Jinnah's crucial role
The measure of criticality of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah's role in the making of Pakistan depends on the answer to other interrelated questions: Did Jinnah create the forces that ultimately brought Pakistan into existence? Or, did he merely channel those forces which were already in momentum, towards a definite goal? While historians generally proffer the latter view, contemporary observers take the former one.
Historians, whether because of their wide-ranging scholarship and long insight into history, or because of a general tendency among them to interpret events in terms of a deterministic approach, are prone to explain contemporary events within the framework of the outworking of historical forces and ideological factors - factors long embedded in a country's or a nation's body-politic.
More specifically, some historians tend to believe that Pakistan was somehow in the "womb" of history and that its emergence was inevitable, whether or not there was a Jinnah to lead the movement to a successful culmination.
At the other end of the continuum stand contemporary observers and those involved one way or another in the pre-1947 developments which led to partition and the emergence of Pakistan.
They not only rate Jinnah as being the critical variable in its emergence: some like Leonard Mosley even regard Pakistan as a one-man achievement. More important, they even doubt whether, without him at the helm of Indo-Muslim affairs in that epochal decade of 1937-47, Pakistan would ever have come into being.
Sweeping as this assertion may sound, it is sought to be buttressed with an array of arguments, at once solid and convincing. A.V. Hodson, the author of perhaps the most authoritative British account of the imperial retreat from India and "the Great Divide", has brilliantly summed up the case for this viewpoint:
"Of all the personalities in the last act of the great drama of India's re-birth to independence, Mohammad Ali Jinnah is at once the most enigmatic and the most important. One can imagine any of the other principal actors... replaced by a substitute in the same role - a different representative of this or that interest or community, even a different viceroy - without thereby implying any radical change in the final denouement.
But it is barely conceivable that events would have taken the same course, that the last struggle would have been a struggle of three, not two, well-balanced adversaries, and that a new nation state of Pakistan would have been created, but for the personality and leadership of one man, Mr Jinnah.
The irresistible demand for Indian independence, and the British will to relinquish power in India soon after the end of the Second World War, were the result of influences that had been at work long before the present story of a single decade begins; the protagonists on this side or that of the imperial relationship were tools of historical forces which they did not create and could not control... whereas the irresistible demand for Pakistan, and the solidarity of the Indian Muslims behind that demand, were creations of that decade alone, and supremely the creations of one man."
The two divergent viewpoints sum up the alternatives in the age-long controversy between the social determinists and the "Great Man" theorists. In essence, the basic issue boils down to the fundamental question: Which one plays the prime role in the making of a historical event - the circumstances that give opportunity to a character or the character itself?
The creation of a new nation of Pakistan out of India's body-politic was, by any criterion, a historical event of profound significance. As F.J.C. Hearnshaw argues both character and circumstances are equally crucial in the making of such an event.
Why? Because without their interacting on each other and mutually affecting one another, the final configuration of events and the integration of interests are simply inconceivable.
Speaking of Napoleon, for instance, J. Christopher Harold remarks. "In spite of the prodigious amount that has been devoted to the man and his times, there is still little general agreement as to whether Napoleon is more important a product and a symbol... of circumstances that were not of his making, or as a man, who, pursuing his own destiny, shaped circumstances that governed the course of history.
Like all great men, Napoleon was both, of course..." The same is equally true of Jinnah.Opinion, may, of course, differ about the relative weight assigned to circumstances and the character - that is, about the measure of criticality conceded to a character, in the making of a historical event. But unless the environment is characterized by certain "determining tendencies", circumstances alone cannot create an event.
Application of this criterion invariably leads to the following conclusion: whatever be the strength, the momentum and the intensity of historical forces working towards centrifugalism in India's body politic and towards Pakistan, without the fortuitous matching of the character - in this case, that of Jinnah - with the circumstances, it could simply not have come the way, it did.
This was especially true in the case of Pakistan, since this state was not in the realm of possibility barely a decade before its emergence nor the demand formulated even nebulously before Chaudhry Rehmat Ali did in 1933, nor was it even a "geographical expression", before that date.
More so because of the fundamental fact that "few statesmen have shaped events to their policy more surely than Mr. Jinnah," as The Times (London) put it. This explains why underlying everything that has been said or written about Jinnah is the central theme of his achievement of Pakistan.
The critical role of achievement motivation in society may also be explained and buttressed by a close examination of the implication of the "womb" theory in respect of Pakistan's emergence.
This theory, succinctly summed by Leon Trotsky (1879-1940), while explaining Lenin's role in the coming and the culmination of the Russian revolution, lays down "that a man and his period had to be considered together and that both were determined by the antecedent state of culture."
In terms of the Trotskyian formulation, could it be said that Jinnah was not an accidental element in the historical development of Muslim India and that both Jinnah and his party were the product of the whole gamut of Indo-Muslim history? It could not, for it would amount to a tautology, because had Jinnah and his party not strived for Pakistan, and having strived, had failed to accomplish it, they would still have been a product of past Indo-Muslim history.
An integral product in the same way as Sayyid Ahmad Shahid (1786-1831) and the Mujahidin movement (1820s-1860s) or Muhammad Ali (1878-1931) and the Khilafat Movement (19920-22) were, although in both cases they encountered failure in the end.
Not to speak of the non-League Muslim leadership, even the past role of the League or of its leadership during 1937-47 seemed always prone to striking a compromise with the Congress, more or less on the latter's terms.
Even Jinnah's past role as a an eloquent Congress leader (1910-20), as an 'ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity' (1915-20), as one of the foremost advocates of Indian freedom, as the author of the Delhi Muslim proposals (1927), and as a Muslim leader striving to evolve a compromise formula acceptable to both Hindus and Muslim till 1937, and as late as 1938 in his correspondence with the Congress leaders - all of which could, of course, be put down as a natural product or the recent historical past of Muslim India.
But even this role fails to provide any clue to which of the alternative paths of developments presented to Muslim India he would take. Not to speak of 1937, even in the middle 1940s Pakistan's emergence could not have been predicted on the basis of available historical evidence as the only likely future development of Indo-Muslim polity.
Indeed, even as late as June 1946, whatever the political forces and conditions at work, the alternative path of united India seemed more likely choice. It was Jinnah who made the critical decision that led Muslim India directly to Pakistan within a year.
Hence, while both Jinnah and the Muslim League were, indeed, a product of the past of Muslim India, Pakistan was not so much a product of that past as the product of one of the most "event-making" figures, in modern history. Thus, Jinnah's presence was indispensable, in the emergence of Pakistan.
Given the Waliullah Mujahidin, the Aligarh and the Khilafat legacy on the Muslim side and that of the Prarthana Samaj, Arya Samaj, Tilak, Malaviya and Gandhi on the other side, the demand for Pakistan is, of course, understandable as a culminating point of the "natural evolution" of the separatist tendency among Muslims on the one hand and of the process of alienation from the Congress on the other. But certainly not its realization without the presence of "an event-making man."
The historical situation during the 1937-47 decade presented two major alternative paths of development for Muslim politics: (1) going along with the Congress credo, if not a merger of the League into it or the acceptance of a satellite status; and (ii) striking out an independent line.
These alternative paths were presented on seven different occasions. (1937, 1939, 1940, 1942, 1945 and 1946). But on no occasion did Jinnah waver, though each time he chose for himself and for Muslim India the path towards establishing a Muslim identity on a constitutional plane - the path since 1940 of Pakistan as a separate Muslim state. This he did whatever the toils and labours, whatever the trials and tribulations, whatever the circumstances and consequences.
It is true that Jinnah had accepted the Cabinet Mission Plan initially, but his acceptance though sincere at the time, was primarily motivated by the fact that the Plan contained the seeds of Pakistan, providing for a somewhat limited Muslim religio-political identity in a confederal India, with the prospects of opting out for a sovereign Pakistan after a decade, if the proposed arrangement did not work to Muslim satisfaction.
It may be argued that the fateful decision to continue the boycott of the Constituent Assembly after getting the Muslim League entrenched in the Interim Government in October 1946 was solely Jinnah's and this decision led directly to the British government's declarations of December 6, 1946, and of February 20, 1947, which paved the way for partition.
In several other crucial decisions during the 1937-47 decade as well, Jinnah alone mattered. He alone determined the course Muslim India and Muslim politics would take. Hence Jinnah's criticality in the making of Pakistan.
Slow progress in New Delhi
The "modest progress" claimed by the foreign ministers of Pakistan and India appears to be rhetorical rather than real as no significant agreement had been reached at the conclusion of the two-day talks in New Delhi had been reached.
The disappointment of the people of the two countries is all the more poignant because the long-awaited talks were the first structured political dialogue between the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan in 40 years. The last such talks were held between Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Sardar Swaran Singh in 1964.
Significantly, Mr Natwar Singh had predicted the outcome of the talks even before they were held. Playing down expectations, he said that "there will be neither a breakthrough nor a breakdown in the dialogue process." He was slammed by India's main opposition party, the BJP, for "prejudging results of talks with his Pakistani counterpart."
However, given the deep differences over Kashmir and terrorism publicly aired by the two sides, an important achievement of the recently concluded talks was the determination to carry on a sustained engagement with each other.
The foreign ministers agreed to continue the composite dialogue as well as the cease fire that has held since November 25, 2003. Also, the two sides will hold meetings to discuss conventional and nuclear confidence-building measures, and India has agreed to expert level talks to consider CBMs in the conventional capacities of the two armed forces.
The decision to continue the composite dialogue has not caused much surprise because neither side wants to take the blame for breaking off the talks. Unless there is a change in attitude, the fate of the second round will not be much different from the first which failed to yield meaningful progress on any of the aspects of the eight-point agenda discussed and that included Wullar Barrage, the Baglihar hydro-electric power project, Siachen, Sir Creek, security and Jammu and Kashmir.
The announcement of some more CBMs, mostly of minor importance, is a step in the right direction. But they will fail to gladden the people because some of the CBMs announced earlier have not been implemented so far.
The consulates in Karachi and Mumbai, shut down in the 1990s, continue to remain closed despite an agreement to reopen them a few months back. At the moment, people from all over Pakistan have to go to Islamabad to apply for an Indian visa.
The same is the case in India where one can get a visa for Pakistan only in New Delhi. Mercifully, the two foreign ministers have agreed to speed up the reopening of the two consulates.
In November last year, India and Pakistan agreed to revive the Munabao-Khokrapar link that remains frozen since the 1965 war. Technical level talks on this issue have also been held, but the agreement to reopen the link remains unimplemented.
The way things are moving is not promising for the future of the peace process. The first round of the composite dialogue, which began on an optimistic note, failed to make real progress on any of the items, including the less intractable issues.
The foreign ministers' talks were expected to break the ice, reverse the negative trend and create a positive and hopeful atmosphere for the second round. Sadly, this has not happened.
It bodes ill for the peace process that signals from across the border have been unexpectedly negative. The Congress, has raised doubts about Pakistan's sincerity towards the bilateral talks.
The All-India Congress Committee at its recent session even wondered whether New Delhi was dealing with the "right regime" in Islamabad. The resolution passed by it went on to state: " We seem to be dealing with a neighbouring government that has failed or is unable to deliver on its promises." Regrettably, these strong words were used by the ruling Congress party just days before the two foreign ministers were scheduled to meet in New Delhi.
The Indian home ministry's annual report for 2003-2004 has accused Pakistan of inciting terrorism in occupied Kashmir and several northeastern states bordering Bangladesh. It has also accused the ISI of employing various means to destabilize India.
On the day the two foreign ministers began their talks in New Delhi, Indian Defence Minister Pranab Mukerjee ruled out any move to reduce military presence in the Siachen Glacier or in occupied Kashmir, thus effectively pouring cold water on two key issues of the composite dialogue between India and Pakistan.
During the recent foreign ministers meeting, India rejected the China model for talks with Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir dispute. The suggestion was made by Mr Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri to appoint " higher level representatives" to resolve the Kashmir dispute as India and China had did for their border dispute.
Declining the offer, Mr Natwar Singh argued that sound mechanisms were already in place to resolve the Kashmir issue. The fact, however, remains that the quiet and patient diplomacy, of the China model, is a much better way to resolve intractable issues like Kashmir.
According to some reports in the Indian media two factors seem to have influenced New Delhi's attitude towards the ongoing dialogue with Islamabad. The first, of course, is the real or perceived increase in cross-border infiltration.
Mr Natwar Singh conveyed to his Pakistani counterpart his government's serious concern over the alleged increase in the level of infiltration and violence in Jammu and Kashmir. The second reason may be Pakistan's reticence on some Indian proposals.
During the first round of the composite dialogue, India reportedly put forward 72 "new ideas" on the bilateral agenda with Pakistan but Islamabad remained allegedly non-responsive.
Most of the proposals dealt with improving communication and commercial links between the two countries. According to a report in The Hindu, in order to dispel Pakistan's fear that the Indian emphasis on people-to-people contact might be a ploy to put the Kashmir issue on the backburner, India also put across "an expansive agenda for cooperation in Kashmir that could create conditions for a final resolution of the difficult question."
Amongst the Indian proposals, the important ones were: the Indian offer to initiate transit trade across each other's territories; the opening of the Attari-Wagah land route for trade; in view of Pakistan's insufficient petroleum - refining capacity India offered to extend a diesel pipeline across the border; though not before showing a lukewarm indication regarding the natural gas pipeline from Pakistan into India. New Delhi has now suggested that if the principle of transit is agreed upon there could be pipelines of different types crossing the border.
The other Indian proposals included study tours, student and conference visas and commercial performance by artists across the borders. An expansion of the list of holy shrines for visits and an increase in the size of pilgrim groups were also proposed.
Pakistan has accepted the Indian proposal for facilitation of group tourism. As announced in the joint communique released on Wednesday, India and Pakistan have now opened up their countries to group tourism.
It may be observed that the foreign ministers' talks in New Delhi took place a few weeks before a meeting scheduled in New York between President Pervez Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations, the two leaders are expected to discuss all the bilateral issues between the two countries and the difficulties and complications involved in addressing these.
In a joint news conference after the two-day discussions, the two foreign ministers held out the assurance that they would intensify their search for durable peace in South Asia.
The joint communique, issued on Wednesday, also reiterated the confidence that the composite dialogue would lead to a peaceful settlement of all bilateral issues, including Jammu and Kashmir, to the satisfaction of both sides. These are brave words. But such statements can be reassuring only if they are backed by sustained efforts to achieve concrete results. New Delhi must realize that if it delays or avoids engaging Islamabad on the Kashmir issue it will undermine current efforts to make the peace process a success.
The bitter truth, however, is that while almost everyone wants the peace process to succeed and bilateral relations to be transformed, wishes in the Indo-Pakistani context have seldom been self-fulfilling.
Blame game in Bangladesh
I did not write on the bid to kill Bangladesh opposition leader Sheikh Hasina earlier because I wanted to first talk to her and Prime Minister Khaleda Zia. I have returned from Dhaka a couple of days ago and I have met both of them. Not that I can say with certainty who were the assassins. But I can give the versions of both.
Nonetheless, the blame game is going on and many names are being bandied about: India, Pakistan and the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), even the Awami League and, of course, Al Qaeda. This has only made the confusion more confounded.
Let me first reconstruct the incident. The Awami League, headed by Hasina, planned on August 21 a rally from its party office which is located in the heart of Dhaka.
The rally was about to move with the culmination of her speech at around 5 p.m. when eight grandees from all sides were lobbed at her, standing on a truck's makeshift podium.
The security men as well as her supporters made themselves into a shield to give her a cover. She was forced into her bullet proof car, which was also fired at. She miraculously escaped all that but 18 people died in the attack. Among them were her two close associates in the Awami League.
It was a professional job. Those who threw the grenades knew how to do so because it involved extracting a pin within three to four seconds before throwing it. Those who shot at the bullet proof car were also trained hands. And there is no doubt that all of them, said to be 30 to 35, had one target: Hasina.
Till I was in Dhaka none had been arrested; none in the police was suspended and no one at the top had any clue either. The government has appointed a judicial commission but has done little to collect evidence.
The two unexploded grenades, which could have provided a lead, were diffused soon after. The police used teargas to disperse the crowd which included the assailants who apparently used the opportunity to escape. The police first returned the truck to the owner but retrieved it later following the public outcry.
Hasina, whom I met first, had no doubt that it was the job of the army which she alleged was against the liberation of Bangladesh. She suspected a deep conspiracy in which the highest in the ruling BNP were involved. She said that Pakistan too had some role to play.
"This was an attack on secular democratic forces," she said. "I would say that those who could not kill me and my sister on August 15, 1975, when they assassinated my father tried to implement their unfinished agenda." She had no faith in Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's government, nor in the judicial commission which she had already boycotted.
Hasina was unnerved when I met her. But she had no doubt that more attempts would be made to "finish me." One of her associates present during the meeting mentioned the name of Tariq, son of Khaleda. He also said that the BNP and the Jamaat-I-Islami were out to eliminate "our charismatic leader."
Hasina was not opposed to the FBI and the Interpol which had already swung into action to find out the culprits. "But from where will they get evidence because the government has destroyed all?" she asked.
The FBI and the Interpol are banking on the footage of the Bangladesh Television, perched on a third floor in a nearby building, has filmed the incident from the beginning.
Many faces have been blown up into huge pictures, some of them reportedly known criminals. "I cannot recognize any," said Hasina, "because my glasses were broken when I was pushed into the car. Where do we go from here, I asked her. "I wish I knew. But they would not rest until they have killed me,"she said.
The version of Prime Minister Khaleda was entirely different. She disowned all allegations. She said that something tragic had happened and "we must find out who are behind it." She appealed to Hasina to help her get at the bottom of the crime. She said she had allowed a full parliament debate on the murderous attack.
"I wrote to her and wanted to meet her but she refused to even respond," said Khaleda. ("I did not invite her to my place," said Hasina, "because anything could have happened when relatives of the killed were sitting all the time at my house.")
I told Khaleda that Hasina alleged that you were behind the attack. She said in reply: "Tell me what will I gain by killing her? I am doing well and in control of things.
The country is peaceful. We have done a tremendous job in rehabilitating 40 million people who were affected by floods. Why should I do something that could upset everything?"
I believe you are putting the blame on India, I asked Khaleda. "That is not true. Some people are saying that." Still she did not say that India was not to blame even when I asked her whom did she suspect.
"The investigation is yet to be completed," is all that she would say. After a pause, she said it was the job of "outsiders." When I asked who, she said that there were "some Awami League members in Kolkata. They would be questioned on their return."
Do you suspect them? "We have to know everything," she said. Khaleda went back to her theme of unity in the country. "I have talked to some editors, ex-bureaucrats and others to bring us together. I hope they will help me in this task because the country is bigger than all of us."
Sometimes, I fear, I told her, that the army might walk in again. She said: "We are a democracy. The army has no business to interfere. So many tragedies had taken place all over the world. Did the army come in after the 9/11 incidents in America? In your own country even parliament was attacked. The government dealt with it. Why should it be different in Bangladesh?"
Khaleda was full of praise for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He was a good administrator. "That is what a government requires." She said she was happy with former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee as well.
She wanted good relations with India but she complained "some newspapers in your country were hurting the process by misinterpreting the August 21 incident (the attack on Hasina)."
Could that be the reason why Khaleda's foreign minister Murshed Khan said at a seminar that India could not pick up "one party for support?" He did not mention the name but his reference to the Awami League was obvious.
Law Minister Moudud Ahmed defended Murshed's outburst thus: "When the Indian prime minister ring ups only Sheikh Hasina after the incident and not also the prime minister, as US Secretary of State Colin Powell did, what inference should we draw?"
When I told Khaleda how people-to-people contact between India and Pakistan was changing the climate in the two countries and cited the example of lighting candle on the night of August 14-15 at Wagah border, she said she would like a similar thing on the India-Bangladesh border.
"I am all for the people-to-people contact." People-to-people contact between India and Bangladesh will take some time to mature. But people-to-people contact within Bangladesh is the need of the hour. The nation is more sharply divided after the August 21 incident.
The writer is a leading columnist based in New Delhi.
Help the African Union
It is now widely understood that the situation in Darfur, in the remote western desert of Sudan, is the most serious humanitarian crisis in the world. But the disaster in Darfur is not the result of natural causes, such as drought or floods; it is man-made, and if the outside world continues to treat it simply as a humanitarian crisis without addressing its underlying causes, it will not end.
With or without peacekeepers, what we have seen so far would be just the beginning of a long-term catastrophe that would leave behind an unresolved political crisis, continuing warfare and another nearly permanent refugee population, requiring endless and immense international assistance - this time in a trackless area the size of France.
The international humanitarian response, led by the United States, has saved many lives and must be continued, despite its huge costs. There are already at least 500 international aid workers in Darfur, backed up by at least 10 times as many local employees. Travelling with them for a few days last week was inspiring; the outside world can scarcely imagine how hellish and dangerous their mission is.
But the relief effort is far short of what it needs in pledges and commitments. The most disgraceful performance of all comes from the oil-rich Arab states, which have contributed virtually nothing. But - and this is true of almost all refugee crises - dealing only with the humanitarian aspect of the problem is like putting a small bandage on a haemorrhage.
The underlying causes of the suffering in Darfur are complicated, but the human consequences are there for any visitor to see: many hundreds of thousands of ethnic African refugees fleeing into makeshift and terrible refugee camps before the attacks of the vicious (and primarily Arab) Janjaweed militia, who are, despite official denials, supported and encouraged by elements in the Sudanese government.
The goal of the central government in supporting and encouraging the Janjaweed seems clear: to "depopulate" - that is, destroy - the villages and create as many refugees as possible in order to eliminate the village structure in Darfur, which is a base for the activity of two rebel movements opposing the central government.
These movements are virtually unknown outside of the region; they are the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement and the Justice and Equality Movement. They are surprisingly well organized and receive outside assistance, primarily from Sudan's eastern neighbor, Eritrea, which, despite its small size, has shown since its independence in 1993 a surprising aggressiveness toward its much larger neighbours (including Ethiopia, with which it has fought two disastrous wars). Both rebel groups find easy sanctuary in the deserts of Chad, Sudan's neighbor to the west. -Dawn/ Washington Post Service
Jon Corzine, a Democratic senator from New Jersey, and Richard Holbrooke, a former ambassador to the United Nations, visited Darfur last week.