on the use of various geographic terms because of their descriptive limitations vis-a-vis Pakistan. I am in realization of the evolution of the terms such as ‘Hind’, ‘Sub-continent’, Pak-o-Hind, and now ‘South Asia’. In true sense non of these terms strictly donate a precise political entity like a country or a continent does. These are roughly defined regional descriptions first used by the academicians and politicos and then adopted by commons without much realization. I am not sure if Kabir himself understands his own interpretation of the terms ‘South Asia’ and ‘India’. Therefore it has been difficult and frustrating to have a meaningful discussion with him on this subject. About YLH. Well, he thinks that the arbitrarily drawn Durand line is the western limit of ‘South Asia’. He often refers to Jinnah’s Pakistan not realizing that the internal dynamics of post 1971 Pakistan are not same as Jinnah’s Pakistan of 1947.

    Before independence the commonly used term was ‘Indian Sub-continent’. Where is western boundary of this ‘Sub-continent’? The boundary set by the British or the boundary set by the Mughals? If so then which boundary? That of 1947, 1879, 1707 0r 1524? It is obvious that there could be no universal agreement on that. After 1947 the term ‘Pak-o-Hind’ was in use. Then after 1971 it became ‘South Asia’. There are those in Pakistan located west of Indus who do not consider their areas as ‘India’ or ‘South Asia’. Then in the interest of being inclusive and developing a common Pakistani identity why not to drop the use of such vague terms? In the environment of current provincial and regional dissatisfaction, why not to adapt a national narrative more closely representing the entire nation? This is something for all Pakistanis to think about.

  130. yasserlatifhamdani

    Bloody civilian,

    This little twit (kabir) doesn’t even have the capacity to understand what you’ve written.

    Well argued sir. It is an irony that this fool keeps going in circles thinking that he is “rebutting” you. He is re-butt-butt-buttin out of himself.

  131. yasserlatifhamdani


    To me “geography” is as imagined an idea as a “nation”. This is why I don’t agree or disagree with your view on South-Central Asia … to me a legal nation state and legally defined national identity and national origin – like Modern Pakistan or Modern India- is the basic building block.

    Here my only concern has been the foolishness shown by Kabir… who by the way has already conceded that your South Central Asian conception for Pakistan … and in doing so has blown up his own “Indian ethnicity” (ethnicity is yet another imagined idea given the intermingling of all various ethnicities)…

    I wonder where Bloody civilian falls in all of this … hailing from a royal and proud pushtun tribe (sorry if this is divulging too much) speaking Pushto, Punjabi, Urdu and English with equal ease…

  132. yasserlatifhamdani

    Also…. Kabir mian says that his view of Pushtun as being alien is because he doesn’t understand the Pushtun language… i.e. Pushtu…

    Does he understand Sindhi? Or Gujurati ? or Marathi? or Tamil? or Bengali? or Kanada? or Telegu?

    Interestingly… Pakistan’s four provinces have rather interesting meeting points:

    Hindko exists on the border of Punjab and NWFP … Hindko can be understood by both Punjabis and Pushtuns… Pushtuns and Balochs understand and converse with each other in Balochi, Pushto and Farsi…

    If you go South… Balochs and Sindhis share many common tribes.. for example is Brohi a Sindhi or a Baloch tribe? Between Sindhi and Balochi exists a language called “Brahvi” which is either an ancestor or a derivative of both languages in my view… and between Sindh and Punjab exists large tracts of Seraiki which is understood by both Sindhis and Punjabis…

    Pakistan’s unique federalism and linguistic pluralism is entirely interlinked…. if only we were to give it a chance.

  133. Kabir. Please stop it now. Add something more here. You are a bright young man and bring fresh pieces of information, research and opinions here. Your views on identity are respected even if many do not subscribe to them.

    YLH: Let us close this issue. We have to, at the end of the day, respect what people think of themselves and how they want to be known and perceived.

    It should not be an issue if Kabir metaphorically calls himself an ‘Indian’ or Tibetian…

  134. yasserlatifhamdani

    Dear Raza,

    I completely agree.

    None of those who Kabir has argued with have disputed his right to whatever identity he wants to associate with. He can claim to be a Martian for all I care. It is his attitude towards those who don’t agree with his blanket statements that I have taken an issue with.

  135. Bloody Civilian


    This is something for all Pakistanis to think about.

    i’ve little desire, on a day-to-day basis, to take focus away from this issue of real and practical importance. mindful of the diversity and linkages YLH has alluded to above, i believe democracy and its continuing evolution, from whatever beginnings, no matter how slow and frustrating, is the only answer. an expanded/inclusive consultative process of government and policy making is the only hope and way forward. ‘nek badshahs’ will not work here.. no matter how nek(esp not of the uniformed variety. not least since the uniform is not seen as truly representative of this diversity).

    the only other issue comparable in importance and urgency is the fundamentalist threat and the need to defeat religiosity and leave no room for it in public life.

  136. Bloody Civilian


    re. your post of September 21, 2009 at 6:32 am

    1) Facts are open to interpretation

    really? 😉 ok, ok.. i won’t complain about it being ‘condescending’ that you’re telling me the basics that a 12-year old ought to know :-)…

    …i would rather use the time to try and learn something more substantial from a discussion with you.

    in order to be valid, the interpretation has to be put across coherently and argued with a high degree of consistency. of course the facts have to be a) correct, b) complete, not partial and c) (which is linked to b)) not taken entirely out of context. that’s all.

    2) You people are free to call yourselves…

    i know. it’s just that you end up, knowingly or unknowingly, again and again, giving the impression like ‘we’ are not. i suspect it is because your ‘interpretation’ of facts, perhaps, tend to be more declaratory than explanatory.

    btw, who are ‘we’?

    3) It’s not my job to constantly correct stereotypes.

    you choose, of course. if you re-read my point, it is about the fact that the fundamental principle is that identity is a choice totally internal to you and who you and only you feel you are… hence the subjectivity. it has and should have nothing to do with what others say or claim. why go off on a tangent talking of the desire to avoid being stereotyped… is all i was asking… and dilute your argument, unnecessarily.

    please note that i’ve tried to limit my response strictly to your single post above. mainly in an attempt to explain better where i might have failed in my earlier post. i’ve no cause to dispute your identity, whatsoever. i’ve stated that enough times. indeed, if you wish to challenge anything within the lines above, please do so by all means. but then, after that, perhaps we should agree to continue this discussion, if at all, another day another place.

    best regards

  137. PMA

    “to me a legal nation state and legally defined national identity and national origin – like Modern Pakistan or Modern India- is the basic building block.”

    I agree with YLH on that point. A Modern Pakistan, all inclusive where each citizen is fully and equally vested regardless of his/her religion and ethnicity. His review of linguistic and ethnic demography of Pakistan is very informative. Unfortunately many on this site are either not informed about it or refuse to take that into account. The future of Pakistan lies in bringing its diversities toward a common all-inclusive national narrative. The vague concepts of ‘South Asian’ or ‘Indian’ Sub-continent will not do it for us. Our common narrative must be ‘Pakistan’.

    I also agree with BC when he says: “I believe democracy and its continuing evolution, from whatever beginnings, no matter how slow and frustrating, is the only answer. An expanded/inclusive consultative process of government and policy making is the only hope and way forward.”