KARACHI, July 2: It is not everyday that you see visitors from India so interested in our leaders that they write books on them and read papers as well. That’s what the husband and wife team of Dr M.A. Jawed and Dr Ajeet Jawed have been doing.
The couple was here on their third visit to Pakistan to present papers on the slain former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, for a programme arranged by the Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Chair at the University of Karachi on the occasion of her 59th birth anniversary.
The programme that was originally scheduled for June 21 had to be moved ahead due to the delay in the distinguished guests getting their visas.
“We visited here twice in 2007 but this time around there was a problem in getting clearance from the interior ministry. Still the visa officer was very helpful in clearing up the red tape to get us here,” explained Dr M.A. Jawed, who has now retired as professor of Political Science from the Satyawati College, University of Delhi.
“It doesn’t matter, really. We are aware that visa problems are faced by the people on both sides,” he added with a smile.
The academic has written many books, including The Unknown Iqbal and Principles of Political Theory. Asked about his interest in Iqbal, Dr M.A. Jawed said basically he was interested in the study of all those people from history who have fought for democracy and justice to bring some dignity to their people.
“Be it Iqbal, Jinnah or Gandhi, different people see them in different lights. The maverick approach is worth exploring.
“Iqbal has written on Nanak, Ram and Marx. He calls Ram ‘Iqbal-i-Hind’ and Marx a ‘prophet’. He wrote the song ‘Sarey Jahan Se Achha Hindustan Hamara’ and then he also wrote ‘Muslim Hai Humwatan’. It shows how different situations make people change their views. Changing views is an interesting thing to observe,” he said. “People see Iqbal confining himself to the cause of Muslims. But if you study Iqbal, you’ll know that he really spoke of provincial autonomy and not a separate homeland. The Cabinet Mission Plan, too, talks of provincial power.
“And frankly, majority and minority are based on religion. It is really about classes. For instance, in the rural areas, you may see a majority of farmers. Now a farmer can be Muslim or Hindu, but his class of being a hari is what counts, not his religion,” said the scholar.
Meanwhile, his better half Dr Ajeet Jawed, an associate professor of Political Science at Satyawati College, the University of Delhi, whose books include Jinnah Ki Tarssdi, Left Politics in Punjab, The Heritage of Harmony and Secular and Nationalist Jinnah, which is also translated into Urdu and has three editions out in English, discussed her interest in the founder of Pakistan.
“Jinnah may be portrayed as some kind of a villain in our school books, just as your books might be portraying our pre-partition leaders, but my father, who was from Okara and liked being called ‘Okara-walla’ always maintained that Jinnah was a good man. Still my real interest in Jinnah began when I came across a little book in our university library on Rutti Jinnah by Kanji Dwakadas. The author had been close to Jinnah and the book changed my perception of Jinnah,” she said.
“He didn’t want Partition. The demand for Pakistan was a light, non-serious thing put on the table to soften Congress’ stance and make them listen to Muslim League’s other demands,” she argued.
“Jinnah, like Rutti, was patriotic towards India. The couple at one time had stopped the elite of Mumbai from giving a reception to Lord Willington, who had insulted a Congress leader, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, during the War Conference. Jinnah was also a Congress leader and very popular among the youth. Now we hear the fundamentalists say that Jinnah was born to create Pakistan, which is not a fact. He stood for united India,” argued Dr Ajeet.
The scholar, currently working on the fourth edition of her book, hopes to complete it within the next three or four months.
“I have come across more relevant material that puts new light on Jinnah, which I will be including in the fourth edition,” she added.
Her lecture on Ms Bhutto was titled ‘An Icon of Courage’, while Dr M.A. Jawed read out his paper on the slain prime minister and ‘Indo-Pak Relation’. “We have never met Ms Bhutto in person, and admired her spirit from a distance only,” said Dr Ajeet. “And what an arresting personality she had. We also had our woman prime minister in Indira Gandhi but Ms Bhutto was barely 35 when she took over the PM’s office.
“We were also quite interested in watching both the young leaders, Rajiv Gandhi from our side and Benazir Bhutto from yours, meet, as they were like-minded young people having old family relations,” she said.
Her husband added, “When we first visited Pakistan for the Muslim League centenary celebrations, we watched her second historic return to the country live on TV at Karachi airport. Later, we also heard the explosions at Karsaz. It is sad how the terrorists are giving Islam a bad name in the West.”
The scholar concluded, “After her assassination later that year, our Political Science students who knew how much we admired her came to condole with us.”