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Photo by White Star
Photo by White Star

KARACHI: “We have made Partition synonymous with independence. Partition is not independence,” said author, former senator and federal minister, and member of the Senate Forum for Policy Research Javed Jabbar during a discussion with Nadya Qamar Chishty Mujahid on the third edition of his book Pakistan — Unique Origins; Unique Destiny? at the Oxford Bookshop here on Thursday evening.

“There was no Indian state as such at the time. It was the partition of Punjab and the partition of Bengal,” he explained, also stressing that the Quaid did not want to separate Pakistan from a larger configuration.

He pointed out that it was time when the majority in India was starting to realise that they had been ruled by a minority for 800 years, which they thought was unfair and that it was time to confront reality. “The Hindu was realising that it was time to rule and the Muslims in 1857 were looking for a place to rule. And Mr Jinnah was reacting to all these multiple factors,” he said.

Mr Jabbar also said that he feels disturbed about how not just school curriculum but college and university curricula gives a narrative that does not give all the facts. He said the young people should be informed about the complexity of how Pakistan actually came about, how Churchill lost the election even after winning the war and how the labour government in the UK then decided to grant freedom to some colonies such as India in accordance with Article 3 of the Atlantic Charter.

When asked about his sympathy for minorities in the book, Mr Jabbar said that this land, historically, belongs to minorities such as Jains, Christians and whatever belief the people of Moenjodaro followed. This he said is because they were the ones who originally owned land here. “They are some three per cent left today and we the 97pc are even trying to convert them,” he said.

“But secularism is to be respectful of all human beings and other species. Allama Iqbal himself said that secularism is something which is deeply sacred,”he said.

Meanwhile, he also wanted to know something himself. He asked if anyone in the audience knew why Pakistan came about in the middle of August. When no one was able to answer, he explained a bit about the Viceroy Louis Mountbatten’s massive ego. “Can you imagine the man’s arrogance? He did it because August 15, 1947 was the second anniversary of the end of WWII when Japan surrendered,” he said. As the Supreme Allied Commander of South East Asia Command, it was a victory for Mountbatten as well.

“For this he gave so little time before Partition when the people were not prepared and they left their homelands in such a hurry and there was so much bloodshed. Later, he himself admitted to this saying how he messed it up,” said Mr Jabbar.

Earlier, while introducing Mr Jabbar, Ameena Saiyid, managing director of Oxford University Press, said he is “husband of Shabnam Jabbar and father of Mehreen and Kamal Jabbar,” which made everyone laugh out. She also said that his humour just bubbles out when he speaks, which is also true about the gentleman as he is one great speaker.

Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2018