Dr Muhammad Reza Kazimi speaks at the event.—White Star
Dr Muhammad Reza Kazimi speaks at the event.—White Star

KARACHI: A discussion led by historian Dr Muhammad Reza Kazimi on Stanley Wolpert’s book Jinnah of Pakistan was held at the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) on Wednesday evening.

Introducing the programme chairperson of the institute Dr Masuma Hasan said it was being held in honour of Mr Wolpert’s memory, who died on Feb 19 last year. Apart from the book under discussion, she took the names of some of his other books such as Nehru: A Tryst with Destiny; Zulfi Bhutto of Pakistan: His Life and Times; Gandhi’s Passion: The Life and Legacy of Mahatma Gandhi; and India and Pakistan: Continued Conflict or Cooperation. She told the audience that he wasn’t just a historian but was also a fiction writer. He came to the PIIA in 1989 where he first met Dr Kazimi.

Dr Kazimi then came to the podium and gave his truncated view of Jinnah of Pakistan, because he skipped quite a few passages of his presentation. He started with points raised by a former US ambassador to India John Kenneth Galbraith’s review of Mr Wolpert’s book in the Washington Post in 1984 and then examined the author’s point about Jinnah’s ‘pride’.

But it was the question and answer session that followed the talk which proved more interesting. Responding to a question about certain omissions from his talk Dr Kazimi said Gandhi did ask Jinnah to become the prime minster of India to avoid partition, but Jinnah turned it down as it was mentioned in V.P. Menon’s book.

On another point he said Motilal Nehru was not a revivalist Hindu. If there’s a psychological factor to the partition of India, then it’s Jawaharlal Nehru’s aversion to his father. It was Motilal who tried to make Jinnah oppose Gandhi’s noncooperation resolution. “Even if he had been a revivalist, then how did Jinnah and Lokmanya Gangadhar Tilak get on?” It was the power orientation of Gandhi and Nehru which created the situation [leading to partition events].

‘Gandhi forced the Indian government to transfer financial assets to Pakistan’

Dr Kazimi said Jinnah exercised all options available to him. Liaquat Ali Khan had opposed the Cabinet Mission Plan. But in spite of such a strong objection from a strong personality, Jinnah had tried to give peace a chance. “Riots did not occur because of the partition of India, they occurred because of the partition of the provinces,” which had not been agreed to. As Jinnah came out of Mountbatten’s room after a meeting, he said partition was inevitable. Mountbatten and Nehru tried to remove Gandhi from the scene, sent him to Calcutta and in reply Gandhi called Nehru up. Two days before his [Gandhi’s] assassination he was saying that the Congress should be disbanded. Wolpert in his Gandhi’s Passion wrote that Gandhi wanted to become the first governor-general of Pakistan, but Mountbatten and Nehru frustrated him. That was why Gandhi forced the Indian government to transfer financial assets to Pakistan.

Dr Kazimi said it’s true that Jinnah did not want Mountbatten to become the common governor-general of India and Pakistan because it would undo partition. But Jinnah had not nominated himself; he had nominated the nawab of Bhopal. Referring to a book by Inam Aziz, Dr Kazimi said at a Muslim League council meeting every aspect was discussed, and finally on the intervention of Sir Ghulam Husain Hidayatullah partition was agreed upon. Then Jinnah made a speech. Maulana Hasrat Mohani spoke and said nobody except Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah could become the governor-general of Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2020